“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Phil 2: 12-13.
We know salvation is of grace, the free gift of God, and not of works (Ephesians 2: 8-9). So what does it mean to work out own salvation with fear and trembling? The Greek verb rendered “work out” means “to continually work to bring something to fulfillment or completion.” In Matthew 24: 11-13 we are told that “… many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Clearly it is not how we start but how we finish that will evidence our eternal destiny. Some take the view that persons who fall away from the faith were never saved and some that the person lost their salvation. Irregardless, one must endure in the Faith to the end to be saved.
Brother Lawrence in “The Practice of the Presence of God” stated that “… I assure you that whatever pleasures I taste at the table of my King, my sins, ever-present before my eyes, as well as the uncertainty of my pardon, torment me. Though I accept that torment as something pleasing to God.” Brother Lawrence was a very devout man who lived in a monastery most of his life and was totally sold out for God yet was not completely assured of his salvation.
The key to how ones salvation is “worked out” is outlined in the last part of the Philippians passage where it states that it is God who works both to will and to work his good pleasure in Believers. In the end, salvation is all of God and absolutely nothing of man. “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit…” (John 15:16). “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48). It is God who allows believers to “work out” their salvation. To those appointed to eternal life, their salvation will be worked out with the help of God and they will endure to the end.