Working Out with Jesus

August 6, 2023 / Ben Wishall

Elder Ben Wishall continues our Philippians sermon series with week four of eight. in Philippians 2:12-18, Paul writes that we are to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you.” Elder Ben expounds on how this doesn’t mean that God is leaving us to save ourselves, explains how to approach scripture that seems to contradict what we know about God, and teaches how to break the Word down using four practical bible study strategies.


  • Justification (Past Saved): Justice has been served. Sin created a debt, Jesus’ death on the cross has paid that debt for all who trust him. It is finished. When we believe in Jesus, justice is served on our account, and we are declared righteous in Christ.
  • Sanctification (Being Saved): Sanctification is the lifelong journey of every Christian to become more like Christ. The Holy Spirit indwells believers when we are justified and is at work in us for the rest of our lives sanctifying us – making us more holy – delivering us from sin and preserving us in the family of God, day after day.
  • Glorification (Future Saved): One day we will be fully and finally delivered from this body of death and given a new body, raised in full glory as the pinnacle of creation in a new heaven and new Earth and the curse of sin will be forever removed.
  • Practical Steps to Understanding a Difficult Passage (Ben’s Annotated Example)
    • Employ the KISS Principle – Begin with what is clear, and simply stated, to give you the roadmap to understanding what is complex and confusing
    • Look at the Context – Use Scripture to understand Scripture, don’t pull a single verse out by itself
    • Listen to the Saints – (Eph. 4:11-15)
    • Rely on the Holy Spirit – (John 16:13, 6:63, 1 Cor. 2:10-13)
  • D.A Carson: “It is vitally important to grasp the connection between God’s sovereignty and our responsibility in verses 12+13. The text does not say work to acquire your salvation for God has done His bit and now it’s up to you. Nor does it say, you may already have your salvation but now perseverance in it depends entirely on you. Lest does it say, let go and let God, just relax, the spirit will carry you. Rather, Paul tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling precisely because God is working in us both to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
  • As you continue to walk in obedience to our Lord, submit to him. Listen to his Word and directions and take steps to produce the fruit of sanctification in your life. Remember you are not alone. God has laid out the path in front of you. He has given you His word. As you seek to follow Him, remember we’re living in front of a world that is stuck in sin, stuck in blindness, and stuck in their own way of doing things. Most of all, we are living in front of a world that is consumed with the pursuit of self. If we walk together in unity without arguing and fighting over petty issues, people will notice something different about our community. If we are walking in joy, taking opportunities to complain and turning them into opportunities to speak the truth in love, we will shine forth in the midst of this crooked and broken world.



  1. Ben began his sermon, as Paul did with Epaphroditus (2:29-30), by honoring those who are faithfully serving in the works of the ministry. Take some time as a Community Group to recognize and encourage one another as Christians. Remind each other of the ways God is using us in each other’s lives, not to puff us up with pride, but to remind us that we need each other. It differentiates us as disciples of Jesus, bonds us as community, and brings great glory to God (John 13:35).
  2. Ben ties together the first two chapters of Philippians thus far: we are to be believers who demonstrate unity in the faith (ch 1) → serving one another with humility (ch 2a) → walking in the joy that comes from obedience without complaint (ch 2b). We can join him in the way He has set out for us, or resist and fight.
    • Is there an area of your life that you are resisting God’s way and find yourself stuck in sin and/or complaining or grumbling?
    • Do you have an example of taking a step of faithful obedience that led you to more joy and nearness with the Father?
  3. Transition to prayer by remembering what God has done in your life, thanking Him. If there’s something holding you back, something that you need to lay down before Him (perhaps what you shared in question 2), pray over that. As we lay down idols and false gods, we are working out our salvation with fear and trembling, together, for we are inviting and yielding to His work within us.