Work Out Your Salvation

G Campbell Morgan once said; “ We ought never in our gospel preaching to offer men peace. We ought never in our gospel preaching to offer men repose from their conscience.”

In that spirit, that is the intent of today’s message. (Audio message can be heard here)

Lately that verse of Work out your salvation has been speaking to me. In fact, was speaking to me before the minister from Alberta, Greg Fraser spoke about, albeit briefly, about the man who was possessed and had been bound by chains in Mark 5.

What struck me about that story, was although I have read it numerous times, I never paid that much attention to it. I, like many commentators have focused on the power that Jesus had over the demons, by being able to cast them directly into the swine. Or other commentators focus on how angry the townspeople were and were not ready to hear the Gospel.

But what for me is the real story, the real hope of these verses, is the story of the man who became clean.

Mar 5:1 NKJV – Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes.
Mar 5:2 NKJV – And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,

Mar 5:3 NKJV – who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains,

Mar 5:4 NKJV – because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him.

Mar 5:5 NKJV – And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.

Mar 5:6 NKJV – When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.

Mar 5:7 NKJV – And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.”

Mar 5:8 NKJV – For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!”

Mar 5:9 NKJV – Then He asked him, “What is your name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”
Mar 5:10 NKJV – Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country.

Mar 5:11 NKJV – Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains.

Mar 5:12 NKJV – So all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.”

Mar 5:13 NKJV – And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.

Mar 5:14 NKJV – So those who fed the swine fled, and they told [it] in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened.

Mar 5:15 NKJV – Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one [who had been] demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.

Mar 5:16 NKJV – And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine.

Mar 5:17 NKJV – Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.
Mar 5:18 NKJV – And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him.

Mar 5:19 NKJV – However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”

Mar 5:20 NKJV – And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.

What is important to me is that a: after healing the man, Jesus tells him to go back to the 10 cities to share with them, what God had done for him.

Think about that for a minute. This crazy guy, who spends a little time with Jesus, no formal education, no bible college degree, is told to go and share the good news! And he is to share that good news in a perpetually dark area of the middle east!

How many times have we not shared the gospel due to our “lack of training?”

When the evangelists of Jerusalem head out to share the great commission, they would have found existing Christian communities in around Decapolis.

The second thing that is important to me is that it becomes a testimony, a personal story of transformation from one being into another.

His story, is my story. My abridged testimony goes like this.

I had been an alcoholic and drug user for many years. I lived a life full of violence and anger. Getting drunk for the first time at 10, I never stopped. I never wanted to. Like the man in Mark, I had caused a lot of people, a lot of pain.

There was a time, when all I care was my own selfish needs, and that was drinking and fighting. I lost everything. My jobs, my friends, my girlfriend. Everything. I still had pride. I had a lot of that.

The night I met Jesus was the sweetest night of my life. I was set to lose my apartment in a week’s time. My girlfriend had left me. I had squat.

I remember coming home and it was 11:00 at night and I was actually sober on a Saturday night. I hung out in the living room thinking about the upcoming week. The prospect of being homeless did nothing for me as I had lived on the streets of Toronto.

I sat in the dark, thinking and then the phone rang. It was my ex-girlfriend calling me from Winnipeg. We talked about our lives, the changes she was making, small talk that really doesn’t matter, but you do it because it is safe.

And safe was what I needed. Or so I thought. We talked and then I began telling her about my situation, how bad it really was. How drunk I had become after being at a detox center the previous year, but had fallen off the wagon, again.

I talked to her, perhaps the most honestly I had ever talked to anyone and in the middle of my conversation, I said” Why am I worrying? Why am I so down on myself? Jesus died for me.” I repeated it and the truth of it all, of Jesus, the sacrifice, of everything, hit me like a ton of bricks.

The tears were immediate. Never in a million years would I have ever said anything like that. To this day, I still do not know where it came from, but I am so glad it did.

I quickly hung up and prayed and went to bed. I had a dream that night unlike any dream I had ever had, but Jesus saw me, and I saw Him. I had never seen such love coming from someone like that.

The next morning, now Sunday, I woke to my telephone ringing. Sunday! 9:30 in the morning. None of my friends would have dared to call. I cautiously picked up the phone and it was a man offering me a job, wanting to know if I could start the next morning at 6:30am.

You bet I did. I realized from that moment on, Jesus had me. He would always have me. Of course, there were mountains and valleys, like we all share. Periods of zeal to complacency, like we all have.

But my heart always knew that He wanted something more from me. He wanted me to be everything that He wanted me to be.

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Phil. 2:12,13)”

Paul doesn’t say that we need to work for our salvation, like every other religion on Earth demands you to do, He says work out your salvation.

Work out your own salvation was an exhortation to the Church at Philippi to labour in obedience in the word to make sure that they truly have salvation and are not sloth in confirmation. The Greek word translated work is [katergazomai] meaning work to the fullest or to completion. Such work as this can only be brought about in Christ. God works in us to give us the will to do what needs to be done to bring about salvation.

So now, I am at a place spiritually that I truly understand the power, the love and the message of the Cross. I want to work out my salvation not because I feel I have to, but because I want to. I want to do everything that God wants me for to bring him Glory.

Working out your salvation, takes work and it takes time.

I want my Christian walk to be as Ezekiel saw it.

Ezekiel saw that it was not good enough to stand on the bank of Gods river, but to be swept away by it.

“And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins. Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could
not be passed over” (Ezek. 47:3-5).

Jesus does not want you on the shoreline, with a toe in the water. He does not want you in the water up to your ankles or your knees. He does not want to swim over it, He wants you IN the river, to be swept away by it.

Working out your salvation is our way of saying thankfully, thank you for the cross, thank you for the gift of eternal salvation.

Is it easy to lay down your life? No. Is it easy to be a servant? No. But God called us to be His servants in Is.43.9 “And said to me, You are my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

When we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, mountains move and God’s glory shines. We are created for Him and by Him. We are created for His glory.
If you are here today, thinking that words like salvation, love, compassion, grace are beyond you. If you think that that your salvation is hopeless, I invite you to watch Emmanuel’s Story.

Emmanuel’s story is our story. Salvation is a free gift open to all.

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