WORKING OUT WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING WHAT GOD HAS WORKED IN
None but God’s people under the teachings of the Spirit know what it is to “WORK OUT THEIR OWN SALVATION.” And all who work out their own salvation will work it out “with fear and trembling.” For when a man is taught by God to know what he is; when he feels what a deceitful heart he carries in his bosom; when the various snares, temptations, and corruptions by which he is daily encompassed are opened up to him; when he knows and feels what a ruined wretch he is in self, then he begins to fear and tremble lest he should be damned at the last. He cannot go recklessly and carelessly on without “making straight paths for his feet,” without “examining himself whether he be in the faith.”
And whenever a man’s dreadfully deceitful heart is opened up to him; whenever the hollowness of an empty profession is unmasked; whenever he feels how strait is the path, how narrow the way, and how few there are that find it; whenever he is brought to see how easily a man is deceived, and how certainly he must be deceived unless God teaches him in a special manner—whenever a man is brought to this point, to see what a rare thing, what a sacred thing, and what a spiritual thing religion Isaiah , that God himself is the author and finisher of it in the conscience, and that a man has no more religion than God is pleased to give him, and cannot work a single grain of it into his own soul; when he stands on this solemn ground, and begins to work out that which God works in, it will always be “WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING;” with some “fear” lest he be deceived, until God assures him by His own blessed lips that he is not deluded; and “with trembling,” as knowing that he stands in the immediate presence of God, and under His heart-searching eye.
When God has worked in a man “TO WILL,” and not only worked in him “to will,” but also worked in him “to do;” when he has made him willing to flee from the wrath to come; willing to be saved by the atoning blood and justifying righteousness of Jesus; willing to be saved by sovereign grace as a sinner undone without hope, and glad to be saved in whatever way God is pleased to save him; willing to pass through the fire, to undergo affliction, and to walk in the strait and narrow path; willing to take up the cross and follow Jesus; willing to bear all the troubles which may come upon him, and all the slanders which may be heaped upon his name; when God has made him willing to be nothing, and to have nothing but as God makes him the one, and gives him the other—and besides working in him “to will,” has worked in him “to do,” worked in him faith to believe, hope whereby he anchors in the finished work of Christ, and love whereby he cleaves to Him with purpose of heart.
When all this has been “with fear and trembling,” not rushing heedlessly on in daring presumption, not buoyed up by the good opinion of others, not taking up his religion from ministers and books; but by a real genuine work of the Holy Spirit in the conscience; when he has thus worked out with fear and trembling what God has worked in, he has got at salvation; a salvation from wrath to come, from the power of sin, from an empty profession; at salvation from the flesh, from the delusions of Satan, from the blindness and ignorance of his own heart; he has got at a salvation which is God’s salvation, because GOD has worked in him to will and to do of His good pleasure.