The Believer's Working
God's Working (labouring, striving) in the Believer
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling... (Phil. 2:12-13) ...for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure
Whereunto I also labour, striving... (Col. 1:28) ...according to His working, which worketh in me mightily.
Let us labour (make every effort, be diligent) therefore... (Heb. 4:11) ...to enter into that rest (the enjoyment of His working)
I laboured more abundantly than they all...
(1 Cor. 15:10)
...yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Compare Galatians 2:20 "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me";  I work; yet not I, but Christ worketh in me; I labour; yet not I, but Christ laboureth in me. etc.

The Believer's Working

God's Working (labouring, striving) in the Believer

Be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord... (1 Cor. 15:58) ...forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
who labour... Persis laboured much... (Romans 16:12) ...in the Lord ...in the Lord
For we are labourers... (1 Cor. 3:9) ...together with God
We then as workers... (2 Cor. 6:1) ...together with Him
for he (Timothy) worketh... (1 Cor. 16:10) ...the work of the Lord
being fruitful in every good work... (Col. 1:10-11) ...strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power.
...which (good works) God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10) For we are His workmanship...
in every good work to do His will... (Heb. 13:21) ...working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight.
And they went forth and preached every where... (Mark 16:20) ...the Lord working with them
Fight the good fight... (1 Tim. 6:12) ...of faith [it is by faith that we draw upon God's power and resources]

Additional Comments

The above chart begins with Philippians 2:12-13 because these two verses present the proper balance in a way that is very clear and easy to see.

If we cling to Philippians 2:12 (man's working) and forget about Philippians 2:13 (God's working) then we are left with only man's working and thus there is no supernatural dynamic. It is like the disciples who "toiled all the night, and have taken nothing" (Luke 5:5). It is like the frustrated branch which is trying to produce fruit without being connected to the vine: "without me [apart from Me, separated from Me] ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). By self-effort alone, we will never be able to perform that which is good (Rom. 7:18).

Another common mistake is to err in the other direction by clinging to Philippians 2:13 (God's working) and forgetting about Philippians 2:12 (man's working). This leads to the wrong idea that "God does everything and I do nothing." This kind of thinking tends to make the believer passive and inactive and dormant. Sometimes it is stated this way: "Let go and let God." God's Word does not tell the believer to "let go" but rather to "HOLD FAST"--see Hebrews 3:6; 3:14 ("hold"=hold fast); 10:23; Luke 8:15 ("keep"=hold fast); 1 Cor. 15:2 ("keep in memory"=hold fast). The believer is to have an active, living faith in a powerful Saviour, clinging to Him who is OUR LIFE.

The life that we now live in the flesh is an active life of trusting the One who loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20). Faith is the key because "we walk by faith" (2 Cor. 5:7). This is how we are to live (Gal. 2:20). We are to fight, but it is to be "the fight of faith" (1 Tim. 6:12). We are to strive "according to His working" (Col. 1:29). We are to work, ever knowing that He is working in us mightily (Eph. 3:20; Heb. 13:21). We are to labour, but our labour must be in the Lord as we abide in Him (1 Cor. 15:58; Romans 16:12). By faith we actively draw upon the limitless resources of the risen Christ who is the only Source of our life and power. Apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Through Him we can do all things (Phil. 4:13)!

* * * * * * *

Additional Notes:

A very extreme Calvinist position would deny that a believer has a responsibility to the lost: "If God does the electing then I need do nothing. If God wants them saved, He will save them. Either God will bring them to faith in Christ or He will not. It's totally God's work whether we do anything or not." The Bible answer to this is best expressed by the apostle Paul himself:

"Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Tim. 2:10).

Yes, Paul laboured for the lost, prayed for the lost, preached to the lost, suffered for the lost and poured out his energy for the lost. Why? "that the elect may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." Paul knew that God's sovereignty did not interfere with man's responsibility. Paul knew that God would do His part. Paul also know that he must do his part: "woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel" (1 Cor. 9:16).

* * * * * * *

John 6:27-29 is an interesting passage showing the balance between God's working and man's working when it comes to salvation. The Lord told them to labour or work for the right kind of food (v.27). They then asked, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" The Lord did not say, "You should do NOTHING!" Instead He said, "You must BELIEVE!" (v.29).


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