It was interesting as I was finishing up a book by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones this morning, he made reference to what I had begun to discuss in my last post about God being the One to work out our salvation. He wrote:

“In the first chapter he says that the is ‘confident of this very thing that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ’ (verse 6). ‘I want you,’ says Paul, ‘to think of yourselves as Christains in that way. You are the people in whom God has started to work; God has entered into you, God is working in you.’ That is what Christians really are. They are not just men who have taken up a certain theory and are trying to practise it; it is God doing something in them and through them. Or listen again in the second chapter, verse 12 and 13: ‘Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.'” (Spiritual Depression, 291)

I don’t think that I could have expressed connect and made the distinction more clearly myself. He tells us that Christianity is some philosophical position, some way of thinking, that men choose to follow and then to live out, but rather it is the story of God working in and through His people.

You see even the Apostle Paul did not negate human responsibility, but he understood that human practice was dependent on and the result of God’s action. As we read in Philippians 2:12-13, we are indeed to work out our salvation. In fact, we are called to do so “in fear and trembling.” But let us not lose sight of the very next verse that tells us why we should be afraid, “for it is God that worketh in you.” ‘Do not stop putting forth effort,’ Paul says, ‘but rather you should work all the harder knowing that God works in you.’

It is this way of thinking that separates Christianity from every other religion though, even the false forms of Christianity. All religions promote that we must work out our salvation, upon that point none of them differ. They all call us to do something or to believe something. But Christianity differs at this very point. While all others say, ‘work out your salvation,’ True Christianity says, ‘yes work out your salvation, but know that that you are working it out because God Himself started something in you and it is actually Him that is working it out in you.’ Do you see the difference? If your “religion” is not first and foremost a work of God in your heart, then it is really nothing more than a form of human pretense. It is a man wrought religion and not a religion that has been wrought in God. In fact, Jesus Himself indicated that was the true demonstration of who believed and whom was judged in John 3. “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light (Christ), so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (Jn. 3:21).

All the more reason for us to search our own hearts to see if our experience of “religion” shows itself to be contrived by human effort and human wisdom, or if it manifests itself as a work of God in our heart through the Spirit whom He has given us.