Do you remember your math classes in grammar school? I can remember doing my math homework as a kid and thinking, “I have this homework and I have this calculator. I could be done so fast”. It was a very frustrating situation to be in. I wanted to go play but the homework was standing in my way. I could be done in five minutes if I used the calculator. But calculators weren’t allowed and to make sure we didn’t use them the teacher would always say “it won’t count if you don’t show your work”.
Rene Descartes lived in the 17th century. He is often called the father of modern philosophy. He studied mathematics and physics. The logic involved in these subjects would help him form his teachings in logic and philosophy. Mathematics requires your work to be proven, therefore, your solutions are exactly right. He wanted to bring this certainty to thoughts and beliefs.
He would point to the fact that even though we have a logical system in math, sometimes we still make mistakes. We compute something wrong, we fat-finger a key stroke, or we miss a step. If we can make mistakes in something like math where we have this logical process, why would we think we can’t make a mistake in matters of philosophy. Especially with how foolish our emotions are. So, Descartes created a method of thinking and deducing information in everyday life. He came up with a way to make sure you believe something that is actually true.
Simply put, Descartes wanted people to take the time to show their work on answers to the various questions of life.
Paul told the church of Christ at Philippi to “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (2:12). The word for “work out” means to “work down to a definite conclusion”. He is telling them to take their hope of salvation and double check all the work just like someone would do with a solution to a math problem. He is asking “are you sure you want to go with that before you hand in your test?”. Are you confident in your answer?
There are many people who are reading this who would say “I know that I am saved because my heart tells me so” and then never honestly face the truth of what the Bible says. How can someone point out that Joel Osteen is wrong, the Pope is wrong, and then think that they have some special heart that wouldn’t ever deceive them? The Bible says the heart is deceitful above ALL things (Jer 17:19).
According to the word of God, there are a number of things that we must DO to be saved. Please check your work.
John 3:16 is clear that we need to believe in order to be saved. John 8:24 says that if we don’t believe that Jesus is the Christ we will die in our sins. Now that is the end of the story to some people. If someone just acknowledges in their mind that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God they think they are saved. But a belief that ends there is no better than a demons (James 2:19). John 3:36 explains the type of belief that saves by attaching obedience right into its definition, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him”.
Repentance is a change of mind and a change of life and Jesus said it is necessary if we don’t want to perish (Luke 13:3). If Jesus is your “Lord and Savior”, that means you do what the Lord says. The Lord says to quit living your sinful life, so you do it. The Lord says to follow ALL his commands so you do.
Jesus expects you to name his name. Timothy took the “good confession” in the sight of many witnesses (1 Tim 6:12). Jesus said if we will not confess him before men, he will not confess us before his father in heaven (Matt 10:32-33).
Baptism is FOR the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). It now saves us (1 Pet 3:21). It puts us in Christ (Gal 3:27). It adds us to the saved group of people (Acts 2:47). It allows us to put to death our old self and be resurrected into a new creature (Rom 6:3-4). It allows us to be born again (John 3:3-5). It is the act that washes away our sins (Acts 22:16). It is how we call upon the name of the Lord. It is an act that allows God to do his saving work (Col 2:12).
Many people have been baptized because they are saved. Or as an outward sign of an inward change. That’s man-made language. That’s not biblical. You can’t be saved outside of Christ and baptism is what gets you there. You can’t be saved if you are still in your sins. Baptism is what washes them away.
You can’t be saved with a disobedient belief. You can’t be saved by repenting of a sin, but not submitting to Jesus. You can’t be saved by just confessing or saying a little prayer, just like you can’t be saved by being baptized without belief. Remove those emotions, and check your math. Have you obeyed the Gospel (2 Thess 1:8)?
Put your salvation to the test of the word of God. Check what you think saved you verses what the Bible actually teaches. Philippians 2:12 says to do it with fear and trembling. You know why? Because there have been people who are just as sincere and smarter than you and me, who have been eternally wrong.