As I have stated many times, it is my opinion that salvation is a continuum. It is a big idea with many subparts. It includes the first moment that we believed that Jesus is the Son of God, and it includes our spiritual growth to spiritual maturity and our challenge to live, more and more, in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is both a present spiritual reality and a future political reality. Spiritually, the Kingdom of God is place of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). It is a place of refuge in God. It is a place of living under the authority and rule of God. Finally, salvation includes the believer going to Heaven after he or she dies and our hope (confident expectation) for Jesus Christ’s Second Coming to Planet Earth.
Philippians 2:12-13 is an example of how the big idea of salvation includes much more than just the first moment that we believed in Christ. Paul wrote:
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure.
First, it should be noticed that salvation is a place of obedience to God. Second, Paul explained that we must “work out” our salvation. He used the Greek verb katergazomai, which means “to do that from which something results.” Salvation results from spiritual growth. Gradually, over time, we become happier and more loving people. We have more peace. As Paul taught, the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). We can become better versions of ourselves.
We grow spiritually by means of the Spirit, the Word, and God’s providential testing. We will be challenged to trust God in many different and challenging circumstances. Eventually, we must learn not to fear bad news. As the Psalmist said, “He will not fear bad news, his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord” (Ps. 112:7). This does not imply that we will not hear bad news. We will all hear our share of bad news, but the persevering and faithful believer knows that God can work out all things together for the good. As Paul taught, “[W]e know that God causes all things to work together [synergeo] for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposes” (Rom. 8:28). Please notice that God is working all things together for good for a certain type or class of Christians – “those who love God.” Please also notice that God has a purpose or plan for His creation. We cannot be what God intends for us to be unless we learn to love God and others by His Spirit and Word.
Paul also emphasized that we must work out our salvation with “fear and trembling.” An awareness of the possibility of experiencing God’s wrath should illicit “fear and trembling” in the humble human heart. I am sure that there are many arrogant humans who become angry when they hear such words. We must understand that we are inclined to behave and think in ways that invite the wrath and discipline of God. We are inclined to selfishness and self-absorption. The Bible uses language that is meant to grab our attention and warn us. Most everyone of us remembers a time when our mother or father was angry at our bad behavior. Smart parents know that certain behaviors or mental attitudes can destroy their children and harm others. In love, they wanted to save us from self-destruction. In love for us, our parents’ emotions were aroused by our bad behavior or poor mental attitudes.
None of us know how God “senses” or “feels” things. God must, out of necessity, use language of accommodation to communicate with creatures that are infinitely inferior to Him. The word “wrath” gets the point across to humans. The New Testament writers most often used the Greek noun “ogre,” which means “anger, wrath, or indignation.” “Ogre” serves as a strong warning to humans. Our loving God strongly warns us humans, who are inclined to self-destruction. We must conscientiously seek to please God. By doing so, we will be happier and more balanced humans.
 “G2716 – katergazomai – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (nasb20).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 17 Oct, 2022. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g2716/nasb20/mgnt/0-1/>.
 “G3709 – orgē – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (kjv).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 17 Oct, 2022. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g3709/kjv/tr/0-1/>.