It is Wednesday and today is a day in which I focus on a certain passage and give a short commentary. Philippians is very near and dear to my heart at this point in my life and will be for quite some time. If there is one word I could use to describe this book it would be “joy.” It is a recurring theme throughout this book and is most evident in chapter four. However, my focus today lies in chapter one. Paul begins this letter with a greeting and thanksgiving to the “saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi” (Phil. 1:1). Paul is ecstatic in his thanksgiving to these brothers due to their “partnership in the gospel” with Paul (Phil. 1:5). Paul prays in joy for the believers at Philippi because of their personal concern for his well-being. These faithful brothers and sisters also support Paul financially as we see later in chapter 4 (Phil. 4:15-16). He then transitions briefly from discussing the faithfulness of the Philippians to Paul and his own commitment to pray for them to focusing on God’s commitment to these saints at Philippi. I will break down Philippians 1:6 into three simple truths.
- God initiates salvation.
- God is faithful to finish what He started.
- These who God works in can be certain that they will inherit eternal reward.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6
GOD INITIATES SALVATION
In anticipation for anything to be completed, there must be a foundation for us to confidently rely on. It would be foolish for a man to anticipate and hope in the completion of a house without first considering the foundation on which it is built. The same applies for spiritual growth. It is foolish to aim for daily spiritual growth without first considering the foundation of salvation. Spiritual growth can only result after one has been justified by grace and through faith alone in Christ Jesus. So let’s go back to this foundation. According to Philippians 1:6, this foundation of the greatest “good work” in the world is that it is God “who began a good work in you.” This does not indicate the claim of most that God offers salvation (which is true) and then leaves the self-determining choice in the hands of men. Paul declares here that it is God who begins this work in the life of the saints. God initiates salvation and He foreknew these saints before the foundation of the world (Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:5; 2:5). What great confidence this view leaves us with! Paul leaves no question as to what this foundation is as he confidently states, “And I am sure of this.” This confidence leaves only one option when considering what the foundation of salvation is. The foundation is that God is the one who begins the work of salvation by opening the blind spiritual eyes and waking the dead heart of a sinner (2 Cor. 4:4-6; Eph. 2:5). We, the body of Christ, can rejoice in this foundation for it is firm, and since God foreknew His saints, we can be certain that our eternity lies in His sovereign wisdom. Since God began such a work in His saints, the rest of this verse just bursts with joy. Because of this foundation, we can confidently hope in the completed masterpiece of our creator God.
GOD IS FAITHFUL
Not only does God begin a good work in the lives of the saints by drawing them to himself, opening their eyes, and raising their dead hearts, but He is also faithful to finish this grand work. Our God is not a God who leaves things unfinished. This is clear in Psalm 57:2, “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” There is great promise here that God is faithful in carrying out His purposes. His purpose in His electing grace is upheld by His work in future grace. Because of this, one can truly place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ and never have to worry about becoming “unsaved” or losing their salvation. God will not allow this to happen. According to Psalm 57, it is not even in His nature to do such a thing. In other words, because of God’s unfailing love and mercy manifested in grace towards sinners, He will complete the work He has started. The saints can confidently live each day growing closer to the Father as they can be certain that their hope is not futile. Christ is raised and we serve a God who is faithful to fulfill His purposes in our lives. May we live, pray, and worship each day with the confidence of David, “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands” (Psalm 138:8). The One who has called (called as in Romans 8:30) you is faithful and He will surely complete the work He has started in you, namely salvation and the sanctification to follow (Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). Genuine spiritual progress is rooted in what God has done, what He is currently doing, and what He is going to do. Under His sovereignty, we can trust Him to be faithful in sanctifying us throughout our lives. Without this holiness, no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14), but we can be certain that God will accomplish this in us by His grace and through our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ since He fulfills His purposes (Psalm 57:2; 138:8), is faithful to sanctify His saints (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24), and creates these good works in us because of the blood of Christ which “purifies our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 10:14). God is faithful to bring the good work of salvation to completion in us.
ASSURANCE OF ETERNAL REWARD
We have seen a God who begins a work in the saints by raising dead hearts and opening blind spiritual eyes to the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have also seen a God who is faithful to bring this good work of salvation to completion through sanctification throughout the lives of the saints. Now we are about to see in the last part of this verse, the completion come to pass. When is God’s work in sanctifying (making holy) the saints complete? The end of verse six is very clear: “at the day of Jesus Christ.” God will be with His people until His purpose is complete, namely, at the return of Christ. We can rejoice in this assurance and truth, that God, who began a work of salvation in us, will complete it by making us holy and glorifying us in the image of His Son, all culminating at the day of His return. We, the saints, can be certain that God will sustain us and that we will be guiltless because of Christ in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:8). For we are assured that there is no condemnation for any of us who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Those who God began a work in, and as a result will complete that work, will stand blameless before God as they have taken refuge in Jesus. We have been justified and we are being and have been sanctified and will stand blameless on this Day of Judgment at the second coming of Christ (Romans 5:1; 1 Corinthians 6:11). May we put on as a helmet the hope of salvation and be confident in God’s completion in the day of the Lord for we have been destined by God to obtain this salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ; by His grace we are saved (Ephesians 2:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 5:8-9). Hasten the day of the Lord and be the sort of people living lives of holiness and godliness (2 Peter 3:11-12). We can be confident that our reward will be blamelessness in His sight and eternal dwelling in the glory of His presence as He completes the good work of salvation He started in us. I will close with an excerpt from Revelation detailing the coming of the Lord and the Day of Judgment. As you read, praise God for the work He began in you and is completing in you. Realize and anticipate this day you read about as at this day, the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, His purposes will be fulfilled in you and His work of salvation will stand completed as you will be justified, sanctified, blameless, and holy, prepared for glorification in His presence for all eternity! Rejoice in the faithfulness and election love and grace of our Lord God. May this fuel a greater zeal in you to take the glory of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to all peoples of all nations as representatives from every people group will stand before the name above every name (Revelation 7:9; Philippians 2:9-11) singing with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing…To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever” (Revelation 5:12-13).
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” – Revelation 20:11-21:8
By His Grace — For His Glory — For our Joy