Title: God Finishes What He Starts
Series: Philippians (4/20)
Reference: Philippians 1:6
If you have a Bible, I want to invite you to open up to the New Testament book of Philippians. Philippians 1 is where we’re going to be this morning. As you’re finding your place there, we’ll take a moment and dismiss the kids to Children’s Worship. So all the littles ones, you can make your way to the back of the Sanctuary, and from there you’ll be escorted off to another great Bible adventure.
We’ve been studying the book of Philippians on Sunday mornings. The title of today’s message is, “God Finishes What He Starts.” So with your Bibles open to Philippians 1, we’re going to be looking at one verse (verse 6). I’m going to ask if you’re physically able, let’s all stand, in honor & reverence, for the reading of God’s Holy Word. The Word of God says in Philippians 1, and verse 6:
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Father, would You add your blessing on the proclamation of Your Word, for we it according to the strong name of Jesus, amen. You may be seated.
The last time we were together (in the book of Philippians), you’ll remember we did a little open spiritual heart surgery on the Apostle Paul! We looked at verses 3-8 and got a glimpse into the heart of this amazing man of God. As we opened up & observed (if you will) the spiritual heart of Paul, we saw a man made up of a thankful heart, a joyful spirit, a gospel focus, a certain hope, and an affectionate love for his brothers & sisters in Christ.
This morning, (before we move on to his prayer recorded in verses 9-11), I want us to go back and think about what the Bible is saying in verse 6.
Verse 6 is, in my opinion, one of three of the greatest verses in the entire Bible that deal with the doctrine of “the perseverance of the saints”, which is more commonly referred to (in Southern Baptist circles) as “eternal security” or “once saved, always saved.” All of those phrases: the perseverance of the saints, eternal security, and once saved, always saved, they’re all talking about the same Scriptural conviction about the nature of salvation: the conviction that no one who has come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ will ever be lost.
Now, not everyone believes that. In fact, entire denominations will disagree with what I hope to (very simply) teach you from God’s Word this morning. One of the big reasons why, I believe, many will reject this understanding of Scripture is because we tend to project upon God our own characteristics.
One thing that is true about us (about human nature in general) is that we lack perseverance. We lack “staying power.” We start things and we drop things. We begin a multitude of things and yet we finish few things. But God isn’t like that! God doesn’t have a problem with “staying power.” God never starts anything that He doesn’t finish. God always perseveres.
The truth of the matter is, if God has saved you– If God has started the good work of salvation in you, then you don’t ever have to worry about somehow losing what you have in Christ. You don’t ever have to worry about blowing it so big that you would somehow forfeit the freedom and the forgiveness that you have in Jesus! That’s never going to happen! And that kind of confidence is anchored not in you, or in your faith, or in your ability, or in your spiritual victories or in anything else–but it’s anchored in the unchanging, all-powerful, and ever-sufficient character of God!
If you’re taking notes this morning, I want to share with you three of the greatest passages in the Bible that deal with this issue of the perseverance of the saints, or eternal security, or once saved, always saved (or whatever else you want to call it)! Three texts that infuse our hearts with confidence that our salvation is eternally secure in Christ. The first is the verse we just read right here in Philippians– PHILIPPIANS 1:6.
6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Paul says “I am confident of this…” That speaks of assurance. It speaks of certainty. It means to be persuaded and convinced of something, and what’s the thing Paul is convinced of? Verse 6 goes on to say: …that He who began a good work in you… That’s talking about God and the work of salvation that He does in your heart!
You’ll note that it’s God’s work. The “h” in the word “he” should be capitalized to show the mark of deity. In other words, that’s talking about God. Paul says: For I am confident of this very thing, that He (God) who began a good work in you…
Salvation is God’s work. This is preciously why you cannot lose it, beloved. It’s not your work to lose. It’s God’s work. You didn’t do anything to get saved, and you can’t do anything to keep yourself saved. Salvation is all about God’s work in you. It’s always been about God. It always will be about God. From the very beginning when you first believed upon the Lord Jesus and received the forgiveness of sins, to the very end when you land on your two resurrected feet in Heaven, it’s all about God’s work in your heart!
Salvation is God’s work! This is so important for us to get, let me give you some cross-references to really solidify this in your minds. Flip back to Acts 16. Acts 16 records for us the birth of the church in Philippi (you guys remember studying this a few weeks ago). We’re not going to read through it all again, but I want to call your attention to Lydia, and to how Scripture describes her salvation experience.
Acts 16:14 – A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. The Lord opened her heart to respond! Paul did the preaching! Paul pointed to the hope we have in Jesus, and what did God do? He opened her heart to respond. Salvation is God’s work.
Let me show you another one. You’re in Acts, go left in your Bible and the next book will be the gospel of John, go ahead and find John 1.
John 1:12 – But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born…(how are the children of God born? Do we earn it– Is that how we become part of God’s family? Or maybe we inherit it from our parents– How exactly do we become God’s children)…13 who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. Salvation is God’s work.
Here’s a few other verses (just listen to these, you don’t have to turn there):
Acts 11:18 – When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.” God has granted to the Gentiles salvation. God has given salvation to the Gentiles. Salvation is God’s work.
Ephesians 2:1-5 – And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is no working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions,…(what did God do)…made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)… God made us alive. God did that! When we were apart from the life of God, dead in our sins, let me ask you something: what can a dead man do? Nothing! That’s right, nothing! And we could do nothing to save ourselves, but God, verse 5 says, made us alive with Christ! Salvation is God’s work.
One more verse, Titus 3:4– But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us… Who saved us? God did, right! Salvation is God’s work.
This is all over the Bible, beloved. Salvation is God’s work, and again, this is why we cannot lose it! It’s not my work to lose! It’s not your work to lose!
Salvation is about what God is doing in your heart, and back in Philippians 1:6, Paul says you can be confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it… That speaks of bringing it to maturity / completion. God started this work of salvation in your heart, and He’s going to bring it to maturity! He’s going to bring it to completion, and He’s going to do that not because you’re that good, but because He’s that good!
The second great text that speaks to this issue of eternal security is JOHN 10:27-29, so go ahead and make your way to John chapter 10…
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Isn’t that great! Jesus says I know My sheep. They know Me. They hear My voice & follow Me, and He says (in verse 28), “I give eternal life to them…
Eternal life is a gift given by the Lord Jesus! Do you see that! Jesus says “I give eternal life…” Eternal life is a gift given–not by the church, not by some Priest / Pope / Pastor– Not because you have earned it / deserve it. Eternal life is a gift (not a crown to be won nor a work to be completed), but it’s a gift given by the Lord Jesus!
Jesus goes on to say in verse 28 that His sheep, and He’s talking about Christians there (little Christ-ones), Jesus says they will never perish! Jesus says it’s impossible for a believer to perish! It’s just not going to happen. There’s no way one of My sheep are going to be separated from the Father, and then He gives this great image of our salvation being divinely protected. 28c …and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
I’m a big Superman fan. Do we have any Superman fans in the house!
One of my favorite scenes from the original Superman movie. This building was on fire, and there was a guy trapped at the very top! He was so high. No way he was going to jump out. There was no way anyone was going to reach him with a ladder (the building was engulfed with flames), his goose was cooked, but out of nowhere: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Superman!
Superman comes in, rescues this man and as he’s flying him to safety. The man becomes scarred that maybe Superman might drop him! Superman kind-of chuckles. He looks at him and says “I saved you, didn’t I?” (The guy is like “yea”). Superman says, “What makes you think I would drop you now!”
Jesus has saved you, right! He’s saved you! Listen, beloved, He’s strong enough to keep you! 2 Timothy 2:13 says He’s going to be faithful, even when your faith fails. Jude 24 says He’s able to present you blameless before the Throne. Jesus is strong enough to keep you!
Three great texts that infuse our hearts with confidence that our salvation is eternally secure in Christ. The last one is ROMANS 8:29-39. Romans 8, so go ahead and turn there!
29 …For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined… 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
Notice the five words that the Bible uses to talk about salvation complete (the whole of your salvation from the very beginning to the very end). That’s captured here with five words: foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified.
Now we could have an entire message on each of those words, but the point I want you to see here is that they are all linked together with that little phrase “He also.” 29 …For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined… 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Do you see that! Everything is connected (nothing is standing alone here)!
This is what students of the Bible call “the chain of salvation”, and you’ll note that everything about salvation is connected (there’s no single aspect of your salvation that’s standing alone)! For every person that God foreknew, He also predestined. And for every person He predestined, He also called. And for every person called, He also justified. And for every person justified (that’s you & I, as we turn to Jesus in saving faith)–He also glorified!
The “chain of salvation”. The point is that God doesn’t lose any, beloved!
As Paul reflects upon this truth, he says: 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us who is against us? If God is for us– Do you know anybody bigger than God? Do you know anybody stronger than God? Do you know anybody greater than God? No, of course not! The Bible is saying if that same God is for you, if that same God has said “You are forgiven! You are free of your sin debt! You are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ!” If God has said that, then why in the world would we entertain condemning thoughts that would seek to press us down in our faith!
32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Paul says if God gave us Jesus when we were sinners– If God gave His very best before we were saved, then why should we think God would withhold what is necessary to complete that salvation now that we are saved!
33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Paul is saying look, no one is bigger than God. No one is stronger than God. No one is greater than God. He’s the One who has justified you! He’s the One who has entrusted all condemnation over to the Son, and if He’s on your side, then who could really condemn you!
35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now notice that throughout that entire passage, the Bible doesn’t speak about my love for Jesus, but it speaks about His great love for me! Do you see that distinction?
That’s an important distinction because salvation is whose work? It’s God’s work! It’s God’s work, and it’s anchored not in what I do, but in what He has done! Salvation is not me holding on to God, but it’s God holding on to me, and although sometimes I may feel like I’m slipping. Sometimes I may wonder if I’m making any progress at all. Sometimes it seems as though I’m taking steps back rather than moving forward in my faith, but here’s the truth– God has got you, and nothing, absolutely nothing, is going to separate you from His great love!
Let me pray for us…
Father, thank You for this time together around Your Word. Thank You for Your Spirit that helps us to get it. Father, help us to live in light of this great salvation that You have given us!
Help us to live, as men & women, who are accepted before You! Guard our hearts from this tendency we have to think we have to earn Your love, work for Your salvation, or perform for Your satisfaction! Help us to remember, Father, that salvation is Your work. It is a gift given by the Lord Jesus, and nothing, absolutely nothing is going to separate us from Your great love. Father, help us to settle this issue in our hearts so that our worship and service and life-lived for You might truly spring from love and not from fear! Work in our hearts to this end, for we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.