Think back to when you were saved. It was all about Jesus wasn’t it? You were dead. Jesus brought you to life. You were spiritually blind and deaf. Jesus gave you eyes to see and ears to hear. We, like Paul on the Damascus Road, were enemies of Christ and He made us His friends. Jesus came. Jesus lived. Jesus died. Jesus was raised again. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
Now consider your current spiritual life. If you were to give a State of the Christian Life address, what would you say? Are you still soaking yourself in the truths and realities of the gospel every day, or like some, have you drifted from the solid foundation of the gospel and into self-justification?
We have this nasty tendency to believe the gospel for salvation and rely on self for preservation as if the gospel were a stepping stone of sorts that mature believers moved past long ago. Think about it. Christian 101 is ‘The Gospel,’ but Christian 501 is ‘How to Keep the Law.” That doesn’t make any sense. It’s the gospel that saves us and it’s the gospel that sustains us.
Our journey through Philippians takes us to Philippians 1:6 today. Paul reminds his readers of a few things he is sure of. We’ll tackle them briefly one at a time.
1. God had begun a work in the people of this church. As in your own life, God initiated the work in the believers of Philippi. Just as when you got saved, it was all about Jesus for these people. Read Ephesians 1:1-14 and make a note of all the things Christ does and all the things you do. It’s not even close. The Bible is clear. God initiates. We respond. God comes to us, not the other way around.
2. God will complete this work in them. This reminds me of the doctrine “once saved, always saved.” In Reformed circles it’s called “The Perseverance of the Saints.” Call it what you’d like, what God has done no man can undo. Speaking of the permanence of marriage in Matthew 19:6 Jesus says, “They are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” And what is marriage but a parable of the relationship between Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:32). Are you a part of the Church universal? Then you have been joined together with Christ and nothing is powerful enough to undo that union (John 10:29).
3. Jesus Christ is coming back. Paul inherently states that he believes this is a fact. There are massive implications for this and it should affect the entire life of a believer now. I wrote a few weeks ago that this truth enables believers to endure suffering, treat money as a gift and not a god, share the witness of Christ with those around us and to be very wise how we spend our time because the days are evil. Time is running short. Our lives a vapor. One minute here and the next minute gone. Let the fact that Jesus is coming back (maybe before I finish writing this sentence…nope) fuel your life. The implications are huge.
4. It is at this time that the work God began in them will be completed. Not only is the believer affected by the second coming now, but we have definite things to look forward to. In this passage it’s that God will complete the work He started in us. In that day our bodies will be freed from the bondage of Satan, sin, and death. Disease and illness will no longer be a threat. Sorrows will disappear as God will wipe all the tears from our eyes. Evil will be vanquished and Jesus will reign as King forever!
So what is this work that God has begun in them…in us…and if God initiates it and God sees it through to completion, isn’t salvation nothing more than a ticket to heaven?
To be continued…