God’s started, so He’ll finish Philippians 1:1-10

Life isn’t always easy. The last few weeks have been difficult or sad for many of us. We all need encouragement. And one of the best Bible books to cheer any of us up is what was probably the apostle Paul’s last letter, Philippians. It’s just overflowing with joy and grace and peace and hope. And when we are weary or discouraged one of the best verses to start with is Philippians 1:6

v.6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. (The Message)
It was Magnus Magnusson’s famous phrase, “I’ve started, so I’ll finish.” This verse tells us very clearly, “God’s started, so He WILL finish.”

We are talking here about the wonderful doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. When we hear the word perseverance we can easily get discouraged.
“Perseverance is the most overrated of traits: beating your head against a wall is more likely to produce a concussion in the head than a hole in the wall.”
But the idea of the Perseverance of the Saints is something altogether more wonderful and glorious and exciting. And its summed up in these words of the apostle Paul to the church at Philippi:
PHILIPPIANS 1:6 Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
The Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints is the glorious truth that it’s not up to us to cling on to God whatever happens, however hard life gets. If it was up to us, each one of us would grow weary, would let go of God, would fall away, because NONE of us is strong enough to keep hold of God.
The Perseverance of the Saints is an idea which reminds us that whether we hold on to God or let Him go, God will always hold on to us and God never let us go. Whether we succeed in persevering to the end in our Christian lives is not up to our human efforts, but all up to God’s grace.
PHILIPPIANS 1:6 Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
The apostle Paul knew more than any of us about trials and tribulations in Christian living. Paul probably wrote Philippians from the prison in Rome where he would soon die. But Paul really knew WHAT (or WHO) gave him the strength to keep on going.
2 Corinthians 1:21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.
Because it is all down to God and not to us then we can be absolutely certain, that ONCE we are SAVED, we are ALWAYS SAVED! ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED!

Can a Christian ever go so far away from God that they lose their salvation? Can a Christian be saved and lost again? Absolutely NOT! Let me give you THREE reasons for being confident that once God has saved us, we will stay saved forever.

(1) Our new relationship with God
Christianity is not just a philosophy or a set of beliefs or a way of living. It is a relationship with God our creator, who by Christ’s death in our place has changed us from God’s enemies into His friends. More than that, we are adopted into God’s family as His children, sons and daughters, so we can know God as “Abba, Father” (John 1:12-13, Romans 8:14-17). So God views Christians in a new way, no longer as rebels but as beloved children. We are no longer “lost sheep” – instead we belong to Christ’s flock. This new relationship is not based on our good works but on the merits of Jesus Christ alone. Nothing we can do will cause God to take that new status as His children away from us again. Jesus promises that our loving heavenly Father would never turn away or reject or disinherit one of His own children.

(John 6:35-40). 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

(2) We are born again to a new life
A Christian is someone who has been born again, and given a brand new life to live. Christians are “in Christ” – they share in all the blessings of Christ’s death for sin and Christ’s resurrection life (Romans 6:1-4). They have passed from death to life (John 5:24, Ephesians 2:1-10). They are no longer in darkness – they have come into the light. The Holy Spirit lives inside them giving this quality of new life, and the Holy Spirit would not allow the Christian to do anything which would reject or destroy that new life.

(3) God can and will keep us safe
The eternal security of the believer rests ultimately in God’s hands, not ours. Just as we can do nothing to earn God’s free gift of forgiveness and new life, so we can do nothing to deserve to keep that gift. Christ’s death has dealt with ALL our sins, those before AND those after we accept His gift of new life. We do not have to work hard to “keep our place” in God’s family – that place is guaranteed by God Himself. He is greater than everything. He CAN and WILL keep us safe and He will never reject us (Rom 8:28-39).

Walking along a busy street with one of my children when they were younger, I would say to them, “Keep away from the road. Watch out for the cars.” But I would still keep a firm grip on their hands to keep them safe. Their safety didn’t depend in the least on them obeying my instructions. It depended on my hand holding theirs tightly and never letting go of them! Equally, our eternal safety rests, not in our own hands, but in the Hands of God.

So we are once saved, always saved. God’s love will never let us go!
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
Here’s the key – God’s faithfulness to us! Not our human efforts, not our struggling, God is faithful – God WON’T let us down. God WILL finish the work He has started in each of our lives. God has made so many promises to us – and God keeps His promises!
2 Thess 3:3 The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
1 Corinthians 1:8-9 He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

GOD will keep us safe. He WILL finish the good work he has started in our lives. And
Jesus Himself promises us that the eternal destiny of a true Christian is completely secure,

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no-one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)

PHILIPPIANS 1:6 Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

But what is this good work God has begun in our lives. What does it look like? It is God’s wonderful salvation which turns sinners into saints and atheists into missionaries. It is the transforming power of God changing us into the image of Christ.
v.9 And this is my prayer: this is what Paul prays for the Philippians
that your love may abound more and more
Growing in love! Loving God with all our heart and all our strength and all our mind. Loving our neighbours as we love ourselves with Good Samaritan love. Loving other Christians as Christ has loved us. By THIS will all men know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
in knowledge and depth of insight,
Knowing God better. Not just knowing more about God or even understanding more about God – but deepening our relationship with God day by day.
so that you may be able to discern what is best
Knowing what God’s will is. Knowing what he wants us to do with our lives. Knowing what He wants us to pray for. Knowing what to do in order to please our Heavenly Father.
and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,
Here indeed is the greatest need of this time – our personal holiness. That we live pure and blameless lives. That we stand out from the crowd not by being popular or successful, but by being holy. So that we will be ready to meet Him when Jesus returns.
filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ
This fruit of righteousness is the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. The fruit of righteousness is also a life of righteous deeds!
to the glory and praise of God.
And isn’t this what we all want – that our lives should bring glory to God. This kind of life is the good work God has begun in us and that He promises and guarantees He will bring to completion at the day of Christ Jesus!
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

How can Paul be so certain that God will complete His good work in us? What gives Paul such confidence?
v.7 all of you share in God’s grace with me.
I love to preach on the wonderful grace of God!
Through many dangers, toils and snares we have already come.
Tis grace has brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead us home.
1 Peter 5:10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
God has made so many glorious promises to us who believe. God will continue His work in each of our lives until it is fully completed and we stand in His presence in glory. Whatever the problems, whatever the disappointments, however much suffering may come along the way, God has promised “I will never fail you or forsake you.” God WILL complete His work in our lives. Think for a moment about how your life is going. Think about the difficulties and challenges other people are facing at the moment. Now remember God’s faithfulness. He WILL NOT abandon us!

When we think of grace we need to remember that there are two senses to the word. There is the grace that saves us, and then there is the grace which helps us live the Christian life. God’s undeserved favour AND THEN God’s strength to do God’s work and to triumph

Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues. John R. W. Stott (1921– )

We were dead because of sin. But Jesus has died for our sins on the cross. As we share in His death our sins are forgiven. But even more than that! We were dead– but God has brought us to life with Christ! We are raised up with Him and seated in heavenly places! We share Christ’s resurrection life, eternal life, life in all its fullness! That’s grace. Getting the punishment we deserve for our sins would be justice! Being spared that punishment which we deserve would be mercy. But sharing the benefits of Christ’s glorious resurrection, receiving blessing upon blessing, that’s grace! That’s the love shown by the father of the prodigal son. The father who doesn’t treat this wasteful son as he deserves for squandering the family estate, but instead welcomes him home. The Father who is always on the lookout ready to welcome the wanderer home. That’s God’s grace. God’s underserved favour. All the blessings we could NEVER earn or deserve, lavished upon us by our loving heavenly Father!

But then there is the second sense of God’s grace.

Everything good and worthwhile that he, and any of us ever do in Christian service, is GOD at work within us. It’s all of grace! Grace is God himself, his loving energy at work within his church and within our souls. Remember the apostle Paul’s testimony:-
1 Cor 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No – I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me!”

It’s all GOD’s working inside us! Everything that any of us have ever done in God’s service, anything of value that’s ever been accomplished in North Springfield Baptist Church. It’s ALL the Holy Spirit equipping us with spiritual gifts and stirring us up to service, giving us the love and perseverance we need. It’s all of grace!

Eph 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God’s grace not only saves us! Grace also leads us on and equips us to serve God for the rest of our lives, doing those good works God has planned for us to do! So everything good that we’ve ever done is all of grace!! God’s strength to work for Him and to triumph. The mistakes and failures are ours – the successes are His! So we can always look forward with excitement and confidence. Not confidence in our own efforts but confident in the grace of God!

When we think we haven’t the strength to continue, God’s grace is there for us!. Whether it’s in our church life together or in any part of our lives, home, work, family, if ever we are weary and discouraged and want to give up, God’s grace is there for us!
Grace – God’s strength to do His work and to triumph!

That’s why Christians will always be more than conquerors! And nothing can ever separate us from God’s love! Whatever the challenges, whatever the discouragements we may be facing, Jesus will continue His work in our lives until it is thoroughly finished. He’s NOT going to give up on us. Never! Praise God, the Perseverance of the Saints does NOT rest in OUR hands, but in God’s faithfulness and God’s grace. Paul’s words are God’s words for each one of us!
PHILIPPIANS 1:6 Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
“God’s started, so He WILL finish.!”

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