Salvation from Start to Finish
I hope that after taking a closer look, this verse will give you a more complete view of your past, present, and future salvation. Most of all, though, I pray that God will use it to reassure you of his faithfulness to finish what he started in you.
As Christians, each of us will struggle with personal sin every day that we remain on this earth, which often leaves us feeling exhausted and discouraged.
You may know the kind of discouragement that comes from seeing very specific sins continually resurface in your life, even though you've asked for God's forgiveness and you've committed to turn from those sins time and time again. Maybe you know the feelings of guilt that can arise when your prayer life has stagnated, your time in God's word isn't happening frequently enough (or deeply enough), or any other spiritual discipline in your life isn't what you think it should be. Or what about times when you're simply overwhelmed by the volume of your sinful thoughts and behaviors in the course of a single day?
Personally, I've experienced all of this more often than I'd like to admit. To make matters worse, I've been tempted during those times to a range of wrong responses. For example, I may be tempted to think that simply having more discipline and structure will solve these problems, or to believe that God must be very disappointed in me, or to think that I might not be saved at all!
Well, while we could talk about legalism, true repentance, and how we are to deal with our flesh, those subjects can wait for another day. Instead, today, I want to focus our attention on one of the most encouraging and reassuring truths in Scripture related to our salvation.
"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" (Phil. 1:6).
What I find so encouraging about this verse is how it leaves no doubt who is ultimately responsible for every aspect of our salvation—God alone! I hope that after taking a closer look, this verse will give you a more complete view of your past, present, and future salvation. It should also provide you with another Scripture for your arsenal to combat the lies of the evil one. Most of all, though, I pray that God will use it to reassure you of his faithfulness to finish what he started in you.
God Chose to Save You
Philippians 1:6 helps us keep our struggle with sin in the right perspective by taking our eyes off ourselves and focusing on the One who initiated our salvation. Note how it says, "…he who began a good work in you." In other words, God alone began the good work of salvation in you. He chose you for Himself before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-5), he called you to himself when you heard the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14), he gave you the power to respond to his calling (Eph. 2:4-5), and he declared all your sins to be forgiven (Rom. 8:30). Praise God that he did all of this purely out of his good pleasure! There's nothing you did to earn this salvation (Eph. 2:8-9), and there's no way it can be lost (Rom. 8:38-39).
God Is Faithfully Renewing You
When we talk about our salvation, most of us mean the kind of salvation described in the section above, which has already occurred and resulted in us being given a right standing before God (called “justification”). It means we were saved from the penalty of sin. Now we'll see in Philippians 1:6 another aspect of our salvation. The phrase "will bring it" implies that God is actively and continuously doing the good work of salvation in you. In other words, when God declared your sins forgiven at the time of your conversion, he didn't stop there. Instead, his plan for redeeming you included making you more like Jesus throughout the rest of your life (Rom. 8:29, 2 Cor. 3:18), sometimes called our “sanctification.” Through this process, you are continually being saved from the power of sin (Rom. 6:14). You should take great encouragement from this promise that God is actively renewing you! It means that even on your worst day in your struggle against sin, even during periods of your life when it appears sin has gained the upper hand, God never stops working in you and conforming you to the likeness of his Son. He started this good work in you and he is faithful to continue it (1 Thess. 5:23-24).
God Will Finish His Work in You
Finally in Philippians 1:6, we see the aspect of our salvation that I think should bring us the most excitement. It says that God will bring this work of salvation "to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." That means that one day you'll finally be saved from the presence of sin! This future salvation, or “glorification,” is when you'll be given a perfect, resurrected body at Christ's return (1 Cor. 15:51-52). We should long for the day that Jesus comes back! Imagine never having to struggle with sin again and finally having perfect fellowship with the God of the universe!
God has given us an amazing promise of complete salvation in Phil. 1:6. The next time you find yourself discouraged over sin in your life or you're tempted to think God is ready to give up on you, remember that he is the author of your salvation (Heb. 2:10-11). God determined in the beginning that he would save us from sin, he is faithfully and continually making us more like Jesus, and he will bring this salvation to completion when we are resurrected. Paul said, "I am sure of this," and we can be sure as well.
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994, pp. 722, 746, 828.
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