'He Who Began a Good Work' - How God Finishes What He Started In You
Paul writes in 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.” How can we know that God is at work? And if he is, how does He finish?
“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.” - Philippians 1:6
When Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, he knew his life was near the end. Although he was imprisoned and in chains, he writes to his friends, encouraging them to rejoice whatever the circumstances. He heard the news of their disunity and the harassment they suffered because of their faith. Yet, his letter told them to rejoice always. Why would Paul be joyful? Because he could see that God was at work in their lives. To Paul, their actions meant they received the gospel, and Paul was confident that what God started in the Philippians, He would continue and finish.
The work God was doing in their lives was not always pleasant. Paul wanted his friends to keep in mind that whatever they faced, God was using it to increase their strength and dependence on Him and ultimately transform them to be like His Son. The same is true for us. We may not be facing the fear of physical persecution, but we do have the real fear of losing freedoms. We may not know real hunger or living without, but we do know uncertain times. Yet, everything that we face, the good and bad, God is using. He is working in us and will complete His work. Paul writes in 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.” How can we know that God is working and will finish?
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What Give Us Confidence in God's Work?
“being confident of this…”
Paul was confident that God was at work in the lives of his friends. He knew they received the word of God and believed. Their lives displayed fruit or showed evidence of their faith in God and the deep love for each other. They were spreading the gospel, supporting Paul’s ministry by giving, and as Paul describes, they were children of God in a crooked and depraved generation (Philippians 2:15-16). He could see the work of God and was assured the work would continue. When we notice evidence of transformation in our lives, it gives us confidence that God’s grace and love are at work in our hearts. Are you replacing the old self “to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness?” (Ephesians 4:24) Do you see evidence of God’s transforming love and grace? If so, as Paul reminds us, rejoice.
God Is the One Who Begins the Work in You
“that he who began…”
It is God who began the work in the hearts of the Philippians. Acts 2:37 says, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart.” In this passage, Peter preaches the gospel, and the people realize their sinfulness. The words “cut to the heart” mean that the truth of Christ emotionally pierced their hearts, and they became aware of their sinfulness. The only response is to turn away from sin and follow Jesus. Only the work of God cuts to our hearts. God began with our salvation and continues His work in our hearts through sanctification. Paul reminds his friends again, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). Has God “cut to the heart” of your sinfulness? If so, He has begun the work, and that is a reason to rejoice.
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The Work in You Is Good because He Is Good
“a good work in you…”
The good work that God began in the lives of the Philippians and our lives when we believed in Jesus is grace. The evidence of such grace in the Philippian followers is their sacrificial giving to support Paul’s ministry and their unwavering love for each other. When we know Christ through God’s saving grace, we respond through good work or sharing the grace given. We earnestly seek to know Jesus and want others to know Him as well. But, it is not by our strength and ability that we live. It is only by God’s grace and His work in us that we are transformed. The author of Hebrews reminds us, “Now the God of peace... equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:21). We can rejoice that it is God at work in us.
God Never Gives Up Once He Starts
“will carry it on to completion…”
Interestingly, the verb in this part of the passage expresses a continual work. In other words, God is always putting the finishing touches on the work He started. We can know that God uses every good and bad day to continue putting the “finishing touches” on our lives. When we ask, “Why, God? Why must I hurt?” Or, on other occasions, we lift up praise, it is because God is chipping away self-reliance and self-centeredness, making us more like Jesus. God is patient with us, forgiving our sins. He is faithful, never leaving us to figure out how to live a holy life. God is cheering for us. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God rejoices over us as we come closer to being like Jesus.
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God Will Finish His Work because He Sees the End
“until the day of Christ Jesus…”
Many men attempt to pinpoint the end of times, and they sorely miss the mark. Only God knows the day to come when Christ reigns over the earth (Mark 13:32). On that day, believers and followers of Jesus will rejoice because we will be reunited with Christ, our King. What a day that will be. Jesus will be revealed to the waiting world and to worshipping believers. On that day, as Paul describes, every knee will bow, and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11). So, God is working on a clock. He knows when His work will come to an end, and on that day, there will be no “that will do” or last-minute touch-ups. We will be perfected and ready to worship Jesus for eternity.
God’s work will come to an end, and that gives us every reason to rejoice.
Since the moment God made you and I aware of our sins, and we became followers of Christ, whatever we struggle through has a purpose. Whether good days, bad days, unexpected tragedy, and happiness, He is using it all to grow our faith and dependence in Him. He is molding and shaping us for His purpose. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Nothing is wasted. We have the assurance that everything has a purpose, even prepared beforehand, and that purpose is to make us more like Christ.
Knowing that God is actively working in our hearts and lives, that everything has a purpose, gives us absolutely every reason for rejoicing. Paul was correct to remind his friends they had reasons to rejoice. I know it gives me great joy to remember where I was five, ten, and twenty years ago, compared to today. The road is rocky and winding, and perfection is nowhere near, but I can see God’s handiwork. I am being made new. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Can you see His work in your life? Are you a new creation? Then, you have every reason to rejoice. Thank God for His work in your life and for the continuing work He has yet to complete. In the words of Paul, “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice” (Philippians 1:18).
Tamela Turbeville is a redeemed daughter of God and her greatest desire is for everyone to know that God loves them, and that they are worthy and wanted. She lives with her husband and six rescue dogs. When she is not writing, she teaches college students how to write. She began Living One Word to write and share how God redeems lives and you can read more about Tamela and her journey at www.livingoneword.com, on Facebook, and Instagram.
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