GOD’S CONTINUING WORK
Though her name is lost to history, the woman who finished last in the 1912 Shawnee Invitation for Ladies in Pennsylvania will live on as an essay of determination and perseverance. She teed off the 16th hole, where her ball went directly into a nearby river. She gamely set out in a row boat to play the ball. When she finally had succeeded in playing the ball out of the water, it landed in dense woods. From the woods she managed to get the ball into the rough, from there she hit the ball into a sand trap, then back into the rough. After much effort she finally got the ball into the cup. He final score for the hole, was 166. Now for those who are not golfers, the par for the hole is 4, which is how many times you should hit the ball to get it into the cup.
So we see in this woman, one who set out to accomplish something, and was determined to finish the work she had set out to do. I however piety the foursome that was playing behind this lady.
Today we are going to talk about perseverance and the work in which God has begun in us. And just as the woman was determined to finish her work, God promises us that he will finish the work he has begun in us.
We are continuing our look into the book of Philippians, as we look at the last part of verse 5, and verse 6 of chapter
1. Turn with me there as we read that passage; "from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;"
Now we of course cannot just pull this verse out of the Bible with out considering it’s context. Paul is continuing in his prayer for the Philippians. As we see in the verse 3 he thanks God for the saints at Philippi. He states he remembers then always, in every prayer he prays, and he prays for them with a sense of joy, because as we saw last week they share with Paul a fellowship or as we noted a common interest. Paul specifically mentions that fellowship of the gospel. The common interest in seeing the good new of Jesus Christ our Lord spread to others. Paul goes on say that he is confident that the work which God had begun in them will continue on until the day of Jesus Christ, that is that return of Jesus. And as we read and study the book of Philippians we can see that the work that God began in them is indeed continuing on today.
While Paul wrote this to the Philippians, God through His Holy Spirit also wrote this to us. What Paul says is true for them, is true for us. So lets us take a look at the work which God has begun in us.
The first thing I would like to not concerning the work that God had begun in us is the time frame which the passage points out. As the passage states the work began "from the first day". Now some may say that the "first day" means the first day which Paul preached the gospel to those in Philippi, as seen in Acts 16. But I would suggest the "first day" goes back even further then that. We should realize that God’s work in us, goes back further then the day when we profess Christ as our Lord and Saviour. It is God’s work in us that brings us to that point.
So how did God’s work begin in us? I believe we can look to that Fellowship with the triune God that we spoke of last week for the answer. Remember that scripture speaks of fellowship with the Father, fellowship with the Son, and a fellowship with the Holy Spirit. And we see each person of the Godhead play a part in the work which is begun in us.
We see it in the Love of the Father. John 3:16 a verse we all know, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
God work in us extents before the creation of time. Before any of us even existed God determined that He would sent his son to die for us. Why? Not because we deserved it. Not because He has found a basic good in us. But because He loved us. It was the love which the Father had for us that began the work of God in us.
We can also trace this work of God in us to the work of the Son. If God had not acted on the love in which He had for us it would do us no good. That love he had for us is seen in the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. When we place our trust in Christ as our personal Saviour, we trust in the work which he as done for us. Scripture states that we are a new creation
2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have
passed away; behold, all things have become new."
When we accept Christ as our Saviour a new work is begun in us, we are a new creations. No longer being with just a flesh nature, but being with a spiritual nature as well.
This also leads us to the fact that the work of God which is begun in us can be traced to the operation of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Titus 3:5 "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,"
Romans 15:16 tell us that we are "sanctified by the Holy Spirit.’
Ephesians 1:13 "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,"
So God begins His work through His love, as seen through the work of His Son on the cross which when we trust in that work we are in Christ and a new Creation, sanctified, renewed and sealed in the Holy Spirit. All the Godhead plays a part in that "first day" in which God’s work begins in us.
The second item we see in the time frame of God’s work in us is that the work continues as Paul states "until now". The work in which God has begun in us is at work in us to this very day. And again we look to fellowship with God which we share in continuing that work in us today.
It is by the Love of the Father that he works in us today. It is by the work of His Son that his work remains in us today. It is by the operation of the Spirit, the Spirit remaining with us, that God work goes on in us "until now".
So all that God began in us, continues with us even today. The work that He began, He continues to do.
The third item in the time frame of God’s work in us as seen in our passage, is that this work continues on until the "day of Christ". The work God as begun will not cease until the Lord Jesus Returns in glory. Notice the verse does not say that God’s work will stop at our deaths, but that God’s work will continue on until Christ returns. Look at the work of the Philippians, there work in a sense continues today. The work of the saints will not be stopped by any outside force other the God.
So God’s work in us begin on the "first day", continues "until now" and will continue in use until the glorious return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Next thing concerning the work of God as found in this verse is the confidence the He will continue his work. Paul write that he is "confident of this very thing" That just as God began a good work in you, he will complete it".
Paul was sure the God would fulfill the work He had begun.
God is unlike man in that "Men conduct experiments God carries out plans" We may do sometimes wondering how they are going to come out. Many times we start things to see how they will come out. God however works toward a purpose. There are no question as to how it will turn out with God, He already knows. We had humans have a great habit of doing thing half way. God however never does anything by halves, he complete that which he has started. As I study this passage I found that there are number promises of assurance that God is going to complete that which He has begun. I would like to share some with you;
Psalms 89:33 Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, Nor allow My faithfulness to fail.
John 4:14 "But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."
John 6:39 "This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.
John 10:28 "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
Romans 8:39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are ir-ra-voc-able.
1 Peter 1:4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved
in heaven for you.
All these verse so that what God has begun, he will complete. We can have confidence in this because God cannot lie, and what he has promised must come to pass.
Sometimes we begin things get half way through them and they fall apart. We then go and blame God for not completing what He started. It is at that point we need to ask was it really God who started it. Or was it us who began a work apart from God and then asked God to finish it. We need to know the difference.
We can be confident that God will finish the work in which He started by looking back to those things by which He began His work.
The Fathers love is sure. We can remain confident in the Love of God, for God is Love. That which He loved he will not "unlove".
We can have confidence in the work of Christ. Jesus said on the cross that it was finished. The work of salvation is already done for us, it is complete for us. The work of Christ is complete for all eternity, nothing can change that. Just as we can have confidence in the work of Christ, we can have confidence that the work begun in us will be completed.
We can have confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 4:30 "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."
God promises us that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit until they day of the Lord. The Holy Spirit will never leave use. Therefore we can be confident that the work of God which is done through the Holy Spirit will be completed.
We can also be confident the God will complete His work in us because the very nature of God implies this. If you look at throughout Scripture we can see how God always completes His works. I think of Abraham, how God promised that his descendants would be given that promised the land. We see that work of God complete when Israel under Joshua entered into that promised land.
I think of the story of Joseph and how God told him that his brothers would bow down to him. God’s plan was indeed completed as Joseph’s brothers did bow to him and God brought the Jewish people into Egypt and made a mighty of the Jewish people there.
And we could go on and on, people Moses, Josuha, and Paul. In each and every case we see God’s plan or His work completed. And in each case we see it completed not for Abraham’s, or Joseph, or Paul’s glory but for the glory of God.
And that is very important thing to realize that God does not work out His work in us for our own purpose, but He will complete his work in us for His glory.
So we can see that the work which is begun in us God will bring to completion. In this we can be sure. But we also need to understand while it is God who works in us, we also have a part in bring it to completion.
Notice Paul states that it is a work begun "in you". In you, not apart from you but "in you". Here Paul tells of Human perseverance and divine preservation. God will strength us and work in us to see the His work in complete.
We can look to the examples which I gave earlier. The example of Abraham. To complete the work God had begun in him, Abraham had to leave is home town, he had to be obedient to God. It was because of Joseph’s obedience that he was given the rank he was given in Pharaoh’s court.
Moses had to obey God and go before the Pharaoh. Joshua had to be obedient and enter the promise land and conquer those people living there. Paul had to be obedient and go where the Spirit lead him. In each case God’s plan is carried out by the obedience of these men.
And so we can be assured that the work God has begun in us will be completed just by looking back over history and seeing that what God brings about he will complete. And we need to play a part in completing the work God has begun in us through our obedience.
Now I feel I must add that there have been times when God’s will will also be done through our disobedience. I think of Jonah, how he refused to go to Ninavah. Will he ended up there anyway, and God’s work was completed. I think of Samson, and how God’s work was completed in spite of his disobedience.
So know that God’s work in us will be completed it is just a lot easier on us when we cooperate with that work God as called us to do.
So let us bring this sermon to our lives. Know that if you have received Jesus Christ as your Saviour that the Lord as begun a work in you. He has called you to the work of his service. Not for your own glory, but for His. You need to respond in obedience to the work in which God has called you to. Because God will complete it in spite of you if that is what you choose.
While He has a specific work for all of us, the work God has called each one of us to is that work of spreading the gospel. We all share in this. We do this through our lifestyle, through our witnessing, through our finances and other gifts. So let us be obedient to this work that Lord as called each of us to. And always keep in mind that God will complete what He has begun in you.
SHALL WE PRAY