Summary: God will fully complete in us the salvation that was provided through the coming of Christ.
As we have thought about the meaning of Christmas, we have said that Christmas is all about God bringing salvation from sin to us through the person of Jesus. That through Christ, God has carried out a plan to bring sinful men and women, boys and girls, into a personal love relationship with Himself so that we might be part of His family, and become just like Jesus. Through accepting Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, we become the beneficiaries of the salvation God has provided through Him.
In Philippians 1:6, Paul tells us that he was confident that God was competent to complete what He has begun in those of us who have accepted Christ. As the old saying goes, He is able to save, "from the guttermost to the uttermost."
In this passage, Paul explains on three aspects of the salvation that has been provided for us in Christ. He tells us three things about the work of salvation that God brings about in the life of one who has accepted Christ as their personal Savior.
1. Salvation Begun - "He who began a good work in you"
Our salvation commences with the decision to accept Christ as our personal Savior.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son." - John 3:16-18 (NIV)
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." - John 5:24 (NASB)
Through faith in Christ, I have been saved from the penalty of sin because I have accepted the payment of Christ.
Many people, though, don’t see themselves as sinners in need of salvation. They make excuses like these: "My good deeds outweigh my bad," or "I’m not as bad as some people," or "Usually I’m a good person."
Their shortcomings, they feel, don’t jeopardize their standing before Almighty God.
But imagine a citizen being brought to trial for several charges of shoplifting. It would be useless for that person to appeal to the judge by saying: "Don’t forget, my good deeds outweigh my bad." "I’m not as bad as many others." "Most of the time I’m a law-abiding citizen." The offender must be judged according to the offense, not according to previous good deeds. If justice is to be done, someone must pay, and that someone should be the offender - unless another is allowed to bear the penalty instead. That’s exactly what Christ in love did for all sinners, namely, you and me.
"But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the guilt and sins of us all." - Isaiah 53:5-6 (NLT)
"We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty."
- Romans 3:22-24 (NLT)
(We are reminded of this when we partake of the Lord’s supper)
But not only are we freed from the penalty of sin by virtue of the salvation provided by Christ’s sacrifice. We can now be freed from sin’s power in our daily life.
"Christ carried the burden of our sins. He was nailed to the cross, so that we would stop sinning and start living right. By his cuts and bruises you are healed." - 2 Peter 2:24 (CEV)
2. Salvation Continued - "will carry it on"
I am saved from the power of sin as I acknowledge my position in Christ.
"But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s special favor that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated with him in the heavenly realms--all because we are one with Christ Jesus."
- Ephesians 2:4-6 (NLT)
"Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin." - Romans 6:6 (NLT)