New International Version (NIV)
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.
If you are like me, I have countless projects to finish, many books that I have not finished, laundry to be done, dishes to wash, and housekeeping. I seem to start a project, get bored with it, and start something else. Sometimes, it takes days to go back to the original project and sometimes it takes months and even years.
Thankfully, the Lord is not like that with anything, and especially not when it comes to His dealings with His people, as Paul reminds the church at Philippi in this verse. In the introductory lines of this letter, Paul expresses his joy that the Christians in Philippi “participate” in the gospel. That is, that they have been saved by the gracious work of Christ on the cross, and the Lord is growing them in the grace and knowledge of Christ, daily conforming them to the image of Jesus, that they would be more like him in thought, word, and deed. Paul tells his brethren there that this gospel work the Lord began in them is not a temporary thing. It’s not a project He entered into with enthusiasm, and then lost steam, became bored or distracted, and left it incomplete. No, the Lord will finish what He started.
“The one who began a good work in you” is clearly a reference to the Lord. It was God who put within their hearts the desire to hear the gospel message. It was He who changed their hearts by an act of the Holy Spirit, so they would no longer love their sin, but would turn to Christ and be saved. God was the initiator of salvation in their lives. As Paul so thoroughly argues throughout his letter to the Romans, their salvation was nothing that they did–it was all of God.
Right now, we have been declared “redeemed,” but we don’t always feel redeemed. Christ has paid the price, it’s a done deal–but we’re still on earth struggling with sin. One day, however, we will put off mortality and enter immortality. Sin will be no more, and we will come to a full experience of the salvation that Christ purchased for us.
I think what Paul is trying to communicate is the idea that God will continue to grow us until the time we are all in the presence of the Lord, at which point the work will be complete. We will all stand before Him in purity and holiness, not because of our works, but because it is God who has been working in us to make real in our lives the promise of the gospel.
As we go through this week, battling with sin, fighting off temptation, and longing to be more like Jesus, let’s remember this promise of God: He started this work in us, and He is continuing to work in us, and one day that work will be complete. And this is God’s work, so it will be accomplished.
Be blessed and Be a Blessing,