Philippians 1:6 – 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.
The word, began, appears 87 times in the New Testament, but this particular Greek word is only found twice. Paul uses it here in Philippians 1:6 and again in Galatians 3:3, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Both times, this word refers to the origin of our salvation. Paul explains that God both initiates and completes the work of salvation in people.
Paul uses the truth of God’s sovereignty in salvation to encourage the Philippians and also correct the Galatians. Heretical teaching was taking place in Galatian churches, and Paul wrote to reaffirm that salvation could not be earned by human effort. He reminded them salvation was a work of God. They were to reject false teaching that salvation could be earned through religious practice, and they were to return to the truth of salvation through faith alone. For the Philippians, Paul pointed to God’s sovereignty in salvation as encouragement. There was great evidence of God working among the Philippian believers, and Paul encouraged them that God would finish what He began.
These are good reminders for us today. Many people fall into one of these two categories. There are Galatians among us insisting Christ is not enough. Beware anytime you hear a version of the gospel proclaiming salvation through Christ and anything else. There is nothing to add. Christ is supremely valuable and completely sufficient. Of course, I would love to see people attending and serving the church, and I rejoice when God’s people pursue righteous living. But even our best efforts fall short. Our salvation is only possible through faith in Christ (Galatians 2:8-9).
There are also Philippians among us who ought to rejoice in God’s sovereignty of salvation. Those who are born again can have assurance God will indeed complete the work He began. He draws and saves, and He will continue the work of sanctifying His people until we die and go to glory. We may have peace knowing God’s hold is secure, and we rejoice knowing God continues to mold and shape the character of His people. We have not arrived, but God is not done with us yet!
Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.