HOW GOD COMPLETES HIS WORK IN US

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ… ~ Philippians 1:6

Often texts such as the one cited above are quoted as a kind of stand alone truth that is thought to just happen rather than being understood within the context to which they belong.

When we consider the context, we find that Paul does not imply that God is going to automatically complete the work he has begun in us, and we have other texts throughout the New Testament which bring balance to such notions. Our obedience and continuance in the truth have something to do with our walking in the blessings of God and the completion of God’s work in us.

For example, consider Paul’s words from the very next chapter of Philippians:

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, (you) work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain. ~ Philippians 2:12-16

As we can see here, Paul instructs the Philippians to live in truth and obedience because God was at work within them and God’s work in them required obedience on their part. Paul goes on to say, “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” (v. 17)

The completion of the work of God in us requires something from us and as we can see from Paul’s opening in chapter one, this was the aim of Paul’s prayers and labor for the Philippians. Paul was willing to give himself unselfishly both in service and in prayer for their furtherance in the faith. And because of this, Paul was confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in the Philippians would perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. ~ Philippians 1:3-11

The confidence that Paul had that God would complete the work he had begun in the Philippians came from his heartfelt and earnest prayers for them. Paul had prayed so earnestly for them that he says, “I have you in my heart” and “I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.” Prayer is powerful when our heart is invested and we all need to learn more about heartfelt earnest prayers.

Unfortunately in many places prayer has been reduced to declarations often expressed more in a preachy manner rather than sincere and heartfelt requests. Paul’s confidence came from his “requests.” to God on behalf of the Philippians – I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy…

Nowhere do you see anyone in the New Testament praying in a preachy, declarative manner in which they are taking authority or dominion. Yet over and over again, we read of prayers being offered as requests and petitions with heartfelt sincerity – that this is what God works with to complete his work in us.

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