Believers have both the right and the responsibility to be confident regarding their salvation—the right because God has done all the work of saving and because the Word of God affirms the security of the believer, and the responsibility because acknowledging God’s complete and perfect work of salvation honors God. Consider the following verse regarding our confidence: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).
The Specific Confidence. “For I am confident of this very thing,” Paul wrote to the church at Philippi. Paul was not given to absolute confidence about everything. For example, later in the same epistle he stated only that he hoped to send Timothy to the church at Philippi and that he himself might be able to pay them a ministerial visit in the near future (2:23, 24). On another occasion he expressed doubts concerning whether he would live or die. As with all men, there were many uncertainties in Paul’s life, many things he could not foresee and did not know. But though life presents its unknown and unknowable vagaries, Paul was certain about what God said in His Word that He would do and what, being faithful to His Word, He had done. “I am confident of this very thing.” I do not know what lies before me naturally, Paul might have written, but there is one thing about which I am absolutely sure, namely, God’s saving work in your lives.
The Source of Commencement. “He who began a work in you.” Paul had a specific work, an explicit activity, in mind: the eternal salvation of the Philippians. So far as the Philippians had experienced salvation, it was not yet complete, but that was neither here nor there because Paul knew and trusted the One who had begun that work. He had seen firsthand the demonstration of God’s power; when preaching to Lydia (the first member of the Philippian church), “the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things” Paul preached (Acts 16:14). He knew that salvation was God’s work and God’s work alone. He knew that what God began He always finished. Later in the same epistle, he reminded the Philippians that “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (2:13). If it were both God’s will to save and also His work that wrought salvation, there could be no question of its completion. He had earlier confirmed the same truth to the church at Rome in even more definitive terms: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Rom. 8:29, 30). Salvation is of the Lord—He would not, indeed, could not, fail.
The Secured Culmination. “He . . . will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Salvation, which began with deliverance from the power and penalty of sin, will culminate in deliverance from the presence of sin. From the moment of salvation, Paul recognized that the Holy Spirit of God through the Holy Word of God was sanctifying the believers at Philippi. Though born again, cleansed from sin, and delivered from hell by grace through faith, the Philippians were not at any time in their lives all that they would become when they were finally glorified. Following their initial salvation and during their entire remaining sojourn on earth, the Spirit of the Lord would be cleansing and sanctifying the saints for eternity. Though positionally perfect in Christ, they had much practical sanctification to acquire. But that, too, (with the submission of their wills and their free choice) would be God’s work. And as surely as God had begun His saving work, He would bring it to perfect fruition at the return of Christ for His church (I John 3:2).
Such is the confidence of believers today as well. Though experiencing the weakness of this unredeemed flesh, though sometimes falling and often failing, the believer has peace, assurance, and confidence because “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” God expects us to serve, but He alone has provided salvation. Neither pride nor presumption, but faith and humility are at work when we are confident concerning what God has promised and performed.
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