We can have joy-filled confidence, despite our circumstances, because of the work of God in our lives. Look at Philippians 1:6. This may be my favorite verse in Philippians.
Philippians 1:6 I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
The good work that God began, for some back in Acts 16, God was going to finish. God was the one that would carry them on to completion, to that final day when they stand before Jesus. Paul is encouraging this church and us that we will be preserved to the end because we are in Christ.
“Salvation is not by human achievement, but by divine accomplishment through the finished work of Jesus Christ upon the cross.”Steven J. Lawson1
Our Security in Christ Produces Confident Joy
Because God has begun this work in us, we can rest assured that he will complete it. You can be as certain of heaven as though you have already been there for hundreds of years. Know, how do we grow in this confident joy? How do we experience it? First of all, we continually trust in God.
Continually Trust in God
Psalm 20:7-8 Some take pride in chariots, and others in horses, but we take pride in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand firm.
When we place our confidence in what God is doing, instead of what man is doing, we can stand firm in the battles that we face. This means every day we get up and adopt a heart posture of dependence on God. Even if we aren’t doing something that brings us outside of our comfort zone, even if we are doing something that feels mundane, we don’t place our trust in earthly things, we don’t place our trust in ourselves, we place our trust in God.
Hebrews 10:35-37 So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.
God Rewards Endurance
God will reward faithfulness to him, so the writer of Hebrews encourages and warns us to not throw away our confidence because we need endurance. Yes, life is hard, but you can live with confident joy because God is going to finish what he started in you. God is going to finish what he started. God started this good work the moment we received justification by faith. And by his grace and through his Holy Spirit he is carrying it on through our sanctification.
Every hardship, every difficulty, every test of faith is an opportunity to surrender to the Holy Spirit to allow him to carry on this good work that he started, that he will complete, the moment we stand before Jesus and receive our full inheritance. This is glorification. That is the moment our faith becomes sight. In this one little verse, we see the entire process of our salvation taking place. And we see that it is all the work of God.
God Has No Unfinished Projects
All of us have started a DIY project with all the zeal of Chip Gaines on demo day, only to have that excitement fade and the project left unfinished. But God is not like us. His zeal to complete the work he started in you will not fade. This is good, confidence-building news! And it’s a sure promise. The Word of God breaks through the fog of confusion that we are facing like a light in the darkness and gives us sure ground to stand on. You can live with confidence that God is working in you because you are in him.
Kent Hughes is the former Senior Pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. Hughes is the author of numerous books, including the best-selling Disciplines of a Godly Man. In his commentary on Philippians 1:6, he says “As I reflect on my fifty plus years in Christ it is indeed God who has kept me. It is not my grip on God that has made the difference, but his grip on me. I am not confident in my goodness. I am not confident in my character. I am not confident in my history. I am not confident in my “reverend” persona. I am not confident in my perseverance. But I am confident in God.” – Kent Hughes2
Faithfulness IS Fruitfulness
We experience joy-filled confidence as we regularly place our trust in God. We also grow in confidence as we see the fruit of his work in our lives. When God does the work of salvation in the lives of people, they bear fruit. They demonstrate a life of faithfulness. This is what Paul says in verse 7.
“Indeed, it is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.”
Their partnership was an observable fruit of the work of God. There was observable fruit to their faith. All the things Paul commends this church for are the fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle John talked about how this produced fruit in his life.
3 John 4 I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in truth.
Seeing the fruit of God working in your life produces confidence because it reinforces that God is working. Later in Philippians Paul tells this church…
Philippians 2:12Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Confidence Produces Holy Living
Having an assurance of salvation does NOT lead to idleness, but joyful obedience, perseverance, and endurance. Knowing God is going to finish what he started produces faith to live holy lives. It produces faith to live in such a way that advances the kingdom of God because it reminds us that we are co-laborers with God. Many of us can look back throughout our lives and see God’s faithfulness over and over again. We can see God working in our hearts and through our lives. We have had those experiences that were undeniably the Spirit of God working through us. That is what Paul is expressing as he hears about this church. And as we look around at the work of God in our lives we too can experience joy-filled confidence.
- Lawson, Steven J., and John MacArthur. Philippians For You. The Good Book Company, 2017.
- Hughes, R. Kent. Philippians: The Fellowship of the Gospel. Preaching the Word, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.