First, I did not make up this verse. It really is in the Bible. You can check. In fact, I encourage you to check. I say this because some Churches, Pastors and perhaps even yourself deny the existence of verses like this. Specifically, they deny the explicit truth of God’s persevering grace in a Christian’s life. I encourage you to find out where your church stands on this issue and then ask them about Philippians 1:6. Whatever you do, do not ignore this verse. It is too sweet a treasure to only see, but never taste.
In the computer science world there is such a thing as conditional programming. It is computer code that uses the basic logic of “If-Then.” For example: if x, then y. Another example would be: If the user clicks on the “blog” icon, then go to the “blog” web page. Without the “if”, the “then” never occurs, and if the “if” occurs, then the “then” will always occur. Confused? Think of it as two dominoes. If the first domino falls, it will knock over the second.
In our verse we see this type of conditional logic. It tells us that If God began a good work in you, then He will bring it to completion. So what is going on here?
Let’s start with the “If” portion. Who, or what, is the catalyst behind this progression? This is pretty clear, God is. Our verse says that God began the good work, not you, not me, not our circumstances, not chance, but God. God gets the glory for the start of the work, not us.
Second, what is this good work that God is credited with starting? If you read around verse 6 and look at other verses, you see words like: partnership in the gospel, partakers with me of grace, love, knowledge, and fruit of righteousness. I believe all of these things point to the same reality, specifically being a new creature in Christ.
Being a new creature means that God has called you out of the tomb of your life and He has given you new life in Christ. You are spiritually alive for the first time; spiritually born into the family of God. For the first time you love God and desire to know Him. For the first time, you recognize the gift that is Christ and His life, death and resurrection. For the first time, you recognize that the world does not satisfy your soul, but only God can provide the living water that can quench your spiritual thirst. This is what many people call conversion. It is a moment in time, where God says you are mine, and this marks the beginning of the work of God.
Conversion marks the beginning of God’s work, but not the end. As a new Christian, we are not perfect, we are not even mature. The Bible calls us infants. We are alive, yes, but we have some growing up to do. This is where the second part of the “If-Then” comes in.
If God has begun a good work in you, if God has poured out His unmerited grace upon you, if you are born again by the power of the Holy Spirit, if you are a new creature in Christ, if you love God because God first loved you…then God will complete the work He started. He will transform you; He will refine you; He will strengthen you; He will grow you; and He will do this until the end, until the work is completed, until His Son returns. He won’t get tired of working on you. He won’t forsake you or abandon you. His promise is a sure thing. It is a guarantee. There is no such thing as a computer glitch when it comes to God. The “if” always triggers the “then.”
The acceptance of this verse as true, as a promise, is the freedom that Paul talks about in Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. “ The slavery that Paul is talking about is the slavery of legalism, the slavery of merit based religion. Legalism is when you believe that you must earn your keep. This is not the good news of the Gospel, it is debtor’s prison. Christ did not die in our place to imprison us. He died in our place to liberate us!
The good news of the Gospel is found in Philippians 1:6. Specifically, that If God has began a good work in you; then He will complete it. This is a promise; a promise that causes me to praise the glorious grace of my Father, a promise that I use as a sword against Satan’s attack, a promise that reminds me that the war has already been won by my King and I can therefore enter the Kingdom of His rest.