A COMPLETING GOD (part two)

STUDY TWO

Philippians 1:1-11

BRIEF INTRO:

Our previous study began to look at and meditate on the first 11 verses of this epistle. Towards the end, however, we focused on the “good work” (v.6) that began in each new believer in Jesus Christ. A work that is not only agreeable but is excellent and honorable! Christ “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). Paul told the Corinthians this: “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). But, we ended that post without hearing all Paul had to say, so, let’s pick up where we left off, shall we?

FOCUS ONE

Paul also says (v.6) that God will complete (perform) this good work “until the day of Christ.” I like the Holman Christian Standard translation: “will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ.” In other words, God has started something in a new believer. God has begun something in you and I, Christian, that He will progressively work at until He brings that believer home to be with Him! Paul wrote in Romans 8:29 that, “for whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become (conformed to the image of His Son). . . .” You see, the “end game,” if you will, of what He began in a sinner redeemed by His grace is to make every child of God increasingly more like His Son!

The Theological term for this work is called “sanctification.” That means to be set apart or setting apart. This is a process, a result of the Holy Spirit as He is working to make the believer holy (set apart) and more reflective of the character of God.

There are, however, some basics about sanctification that we need to get ahold of before we move forward. There are three aspects to being sanctified:

1. Positional sanctification (Believer forgiven and set apart to God at conversion) 2 Thessalonians 2:13 (Divine side)

“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you [a]from the beginning for salvation [b]through sanctification [c]by the Spirit and faith in the truth.”

2. Experiential sanctification (believer daily, constantly “being” set apart by the means of grace: Preaching of the Word, prayer and the sacraments) Gal. 2:20 (Human side)

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and [a]the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

3. Complete sanctification (at death, or the Rapture, when our spirit is reunited with our resurrection body and behold Christ) Rev. 21

That is something weighing on Paul’s mind as he writes this epistle. He speaks of God’s work being completed on the day of Christ. And that the Philippians would be shown to be sincere and blameless in the day of Christ so that He would have cause to joy (over them) in the day of Christ.

So, dear reader, even though it is true that we are positionally set apart to God as His dear Children at salvation, and even though it is equally valid that we, one day, yet future, will be wholly set apart to Him with no more sin to ensnare us– this one truth remains: there is something for us to do while we await final and complete sanctification. Not for our salvation, but because of our salvation and new position in Christ! We understand the first, struggle with the second, and patiently await the third. 

FOCUS TWO

There must be an effort, on our part, using the means of grace graciously given, to become more like Christ, to be clothed with Christ and conformed more into His image. Scripture tells us in Ephesians 6 that there is a battle, and it is spiritual in nature with principalities and powers.

So, we are given the whole armor of God to fight in the battle. We are told it involves:

Trials and tribulations

Temptations to evil

False teaching

Bad Governments

And myriads of other things

These struggles are things we face in our lives, and God uses them to do “His completing” work in us. James wrote: “Consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance and let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing (1:2- 4).”

Paul told the Philippians to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling (2:12). In other words, they are to actively carry it out (this new life in Christ) to its logical conclusion. This would be manifested in their daily lives. He said, “but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I will not be disqualified.” He is speaking of Siscipline and godliness, so he would not be disqualified from ministry or disobedient to Christ and His word.

We are told throughout the New Testament how we are to live, especially in Titus 2:12-13: 

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. Instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires, and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present world.”

Does that sound like an impossible mission Christian? Do you find yourself overwhelmed at times walking this weary way, struggling with temptations, trials, sins of others, your own sins? Does it seem impossible to be more like Christ?

Brothers and sisters, He did not leave us defenseless:

He gave us:

His Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13) Sealed at conversion, Produces fruit in us (Eph. 6:11)

His word (Col. 3:16; 2 Tim. 3:16)

His promise/His heart (John 14:1-3; 17:20-24 prayer)

This begs the question: So, we know that His Spirit seals us at salvation, and we know that He has given us a Bible to read and hear preached as well as taught to us. We know His heart is for us to “make it through.” BUT how do we correctly utilize the Armor of God? How do we do that?

FOCUS THREE

Each piece of that armor is a characteristic of Jesus Christ. To sum up the armor, it is Christ-likeness. To put on Christ-likeness is to say, “How am I to reflect Christ in this situation? Once we implement the answer to that question, we are armored. It is a reflection of our spiritual relationship with the Savior. As we grow in that relationship and put it into action, we are arming ourselves for battle” (Billy Graham).

Our lives, brothers and sisters, should be lives that seek to glorify our Savior.

Suppose you are paralyzed and can do nothing for yourself but talk. And suppose a strong and reliable friend promised to live with you and do whatever you needed to be done. How could you glorify this friend if a stranger came to see you?

Would you glorify his generosity and strength by trying to get out of bed and carry him? No! You would say, “Friend, please come lift me up, and would you put a pillow behind me so I can look at my guest? And would you please put my glasses on for me?

And so, your visitor would learn from your requests that you are helpless and that your friend is strong and kind, faithful and good. You glorify your friend by needing him, and by asking him for help, and counting on him” (desiring God).

Dear Christian, God has graciously redeemed us unto Himself and that work, as great as it is, setting us apart unto Himself, giving us newness of life and a new position before Him, makes us a “work in progress.” God continues to work in our lives to make us more like His son Jesus!

And Just as Paul “is confident of this very thing”———so should we be. God is a completer. He will finish what He has started to the praise of His glory and grace, amen

A PREACHER ON THE FENCE

Photo by Merilin Kirsika Tedder on Pexels.com

From out of the millions of the earth

God often calls a man

To preach His Word, and for the truth

To take a loyal stand.

It’s sad to see him shun the cross,

Nor stand in its defense

Between the fields of right and wrong

A preacher on the fence.

Before him are the souls of men

Destined for heaven or hell;

An open Bible in his hand, and yet he dare not tell

Them all the truth as written there;

He fears the consequence-

The shame of heaven, the joy of hell-

A preacher on the fence.

Most surely God has called that man

To battle for the right,

Tis his to ferret out the wrong

And turn on us the light.

He standeth not for right or wrong,

He feareth an offense,

Great God, deliver us from him

That preacher on the fence.

If he should stand up for the wrong,

The right he’d not befriend;

If he should boldly stand for right,

The wrong he would offend.

His mouth is closed, he dare not speak

For freedom or against.

The most disgusting thing on earth

A preacher on the fence.

His better judgement, common sense,

They pull him to the right;

Behold him grip that topmost rail,

And hold with all his might;

His love of praise, it holds him fast,

Keeps him from going hence,

Poor man! How fearful will be his plight

A preacher on the fence.

Author unknown

OUR CURRENT DILEMMA

As I begin writing this cozy fall morning, I am inundated with all the information being passed to us through the media in regards to our upcoming election. True or “fake” news, either way, it is a bit overwhelming at times isn’t it? Especially when something so important to our way of life, our rule of law and our children’s futures, such as an election for the next president of the United States of America, the greatest country ever, is at the forefront. It can be a challenge, perhaps an impossible one, to figure out what is true and what isn’t among the cacophony of voices that seek to move us, the voter, in one direction or another. After all, you and I are not omniscient, only the Lord is.

Each and every election cycle, at least the last twenty years in my memory, we have been told that: “this is the most important election in history,” “If, so and so wins it will be the end of our nation as we know it,” and other things I think you can add as well. Confusion and fear along with misinformation, seem to be the hard road we as Americans have to plod in order to make a wise choice in our effort to exercise our constitutional rights and make our voice heard. If, we intend to make our voice heard.

I say that because many people, but I want to address Christians directly here, hold various views on whether they should vote or not. Nothing in the Bible specifically addresses this topic and so we need to think through the different views and issues involved so we can make a wise decision based on fact’s not fear, truth not lies (Romans 12:9; Philippians 1:9-10).

Some Christians feel that they should completely stay away from all aspects of politics. They feel, in general, that they are only sojourner’s, this place is not their home, heaven is, and so the use of their time is better utilized in missionary efforts, evangelistic opportunities and building up the body (church) of Christ. Others believe, and in a way, its just an addition to what is said above, that any effort on the political spectrum is pointless or at least non productive, considering the Bible teaches that things are going to get worse before the Lord returns (2 Timothy 3:1-7; Matthew 24). Then there are others that believe that they are accountable, not only to God, but civil society as well, in being engaged in a system that can promote justice or deny justice to the poor and unprotected. They rightly understand that our creator is a God of justice and morality, in fact, justice is one of His divine attributes (Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 89:14).

And then there are the issues that we as a people are facing. Does life matter? Should babies be killed in the womb, our elderly euthanized? Is marriage to be between one man and one woman or between anybody that loves each other? Can we determine our biological sex or is that predetermined for us by our creator? Is America, “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” to have a strong immigration system, with national borders to protect our American citizens or open borders and a watered down immigration system that fails to protect its citizens?

Does healthcare matter and should it be a designated right mandated by a vast government or should it be a free market system that understands and protects a persons freedom to determine the level of health insurance they want; treatments and medicines they deem suitable, including all life decisions?

Religious freedom, education, social security, our economy, and many others, are decisions that are going to be made by one party or another, by one president or another.

Sometimes it hard to figure out how we as a church and as Christians should move forward amid such chaotic and confusing times. This book will challenge your thinking, and challenge you to hit the “restart” button on your view of the church and politics.

As Christians we act as a restraining influence in our world. We are the “salt of the earth,” and the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16). The church, corporate and individually stands for and makes known God’s requirements for mankind, reveals truth, pursues justice, proclaims true and lasting change in the person of Jesus Christ. We are to be in willing subjection to the governing authority since God establishes it (Romans 13:1). Rulers that wield such authority are to be “a minister of God to you for good” (Romans 13:4), and our subjection to it, in part, is for our own “conscience” sake (Romans 13:5). These truth’s help me to not only regulate my behavior under such authority, they also remind me of my role as a Christian in a society, even though I am only passing through, on my way to My kings kingdom!

“For conscience sake.” Is that important in our current discussion? I think so. Not only do those verses teach us that we are to live under these laws, led and governed as our society dictates, generally being led by non-believers, but we are to do so as an act of obedience to our great God and Savior. We are to do so even though, as one writer puts it: “The Christian always lives in a tension between the two competing claims of obedience to the state and obedience to God.” Most of us feel that tension, especially at election time.

Since the authority over us has a right, God given, to demand our respect and conformity, we need to exercise those roles out of a good conscience before our ultimate authority, the Lord Jesus Christ. And in so doing, shouldn’t we exercise our conscience at the ballot box, not for any particular man or party, but with our eyes affixed on the platform they seek to uphold. We want to see biblical morality upheld, life protected, equal justice for all and religious liberty prevail.

So, as a Christian, do we have a valid reason biblically to step aside and not seek to be faithful ambassadors of our Lord in this area? As we spend our limited time in this place, we represent the “official position” of our God before a lost and dying world. Empowered by the Holy Spirit we must not only take the gospel to the ends of the earth, we also must, for conscience sake and in obedience to our Lord’s commands, seek to make His position known in all the areas of governing influence around us. To vote or not to vote, a very important question.

As an Amazon Associate I earn commissions from qualifying purchases. These help to offset the ministry. Thank you.