God’s Continuing Work

“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.” 

Phil. 1:6

Our five senses are the windows of the soul. 

By means of our hearing, seeing, etc., the light of the day and the darkness of the night flood within. 

These sense impressions: arouse a gnawing fear, a fear that concentrates upon the well-being and safety of the people of God in the midst of the world. We become restless by what we see and hear. 

Is that true for you? 

We know that the way to find peace with God is the way of perfect obedience. The Word of God unveils before us the boundary within which we may expect the smile of God’s favor, and outside of which rains the fire and brimstone of His wrath. As we gaze in retrospect upon the worn path of life, our conscience smites us, for our feet have brazenly coursed the broad and crooked road far more than the halted steps upon the straight and narrow. Such perception soon is blurred by the tears of sorrow as the damning evidence crushes us to the dust, the sulphur of hell seems more real than the River of Life that flows from the throne of God. Can such a sinner ever reach the pearly gates? 

The church is the bride of Christ, betrothed to Him, and already now lives out of the fountains of His love and the riches of His grace. We look at that church and we are ashamed. We ask where is the beauty of Christ manifest in the church? Does the church bow with humble reverence before the Word of Christ esteeming Him as Lord? One has to travel far and wide to hear the familiar voice of Jesus as He calls. Many who call themselves children of God find hours of time saturating their souls with the beat, the musicals, the cinema, and pleasures born out of hell, and have not time to sit at the feet of their Lord. Our eyes tell us that Christ has been forsaken by His bride, her skirts are torn with her adulterous pleasures. To the faithful church it scarcely seems possible that one day she is to be the perfect bride of Christ, clothed in a white wedding dress, a sign of spiritual virginity. 

We look at our children and our young people. Their special place in the church is that not only are they members of the church today, they are also the church of tomorrow. How do they appear? Ah, yes, the little ones are snuggled cozily in orlon, fattened on Gerbers, entertained with Playskool, and properly spoiled. Let’s admit it. No longer will vanilla suffice; it must be number 27 on the list—burgundy cherry. The proverbial silver spoon now takes on the appearance of Barbie dolls and Buddy trucks, only to be cast aside for princess phones, teleboxes, and Mustangs. These are the young people, our young people, whom Scripture describes as one day will not be able to buy nor sell because they will refuse the mark of the beast. It makes me shudder to ask, have we prepared them for such a time?

Spiritual immorality is the mistress of material prosperity. They go together. Both are powerful weapons for destruction. Their sights are aimed as never before at our young people. You can be sure that the Devil is the trigger-master. Our youth are bombarded with pornography: visual pornography, in which the God created beauty of the human body is flaunted by depraved sex; audio pornography, in which the “music” of the world is strummed to the beat of tempestuous lust, garnished with words, if understood, that reek with the garlic of Sodom; literary pornography, in which the imagery of words portray the philosophy that brought Rome to ashes. While our young people undergo one barrage after another, ensnared with temptation on every side, they are expected to make the most important decisions of their life. At such a time they are to decide whether to make confession of faith and determine which church proclaims the Word of God most faithfully. In such an environment they look around for a life companion, one that will be a spiritual help-meet. In these days of youth they are expected to decide how they must serve God with their whole life. Our fear is this, that at a time when our young people seem least capable, they are expected to make the most profound decisions. This is what causes them to be troubled, and properly so! The restlessness of Christian young people is an evidence of this tension. Where are our parents? Where are those who will guide them through turbulent waters? The church of tomorrow? One wonders how they ever will succeed. Even Jesus said, “Except those days be shortened there should no flesh be saved.” 

Oh, how we need the bold assurance of our text, “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.” 

God never begins a work that He does not also finish. 

Has He begun this good work in you? You youthful reader,—I know you may be attracted by the din of electric guitars and the contortions of the frug, or the violence and sex of the screen,—sit still a moment and ask yourself this question. We parents who gratefully acknowledge before God that our children are members of the covenant of grace, we must face this personal question, has God begun His good work in us? I’m sure there are many grandpas and grandmas whose hearts throb deeply as they face this question. 

The answer is all-important. There is no finishing of a work that is not even begun. 

We need not guess in answering. Has God saved you from your sins? Has God delivered you from the guilt and corruption of your sins so that now you begin to keep not only some, but all of His commandments? 

Answer yes, and you spend a great deal of time weeping for your sins. We don’t try to find excuses; we recognize that we have none! Before God we stand naked and exposed; He knows the very thoughts and intents of the heart. He is the righteous and holy God. Bursting forth from the broken heart is the plaintiff cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” 

We do more than weep. We focus our tear-filled eyes upon the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and listen with believing hearts, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Our eyes behold in wonder the darkness, the hell, the curse of our sins, the suffering, and shame. Silent lips are broken with the exalted cry, “My Jesus, I love thee, I know Thou art mine.” 

Refreshed by the streams of forgiving love, excited by the overcoming power of sovereign grace, we pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Being freed from the power of guilt and sin, we resolve to walk in the will of God who saveth us. 

This is the proof of God’s work within us. 

This is God’s work. 

It is a work that has its roots far back in the eternal and sovereign mind of God in the perfect decree of election. It is a work that is grounded in the rock of ages, the cross of Jesus Christ. It is no less God’s work as He comes to us and applies to us the benefits of the atonement of Jesus Christ. By the Spirit of Christ, He softens our stony hearts, He breaks the resistance of our stubborn wills, He molds our minds, filling them with the knowledge of His revelation. He causes us to weep, in order that we may turn away from ourselves and behold the perfect satisfaction of our Lord Jesus Christ. He fills us with His grace by which we hate sin and seek righteousness. 

This work is a beginning. 

That’s why we worry so much. We long for perfection! Our young people do; they know that the wages of sin is death, that pleasure without Christ leads to destruction. That’s why they are restless; they are seeking and learning. We parents long for perfection; we desire that the love we have for our children may be a perfect love, always manifest in a sincere desire to guide them with our counsel, lead them with, our example, and discipline them with understanding. We desire perfection in the church, where the need for discipline would be cast aside and all our members walk in perfection, all faithfully attend church, all seek the communion of the saints, all love each other perfectly. 

Perfection, however, is not our portion until the day of Christ. Through death Christ will deliver us from the corruption of sin, and take us from the temptation of the world, and renew us in His perfect image where love and grace shall abound without measure. 

Now we have a beginning. We have yet to contend with our old nature, we face the devil and the world who distract our attention from God. We still are prone to stumble into the snares of sin and death. 

Just because this is true, the knowledge of this fact drives us away from ourselves into the arms of our loving Father. Be careful that you understand this. Our human weaknesses and nature of sin explain for us the occasion of our sins, but may never become the excuse for sin. If we are going to find some consolation in the fact that God’s work is only a beginning and therefore an excuse for sin, we are rocking ourselves to sleep with fatal consequences. Because the work of God is a beginning, we do not grow complacent in sin, rather we turn unto Him who gave us this beginning and seek more grace and more wisdom and more strength from Him that we may be drawn closer and closer to Him in the fellowship of life everlasting. 

Our text bids us look away from ourselves. God has begun a good work; God will finish it. He began creation; He finished it. He began the work of redemption; He finished it. He began the work of gathering His church unto Himself; He will finish it. Nothing will stand in His way; no creature can prevent Him from accomplishing it. He lacks nothing in performing His perfect will which is expressed in the beautiful prayer of Christ, “That they all may be one; as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: That the world may believe that thou hast sent me, and the glory which thou gavest me I have given them that they may be one, even as we are one.”John 17:21, 22

This is what we desire most. 

This is promised us in our text.

As we ponder these profound truths, let us cease from doubting. Let us say we are confident in God! As our sins rise up against us, look to the cross and believe that Jesus paid the price of forgiveness. As we are inclined to worry about the youth of the church, let us commend them to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we contend for the faith in the midst of weakness, let us confess, God has begun the good work, He will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. 

Then worry is gone, and instead we will gather in the house of our God faithfully. We will spend much time in prayer and meditation. We will earnestly seek His grace that is greater than all our sins. 

Heaven and all its glory is very real to us. Not because we will see to it that we will get there, God will accomplish His perfect will. God will perform His work in us, even unto the end. 

Some trust in chariots, some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. Our confidence is in God. 

To Him be glory forever.