"What God Begins, He Finishes.." - audio
What God begins, He finishes. This was the title of the message that I preached on last Sunday. The sermon focused on Philippians 1:6 and how what God begins in us, the work of salvation, he will finish and bring to completion in us. While God will not lose any of those who He saves, and no man can pluck them out of His hand (John 10:28-29), believers are called to endure and persevere in faith, fighting the good fight, submitting themselves to God, and striving for the holiness which without no one will see the Lord. Christ, The Great Shepherd, will make provision for His sheep, He will lead them, guide them, protect them and be with them in times of peril and troubles (Psalms 23), and His sheep will know His voice and follow Him.
We are commanded to continue in His goodness, make our calling and election sure and to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, but while we are doing these things, we must realize that it is God who is working within us both to will and to do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). The saints perseverance requires both human responsibility and Divine Sovereignty, but it is clear that all the glory belongs to God because He enables the believer to will and to do. He gives us a new heart and a new spirit, an everlasting faith that will not fail and because He has given us these things He will complete and bring to fullness the work which He started.
The nature of one who is genuinely born again is that they will have heart within them to endure and to fight the good fight. If any were to coast and neutralize or stop in a state of comfort then that is evidence that they never believed. Likewise, if any were to "separate themselves" or "pluck themselves out"of God's hand, this is evidence of a lost state, and nothing really happened on the day they professed salvation. Genuine faith remains, endures and lasts . The life of a Christian may be filled with highs and lows, seasons of blessedness and at times seasons of sinfulness. The saint may fall down several times but the grace of perseverance is that God will pick them up and they will finish the course.
The wonderful realization in endurance is that while the Christian is keeping himself from sin and keeping his eyes on God...God is keeping Him, protecting Him with His power so that no man will pluck the believer out of His hands and nothing shall separate the Christian from the love of Christ. God does not stand afar off from His child summoning him to come while the enemy of his soul pursues after him desiring to kill and destroy him. God walks with His children, His staff leads and guides His sheep, even through the valley of the shadow of death. Just as Satan persecuted Job before the Lord, he would try to destroy the Christian through various trials and tribulations. This was also the testimony of Peter, a man who Satan desired to sift as wheat, but as in both accounts, the all knowing God had already made provision for the righteous,and although the trials and tribulations were not easy, but painful, distressing, and grevious, the Lord never left or forsake His own. "I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail" are the words of Jesus, our Lord who makes intercession for His saints always (Luke 22:32; Hebrews 7:25)and because of His prayers the believer WILL always be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5)
With confidence Peter wrote these words to the persecuted church with assurance, remembering it was not long before that his faith was tried by fire, yet Christ prayed, and Peter's faith endured...