God Will Finish His Work In Those Who Keep Straining Forward
May 13, 2014
Those who, along with the apostles, are partners with Christ’s Spirit in spreading the Gospel should take joy and confidence in this: That He who began a good work in us will carry it out, will perform it and accomplish it, will continue working to bring it to perfection and completion, all the way to the end –that is, continually until the return of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:5,6) This is definitely good news, news of rest and peace and strength and confidence and joy. It is news that should instill in us hope, news that should cause faith to grow.
Does this mean, though, that we are to sit back in idleness and expect the Spirit to do all the work? Unfortunately this is what many seem to believe. “Glory to God,” they say. “He does awesome things. I am nothing. I am just a sinner saved by grace. Anything God does in and through me is all His doing.”
But is that true? No. For though God can (and does) carry out His plans through rebels and in spite of their rebellion, God seeks those who will willingly do what His Spirit and Word tell them to do. Thus He looks for those who are preparing themselves for His service, those who are searching the Scriptures for His instructions, those who are training themselves to be godly, and those who will obey His commands immediately and without an argument or needing to know why.
God works through those who wait when He tells them to wait, who go when He tells them to go, who speak when He tells them to speak, and who remain silent when He tells them to remain silent. Therefore the above quotes by “graced sinners” is a skewing of the Truth. For not only are sinners, once saved, to be walking in the control of the Spirit (Rom. 8:9,13,14) so that they are conforming to Christ-likeness (v. 29), but God’s work is not “all God”. That is a cop-out, a lazy person’s line. Does God pick up a person and deposit him on the street to preach? Does God materialize food in the pantry and money in the bank? Or does a person have to get out of bed, study, get in the car, work, etc.? It’s silly to say that anyone can do these things if it relates to worldly things, but that they cannot do a thing spiritually unless God is the one doing it. Yes, even our breathing is enabled by God, but so is our studying, opening our mouths to share Christ, and choosing to depart from all sin and disobedience. We’ve already been enabled; it’s our choice to enact His power daily.
We are not robots. We are people who are to choose Christ, renounce sin, and strain forward toward the goal so that we might win the prize which we have been called, enabled, and equipped to win. (Phil. 3:13,14) The Lord took hold of us so that He might mold us to perfection, but it is our responsibility to press forward and on so that we may take hold of that which we are expected to become. (v. 12 // Eph. 3:20 // 2 Peter 1:3-11)