The Good Work Jesus Began in Us

Philippians 1:3-6 ESV

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Partnership in the Gospel

These words are addressed to the saints in Christ Jesus (verse 1). And a saint is one who is set apart by and for God as holy. And to be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. And we are different because we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. And so we are now walking in obedience to his commands (Romans 6:1-23; Ephesians 4:17-24; Romans 8:1-14).

Now these words were written to a very specific group of people, but we can still glean from these words what applies to our lives specifically, to where we are. For, as followers of Jesus Christ we should all be in partnership in the gospel from the first day we believed in Jesus unto the present. Now this is not saying that we all stayed the course the whole time, but where we are now is what matters. Are we indeed in partnership with the gospel, and what does that mean exactly?

Well, the word for partnership is koinonia, which also means fellowship, contributory help, participation, sharing in, and communion. It means we are engaged in the gospel. We are involved. We are active participants. We have a part. We have things we are to contribute. It is not true that Jesus does it all and that we do nothing. It is true that we can’t in our own flesh earn our own salvation, but our salvation is not absent of works. Too many people are pointing to Ephesians 2:8-9 and claiming we are not to have works, but they leave out verse 10:

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” And Titus 2:14: Jesus Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” And 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain,” etc.

Works: [Eph 2:10; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 9:8; Gal 5:6; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; 2 Thess 1:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:21; Tit 2:11-14; Jn 15:1-11; Tit 3:8; Jas 2:17; Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

What is the Gospel?

And then what is the gospel? It is that Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (1 Peter 2:24), and that we are now to live for Christ and no longer for ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:15), and that he shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so that we will now be God’s possession, and so that we would now honor God with our lives (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

And it is that by faith in Jesus Christ we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. For our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. So we are not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies, to make us obey its passions. For if sin is what we obey, and not obedience, it will end in eternal death, not eternal life (Romans 6:1-23; Ephesians 4:17-24).

And the gospel is Jesus’ words when he said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self, take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For if we hold on to our old lives of living in sin and for self, we will lose them for eternity. But if for the sake of the name of Jesus we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and so we are now walking in obedience to his commands, then we have eternal life with God (see Luke 9:23-26).

So, if we are in partnership with the gospel, that means we are participating in dying with Christ to sin and in living to him and to his righteousness. We are choosing to put sin to death and now to walk in newness of life in him. We have left our old lives of sin behind us, and now we are walking in obedience to our Lord and to his commands. And this is not us trying to earn our salvation. This is us walking in the salvation which has already been provided for us, and it is us cooperating with God in his work of grace in our lives by doing the things he says we are to do, in his power and strength.

He Who Began a Good Work

And when this says here, “that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ,” it doesn’t mean that Jesus does it all and we do nothing. And that is because his grace, which is bringing us salvation, trains us to renounce (to say “No” to) ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return (Titus 2:11-14). For you see that God’s grace to us is not just in forgiving our sins so we can go to heaven when we die. God’s grace to us was in crucifying us in death to sin so that we would walk in newness of life in him, no longer enslaved to sin.

But yes, we cannot be saved in our own flesh, and we can’t live the Christian life in our own flesh, and we can’t walk in holiness and in righteousness, in obedience to our Lord, in our own flesh, etc. We can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father draws us to Christ (John 6:44). So, we can only die with Christ to sin and live to him and to his righteousness in his power and strength. So, yes, it is Jesus Christ who will bring to completion at the day of Jesus Christ the good work that he began in us.

But it involves our partnership, our participation, and our cooperation with God in that good work he began in us. We have to not live in sin, and we have to walk in obedience to his commands, in his power and strength, or we will not inherit eternal life with God.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

There’s a Stirring

By Annie Herring

There’s a stirring deep within me
Could it be my time has come
When I’ll see my gracious savior face to face when all is done
Is that his voice I am hearing?
‘Come away, my precious one’
Is he calling me?
Is he calling me?

I will rise up, rise up
And bow down
And lay my crown
At his wounded feet

Is that His voice I am hearing?
‘Come away, my precious one’

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