Augustine a third Century Theologian said: The word of God is shallow enough for a lamb to wade but deep enough for an elephant to drown.
When I was a small boy one of my greatest days of fun was when my Grandmother took me to the wading pool at Budd Park. As I grew older and more bolder I would spend many evenings swimming in deeper waters of the Swope Park Pool. And, it is good to get out of the deep where there is a greater need for exertion and wade back into the shallows where we can just lay there and let the water cool our bodies.
This is how it is in the reading and study of God’s Word. We begin in the shallows and as we learn to trust in our ability to stay afloat some launch out into the deeper depths of God’s eternal and enduring sea of truths while others prefer to remain in the refreshing shallows of God’s Word. Yes, there are some Christians who never leave the shallow Scriptures where they find sufficient joy and security there, and that’s OK. There is NO condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus. The wader who knows Christ is just as much loved by Christ as is the studied theologian. Whether you are in the shallow end or the deep end of the pool you are equally loved and eternally saved. This morning I want us to look at a pool of God’s word that has both a shallow and a deep end.
Paul’s letter to the Philippian church is both a shallow and deep pool of wonder and truth. Let’s jump in together and be refreshed by His Word.
I. THE SOOTHING SHALLOWS—VSS. 3-5 When I use the word “shallow” I do not mean “without substance.” Some of the most profound words are the least complex. The Gospel is not meant to be complicated – “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” is the simple gospel. So is Romans 10:9-11That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. .
A. Paul thanks God whenever he remembers the Philippians. It is not always realized that our Missionaries remember us in prayer. We are the lifeline of prayer and resource that helps them continue in their calling. They depend on us to support them in their work in resources and in prayer—but mainly in prayer. Prayer and resources are means of helping them in their good work. Churches that are able to assist in the work at home and abroad, and are not willing to do so should be ashamed.
B. Paul prays for the Philippians joyfully. To Paul prayers were not toilsome or burdensome but a source of thoughtful joy. He prays for ALL members of that assembly, not selecting a few.
C. Paul is grateful for their communication and sharing the work. This is the reason for Paul’s deep love for them. The word fellowship has to mean a bonding of the heart. The word partakers must mean the sharing of their resources– God may give certain persons much of this world’s goods, yet if that person or that church does not share them in a spirit of generosity, a liberal disposition, they will make no use of it for the good of others. The Philippian assembly was one of the churches of Macedonia that Paul records in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
D. The Apostle was a praying believer and minister of the gospel. In spite of his gifts that were so obvious in his life, he was not too busy, nor was it beneath him to seek direction from the Spirit of God.
II. THE BOTTOMLESS DEEP—VS. 6—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.
A. Note that the basis for Paul’s confidence was in God. And that it was God which had begun a good work in them and it was God that would perform, that is finish it in the Day of Jesus Christ.
1. Paul took no credit upon himself for the good work that had begun in Philippi.
2. It was not they themselves that the work begun in them was “good.”
3. It was not the preaching of the gospel that had begun that good work.
4. It was not the church itself which had begun the good work. It was ` God!
B. Paul’s confidence was not in the belief that:
1. In the good work of the gospel presently prominent in the assembly would continue throughout the ages in that locale.
2. that the good work was the church itself, for there was no promise that the assembly in Philippi would last until the day of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in fact it has long since disappeared from the earth along with the members Paul loved so much.
3. Nor was his confidence in the continued support of the gospel intended. Resources are often redirected in other directions or dry up altogether for one reason or another.
4. Not was his confidence in the continuity of their prayers. All these things were in and of themselves good works but they were works of men and not directly from God.
III. THE WORK CONSIDERED AS TO WHAT IS NOT YET FINISHED. -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:
It is a work yet unfinished – a work begun. It is not yet finished and complete.
1. Faith is not yet perfect or complete and it will not be so until faith is no longer a prerequisite to belief, for in the day of Jesus Christ faith will become sight.
2. Hope is not yet perfected and will not be until hope or expectation becomes a present reality at the day of Jesus Christ.
3. Love is not yet perfected among the people of God and will not be until the day of Jesus Christ.
4. Knowledge is now imperfect nor will it be until God completes it at the day of Jesus Christ.
5. Indwelling sin is the best of God’s people will not be done away with completely until the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.
IV. THE WORK CONSIDERED AS TO WHAT IT IS.
1. It is the work of God begun in the souls of the believer.
2. It is a work of God that God will finish.
3. It is a work of God’s infinite grace
IT IS ASSURED THAT WORK BEGUN BY GOD WILL INDEED BE FINISHED BY GOD.
1. God is faithful and will never forsake the work He begins.
2. God alone has the power to accomplish what He begins.
3. He will finish it on the Day of Jesus Christ.
a. At the death of the believer. When Christ brings the soul to Himself.
b. At the day of the resurrection of the bodies of the believers.
c. At the judgment day when Christ returns to judge the wicked and the dead.
V. GOD’S GRACE AS A DEVELOPING SEED.
Yesterday I was standing on my deck facing the land behind our house. I saw a beautiful tree which reminded me of God’s grace as a seed planted and taking root.
1. First there is the seed then the root.
2. Second is the sprout.
3. Third is the sapling.
4. Fourth is the young tree.
5. Fifth is the mature tree its limbs reaching for the sky.
THIS IS LIKE THE GRACE OF GOD, A BEGINNING A TAKING ROOT IN THE SOUL; THE FIRST SIGN OF GROWTH; THE NEW MAN GROWING STRONGER EACH DAY; FINALLY, THE FULL GROWN AND MATURE CHRISTIAN, GRACE!
The Work of Grace:
1. It is the work of God.
2. It is a lifetime process.
3. It is never complete in this life.
4. God won’t stop until the job is done.
5. God uses everything that happens to us—the good and the bad—to make us like Jesus.
Philippians 1:6 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:
SUMMARY: Note three things from this famous verse.
First: God takes the initiative in starting his work in you. He is the one who “begins a good work” in us. Salvation always begins with God. He makes the first move, and if he didn’t make the first move, we would make no move at all. Perhaps you’ve heard of the country preacher who was being examined for ordination to the ministry. When asked how he had become a Christian, the preacher replied, “I did my part and God did his.” That sounded questionable, so the learned brethren on the council asked the preacher to explain “his part in salvation.” “My part was to run from God as fast as I could,” the preacher answered. “God’s part was to run after me and catch me and bring me into his family.” That’s a perfectly biblical answer because all of us were born running from God, and unless God took the initiative to find us, we would still be running away from him.
Second: God takes personal responsibility for completing his work in you. I find this a most comforting thought. God has a “good work” that he intends to accomplish in your life and in mine. God intends that all his children be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, and he will not rest until that “good work” is finally finished. Perhaps you’ve seen those buttons that read PBPGIFWMY. Those cryptic letters stand for a most important truth: “Please be patient. God isn’t finished with me yet.” Thank God, it’s true. I may not look like much—but God isn’t finished with me yet. And when you look in the mirror—and even deeper into your own soul, you may not like what you see, but no matter. God isn’t finished with you yet.
There is good news and bad news in this truth. The good news is that since God isn’t finished yet, we have great hope for the future. The bad news is that since God isn’t finished yet, he won’t let us stay as we are today. He’s going to keep chipping away at us until we are conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Most of us have a long way to go—and some of us have an enormous distance to travel. But it doesn’t matter. If you find yourself in the muck and mire of personal defeat, be encouraged. Child of God, he’s not finished with you yet. Rise and walk, my Christian friend. God is not finished with you yet. If you’ve been sent to the bench for a personal foul, learn the lesson God has for you and then get back in the game.
Third: God guarantees the outcome of his work in you. Not only does God start the process, and continue the process, he also guarantees its ultimate outcome. He will “carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” This means that God won’t be turned aside by difficulties of any kind. He is so determined to make you like Jesus that even your own backsliding won’t ultimately hinder the accomplishment of his purpose. Someday you and I will stand before Jesus Christ as redeemed children of God—holy, blameless, and complete in every way. We’re a far sight from that today. But a better day is coming for the people of God. What is incomplete will be made complete. What is unfinished will be finished. What is lacking will be made full. What is partial will be made whole. What is less than enough will be far more than adequate. What is broken will be fixed. What is hurt will be healed. What is weak will be made strong. What is temporary will be made permanent.
God has promised to do it and he cannot lie. Has God begun a good work in your life? Do you feel incomplete and unfinished? Fear not, child of God. He will complete his work in you. God will not stop until the work is completed.