Last week we began exploring Paul’s world view as it is unfolded in the book of Philippians. We started by examining his view concerning himself as a slave of God. In this article, we will look at Paul’s view of the security of salvation. This is another important theme in understanding Paul’s world view.
There are many things we could say about what Paul believed about salvation. However, from Philippians it is apparent that he believed in the security of the believer. In Reformed circles, this is called The Perseverance of the Saints. Paul writes, “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” (Philippians 1:6, E. S. V.).
In the context, the “good work” is in reference to salvation. This can be seen for three very important reasons:
- The word for began in Greek is enarchomai. This word is used in only one other place in the New Testament and it is also a reference to salvation, “Are you so foolish? Having started out with the Spirit, are you now ending up with the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3). The obvious answer to this rhetorical question is no. Paul is saying that those who start out regarding the work of salvation started out by the Spirit of God. These people are not sustained by the flesh, but by the Spirit.
- Where this good works takes place. Paul identifies where this good work takes place. Namely, it is done in them. The reference here is to the inner reality of those within the Philippian Church.
- When this good work will finally be completed. Paul identifies when that good work will be completed—namely, on the day Jesus returns. This is an obvious reference to an occurrence beyond their physical existence. These three facts identify what the good work is—redemption!
Paul begins by saying that he is sure of this doctrine. Paul has no doubts about the security of the believer. The work of God in salvation will be brought to completion by Him. The reason Paul is so sure of this is due to the fact that this is God’s work and not man’s work. Paul does not say that God will complete what we start, but that He will complete what He starts. The Apostle is careful to point out that it is God who does the work. The reason Paul can be so sure of the security of the believer is due to God’s faithfulness to Himself.
There is no room in Paul’s theology for a salvation that starts with man and is finished by man. Neither is there any room for a faith that says man and God cooperate together to bring about salvation and that cooperative work is what secures a believer to eternity.
Personally speaking, any view of salvation that involves my efforts in any way is troublesome. This is because I know how often I fail and how often I displease and disappoint God. To be perfectly honest, if security for salvation is placed on me in any way, I’m damned. Thankfully, like Paul, I do not hold this view.
It is comforting to know that because the work of salvation is God’s, we can be confident in our security. This is not confidence in an arrogant sense. It would be arrogant to think that we can have security because of something we have done or something we are doing. This is confidence in God. It is confidence in what He has done in our lives and in what He will continue to do. Our security, and therefore our confidence are in God.