Today's Epistle gives us a subtle hint that Advent is not far off. Paul wrote in 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.” This “day of Jesus Christ,” of course, is the great day when He shall come again to judge the living and the dead. The expression echoes the Old Testament prophetic expression, “Day of the LORD,” when God and man together will get to the bottom line. Once again, Paul is saying thatJesus is LORD, and the consummation of history belongs to Him.
But this text encompasses not only the end of all things but also the beginning,
“He who hath begun a good work in you.” That “good work” is God's work, the work of our salvation, in which lost sinners are made over into glorified saints. Note that Paul surely does not say, “the work which you have begun,” or “the work in which you co-operate with God.” Salvation as the Bible offers it is God's act, God's gift, God's achievement, God's glory, pure and simple, from start to finish.
This initiative is beautifully displayed at the Font, when small infants, incapable of conscious faith, unable to make any save the most selfish decisions, not knowing even the name of Jesus, are baptized in the name of the Triune God. This is the sacrament of regeneration, when we pray that God will grant to the infant “that which by nature he cannot have.” In that sacrament God truly gives a second birth and new life in His new creation.
Between that earliest beginning in the simple sacrament of Holy Baptism, and the great “Day of Jesus Christ,” there lies a long growth for every Christian soul.
The markers along this pilgrimage route are conscious faith and repentance, union with Christ, forgiveness of sins, adoption into the family of God, spiritual growth, internal renovation, progress in holiness, separation from sin, restoration of God's image within us, increasing Christ-like-ness. To assist us in this journey God provides the "means of grace" in the reading and study of His Word, in the Holy Communion and all the sacraments, the worship of His Church and fellowship of His people.
The Christian is therefore a work in progress. But Paul was deeply confident of the final outcome for the Philippians. Would he be equally confident of the final outcome for us? LKW