There are loads of things we can say we are ”confident” about, due to past experiences and based on what we could reasonably expect to happen. I’m confident that I will get at least 250 hits on my blog today, because that’s the least amount of hits I normally get. I’m also confident that certain friends will continue to remain christians and work for the Lord throughout their lives, because they have shown enough good fruit to make me believe that. However, even if I’m confident about these things, there is no guarantee that what I’m confident about will absolutely take place.
Paul is addressing a certain group of believers in Philippi, and not all christians in the whole world. He doesn’t know all christians under the sun intimately enough to make estimations about their future, but he was well acquainted with these particular believers in Philippi. Due to his past experiences and what he had witnessed, he feels confident that he which began a good work in them will perform it to the end. The verse doesn’t say that God, regardless of people’s own free will, predestines them to do good work (forcing them to do good works), because had it been up to God to make sure there is good works in us then of course God would make sure to do accomplish this at all times without failing even once.
Eph. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
What will happen if we choose to not walk in them? Still on the right track and saved?
2 Tim. 2: 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
We are asked to purge/cleanse ourselves from vessels of dishonor (sin), in order to be of use for God and prepared unto every good work. It’s about our willingness to obey the holy Spirit who leads us away from sin and into a world where we can be useful tools for God.
1 Tim. 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. (NKJV)
Above we can see that good works can actually lead to eternal life. (Faith without works is dead.) It’s about giving God the honor because we are building good on him.
1 Cor. 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
This is the whole context of Phil. 1:
Phil. 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: —3I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 8For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. 9And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.
The reason Paul feels confident about this group of christians is because he has witnessed their godly lives and noticed that they have proved to be trustworthy workers. ”For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now”. That’s why Paul is convinced that God will continue to bless them and let the holy Spirit be a big part of their work. Paul will also continue to pray for them and keep them in his heart, which will also affect the outcome. Praying for people will help influence them to know what is right and in the end to be without blemish until the day of Christ. With other words, there is no guarantee that born again christians will be without blemish on judgment day, because it depends on if they endure to the end or not – by living righteous lives. However, we know that we are in the vine if we follow the Spirit instead of our flesh.
The chapter mentions ”confident” yet again (actually twice…)
14And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.15Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
Paul suggests that his own imprisonment actually brings the good result that many brothers feel confident in God, perhaps due to Paul’s impeccable confidence. They are being helped to preach the word of God with no fear, albeit not everyone because Paul mentions that there are christians who preach about Jesus of contention and not through sincere concern for the lost. Maybe they were out to tear down what Paul had built up by introducing false doctrines that cause division among believers. Paul also warned about this precise situation:
Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Paul encourages his christian friends to continue to pray for him, and he says that their prayers and the supply of the Spirit will lead to his salvation. Naturally Paul’s own willingness to obey the holy Spirit is fundamental.
19For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
Paul has the confidence that it’s best for him to remain with them for yet a little time. He continues to encourage and warn his fellow christians to be strong in their faith and to strive together for the gospel.
25And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;26That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.27Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
In Phil. 2:12 below we can see that these believers are those who have ”always obeyed.” This is more revelation as to why Paul was so confident about the christian Philippians.
Phil. 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
Paul reveals that these christians helped him financially (Phil. 4:10-19), which is yet another example of good fruit. There is no biblical promise of security given to those who are not grounded in Jesus, but throughout the New Testament Paul gives true believers many warnings, that they must not shipwreck their faith.
2 Tim. 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
Titus 2:6 Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.—11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (NKJV)