Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Resting in Christ, confident in His work, & attaining peace

Paul wrote to the Philippian church,

"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)

How did Paul know this for sure? Because of what he wrote six verses later in the same chapter-
The Advance of the Gospel
"I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear." (Philippians 1:12-14)
When Paul wrote that he was sure, the word is confident, and confident as it's used here is defined in the Greek, "The Lord persuades the yielded believer to be confident in His preferred-will (Gal 5:10; 2 Tim 1:12). The Greek word used here (peíthō) involves "obedience, but it is properly the result of (God's) persuasion."

Paul would know about direct persuasion from Jesus, wouldn't he? (Road to Damascus anyone?) His subsequent confidence was born of an intimate fellowship with Jesus, combined with Godly submission in applying what Paul had learned from the Word. Confidence of the good work of Jesus to be completed in us isn't a head knowledge. It isn't an intellectual game. It comes from direct experience of living the submitted life for the glory of Jesus and seeing Him work through us. We read and study the bible and we live out what it says. It is the evidence of the regeneration the Holy Spirit works in us, to be completed at the Day of the Lord. That is the radical change the Good News does to us and through us.

In this situation when Paul was writing, Paul was in jail. The common understanding is that this was his Roman imprisonment. In the Roman jail, Paul had some latitude- he could receive visitors and he could preach the Gospel. But ... it was still prison. He was chained, limited in movement, under direct penal restriction. How or where could a good work go out from circumstances as limiting as that? Ha ha, Jesus is not limited by anything. Paul preached the Gospel and the hopeful Good News changed the guards' hearts, which in turn changed the hearts of their households...and so on.

Be of good cheer that no matter what or where your circumstances, Jesus IS completing a good work in you. You might wonder, "Li'l ole me? I'm jobless...homeless...single...dying of cancer...living in a yurt on the Mongolian steppes...' but it does not matter. Jesus is using you and will continue to use you until He completes His work in you on the day of Jesus Christ.

Here are two wonderful short essays by John MacArthur on maintaining peace in whatever your circumstance,

Having Peace in Every Circumstance, Part 1
"Any anxious Christian would love to have this prayer offered on his behalf: “May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. . . . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Those powerful, encouraging words come from the apostle Paul at the end of his second letter to the Thessalonian church (2 Thessalonians 3:16, 18). They serve as a potent reminder of where we can and should turn when anxiety threatens—to “the Lord of peace Himself.”

Having Peace in Every Circumstance, Part 2
"It’s only through God’s grace that believers can face every circumstance with calm, assured peace. Anxiety does not have to reign in our hearts—we can hold fast to God’s peace and provision through any of life’s storms. We’ve been looking at the nature of the peace God grants to believers, as explained in Paul’s prayer from the church at Thessalonica in 2 Thessalonians 3:16, 18. Not only is that peace divine in origin, but it is also a..."

Earlier today I'd re-posted a quote from J.C. Philpot about how and why God wearies us, called, The Weary Christian Must Rest Upon Christ. Sometimes our circumstances weary us as well as worry us. Jesus has a great reason for wearying us. Do not become worried when circumstances tire you out. Paul was in jail and was confident Jesus was still working through Him, perfecting Paul for the Day.

This quote from part 2 of the MacArthur essay continues the thought:

"If you understand that God is using all the difficulties you face to perfect you, you’ll be at peace. It is not all for nothing. You may not always know why you’re going through this or that, but be encouraged that there is a good reason. "

May those essays bless you. Cling to the verses about peace and about His good work in you no matter where you are and no matter what your circumstances. He saved you, He justified you, and He is sanctifying you.

As MacArthur reaches his conclusion in part 2 of his blog essay about peace through every circumstance,

"If you’ve lost God’s peace in your life, you can find it again. Retrace your steps by trusting God in everything, turning from sin and walking in obedience, enduring His refining work in your life, doing what is good, and living by His Word in a righteous way. As Paul said, God’s peace is continually available to you. Avail yourself of it."

2 comments:

  1. Very good and timely article. I see many Christians stressed out due to the after effects of the election in November, the struggling economy and the ongoing war by political correctness against all areas of our lives. ONLY in Christ will we find peace. The world is a mess and in chaos. People need to immerse themselves in the Word, continue to meet, pray and care for one another.

    http://acuriousamericanwonders.blogspot.com/

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  2. Bookmarked this post and the last. It's exactly what I and countless others need to hear. Thank you LORD for your reassuring word!

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