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Study to show thyself approved.

A Witness of Grace

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.” (Philippians 1:6)

It is imperative that we have a witness of the sufficient grace of God in our lives.”

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 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: Even 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. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:1-11)

As we read these scriptures, we see Paul address the church at Philippi with an expression of joy and delight in the people. Paul said about those who were born again, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.”

Paul was able to pray with joy for these Christians at Philippi. I believe this that Paul expressed about these Christians is God’s desire for all His children. I believe it is expressive of growth and maturity.

Partakers of Grace

Paul was writing this letter from prison, yet we read the words “joy” and “rejoice” some 16 times. We also see an assurance and confidence in Paul concerning the work that God was doing in the people. This joy and confidence is a direct result of the fellowship Paul had with these saints. “It is right and appropriate for me to have this confidence and feel this way about you all, because you have me in your heart as partakers and sharers of grace. This is true when I am shut up in prison and when I am out in the defense and confirmation of the good news (the Gospel).” (Philippians 1:7 Amplified)

Paul is here simply saying that irrespective of the circumstances, it was right for him to have this confidence because they are partakers of the grace of God. Paul and the church at Philippi were partakers and sharers in the grace that had given them God’s desires and God’s strength in spite of circumstances. Out of the embracing of this grace of God, Paul gained a confidence in these Saints. What confidence did Paul gain by seeing these Christians partake of the grace of God? “And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ (right up to the time of His return), developing (that good work) and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.”(Philippians 1:6 Amplified)

The Faithfulness of God

Do you hear in this verse what Paul is really saying? He is saying that God is faithful because it is God that began the work of grace and it is God that will finish it. Paul, in being around these Philippians, got such a witness of the grace of God in their lives that he knew it was grace at work and not them. Paul knew that God would be faithful to complete what He has started. Paul here rises up and boldly proclaims to the Philippians, “that He who had begun a good work would finish the good work.” Paul is able to say this because he had experienced the same grace for himself, and God had been faithful to Paul. Paul had been told by Jesus in 2 Corinthians 12:9, My grace is sufficient.” Paul had experienced this sufficient grace. Listen to what Paul writes about this grace: “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” (Romans 5:20) Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life.” (Romans 5:21) “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”(2 Corinthians 9:8) Now Paul boldly proclaims that where he gets a witness of the all sufficient, all abundant, abounding grace of God; that what that grace begins, it will finish, because God is faithful.

It Is Imperative We Have This Witness of Grace

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”(Ephesians 2:8) We are saved “through faith” but salvation is “by grace.” Faith is the channel along which the flood of mercy and grace flows down to thirsty, sinful man. The power lies in the grace of God and not in our faith. Salvation can come to a person with faith as a grain of mustard seed. Jesus came to reveal the “grace of God” to lost humanity. He came full of grace (John 1:14) that the thirst of lost souls would be quenched. It is imperative therefore, that we have a witness of this grace in our lives, for it is the true sign of the born again experience. You may not have great faith, but you must have a witness of this amazing grace in your life. Many today have overemphasized faith, as if it were the independent source of our salvation and blessings. They have almost made a “God” out of their faith. Don’t look to your faith, but looking unto Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) is the source of your life.

Do you have a witness of this all-sufficient, all-abundant, abounding grace of God in your life? It was that “witness of grace” that assured Paul that these Philippian Christians would grow and mature in their Christian experience. God will be faithful to complete the work He has started in your life when there is that “witness of grace.” Paul said, “I am convinced and sure of this very thing.” (Philippians 1:6A Amplified)

A Grace That Will Continue

I want you to see how sufficient this grace really is. Paul uses this phrase in verse 6 describing this work of grace; will continue until the day of Jesus Christ (right up to the time of His return).” Paul is saying where there is a “witness of grace,” there will be a continuance of that grace. The word “continue” here means: “to remain or abide, to be permanent, to persevere, to be steadfast or constant, to protect, not to cease from or to terminate, to cause to remain.” Listen to what Paul is saying about this “witness of grace.” He says it will abide till the coming of Christ. Paul said this grace will be steadfast and will persevere till the coming of Christ. The word “persevere” means not to give over or abandon that which is undertaken. God has undertaken to do a work in your heart through grace. What that grace has undertaken to do, it will not abandon. This grace will not give this work over to the flesh or the power of the enemy. This grace will abide and be steadfast to protect you until the work is completed.

Now, I believe the child of God can frustrate this grace according to Galatians 2:21. I believe the child of God can fall away from this grace according to Galatians 5:4. But why, as a child of God, should you frustrate or fall away from that which has been so faithful to you. Why frustrate that which you can choose to stand in until the coming of Christ. Paul said it is a grace wherein we can stand. “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2) This “witness of grace” will be a continual grace we can stand in the midst of. This will be a grace that will persevere through every trial, every valley, every storm until the coming of Jesus Christ. We can stand in the midst of a grace that continually flows with the desires and strength of God until the coming of His Son Jesus Christ.

A Grace That Develops and Perfects The Work

I believe as this grace abides and perseveres in this work that has been started, something supernatural is taking place. Note the last part of verse 6 again, developing (that good work) and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” Do you hear what Paul is saying? Can you read this and rejoice? Paul is saying, when there is a witness of grace in a person’s life, that grace will abide and persevere in the work it has begun until that good work is developed, perfected, and brought to full completion. The word “developed” here means, “to unfold gradually, to lay open part by part, to make it pass through the process.” This abiding and persevering grace will gradually take this good work part by part through the process, no matter what comes, until that good work is perfected and brought to full completion in you. Grace will take this good work piece by piece, part by part, through every trial, every flood, and through the fire until it is completed in you. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou shalt walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” (Isaiah 43:2) God knows that each part of this work He is doing in your heart has to be touched with His grace. Listen, this grace is more than just unmerited favor. The grace He touches this work with is full of His desires and His strength. He knows that our own desires and our own strength will fail us. God comes and touches every part of the work with His desire and His strength so the work can be developed and the relationship made stronger. As the work is being developed, many times you will sense your own desire and own strength getting weaker. This is when God patiently touches that area of your heart with His grace.

Abram experienced this when God made a covenant with him. (Genesis 15) God told Abram to offer up a sacrifice to Him. “And He said unto him, take Me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.” (Genesis 15:9-11) Abram is here watching and waiting for God. Sometimes it may seem hard to watch and wait for God to do the work, especially when you look piece by piece at the work that needs to be done; (divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another.”)

It was at this point that something happened to Abram. “And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram: and lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.” (Genesis 15:12) This darkness that fell upon Abram was a fear of failure, a fear that the promise would not be fulfilled. As you allow this work of grace to be developed in your heart you too will experience this darkness, this fear of failure. Don’t allow this fear to push you away, but let it humble you to embrace the grace even more. This is all a part of the real work being accomplished. This darkness is only preceding the greatest light. “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” (Isaiah 50:10) “The people that walked in darkness hath seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2) The light was about to shine on all these pieces that Abram had laid out, and it will in your life as well. “And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.” (Genesis 15:17)

This is exactly what the Holy Spirit will accomplish in your heart as grace develops the work piece by piece. The smoking furnace here represents the fire of God’s people being reduced to smoke and ashes through the 400 years of Egyptian bondage, suppressed by the enemy. This burning lamp (flaming torch), is the word of God. That lamp, that word has been made flesh and is full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) This burning lamp that is full of grace walks between the pieces. This is a type of grace walking through your heart touching every piece of this work with God’s desire and God’s strength. This is grace dispelling the darkness and fear, dispelling our dependence upon our strength and our own desires. This is grace bringing each piece of the work to full dependence upon the desires and strength of God.

Peter knew about this work of grace. Listen to what he said in 2 Peter 1:19. “You do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” The day star, the word full of grace and truth, will arise in your heart and touch every aspect of that good work until it is completed. The Psalmist knew what it was for the light to shine in the darkness. “The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me. In my distress I called upon the Lord and cried unto my God. He heard my voice and my cry came before Him. Then the earth shook and the hills moved. There went up a smoke out of His nostrils and fire out of His mouth. He bowed the heavens and came down and darkness was under His feet. He rode upon a chereb and He took me, He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy. He brought me forth into a large place; He delivered me because He delighted in me. For thou wilt light my candle, the Lord God will enlighten my darkness. For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God I have leaped over a wall. It is God that girdeth me with strength. He maketh my feet like hind’s feet, and setteth me upon my high places. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip. The Lord liveth, and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted. (Psalm 18)

This is the grace of God, moving, touching every part until the candle of His light is shining. This is grace developing that good work until the Life of Christ is coming forth in every area of the work that grace has started. That witness of grace abiding, persevering, full of His desires and His strength is developing and perfecting that good work in your heart.

Grace That Brings Forth Fruits of Righteousness

Paul said that this witness of grace would bring forth the fruits of righteousness. “May you abound in and be filled with the fruits of righteousness.”(Philippians 1:11A) I believe the greatest fruit we can have is “to love the Lord with all our heart and our neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

This is what Paul prayed would issue from this witness of grace . “And this I pray: that your love may abound yet more and more and extend to its fullest development in knowledge and all keen insight (that your love may display itself in greater depth of acquaintance and more comprehensive discern- ment).”(Philippians 1:9Amplified) Paul prayed that this witness of grace would bring forth and develop an abounding love. The word abound here means, “to exceed a fixed measure.” When a river overflows its banks, it exceeds a fixed measure. The overflowing waters can look powerful as they overflow the banks and covers the landscape. Something happens though; these waters very soon become very polluted and trashy. They pick up all the trash and debris as they rush outside their banks. The water may look powerful exceeding the fixed banks, but as you see it rushing onward, you see the pollution and the debris. This is how our love toward the Lord and fellow man is when it overflows with emotions and surface religion, not having a real work of grace. There is still too much of our desires and our strength that has not gone through the fires and the waters in dependence upon His grace. Too much of us that has not experienced the flaming torch walk by those pieces until the work has been developed. But Paul here gives us the banks of this “river” that is not overflowing to be seen.

Paul is speaking about a river that is cutting a deeper channel, going deeper instead of overflowing the banks. He is talking about grace at work bringing forth a maturity and a depth. Paul is talking about that witness of grace developing this good work unto fruits of righteousness. That your love may display itself in greater depth of acquaintance and more comprehensive discernment. The banks of this river are acquaintance and discernment. These are the banks of this abounding love, this work of grace going deeper. On the one side, acquaintance; a clearer vision of the Person of Christ; going deeper in your desire for intimacy and communion with Him. On the other side, discernment; sensitive morals, being easily prompted by the Holy Spirit, knowing what pleases Him and being sensitive to His desire and His heart. What is the results of these two banks being cut deeper and deeper by grace? “That you may surely learn to sense what is vital and approved and prize what is excellent and of real value (recognizing the highest and the best, and distinguishing the moral difference), and that you may be untainted and pure and unerring and blameless (so that with hearts sincere and certain and unsullied, you may approach) the day of Christ (not stumbling nor causing others to stumble.)” (Philippians 1:10 Amplified) Can you hear and rejoice at what Paul is saying will be the fruits of this work of grace?

He is saying here that this witness of grace allows us to see and embrace what is of real importance in this life, the Person of Jesus Christ. This witness of grace is developing a love for Him that is going deeper and deeper. This will be a love that will be governed by intimacy and sensitivity to His heart. A love that has a true affection for God and man, growing and abounding out of God’s love for us. All of these fruits made possible by the witness of grace in our lives.

No wonder John Newton wrote “Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” No wonder he wrote words like, “And grace my fears relieved; through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” Do you have this witness of grace in your life? I encourage you to embrace this Amazing Grace and allow it to begin a good work in your heart that will lead you home to Him; bearing fruits of righteousness that will honor His name.