Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 25 July 2021

by Rev Greg Obong-Oshotse 25 July 2021

Call to Worship Psalm 91
91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say[a] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge[b]
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honour him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

Hymn: A Debtor To Mercy Alone

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Opening Prayer & The Lord’s Prayer 
Heavenly Father we give You thanks for the privilege of worship today. We proclaim with the Holy Scriptures that this is the day that You have made and that we will rejoice and be glad in it. We therefore begin our worship presenting our bodies to you a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is our reasonable service. We refuse to be conformed to the world today. Rather we seek to be transformed by the renewal of our minds that we may know Your perfect will and do it so that Your name will be glorified. Give us this blessing today as worship and every day of the rest of our lives in the name of Your precious Son, our only Lord and Saviour and Master and Helper, Jesus Christ, AMEN. 

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. 

Hymn: Great Is Thy Faithfulness

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Bible Reading Philippians 1:1-11 ESV
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 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. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Hymn: Lord of All Hopefulness, Lord of All Joy

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 Sermon :A Word of Assurance 
Text: 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.” ASV
“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.” ESV

The church in Philippi was the first Christian church in Europe. It was planted by Apostle Paul during his second missionary journey (Acts 16). Paul was led to Macedonia through a vision calling him there to help. He arrived in Philippi and converted Lydia, and exorcised demons from a slave girl which landed him and Silas in jail. And then, following an earthquake and a miraculous release from their chains as both men sang and prayed at midnight, the jailer was also converted. They were in support of his ministry from the start and both pastor and congregation developed a special bond over the years. He visited the young church again during his third missionary journey. Now he writes this letter from prison to encourage the Philippians who were also going through a difficult time. And   

Paul’s Assurance
Paul says, I am sure of this. . . Being confident of this very thing. There is no wavering here. No doubts of any kind. No uncertainties of any kind. No ifs and no buts. What is the basis of this assurance of Paul? What is the ground for this certainty of what he says? What is the reason for his confidence? His confidence and assurance and certainty are firmly located in the Person who is at work here. That person is God. And what is it about God that gives him such confidence? 

First it is that God is Sovereign 
This is the first basis of his confidence: the sovereignty of God. His sovereignty extends over everything. As the sovereign God, He is the beginning and the end. He is the First and the Last. He is the Alpha and Omega. Therefore He is the all in all of all things. So when it comes to salvation, as the sovereign God, He is also the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Naturally He takes the initiative. He who began a good work.  

Second is that God is good 
He who began a good work. The work He began in the Philippians is a good work. He is a good God doing a good work. What is the work? Salvation. In two parts: Salvation Now. Salvation Not yet. Salvation Now is about Regeneration; New life. New birth. Sanctification. Holiness. Spiritual growth. Maturity. Christlikeness. The good work is taking place in His own people: Those who have accepted Him as their Lord. Those who love Him and serve Him. He who began a good work in you. The good work is happening and being done In you. It is an interior work. It is an internal work. It is a transformative work within. It will show on the outside in the fruit of the Holy Spirit but it is primarily a work from within. A heart work. An inner work. 

The goodness of the work is as a result of a good God pouring Himself and His own goodness into the inside of the people. It is a good work because God is good. His intention is to bring each of these Philippians to be with Him forever. To be with Him in glory. To be with Him in heaven. To be free from tears, death, pain, illness, disease, fear, oppression, sin, Satan, the world, and the flesh. That is the ultimate goal. That is Salvation Not Yet. 

And this is why Paul wants to assure them of that good end, of their final salvation. So having taken the first step, having begun the work, God will also continue until He takes the last step. He will carry on until the very end. His goodness will not let Him stop doing the good work.

Third is that God is faithful
He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. ESV
He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. KJV

Yes He takes the first step. But He will also take the last step. Having begun the good work, He will finish it. He will bring it to completion. He will perform it until the day He begins with salvation now. He finishes with salvation not yet. He doesn’t start and stop. He doesn’t stop until He finishes. What He starts He finishes. What He starts. He starts because He will finish. What He finishes He finishes because He had determined to finish even before He started. His faithfulness will not allow Him to be unfaithful. 

He says until The Day of Jesus Christ. At death. Or at the rapture/resurrection. The day of glorification. That really is to say until the very end. Until the ultimate goal has been achieved. Until salvation not yet has been accomplished. Until there are no more tears, death, pain, illness, disease. Until fear and oppression and sin have been defeated. Until Satan and the world and the flesh have been conquered. 

Essentially God in his sovereignty and faithfulness and goodness continues to be at work. 

Philippians 2:12a-13 “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Psalm 37:23-24 “23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; 24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.”

 Proverbs24:16 “the righteous falls seven times and rises again” 

1 Corinthians 1:7-9 you are waiting “for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

Psalm 138:8  “The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”

In addition to all these, Paul’s confidence flows from an additional advantage. Bear in mind that Paul is writing as a secondary author. The primary author is the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is the Holy Spirit himself who is bringing this assurance. This is God himself speaking. If God says it, it is as good as done. 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:8-11

Hebrews 13:8  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 

Our first hymn has these comforting words:
The work which His goodness began,
The arm of His strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen,
And never was forfeited yet.

Things future, nor things that are now,
Nor all things below or above,
Can make Him His purpose forego,
Or sever my soul from His love.

My name from the palms of His hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart, it remains
In marks of indelible grace. Verses 3, 4, 5

“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.” ASV

“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.” ESV 

Are you born again? Have you put your trust in Christ Jesus? That is the good work begun in you? The Worker is the same God who is the Beginning and the End. The First and the Last. Alpha and Omega. Is that work already begun still ongoing as we speak? Is that good work being performed as we speak? Then you are moving from salvation now to salvation not yet. From new birth to maturity in ever higher degrees. From regeneration to Christlikeness. From justification to sanctification. From newness in the faith to spiritual growth in ever higher degrees. 

Are you looking forward to the day of Jesus Christ? Are waiting for the day of completion? Are you longing for the time of the end of all things? Are you yearning for the time when there shall be no more tears, death, pain, illness, disease? Are you wishing for the time when fear and oppression and sin shall have been totally routed? 

Are you praying for the time when Satan and the world and the flesh shall have been fully and finally vanquished? Are you earnestly praying and longing and yearning for the return of Jesus Christ? 

That is our destination. And all faithful disciples are like a stream flowing towards that final destination as rivers flow towards the sea. There will be obstacles but the flow will carry on. . . The flow will carry on Because God is sovereign. Because God is good. Because God is faithful. In His sovereignty He initiates the good work. In His goodness He carries on the good work. In His faithfulness He finishes the work. His faithfulness will not allow Him to stop the work halfway and become unfaithful. His goodness will not allow Him to stop a good work. His sovereignty will not allow Him to cease from initiating a good work in the first place. Yes, it is true that some form of decline and decay is going on in each person. We are not as strong as we used to be. We are not as healthy as we used to be. But all of that is physical, earthly. A far better life is also being built in its place. Like the mythical Phoenix rising from its own ashes. Paul tells the Corinthians, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“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.” ASV

“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.” ESV 

Prayer: Pause in silence to think of what you have read and heard. Then pray as you are enabled to do by grace.

Prayers of Intercession and Petition
Offer to God, either silently or speaking out loud, prayers for our nation and our leaders, for other nations and their leaders, for the Church across the denominations, for the world still fighting to free itself from a pandemic, for those who are ill, bereaved or suffering in whatever way, and others that come to your mind. Present also your own private petitions before the Lord. 


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Benediction and Dismissal
May the Lord keep you and bless you.
May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you,
May the Lord turn His face towards you and give you peace.

Go in peace and in the power of His Holy Spirit to love and to serve the Lord in the Name of The Father and of The Son and of The Holy Spirit,