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In Failure or Success


For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 1:6

In our inevitable failure, God has a purpose. In our success, he gets the credit. In both, he is faithful.


An awareness of God’s present grace—His grace for the journey as well as for its beginning and end—should elevate our hopes for daily joy. This is what’s so great about the perseverance of the saints: the certainty believers have at all times that God is graciously working for our salvation.

Perhaps, for instance, a grace-centered believer falls into a sin. Instead of being undone by inward doubts and questions regarding his or her salvation, the believer should ask how God is using this failure for his or her sanctification. I might ask, is God revealing my overconfidence in the flesh and my need to rely more closely on His Word? Is God preparing me for a future challenge, so that I will not fail then? Is God humbling me or showing me a particular vulnerability? The answer is probably somewhere along these lines. But what a liberating difference it makes to view life in terms of God’s certain success instead of in terms of our inevitable failure!

The doctrine of God’s preserving grace may be even more important in the event of our success and spiritual achievement. Instead of glorying in ourselves, to which we all are prone—“Look what I have done!”—we glory in God’s faithfulness and might. We celebrate what God is doing in us and draw nearer to Him instead of puffing up with self-reliance that can only draw us away from the spring of God’s flowing grace.

In either case—failure or success—possessing a firm confidence in God’s preserving grace makes all the difference now. Are you a believer in Christ? Then realize that this is a work of grace begun in you by God. What He has begun, He is certain to bring to completion and perfection!

—Richard D. Phillips, What’s So Great about the Doctrines of Grace? (Reformation Trust, 2008), 95–96.

Posted 2013·12·05 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Perseverance of the Saints · Philippians · Richard Phillips · Sanctification · Soli Deo Gloria · What’s So Great about the Doctrines of Grace?

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