Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)
This great verse is one of the great verses supporting the Calvinistic doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, which doctrine Arminians condemned as one of the five essential and essentially false doctrines of Calvinism. But how can anyone eradicate the idea from this great verse? Christ will complete the work he began. -- Dr. Gordon H. Clark
We come now to the very important pronouncement that Christ who began [this] good work in you will complete it--carry it on to completion--until the day of Christ Jesus. Important though it be, Lenski, who is usually so detailed, has little to say about it--perhaps because he is a Lutheran and not a Calvinist. Hendriksen, surely a Calvinist with a name spelled like that, uses up a bit more than two pages in trivialities.
This great verse is one of the great verses supporting the Calvinistic doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, which doctrine Arminians condemned as one of the five essential and essentially false doctrines of Calvinism. But how can anyone eradicate the idea from this great verse? Christ will complete the work he began. As Neander said, "Gottes Art ist ja nicht, etwas halb zu thun."
This then is the first point: The work of salvation in the heart or soul was initiated by Christ, not by the human person. The text does not say that because Christ began to work after the sinner had started the good work, he, Christ would continue his efforts too. The text says that Christ began the good work He also will perfect or complete it, continuing his work throughout the now regenerated sinner's life.
Dr. Gordon H. Clark. Philippians. (Hobbs: Trinity Foundation, 1996). P. 10.
But due to the depravity of the heart, Arminians and others will find a way to attribute merit to man, according to Dr. Clark:
But so anxious are many people to find some trace of initiative and merit in man that after they briefly mention the work of God, they expatiate on the work of man. In one way or another they side-step or obscure the main point. For example, Motyer says that "Paul saw in the Philippians [bold added] the feature of perseverance [bold his] in that they had prolonged their fellowship 'from the first day until now' (verse 5) and endurance [bold his] . . . "
It is clearly false that Paul could see in their conduct that they would persevere. Some apparently sincere converts did not persevere--Demos for instance. Paul's statement is not a deduction from empirical observation, but a revelation from God. Eadie rightly observes, "The apostle's confidence . . . rested on his knowledge of God's character and methods of operation . . ." (12). A few lines below he rejects the perversion: "He among you who has begun a good work will continue to do well until death." Such violent mistranslations show to what lengths some Arminians will go.
Clark. (Ibid.). P. 11.
You can listen to Dr. Clark's audio chapter on the perseverance of the saints in the audio version of the book, What Do Presbyterians Believe? by clicking here: The Perseverance of the Saints.
CHAPTER XVII—Of the Perseverance of the Saints
1. They, whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved. (Phil. 1:6, 2 Pet. 1:10, 1 John 3:9, 1 Pet. 1:5,9)
2. This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; (2 Tim. 2:18–19, Jer. 31:3) upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ, (Heb. 10:10, 14, Heb. 13:20–21, Heb. 9:12–15, Rom. 8:33–39, John 17:11, 24, Luke 22:32, Heb. 7:25) the abiding of the Spirit, and of the seed of God within them, (John 14:16–17, 1 John 2:27, 1 John 3:9) and the nature of the covenant of grace: (Jer. 32:40) from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof. (John 10:28, 2 Thess. 3:3, 1 John 2:19)
3. Nevertheless, they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins; (Matt. 26:70, 72, 74) and, for a time, continue therein: (Ps. 51 title, Ps. 51:1) whereby they incur God’s displeasure, (Isa. 64:5, 7, 9, 2 Sam. 11:27) and grieve His Holy Spirit, (Eph. 4:30) come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts, (Ps. 51:8, 10, 12, Rev. 2:4, Cant. 5:2–4, 6 [or Sond of Solomon 5:2-4, 6]) have their hearts hardened, (Isa. 63:17, Mark 6:52, Mark 16:14) and their consciences wounded; (Ps. 32:3–4, Ps. 51:8) hurt and scandalize others, (2 Sam. 12:14) and bring temporal judgments upon themselves. (Ps. 89:31–32, 1 Cor. 11:32)
The Westminster Confession of Faith (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).