There are loads of things we can say we are ”confident” about, due to past experiences and based on what we could reasonably expect to happen. I’m confident there will be at least 25 people reading on my blog today, because normally there are 50-80 hits and sometimes many more. I’m confident that certain friends that I know will continue to remain christians and work for the Lord throughout their lives. They have shown enough good fruit to make me believe that. But even if I’m confident about these things, there is no guarantee that what I’m confident about will absolutely happen.
Paul is addressing a certain group of believers in Philippi, and not all christians in the whole world. He doesn’t know all christians under the sun intimately enough to make estimations about their future, but these particular believers in Philippi he does know. Due to his past experiences and witnesses, he feels confident that he which began a good work in them will perform it to the end. The verse doesn’t say that God, regardless of their own will, predestines them to do good work (forcing them to do good work). Had it been up to God to make sure there is good work in us, and not our own responsibility, then of course God would make sure to do good work in us all the time and he wouldn’t fail even once. He would also make sure we never sinned even once. The fact that also born again christians can choose to sin and not always show good fruit, is evidence enough for our free will which we can sometimes use against God’s will. God doesn’t predestines us either to believe in him, or to do good works. Another mention of confidence in the same chapter:
14And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.15Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
We can be more confident about certain issues just by knowing that prayers have a great impact on things, and the knowledge that the Holy spirit is our guidance. :
19For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
More about ”confidence” and the ordinary encouragements and warnings that we must endure:
25And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;26That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.27Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
In Philippians 2:12 we can see that these believers are those who have ”always obeyed.” This reveals to us why Paul was so ”confident” that God was going to continue to ”perform” His good work in these saints, together with the fact that he is going to pray for them. Paul said that these authentic disciples at Philippi were the only ones who financially supported his ministry at that time (Phil. 4:10-19). There is no biblical promise of security given to those who are not grounded in Jesus. There was still a possibility that they could fall away, even though Paul saw those chances as slim.
The broader context is:
1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: –3I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7Even 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. 8For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. 9And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.
Paul is confident that God will continue to work in these Philippian and nowhere does the passage assert that Christ unconditionally will finish or save the one who does not continue in the faith. Paul was confident because of their perseverance and God will continue to work in them and all believers as long as they continue in the faith. Throughout the New Testament Paul gives true believers many warnings, that they must not shipwreck their faith, and we must never forget that a branch can be cut off the vine due to lack of fruit (John. 15).