Hebrews: Perfection

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Many profess Romans 8:28 as their favorite verse: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” But what is God’s purpose? That we would be “conformed to the likeness of His Son” (v. 29). Our purpose is to be like Jesus.

In our ongoing study of Hebrews, we’re looking at several reasons why the Father sent His one and only Son to earth to die for humanity.  One of those reasons also answers the question – “How does God accomplish His purpose?” Hebrews 2:10 says “. . . it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Jesus was made perfect through suffering.

Now wait just a minute, you’re thinking, Jesus was always perfect! What does this mean? The word used here is teleioo and it means “to accomplish, bring to a planned end.” Its root word is telos. Another word that shares that root is in Jesus’ last words on the cross: “It is finished!” (John 19:30)  Jesus was “made perfect” in that His purpose for coming to earth was accomplished – it was perfected.

But back to our question: How does God accomplish His purpose? Through suffering. Through the cross. Through beatings and a crown of thorns and nails through His hands and feet. Will be any less for you and me? Suffering is the hammer and chisel He uses to shape us into the very image of His Son. This was important to the Hebrew recipients of this letter who were undergoing intense persecution for the name of Jesus. They were contemplating giving up. The author was encouraging them to stay firm in their faith because their suffering had a purpose to make them perfect. Just like Jesus.

The same is true for you and me Beloved. The “all things” from Romans 8:28 includes suffering. But the teleioo – the perfection is worth it. We will be like Jesus! Beloved, suffering means that God is perfecting you, just as He did His Son. Oh, but when He’s finished you won’t believe how good you’re gonna look!

Unfinished Projects

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“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6.

I enjoy many craft projects of various kinds – cross-stitch, sewing, crochet, beadwork . . .  The one thing they all have in common is that I have many that are in various stages of incompletion.  I’m good at starting things, but not so good at finishing them.  I even have a book I’ve started writing that begs to be finished.  The biggest reason I fail to finish things is 1) I am easily distracted and 2) I’m afraid the finished product will be a failure.

That is why I love Philippians 1:6. God doesn’t have any unfinished projects.

From our first introduction, we see that God is one who finishes what He starts, and He finishes it well.  The creation account in Genesis 1 shows God commanding an action, and that action being brought to completion with the pronouncement: “God saw that it was good.”  Then He got personally and intimately involved in creating man – He literally got His hands dirty with this one.  But humanity – that’s you and me – is not a one-and-done project like plants and stars.  Sure, the creation of our physical bodies was done at once, but the purpose of our existence is a long-term work and God is in it with us for the long haul.

Paul says that God “began a good work.”  What was that good work?  Salvation.  The restoration of our relationship with Him.  And with it the transformation of our lives, that is sanctification – working to make us more like Jesus, “to be conformed to the likeness of His Son” (Romans 8:29).  God’s purpose is to make sinful creatures into holy sons and daughters.  It is a life-long work that will only be completed when we are united with Christ.  But here’s the important point to remember:  it will be completed.  It will be accomplished.  God’s good work in you and me will be finished.

Paul also says that He “will carry it on to completion.”  That’s very good news to me because it reminds me that salvation and sanctification are His to accomplish as Paul further says, “It is God who works in you” that good work of salvation (Philippians 2:13).  Yes, we have a responsibility to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (v. 12).   We must do our part in studying His Word, in praying, in fellowship with the Body and in obedience to His commands and His promptings.  But the onus for the finished product is on God as He works in us through His Holy Spirit.

I hope that is as encouraging to you as it is to me.  Salvation and the transformation of my life is not up to me and my ability to get the job done.  I have a box full of unfinished projects to prove that I can’t pull this off by myself. And neither can you.  But God has a cross and an empty tomb to prove that He can.  He has the power and the vision to accomplish this good work.  And He will prove Himself faithful.  Paul said that it is God Himself that will sanctify us “through and through.”  It is He who will keep us, “spirit, soul and body blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Beloved, You and I are not “unfinished projects.”  We are divinely designed and destined by God to accomplish His “good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2) – to be like His Son. “The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (2 Thessalonians 1:23-24).