He Will Complete the Work
(Phil. 1:6, Eph. 4:11-16)
He who began a good work in you, will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. If you have known the Lord Jesus for some time, I expect you have heard these words before. If not I suggest you read the entire letter that Paul wrote from Rome when he knew his execution was near. He expresses a tender love for those people.
While this thought has meaning for each of us, Paul was addressing those in Philippi as a group, as a family of believers. Salvation is a very personal experience but the Lord is after a people, a family. The thought of a family of God has broad acceptance. But what is that, and most important what does it mean from God’s perspective? What was the intention for creation? And then a most important question. Are we walking in that? So much of what we see and hear contradicts that. We are collectively, and individually, a work in progress. We are a vessel in the Potter’s hands. We cry how long O Lord! When will we be finished? His “soon” is not our “soon”.
I spoke with someone recently who said what has been a recurring thought for me. The Baptist spoke of Jesus as the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. He further said that His winnowing fork is in His hand and He will thoroughly thresh His floor. As He works, He will be making sure we remain on the sure foundation. And He is the chief cornerstone. We can be distracted into side issues. I think of Bunyan’s pilgrim (Pilgrim’s Progress, the book) who meets up with some characters who misled him. Such times provide lessons we will not easily forget. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, we grow up and learn not to be carried away by winds of doctrines. Teaching is of value but sometimes the “new” thing becomes a distraction. Then we can miss the Lord. He knows how to bring us back.
We live in a time when many are pursuing the Lord and receiving dreams, visions, and revelations. Consider how closely Christ Jesus was connected with the Father. He was not so quick to share everything He knew or saw. He patiently taught those who were close to Him saying, “How can I explain the kingdom of heaven.” As He spoke in parables, I just used language that is common today. He made comparisons to help His disciples to understand. The Lord desires to communicate with each one of us and he knows what we need, what food is for us. The manna was a common food for all His people in the wilderness. Yet with Moses He spoke face to face as with a friend.
It is written that Moses was the meekest man on the earth. He had been thoroughly processed and prepared for his calling. We could certainly consider him a prophet but was a truly humble man. He knew God for years and yet asked to know His ways. Moses knew that he had not arrived, was not finished as he was fulfilling his calling. And Moses desired that all God’s people would prophesy.
All that we see in Moses and a large family of God’s people passing through the wilderness is a foreshadow of what the Spirit is working among Jesus’ church in this day. All that is unbelief in us must die. It cannot inherit the kingdom. Read in Revelation 21:7-8 that the first ones mentioned who are found outside the city are the fearful and unbelieving. They are included with more unsavory characters. Remember John’s words, “He who practices righteousness is righteous.” As the Lord works in us, He is patient to move us out of our sinful habits. I would say that all of our failures have some root in unbelief, in wrong understandings of the truth. So Paul prays for believers to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ. And the writer of the Hebrews says we must not fail of the grace of God. At every failure we must turn and receive mercy and grace to get up and go on to maturity. Remember John also wrote that when we confess our failures, the blood of the Lamb is sufficient to wash us clean from all unrighteousness. We may falter but His love never fails. Stay in the place of His love. That is His presence. That is the throne room of God.