James H. Cagle
The Bible (KJV) says, “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: they mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands” (Ps. 138: 8).
The Psalmist did not say that the Lord “had” perfected that which concerned or related to him, as though he were already perfect. He said “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me.” He is saying the Lord will perfect what concerns him because He is now working to perfect him.
In other words the work of the Lord hwas begun in the past, was going on then, and would continue to its completion. The work of the Lord begins when we get saved and continues until we die or until the Rapture – “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1: 6).
The idea of perfection is not sinless perfection, but maturity, being made into the likeness of Christ. We do not become sinless perfect at our conversion. If we did then there would be nothing for God to work on or toward, there would be no need of the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us, and no need of the Bible to instruct us. We need all these because the Christian is a work in progress. The word “perfect” “expresses the idea of something or someone having attained the end (or purpose or full meaning), to be full-grown; mature.”
The Bible and Christian experience teach us that getting saved is just the beginning of our spiritual journey, and that the road ahead will not be all sunshine and roses. We have the world, the flesh, and the devil working against us to keep us from reaching maturity. We have God using the church, His Word and His Spirit working to bring us to spiritual adulthood (Eph. 4: 11-16; Jn. 17: 17; Jn. 16: 13; Rom. 15: 16; Jn. 14: 16-26). Often God uses hardships in order to refine and purge us (Jn. 15: 2; 1 Pet. 1: 7) during the maturing process.
In order for us too mature we must cooperate and participate with God as He is working to bring us to spiritual adulthood – “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, . . . work out your own salvation (sanctification) with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12, 13). We are cooperating and participating with God in His work when we obey Him. Disobedience is childishness.
We hear people of the world say, “I don’t ever want to grow up.” And they don’t grow up, they remain children in the adult age group. I see people of God who though they may not say the same, it’s obvious they have made the same decision. They are not growing up in Christ. It is in growing up, and the experience, knowledge, wisdom, and understanding we get in the process that God can best use us and we can better minister to others.