For it is by grace you have been saved...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Jesus: The Finisher

I’m so far behind in my reading that I’m not sure I’ll ever finish before the Lord returns! I’ve admitted here before that I am a bibliophile, as Henry Ward Beecher says: “A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.” I love books. I can’t resist going into the bookstore, and if there are any good bargains they end up on my shelf as if by magic.

Unfortunately, the down side is that I have stacks and stacks of books that I couldn’t live without that I haven’t had a chance to start reading yet. And some of these are really good books; book I really want to read. Right now on my desk I have Ian Murray’s biography of John MacArthur, Brian Hedges’ “Christ Formed in You” (which he graciously sent me for free! Thanks, Brian), a book on Puritan prayer called “Taking Hold of God,” Tim Keller’s “King’s Cross,” Sinclair Ferguson’s “By Grace Alone;” and these are just the some of the more recent additions. My piles date back at least a year or more.

The electronic age has made this worse. I have a Kindle reader because I can adjust the font size, and for this blind man it makes reading so much more enjoyable. The problem here is that there is so much available either free or at a very low cost. My Kindle has well over 300 titles on it, of which I’ve only read about 2 dozen books.

Worse yet, I have to admit that I’m a good starter, but not a good closer. I’m guilty of picking up a book, reading about half, and even if I’m really enjoying it, I get sidetracked by the next big purchase and start in on another one. Meanwhile, that first book just sits there, half-read and neglected.

I’m so glad that my God is not like that. I read a couple of verses this week that I’ve read dozens of times before, have been part of my “memory verse” list on more than one occasion. I know them. I’ve heard them. I’ve preached them. But for some reason the two of them came together for me this week and really hit me. Here they are (or at least in part):

Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Hebrews 12:2 “…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…”

Some translations say Jesus is the “finisher” of our faith. The word simply means to complete, to consummate. Again, I’ve read that hundreds of times, I know what it means, but for some reason it just really struck me regarding the incredible hope that these two verses represent.

Jesus is the finisher. He will complete what He started. He’s not going to begin a work and then get sidetracked and walk away and leave us half-done and neglected.

To be honest, it was in leafing through the opening of Brian Hedges’ book that got me to thinking about this. He is writing about the Gospel doing its work in our lives, the work of sanctification, as the subtitle says, “The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change.” The point is, if Jesus starts a work of change in our lives, He will complete it.

Even though there are times when we don’t see the growth we would hope for. Even though there may be times when we are doubtful about seeing any change at all. If there is truly a work of God going on, it will be finished. He will complete what He started. He will finish and perfect it.

I don’t know if this hits anyone else the way it did me. You may be fully comfortable with where you are, with your growth as a disciple, with the direction your life is going. Hopefully we all have times of greater satisfaction in those things. And it’s not as if I’m in some deep, dark hole myself right now. It’s just good to know that Jesus is the ultimate closer. He’ll get the job done. He won’t give up on us. What a great word of hope. I pray that this simple truth might be an encouragement to someone else to day. So keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

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