John 17:4 “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.”
The term ‘finished’, described in John17 is the term teleióō – which means to consummate, reaching the end-stage, i.e. working through the entire process (stages) to reach the final phase (conclusion). The idea of completion (perfect), i. e. add what is yet lacking in order to render a thing full, is also expressed in this thought of finishing a work.
What is the ‘work of God’ that He is finishing?
The works of God have been evident from the beginning of creation. The faithfulness of God’s love toward us has been clear from the way He honored Adam in the garden, the order by which creation was established, and the process of Salvation He instituted from the moment of our inception.
The finality of this statement Jesus declared is one that is worth examining, both in understanding how God works but likewise revealing His purpose in the work.
The elements of God’s work reveal:
1. A specific way that God works.
2. A beginning and an end.
3. God recognized a deficiency and filled it.
4. God showed there is a timing to His plan.
5. God does His work to perfection.
1. What specific way does God work?
Everything He does is good.
The term “good” is one that has lost its significance in our language. People will remark how “good” a movie was, how “good” was the dinner, or what a “good” boy you were for being so nice. I’ve heard it many times, and many times my label of goodness, usually delivered by my mom, was unjustified. I knew all the bad I had done, just because I had done something nice didn’t change my past behavior.
Jesus revealed it to the rich young man in Luke 18:19 “So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.”
Job likewise would have said otherwise to my mother about me in Job 14:4 “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.”
We have no inherent goodness in us. Zero. There is nothing I can do by myself that has any merit before God as righteousness.
Romans 7:18-25 “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh; for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want to do. Instead, I keep on doing the evil I do not want to do. 20And if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So this is the principle I have discovered: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law. But I see another law at work in my body, warring against the law of my mind and holding me captive to the law of sin that dwells within me.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with my mind I serve the law of God, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
So, to summarize this point, for anything to be rendered good in me, I must submit to Christ working in me.
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
2. Where does God start and when is He finished?
First off, everything starts and ends with JESUS!
Revelation 22:13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
Jesus is the source of all life, Jesus redeemed His people from death and Hell, and Jesus has made a new home in Heaven where the old sin nature will be gone and we will dwell with Him forever. He is everything.
Where God begins in us is His call….
John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
*When we hear the call, and consequently God calls everyone, there is a specific way we must respond.
Proverbs 15:33 “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.”
God shows honor to them that come before Him in humility and repentance. Many are called and yet few respond.
Isaiah 57:15 “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
~This is the beginning of new life and great honor.~
Revelation 22:3-5 “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be within the city, and His servants will worship Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night in the city, and they will have no need for the light of a lamp or of the sun. For the Lord God will shine on them, and they will reign forever and ever.”
We will see our sinful nature be cast away, we will dwell with Him forever.
3. What deficiency did He see?
Revelation 5:4-6 “So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. 5But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals. And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb…..
*We have been found unworthy. Our deficiency is…..Sin. Everything God works in us is to bring us from darkness to light, from corruption to incorruptible, from enmity with God to favor. Jesus is the answer.
Romans 8:5-8 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Jesus has taken upon Himself our sin that we might become the righteousness of God.– 2 Corinthians 5:21
Jesus filled up in us what we were lacking. Our hope rests solely in Him.
4. When does God work?
Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:”
When we consider all the ways God has interacted with mankind, we see a very well timed and specific course of action.
2 Corinthians 6:2 “For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
Whether it was the time and manner of Creation; 6 days God created and on the 7th day He rested or the order of days on the calendar. The prophecy revelations ring fulfilled at exact increments, the knowledge of wars, famines, blessing, or Christ’s appearance, it all has a pattern.
Look at astronomy from the position of an astrophysicist and you will see the cosmos being balanced for life at a very specific moment in history that sustains life in our galaxy. All of Creation reflects order, timing, and purpose.
When we see God’s pattern of work, we can assume He has a pattern in our lives as well. He works with a purpose, He grows us into spiritual maturity for a reason, time, place and people. We are His workmanship and that has not only a specific beginning but an endpoint as well.
Psalm 39:4 “LORD, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am.”
This understanding of our limit should make us pause and reflect on how we spend our days. Do we live also with a purpose? Do we make the most of the time that is allowed for us? Do we use the resources God has given us for His glory or only for our pleasure?
5. How is God’s perfection manifest in us?
Matthew 5:48 “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
When I used to read this verse I was often times discouraged knowing I could never match up to this mandate. Be Perfect ? How could that be possible? I wrestled with so much self righteousness as a young man, the last thing I wanted to do was start trying to be someone I’m not all over again.
The term ‘Perfect’ is teleios, meaning perfect, (a) complete in all its parts, (b) full grown, of full age, (c) specially of the completeness of Christian character.
The idea is not that we are required or even expected to live perfectly, not that it isn’t a goal worth striving to attain to, but we are compelled to allow the work God began in us to be seen through to completion.
Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”
Creation was perfect before the fall of man, sin corrupted. Mankind was likewise made perfect and sin corrupted our entire being. The work of Christ on the cross was to reestablish our relationship with God. The work of the Spirit is to re-mold us into the image Christ was doing with Adam in the garden. The function of the church today is to be a light in the darkness.
1 Corinthians 1:6-9 “even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The perfection of God’s work in us is now known in part, it will be revealed at the presentation of the Lamb of God. For those who have been enriched by His Spirit, there is a future hope and glory. Our reward is Jesus, we have been given an investment now, that will yield dividends forever. For those of you on this path, I say—–be patient. He will complete His work in you and you will know His goodness.