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 John 17 is the term teleióō – which means to consummate, reaching the end-stage, i.e. working through the entire process to reach the final phase. To bring something to completion is to make it perfect, i. e. add what is yet lacking in order to render a thing full which is also expressed in this thought of finishing a work.
Jesus completed His perfect work and is now working in you as well.
What is the ‘work of God’ that He is finishing in you?
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 ordained from the moment of our inception.
The finality of the statement that Jesus declared ‘finished’ is one that is worth examining both in understanding how God works and how He reveals His purpose in the work.
The elements of God’s work reveals:
- The ways that He works.
- A beginning and an end.
- How He supplies what we lack.
- Reveals His timing.
- Shows His perfection.
Everything God 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 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.”
My life can be summed up by Job…
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 being found good.
Listen to Paul’s grievance over his state of sin…
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. For I do not do the good I want to do. Instead, I keep on doing the evil I do not want to do. And 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.”
In summary, Paul’s confession declares that 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.”
Where does God start and when is He finished?
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.
Our story doesn’t really begin until God calls us….
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, there is a specific way we must respond.
1 John 1:9 ” If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
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.~
God’s Completed Work
Matthew 5:48 “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The perfection that we are admonished to seek is not a standard given for us to fail by, but rather a reminder to submit to the hand of God working in us.
We are given a glimpse of this completed work.
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 and will dwell with Him forever.
Until God completes His work in us, the deficiency of sin must be dealt with.
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. Because 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.
When does God work?
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, the prophecies revealed, or Christ’s appearance, it all has had 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.”
To understanding of our limits should make us pause and reflect on how we spend our days.
Do we live with 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?
How is God’s perfection manifest in us?
The term ‘Perfect’ is the greek word teleios, meaning perfect or complete in all its parts, full grown, of full age, (especially of the completeness of Christian character).
The idea is one to encourage us to press on toward perfection by allowing 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 everything. Mankind was made in perfection. The work of Christ on the cross was to reestablish our relationship with God. The work of the Spirit is to mold us into the image Christ, one that was lost in the garden.
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 is now known in part but 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.