The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. – 2 Corinthians 13:14
Paul is talking about how the father son and the Holy Sprit have achieved something through the church. God the father on the basis of love sent His Son. Jesus, by His grace has done everything thought the Cross for us. The Holy Spirit brings these things home to us by ministering to us.
Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. – 2 Corinthians 13:11
Paul blesses them saying, ‘Become complete’. Doesn’t this sound like God when He spoke fullness/wholeness to emptiness at creation? We already saw how God spoke fullness, order and light to emptiness, darkness and chaos. Now, Paul is applying the same principle to man, the new creation. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.
Today’s pastors have to speak to their congregation, just like Paul spoke to the church. In Ephesians chapter 5, we read the instructions to husbands to love their wives the way Christ loves the church. How does Christ love the church? He washes and cleanses the church by the word of God. Jesus knows that the church is imperfect. You cannot see a single church that is perfect. Even the Bible says so. It consists of people with various flaws. They have been saved by the grace of God, but they still have problems. That is why God has given the pastor to the church to help wash and cleanse them with the word of God so that they may be presented to God one day, blameless and faultless. When the word of God is spoken in the church, a transformation happens in the lives of the believers. Just like Paul said, the pastor should say to the church – Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace.
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. – Hebrews 13: 20,21
I’ve heard some preachers give this benediction to their churches. It is a wonderful benediction because it mentions – the resurrection of Jesus, that He is the Shepherd to us His sheep, the blood that was shed on the Cross for us, the everlasting covenant, the new covenant – all these things assure us that we will be made complete in the end. God finishes what He starts. He will finish this completion work in us till we are made whole to do His will. God is able to take us sinners and make us perfect. God is able to take us, flawed as we are and make us wonderful and be of use to Him and to others.
A preacher once went to see a lady who was dying. He wanted to make sure that she was ready to meet the Saviour. He asked her, “Are you ready? If you died, are you sure that you will go to heaven?” She replied, “If I don’t make it, shame on God! He saved me by dying on the Cross, He made a covenant, He shed His blood, He made all things mine, He sent the Holy Spirit, He gave the Word, He gave the church – all this to work on me and make me blameless before Him. I have no doubt that I will go to Heaven.” The preacher still had his doubts and asked her, “Have you held on tight to the Lord?” She said, “No, I haven’t. He has held on to me tightly.” If we depended upon our holding him and our faithfulness to Him, we would fail miserably. We can make it, not by our works, but because the hand that will never leave us or forsake us is holding on to us.
This benediction about ‘completeness’ is such a wonderful blessing. But in most churches, the words of benediction are said at the very end, what comes before it is confusion. Pastors ask – are you sure you’ll go to heaven? will your prayers even reach the roof? The church has failed to present this certainty of salvation.
You may have not thought of this verse as a benediction. But it is. It even ends like one.
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
– Philippians 4:17
Paul is at the end of his letter to the Philippians and is pronouncing his benediction over them. It was his habit to end all his letters with a benediction, as we have seen in the examples of the verses above. These were people who had given him financial assistance. None of the other churches gave like the Philippian church. He commended them for their spirit of giving. And after appreciating them, He blesses them saying that God will meet all their needs according to His riches in glory. Not according to their needs, but according to God’s riches. When God meets our needs according to His level, not according to our level of need, everything will be fine.
…to be continued…