God shall Himself Perfect you.
'The God of all grace, who called you unto His eternal glory in Christ, after that ye have suffered a while, shall Himself perfect, stablish, strengthen you. To Him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.'—1 Pet. V. 10, 11.
THROUGH suffering to glory: this is the keynote of the First Epistle of Peter. The ■word suffer occurs sixteen times, the word glory fourteen times. In its closing words the readers are reminded of all its teaching, as he writes to them: 'The God of all grace, who hath called you to His eternal glory, after that ye have suffered a little while.' In no Epistle of the New Testament are the two aspects of Christ's death: that He suffered for us, and that we are to suffer with Him and like Him, so clearly and closely linked together. Fellowship with Christ, likeness to Christ, manifested in suffering, is the point of view from which Peter would have us look on life as the path to glory. To be a partaker of the sufferings and the glory of Christ is the Christian's privilege. Ho was perfected through suffering by God: the same God perfects us for suffering and glorifying Him in it .
'God shall Himself perfect you!' In God alone is perfection. In Him is all perfection. And all perfection comes from Him. When we consider the wondrous perfection there is in the sun, in the laws it obeys, and in the blessings it dispenses, and remember that it owes all to the will of the Creator, we acknowledge that its perfection is from God. And so, through the whole of nature, to the tiniest insect that floats in the sunbeam, and the humblest little flower that basks in its light, everything owes its beauty to God alone. All His works praise Him. His work is perfect.
And have we not here in nature the open secret of Christian perfection 1 It is God who must perfect us!' God shall Himself perfect you.' What is revealed in nature, is the pledge of what is secured to us in grace. 'It became Him, for whom are all things, and of whom are all things, in leading many sons unto glory, to make the Leader of their salvation perfect through suffering.' It was the beseeming thing that God should show that lie is the God who works out perfection amid the weakness and suffering of a human life. This is what constitutes the very essence of salvation, to be perfected of God; to yield oneself to the God, for whom, and of whom are all things, Himself to perfect us.
God hath planted deep in the heart of man the desire after perfection. Is it not this that stirs the spirit of the artist and the poet, of the discoverer and the artificer 1 Is it not the nearest possible approach to this that wakens admiration and enthusiasm? And is it only in grace that all thought and all joy of present perfection is to be banished 1 Certainly not, if God's word be true. The promise is sure and bright for this our earthly life: 'God shall Himself perfect you.' Joined with the words, 'stablish, strengthen you,' the 'Himself perfect you,' can refer to nothing but the present daily life. God shall Himself put you into the right position, and in that position then stablish and strengthen you, so as to fit you perfectly for the life you have to live, and the work you have to do.
We find it so hard to believe this, because we do not know what it means. 'Ye are not under the law, but under grace.' The law demands what we cannot give or do. Grace never asks what it does not give; and so the Father never asks what we cannot do. He Himself, who raised Jesus from the dead, is always ready, in that same resurrection power, to perfect us to do His will. Let us bclieve, and be still, until our soul is filled with the blessed truth, and we know that it will be done to us.
O my soul, learn to know this God, and claim Him, in this His character, as thine: 'God shall Himself perfect you!' Worship and adore Him here, until thy faith is filled with the assurance: My God Himself is perfecting me. Regard thyself as clay in the hands of the Great Artist, spending all His thought and time and love to make thee perfect. Yield thyself in voluntary, loving obedience to His will and His Spirit. Yield thyself in full confidence into His very hands, and let the word ring through thy whole being: God Shall Himself Perfect Thee; perfectly fit thee for all He would have thee be or do. Let every perfect bud or flower thou meetest whisper its message: Only let God work; only wait thou upon God; God Shall Himself PerFect THEE.
Believer! hast thou longed for this? 0 claim it, claim it now. Or rather, claim now in very deed this God as thy God. Just as the writer to the Hebrews, and Peter in this Epistle, gather up all their varied teaching into this one central promise, 'God shall Himself perfect you,' so there may come in the life of the believer a moment when he gathers up all his desires and efforts, all his knowledge of God's truth, and all his faith in God's promises, concentrates them in one simple act of surrender and trust, and, yielding himself wholly to do His will, dares to claim God as the God that perfects him. And his life becomes one doxology of adoring love: To Him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.