BE PERFECT! Perfect in Christ.
'Christ in you, tho hope of glory: whom we proclaim, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ: whereunto I labour also, striving according to His working which worketh in me mightily.'—Col. i. 27-29.
PERFECT in Christ: in our inquiry into the teaching of the "Word as to perfection, we have here a new word opening up to us the hope, giving us the assurance, of what we have seen to be our duty. It links all that we have seen of God's call and claim, with all that we know of Christ in His grace and power. Perfect in Christ: here is the open gateway into the perfect life. He to whom it is given to see fully what it means, finds through it an abundant entrance into the life of Christian perfectness.
There are three aspects in which we need to look at the truth of our being perfect in Christ. There is, first, our perfectness in Christ, as it is prepared for us in Him our Head. As the second Adam, Christ came and wrought out a new nature for all the members of His body. This nature is His own life, perfected through suffering and obedience. In thus being perfected Himself, He perfected for ever them that are sanctified. His perfection, His perfect life, is ours. And that not only judicially, or by imputation, but as an actual spiritual reality, in virtue of our real and living union with Him. Paul says in the same Epistle, 'Ye are complete, made full in Him'; all that you are to be is already fulfilled, and so ye are fulfilled in Him: circumcised in Him, buried with Him, raised with Him, quickened together with Him. All Christ's members are in Him, fulfilled in Him.
Then there i3 our perfection in Christ, as imparted to us by the Holy Spirit in uniting us to Him. The life which is implanted in us at the new birth, planted into the midst of a mass of sin and flesh, is a perfect life. As the seed contains in itself the whole life of the tree, so the seed of God within us is the perfect life of Christ, with its power to grow, and fill our life, and bring forth fruit to perfection.
And then there is also our perfection in Christ, as wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, appropriated by us in the obedience of faith, and made manifest in our life and conduct. As our faith grasps and feeds upon the truth in the two former aspects, and yields itself to God to have that perfect life master and pervade the whole of our daily life in its ordinary actions; ■perfect in Christ will become each moment a present practical reality and experience. All that the Word has taught of the perfect heart, and the perfect way, of being perfect as the Father, and perfect as the Master, shines with new meaning and with the light of a new life. Christ, the living Christ, is our Perfection; He Himself lives each day and hour to impart it. The measureless love of Jesus, and the power of the endless life in which His life works, become the measure of our expectation. In the life in which we now live in the flesh, with its daily duties in intercourse with men and money, with care and temptation, we are to give the proof that Perfect in Christ is no mere ideal, but in the power of Almighty God, simple and literal truth.
It is in the last of these three aspects that Paul has used the expression in our text. He speaks of admonishing every man, and teaching every man, in ali wisdom, that he may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. It is to the perfectness in daily life and walk that the admonishing and teaching have reference. In principle, Christians were perfect in Christ: in practice they were to become perfect. The aim of the Gospel Ministry among believers was to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus, to teach men how they might put on the Lord Jesus, have His life cover them and have His life in them.
What a task! What a hopeless task to the minister, as he looks upon the state of the Church! What a task of infinite hopefulness, if he does his work as Paul did, 'Whereunto,' nothing less than presenting every man -perfect in Christ: 'Whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working which worketh in me mightily.' The aim is high, but the power is Divine. Let the minister, in full purpose of heart, make Paul's aim his own: to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. He may count upon Paul's strength: 'His working which worketh in me mightily.'