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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE PERFECT CHRISTIAN

Hebrews 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

In closing, the writer of this epistle offers a prayer for the Hebrew Christians to whom this letter was addressed. The same prayerful thoughts, by inference, apply to Christians throughout all ages. The prayer is that obedient followers of Jesus may have all spiritual blessings that flow from the God of peace. In similar fashion, Paul offered this payer to the church at Thessalonica. As he closed his letter to them, this was his prayer: And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23). It is in our heavenly Father, and only in Him, that one can find complete peace. While the world wrestles with dread, fear, and the frightening apprehensions of life on earth and the hereafter, the believing Christian possesses the peace of mind offered by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Through obedience to God's commandments, which culminate in being baptized into the body of Christ for the remission of sins, we are reconciled to God, and thus find peace throughout our lifetime, and finally in the hope of eternal salvation.

Each Christian finds peace in knowing that our Savior, who was taken by wicked hands, ...crucified and slain, ...(whom) God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death (See Acts. 2:22-24). As Christians, Paul assures us that if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, He will raise up our mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in (us) (See Rom. 4:23-25, 8:11, 2 Cor. 4:12-14, Eph 1:19-23). It was the blood of Christ, shed on the cross of Calvary, that sealed the everlasting covenant between righteous God and sinful mankind. But it was the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb, in which He was laid after His crucifixion, that serves as the seal of that covenant. This act, by the God of peace, is our surety that, like our Savior, we too, will be resurrected from the grave with the hope of eternal salvation.

Jesus is not only our Lord and Savior, but the author says that He is alsothat great Shepherd of the sheep, that is, God's children. Jesus, Himself, told us, I am the good Shepherd. He then said that a good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. A good shepherd does not abandon his sheep and leave them in the perils of wolves and other predators; he stays with them, and protects them from all harm (See John 10:11-14). When his sheep stray, a good shepherd searches for them until he finds them; he then brings them back into the safety of the fold (See 1 Pet. 2:25). Such is our Savior, Jesus Christ - our good Shepherd. It was the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd, that brought us into a peaceful, reconciled, covenant relationship with our heavenly Father.

The prayer, contained in the lesson text, is that the God of peace would make you perfect in every good work. God assures all mankind the resurrection of the soul from death, and provides, through His Son, Jesus Christ, the hope of eternal salvation. However, this alone does not bring about the spiritual perfection that assures eternal life for the soul. Peter's prayer for Christians was similar to that of the writer of Hebrews. He wrote, But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you (1 Pet. 5:10). The covenant between God and mankind is a mutual agreement. It is not made perfect only by God's promise of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, rather, it is perfected by obediently performing the good works His word requires to satisfy its terms. It is God's grace that gives mankind allthenecessary, and sufficient, things that allows mankind to abound to every good work (2 Cor. 9:8).

Our heavenly Father offers the hope of eternal salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. That is God's part in His covenant relationship with mankind. The part of mankind is to hear, believe, and obey His will; to become His child by being baptized into the body of Christ. With this being done, perfection comes by doing good works for others, obeying His will throughout one's life, and seeking His forgiveness when we go astray. The Perfect Christian will always be found doing that which is pleasing in His sight.