Title: “Perfect in Christ”
Text: Colossians 1:28
Readings: Off: Buddy Daugherty Aud: Lindsay Campbell
Subject: The Believer’s Perfection in Christ
Date: Tuesday Evening - September 17, 1996
Tape # S-93
Introduction: Colossians 1:28
"Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
In this text the Apostle Paul tells us that the aim and purpose of his preaching was that those to whom he preached might be brought into a saving union with Christ and that they might be made perfect in him, that he might at last present them before the bar of God as trophies of his free, saving grace, “perfect in Christ.” Did you catch those words - “perfect in Christ?” That is the title of my message this evening and the subject I want to address as we endeavor to worship God our Savior - “Perfect In Christ.” What a subject!
Roll those words over in your mind. What do we really know about perfection? I doubt that any mortal mind is capable of grasping the idea of perfection any more than it can grasp the idea of eternity. When we begin to think about eternity, without beginning, without end, without limitation, without progress, without regress, without change we are lost in trying to comprehend its meaning. Finite creatures simply cannot form any real understanding of that which is infinite. As I began to think about preaching to you on this subject, as I began to think about perfection, I quickly realized that I was in waters way over my head. Who can grasp the real meaning of that word - “Perfection?” To be perfect is to be without fault, without flaw, without sin, without blemish, entire, complete, wanting nothing! We cannot understand it. Perfection is altogether foreign to our race. Indeed, perfection is foreign to this world. But there are some things plainly taught in the Word of God about perfection.
1. God is perfect.
1 John 1:5 "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."
God is perfect in everything, in all his immense, holy, infinite Being. In all his attributes and in all his works the eternal God is perfect. Look at the Lord God from any point of view. He is altogether without spot or blemish. No man speaking honestly can say he has found any fault, not even the slightest imperfection, in God. Look at his majesty. His glory is unsurpassed. Consider his power. He possess omnipotence. He is omnipotence! Think of his wisdom. He knows all things, from the most minute to the most immense. He comprehends all secrets. He holds all knowledge. He understands all things at once in his infinite mind. He is omniscient. Yes, God is perfect.
2. The world, as God originally made it, was perfect.
Genesis 1:31 "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day."
3. The revelation of God in Holy Scripture is perfect.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
This blessed Book, the Bible, is the very Word of God. And it is perfect. It is the perfect revelation of God’s mind, will, and purpose. It is perfectly true. It is perfectly free from all error. It perfectly reveals everything necessary for man to know. It is a perfect guide to eternal bliss, and a perfect warning of eternal damnation. This blessed Book is, in its entirety, our perfect rule of faith and practice.
Here is another thing revealed in the Word of God about perfection...
4. The holy, perfect Lord God will never receive, accept, or approve of anything short of perfection.
Leviticus 22:21 "And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein."
The God of glory requires perfection. The God of heaven demands perfection. He will not accept any man’s person, work, service, or sacrifice unless that man, his work, his service, and his sacrifice are altogether perfect. Perfection is absolutely necessary for all who hope to enter heaven.
5. But no man can ever render perfection unto God.
There is no man living who is perfect, can make himself perfect, or even imagine what perfection is. We cannot even think a perfect thought, much less do a perfect work!
Psalms 14:2-3 "The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. (3) They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one."
Ecclesiastes 7:20 "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not."
Are we therefore without hope? Must we forever perish under the wrath of God? No! Blessed be God there is hope for sinners such as we are in Christ.
6. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the God-man, the sinners’ Substitute takes fallen, depraved, sinful, hell-deserving men and women like us and makes them perfect in the sight of God!
As a man, as my Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ rendered unto God that perfection which God requires of me. As my Substitute and legal Representative before God, Christ rendered unto God for me...
· A Perfect Life of Righteousness.
· A Perfect Work of Obedience.
· A Perfect Sacrifice of Atonement.
And that which he has done for me he has done for every believing sinner in this world. If you believe on the Son of God, that perfection which is in him is yours, yours right now, and yours forever!
Proposition: In Christ all the children of God have obtained such perfection that we are right now “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of he saints in light” and “complete in him.”
Divisions: Let me show you four things in our text. - "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
1. The constant theme of Paul’s preaching was the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. All the people of God are in Christ.
3. Every person who is in Christ is perfect in him.
4. This blessed truth should have a positive and practical influence upon our lives.
I. The constant theme of Paul’s preaching was the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul was not a dry doctrinalist or a dead theologian. His preaching was full of life because his preaching was full of Christ. Paul did not preach theories and opinions. He did not simply offer advice and options to sinners. He preached a Person - “Whom we preach!” Do you see that? Paul knew that the only hope for sinners is in a Person. He understood that the only comfort for believers is a Person. Paul was not in love with orthodoxy, purity, morality, or religion. He was in love with a Person. He knew, loved, worshipped, preached, and served a Person - the Lord Jesus Christ. He wanted all who heard him to...
· Know a Person.
· Trust a Person.
· Obey a Person.
· Walk with a Person.
· And Love a person.
Paul wanted to see men and women livingly and lovingly united, wed, and married to a Person. That is the object of all true preaching. That is not preaching, in the biblical sense of the Word, which merely instructs men in doctrine, or in morality, or even in righteousness. That is preaching which points sinners to, uplifts, describes, and displays a Person. That alone is preaching which declares the beauties and glories of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world!
II. All the people of God are in Christ.
Every sinner who is saved by the grace of God, every sinner who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ is in Christ. We are “accepted in the Beloved.” We are “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” We are “partakers of Christ.” The people of God, all of them, are one with Christ. We are as really, and truly, and immutably united with the Lord Jesus Christ as his humanity is united with his deity!
A. We are in Christ by divine election.
Before the world was made God freely and sovereignly chose a people to be his own. And the eternal Persons of the holy Trinity entered into a covenant of salvation, a solemn agreement and compact of grace, securing by Divine oath the salvation of that elect multitude.
Ephesians 1:3-6 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved."
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (14) Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
B. We are in Christ by a legal purchase.
Acts 20:28 "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."
Galatians 3:13 "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:"
Titus 2:14 "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has purchased us from the offended justice of God by satisfying the justice of God for us! As our Representative and Substitute he died in our place; and we died in him. All who were ransomed by his blood are his forever.
C. We are in Christ by a living union of faith.
Faith in Christ does not affect God’s decree. We were in Christ from eternity. But faith in Christ brings us into a real, living, knowledgeable union with our Savior. And faith entitles us to all privileges of the children of God.
Galatians 3:26 "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."
Though we were in Christ from eternity by God’s decree of election and adoption, and in him by legal purchase as purchased sheep are in the hands of the shepherd, our knowledge and enjoyment of this blessed union and its benefits and privileges begins the moment we believe on the Son of God, and not before. It is faith in Christ that apprehends the blessedness of salvation by Christ. We read our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life only by faith in the Lamb!
2 Timothy 1:9-10 "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:"
Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
III. Be sure you get this third statement. This is the heart of my text and the heart of my message. Every person who is in Christ is perfect in him.
My soul, what a statement! Can this be true? The majesty of our text deserves an angel’s tongue to declare it. Believers are, everyone of them, perfect in Christ, absolutely, immutably everlastingly perfect! There sits a new born child of God among us. Regenerated just recently. Perhaps there is one here who has just now been quickened by the Spirit of God, one who has just now trusted the Lord Jesus Christ. You may have been a drunk a dopehead, an adulterer, a fornicator, a blasphemer. But now, in Christ, if truly you trust the Son of God, you are perfect in him. Can you grasp this glorious fact?
A. I realize that this is a fact that is very much contrary to our daily experience.
Though perfect in Christ, we are full of sin in ourselves. When Paul says we are perfect in Christ, he is not talking about our view of ourselves. He is talking about God’s view of us!
1. My knowledge of myself compels me to disclaim all personal righteousness, godliness, and holiness.
Romans 7:24 "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
Romans 7:18 “I know that in me, (that is in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing.”
2. Yet, in spite of our many, countless sins, the people of God are in Christ perfect in the sight of God.
· Washed in His Blood.
· Robed with His Righteousness.
· United to His Person.
· Sanctified by His Grace.
3. The Lord God sees no blemish in his people.
He says, Behold, thou art all fair , my love, my dove, my undefiled.” Looking at his church, from the crown of her head to the soles of her feet, he sees no spot, or blemish, or infirmity in her. He sees us in Christ as he sees Christ himself. “And in him is no sin.”
Jeremiah 23:6 "In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."
Jeremiah 33:16 "In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness."
B. Some of you are still drudging along in bondage simply because you have not grasped fully the fact that our justification in Christ is a complete justification.
It is a great fault of the preachers of our day that the believer’s complete justification in Christ is not fully and faithfully preached. Oh, may God graciously fix this truth in our hearts - Our entire standing before God, the whole of our acceptance before God is Christ! And in Christ we are perfect!
C. Our perfection in Christ is real and true.
· Positional Perfection (1 John 3:5)
· Imputed Perfection (2 Cor. 5:21)
· Imparted Perfection (1 John 3:9; 2 Pet. 1:4)
· Immutable Perfection (Heb. 13:8; 1 John 2:1-2)
IV. Such a blessed, glorious, gracious truth as this should have a profound, positive, practical influence upon our lives.
There are many who say, “Don’t preach that! That is antinomianism. That kind of preaching will lead people to sin.” I am fully aware that it is impossible to faithfully and fully preach free, complete, absolute justification in Christ without being charged with antinomianism, without being called a promoter of licentiousness. That is exactly what happened when Paul preached this doctrine.
Romans 3:8 "And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just."
If Paul was accuse of that horrible evil by those who despised the gospel of God’s free grace, I count it an honor to have the same accusation hurled at me. Such charges will not deter me from proclaiming the truth of God. If this doctrine becomes to any man an excuse for sin, that man is reprobate. And I will not rob God’s children of their daily bread because some reprobate tries to steal it for himself.
Yet, I deny that any doctrine of Holy Scripture leads men and women into sin. Divine truth leads people into obedience, devotion, and consecration to Christ. If the Lord Jesus Christ has made us perfect before God...
A. We ought to have a deep, abiding peace and assurance before God.
I wonder if we will ever learn that “Christ is all.” Everything is wrapped up in Christ. If we could always see our perfection in Christ we would always be happy and content. And we ought to be! I address you all, everyone of you who truly trust the Lord Jesus Christ. You are perfect in Christ right now! Nothing is lacking! You are complete in him! Why should you be worried? Why should you be downcast? Why should you be sad?
Paul knew this truth. It gave him peace in the prospect of immediate death.
2 Timothy 1:12 "For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."
2 Timothy 4:6-8 "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. (7) I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (8) Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
Illustration: John Gill’s Deathbed Confession - In a letter to his nephew just before he died Gill wrote, “I depend wholly and alone upon the free, sovereign, unchangeable love of God, the firm and everlasting covenant of grace, and my interests in the Persons of the sacred Trinity for my whole salvation; and not upon any righteousness of my own; nor on anything in me, or done by me under the influences of the Holy Spirit; not upon any services of mine, which I have been assisted to perform for the good of the church do I depend, but upon my interest in the Persons of the Trinity; the free grace of God, and the blessings of grace streaming to me through the blood and righteousness of Christ, as the ground of my hope. These are no new things to me, but what I have been long acquainted with; what I can live and die by. I apprehend that I shall not be long here; but this you may tell to any of my friends.” To one of his friends standing by he said, “I have nothing to make me uneasy.” Then he quoted a part of one of Watts’ hymns in honor of that Redeemer whom he trusted.
“He raised me from the depths of sin,-
The gates of gaping hell;
And fixed my standing more secure
Than ‘twas before I fell!”
B. How we ought to consecrate ourselves to God!
Romans 12:1-2 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
C. We ought to highly esteem one another in Christ, for Christ’s sake.
Philippians 2:1-3 "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, (2) Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (3) Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves."
D. This blessed fact ought to inspire us with confident hope regarding the future.
1. Regarding Judgment Day
Jeremiah 50:20 "In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve."
2. Regarding Our Heavenly Inheritance
Romans 8:17 "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
1. If ever we get hold of this blessed truth of grace, we will enter into rest. - Christ is our Sabbath!
2. Sinner, if you will this moment believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, this glorious perfection is yours forever! God help you o believe!