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God’s Word for You

Hebrews 11:37b-40

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, January 2, 2015

They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

It might seem to some people that the list of Heroes of Faith has spluttered and gone out like a guttering candle, but we need to remember that this was a sermon, or a series of sermons, and despite the opinion of some weary pew-sitters, a sermon cannot really last forever. So in a few rapid phrases our author inks a sketch of believers who looked to Christ, and he proclaims the Holy Spirit’s own judgment: “The world was not worthy of them.”

What does he mean by “only together with us would they be made perfect”? The term “made perfect” is a form of the verb teleióō (τελειόω) which means to complete or finish something; to make it whole or perfect. They looked ahead to Christ; we look back to the fulfillment. We know the name of Jesus. We know the actions Jesus undertook. We know the way of the cross, and the glory of the resurrection.

Paul said, “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ” (Colossians 1:28).

Everything foretold happened.

Everything that was offered, was given.

All that was promised, is.

What they were waiting for has come.

This is teleióō. This is “made perfect; finished.”

The Heroes of Faith saw the tree growing in the forest and heard about the plans. Then Jesus the carpenter came, and transformed the tree and the plans into the perfect piece of carpentry—the piece that we still see today. But do not allow the piece to grow dusty and decay in a museum. It’s not just for display. It’s for us to use every day. It’s the toughest, most useful item ever crafted by God. Stronger than the earth, brighter than the sun, more beautiful than the stars, more reliable than time itself. What Christ wrought for us was our salvation. It happened. It was given. It is. It has come. Everyone who believes and who trusts in Christ is brought into his kingdom, and together with us, all are made perfect in Jesus.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.