Posted by: rcottrill | September 20, 2009

Prepared for Service

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb. 13:20-21)

There is both an inward and outward fruit of the Spirit: an inward development and equipping which readies us for a life of fruitful service (Gal. 5:22-2; cf. Rom. 1:13). This is a prayer that Christians might be prepared by the one for the fulfilment of the other.

May…God…make you complete, or equip you. The expression is a plea that the Lord will fully provide for the believer, making him or her ready to serve. It’s the word used in that day of mending fishing nets (cf. Matt. 4:21), and also of the process of restoring a sinning believer (Gal. 6:1). Doctor Luke would recognize is as the term he used for setting a broken bone.

All of this is instructive. God created us to serve Him. But sin has torn and broken us. The continuing work of grace in the heart of the born again believer is intended to restore us to usefulness, so that we might fulfil the purpose God has all along had for us, for His glory (cf. Eph. 2:10). It is then we are able to “work out [or live out, our] salvation…for it is God who works in [us]” (Phil. 2:12-13).

The prayer for God’s blessing from the writer of Hebrews calls to my mind the Aaronic Benediction in the Old Testament:

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Num. 6:24-26)

These prayers are similar in sentiment to a closing hymn written around 1773 and attributed to John Fawcett, also author of Blest Be the Tie That Binds.

Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing;
Fill our hearts with joy and peace;
Let us each Thy love possessing,
Triumph in redeeming grace.
O refresh us, O refresh us,
Traveling through this wilderness.

Thanks we give and adoration
For Thy gospel’s joyful sound;
May the fruits of Thy salvation
In our hearts and lives abound.
Ever faithful, ever faithful,
To the truth may we be found.


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