The consummation of perfection

Psalms 119:89-96
89 Forever, O LORD,
Your word is settled in heaven.
90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
You established the earth, and it abides.
91 They continue this day according to Your ordinances,
For all are Your servants.
92 Unless Your law had been my delight,
I would then have perished in my affliction.
93 I will never forget Your precepts,
For by them You have given me life.
94 I am Yours, save me;
For I have sought Your precepts.
95 The wicked wait for me to destroy me,
But I will consider Your testimonies.
96 I have seen the consummation of all perfection,
But Your commandment is exceedingly broad.

I grew up in the state of Ohio, and I always remembered our state motto: “With God, all things are possible.” Even today, with secularists pushing for separation of church and state, the Ohio motto still has not changed. Perhaps in all the push to remove copies of the Ten Commandments from courthouses, the state motto has been overlooked, or perhaps someone decided it wasn’t that important. After all, it’s taught to Ohio schoolchildren as part of Ohio’s history, but it’s hardly ever mentioned anywhere else or at any other time. In any case, I still remember that motto, and those who read the Bible will remember where it comes from.

Matthew 19:23-26
23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24 “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

I can imagine the reaction Jesus got when some of His rich followers heard that little teaching. They probably looked like they had just swallowed a fly. Matthew’s description of Jesus’ disciples being “greatly astonished” was probably a kindness. After all, rich people could always make bigger offerings at temple, they could pay others to pray for them, they could afford to buy the best kosher things. And yet Jesus said they cannot easily enter the kingdom of God. Hadn’t God already blessed rich people? How could they NOT enter the kingdom of heaven? Of course, through His many teachings, Jesus clarifies that the rich typically serve themselves and not God, loving money and earthly power and fame more than they love God. “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Matthew 19:30) In short, God will raise up the humble and faithful and bring down the proud and self-serving. And that is possible because “with God, all things are possible.”

In Psalms 119:89-96, the psalmist is reflecting on the possibility of being saved from the wicked and entering into God’s blessing. He starts right off by declaring that God’s Word to His chosen people is as fixed as the stars in the sky, as solid as the earth He set in motion. The celestial mechanics serve to declare God’s sovereignty and glory, just as David had written hundreds of years before.

Psalms 19:1-3
1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
2 Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.

Of course, there are many who need more “proof” of the glory of God, and so they will never believe what they see in empyrean realms, nor be persuaded by the majesty of God’s holy Word, the Bible. Such people, God has not selected that they should come to Him, and so His Spirit does not move their hearts. They become the “vessels of wrath” about which Paul wrote (Romans 9:20-24), and in today’s verses they lie in wait to destroy those who have faith in the righteousness of God.

But the faithful are saved by their faith, saved by delighting in God’s Word and holding fast to the promises and hope therein. We who read and love the voice of our Creator, we see the limits of human perfection, the limits of worldly life and love, and we know that God’s ways are still higher and better than our own. We understand without being told what the Lord spoke to Isaiah:

Isaiah 55:9-11
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11 “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

God’s Word and God’s Holy Spirit make possible that which man alone cannot do: the salvation of humanity. God’s Bible teaches us, enriches us, enfolds us in wisdom, enlightens us, and even brings us joy. His Spirit enters into us and enables the Word to do its work, guiding our hearts and our minds to thoughts only of God. And, of course, all this is possible because God did the “impossible”: He came among us as the man Jesus and died on the Cross for all our sins. Further, Jesus was raised from the dead after three days and entered into His glory at the right hand of God His Father. Truly, God’s Word and His will know no bounds, and ALL things are possible with Him.

Even as scientists strive to decipher the mathematics of the heavens, the Author of those physical laws continues to work in the lives of men. His Spirit changes hearts that were once deemed immovable, and His Word stirs to action those who would never have found faith without the gospel. God established all the workings of the universe, and He wrote in broad and tiny strokes the entire language of physics, biology, chemistry and mathematics. And yet this same Almighty Creator also spoke in the hearts of men and gave us His Word for all eternity. Where men struggle to understand their world and their own hearts, God already understands – and He forgives. God’s mercy and grace have no limits that we can see, and in His sovereignty He will have mercy on whomever He wills, and He will visit His wrath upon others. Our part is to remain faithful to Him, that He may save us according to His word.

Today, let us reflect upon what is possible with God. Let us remember that while God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), He nonetheless has selected the faithful to be the vessels of His mercy and the wicked and unbelievers to receive His wrath. It is not up to us to determine who will be saved, nor does salvation come through any means but Christ Jesus. We are called to “preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) and have faith that God will do His work through His Word and His Spirit. For our own part, let all of us consider God’s testimonies, delight in His law, and seek and never forget His precepts. Earth abides while kingdoms and princes pass away. The heavens themselves declare the glory of God and the insignificance of man. Looking at the earth and stars and then at the petty and ephemeral deeds of men, we can see the “consummation of perfection” – the limits of human endeavors – and we ought to remember that God’s Word, God’s Spirit, and God’s beloved Son will accomplish what we cannot: our own salvation.

Almighty God, the heavens do indeed declare Your glory. Move in my heart today, Blessed Father, and stir me to Your perfection. Make possible the salvation that I cannot accomplish on my own. Let me repent anew every day, that I may see Your blessing, the promise of Your Word. And, Lord God, may Your Spirit enter into the hearts of my friends and family and even my enemies, that they all may see Your sovereignty and glorify You alone. Amen.


About Glenn Pettit

I am a deacon at The Well of Iowa, and a father and grandfather. Called to teach and to preach, I write fresh messages about the Bible every now and then.
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