Extract from a Letter on Perfection

You must take your place right before the Lord Jesus Christ - the Saviour. The epistle to the Hebrews, I may say, puts you there.

In early days, God Almighty set Himself before Abraham, when Abraham had taken up confidence in Hagar, confidence in the flesh, confidence in something other than the all-sufficiency of God. "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." (Gen. 17:1.) This was a rebuke. Abraham was not then perfect in his generation. He had lost the power of the name or revelation of God. The state of his soul did not answer to that in God which was dispensed or made known to him. That is, Abraham was not perfect, failing in confidence when God was with him as the Almighty.

In the days of the ministry of the Son (revealing Him who makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good) perfection of another order was looked for, as we read in Matt. 5:44-48. There the Father, in all the full, free bountifulness of paternal goodness, is set before us by the Lord, and perfection is imitation of Him. Confidence was perfection, when the Almighty was revealed, or stood before the soul; generosity, that counts only on the need, and not on the worthiness of its object, is perfection when the Father stands before us.

So, in the day of the same ministry, perfection again takes another form, as we may see in Matt. 19:21. The Lord Jesus had been on the heavenly hill, in the glory that belonged to that place, with Moses and Elias. (Matt. 17) He was, in an eminent sense, the Stranger - the self-emptied heavenly Stranger here; and standing before the rich young man, He speaks to him of a perfection suited to such an one "If thou wilt be perfect, sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me." This is a high order of perfection indeed - imitation of the fully-emptied heavenly Jesus. And nothing less than this is the living, practical perfection that suits the heavenly calling. "I have overcome the world," says Jesus. Perfection is the taking of that place with Him, which this dispensation opens and shows to us. Paul had much of it realised in his soul when he uttered Phil. 4, and the Hebrew saints knew a good deal of it, as we see them in Heb. 10:32-34, in the day of their illumination.

But, beloved, we must not stop here. Good it is to look at all this, and discern these forms and characters (different as they are) of perfection in the people of God. But God looks to be glorified in us in a still different form of perfection, and we find this precious secret in the epistle to the Hebrews.

There, the Holy Ghost summons our conscience into the presence of Christ as a Saviour. His perfection for us sinners is there made known to us. The law never provided in Moses, or in Aaron, or in Joshua, or in the victim on the Jewish altar, or in all these put together, a perfect Captain of salvation, or Author of eternal salvation; but God has given us such an one in His suffering Son; and the conscience of the sinner is called into His presence, summoned to stand before Him, and to take of the perfection which is there revealed to it, by enjoying peace and cleansing, and consequent boldness of access into the divine presence.

Here is your perfection; beloved, obtained by the gaze of faith at the Lamb of God. It is not the perfection of confidence which knows God's all-sufficiency for the circumstances of life, nor the perfection of generosity which acts after the pattern of paternal goodness, nor the perfection of imitation of a heavenly Jesus; but it is that form of perfection that glorifies God more than all, because it glorifies Him in that grace that has dispensed a remedy to our deepest necessity, and healed a breach in the tenderest place - the conscience of a wretched, ruined, good-for-nothing sinner.

And God would have this perfection, the principle and power of all others. If we trust in God, if we imitate the bountifulness of the Father, if we walk in the steps of a heavenly, self-renouncing Master, it must be because we have been "illuminated" by the sight, or rather by the clear, full, and gladdening light of Him who has perfected Himself for our salvation. "He is perfect for you, though you may be weak in looking at Him."*  J. G. Bellett.

*From the Christian's Scrap Book. - W. H. Broom.