God did something incredible last week. I was feeling low and discouraged. My dad handed me a tape earlier that Sunday that I had been searching for the past year or so. It was the tape of Dr. Randy Kilby’s last message. Dr. Randy Kilby was the president of Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute when I attended there. Dr. Kilby died of a massive heart attack about five minutes after preaching his final message “Laughing with the Trumpets at a pastor’s conference in Lenoir, North Carolina. I listened to the tape and found myself in tears. God used Dr. Kilby’s message given 15 years prior to meet my present need. He preached on the very issue with which I had been struggling.
As I contemplate on the life of Dr. Kilby, I find myself not knowing nor thinking about the early life of Dr. Kilby, but on the last years of his life on earth. Was Dr. Kilby a wild man in his early days? Did Dr. Kilby party hard before coming to know the Lord? Quite frankly, I do not know, nor does it really matter. You see, the way a person finishes his or her course matters much more than how he or she begins. Consider the finished work of God.
The Finished Work of God
Old-Earth Creationism, Young-Earth Creationism…it does not matter how you view the time-frame in which God created the heavens and the earth. What really matters is that God finished God’s work. Genesis 2 states, “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (Genesis 2:1–2, NASB). It does not matter whether God took millions of years or just a few days to create the heavens and the earth. What really matters is that God created it all and finished God’s work. Regardless of the time-span, God finished well.
The Finished Work of Christ
Jesus came and lived a sinless life. He was in fact the Son of God as the Scriptures tell us. Jesus was met with all kinds of trials and tribulations. Yet, Jesus never waivered. He finished well. John the apostle writes about Jesus’ final words on the cross, “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30, NASB). Jesus finished His work before His resurrection. The cross had been accomplished. The task was complete. Sins were atoned. God was victorious. At the end of His earthly life, Jesus’ finish was remembered far more than His beginning. This is why the Gospels spend more time on Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection than they do on Jesus’ birth and early childhood. Jesus finished well.
The Finished Work of Paul
Paul had a rough start. He had been a persecutor of Christians. He had even held the coats of those who stoned Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Yet Paul saw the Risen Christ. Jesus changed his life and set him on a pathway of proclaiming the gospel message. Paul later wrote, “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24, NASB). Paul finished well.
The Finished Work of the Christian
You may have had a rough beginning. You may have been involved in the party scene. You may have been involved in other forms of misconduct. But through Christ, you can find forgiveness. Through Christ, you can find transformation. Through Christ, you can find redemption. Even though you may have had a rough beginning, you can finish well.
The pathway of transformation first requires the Transformer…and no I am not talking about cars that turn into robots. The Great Transformer is Christ. Christ can take your life and make something beautiful. Even though you may consider your life to be a pile of drooping clay, God can take that clay and remold it into something beautiful. Accept Christ today if you have not. If you have, allow Christ to transform your life. Paul wrote, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2, NASB). Allow God to make a masterpiece of your mess. Then, you can finish well.
Pastor Brian Chilton