According to the apostle Paul “God is not the author of confusion” (I Corinthians 14;33). Yet, today, there are hundreds of sects of “Christianity” all claiming to follow Jesus Christ and most if not all have a variation upon that theme. Is this how God wants it? Is this a “true and undefiled religion” (James 1:27)?
Listen to this preacher, Michael Hatcher and see if his lesson answers those questions.
To be perfect is something Jesus expects His disciples to be: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). How can that be, you ask, when it is simply not possible even though you try as hard as you can. In fact if Jesus meant to be perfect like Himself; that is, having not sinned (II Corinthians 5:21) then He contradicts His own scriptures which state, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (I John 1:10). So, is the meaning of perfect as used by Christ to be sinless? Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that one can only be such by being “perfect in Christ” (Colossians 1:28); that is “perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12) and no, for try as we might “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
A simple analysis of the word “perfect” comes up with the answer as to its meaning. According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary the word as used by Jesus is “tel’-i-os
From G5056; complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); neuter (as noun, with G3588) completeness: – of full age, man, perfect.” In other words the word means to complete a task; be mature; reach the end.
Jesus wants those who decide to follow Him to reach a point whereby they are not only in Christ but are striving to reach the goal of maturity. This was something the Hebrew converts were lacking in according to Hebrews 5:12-14 “when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” He is saying they were still feeding like infant babes from the elementary “principles of the doctrine of Christ” instead of being mature and eating the protein of doctrinal “perfection” (Hebrews 6:1).
So this is Jesus plea in Matthew 5:48 that you be perfect so that you may know what is right and what is wrong when it comes to the will of God.
Are you perfect and complete in all the will of God? Are you in Christ having been baptised for the remission of sins? If not, then I strongly urge you to seek out a member of God’s church to find out exactly how to become perfect in His will before you die because “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27) and you sure don’t want to face this frightening prospect: “Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:30-31).
A Word To The Wise
A few weeks ago I wrote that the Law of Moses has been abolished, for Paul said it had been “nailed to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). However, in stating such one should not underestimate the old law still remaining as a great teaching tool. Once again the great preacher Paul says, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). The Law, it is said, conceals the New Testament, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1). One such teachable premise is contained within the Levitical code which states “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbour, lest you incur sin because of him” (Leviticus 19:17 ESV). I believe God declares that communication in the brotherhood in respect to a sharp disapproval concerning specific or implied offence must be open, honest and direct lest a deep resentment is harboured in the heart. The New Testament reveals the same sentiment in Ephesians 5:11; that is, “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”
Many do not adhere to this authorised practice for fear of the sometimes inevitable consequence of alienation. They fear they may make too many enemies. Paul would no doubt encourage not to be fearful but simply retort with “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth” (Galatians 4:16).
You see it is far better to be straight forward and let your feelings be known with the appropriate dignity and gentleness (I Peter 3:15) than to hold back resentment and anger in the heart of which the latter is sin (Ephesians 4:26).
Standing For Truth
Sir Winston Churchill once said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something in your life” (Winston Churchill – 1874-1965). Now, don’t you find it astounding that perfectly contented souls will all of a sudden erupt in fits of vitriol when you point out a Bible truth? One need only visit a debate forum on Face Book, Google or such like to see them go hammer and tong all because someone had the audacity to quote the Bible. The quote invariably goes against their perception of truth or perhaps the lifestyle they or someone they know has indulged in. The apostle Paul would, however, counter with this: “Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16). Yes, it is almost like one becomes their “enemy” all because God’s word which is the “truth” (John 17:17) was cited. The Bible believer must “not yield in submission even for a moment” (Galatians 2:5); rather, must continue to speak that “truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
It should come as no surprise that these things take place for even Jesus, the Master teacher and counsellor said, “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” (John 8:45). My friends, if Jesus couldn’t persuade because of hardness of heart then we who stake our lives upon His truth ought to take comfort, for to repeat Churchill, “That means you’ve stood up for something in your life.”
I’m back from the holidays having relaxed and recharged for a new year that hopefully will be better than last year’s disasters.
As it happens, I viewed some interesting blogs and commentaries that issued forth some poignant thoughts especially of a Biblical nature. However, in printing or referring to such articles or thoughts doesn’t mean I endorse the faith of the author for such may go beyond that which is written (I Corinthians 4:6) or may be in fellowship or endorse the fellowship of those that abide not in the doctrine of Christ and therefore share in their evil deeds (II John 7-11).
One such article that caught my eye comes forth from Martin Johnson, a church of Christ minister who served as a missionary in Indonesia. He presents a position on the consumption of alcohol that I, personally, can relate to when I first became a Christian back in 1985. Here is a snippet:
When I first became a Christian I thought it was okay for Christians to drink alcohol socially or recreationally as long as they didn’t get drunk. I based this decision on the following reasons:
- In the first century they couldn’t have prevented grape juice from fermenting since they had no refrigeration.
- Jesus made wine.
- Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine.
However, after I began to hear others say that Christians couldn’t drink socially I began to study the issue secretly hoping that they were wrong. But, I’m now convinced that my reasoning was wrong and that Christians have no business drinking alcoholic beverages socially or recreationally.
Read the article and let your heart react to some good, practical advice.
A preacher back in 1958 had the following to say about the truth of God’s word that changeth not over the years in much the same manner as God Who declares: “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. [This in order that] In the exercise of His will He brought us [that is those who have obeyed his word] forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures” (James 1:17-18).
Let us sit back and hear what Melvin Vaughan had to say all those years ago.
Of all those things which are important and essential to man’s spiritual welfare, there is no single item that can affect him more significantly than his attitude toward the truth.
The truth, in a special sense, was made known by the coming of the Lord: “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17). It is not surprising that the Lord had so much to say about the truth and what it can do for men. The Lord pointed out that the truth leads men to the freedom most needed: “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8: 31,32). The truth revealed and applied is the means by which God “sanctified” or sets man aside in His service as the Lord indicated in His prayer: “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth”3 (John 17:17). So important is the truth to men that the major function of the Comforter or Holy Spirit was to remind the disciples of the truth Jesus had taught them during his ministry (John 14: 26), and to guide the apostles “. . . into all truth” (John 16:13).
The Truth Shall Make You Free
( Melvin L. Vaughan – 1958)
Those to whom the Holy Spirit was sent emphasised the importance of truth. James writes of the “word of truth” as the means by which his readers had been “begotten of God” (James 1:18). Paul reminded the Ephesians that the salvation they enjoyed was the end result of their response to the truth delivered to them (Eph.1:13). Peter points to the truth as the means by which man becomes justified before God: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto the unfeigned love of the brethren see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Pet. 22, 23).
Even though the importance of the truth has been emphasized and its source clearly identified with the will of God; it has been denied, ignored, ridiculed, and misrepresented by men. Those who have sought to uphold the truth have been persecuted, oppressed and even put to death because of their devotion to the truth which they held to be unalterable.
The word of God renders to man an invaluable service by pointing out to him the truth with regard to his state, the limitations of his ability, his great need, and the solution to that need. Paul in examining the spiritual state of the people apart from Christ concluded that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Sin is identified in the Bible as including both the “transgression” of God’s law (1 John 3:4), and the failure or refusal to fulfil a known duty to God: “To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
To recognise the fact of sin and its existence, even in one’s self, is of little significance until it is known that sin is the barrier that separates man from God. “Behold,” the prophet has written, “The Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save, neither his ear heavy that he cannot hear; but your iniquities have separated between you and your God and your sins have hid his face from you that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:1,2).
Here is the truth about man’s state and need. He becomes guilty of sin because he has violated Divine law. Because he is guilty of sin he is alienated from God and should he die in this condition he is forever and eternally excluded from the joys of heaven. A disagreeable picture, to be sure. and unfortunate indeed is the person whose knowledge of the truth goes no further than this!
Man does not have within himself the means or knowledge by which he can free himself from these sins and become reconciled to God. Jeremiah had long since reminded Israel of this: “The way of man is not in himself, it is not in man that walketh to direct his own steps” (Jer.10: 29). To provide the means, God sent His Son to be the propitiation for the sins of the world; to provide the guidance, the Son brought the truth. In the Son is revealed the truth by which alone it is possible to have access to God: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6).
Jesus had said: “. . . if ye continue in my word . . . ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). The truth does provide freedom from ignorance by making both knowledge and understanding available: “The entrance of thy word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130). The truth provides freedom from uncertainty by making the pathway visible: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my pathway.” (Psalm 119:105.) The truth makes known the possibility of attaining freedom from sin by showing how the barrier between man and God can be removed: “. . . if ye continue in my word . . . ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31,32). The truth provides this freedom from sin in reality as man obeys the truth: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obedience to the truth . . .” (1 Pet. 1:22, 23).
The good news of freedom from sin through the sacrifice of Christ and obedience to the truth is called “the gospel” (1 Cor.15:1-4).
For the truth to become to you what it can, and what the Lord desires it to become, it must be sought in the words of the Lord and His apostles (John 8: 31,32). This truth must be approached reverently, respectfully, and open-mindedly that it might produce faith. (Rom. 10: 17; 2 Thess.2:10-12). The response of which a believer involves the turning from sin and error to truth and righteousness inspired by gratitude for His mercy and the desire to please him (Rom.2: 4). The removal of the guilt resulting from sin is to be found where the Lord placed it in His death where His blood was shed. According to the truth the penitent believer is “baptized into his death” (Rom.6:3,4), “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). It is here that he is made “free from sin” (Rom.6:18), has his sins “washed away” (Acts 22:16), enters Christ (Gal.3:27), and becomes a “new creature” (2 Cor.5:17).
The church, which is composed of the saved (Acts 2:47), is to be the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim.3:15). The ‘disciple indeed” is to “let his light so shine before men that others may see his good works and glorify his Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:13-16). The teacher must uphold the truth at all times in its purity and fullness as revealed by the Lord (2 Tim.2: 2; Jude 3).
Love and devotion to the truth leads the new creature to walk in the steps of him who “. . . left us an example. . . .” That he might “draw near with full assurance of faith having his heart sprinkled from an evil conscience and his body washed with pure water” (Heb.10:22).
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed in Him: If ye continue in my word then are ye my disciples indeed and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8: 31,32).
The apostle Paul said to make sure that one “Prove all things” (I Thessalonians 5:21). Just because something is widely accepted as being true and is therefore the supposed starting point i.e., an axiom, doesn’t prove anything. If it is true then you are under obligation to “prove” it.
The apostle Peter told the 1st Century church to do as much regarding their faith. He said they were obligated to give a “reason” for their “hope” (I Peter 3:15). For instance the axiom “God is love” needs to be proven with valid reasoning if it is to be convincing. After all faith in such, according to Paul, can only come about by hearing God’s word (Romans 1:17; 10:17) which implies a reasoning mind.
The axiom that is widely accepted as being true is that of organic evolution. That is life somehow started from a single cell and grew to the complexity of life we see before us today. If that be true then the adherent must prove it to be so.
Here is an excellent article that might help to explain why I say such and help you as well (that is, of course, if you have the willingness of mind to indulge:)
The following link gives ammunition to those who want answers to the hackneyed objections raised by the evolution fanatics.
Geology and the young Earth article will be of assistance to genuinely wanting well constructed answers.