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PERFECTING OF THE SAINTS


William Andrew Dillard

In His tremendous “Sermon on the Mount.” Jesus taught His the newly formed nucleus of His church to “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This admonition is a stopper, a virtual brick wall to disciples who pass around it, leaving it in the bin of incomprehensible possibilities. Much of the problem with the statement is that of accepted, or colloquial, assignment of word definition to the contrary. In modern day preachments and personal castigations, “Perfect” is implied and inferred as meaning without sin or error. In many modern contexts as well as in biblical usage, the term means “Complete.” Jesus wanted His disciples to grow in knowledge and grace to be complete in their understanding of God’s will and way for human life.
A brief look at how the term is used in the Bible is in order. Noah was perfect [compete] in his generations, and walked with God, Genesis 6:9. When God appeared unto Abraham He said, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou [complete, whole, not fragmented] perfect.” Genesis 17:1. God Himself testified of Job to Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect [complete] and an upright man. . . “ Job. 1:1. Such usages continue.
The apostle Paul reminded the church at Ephesus that Jesus upon His resurrection and ascension gave gifts unto men “For the perfecting of the saints. . . till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, . . . “ Eph. 4:12-13. In keeping with that, Paul prayed in ceaseless thanksgiving for the church that God would give to them “A spirit of wisdom and of revelation in full knowledge of Him.” Eph.1: 17 That spirit would bring the church at Ephesus and every other New Testament church into a state of maturity known as perfect or complete.
The world, even the religious world cannot comprehend the faith once delivered unto the saints. Salvation by grace through faith plus nothing else is totally foreign to their thinking, and it simply cannot be apprehended by the carnal mind. The same is true with other cardinal doctrines of the Word, especially including the doctrines of the church. So Paul made such prayers for the church which are similar to Jesus’ prayer for the church in John 17:23, “. . . That they may be made perfect in one. . . “
The churches and pastors who may be treading water, so to speak, by engaging in religious activity without any plan to impart the tenants of the faith once delivered to the saints fail in bringing disciples to that biblically enjoined state of perfection and its subsequent peace and rest. It seems there is time for everything but prayer and meditation in the Word. But even the ancient prophet Isaiah wrote, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect [complete] peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isa. 26:3. Yes, saints may arrive at that blessed state of maturity in the faith that is called “Perfect,” but even then there is no stopping to the learning process. How wonderful!

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Spiritual Gifts 7


SPIRITUAL GIFTS 7

The love chapter is the way most see I Corinthians 13. Verses 1-7 and 13 are really keyed upon when this chapter is discussed. This is fine as far as it goes. We must examine the reason for writing verses 1-7 What end is Paul trying to achieve?

To do this we must examine the writings a little at a time. Paul is saying there is something greater than the gifts that the Church at Corinth was using and abusing. Verse 13 does a lot to clue us in. “

1Co 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. “

Paul is telling the Church there is something greater and better than the gifts that are only partial. Notice that prophecy, understanding all mysteries, all knowledge, and all faith to remove mountains are gifts that are inferior to the gift of love. If we don’t love the Lord and His people above all of these gifts we are what? Paul said we become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. Does he mean we are ding-a-lings? Just a little humor. What it means is a cacophony, a harsh and discordant sound. Not a symphony of well arranged notes and chords that are pleasing to the ear but disharmony and harsh, displeasing noise that has no rhyme or reason. These, certainly are not words of recommendation.

A further examination reveals what Charity does and what it does not do. What it does do is suffer long and is kind. What it does not do is vaunteth not itself, nor is puffed up, behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil: Rejoiceth not in iniquity. What have we seen with those that claim different gifts? Lets look at the vaunted and puffed up. Those that have claimed the gift of tongues and to a certain degree, other gifts;take pride in their accomplishment. There is the sense that they are more righteous because they do these things. They seem to want all others to engage in the gift of tongues, particularly. This is totally contrary to chapter 12 which states that not all have the same gift. Yet the prevailing thought is that everyone should speak in tongues. This has to be classed as heresy. Paul declares the sovereignty of God is giving the gifts to the ones He chooses. Notice particularly, verse 6, “rejoiceth in the truth: Can we not simply accept chapter 12 as Paul wrote it instead of vainly trying to explain it away. I Corinthians 12:6-11 amply explain that not all have the gift of tongues, or wisdom, or healing. The word is plain.

I Corinthians 13:8, Paul makes a clear statement about the partial gifts. “…they shall fail;.. they shall cease;…it shall vanish away.” It behooves us to find when these gifts shall fail, cease, vanish away. In the finding, we must be honest. In I Corinthians 13:6 “…but rejoiceth in the truth:.” We need to examine verse 10 because Paul is letting us know that he is telling us of when this will take place.

1Co 13:10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

Look at the construction of the sentence. Those that want to live with imperfect and partial knowledge state that this refers to the second coming of Jesus. For this reason we still have these partial gifts. May I contend with you that if this is the meaning of this passage, Paul is reviling Jesus by the term that. The love and respect we know Paul to have to the Savior would demand that Paul use the term He to cause this passage to read – “ But when He which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. “…that which is perfect…” is a common noun and is neuter. That means it is not masculine or feminine. My “Idiot’s Guide to Grammar & Punctuation says that common nouns refer to things such as – hair, emeralds, keys, time, whatever – things and stuff that have words for what they are but don’t have their own specific names. After checking my English, I then turned to the Greek language and found that this phrase could not possibly be speaking of a person such as Jesus. Those that would argue for this phrase being Jesus is making up, totally, a false argument based upon what that person wants this phrase to be. This would be tantamount to adding to the scripture which is forbidden in Revelations.

May we continue our search for the meaning of this passage by going to James 1:25.

Jam 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Look at the word perfect. What does this word mean? There are those that would use this to refer to Christ as the only perfect one. One must remember this is an Old English word.

G5046

τέλειος

teleios

Thayer Definition:

1) brought to its end, finished

2) wanting nothing necessary to completeness

3) perfect

4) that which is perfect

4a) consummate human integrity and virtue

4b) of men

4b1) full grown, adult, of full age, mature

Part of Speech: adjective

A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G5056

Citing in TDNT: 8:67, 1161

The above meanings are fulfilled today. The Word of God having been completed has given us all we need to know today. It is complete as to it’s instruction in salvation, in how to live, in what the Church is and is to do, in who Jesus is, in who God is and how He wants to be worshiped. Let us add one more verse to make even more solid that Paul is talking about the Completed Word of God. James 2:12.

Jam 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

We have to agree that this verse is speaking of the same thing that James 1:25 speaks of.

Both speak of the law of liberty. James 1:25 relates that the one that looks into the law of liberty and continues in it will be blessed. Where else but the Word of God is it spoken how we should live our lives. James 2 states that we will be judged by the law of liberty. One only needs a short time of research to find that the Word of God will be used to judge all. Now that which is perfect in I Corinthians 13 can only refer to the perfect law of liberty that will judge the saint and sinner one day, Gods Word, the Bible.

Paul compares the desire for the partial gifts as childishness. He calls us to put away childish things. There will always be those that do not grow in the Lord and live their lives as “bottle babies,” never able to eat the meat of the Word of God.

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