Christian Perfection – 02: The Truth as it is in Jesus
By: Frank L. Hoffman
Jesus said, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
(Wesley’s writings are in bold)
Wesley’s book, “A Plain Account of Christian Perfection”, begins with the statement, “As Believed and Taught by The Rev. John Wesley from the year 1725, to the year 1777. The editor (unknown) of the book wrote in the footnote:
“It is not to be understood that Mr. Wesley’s sentiments concerning Christian perfection were in any measure changed after the year 1777. This tract underwent several revisions and enlargements during his lifetime. and in every successive edition the date of the most recent revision was specified. The last revision appears to have been made in the year 1777 and since that period this date has been generally continued on the title page of the several editions of the pamphlet.”
It is quite possible that as John Wesley moved closer and closer to God, his concepts of Christian perfection would continue to mature. Mary and I have experienced this in our lives, as we are sure that many of you have, also. The day we stop growing and maturing in Christ Jesus our Lord is the same day that we begin to slide back from Christian perfection.
I have found a very interesting aspect in my own Christian maturity. The closer I seem to get to God, the further from His perfection I realize I have been. I always seem to find another area in my life that requires improvement and a more complete openness with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will continually prompt us about the things in our lives to build upon and those that we should eliminate. Our problem is that we’re not always open to listen to His prompting. This willingness to listen and learn was obviously functioning in the heart, soul, mind and spirit of John Wesley. Note how he begins his book:
What I purpose in the following papers is to give a plain and distinct account of the steps by which I was led, during a course of many years, to embrace the doctrine of Christian perfection. This I owe to the serious part of mankind, those who desire to know all “the truth as it is in Jesus.” And these only are concerned in questions of this kind. To these I would nakedly declare the thing as it is, endeavoring all along to show, from one period to another, both what I thought and why I thought so.
Wesley makes a very telling point when he says that only those who are serious minded and who desire to know the truth as it is in Jesus will be concerned with maturing into Christian perfection. If this is so, as I believe it is, all other people who consider themselves to be Christians are more concerned (interested) with living in the imperfection of this world and the “status quo” and not “rocking any of the boats” that carry the lies, the cruelty, and the pain and suffering of this world.
Those who truly desire to know all the truth as it is in Jesus are not necessarily those who sit piously in church with their hands folded or those who dance in aisles singing with hands raised, but those who have a change of heart that seeks the will of the Lord in every aspect of their lives all the time when not in church. We need to remember what Jesus tells us (Matthew 7:21-23):
21. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.
22.”Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
23.”And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”
We need to live our faith in the will of God in everything we do and say every moment of the day (24 hours a day, 365-1/4 days a year). This is the beginning of Christian perfection.