True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth
By: Frank L. Hoffman
Jesus said, "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
Chapter 19 G - Should We Fear Speaking of Our Perfection?
(Wesley's writings are in bold)
Instead of rejoicing that we or others are on the pathway to perfection, those who don't want to make such a commitment to God seem to constantly put stumbling blocks before those who truly desire to live as God desires them to live. Such is the case with the next question posed by a member of the clergy, or a church leader, at the conference. John Wesley's answer appears in the nineteenth part of A Plain Account of Christian Perfection.
In the beginning of Wesley's previous answer, he mentioned that our speaking out about our perfection would result in our having to bear many crosses. As we can see, the questioner was quick to offer one.
"Question. But is there no way to prevent these crosses which usually fall on those who speak of being thus saved?
For one reason or another, we all bear our crosses. They come from either the consequences of our own actions, or from others with whom we are obliged to deal in a Godly manner. This question brings forth one of those crosses and places it before us in the form of trying to hinder our maturing in God's perfect love. In essence, the person who asked the question is one of those crosses. I, too, have encountered many of these crosses, particularly from the hierarchy of the church, which is a very sad state of affairs, but no different from what Wesley encountered in his day. Note how he responds to this question:
"Answer. It seems they cannot be prevented altogether while so much of nature remains even in believers. But something might be done, if the preacher in every place would
(1) talk freely with all who speak thus, and
(2) labor to prevent the unjust or unkind treatment of those in favor of whom there is reasonable proof.
I believe that Wesley's answer expressed, in a very polite way, that the person who asked the question was one of those crosses we are forced to bear, because so much of corrupted nature remained in him. And when Wesley spoke of the preacher, he was referring to himself and all others who desired to walk on the pathway to perfection.
This questioner should be encouraging us to seek a perfect way of life, and telling us that in God's perfect love we can overcome all obstacles. Instead, he is like so many others who do nothing to make this world a kinder and more gentle place in which to live, but only sit around making sarcastic and undermining remarks about those who do try, and wait for them to fail. There is nothing Christian in such behavior. They may believe, as Wesley says, but so do the demons, as James reminds us (James 2:19-20):
19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.
20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?
Belief is a passive word. As an example, a person may believe that water will come out of the tap, but if he or she never changes their belief into faith by turning on the tap, the water will never flow forth. The demons believe, but they don't follow God. Many people say they believe, but they don't seem to want to live according to the teachings of the Lord. Faith without works is useless, because until we act out our beliefs by faith, there is no real faith; all we have are passive beliefs that are no different from those of the demons, and perhaps even less, for they know the truth.
The more we walk and live according to the heavenly will of our Father (a work of faith), the easier it becomes, and the more of a contrast we make between ourselves and those who don't desire to walk this pathway of eternal life, and the more blatant their sins and ungodliness appear to be. Thus, the more openly we present our Christian perfection, the better the chances of making significant loving and compassionate changes in the world around us. Love overcomes a multitude of fears (1 John 4:18).
The prophet Isaiah reached out in the Spirit of God and saw the perfection of God reestablished in the Peaceable Kingdom, and he wrote (Isaiah 11:6-9 NASV):
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the kid,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
Also the cow and the bear will graze;
Their young will lie down together;
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den.
They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.
© 2001-2003 - The Mary T. and Frank L. Hoffman Family Foundation. All rights reserved. May be copied only for personal use or by not for profit organizations to promote compassionate and responsible living. All copied and reprinted material must contain proper credits and web site link www.all-creatures.org .
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Can We Have Reasonable Proof of Perfection? |
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