Christian PerfectionChristian Perfection
A Christian Living Book Series from Guide to Kingdom Living

True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth.

Christian Perfection
Chapter 19 I - Does Perfection Eliminate All Fear?

A commentary on John Wesley's A Plain Account of Christian Perfection
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)

God has designed both humans and other animals to fear a sudden danger, so that we can preserve our lives.  This is not in conflict with perfect love.  In this portion of the nineteenth part of John Wesley's A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, Wesley records a question, presented at the conference, which seeks to challenge this distinction by picking up on a comment in Wesley's previous answer.

"Q. But is it not a proof if he is surprised or fluttered by a noise, a fall, or some sudden danger?

This question reminds me of the way the devil tried to tempt Jesus by twisting Scripture.  In this case, the questioner is misusing 1 John 4:16-18 as a means of finding fault, rather than a source of encouragement:

16. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

17. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.

18. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

The implication is that a person who is perfected in God's love would not be startled by anything and would never fear any danger, which is not the meaning or intent of this passage of Scripture, as I believe this questioner fully knows; but like the devil, his intent is to discourage and not to encourage.  Note how Wesley answers:

"A. It is not; for one may start, tremble, change color, or be otherwise disordered in body, while the soul is calmly stayed on God, and remains in perfect peace.  Nay, the mind itself may be deeply distressed, may be exceeding sorrowful, may be perplexed and pressed down by heaviness and anguish, even to agony, while the heart cleaves to God by perfect love, and the will is wholly resigned to him. Was it not so with the Son of God himself?  Does any child of man endure the distress, the anguish, the agony, which he sustained? And yet he knew no sin.

Let's look at a couple of examples:

If a person is crossing a street and hears a horn suddenly sound, he or she should look in the direction of the sound and take appropriate steps to avoid any danger.  Or, we may be startled into action to help someone else who is in danger.  To not react to such danger is foolishness.  The sharp sound of the horn is intended to make us alert, to startle us out of our inattentiveness.

We have found that our efforts to eliminate cruelty in the world is often met with ridicule.  Such remarks most often come from the people who are committing cruel acts or turning a blind eye to such behavior by others.  Perfect love teaches us not to fear such ridicule, but to continue to spread loving kindness throughout the world.

There is a major distinction between these two types of "fear":  The first is to preserve life.  The second is to preserve the pride of life, which is a sin.  People ridicule others because they fear exposure of their own sinful way of life, and desire to divert attention away from themselves to someone or something else.  This is unloving. 

Perfect love does not fear such people.  Perfect love exposes the truth in the hope that people would turn away from their ungodliness and follow the will of God, that together we might make this a kinder, more gentle, and loving world.

Go on to: Chapter 19 J - Can Food Corrupt Our Perfection?
Return to: Christian Perfection Table of Contents
Return to: Christian Living Table of Contents

Peaceable Kingdom
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.