Volume VII, Number 14
In this issue:
“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).
Christ calls us to perfection, with our heavenly Father as our model. While this is not an impossible task, it is a demanding one. Within a context of love – even for our enemies – Jesus commands us to be perfect. What does Jesus mean, “perfect?” This perfection must be our firm and resolute goal if we are to achieve it. Enormous amounts of energy will have to be spent in order to succeed. And, we will have to exercise a great measure of self-control in order to live this “perfect” way of life.
It is important to understand how Jesus uses the word “perfect” (teleios) in the text. Jesus is commanding completeness of moral character. Perfect (teleios) means “brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness” (Thayer, 618). Therefore, Jesus is saying that our love is to be full, rich and mature toward our fellow man. We are to develop and grow so that we embody the same fullness and completeness in our love as God does in His. The same word is used twice in James 1:4, where we are given an inspired definition and application: “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” The complete work of patience is to bring one’s faith to perfection. In the face of trials we are urged to faithfully endure (Jas. 1:2-3). Patience is produced as one continues to do the will of God when tested by trials. This steadfast endurance in the face of trials brings one’s faith to maturity (1:4). Thus, patience does its full work of perfecting or completing one’s faith: he is “perfect and entire, lack in nothing.”
We press on to the goal of heaven by becoming more and more like Christ, hence, more and more “perfect” (full-grown, complete). In Philippians 3:12-16 we are urged to join the apostle Paul in “reaching forward” to “press toward the goal” of the heavenly prize. He says in verse 15 that those who are “mature” (“perfect,” ASV) are engaged in this pursuit. The course we pursue toward the heavenly goal is the same one that has brought us this far – the gospel of Christ (v. 16). Hebrews 6:1 urges us to be those who “press on unto perfection.” Thus, we must energetically and enthusiastically continue to pursue excellence in our spiritual character, knowledge and conduct.
None of us are above and without sin (Rom. 3:23). In that sense, then, none of us can ever expect to be “sinlessly perfect.” “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jno. 1:8). What God calls us to is a maturity of character and conduct as His holy people (1 Pet. 1:15-16).
Such spiritual perfection is attainable (Eph. 4:13). Therefore, let us “press on unto perfection” (Heb. 6:1, ASV).
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (NASB95). The noun “diligence” is defined as “(1) earnest and persistent application to an undertaking; steady effort; assiduity; (2) attentive care; heedfulness.”i The adjective “diligent” describes that which is “marked by persevering, painstaking effort.”ii Diligence is vitally important, regardless of one’s station in life. It impacts both the spiritual and secular realms. However, diligence doesn’t occur automatically: this quality must be cultivated and nurtured.
In Serving God
First, we must diligently seek to know the truth. Moses affirmed the
importance of this principle (Deuteronomy 4:9; 6:5-9), as did also the wise
man Solomon (Proverbs 8:12-17). In like manner, the New Testament admonishes
us to diligently seek God’s approval regarding how we handle the word of
truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
In Serving Brethren
We must diligently serve our brothers and sisters in Christ. Titus, and an
unnamed associate, are examples in this regard (2 Corinthians 8:16-24). The
widow who is worthy of permanent support from the church treasury also
manifests this trait (1 Timothy 5:9-10). As an apostle, an elder and
preacher of the gospel, Peter felt the weight of his evangelistic
responsibility (2 Peter 1:12-15). Elders carry the same burden (1
In Serving Family
We must diligently serve our family. Husbands and wives must fulfill their various responsibilities (Ephesians 5:22-33). So also must parents and children (Ephesians 6:1-4). Diligence should be required of children (Proverbs 13:24). Slothful habits developed in childhood will often ossify as one becomes an adult. In contrast, industriousness learned in youth will contribute to future success. Parents should establish standards, assign chores, and expect results. Reward obedient children by entrusting them with greater responsibility (Matthew 25:21; Luke 16:10).
In Serving Others
We must diligently apply ourselves to our service to others. As Cervantes once said, “Diligence is the mother of good fortune.”iv The Wisdom Literature repeatedly counsels diligence in one’s secular endeavors (Proverbs 10:4-5; 12:24, 27; 13:4; 21:5). In a similar vein, the apostle Paul affirms that we should manifest a hearty and enthusiastic spirit, whatever our life’s work (Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:23-24).
As you can see, diligence is a vital concept. Spiritual sluggishness will not see us through to the end; only those who diligently serve God will inherit the promised reward (Hebrews 4:11; 6:9-12, esp. vs. 11). However, we must not make the fatal mistake of neglecting this upright quality until it is too late (Proverbs 1:22-31, esp. vs. 28). Will you not obey God while there is time and opportunity: “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14)?
i The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition, (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992), s.v. “Diligence.”
ii The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition, (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992), s.v. “Diligently.”
iii Abigail Adams, Letter to John Quincy Adams [May 8, 1780], quoted in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 15th ed., (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1980), p. 393:2.
iv Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, quoted in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 15th ed., (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1980), p. 170:34.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
The Value of Attending Worship Services
Scripture Reading: Acts 20:5-12
1. Attend –
“To stretch to,” to stretch the eyes & ears toward anything, to give
I. THE VALUE OF ATTENDING WORSHIP SERVICES IN THE LIVES OF EARLY CHRISTIANS – Acts 20:6-7.
A. Worshipping God
with the Brethren was Important – 20:6; Heb.10:24-25 Psa. 122:1; 42:4.
II. THE VALUE OF ATTENDANCE.
A. Attendance Honors God – Jno.
4:23-24; 1 Cor. 11:20
(10:16); Eph. 5:19; 1 Tim. 2:8 (1-2); 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Tim. 4:1-2 (Matt. 15:8).
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!” (Psa. 122:1, RSV)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Bible Question Box (August 2003)
Scripture Reading: Psalms 6
#1: Why was God displeased with David’s census of Israel in 1 Chron. 21? (2 Sam. 24)
Ans. It showed a failure to trust in God.
1. Numbering, per se, not wrong – Num. 1:1-3; 26:1-2.
#2: According to Scripture, where did the Devil come from and why does he have the power he has?
1. Where did the Devil come from?
#3: Are aliens real?
1. No - There is no Bible evidence to conclude aliens are real.
Lost No More
After 60 years Jim Hoel has his watch back. He lost it in World War II when he was forced to ditch his B-26 in the Netherlands. He spent the rest of the war in German prisoner of war camps. Last week his watch was returned to him, not from the Netherlands, but from a person who lives about 75 miles northeast of London. (http://abcnews.go.com/wire/US/ap20030830_560.html)
The finding of this lost item, after all appeared to be lost, reminds us of the lost items found in the parables Jesus taught in Luke 15: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. The Pharisees and scribes complained against Jesus for his contact with the “tax collectors and the sinners” who gathered around him to hear him teach, so he spoke these three parables (Lk. 15:1-2).
The parable of the lost sheep emphasizes the compassion of the Lord toward the lost (Lk. 15:4-7). When his lost watch was delivered to Mr. Hoel said he “got gooseflesh.” Heaven rejoices when a lost soul is delivered from the danger and certain death of sin.
The parable of the lost coin emphasizes the value of each lost soul (Lk. 15:8-10). I’m sure Mr. Hoel valued the watch he lost. It had been an enlistment present from the bank where he worked before the war. But, war prevented him from searching for it when he discovered it missing. But a stranger, truck driver Peter Cooper, found the watch with Mr. Hoel’s name engraved on the back and returned it to its original owner. May we value every soul that is lost and do all we can to urge them to repent and be saved through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The parable of the lost son teaches us how we should respond to God’s mercy (Lk. 15:11-32). All rejoice with Mr. Hoel, now 82 years old, on the return of his watch. In this parable Jesus taught God is always ready and willing to forgive, and that we must be, too. “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy” (Jas. 2:13). Let us rejoice when souls are saved!
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 08/30/2003
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