THE ATTAINMENT OF TRUTH AND PERFECTION
The Calling Of The First Fruit
How many times have you talked with someone or read about the subject of Christmas and heard this conclusion? “It doesn’t really matter that Christ was born in the fall or that Christmas falls on the ancient day of pagan sun worship, what really matters to God is that we show our love to our Savior by honoring him through a remembrance of the events relating to his birth.” We have also heard exceptionally weak arguments for the observation of Sunday instead of the 7th day Sabbath. Many, who have studied these particular issues, found little difficulty in coming to an understanding of the Biblical and historical truth of these and other matters. The Bible gives the specific reason for an ability to come to an understanding of Biblical truth. The reason, that the Bible gives, is that Gods Spirit leads one to the understanding of these truths.
Various groups have a broad range of ideas on a particular subject. Each one proclaims that their understanding is truth. It is note-worthy to consider the value or the credibility of the evidence that is offered for proof. I’ve seen examples of what is considered proof for a belief that is clearly without substance. What I've seen most often is that all that the Bible has to say about a subject is not used to support their conclusion. Their subjective interests influences their thinking.
This spectrum of subjective understanding has been made all the more evident because of the experiences that the Church of God has lived through the last many years. We have arrived at a place in the search for truth, where we have come face to face with the fact that within the Church of God, there is considerable difference of opinion relating to quite a few issues. To be sure, the truths concerning some of these issues are understandably difficult to come by. The information, in the Bible, may be scant, or, relevant scriptures may seem to contradict each other, or there may have been miss-translations in various Bibles on a broad scale. To understand these more completely hidden truths, we are called to a more complete reliance on God and a more diligent level of study. But, this I know, that if we do not seek we will not find. Although, true to the historical record, truth seekers are finding different answers for specific questions that are being asked within the Church of God today.
I have heard it said in the church; since the truth of an issue may be hard to figure out, it is not that important to God that we know the literal truth of that issue. Does this really reflect a way of thinking that is pleasing to our Father? There is an abundance of instruction given to us to know what is pleasing to God, and furthermore how to grow in that way.
How dedicated are we in our effort to find and to grow in ways that reflect truth and perfection? The following are some verses in the KJV relating to truth that gives us a clear direction that we can surely depend upon.
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
This is an awesome promise. Do we have the faith to believe it?
John 17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
We are to be set apart. This verse so clearly shows that it is “truth” that sets us apart.
Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Can we really believe that “all things” really means ALL THINGS?
Eph 5:8-10 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable (Strong’s: fully agreeable or well pleasing) unto the Lord.
Isn’t it reasonable to think that if we have Gods Spirit, we should have truth? Notice that this verse uses “truth” in an all-inclusive way.
1 Tim 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
We consider ourselves to be the church of the living God, but are we the ground of truth? The term “ground of truth” conveys to me an essence of completeness. I believe that the foundation of the people being spoken about in 1 Tim. 3 was not the “ground of truth”. As far as the church is concerned today, the promises given in John 16:13 and in other places, will be fulfilled before this age is over. There is going to be a people of God who will be standing on the ground of truth.
Is the following a true statement? ------- When we look at the “commandment keeping” Church of God today, we see a disarray, a true disorder of beliefs . ------- It is clear that the church does not represent a body that has received the promise of truth that we have just read about, or the perfection that we will shortly look into. So what has happened? I believe in large part, various segments of the church have received what they have been asking for. For one thing, our earnest requests have been to a large degree subjective in nature. Those who are interested in a more sensitive relationship with one another grow in that area. Those who are working for a presence before the world, through a “work”, are making progress in that general area. Those who have truly sought a greater understanding of Gods calendar have grown in that area. And there are those who have desired to have a greater “joy in the Lord” and have grown in that area. I have found twelve distinct passages in the New Testament that deal directly with the subject of receiving what we ask for. But, there are things that we have asked for that we have not received, accepting the fact that it has not been Gods will at this time. For instance, we may not be ready to receive the POWER of the type of healing that the apostles had, but what prohibition would there be against receiving truth so that we may stand on the “ground of truth”. I can’t see anything that would be against that kind of help from God. Yet, it is clear that WE ARE NOT standing on the ground of truth. So, my question is, how sincere has our desire to grow in TRUTH been? Here is just one of the twelve places dealing with the promise that we would receive what we ask for.
John 14: 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
This is a plain, dynamic, and wonderful promise for those who have a need to live for truth. Isn’t the importance of this promise at the foundation of all that that God has done, is doing and will do in us? Here we have a complete relationship between - asking - the keeping of the commandments - and the indwelling of the spirit of truth.
Somewhere within this framework, we have been doing something wrong. This is not to say that many of us have not recently grown in truth. But, it seems to me, that the growth has been mostly provided by the unsolicited grace of God. How much did we have to do with the dispersing of the churches? It did promote questioning, decision making and a definite commitment to things proven true in many areas. Yet, it is so obvious that we have such a long way to go in being a unified church that is standing on the ground of truth.
Lets stop for a moment, and consider our normal attitude in regards to valuing truth. We all know that the truth of a matter is not sufficient enough to motivate us in all that we do. This is born out, as an everyday occurrence, for all of us to one degree or another. Our popular diet is a prime example of our tendency to push truth aside. In this case, for convenience and taste. T. V. would also be an area of concern. As we look at our daily routine, we can easily see the concessions that are made to something other than a way that would reflect the true instructions of the Word of God. This is a way that would work against the spirit of truth that should be dwelling in us. So, in part, “this way” can be a reason for our difficulty in our ability to discern truth. Compromising our health with the food we eat is something we should be concerned about. But, when God gives us specific commands about an issue, including the love of truth, we had better do EVERYTHING POSSIBLE to fulfill that command in the spirit of truth.
The following are more verses relating to truth and our indispensable need for it.
John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.
John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
2 Th 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
The lack of the “love of the truth” may have the consequence of being rejected as a first-fruit.
2 Tim 2:15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free
3 John 1:11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. 12 Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.
3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
We as the Church or Churches of God, have some way to go before we can say that we are walking in truth.
The following are some verses that show us God’s interest in “perfection”, which essentially means completeness. It is made plain that perfection or completeness is something that we are going to have to grow into.
Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Phil 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
This instruction and promise will be needed right up to the time of our change at the 7th trump.
The New Testament is rich in its instruction that relates to being perfect or complete. Here are just two more verses.
Mat 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect
2 Cor 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
How more direct or plain or powerful could this instruction be.
The instruction is complete. It is perfectly complete. How then are we able to grow into the stature of the person this is speaking about? As I see it, it can only come one way and that is to ask for it in faith, with an earnest desire - a desire that God knows is true. But, what should we be asking for? That every question that we could possibly have be resolved with a perfect answer? We may be able to look forward to something like that when we are able to have direct access to spiritual powers as the wife of Jesus Christ. But for the present, we can all agree that, we are still laying foundations that we will be able to build upon.
It’s worthwhile to look at the experience that Paul and Barnabas had to deal with concerning the decision to take Mark with them on their next journey. Lets look at Acts 15:36-41 We all know that there was a sharp disagreement as to whether to take Mark or not. I looked carefully at the key words of this subject in Thayer’s Lexicon and found no more, than the fact that there was a strong difference of opinion. We can say that the truth of the matter, as to whether it was right or wrong to take him, was not resolved. Therefore you might say, perfection in this instance was not realized. Through this we can know that every aspect of what may be considered “a perfect way” won’t be realized. But, when we are given evidence that we can use to make a decision, we will have a responsibility to effectively use that evidence. There was something though that was more important than the question pertaining to Mark that was realized. I believe because of the spirit that dwelt in both those men, they departed in peace. We know very well the degree of perfection of peace through love that we have been called to. But, what about the broad scope of what we can term as “knowledge” and its relationship to “all truth”?
I don’t know how many distinct statements there in the Word of God that direct us in “the way”. We know that it includes every aspect of life. It is to all of that instruction that we have been called to be responsive to. I am of the firm conviction that through a sincere faith and through the guidance of the “Word of God” we can find a more complete and specific direction in the areas that seem blurred and unclear. We have been called to be perfect in love and perfect in obedience to God. Humanly, it is an impossibility. For the spiritual person it is something that we will be continually growing into. It is so clear that it is this kind of life, a perfect life that God wants us to be always consciously working for. In considering this, lets look at Eph 3:17-21
Eph. 3: 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
What a statement for those who have a desire to be perfect. I don’t use the “Living Bible” very much, but in this case I’d like to read verse 20 from it. “Now glory be to God who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.”
These are the most encouraging words I could ever imagine for those who have a whole hearted desire to be complete in Christ.
A powerful example of the Spirit of God working in the Church of God is provided through the record of the controversy concerning circumcision. I think that we are all familiar enough with it that we don’t need to review it. This was a very difficult question for the people at that time, but the whole church, after hearing the spirit led conclusion from James, understood the answer, and were in agreement. Therefore being led one more step toward the “ground of truth”.
I’d like to refer to a very brief part of on an article that I read some time ago in “The Journal”. The article was submitted by David Barrett, who had authored a book titled, “Cults and Alternative Religions”.
---, there are a lot of people marching to the sound of their own drum, and there’s a lot of pride floating around. “I am right”, “I am right”. “You are deceived by the devil”. “I know God’s will”. I…I…I. Ego, arrogance and spiritual pride. Although many of the letters to In Transition and The Journal have shown a willingness, even a longing, to embrace those whose doctrine is slightly different, there are also many who clearly won’t accept the weight of a feather’s difference. As an outsider may I ask, for example, how much you think God Himself really minds whether you hold the Passover on Nisan 14 or 15 or Pentecost on Sivan 5 or 6 or 7 or observe the calendar postponements or don’t observe them? It might matter to you as an individual, as a prideful human being who knows the he is right and everyone else is wrong, but does it matter to God?
Evidently, the principal question is: “does it matter to God”? But we do have to ask , does what matter to God? Does ego, arrogance and spiritual pride matter to God? Anybody motivated by these things in a search for truth has little if any of the spirit of God dwelling within them. These things would cripple their ability to grow in truth and understanding of the ways of God. Those elements should have been dealt with a long time ago.
We have been given scripture after scripture dealing directly with the subject of truth and perfection. There is absolutely no question in regards to Gods point of view on the matter. Keeping an Annual Holy Day at the right time does matter to God. And we should be continually looking for a conclusion for that kind of question. There is a question as to whether or not we can take God seriously. It’s appropriate to ask right now, who’s standards should we be interested in?
We must face this fact; there have been countless men and women through the millennia who have devoted their lives in a complete subjection to the “Christian” god of their understanding. But, we have seen that the law and precepts of God have always been the measure of our level of right doing. Do we think that if we are not growing in our capacity to live in his way as defined by God’s law and precepts we can be well thought of?
Mat. 4: 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Deut. 8: 3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.
There are many who have wanted to be perfect in the eyes of God. Desire alone cannot make the changes that God is calling for. We know that our appreciation of the law and the love of his Word that is in us, has come through the work of the spirit of God in us. We also know that by this spirit, we can reach for the calling and the perfection that is being offered to us. Without that reaching, and asking, we won’t come close.
It is becoming clearer and clearer who we really are. What God is creating in us. There are just a few verses that make it quite plain.
Heb. 12: 22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
Rev. 14:1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.
4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
Once again, can we believe what it says? This is a considerable subject by itself. But, these verses are plain and to the point. So then, if the first fruit is only a total of 144,000 people, our calling is great, and I think, beyond our present ability to really understand its greatness. One thing is clear. If the number is that few, the perfection that God speaks of is well called for. To help qualify the possibility of that number we should notice that the “great multitude which no man could number” of Rev. 7:9-17, has repented and been cleansed by the blood of Christ but have yet to receive “life” as we have yet to receive “life”. They are being led to life, as we are being led to life.
Rev 7: 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
If this is all true, those who are called and chosen to be a part of the “Heavenly Jerusalem” have a calling of unprecedented value.
Phil. 3: 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
2 Thes. 1:11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:
12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This may bring a new appreciation of the work being done in the first fruit, an understanding of the degree of righteousness that our Father is guiding the church into. It is my belief that the church will stand on the ground of truth. The church will be made complete. When that will be is a question that remains to be answered.