William Andrew Dillard

In His tremendous “Sermon on the Mount.” Jesus taught His the newly formed nucleus of His church to “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This admonition is a stopper, a virtual brick wall to disciples who pass around it, leaving it in the bin of incomprehensible possibilities. Much of the problem with the statement is that of accepted, or colloquial, assignment of word definition to the contrary. In modern day preachments and personal castigations, “Perfect” is implied and inferred as meaning without sin or error. In many modern contexts as well as in biblical usage, the term means “Complete.” Jesus wanted His disciples to grow in knowledge and grace to be complete in their understanding of God’s will and way for human life.
A brief look at how the term is used in the Bible is in order. Noah was perfect [compete] in his generations, and walked with God, Genesis 6:9. When God appeared unto Abraham He said, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou [complete, whole, not fragmented] perfect.” Genesis 17:1. God Himself testified of Job to Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect [complete] and an upright man. . . “ Job. 1:1. Such usages continue.
The apostle Paul reminded the church at Ephesus that Jesus upon His resurrection and ascension gave gifts unto men “For the perfecting of the saints. . . till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, . . . “ Eph. 4:12-13. In keeping with that, Paul prayed in ceaseless thanksgiving for the church that God would give to them “A spirit of wisdom and of revelation in full knowledge of Him.” Eph.1: 17 That spirit would bring the church at Ephesus and every other New Testament church into a state of maturity known as perfect or complete.
The world, even the religious world cannot comprehend the faith once delivered unto the saints. Salvation by grace through faith plus nothing else is totally foreign to their thinking, and it simply cannot be apprehended by the carnal mind. The same is true with other cardinal doctrines of the Word, especially including the doctrines of the church. So Paul made such prayers for the church which are similar to Jesus’ prayer for the church in John 17:23, “. . . That they may be made perfect in one. . . “
The churches and pastors who may be treading water, so to speak, by engaging in religious activity without any plan to impart the tenants of the faith once delivered to the saints fail in bringing disciples to that biblically enjoined state of perfection and its subsequent peace and rest. It seems there is time for everything but prayer and meditation in the Word. But even the ancient prophet Isaiah wrote, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect [complete] peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isa. 26:3. Yes, saints may arrive at that blessed state of maturity in the faith that is called “Perfect,” but even then there is no stopping to the learning process. How wonderful!

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