Picture Perfect

I was reading some blogs and ran across an interesting question that was posed in the comments of one by the blog’s author and a frequent commenter here, Steve from theoldadam.  The question revolves around Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5 that instructs us that we are to “be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect,” which is Matthew 5:48 to be specific.  What does it mean to “be perfect?”  Is this a serious instruction for us or is it some kind of expression intended to point to our inherent imperfection in some way?

There are many who would suggest that it is the latter.  In fact, there are many who look at the entire Sermon on the Mount section of Matthew (chapters 5-7) as some kind of uberlaw that is unattainable and used to exaggerate our own sinful state.  I even found myself in this same category for many years.  I had long assumed that Jesus was “raising the bar” if you will and elevating lust to the level of adultery and hate to the level of murder.  I believed that Jesus was pointing out the utter inability of humanity to attain to God’s standard at all.  The last year or two has seen a shattering of that mode of interpretation for me.  When I saw this question about the perfection statement; it got me to thinking again.  What is Jesus trying to say?

Let’s take a look at the word behind the word that the translators used “perfect” for as a starting point.  The Greek word is teleios, and it has a pretty wide range of meaning.  It is Strong’s number 5046 if you want to check this out yourself, but the meanings are as follows:

1) brought to its end, finished

2) wanting nothing necessary to completeness

3) perfect

4) that which is perfect

a) consummate human integrity and virtue

b) of men

1) full grown, adult, of full age, mature

With a range of meaning that is so vast, and accounting for the fact that the word “perfect” in English is also quite ambiguous at times(think of the “perfect game” for instance), there is more that needs to be done to understand this statement by Jesus.  Jesus only uses this word one other time, at least as far as the gospel record shows, and it is in his instruction to the rich young ruler in Matthew 19.

Paul uses this term several times though and it is interesting to note how the word is translated when Paul uses it.  In Philippians 3, he speaks of perfection and maturity.  Take a look at some verses, with notes from me in parentheses:

12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect(not the same word as in Matthew 5, but it has a similar root word), but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

15All of us who are mature(this is the same word translated “perfect” in Matthew 5) should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (is this what Paul means by maturity?)

17Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. (sure sounds like Paul is suggesting some sort of guidelines or instructions here)

I think you can see from just this one passage that the meaning of “perfect” in Matthew 5 isn’t exactly what I always thought it to be before.  Paul speaks of being mature and doing so by following a pattern that he gave to the Philippians.  I can give you one guess as to what pattern that would be.  Hebrews 12:1-2 give a pretty good summation of this way of thinking.  Jesus set the pattern that we are to follow.  This is what it really means to be His disciple.  A disciple emulates his Master.  It is also interesting to note that Paul used the word for “perfect” to describe himself in Philippians 3 as we saw above.  It seems that Paul found this state something that wasn’t impossible, but rather expected in the life of those who are being transformed by the Spirit of God.  While there is a perfection that is in view in the final sense, which Paul references and which Jesus was certainly speaking of as well, there is a type of perfection/maturity that is brought about in us by the working of God’s Spirit over time.

Let’s look at another place where Paul speaks of this perfection/maturity that we are to attain:

11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. – Ephesians 4:11-16

Here the idea of this maturity is contrasted with being like a child or immature.  This word for maturity in verse 13 is again the same Greek word used in Matthew 5:48.  Paul indicates that this process of growth is facilitated by not just the Holy Spirit, but the work of believers with one another.  It just so happens that there is a point to being a part of the body of Christ, i.e. His Church.  It is used to bring us to maturity, so we can be “perfect” as our Father in heaven is “perfect.”  It is to make us complete, one of the other meanings you might recall from above.  Paul talks a little more about this Way of Life in the next verses:

17Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. – Ephesians 4:17-24

Paul makes a complete contrast here between the ways the Gentiles walk and the way that the followers of Christ are to walk.  The Gentiles were “ignorant” of the way of God.  This refers to the Torah and the instructions of God for living life His way, which they didn’t have (that is the textbook definition of ignorance).  But he says this isn’t the way that they (or we) have learned Christ.  Christ is the Word of God, the Way of God.  He taught us how to walk and His Spirit within us teaches us to put off the old way that we walked in futility to learn a new Way.  It never finds its completion(perfection) in this life, but it is the only way to walk.

So what does it mean to be “perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect?”  It means walking His Way, in the power of His Spirit as He brings us to greater maturity day by day, remaking us in the “likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” as Paul said.

Categories: Bible Misunderstandings, Christianity, church, devotional, Discipleship, Faith, Freedom, Gospel, Grace, Kingdom, Law, Love, Messiah, ministry, Questions, Salvation, theology, Truth, Yeshua | 23 Comments

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23 thoughts on “Picture Perfect

  1. “Your righteousness must EXCEED that of the scribes and Pharisees.”

    That is a righteousness thst the hearer in those days would have thought unattainable. The men were professional religious men. How could the average Joe or Mary match that sort of commitment?

    “If you even look at a woman that way, then you have commited adultery.”

    Jesus, once again, is raising the bar of righteousness to that which is impossible for sinful man to attain.

    Why do this?

    So that we would be painted in the corner. So that we would have no where else to go. Absolutely no appeal to our own actions or inactions. And then realize that the only way out is through Jesus.

    When I first became a Lutheran, my pastor would point out how many evangelicals, and Roman Catholics (and some Lutherans, also) did not take sin seriously. They softened it. They mitigated the law in order to make it managable. This is quite dangerous and leads many to the worst possible place they could be and that is self righteousness and an unaccessiblity when it comes to God grabbing a hold of them.

    That is why the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector scumbag is so revealing. It shows us the kind of person that God is after. One who has come to the place where they realize who and what they really are…a real sinner in need of a Savior. And not just once (as so many Evangelicals seem to think), but over and over and over again…all throughout their lives.

  2. Just one more thing.

    When you stand befoe the Living God do you really want to appeal to how well kept the law, or to your “good intentions”?

    Or would you rather (like the tax collector in the temple) say, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

    ‘Lex semper accusat’.

  3. When you stand befoe the Living God do you really want to appeal to how well kept the law, or to your “good intentions”?

    Are you serious? Do you really think that about me? If so, I am greatly saddened at both your misunderstanding of me and your total lack of understanding regarding God’s Law and its use. No one is saved by keeping the law. Yet, all those who are saved are expected to learn and obey it as they grow and mature (that perfect word again). I can’t imagine anyone thinking they will have anything to brag about standing before God.

    He did have mercy on me and he continues to show His mercy toward me. It is that very love and mercy that fuels my desire to obey Him.

  4. “Your righteousness must EXCEED that of the scribes and Pharisees.”

    That is a righteousness thst the hearer in those days would have thought unattainable. The men were professional religious men. How could the average Joe or Mary match that sort of commitment?

    Did you forget what the problem was with the Pharisees “righteousness?” Let me remind you:

    1Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2″The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. -Matthew 23:1-4

    Their righteousness was phony because they talked a good line, in fact they taught that all Israel was saved by their circumcision, a teaching that also infiltrated the early church. The Jews, Pharisees in particular, were already teaching that Gentiles could be saved by becoming Jews through circumcision, immersion and sacrifice as a formal conversion to Judaism. They thought that as long as you were circumcised, you were in right standing with God. But the Pharisees did nothing. Faith without works is dead faith. The debate over circumcision isn’t about whether or not to obey the law; it is about legal conversions. This is why Paul can say, ““circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. (1 Corinthians 7:19).

    That’s what Jesus means when He said our righteousness must EXCEED theirs. They saw their standing before God as some kind of birthright (literally, in fact) and not as an invitation to a walk of faith with the one who gave us life and life more abundantly through His grace. When they did obey, it was for show and impression. In this way, they neglected the heart of the Law and the Spirit of God which seeks to remake us from the inside out (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Look at what Jesus says to them later in Matthew 23:

    23″Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. – Matthew 23:23-24

    He didn’t tell them to stop tithing!! He did tell them to remember the more important matters of the law: justice, mercy and faithfulness.

    This comment is long, but I have something else to mention so I will start one more comment to cover it.

  5. Well…why in the world are you placing an emphasis on ‘what we do’?

    Is not God’s grace enough? If so, then let go of the holiness project, Jeff. When you emphasize that kind of ladder climbing, spirituality…you just place shackles (with the best of intentions) on the gospel…which is a free gift (UNMERITED FAVOR).

    Will people then get lazy and not do enough? Yes, they already are. But their motivations won’t be so screwed up, and their trust in Christ might actually take center stage (instead of what they ‘DO’)

  6. Jesus, once again, is raising the bar of righteousness to that which is impossible for sinful man to attain.

    Why do this?

    This was exactly what I thought the Sermon on the Mount was all about until I found some interesting information this past year. Everything that Jesus said in these three chapters can be found in other Jewish teachings of the time and before and after. What Jesus is doing here is employing a standard Rabbinic model for teaching disciples and instructing them regarding the Law of Moses. He is placing fences around the Law. He is not creating a new Law or a more strict one. He specifically says as much in Matthew 5:17-19:

    7″Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    The language of abolish and fulfill is commonplace in Rabbinic literature as well of that era. Abolish means to incorrectly interpret and fulfill means to correctly interpret. There are various instances of this in the writings of the period. I am sure you will agree that it helps to understand the terminology if we are going to understand what Jesus is saying.

    The Sermon on the Mount is a consummate example of the best Rabbi there will ever be, teaching His disciples the correct way to view the Law of God and how to apply it to life here; not for salvation, but for right living for those who are saved and belong to Him. He even stated that those who teach others to disregard even the LEAST of the commandments will be the LEAST in the Kingdom of Heaven. Do you think He wanted us to ignore or disobey or minimize the Law as a way of life when He talks like this?

  7. We don’t ignore the law (except for righteousness sake).

    “Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but his due.
    And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.”
    Romans 4:4,5

    When you give people the law, for whatever reason, you are burdening them.St. Paul tells us that the l;aw brings death. When you give them the gospel, you are setting them free, and giving them life.

    We like to emhasize the law in order to kill people off so that they will be accessible to God. Then we give then the gospel to make them alive again.

    We really do have a different take on the faith.

    I’m glad I am not burdened with the self-improvement project, but rely on the grace of God and the Spirit to make of me what He wants.

  8. We don’t ignore the law (except for righteousness sake).

    When you give people the law, for whatever reason, you are burdening them.

    These two statements are in direct contradiction. While I agree with the first one wholeheartedly; I cannot disagree more with the second, for it contradicts Scripture itself:

    This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome – 1John 5:3

    The gospel is the starting point of life. It is like an acorn (the gospel is often compared to a seed). Once it sprouts, the tree grows and actually produces more seeds, but they do not remain seeds or else they are worthless. Those who have received the gospel, move on by matter of course to righteousness. The Law of the Lord preserves life for them; it is a Way of Life:

    Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
    preserve my life according to your word. – Psalm 119:37

    How I long for your precepts!
    Preserve my life in your righteousness. – Psalm 119:40

    Preserve my life according to your love,
    and I will obey the statutes of your mouth. – Psalm 119:88

    I will never forget your precepts,
    for by them you have preserved my life. – Psalm 119:93

    I have suffered much;
    preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word. – Psalm 119:107

    Hear my voice in accordance with your love;
    preserve my life, O LORD, according to your laws – Psalm 119:149

    Defend my cause and redeem me;
    preserve my life according to your promise. – Psalm 119:154

    Your compassion is great, O LORD;
    preserve my life according to your laws. – Psalm 119:56

    See how I love your precepts;
    preserve my life, O LORD, according to your love. – Psalm 119:59

    I say it again. There is no burden here. I am so sad that you see God’s ways as a burden. He never intended them as such.

  9. If there is no burden, then why do you do such a lousy job at keeping the law?

    I know you don’t keep it very well, for no one does.

    I never met a Christian who wasn’t a real live sinner.

    Who sinned in thought, word, and deed. Who sinned mostly in what they have failed to do.

    The law is a burden, alright. That is why St. Paul calls it “the ministry of death”.

    You want to burden yourself and others (since you preach this stuff) with the ministry of death…then go right ahead.

    I want the freedom that the gospel gives, and I want it for others, as well.

  10. If there is no burden, then why do you do such a lousy job at keeping the law?

    I think you are missing the point. Let me ask a better question. If they are burdensome, why would God tell us they aren’t?

  11. They aren’t for Him.

    He clothes us in His righteousness.

    Anyone, Christian or not, who actually believes they are doing even a fair job at keeping the law, is deluded and is on the very scary ground that cn easily lead to self-righteousness and inaccessibility.

  12. True, but He says they aren’t burdensome for us. Why would He say such a thing?
    You are completely missing this. I understand that your view of the Law and what it is for is wholly caught up in a Lutheran theology, but this is huge. God tells us that His commands aren’t burdensome for US. Is He telling the truth?(that question is rhetorical of course) How can He say such a thing?

    Let me quote it in fuller context to see if that helps:

    1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
    -1 John 5:1-5

  13. If His commands aren’t burdensome, then why do you, and I, and everyone else, not do them?

    If we are honest with ourselves we will recognize that we don’t do them.

    Why not?

    Because we don’t want to, that’s why. We are all about our own projects. We tip our hats to God and neighbor now and then, and even then our motives are tainted with ‘self’.

    No, Jeff, we are full blown sinners and will remain that way untill we are put into the ground. This is no barrier to God. He still uses us and works on us in our sinful state, even as He does not hold our sins against us (for righteousness sake).

    “What is it to do the works of the Father?” they asked Jesus. “Believe in the one whom the Father has sent.” was his answer.

    It’s all about faith, Jeff. This was the nuclear bomb that was the Reformation. But the Roman Catholics and others would not hear of it. They are still on their path of having to add to Christ and His work, by their own efforts. It’s very sad.

  14. I continue to be amazed by your portrayal of God’s Law as the foundation of a “self-help project.” While I know that there are some who look at it that way, and quite a few who teach that it is some kind of make yourself better project; I also reject such thinking as unbiblical and incorrect. The view of God revealed by such an attitude is skewed to say the least.

    God’s Law is perfect, and is part of that which is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”(2 Tim. 3:16-17) A large part in fact, since those words of Paul were written about the Hebrew Scriptures as far as he knew at the time(there was no NT when Paul wrote it). The person of faith can no more keep God’s Word from working on him in this very manner than an oak tree can prevent itself from growing from an acorn, as He “who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 1:6)

    Therefore, I will repeat my assertion in agreement with God’s word. His commandments aren’t burdensome, they are instructive to us about what God is doing in our lives on this side of eternity and what our lives will be like on the other side of eternity.

    To repeat one final time, God says the commands aren’t burdensome and I am going to agree with Him on this one. Those who want to make them burdensome will have to answer to Him, not me or you.

  15. If they are not burdensome for you Jeff, then when are you going to start keeping them?

    When are you going to stop sinning and start acting like Jesus, with a PERFECT obedience?

    You ought to be able to do this NOW… and never let up the rest of your life.

    Please keep me posted on your progress.

  16. When are you going to stop sinning and start acting like Jesus, with a PERFECT obedience?

    I think Paul answered that already:

    For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
    – 1 Corinthians 13:9-12

    I don’t know why it is so shocking that I would be different today than the day that God first began His work in me. It isn’t going to be complete on this side of eternity, but it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t bother with working on me anyway. Thanks be to God, He cares enough about me to keep working in me. Sort of like what Paul said:

    12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

    14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
    -Philippians 2:12-16

    It’s not like I am making this stuff up.

    You ought to be able to do this NOW… and never let up the rest of your life

    It isn’t me who is doing it NOW or EVER, but the One who is at work will never let up. He doesn’t slumber or sleep and He promised to finish what He started. I believe Him.

  17. Just admit it, Jeff, in your ccurrent state of being both saint and sinner, that keeping God’s commandments IS burdensome for you, otherwise you would actually do it.

    It’s burdensome for you for the same reason it’s burdensome for the rest of us…we don’t want to stop sinning…otherwise we would.

    Now, the good news is that God loves us in spite of ourselves. That is not burdensome.

  18. Steve,
    As much as I do love you brother, you are not going to get me to agree with you against the testimony of God’s Word. John wrote that the commandments of God are not burdensome and that is where I will stand. It is a stand of faith. The life of faith is a life lived out in those very commandments. As Paul said in his letter to Titus:

    11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness (things against the law of God) and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works(things according to the law of God).
    15Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
    -Titus 1:11-15 empahsis and italics are mine

    I don’t know why you keep saying that “we don’t want to stop sinning.” The heart that God has given me does want to stop sinning. That is why there is a war with the flesh in our lives (Romans 7:14-25). We are told to fight that battle (Ephesians 6:10-18).

  19. Jeff,

    As much as I love you, I cannot believe that you won’t do a little theology here, instead of just lifting the text off the page.

    Holy Scripture also says (Jesus says) “That whoever does not divest themselves of all they own cannot be my disciple”

    What do we do? Theology.

    Look at yourself, Jeff. You are an honest man. Why can you not say that you just plain continue to sin. Yes, He is working in you (in all of us), but we remain sinners in this life.

    My theology helps keep me grounded. It helps me from getting too upity about my performance. It helps keep me focused on Christ, and not on my performance.

    I want that for everyone, and that is why this is so important for me. I do believe it was the same reason Jesus wallops us with the law in the Sermon on the Mount.

  20. As much as I love you, I cannot believe that you won’t do a little theology here, instead of just lifting the text off the page.

    Surely you don’t mean this the way it sounds. Any “theology” that is used to contravene plain meaning in Scripture is bad theology. Jesus’ statement regarding divesting ourselves of everything means exactly that. If we insist on holding back any part of our life from His Lordship, we do not belong to Him.

    My theology helps keep me grounded. It helps me from getting too upity about my performance. It helps keep me focused on Christ, and not on my performance.

    I don’t know where you get the idea, by the way, that I have ever claimed I don’t sin. I sin far more than I want to. That is a consequence of living in this world which is full of sin and temptation. I do not sin as much as I could however, which is solely due to the grace of God and His Spirit within me. It isn’t “uppity” to talk like this. Paul did it, even going so far as to call himself “blameless” before the Law (Philippians 3:6).
    And as much as some of the commenters at your blog moan and complain about James and hold up Paul as a “grace guy,” you might want to read everything that he says as well:

    “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.
    -Acts 26:19-20 emphasis mine

    This is nothing more than what I have said in the past both here and in comments with others at your blog. The life of a Christian is marked by a change of Spirit and, yes, behavior as well. It is simply the Way that it is.

    Paul and James are in total agreement on this point. In the places where Paul has been thought to have said something else, it can be entirely chalked up to “bad theology.”

    As for what Jesus is doing in the Sermon on the Mount, let me invite you to do a little theology and study it a little deeper. Jesus is a Jewish Rabbi and His teaching in that setting is very rabbinic indeed. There is a book that you can check out which is very good on this subject (I am sure there are several, but this one stands out). I found it at google books and it appears you can read most if not all of it for free there.

  21. Well, you’d better get busy, my friend. You’ve got a long way to go… and times a wastin’.

    There are a lot of people in your community that need your help. The next time you pass one by to do your own thing, think of me. Better yet, think of Jesus.

    By the way, I have many Roman Catholic friends who think exactly the way you do on this subject.

    Your theology and theirs is basically the same.

    Luther said (about that), that they (the Roman Catholics and the Anabaptists) were “two wolves tied at the tail.”

    I agree with him.

  22. I really appreciate how you and Larry throw around the Roman Catholic thing as if it is an insult (frankly it amuses me). There are plenty of flaws in Roman Catholic theology and practice, mostly those that are incursions from paganism introduced by Constantine and others and others that are more or less adaptations of old Pharisitical errors that Jesus himself chastised.

    Luther was correct in calling them on these points. Unfortunately, he couldn’t bring himself to separate from some of their other errors either, and repeated the errors of many of the early church fathers regarding the Jews as well. Luther’s unwavering pronouncement of salvation by grace through faith alone is commendable and in agreement with Scripture. I have often quoted statements he has made that I agree with wholeheartedly, including some that agree with the statement of Paul I mentioned above. I don’t know why you think this threatening or wrong, only God knows.

    He’s still working on me and I pray you as well. And you are right, it is a long, long road, but He is faithful to carry us to the end of it. And as for “time a wastin’,” I do seem to remember Paul saying something about that as well:

    11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

    “Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

    15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
    -Ephesians 5:11-21

  23. The biggest flaw in Roman Catholic theology is the focus on the ‘self’ towards a right standing with God.

    This is the biggest problem with religion in general.

    The Holy Spirit will finish in us that which He started.

    The Reformation was all about what God has done on the cross for us.

    Rome hated simul iustus et peccator, and much of the church still does.

    Take care, my friend.

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