Matthew Challenge Update Three

Tuesday 9.45 PM  Jan. 20

All….a couple of points:

1.  Debbie said that she was reading our # 2 comments about the word “irenic” and, as you may have seen, it asked if you knew anyone named “Irene?”  The nurse sitting next two her was named Irene and Debbie shared that funny question with her and got  a chance to witness to her.  🙂

A question arose about this verse:

Matthew 5:46-48 (NIV)
46  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
47  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
48  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. 

Of course our Lord is not expecting sinners to be perfect.  It’s a translation challenge because the word for perfect is the Greek NT word “teleios” that means “complete” or “perfect”but especially means “mature.”  In other words we are striving to be like our Heavenly Father and as we mature in Christ we will become more like He is.  Remember that earlier in that passage Jesus said that we may be “sons of our Heavenly Father” [or “children”]  So that is the ultimate goal.  Not that we be perfect and sinless, although we will be made perfect in glory…but that we seek to be consistent in our heart attitudes with God Himself.  After all, what would Jesus have said after he called for self-denying love in verses 43-47…”Be pretty good as your Heavenly Father is pretty good!” ???? No.  Jesus is saying strive to be congruent with your Father in Heaven.

We should think of this comment from Jesus as saying “Be the same  as your Heavenly Father in His attitude about blessing those who do not deserve it.  Imitate that attitude perfectly!”

 

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Matthew Challenge Update Three

  1. Octavio Samaniego (Gus)

    Dr. Alberta,

    I really enjoy your blog! Thanks for your insights. In regards to the interesting question you raise on the meaning of the word “telios”, I ponder if this reference to perfection from our Lord points to the necessity of the gospel which as in Hebrews 10:14 ESV “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” tells us that we are perfected in Christ Perfection by His atonement of our imperfection (sin). But then I see Philippians 3:12-15 ESV “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.” Then my question becomes if once regenerated are we made perfect or does this come after sanctification? To this I find Johnathan Edwards helpful, ““But that is the nature of true grace and spiritual light, that it opens to a person’s view the infinite reason there is that he should be holy in a high degree. And the more grace he has, and the more this is opened to view, the greater sense he has of the infinite excellency and glory of the divine Being, and of the infinite dignity of the person of Christ, and the boundless length and breadth and depth and height of the love of Christ to sinners. And as grace increases, the field opens more and more to a distant view, until the soul is swallowed up with the vastness of the object, and the person is astonished to think how much it becomes him to love this God and this glorious Redeemer that has so loved man, and how little he does love. And so the more he apprehends, the more the smallness of his grace and love appears strange and wonderful: and therefore he is more ready to think that others are beyond him.” ― Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections
    This question begs me to think that perfection can be attained in essence at the moment of regeneration and through sanctification it is completed. God’s realm and being is not restrained by the concept of time in our reality, yet He still works with in time to enter in a relationship with His creation. As Karl Barth expresses this beauty in his Church Dogmatic’s volume on reconciliation, Christ is God entering humanity and its constrains (time, gravity, sin, and death) as Emmanuel, God with us, to reconcile the imperfect with the perfect. So given the premise that God is not bound by the constrains of time but yet fully active and caring out His purpose with in time, I am persuaded to claim that in essence we are perfect in Christ and in substance we are being completed “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13).

    I His grip,
    Gus

  2. Betty Marshall

    Often as a CHRISTian I have thought about how we are to strive to perfection, something we will never attain until God takes us to glory. But then, I read in Romans 8:29 it says “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son ….” and I find comfort to know that it is God the Father who will perfect me as He conforms me to his Son’s likeness. Praise the LORD!! I often pray for this in my walk with the LORD.

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