Excerpt from WWN5(84)


Is Perfection NOT

'Through Faith'?

We all are sinners, born into the sinful environment of this earth, and the recipients of the nature of fallen Adam. But we're not left in hopelessness. There are "given unto us exceeding great and precious promises." (II Peter 1:4.) These promises become operative at the moment we recognize our undone state, even at the point where the magnitude of our sin overwhelms us. This is well illustrated in the experience of the man who "was sick of palsy." (Mark 2:5) This man was completely discouraged - his sins had made him impotent, a complete invalid, totally dependent on friends. If he could but know his sins were forgiven him, he would willingly accept the results of his wrong course of living. Jesus, seeing the faith of the friends who had taken extreme measures to bring him into His presence, said to the man - "Thy sins be forgiven thee." The man made no move; his faith grasped the promise - all was well, the guilt that plagued his soul was gone. He would accept the results from his sin without murmuring. His friends could have pulled him up from the presence of Jesus, and he would have been perfectly happy.

This is not the end of the episode. Religious skeptics sat among the group who had come to hear Jesus upon His return to Capernaum. To them the promise of Jesus was blasphemy. Jesus used the occasion of their skepticism to seal for all time the meaning and the extent of God's forgiveness. He asked - "Whether is it easier to say to the sick of palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed and walk?"(Mark 2:9) Merely to speak either, makes little difference; no more effort is required. But in this case, one statement was spoken before the other to meet the need of a human heart suffering under the guilt of sin, and to illustrate the "exceeding" greatness of God's forgiving mercy. That those religious skeptics might know that He, the Son of man, had power to forgive sins on earth - yes, in the environment of sin - Jesus said to the man lying before Him - "Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house." (Mark 2:11) In accepting the first promise of Jesus - his sins forgiven him - the man responded in the same faith to the Command of Jesus and arose and walked as he had not been able to do from the time when the ravages of sin had come upon him. He was not only forgiven; he was restored as if he had never sinned. To face life - after one has sinned as if he had never sinned - is faith that works because of the love of God shed abroad through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Christian life does not end with merely forgiveness - that is only the beginning!

Because of the deceptive working of the enemy, we have been born blind. Now we

- 2 -

need to see that in the cosmic struggle being fought on the stage of earth, the position God has and is taking is the correct position. There is only one way by which we can see this, and that is by beholding the Cross - whereon the Spirit of God, manifest in clay, could be applied to us. The experience involved here is illustrated in the experience of the man "which was blind from birth." (John 9:1) Neither he, nor his parents, had sinned in such a way as to cause this serious defect, "but that the works of God should be manifest in him." (verse 3) Declaring Himself to be the Light of the world, Jesus "spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam." When the man had done so, he "came seeing." (verses 5-7)

The experience of this man - after he came seeing - reveals a greater insight on his part into the religious issues of that day, than many have of the issues facing Laodicea today. He was not fearful at the prospect of being cast out of the synagogue, but openly spoke the truth to the Pharisaical hierarchy who questioned him. The result was that he was "cast out" of the synagogue. When Jesus heard that he had been cast out, He "found him," and said unto him, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" On whom else could he trust? Who else could have done what had been done to him - for "since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind." (John 9:32) He wanted to know such a Person, and replied, "Who is he, Sir, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou has both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee. And he said. Lord, I believe. And he worshipped Him." (verses 36-38) Here is saving faith: simply to believe and then to express that belief in worship. Herein also, was the victory of Christ over Satan - "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." (Matt. 4:10) Jesus in His humanity served - obeyed - God, becoming "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Phil 2:8) In His light we shall see light - the true cure for our Laodicean blindness. "To him that overcometh" are the words of the Divine Spirit to Laodicea. (Rev. 3:21) But HOW do we overcome the same wily foe with whom Jesus contended? The victors "overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." (Rev. 12:11) This was the experience of the man born blind. He accepted the provision of the Lamb, gave the word of his testimony, and loved not his life unto the death - religious ostracism.

Now to the final generation of earth, there is given a truly "exceeding great" promise. Some - who so choose will appear before the throne of God without fault, and without guile in their mouths. (Rev. 14:5) How shall this be? - by faith or by works?

This question can be answered in the experience of Abraham and Sarah.

When God called Abraham to leave his homeland to go to a land he had not yet seen, He also made a promise to Abraham that He would make him "a great nation." (Gen. 12:1-2) Abraham was seventy-five years old at that time and Sarah was ten years younger. Time passed - Abraham's substance increased so greatly that it became necessary for him and Lot to separate. Painful as this was to Abraham, God comforted him with the assurance - "I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth." (Gen. 13:16) Had he hoped to have Lot as his heir?

Years continue - Lot experiences the misfortunes of those with whom he chose to identify. Abraham comes to the rescue, and restores the captives with their substance to their cities in the plain. Once again God comes and promises Abraham ‑ "Fear not, . . . I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward." (Gen. 15:1) To this Abraham replied - "Lord God, what wilt Thou give me, seeing I go childless. . . . Behold, to me Thou hast given no seed: and lo, one born in my house is mine heir." (Gen. 15:2-3) To this appeal, God was very specific. He said - "This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth of thine own bowels shall be thine heir." Then God invited him to come out of his tent, and said - "Look now toward

- 3 -

heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be." (verses 4-5) Eleven years came and went. Sarah was seventy-six years of age. All possibilities for her to have a child disappeared. The natural deteriorations of life had overtaken her. There must be some human way to fulfill the promise of God. The condition of the promise, as reported to her by Abraham was that he was to father the heir. So Sarah decided that through her "maid" she could obtain a child to meet the design of God. You know God does need help, doesn't He? Or does He?! If there was any way that Abraham could have an heir by works, Sarah was going to see to it. Then as with all who depend on works to accomplish what they perceive to be essential to do the works of God, when the plan didn't work, she blamed Abraham."My wrong be upon thee," was her reaction. This experience has spiritual overtones which reach to this our very day. It has been well stated:

The effort to earn salvation by one's own works, inevitably leads men to pile up human exactions as a barrier against sin. For, seeing that they fail to keep the law, they will devise rules and regulations of their own to force themselves to obey. All of this turns the mind away from God to self. His loves dies out of the heart. and with it perishes love for their fellow-men. A system of human invention, with its multitudinous exactions, will lead its advocates to judge all who come short of the prescribed human standard. The atmosphere of selfish and narrow criticism stifles the noble and generous emotions, and causes men to become self-centered judges and petty spies." (Mount of Blessing, Chapter: "Not Judging but Doing")

Now back to the story of Abraham: God permits thirteen more years to pass. It was beyond question, Sarah had now completely passed the time for child-bearing, and there was no known way to turn back the process and restore the possibility for conception. Then God comes once more to Abraham with the revelation of Himself as El-Shaddai - "the Almighty God." The promise is renewed - "I will multiply thee exceedingly," (Gen. 17:1-2) God became very specific as to His intentions for Abraham - "I will bless (Sarah), and give thee a son of her." (Gen. 17:16) To this Abraham laughed - the possibility was too remote for him to conceive such a thing that he pled - "0 that Ishmael might live before Thee." But God responded - "Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed." (verses 18-19)

In a few weeks, God again appeared to Abraham, and declared in the hearing of Sarah - "I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son." (Gen. 18:10) The facts of life were too great for Sarah, and she laughed within herself. The thoughts of her heart were known to the Lord, and He called Sarah to task - -"Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?" Then came the question, which forms the basis of all of the precious promises given to man - "IS ANYTHING TOO HARD FOR THE LORD?" (Gen. 18:14)         "At the time appointed" the promised seed was to be born. Isaac was not only a child of promise, but a child born at a "time appointed" in the plans and purposes of God.

Between this final promise to both Abraham and Sarah, and the birth of Isaac, the Scripture places the destruction of Sodom, and the experience of Abraham and Sarah with Abimelech. Though ninety years of age, Sarah was still attractive enough to create possible problems, and neither had sufficient faith that the promise of God would assure the safety of Abraham's life, so they resorted to deception for self-protection.

When Sarah did conceive, the Scripture declares - "The Lord visited. . . and the Lord did. . . as He had spoken." (Gen. 21:1) Further the event occurred "at the set time of which God had spoken to him (Abraham)" about. (verse 2) Abraham and his wife could have continued normal marital relations and would have still continued childless had not God acted in His Almighty power. God did not create a new womb; He merely rejuvenated that which already was, so that a new life might result. Isaac was truly theirs, but only because of God's power. The time in God's plan had elapsed to such an

- 4 -

extent that it was obvious that the child of promise could not be because of mere human activity, but was born solely by what God could and did do.

The final victors in the struggle with "the beast" and "his image" and "his mark" (Rev. 15:2) will be "without fault" because God has promised, and He is able to perform His commitments. There has been fixed a "set time" in the plans and purposes of God when this is to be realized - the Day of Final Atonement. "Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth children." (Isa. 66:8)

This experience does not come through the eradication of the fallen nature as was taught by the Holy Flesh Movement, and is presently being set forth by some today in their teaching of perfection. Sarah's womb was the same one she always had, God did not do an hysterectomy, and then create a new womb. He rejuvenated her womb that the normal process for which it was made might be carried through to the bringing forth of the promised son.

Perfection will result from the rejuvenation of our fallen nature - perverted, misused and degenerated by disobedience - by the power of Almighty God - the God who appeared to Abraham as El Shaddai. It is by God's grace through faith, lest any man should boast. - The Holy Spirit in all of its fullness - without measure - is obtained by Jesus through the final intercession of His blood. "The mighty energies of the Holy Spirit, with all their quickening, recuperative, and transforming power, [will) fall as an electric shock on the palsy-stricken soul, causing every nerve to thrill with new life, restoring the whole man from his dead, earthly, sensual state to spiritual soundness." (5T:267)

When we look at ourselves - truly look - having our eyes anointed with eyesalve, we see our undone condition in the same light as Abraham and Sarah perceived the womb of Sarah to be - unable to produce life - a life acceptable to God. As did Abraham and Sarah who suggested various substitute ways - a servant born in the house, even the child born of works accepted for the promised seed, so we perceive and teach a substitute way to perfection based on our works of "reform." Nothing - absolutely nothing - was or is acceptable to God, except that which meets His specifications and comes about as a result of His power, alone! God has promised a demonstration of perfection in the final hour of human history. We must believe that what He has promised He is able to perform. He will perform it in all who perceive the futility of their own works. "THIS IS THE VICTORY THAT OVERCOMETH THE. WORLD, EVEN OUR FAITH_ WHO IS HE THAT OVERCOMETH THE WORLD, BUT HE THAT BELIEVETH THAT JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD?"- even as the man born blind. (I John 5:4-5)