Month 4:26, Week 4:4 (Revee/Shavu'ot), Year 5935:111 AM|
Omer Count Day 48/50
Gregorian Calendar: Wednesday 27 July 2011
Be Ye Perfect
I. The Three Thrones of Yahweh-Elohim
Every now and then someone asks me what it means to be "perfect". And since Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself makes this demand of us, it's obviously something we need to take very seriously.
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt.5:43-48, NKJV)
The usual reponses range between, "it's impossible to be perfect, so why even try?" to those of the ultra-legalists who are trying to be flawless in every single deed by shere will-power and 24/7 self-monitoring. Certainly the word "perfect" can mean many things, but usually we think of it as meaning 'faultless' and 'unblemished'. That means living the Torah "perfectly", something that Yah'shua (Jesus) alone ever managed to do. However, He still commands us to do it but this time relying on Him for our empowerment.
The Greek word we usually render as "perfect" is teleios which means 'complete'. The HRV, which bases its translation on Aramaic versions of the New Testament, renders the word as "whole-hearted" which seems at first sight to convey an altogether different meaning. To resolve this discrepancy we need to understand how such a concept was used in the Tanakh (Old Testament) and one of the best is in the description given of Noah:
Though usually interpreted to mean that Noah was morally, ethically and spiritually "perfect", the context is actually his humanity, and specfically his genetics which had not, like the rest of humanity, been contaminated by Nefilim genes, the fruit of crossbreeding between fallen malakim (angels) and human women that Satan promoted in a bid to wipe out the Messianic line (Gen.6:4). Tamiym means 'without blemish', 'complete', 'full', 'perfect', 'sound', 'without spot', 'undefiled', 'upright' and 'whole', the context revealing which sense is intended. The passage here declares that Noah was a tsaddiq (zadok) or righteous/just man and "perfect" genetically, that is, uncontaminated by fallen angel genes and so fully human. He was perfect morally and genetically.
"This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect (tamiym) in his generations. Noah walked with Elohim (God)" (Gen.6:9, NKJV).
This better help us explain what Yah'shua (Jesus) was talking about in Matthew 5:48. Obviously He is not talking genetics here but about being tsaddiq (righteous) and complete. He wants us wholly or completely human in the same way that Yahweh is wholly or completely Elohim (God). We are to be fully what we were made to be, submitted and owned by Yahweh through His Son Yah'shua (Jesus) and in so being, acquiring the divine nature, mind and lev (heart), in our humanity. In other words, we are to pe perfectly human just as the human part of Yah'shua (Jesus) was perfectly human. How do we do that? By 100% having emunah (trusting, reliant, active faith) and by living the perfect Torah lifestyle through His empowerment that comes from our total trusting.
I have been asking myself what a 'Complete Believer' is now for a good many years and I hope to make my deepest stab yet at giving an answer today. I have been trying to understand how Christians and Messianics alike have succeeded in crystalising out so many forms of the Gospel and "never the twain shall meet". Why are there so many different attitudes and 'spirits' in believers? How can you go into a Messianic assembly and an Evangelical Church and encounter two entirely different worlds? How are we to ever realise "one Master (Lord), one Emunah (Faith), one Baptism (Immersion)" (Eph.4:5, NKJV)? Or is this this just a pipe dream? Do we just accept that the Kingdom will always be seen and expressed through as many lenses as there are believers?
I could give a trite answer and simply say that the problem is "sin" and I would, of course, be right. But this doesn't easily answer age long divisions which must be healed. We can't keep on going on our several ways without a serious attempt at resolution.
In a bid to solve this problem, many have tried to crystalise out 'one and only true churches' like the Mormons or Campellites (Churches of Christ) who, though hugely different, both claim to be restorations of the 'New Testament Church'. And yet at no time have either of them remotely resembled the New Testament Messianic Community in either doctrine or practice. Not that they are the only ones. As you study ecclesiastical history you will discover that everything is in constant flux, just as we are as humans, staring young and vital and slowly fossilising. The question we should be asking ourselves is not so much what the New Testment assembly or congregation should look like but what the New Testament believer should be like. Then assemblies or churches will take care of themselves. And then, hopefully, we should have a pretty good idea what a "perfect" believer looks like.
I know that potentially this could become a book so I want to keep things simple and general. I believe that if we can get this level right we will end up solving many of the other problems that stem from disunity. We have been conditioned to wear one or other sort of blinker that keeps us blind to our own weaknesses and blind to the strengths of others.
I am endebted today to Neil Robbie whose use of Venn diagrams not only has inspired me to look at this problem in a slightly different way but which has acted as both catalyst and springboard to new heights of understanding. I have begun to finally answer questions that have plagued me since I was born again in 1977, and indeed before while I was still searching for Messiah. They say a picture is worth a thousand words - well, for me, diagrams are the much same. They help me distill and see patterns that are hard to initially express in text. I tend to think in geometric patterns and to search for recurring patterns in Scripture. There are oodles of them. In fact, creation is a series of fractals, or patterns repeating in different but similar ways on multiple layers. It was this understanding that led me inexorably and inevitably to the Tavnith Doctrine that you hear me speaking so often of, and which has come to be a major plank in our teaching.
So what is a complete believer? To answer that we have to consiser the whole counsel of scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, and leave nothing out, and especially not those things that our theological traditions want removed, blurred or ignored.
We can never understand what it is to be a perfect human being, let alone how to fulfil the commandment, until we have understood the perfections of Yahweh-Elohim because we are but a lower fractal - an image if you like - of a much higher one. In so doing we will be able to compare what we are with what we should be and be able to more clearly focus our discipleship.
One of the biblical tavnith's or patterns is that we are threefold in our makeup on one level and sevenfold on another. We see this in the seven festivals of Yahweh and the three principle groupings of these festivals. The three, if you like, summarise the seven, in the same way as the Ten Commandments summarise the hundreds of other mitzvot or commandments.
We are images of the Triune Elohim (God) who has three 'centres' or 'thrones', which are also one echad throne, that is, three thrones-in-one. We too have a threefold nature, like our Creator which Yahweh seeks to own - and when we are in proper balance and harmony, cleansed of sin through trusting Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) and living the set-apart Torah lifestyle, we are walking the perfect Derech (Way) and are 'perfect'.
The Venn diagram that follows, created by Neil Robbie of West Bromwich Community Church, England, depicts the three thrones of Yahweh-Elohim and their interrelationships. Let us start with the three thrones themselves:
1. The Throne of Glory
2. The Throne of Justice
"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy malakim (angels) with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory" (Matt.25:31, NKJV).
3. The Throne of Grace
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living Elohim (God), the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of malakim (angels), to the general assembly and community (church) of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to Elohim (God) the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb.12:21-23, NKJV).
If a believer is to truly know Yahweh-Elohim and become a perfect human as He is a perfect Elohim, and if the believer is to approach Him in the correct way, then these three aspects of Yahweh's Thone must be taken together as a symmetrical Echad (Oneness), or the believer can not approach or know Him as He really is.
"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb.4:16, NKJV).
Let us first take the extreme situation that results when a soul eminiates from his or her life any one or more of these aspects of Yahweh's toqef (authority) and rule:
This is the threefold perfection of Yahweh-Elohim and it is the same perfection, on a human level, that we are called to as well.
1. The Fool is the person who says "there is no Elohim (God)" (Ps.14:1; 53:1) and therefore denies there is a throne of glory, a throne of justice, and a throne of grace. The fool has no constraints in his behaviour. He glorifies himself or other gods, fears no judgment and so sins without restraint. He is self-absorbed and lacks kindness as he has no grasp of grace. He worships at none of the three thrones.
2. The Worshipper is the person who knows that the throne of Yahweh-Elohim is a throne of glory alone. Such a believer eagerly attends all worship events with hands raised abd spirit overflowing with reverence and simcha (joy). But outside the worship arena his life is unchanged, he sins with impunity and never asks for forgivenessm as he has no concepts of Yahweh's reign of justice nor of His grace (undeserved loving-kindness, unmerited favour). He worships only at the Throne of Glory.
3. The Moralist is the person who knows that the throne of Yahweh-Elohim is a throne of justice alone. You will find this person campainging for social justice, strictly upholding the 10 Commandments, seeking changes in abortion laws and tutting at the immoral. But there is no simcha (joy) in worship and no concept of grace, this person is cold, hard and moral. He worships only at the Throne of Justice.
4. The Open Sinner is the person who knows that Yahweh's rule is of grace alone. Everything he does is under Yahweh's grace and his forgiveness is all that matters to him. He has no idea that his behaviour could glorify Yahweh-Elohim or that his sin is serious because of the Judgment Throne of Yahweh. This was the kind of person Paul had in mind when he wrote Romans 6. He worships only at the Throne of Grace.
5. The Legalist is the person who is concerned about the glory of Yahweh-Elohim and the Torah (Law) because he knows that Yahweh sits on a Throne of Glory and Justice. He will either be proud or arrogant because he thinks that his behaviour glorifies Yahweh or he will be sad and defeated because he knows he cannot stand before Yahweh's Throne of Justice. Without the Throne of Grace his behaviour can never truly glorify Yahweh as Yahweh's glory is seen in the grace of Messiah in His death for our sin.
6. The Neonomian is the person focussed on his present condition before Yahweh which is based on a mixture of grace and works. He can only see the twin Thrones of Grace and Justice and has lost sight of Yahweh's Throne of Glory. Thus he forgets that Yahweh has graciously given him the gift of righteousness through emunah (faith, trusting) in Messiah alone (Rom.4:5) for the hope of the glory of Elohim (God) (Rom.5:2). He doesn't know that Yahweh has already glorified him (Rom.8:30) so his attitude swings from confidence to uncertainty as his grasp of grace and his moral performance are mixed. In his own eyes he's only as good as his last game.
7. The Antinomian is the person who wants to glorify Yahweh-Elohim by emphasising His grace and glory alone. He refuses to accept Yahweh as Judge and so will not humbly sumbit to His mitzvot (commandments), mishpatim (judgments) or chuqqim (statutes, ordinances) which he has given us for our good (Dt.10:12-13). This is especially true of Western Liberal Christianity with respect to sexual ethics, the festivals, sabbath, the kosher law and much else besides.
8. The Joyful Obedience of Emunch (Faith) is the sort of person Paul wanted the Romans to be when he wrote to them. Full of simcha (joy) before the Throne of Glory (Rom.15:13), obedient to the mitzvot (commandments) before the Throne of Justice, and confident before the Throne of Grace (Rom.6:22-23), through emunah (faith, trusting) in Messiah alone (Rom.3:21-22). The Complete Believer - the Perfect Believer - knows that Yahweh-Elohim sits on a Throne which draws us to Him because He is glorious, just, and full of grace and mercy.
Continued in Part 2
 Neil Robbie, Another Eight Biblical Personality Types