12:31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.
13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
13:2 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
13:3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
13:4 Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
13:5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
13:6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
13:7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
13:8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part;
13:10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
13:11 When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.
13:13 But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
14:1 Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
14:2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries.
14:3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.
14:4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church.
14:5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. NAS
Part Three begins by showing the importance of knowing God’s love, being dependent upon Him for it, and having His perfect love as the catalyst for everything we do. Let’s face it, we can’t love perfectly without God’s power (dúnamis = enablement); by the same token, God can’t express His love thru us without our willingness. We need Him and He needs us (of course we need Him more than He needs us, but I say this strictly in the context of expressing His love).
In all my years of study, never have I felt more inadequate, more insufficient, more in need of divine revelation and wisdom than now. I have spent 12-14 hours per day, every day for the past week working on Part 3, and each time I think I’m close to finishing, I hear the Lord’s voice saying to me, “This is not my wisdom Craig, it is your own.” God has been very good to me during this process, showing kindness and forbearance in love; He gives me such freedom and liberty I could not possibly betray His trust and send out something that lacks His inspiration, even though I have in excess of 60 pages of writing done on Part 3 (sniff, sniff).
I know many of you reading this study have been praying for my efforts and have been anxious for Part 3 in the series, but I felt integrity was more important than how quickly I could produce studies, and I am still learning about perfect love myself. With this in mind, I consider it an honor and privilege to share whatever God reveals to me with you, my sisters and brothers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I ask that you give me an extra measure of grace and mercy, as it was with excruciating physical pain I was able to finish it. Each day my wife helps wrap my hands, wrists and elbows in athletic tape to minimize the swelling and pain of scleroderma. I feel such a tremendous responsibility to get it “right” and I want so desperately for each and every soul to feel included in this work of God’s perfect love.
Thank you also for your prayers, support, care and love for my wife Pammy. She is without a doubt the strength behind whatever I do. I cannot do these studies without her constant care and all she does to make my life of chronic pain more bearable. Your intercessory prayer for her has made a huge impact and has defeated the forces of darkness that were sent to hinder us. Thank you my beloved friends! We love you!
The basis for this entire series is the book of First Corinthians; all throughout this book God has put His “hidden wisdom” and laid it forth with inspiration through the apostle Paul. Key words to look for in the book and elsewhere in the New Testament are words like, “mystery, perfect (or mature), complete, power, edify, one (as in one body), wisdom, knowledge, prophecy, tongues and interpretation, etc.”
*NOTE: It is very important that you, the reader, understand the reason WHY I have decided to do this series, “When the perfect comes.” Below is a brief list of basis for the study, and this list will also serve as a general outline (not in this order) for the remainder of the series. Each point is a reason why I feel this information is necessary:
1. To see the man Christ Jesus & how he revealed God’s perfect love to others. It is especially to understand his teaching about the “perfect” as it pertains to making the church unified (John 17:22-26).
2. To equip you with knowledge to seek perfect love you will need on a daily basis to seek and personally find the perfect love of God. For example, one of the tools that helps greatly is speaking in others tongues (aka – praying in the spirit), interpretation, knowledge & prophecy; however, one needs much more than praying in the spirit because the apostle Paul’s rebuke and exhortation to the Corinthian church proves that much more than excessive use of tongue is required to manifest perfect love (1 Corinthians chapter 14).
3. To help you understand the PURPOSE of perfect love & know the reason why God reveals & supplies supernatural power needed by obedient saints who are willing to express it. Knowing God’s purpose includes understanding how, when, and to whom He desires you to express perfect love, as well as the role it plays in the overall edification of the church, and seeing with clarity the potential reaction or responses you will encounter when you express it.
4. To inform & educate you of the nature, qualities, & characteristics of perfect love, so that you can individually conform your life to scripture’s requirements. It is as important to understand what perfect love IS NOT as it is important to understand what it IS. This assists you in the preparation of your heart, making it into good spiritual soil, in which the seed of God’s love can be planted, causing you to die to self & then be resurrected by God’s power & then be transformed by incorruptible (perfect) love. Also, akin to #2 above, knowing the nature, qualities, & characteristics of perfect love helps you differentiate between what is a mere human endeavor to love (right or wrong) & what is love that is divine in origin; this also serves to convict you because you will always have a clear target to aim for.
5. To help you understand the important role suffering plays in developing perfect love in your life. Suffering is the key element in breaking our will and making it into God’s will. Without suffering, there is no humility, and without humility, there can be no perfect love expressed. Suffering is the number one tool that the Potter uses to shape the clay of our heart, making us into vessels worthy and able to contain the wine of His perfect love. The Christian church today is afraid of suffering and sees no place for it in the Laodicean doctrines of prosperity. Jesus, the Author of our faith as brethren, through his obedience, was made “perfect,” (téleiós) by that, which he suffered (Hebrews 2:10 & 5:9). The apostle Paul, whose physical illness and infirmity was used to keep him from becoming exalted by his many revelations, said that in “weakness,” (sickness) his power (dunamis) was made ‘perfect’ (téleiós).
6. To see the bigger picture, understanding perfect love as the key factor for the final perfecting of the church. I am not an expert on prophecy, but I know that at some point in time, somewhere in the eons (ages) of man’s history, a generation of believers will arise, here on earth and be perfected as one; this will likely correspond to the time Jesus Christ returns to reign and rule over all the nations. I believe just prior to the return of the Lord the church will be made into one united body through a relationship of perfect love that mirrors Father and Son. When I say ‘church’ I am not including everyone that uses the name of Christ, but those who can be identified as ‘Christian’ in the New Testament use and sense of the word.
I think it is fundamental from the beginning to understand that perfect love CAN be defined from scripture. Some people may be inclined to think it is merely the supernatural flow of the spirit, and has no basis in doctrine; nothing is further from the truth. In fact, the whole Law is summed up in the first and foremost of all the commandments (Mark 12:29-31) and divided into three component parts:
1. Mark 12:29 – Hear Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.
2. Mark 12:30 - Love the LORD your God with all heart, soul, mind & strength.
3. Mark 12:31 - Love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus taught there is no other commandment greater than these; he says ‘commandment’ SINGULAR, not ‘commandments’ plural. You will find in researching the “perfect love” that it is thoroughly explained from many different angles, which helps us realize and appreciation how to apply it. For example, by blending the three components mentioned above, we conclude that perfect love is the fulfillment of obedience to the “greater” commandment in Mark 12:29-31.
With this in mind, consider that Jesus gave his own disciples a “new commandment” to love one another, even as he (Jesus) loves them. This new commandment then falls under the umbrella definition Jesus provided in Mark 12:29-31.
† John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” KJV
To gain more insight you need to understand what Jesus means by “Hear Israel” and how it relates to “the Lord is one.” I will digress and show you what I mean, and then you can dig deeper if you so desire. The Greek word for “hear” means literally, “to yield obedience to the voice and/or to understand & perceive the sense of what is said.” Therefore, Jesus is responding to the man’s question regarding the foremost commandment and saying, “The foremost thing is to listen, understand and obediently yield to the following.”
This prepares the listener for ONE linear command, informing him to listen and obey. To a Jew, this quote, “the LORD our God, the LORD is one,” is fundamental and is found in Deuteronomy 6:4. Please take time to read the entire sixth chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy; there you will find in the context a detailed exhortation to Israel concerning obediently listening.
The details in the Law teach Israel to BECOME ONE with the requirements set forth; i.e. - to love the LORD (Yahweh, the Father) with all one’s heart, mind, soul, etc. What you will NOT find in Deuteronomy chapter six is the commandment to “love thy neighbor as thyself” because it is found in the Book of Leviticus 19:18.
Now, I will take you just a little bit deeper into this greatest of all commandments, and lay forth itemized requirements from the context of Leviticus chapter 19, a passage that was very familiar to the Jews at the time of Christ. These so-called learned men of the Law had their ears tuned, ready to scrutinize the reply given by the Lord Jesus, when he was asked which commandment was the first and foremost. All of these items are applicable in carrying out the commandment to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
As you read the text below, keep in mind, these items relate to the third component of ONE linear commandment (#3 above); this list will give you a lot to chew on and will most likely convict you. For the intent of this study, I pray it will also enlighten you to realize that loving perfectly in this manner definitely requires the dunamis power of God! I used the Amplified Bible to gather information from Leviticus below:
· Leviticus 19:11 - You shall not steal, deal falsely, or lie to each other.
· Leviticus 19:13 - You shall not defraud or oppress your neighbor or rob him.
· Leviticus 19:14 - You shall not curse the deaf.
· Leviticus 19:14 - You shall not put a stumbling block before the blind.
· Leviticus 19:15 - You shall not be partial to the poor.
· Leviticus 19:15 - You shall not show a preference for the mighty.
· Leviticus 19:16 - You shall not go up and down as a dispenser of gossip.
· Leviticus 19:16 - You shall not endanger the life of your neighbor.
· Leviticus 19:17 - You shall not hate your brother in your heart.
· Leviticus 19:18 - You shall not take revenge or bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
· Leviticus 19:33-34 - You shall not suppress & mistreat the stranger who dwells with you, but he shall be to you as one born among you & you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
This is a very impressive list of requirements, and for the sake of space, there were several I had to omit! Can you now see that the ‘greatest’ commandment and ‘perfect’ love are the same? Can you see why the application of perfect love requires knowledge in addition to prayer in the spirit?
Christians tend to ignore the statutes in Deuteronomy and Leviticus because much of the ritual and ceremonial laws are redundant and boring. I’m not going to act smug and self-righteous and claim I have an affinity for Leviticus; however, let’s consider at least one item in the list above and see how it relates to loving perfectly in a contemporary setting.
· Leviticus 19:15 - You shall not be partial to the poor.
I cannot resist the opportunity to expose the name-it-and-claim-it preachers here (aka – prosperity or faith teachers). The men and women that proliferate this false doctrine are doing more wide scale damage than just about anything else in charismania. There are certain ones so wicked they are little more than merchants selling their brand of gospel.
I have made it a practice not to mention names, giving whomever the opportunity in the future to repent; just the same, it seems these teachers originate from a particular area of the US indigenous to the southern drawl.
The reason for expounding on this particular topic is simple; the prosperity/faith movement is gaining momentum at an alarming rate, engendering with it the attitudes mentioned in scripture, such as pride, conceit, envy, jealousy, quarrels, dissension, abuse, insults, and slander. We must not forget that perfect agape love described in 1 Corinthians 13:5b & 6 detests this form of avarice, saying, “Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way…It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.” AMP
I have had this feeling inside of me for many years now, that one day God’s true children (I call them the real Jesus people) will be infused with the same holy wrath and righteous indignation that Jesus had when he entered the temple and chasing off the money-changers and those who were using the temple for merchandizing.
Remember the passage in John 2:13-17 the next time you hear a Christian brother or sister reprimand you for speaking out against prosperity preachers. Have you ever had somebody jump on your case because you dared to defile the name of some well-known minister, “Hey, I like so-and-so! You cannot judge them!” Does this sound remotely familiar? God’s word COMMANDS us to judge such iniquity! Even Jesus said to openly judge with justice when he was exposing the prosperity preachers of his age.
In the context of John 7:24-26, Jesus instructed the people regarding the leaders of the Jews, saying to them, “Be honest in your judgment and do not decide at a glance, superficially and by appearances; but judge fairly and righteously.” Then some of the Jerusalem people said, “Is not this the Man they (the Jews) seek to kill? And here He is speaking openly, and they say nothing to Him! Can it be possible that the rulers have discovered and know that this is truly the Christ?” (AMP) Brothers and sisters, we are to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, so let’s see how he handled the prosperity preachers of his day:
† John 2:13-17 Now the Passover of the Jews was approaching, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 There He found in the temple enclosure those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers sitting there also at their stands. 15 And having made a lash (a whip) of cords, He drove them all out of the temple enclosure--both the sheep and the oxen--spilling and scattering the brokers' money and upsetting and tossing around their trays (their stands). 16 Then to those who sold the doves He said, “Take these things away and out of here! Make not My Father's house a house of merchandise, a marketplace, and a sales shop! 17 And His disciples remembered that it is written in the Holy Scriptures, ‘Zeal the fervor of love for Your house will eat Me up. I will be consumed with jealousy for the honor of Your house. (Also see Psalms 69:9 with Psalms 93:5) AMP
Before I proceed further, I need to qualify whom I am seeking to expose here. The primary culprits addressed in my rebuke are the spiritual gurus of the prosperity movement; they are the teachers, preachers and televangelists. Claiming to be God’s “anointed” teachers, these men and some women come under much closer scrutiny, (as do I myself). In fact, the Greek word for the “perfect” (téleiós) is used specifically to address this very topic in the Book of James:
† James 3:1-2 Not many of you should become teachers; self-constituted censors and reprovers of others, my brethren, for you know that we teachers will be judged by a higher standard and with greater severity than other people; thus we assume the greater accountability and the more condemnation. For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things. And if anyone does not offend in speech, he is a fully developed character and a perfect (téleiós) man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature. AMP
There are many naïve individual believers that are immersed in this detestable faith/prosperity teaching, but I do not classify them in the same category as the teachers, preachers, and ministers that rake in millions and millions of dollars from people duped by their hoax. Even Paul was troubled about those that used the gospel, and while in prison he wrote about them. While he despised their motive, he was grateful the gospel was preached, albeit from evil and selfish motives.
† Philippians 1:15-18 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; 16 the latter do it out of love (agapé), knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice. NAS
There are a variety of reasons people get sucked into the faith movement and teaching. Some get involved because they get desperate; maybe they’ve been ill for a long time, and out of desperation they hope to get relief using this brand of “faith.” Others get into the prosperity movement out of sheer greed and this message is tailored to their outlook on life. I’m certain people’s reasons vary but it all leads down the broad path, and can result in some falling away from the faith.
† 1 Timothy 6:3-11 But if anyone teaches otherwise and does not assent to the sound and wholesome messages of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which is in agreement with godliness, he is puffed up with pride and stupefied with conceit and woefully ignorant. He has a morbid fondness for controversy and disputes and strife about words, which produce envy and jealousy, quarrels and dissension, abuse and insults and slander, and base suspicions, and protracted wrangling and wearing discussion and perpetual friction among men who are corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth, who imagine that godliness or righteousness is a source of profit; a moneymaking business, a means of livelihood. From such withdraw. And it is, indeed, a source of immense profit; for godliness accompanied with contentment; that contentment which is a sense of inward sufficiency, is great and abundant gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and obviously we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content (satisfied). But those who crave to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish, useless, godless, and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction and miserable perishing. For the love of money is a root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have been led astray and have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many acute mental pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee from all these things; aim at and pursue righteousness, right standing with God, true goodness, godliness, which is the loving fear of God and being Christ like, faith, love, steadfastness (patience, and gentleness of heart. AMP
A few years back while at a Christian event, I ran into a group of believers I had known in my early days; a large group of them, all involved in one of those multi-level-marketing schemes. As I chatted with them, my heart sank inside as I listened to their passion for money, material prosperity and greed. Many of these brothers and sisters were originally zealous for the kingdom of God and passionate for Jesus. Now it is apparent the god of materialism was corrupting the fabric of their moral character, fueled thru the deception of the ‘health-wealth & prosperity’ message.
Sometimes my spiritual blood boils when I see throngs of people deceived by the perversity of the wealth & health message; there is no room for compassion in them, and the hurting, the sick, and those that suffer are shamed and blamed for their condition. The so-called spiritual leaders of churches promulgating this idolize certain patriarchs of the movement. I frequently see these two younger looking faith preachers on TV and they are walking-talking dyed-in-the-wool and spitting images of certain well-known founders—if you will—of this Laodicean epidemic.
These ministers serve the god of money, using the name of Jesus as their platform to catapult themselves to fame and riches. Not only do they try to annul the true word of God by twisting and distorting what scripture teaches, but they teach others to do the same, making disciples that are twice sons of hell!
† Matthew 23:15 Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” NKJV
I have repeatedly heard the so-called ‘faith’ preachers actually mock and ridicule people that are poor Christians, taunting them for their so-called, ‘lack of faith.’ And worse than this, they make fun of people that are sick, in pain, and disabled, chastising their condition as self-pity or not ‘standing on the word.’ Woe unto these men! This is utter wickedness and theirs’ is the gospel of greed, malice and avarice. How dare they make fun of our beloved brethren in poverty! They are no different than the smug, self-righteous Pharisees and Sadducees who were lovers of money, flattered by the praises of men and seeking after the kingdom of materialism.
It is one thing to judge a brother or sister in Christ, and another thing altogether to expose the wickedness of these serpents, which are shameless in their relentless pursuit of the mammon of unrighteousness. How will they escape the judgment of the Almighty for their part in leading God’s children astray, teaching them to follow after the error of Balaam?
† Luke 16:13-15 13 No servant is able to serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon, riches, or anything in which you trust and on which you rely. 14 Now the Pharisees, who were covetous and lovers of money, heard all these things taken together, and they began to sneer at and ridicule and scoff at Him. 15 But He said to them, “You are the ones who declare yourselves just and upright before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted and highly thought of among men is detestable and abhorrent (an abomination) in the sight of God. [1 Samuel 16:7; Proverbs 21:2.] AMP
† Matthew 23:25, 28, 33 Jesus said, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence… you outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness… you serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell? NAS
Jesus had very strong language for those who used the gospel for gain; James also addresses this issue, because the rich and affluent were given preference and shown partiality, while they poor and needy were ignored and distained. Don’t mistake the love of God for some mamby-pamby, goody two-shoes message; Jesus stood against the injustices of the religious snakes and we must do the same. I am perplexed by the lack of fortitude and discernment by Christians these days; God has given us a spirit of perfect love that is strengthened by His dúnamis power!
† 2 Timothy 1:7-8 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power (dúnamis) and of love (agápe) and of a sound mind (sophronismos; self-control). 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power (dúnamis) of God. NKJV
If a brother or sister in Christ scolds you because you seek to expose these purveyors of evil and their false gospel of prosperity, it’s important not to allow the enemy to fill you with fleshly anger. The anger of man never produces the righteousness of God. This is why it is so important to discuss these issues, become knowledgeable in the scriptures, and pray at all times in the spirit, to be ready to give an answer to EVERY man of the hope that is within you.
Notice above that God gives His dúnamis power with His agápe love AND self-control. This is how Jesus was able to cleanse the temple with authority; he was not out of control like a madman, but was confident within by empowerment from on High. Also, note that God gives His dunamis power for the purpose of helping you to go through suffering; how often do you hear that taught from the pulpit?
Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, contrary to the teaching of many Christian ministers. The Christian church has become so ‘grace’ oriented, it now errs on the side of sloppy, reckless and careless living.
© Matthew 5:17-20 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” NAS
The passage above is DIRECTLY tied to the “perfect” (téleiós) mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:10, “when the perfect comes.” The interesting part is that Jesus mentions his own compliance with the requirements of the LAW and he contrasts his life with the smug, self-righteous, arrogant and prideful behavior of the Jews. These were the ones guilty of annulling the commandments; worse yet, teaching others to do the same! Stay with me on this one—it’s a real eye-opener!
Jesus said the Law is not a bad thing; in fact, if you read the entire context of Matthew chapter five, Jesus rebukes the scribes and Pharisees for misusing the Law. For example, they would say, ‘Do not commit adultery’ and yet they break the Law and commit adultery when lusting after a woman in their heart (Matthew 5:27-28). It is using the commandments as a means of self-justification that God the Father opposes.
Reread Matthew 5:19b, which says, “but whoever keeps and teaches them (the commandments), he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Continue reading Matthew chapter five (below); Jesus equates keeping the commandments with the motive of love, with the command to “be perfect” (téleiós) as your heavenly Father is perfect (5:48).
© Matthew 5:43-48 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you 45 in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? 47 And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect (téleiós), as your heavenly Father is perfect (téleiós).” NAS
Do you see it? Look at verse 43 and you’ll notice the mention of the third component of the “greatest” commandment, 'you shall love your neighbor.” Why did the Pharisees and scribes omit the last part of this commandment? What motivated these religious hypocrites to then add the poison of contempt to God’s holy commandment, making it read ‘and you shall hate your enemy!’?
Hate your enemy? There is no justification for them adding their manmade tradition to the Law; Leviticus 19:18 says, “You shall not take revenge or bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” The Jews were using selective passages of scripture to justify their hatred of anyone that did not conform to their brand of religion. Does this sound familiar?
This is where religion leads you my dear sisters and brothers, and we must beware, lest we are subtly snared by the same attitude. I have been convicted on more than one occasion as I did this study, recently having to repent of some subtle attitudes I was harboring toward the charismatic church. If I have hurt anyone, please, I ask your forgiveness.
I want to direct your attention to something in Matthew 5:43-48 regarding perfect love. Jesus defines the application of perfect love as it pertains to the third component of the greatest commandment by giving us the following qualifications:
1. Perfect love loves your enemies.
2. Perfect love prays for those who persecute you.
3. Perfect love acts like a son or daughter of your Father who is in heaven.
4. Perfect love is impartial & loves as the Father, Who causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
5. Perfect love loves those that do not love in return.
6. Perfect love reaches out & greets those who will not reciprocate.
7. Perfect love is doing all of the above, so you can be perfect (téleiós), as your heavenly Father is perfect (téleiós).
Okay, it’s time for us all to go repent, have a nice long cry, and allow God to wash us free from our selfish and petty ways.
In John 13:34-35 Jesus gave his disciples the “new commandment” to love one another in the same manner as he had loved them. He told them, “by this,” love would all men know you are my disciples. What is not obvious in John chapter 13 however, is the use of the Greek word cognate of téleiós (télos) in John 13:1 (below). This lone verse is significant because it shows that Jesus loved his disciples with perfect love, to the fullest extent and till the very end—leaving an example for us to follow.
© John 13:1 Now before the Passover Feast began, Jesus knew (was fully aware) that the time had come for Him to leave this world and return to the Father. And as He had loved those who were His own in the world, He loved them to the last and to the highest degree (télos). AMP
© John 13:1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent (télos) of his love. (New International Version)
I did not list the NAS because I felt they did a poor job of translating, but in the footnotes, the NASU says of John 13:1 and its use of télos that it should be translated literally as, “he loved them to the uttermost; or eternally.” NASU
Do you remember the first component of the greatest commandment, “Hear Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is ONE?” As Jesus prepared to go to the cross, his prayer of intercession includes the purpose and meaning of the phrase, “… the Lord is ONE.”
17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
20 I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;
21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
22 And the glory, which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:
23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect (téleiós) in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
24 Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.
26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them." NKJV
In John 17:23 & 26, we find 2 phrases that prophesy of the ultimate fulfillment of the foremost commandment, ‘Hear Israel, the LORD our God, the Lord is ONE.’ And the 2 phrases are: “…that they may be made perfect (téleiós) in one…. that the love (agápe) with which You loved (agápe) Me may be in them, and I in them." “
The Greek words used for “loved” are cognates of “agape” making this passage parallel with 1 Corinthians 13:10, “but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.” (See below)
† 1 Corinthians 13:9-10 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. NAS
Looking at the two passages above and comparing them, it seems to me that when the church is made perfect in one, then the perfect has FULLY come, and when that happens collectively, prophecy and revealed knowledge won’t be needed any more, because the church will EXIST in perfect love. When the body is made one in perfect love, this corruptible body of flesh we live in now will need a new, incorruptible, and ‘perfect’ body to express itself in love.
The sign we are nearing the Lord’s coming is when people mock Christians about the return of Jesus, and 2 Peter 3:1-14 (READ) exhorts the church to live holy, spotless and blameless lives. If one day = 1000 years on God’s prophetic clock, then 2 days = 2000 years, right? It has been approximately 2000 years since Jesus lived, died, was raised from the dead, ascended, and revealed himself as the Parakletos. With this in mind, consider the typological significance of the passage below:
© Luke 13:32 And He said to them, "Go, tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected (téleiós).' NKJV
I realize this verse in Luke 13 refers to Jesus’ resurrection, but there is a love spreading like a consuming fire in the body of Christ RIGHT NOW, in spite of all the division, strife, differing doctrinal beliefs, conflicting denominations and the enormous divide between charismatic and non-charismatic churches. Could it be that the true church, whomever that is applicable to (God only knows), will be “perfected on the third day” or more specifically, at the genesis of the third ‘1000’ year day?
I have never been one of those Christian teachers that predicts the day or time of Jesus’ return. I do see the possibility of a connection between what is happening among the brethren that I personally fellowship with now and the TYPOLOGICAL fulfillment of Luke 13:32.
I say this mainly because of the nature of God’s LOVE being expressed in, through and to one another, and often without any significant regard to major doctrinal differences. How can this be POSSIBLE, unless it involves the “perfect” love of our Father God, who loves all men and does so with impartiality?
I have shared the revelation about the “perfect” love of God with a few of my close friends and I watch in delightful amazement as God instantly ignites their spirit. A dear friend, my closest sister in the Lord, wrote me an amazing letter about how “doable” this perfect love truth is. I have included it below for you to read:
After our conversation the other day regarding “the perfect,” something profound has begun to take place in me. It’s almost difficult to put into words without sounding trite or cliché, but alas, I just have to express what I’m experiencing. I have hope again, bro; hope that in this life, in which Christ has apprehended me, and asked me to live, is now truly “doable”. It’s not a fad. It’s not a formula. God knows I’ve seen and participated in my share of those.
It’s truth, simple, plain, truth, unadulterated, and it has set me free and given me power to walk, do, and be what I could never walk, do, or be in myself. It’s not living in la-la-land or an unreal world; it is FINALLY, understanding the Scriptures and what they are saying to me. I’m deeply impacted by the power of the truth, and more convinced than ever that if so many can miss this simplicity, even those that supposedly know the Word, as we ourselves have for years, that many of the supposed “standard, acceptable interpretations” of the Bible need to be seriously re-evaluated.
You see, I have been crying out for a long time now to the LORD about a couple of things. I’ve been asking him what the real use of tongues is for and I’ve been asking him why I see such abject failure to be able to live a real Christian life. If your yoke is suppose to be easy, and your burden light, then why have I carried such heavy burdens and worn such difficult yokes? I have asked him so many times to show me a life with him that is “doable.”
My spirit has been crying out to my Father in heaven because I could not live the life I once led as a charismaniac (following the latest fads, experiences, moves, etc.) any longer. It was what had given me the heavy burdens and the difficult yokes. It had only produced in me the works of the flesh, not the abundant life of the Spirit that somehow I knew was waiting for me but I had never been quite able to grasp.
This is easy, real easy. No, it doesn’t make our circumstances easy, but this understanding is “doable”, and that makes it attainable. Perfect, in the sense of the understanding I have had in times past, is in no way attainable; but I’m seeing now what God our Father considers “perfect”, and it is something we can do. This yoke is easy, and this burden is light, just like He said it would be. Love you!
God’s love is “doable” and it doesn’t require a Master’s Degree in theology (or even a BA for that matter). The disciples of Christ were unlearned men, but what is truly amazing, is that they were recognized not for the powerful miracles taking place by their hands, but simply because they had been with Jesus.
† Acts 4:13 Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. NAS
The upcoming series on this topic will discuss in more depth the specifics of how God will use His perfect love to perfect the church and make us one with Him and with His son Jesus. The testimony of my sister in Christ adds significant strength to what has already been shared.
The correlation between the dúnamis power of God and His love is significant, particularly when we begin to discuss how this perfect love will accelerate the death-to-self process and amplify the resurrection power process. Get ready for a wild ride folks; the fire of trials and tribulation is getting heated up, but the glory of God, which I will later prove is His perfect love, will take you through each and every fiery ordeal without fear.
† James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. NKJV
† 1 John 4:17-18 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. NKJV
Links to the Entire "When the Perfect Comes” Series:
To Be Continued in Part 4