Thursday, August 24, 2017

Perfect - What does it really mean?

Within the last two weeks or so, I have heard more than one person saying: "God doesn't expect us to be perfect", "I'm not perfect, just forgiven", or something similar.  Just recently, I personally said something like this in my last post. I was referring to my fellowship, and I said, " None of us are perfect, but we are all striving for perfection (Philippians 3:12)." But it was when I read this quote on Twitter, that I really started to think about what was being said:  

"Jesus doesn't expect followers to be perfect, but He does call us to be authentic."   
(emphasis mine)

That just didn't sit well with me; I couldn't help but think about a Princess Bride quote:     


But all kidding aside, after reading that quote, and after giving it some thought, I challenged the author with the verse from Matthew 5:48:

 **Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (KJV)

By the way, when I say I "challenged" the author, I did not mean in a rude way, I was just hoping to have dialogue, which we did, albeit very limited because, after all, it was on Twitter. The author clarified his reasoning, and it helped a little, but I kept thinking about the word "perfect", and how, generally speaking, it isn't understood to be doable.  Personally, I used to have the understanding of "perfect" as always and only meaning "without flaw" or "without sin".  Because I perceived it as unattainable, being perfect seemed to be a somewhat vague notion to me (the same thing with being "holy").  

So, what does it really mean to be "perfect"? 

According to the list I found on site, the first time the word "perfect" is used is found in Genesis 6:9, which reads: 

 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (KJV)

The English word for "perfect" here is the Hebrew word tamiym, which means: 
  1. complete, whole, entire, sound
    1. complete, whole, entire
    2. whole, sound, healthful
    3. complete, entire (of time)
    4. sound, wholesome, unimpaired, innocent, having integrity
    5. what is complete or entirely in accord with truth and fact (neuter adj/subst) 

The next use of the word is in Genesis 17:1: 

 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. (KJV)

Both of those verses are referring to men being perfect.  Hmmm!  Well, that makes sense because according to Yeshua, we have been commanded to "be perfect", and if perfect means complete, wholesome, unimpaired, innocent, having integrity, in accord with truth and fact - well then, that sounds doable to me!  

Is tamiym the only Hebrew word for perfect?  I did find another one in 1 Kings 11:4

 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, 
as was the heart of David his father. (KJV)

Here, the Hebrew word shalem is used, and it means: 

  1. complete, safe, peaceful, perfect, whole, full, at peace
    1. complete
      1. full, perfect
      2. finished
    2. safe, unharmed
    3. peace (of covenant of peace, mind)
      1. perfect, complete (of keeping covenant relation)


I find this verse referring to Solomon very interesting, because it says that Solomon was not perfect, which according to this definition it means that Solomon was not complete, safe, peaceful, or whole. He was not complete of keeping covenant relation. 

So how does someone become perfect? Would Yeshua tell us to do something that was unattainable?  

I found this picture using my Logos (free) software.  I thought it was a good one to use because the circle in the center reminds me of a target - a mark.  For most of my spiritual life, I heard the definition of sin as "missing the mark".  But the thing is, it was never explained to me what the mark was!  Since I didn't know what the mark, or the target, was, I never really knew if I was even getting close, let alone hitting the target!  

Again, let me refer to the Princess Bride quote, " I do not think it means what you think it means!"  

So what is sin?  

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law:  
for sin is the transgression of the law. 
1 John 3:4 (KJV) 

So, imagine with me, if you will, that in the center of the blue circle on the picture above, is the word Law (or, as I prefer, Torah).  THAT is the mark/target!  

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: 
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 
Psalm 19:7 (KJV)

 As for God, his way is perfect
the word of the LORD is tried: 
he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

Blessed are the perfect in the way
Who walk in the Torah of Yahweh. 

Something else I looked at during my word study was that the Hebrew word tamiym used in Genesis 6:9, was translated in Greek as teleios (see the LXX Septuagint): 
Genesis 6:9  αὗται δὲ αἱ γενέσεις Νωε Νωε ἄνθρωπος δίκαιος τέλειος ὢν ἐν τῇ γενεᾷ αὐτοῦ τῷ θεῷ εὐηρέστησεν Νωε

Teleios is the word that is used in Matthew 5:48: 

 Matthew 5:48  ἔσεσθε οὖν ὑμεῖς τέλειοι ὡς πατὴρ ὑμῶν οὐράνιος τέλειός ἐστιν

Teleios means: 

  1. brought to its end, finished
  2. wanting nothing necessary to completeness
  3. perfect
  4. that which is perfect
    1. consummate human integrity and virtue
    2. of men
      1. full grown, adult, of full age, mature

And according to this resource

Cognate: 5046 téleios (an adjective, derived from 5056 /télos, "consummated goal") – mature (consummated) from going through the necessary stages to reach the end-goal, i.e. developed into a consummating completion by fulfilling the necessary process (spiritual journey). See 5056 (telos).
[This root (tel-) means "reaching the end (aim)." It is well-illustrated with the old pirate's telescope, unfolding (extending out) one stage at a time to function at full-strength (capacity effectiveness).]           (emphasis mine)
For Christ is the end (teleios) of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. 
Romans 10:4 (KJV)

Or a better translation (in my opinion) is: 

For Messiah is the goal (teleios) of the ‘Torah unto righteousness’ to everyone who believes. Romans 10:5 (ISR) 

Referring back to Noah and Moses in the Genesis verses, both of the verses said that they "walked", or were to "walk" with Yahweh.  The verses in Psalms talked about the way of Yahweh, and equated it with Yahweh's Torah.  

So, if I am understanding all of this correctly (and I am open to correction if not), then being perfect is not a vague notion that I will never attain.  If the target is the Torah, and the target is Messiah, and if I walk in His ways, I believe that through Yeshua my Messiah,  I can be perfect (tamiym)- complete, wholesome, unimpaired, innocent, having integrity, in accord with truth and fact.  And when I abide in Yeshua (John 15), I can be perfect (shalem) - complete, safe, peaceful, or whole, and complete of keeping covenant relation. I can be perfect (teleios) as my Father in heaven is perfect!

I can do all things through Messiah who strengthens me! 

**Yeshua was quoting Deuteronomy 18:13 


Thursday, August 10, 2017

What ARE We Doing?

A couple of years or so ago, my family and I left the Southern Baptist Church (SBC) that we had been members of for 25 years.  It was not an easy decision, because it had been one of the biggest parts of our lives, and the only church that our children had ever known.  But after having seen things in Scripture that differed with the beliefs and practices of the SBC, and after the Father had released us from our current responsibilities within the congregation, we realized that He was telling us it was time to move on. 

Since our departure, we have sporadically been asked, or we have heard of people asking - what ARE we doing?  Or some may ask, where we are now "going to church".   I am more than happy to share with you what we are doing!

Currently on Friday nights we are hosting a gathering for praise and worship.  We get together for a meal and fellowship, and afterwards we sing songs, share praises that have occurred throughout the week, and/or we share a passage of Scripture that has been meaningful to us. Father has gifted Dwight, Haley, Dawson, and others within the group with musical talents, so they lead us with guitars, piano, percussion, and even at times a shofar!  And if we had the space, there would definitely be dancing!

Praise Yah! Praise Ěl in His set-apart place; Praise Him in His mighty expanse!
Praise Him for His mighty acts; 
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!

Praise Him with the blowing of the ram’s horn; 
Praise Him with the harp and lyre!

Praise Him with tambourine and dance; 
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!

Praise Him with sounding cymbals; 
Praise Him with resounding cymbals!

Let all that have breath praise Yah. 
Praise Yah!
Psalm 150 (ISR) 

This is our way of bringing in the Sabbath together!

A typical Sabbath gathering at our house

"Six days work is done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a set-apart gathering. You do no work, it is a Sabbath to יהוה in all your dwellings." Leviticus 23:3 (ISR)

Sabbath morning, Dwight, Haley, Dawson, and I typically sleep in and relax.  The four of us will usually watch a Bible teaching video together, and then we get ready to go to Bible study later in the day.  We have a pretty good sized group, so we try to alternate where we meet.  Our meetings consist of prayer, and reading and discussing the Torah portion (Torah simply means Instructions, and consists of Genesis-Deuteronomy). Our group is currently following the three year schedule, which means we are just going through the Bible passages at a much slower pace.  This gives us more opportunity to slow down and take in some details that we might otherwise overlook.  We also read and discuss passages from the Prophets and the New Testament.

After our Bible study time, we stay and eat a meal together and fellowship into the night.  We frequently play cards or just sit around and talk.  

In addition to our Sabbath gatherings, our fellowship gets together for Yahweh's other Appointed Times (Leviticus 23).   And Yahweh spoke to Mosheh, saying, “Speak to the children of Yisra’ĕl, and say to them, ‘The appointed times of Yahweh, which you are to proclaim as set-apart gatherings, My appointed times, are these:"  (Lev 23:1-2, ISR)

I emphasized "My appointed times" because so many people (including myself until a few years ago) think that the Feasts are the "Jewish Feasts".  However, Father makes it clear that they are HIS, and this commandment was given to all of Israel, not just the tribe of Judah (Jews).  

Sometimes His Appointed Times are referred to as feasts, festivals, or in Hebrew, moedim.  I have written about them, so please read those posts as well (check out the "labels").  Observing the Father's Appointed Times has been one of the most rewarding aspects of our faith walk! This is when  we get together with the larger Body of Messiah to celebrate His appointed times, remembering what our Messiah has done, and looking forward to what He has yet to do! Last year at Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets), we met with around 200+ Believers! It was amazing!  

Dwight reading Scripture at Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles)

A few months ago, some of the ladies in our group decided to start meeting each month to celebrate the New Moon .  This is an appointed time that I had not really realized we were to  observe until recently, but it has also proved to be very rewarding. My desire in starting this gathering was to have ladies of all ages get together to continue to learn the Father's Word, encourage each other, and minister to others outside of our group.  So far we have held a Baby Shower for our local Pregnancy Resource Center (aka Choose Life). There are other ministries that we hope to eventually reach out to and bless. I really hope that we can continue to develop strong relationships with one another and that the younger women/girls, will see how we walk out the Father's Instructions in our lives.  This is still a work in progress, and so far each meeting has been different - which I think is a good thing - as we all have our different personalities and gifts.

 Me blowing a shofar for New Moon
Our small group, fellowship, whatever you want to call us, is a tight-knit group.  We are "doing life together", and it has been a huge blessing! None of us are perfect, but we are all striving for perfection (Philippians 3:12). We are here to help one another with prayer support, encouragement, as well as help with physical needs when they arise.  We also keep each other from looking to the left or right, and stay on the way: 

 Only be strong and very courageous, to guard to do according to all the Torah which Mosheh My servant commanded you. Do not turn from it right or left, so that you act wisely wherever you go.
Joshua 1:7 (ISR) 

Enter in through the narrow gate! Because the gate is wide – and the way is broad – that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter in through it. Because the gate is narrow and the way is hard-pressed which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

So, there you go. That is what we are doing.

See how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity –
Like the precious oil on the head, Running down on the beard, 
The beard of Aharon, Running down on the collar of his robes –

Like the dew of Ḥermon, That comes down on the mountains of Tsiyon. 
For there Yahweh commanded the blessing, 
Life forever!
Psalm 133 (ISR) 

For more information on Yahweh's Feasts, check out the following:

Video series covering who is Israel 

Video on The Lost Sheep of Israel