Reflections from the Mission Field & Christian Perfection

“…(Christ) has given us the ministry of reconciliation… we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us, we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God [back to the Father].  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2nd CORINTHIANS 5:18-21 

– I found this in my bible!  It’s the gospel summed up in three verses.  Notice the language- ‘God is making his appeal through US.’  – so that in Him WE might become the righteousness of God. We (the church) are His appeal, and when we receive Christ and know him and act in accordance with his power and influence, we are stepping into righteousness; the same righteousness that is characteristic of God.

We need to start believing that we (the church) are in fact, a spotless bride. To believe otherwise is to fall into the trap of false humility and faulty thinking about ‘worthiness.’ When we do this we create space for sin and its effects, skewing our perspective, distorting our worldview and delivering a punishing blow to the collective ability of the Church. Essentially, we aren’t seeing clearly when we subscribe to this.  If we believe that after allowing Christ to reside in us we are still sinners (that is sinful in our nature), then we are defining our identity through our ability to fail rather than His work and victory on the cross! By living with self-imposed permission to sin we are practicing false humility, which is a tactic advantaged by the spirit of religion (rampant among Pharisees and Sadducees in Jesus’ time).

~September 6th, 2011- San Pedro de Macoris, Domincan Republic (journal entry as a missionary with YWAM)

What does the Bible say?

We are blameless and holy because He says we are!  By limiting myself to a ‘perpetual sinner,’ I am not being consistent with who God says I am and not being obedient to His guidance!  Peter, in 1st Peter 1 actually instructs the Church to be holy and to “not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.” We see this idea several times in Paul’s letter to the Romans, to put off the very nature we once had and to walk presently in the Spirit. John, in his 1st first epistle, describes his reason for writing: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1st John 2:1).  I don’t petition on my own behalf that I’m valuable, redeemed and worthy, I’m simply following God’s word, and I’m not about to contest it!

Christian Perfection – Jesus to Polycarp to Wesley

The idea of Christian perfection, a term unofficially coined by John Wesley, under the umbrella of Methodism, more directly refers to Christian holiness, or the ability for a Christian to attain holiness and/or purity. This is the “formal” school of thought that supports the process of being perfected. Perfection, in the sense that one never misses in any way is a level reserved for Jesus alone, so don’t be fooled by its title. However, it is pretty clear within this belief that we are not naturally sinners(1) – we’re free and thus not depraved if we’re in Christ(2) – and we’ve received the fullness of his blessing through the Holy Spirit(3).

“For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” HEBREWS 10:14

This faith posture shouldn’t seem foreign if you’ve read the new testament recently, but rather something common for any believer. It was modeled by Jesus, then by the Apostles of the early church, and later practiced by saints from Polycarp to John Wesley and beyond.

“For if one be in this company he has fulfilled all righteousness, for he who has love is far from all sin” – Polycarp

It’s one of my heart’s desires to help the bride of Christ understand that this way of thinking is not radical, “charismatic,” or heretical, but indeed biblical! Let’s shed the baggage of false humility and say YES to our destiny!

Joe D’Orsie Communications & Spiritual Life Counsel