INFLUENCED BY PENTECOST BUT PERFECTION IS YET TO COME
Christian experience testifies that we are continuing in the wake of Passover and Pentecost, from 2000 years ago, that has been reinforced by several pentecostal-type awakenings over the last hundred years or so. Revivals came in dramatic fashion, but then, over a number of years, each revival seemed to peter out. Revivals came in waves like waves onto a sandy seashore, each contributing in some way to the whole. Believers began to operate once again many of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. Miraculous ministries arose only to peter out over the years and then appear once again in other places.
Our current generation has been blessed by all past moves of God ever since our foundational reformation under Martin Luther and the re-introduction of water baptism by full immersion (Mark 1:9-10; John 3:23). By faith we claim the blood of Christ for our salvation (as pictured in Passover – Ephesians 2:8), by faith we work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12; Romans 5:1) and by faith many have been baptized in the Holy Spirit (as pictured by Pentecost – Acts Chapter 2).
We acknowledge together with Sid Roth (of It’s Supernatural fame) that the biggest lie of the enemy that has deceived many Christians is the oft quoted formula “Once saved always saved“. Though we are firmly in the hands of Christ we can of our own accord walk away from Christ by our lifestyle choices after having tasted the good gift of God (https://wordatwork.org.uk/answers/once-saved-always-saved-true). Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery to sin no more (John 8:11). There are also many other scriptures throughout the Old and New Testaments.
The sad ending of Charles Templeton, once Billy Graham’s fervent fellow crusader in the gospel who chose to eventually deny the God of the Bible, is a prime example. ‘In 1957, after a long struggle with doubt, Templeton declared himself an agnostic. His public pronouncement of his loss of faith caused a backlash from the evangelical community’ (Wikipedia). On a visit to the WWII death camps Charles became greatly offended that “the loving God” he had been serving and worshiping did not intervene during the holocaust. He even attempted to destroy Billy’s faith on several occasions. Many in today’s society abuse God’s love towards them by assuming that His love is unconditional no matter how much they disobey.
Coming back to the theme of our wonderful Christian heritage and born-again experiences, dramatic as they have been in some cases, ungodly thoughts are never far away from any of us. I find a need to constantly repent as my mind drifts from one thing to another. Jesus knew that we would be unable to obey the Law. Even the apostle Paul struggled with that (Romans 7:15).
Ancient Israel experienced the same. They brought a blood sacrifice before the priest every time they sinned; this despite the benefits of the Feast of Passover, which spoke of deliverance from slavery to sin. The Feast of Pentecost originally highlighted the Law, which did not prevent sin. Pentecost commemorates the presence of God and fire on the mountain of God. Yet, at the very same time, Aaron the High Priest allowed Israel to dance naked around the golden calf they built and worshiped (Exodus Chapter 32). Some excesses were also recorded during modern revivals when the Holy Spirit was poured out. For the Israelis, the Day of Atonement in the 7th month was an annual watershed that finally dealt with their sins for the year. The Feast of the 7th month was vital to the life of Israel. This is what the church is waiting for – the spiritual manifestation of the Feast of Tabernacles in the church.
In Old Testament days the 7th day of each week, the Sabbath, was most holy. Anyone working on the Sabbath was killed (Numbers 15:32-36). The three Feasts, structured on the same pattern of 7’s, were so important that disobedience was punished by death or excommunication (See discussions on https://www.creation6000.com/sabbatical-and-jubilee-years).
Thus the patterns of 7’s involved in these Feasts were very important to the Lord for a very good reason. They provided shadows and types (or examples) for later application by spiritual Israel which we are. The Feasts provide rich symbolism for the end-time Church.
FEAST OF TABERNACLES AND PERFECTION
The spiritual fulfilment of the Day of Atonement, one of the components of the Feast of Tabernacles, must be experienced by the Church before the resurrection can take place. Yet few ever preach this vital subject from the pulpit.
The apostles prophesied of the perfection to come to the end-times church. God’s word is clear. We shall be perfected and have the mind of Christ before the resurrection of our bodies. This is recorded in Ephesians Chapter 4 and in Ephesians 5:27. It can also be deduced from a study on the Feasts of Israel.
George H. Warnock wrote in his 1951 book on the Feast of Tabernacles ‘….the hour has come in the history of the Church when Israel’s annual cycle of Feasts is about to be fulfilled in the saints. And, inasmuch as the natural observance of the Feasts constitute a type and pattern of great and momentous spiritual events, it is vitally important that we should understand their meaning. The Scriptures reveal that there were three annual festival seasons in Israel’s worship….the Church of Christ is the true spiritual Israel…we have abundant evidence from the New Testament to establish the fact that two of the three annual Feasts (or convocations) of Israel’s worship have already been fulfilled in Christ and His Church…what great consolation and comfort it is for the saints who are looking forward to the fulfilment of the last Feast, the Feast of Tabernacles’. The only Feast that has not yet been historically fulfilled in spiritual Israel is the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Tabernacles of every 50th year, the Year of Jubilee, was particularly important. The Year of Jubilee had a profound impact on the return of families to their original lands. Any forfeited inheritance was returned.
A STEP-WISE PROGRESSION – A WORK IN PROGRESS
Behind each of the Feasts we can notice a step-wise progression, from glory to glory, in the growth to maturity of the church through history. Likewise, it can be viewed as the step-wise growth in maturity of an individual in Christ. Ultimately God is processing us towards perfection:
Passover to Pentecost to Tabernacles
which is equivalent to the following experiences
Salvation to infilling with the Holy Spirit to Perfection
(Why Tabernacles can be equated to perfection read on my other website https://www.creation6000.com/sabbatical-and-jubilee-years )
If you are wondering why I chose the brown to represent perfection it is because the outermost cover on the tent of the tabernacle of Moses was a dull brown badger skin. Gold for divine perfection, which would have been more appropriate, does not show up well as text. Nevertheless, dull brown is appropriate for humility, ‘…. to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word’(Isaiah 66:2). Red is for the blood of Christ and blue for the Holy Spirit.
THE WONDER AND GIFT OF GOD TO MAN
Hence, the Father is processing us into the very glory and image of Jesus Christ Himself. As the apostle said His intention is to ‘reveal His Son in me’ (Galatians 1:16). This is the wonder and gift of the almighty God to those who love and treasure Him. Our responsibility is to surrender to the will of the Father and simply receive.
THE PROMISE OF ABSOLUTE PERFECTION
‘And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. And this until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’ (Ephesians 4:11-13). The original Greek word (teleios) emphasizes complete fulfilment and perfection. Consider also
‘For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word the same is a perfect man and able also to bridle the whole body’ (James 3:2).
- These ascension gift ministries from the Lord Jesus are for the perfecting of teachable Christians.
- These ministries will continue until perfection and obedience to Christ is fully achieved.
- Perfection means unity of faith and having the same beliefs (Acts 2:42; Titus 2:1; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 4:2).
- Holding doctrines, which are identical between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (stature of the fullness of Christ).
- Christ will not take a bride that is not of the same mind, character and holds to the same truths. She will be without spot or blemish (Ephesians 5:27). In 1 Peter 1:19 the purity of Christ is described using the same terminology.
Moreover, Ephesians 5:24-27 says ‘Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word; that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish’.
And ‘This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church’ (Ephesians 5:32).
There is much more. For example, in John Chapter 17 Jesus prayed that believers would become perfect (teleios) in the Greek) so that the world may believe their witness. ‘…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. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them that they may be one just as We are one. I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me’ (John 17:21-23). This is clearly referring to believers before the resurrection because these ‘perfected’ ones are to witness to the lost. Due to their numbers and anointing in His image these are particularly the ones that will do greater things than Jesus did (John 14:12).
PLAY ON WORDS – PERFECTION UNTO PERFECTION
There is a further aspect we must understand about God. Let me illustrate it this way. As born-again believers we would no doubt claim that we have been redeemed. It means that Jesus paid the price or ransomed us from certain death. ‘The Greek word used for redeemed is “lytrōsis” and has a literal meaning of “a ransoming deliverance” or “a rescue”, and that is exactly what Jesus has done by giving His own life over 2,000 years ago, at Calvary‘ (Patheos). We would certainly agree that we have been redeemed and are now the prized possession (property) of Jesus Christ (Acts 20:28). We are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:19).
However, if that be the case, why did Jesus say that for the redeemed there is a redemption yet ahead?
‘And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And, when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads for your redemption draws nigh’ (Luke 21:25-28). Therefore, for the redeemed there is an ultimate redemption still to come. No doubt, what Jesus meant was that, though we have been redeemed, there is still a need for our bodies and soul to be redeemed from corruption at the resurrection in the time of the end. At the resurrection we will be finally totally redeemed. Then we shall be eternally free of ungodly thoughts. Our redemption at salvation was granted, but there was more to be experienced.
Scripture uses the word ‘perfect’ in a similar way. For instance, if we walk in the will of God to the degree of illumination we have received God considers us ‘perfect’ in His sight:
‘For if ye love them which love you what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans do the same? And if ye salute your brethren only what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans do so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect’ (Matthew 5:46-48). Therefore, being righteous in our walk is considered to be perfect before God. God addressed Abraham similarly, ‘…walk before me and be perfect’ (Genesis 17:1). God said the same of Noah. We know that neither Abraham nor Noah were perfect in the sense of absolute perfection. They continued to make blunders and sinned. However, because of their righteousness they were considered perfect in God’s eyes.
As already pointed out concerning the word ‘redeemed‘ there will likewise be an ultimate perfection that Jesus and the apostles are working towards (Ephesians 4:11-13). Ultimate perfection will be that which is equivalent to the fullness of the measure of Christ where we are one with Jesus to the same degree as He is one with the Father. Currently, in the time of the beginning of sorrows, where we are located in the time-frame of world history (Matthew 24:8; Mark 13:8), none of us can make a claim of being perfect to the ultimate degree. Perfection is around the corner though.
WHY MANY CHRISTIANS FAIL TO BELIEVE FOR PERFECTION WHILST IN THE FLESH
I propose that most will deny this possibility because they are ever conscious of ungodly thoughts on a regular basis. People believe that perfection cannot possibly come to the church until they are in heaven. It is an admission that we are still liable to sin, especially in our minds.
‘If we say that we have not sinned we make Him a liar and His Word is not in us’ (1 John 1:10).
Sometimes,surprisingly, ungodly thoughts can arise deep within us. The restraining power of the Holy Spirit holds us back from acting on them. Otherwise we could easily become as depraved as the rest of society. Calling regularly on the name of Jesus is one of our daily spiritual weapons.
It is for these reasons that perfection seems like an impossible dream. It is simply not in our experience and, therefore, we put perfection into the impossible basket.
JOSHUAS AND CALEBS
Is there anything impossible for God? If God says it, it shall be done. God can do it. After all, He is looking for a perfect bride for His Son. We cannot perfect ourselves, but we need to believe that God will do it and press on in that hope. Disqualifying ourselves from perfection is sin because God has already provided the means by which we can be transformed.
The ten spies brought back an evil report of the Promised Land. They admitted that it was a good land. The spies came back laden with the fruit of the land, but they hindered Israel from entering because they lacked faith. They were ready to stone Moses and Aaron for wanting to possess the land (Numbers Chapter 13). There were giants in the land and the Israelis seemed like grasshoppers to them. What chance would they have had, they thought?
They did not include God in the equation. However, two men full of faith, Joshua and Caleb, insisted that the land of giants could be taken. They were the only two who remained alive of that generation when Israel finally crossed the Jordan to enter the Promised Land. Let us be a Joshua or a Caleb and believe in the power of God to transform us, little by little, precept upon precept, all the way to perfection (Isaiah 28:10-13).
LESSONS FROM PENTECOST
The Church stands on the work achieved at Passover by Christ and on the legacy of the first Pentecost. We reap their benefits through the blood of Christ and the infilling of the Spirit by all who seek the Lord.
If Pentecost had made us perfect then why do we continue to have sinful thoughts? In Israel sin was immediately redeemed by a blood sacrifice. Many sacrificed animals in the process. On the Day of Atonement, the one day in the year when the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies, the High Priest sprinkled blood onto the Mercy Seat of the Ark. Thereby all sins, both those knowingly committed and sins of ignorance, were forgiven for the entire nation.
Since the cross we call on the blood of Jesus whenever we sin. But how can one do that when one is ignorant of committed sins? Since God holds all accountable even for sins of ignorance the importance of the Day of Atonement becomes significant indeed. The Day of Atonement was a component of the Feast of Tabernacles. Thus the Feast of Tabernacles was indispensable for Israel. The same is true for us. The Feast of Tabernacles must still be fulfilled in the Church; hence the recommendation by the apostle Paul that we forsake not the assembling together of the church. That is where the ascension gift ministries of Ephesians Chapter 4 reside. The Feast of Tabernacles will be fulfilled in a corporate sense.
THE PERFECT BRIDE OF CHRIST
Therefore, there is a momentous time ahead for believers when our propensity to sin will be done away with altogether. Once that happens we shall be as perfect as Christ whilst still in the flesh. That is symbolically represented by the glorious woman revealed in Revelation Chapter 12 who shines with the glory of the Sun and is crowned with 12 stars. It is a situation that still lies ahead. She remains on Earth and flees into the wilderness for protection from the wrath of Satan who has been cast down to Earth.
IMPORTANCE OF FAITH
‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1).
‘But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him’ (Hebrews 11:6).