My Thoughts. . .
There are often a number of biblical phrases used from the pulpit that leave questions rather than comfort with the audience. Nothing wrong with the phrases. Absolutely nothing wrong using those phrases. However, some may not know that a phrase can be used out of its context and it will no longer be a biblical truth. In 1956 a preacher used the expression “top not come down” (Matthew 24:17). His point was that good Christian women must wear their hair tied up in a knot on top of their head. His problem originated by substituting the word “top” for the word “housetop.” Jesus was talking about a person leaving his house, not how a woman fixed her hair. Perhaps some who preach are guilty of taking a word or words out of context and leaving their audience with nothing worthwhile.
The KJV states, “Be thou faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10). What does “faithful” mean? What is included in that word? Some narrow it down to a few actions such as not forsaking the assembly (Hebrews 10:25), partaking of the communion each Sunday (Acts 20:7), taking up a collection from each member on Sunday (1 Corinthians 16:1-3), believing that immersion is baptism (Romans 6:4-5), that a fully developed congregation has elders, deacons, evangelists, and members. It may be true that those scriptures speak about each item listed, but is that the sum total of being “faithful”? To be honest, the answer is “No.” Another phrase preached is the word “perfect.” It is found in Matthew 5:48; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 3:15; Colossians 4:12; and James 3:2. It is inferred that a disciple of Jesus must be perfect. Is that correct? Jesus was. However, Paul wasn’t. Neither was Peter. So, how well are you doing? Some think if they pray, attend, convert others, give, and do more than others, they will have a better chance of gaining a pseudo perfection that will obligate Jesus to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). How many really believe their efforts will be addressed as “perfect”? It is a condition no one actually thinks he will reach or be successful in attaining. That condition promotes unrest.
If faithfulness and perfection are little more than fruitless hopes, and one’s expectation are questionable, why would Paul tell the Philippians to “rejoice”? If assurance is a foreign word that is inaccessible, could that be the reason so many are still praying the youthful words, “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take”? With such hopelessness, what is left to look for if we die without a prayer on our lips? Did Jesus come to give us insecurity and fear that we will not measure up because our works are too little? Even if one was able to do enough good works to score 99%, he would still lose by 1%. He is still troubled not knowing if his gap is too wide for God grace to cover. Whatever the gap is, God may expect it to be much less.
Preachers who expect their audience to be perfect (without sin), create a false standard that no one in the Old or New Testament reached. That standard is not Good News. That standard leaves people hopeless. It leaves the individual who promotes that interpretation to be void of the salvation he knows he cannot reach nor maintain. Jesus came to save sinful people who were drowning in their imperfections. His blood not only cleansed all their sins committed outside the body of Jesus but continues to cleanse those sins committed in his blessed body (1 John 1:7-10; 2 Corinthians 5:21). That cleansing calls for rejoicing (Philippians 2:17-18; 3:1; 4:4; 1Thessalongians 5:16; 1 Peter 4:13).
A Christian without cleansing is left without light.