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The apostle John’s revelation is that “God is Love” and “perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.” “He who fears is not made perfect in love.”[1]

What is perfect love? How are we made perfect in love? How do we love perfectly? When do we experience God’s perfect love? What is perfection in the ages to come? Jesus said that to those who are willing to listen, being perfect means to love your enemies by doing good to those who hate you, blessing those who curse you and praying for those who hurt you.[2] Jesus said, “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you. In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in Heaven… But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”[3]

We throw the word “perfect” around a lot and its popular meaning is flawlessness, or sinless. But we were not created to be sinless. If it were so, the Father would not have told us to rule over sin. The Father said to Cain, “But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.[4] You can be full of sin yet if you have mastery over sin, sin cannot control you.

Listening to Jesus and putting all His words into faith-full practice is the only way to subdue sin. And while we are listening to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit as a church, sin will become a non-issue for there are much more things to focus on than the Law, sin and death – none of which is eternal. Remember the Law is not eternal, for Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, until Heaven and Earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”[5] However, Jesus said in Matthew 24.35, “Heaven and Earth will disappear, but My words will never disappear.”[6] So why focus on sin whose power is the Law and whose wages is death, when none of them are eternal? Rather, repent and believe the good news: Jesus said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never ever die.”[7]

Jesus Christ is God’s Perfect Love to the world. Love is a gift, for love comes from God. He is Love. The love of Jesus for the Father that brought salvation to the world is God’s gift of perfect love to Himself, which He has shared with the world. We experience God’s perfect love when we abide in Jesus and His word abides in us. We experience God’s perfect love when we come to know and understand that the Lord, the Lord, and the Lord loved us even while we were enemies; that They created us in Their Image even though He knew we were likely to rebel, and that God allowed His Son to lay down His life for us even though He knew we would inflict such violent injustice unequal from the beginning of the world and never to be equaled again.

It can be said that God did all that because He had fore-knowledge and fore-understanding. But He also did all that because He had no fear. Fear has to do with punishment, John said. Therefore love must have everything to do with forgiveness.

Perfect love is fruitfulness that comes from actively fulfilling all of the Father’s commands about love in the Old and New Covenants:

1. Love your enemies

2. Love your God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength, and understanding

3. Love your neighbour as yourself

4. Love one another as Jesus has loved you/us

Jesus fulfilled God’s commands of love and it is up to His disciples to complete the fulfilment of the 4th command of love: to love one another as He has loved us.

Now, perfect love drives out all fear because the opposite of love is fear. The opposite of love is not hate, because hate stems from fear.

Remember we were asked this question, “If perfect love drives out all fear, then what does perfect understanding do?” To answer this question, don’t we have to find out what the opposite of understanding is? And did we not try on a Wednesday night to no avail, and we had concluded that there is possibly no such thing?

Be that as it may, surely perfect understanding must achieve something!

This week I noticed something in the NIV. Remember there was a time when we were told to strike out the headings that exist in the NIV? To me, the NIV should adopt a disclaimer that exists in most legal documents: that headings do not form part of the agreement and are used only as a guideline. Better yet, when we read the Bible we should try not to let the segregation of headings and formatting throw us off, but read Jesus’ words in an unceasing format as the waterfall that it is.

Anyway, before Matthew 16.21, Mark 8.31 and John 12.20, there is a heading that states “Jesus Predicts His Death”. This is what dictionary.com defines “predicts” as, which is quite spot on, “To state, tell about, or make known in advance, especially on the basis of special knowledge.”

What is “special knowledge” but knowledge that is based on complete understanding, thereby giving you the fullness of the picture? We can mouth off and predict all we like, but we don’t always get it right. But when Jesus predicts, He is actually telling you what is definitely going to happen and making it known to you in advance. Why does He do that? So that when it does happen, you would believe He is who He says He is – Jesus the Son of Man who came from Heaven.

The Jews asked Jesus plainly in John 8.25, “Who are You?” Jesus answered, “Just what I have been claiming all along.” (NLT: “The One I have always claimed to be.”)

Jesus said in John 13.19, “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He,” and in John 14.28, “You heard Me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.”

Which is exactly the reason why Jesus is coming back. Have you asked the Lord, why is Jesus coming back? And when He returns, why did He ask if He would find faith? And in the NLT, Jesus asked, “But when the Son of Man returns, how many will He find on the Earth who have faith?[8] We should ask the Holy Spirit what faith in what specifically. For the answer of “faith in Jesus” is elementary and does not give us deeper insight and understanding in what exactly is on the Father’s heart when Jesus asked this.

Jesus is coming back because it must be made known that He is the Son of Man He had always claimed to be. He is no liar. That is why out of all the things there are in the world – love, friendship, delight, pleasure, patience – the Father wants Jesus to find faith when He returns. Because the Father needs the world to know that His Son is who He said He is all along. We still need to have faith to believe that He is the Son of God by whose Name we are saved. Otherwise, everyday we are on this Earth, our salvation is really only a theory and a hope.

And His word tied His return to God bringing justice for His chosen ones who cry out to Him day and night. What justice is Jesus bringing with Him? He did say in Revelation 22.12, “Behold I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” (NLT: “…bringing My reward with Me to repay all people according to their deeds.”) What is Jesus’ reward? What is the reward of the Son who said to His Father, “I will go,” and then went forth to lay down His life only to take it up again? A reward He is sharing with us?

The reward that He received from the Father for obeying the Father’s command in laying down His life is resurrection and life, and that which He will be sharing with us. He had authority to lay down His life and authority to take it up again. This command He received from His Father: the same command that enabled and decreed Him to be the Resurrection and the Life. Jesus must be believed and known and understood to be the Life and the Resurrection He had always claimed to be.

For our true salvation is resurrection (first and second resurrection). This is resurrection justice – the justice of resurrection – the resurrection of justice – an eternal vindication – and irrefutable proof that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life that He had claimed to be all along. For if Jesus did not ask for faith when He returns in Luke 8.18, how then can John 11.26 be fulfilled? For whoever lives in Him AND believes in Him will never die. Do you believe this? Did He not say that if you believed, you will see the glory of God? Open your eyes, the fields are ripe for harvest. And we will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory. Notice how Jesus question in Luke 8.18 ties in with John 11.26 perfectly.

So what is perfect understanding? It is fruitfulness that comes from actively fulfilling Jesus’ commands about listening and understanding:

1. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand![9] Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given —and you will receive even more. To those who listen to My teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.[10]

2. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches.


Perfect understanding removes all doubt from our heart. Jesus called to the crowd, “All of you listen,” He said, “and try to understand.”[11] But “the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to Me and let Me heal them.”[12]Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear Me![13] He asked His disciples, “Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in?[14]

This is how it works. When we listen and pay close attention to hear His words, we are given understanding. The closer we listen, the more understanding we will be given. But if we do not listen and pay close attention with our ears and eyes, our hearts will not begin to understand. When we don’t know or understand, our hearts will continue to be too hard to take in what we see and hear. The more we listen and hear, the more we understand, the softer our hearts to understand will be from the removal of doubt. For it is doubt that hardens our heart and makes us slow of heart.

The fruitfulness of perfect understanding removes all doubt. Perfect understanding bears the fruit of peace, because the opposite of doubt is peace. Perfect knowledge is not enough to remove all doubt. In this world, we will have trouble, we do not always have peace, but take heart, Jesus has overcome the world. He has given us His peace by giving us His words to hear, listen closely to and understand, and He has sent the Holy Spirit to listen to. The Holy Spirit who guides us into ALL truth and makes known to us what is Jesus’.

Since our first question was, “If perfect love drives out all fear, then what does perfect understanding do?” Then our next question would be If perfect love drives out all fear, and if perfect understanding removes all doubt, what would perfect love combined with perfect understanding do?”

Perfect love and perfect understanding produce perfect justice – perfect justice for Jesus. Why? Because our obedience to the four commands of love enable perfect love to be reciprocated to God, and our obedience to the commands to listen and understand enables us to have knowing faith and understanding faith. Perfect love has no fear and perfect understanding has no doubt. Perfect love and perfect understanding are all about forgiveness and faith. When we have doubts and fears, our hearts are hard and we do not have faith. When we don’t have faith, we haven’t believed. If we don’t believe, how will Luke 8.18 and John 11.26 be fulfilled?

Perfect justice for Jesus is when ALL believe, know and understand He was, is and will be who He claims to be: He is the Resurrection and the Life, the Good Shepherd, the Gate, the Way, the Truth and the Life, the Man of Truth, the Light of the World, the Bread of Life, the true Vine, the Bright Morning Star, the Alpha and the Omega, the Amen, the Son of David, the Son of Man and the Son of God. The fruits perfect justice bears are truth, righteousness and praise.

Not that the Lord needs anyone to believe Him in order to be. No, God doesn’t need us for anything. But it is an injustice to God if Jesus is believed, known and understood to be any less than who He claims to be, and it is an injustice if Jesus should be loved and worshipped any less for all that He is, was and will be.

For many are invited to believe, and many are called to know Him, but how many are elected to understand Him?

When He returns, how many will He find on the Earth to have faith? You cannot answer for anyone else – you can only answer for yourself.


 

[1] 1 John 4.16,18 NIV, NLT & Peshitta

[2] Luke 6.27-35 NLT

[3] Matthew 5.45-48

[4] Genesis 4.7

[5] Matthew 5.18

[6] NLT

[7] John 11.25-26 NLT

[8] Luke 8.18

[9] Matthew 11.15 NLT

[10] Mark 4.24-25 NLT. Also Luke 8.18 NLT

[11] Mark 7.24 & Matthew 15.10 NLT

[12] Matthew 13.15 NLT

[13] John 8.43

[14] Mark 8.17

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