Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 6 June 2018
Page 9

A Perfect Heart

Roger Wright

“Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes, and to keep His commandments, so as this day” (1 Kings 8:61). These are the words of King Solomon at the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem. He was wise enough to see that the blessing and security of that great building depended upon the faithfulness and spiritual integrity of those who came there to worship. He told the people to have a perfect heart. How is that possible?

Some people think of the word “perfect” as meaning “absolutely faultless.” We all know that we are weak and sinful, and therefore, to aspire to have a perfect heart in that way is a losing cause. That is not what “perfect” means in this passage.

A perfect heart is a true heart. We err from time to time, but our hearts are set on pleasing the Lord. Our faith does not waver like a wave of the sea (James 1:6). A true line is a straight line. We are called to follow a straight path (Psalms 5:8) with the Lord.

A perfect heart is a pure heart. God is holy and morally unblemished in every respect. He wants us to be holy as He is (1 Peter 1:15-16). We should be so thankful for the cleansing that we have in our Savior. The Temple that Solomon built was amazing and glorious, but it was no more glorious than God’s temple today, His holy people (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20).

A perfect heart is a well-developed heart. We are called to grow to be complete in every way, not acting like selfish little children. Solomon started out so well, and God blessed him with great wisdom. As time went by, he allowed his selfishness, pride, desire for many wives and his lack of focus on God to lead him away into idolatry. As we grow and mature, we should be drawing ever closer to God, instead of drifting away from Him.

Grant us grace to have perfect hearts: hearts that are true, pure and well-developed to serve God all the days of our lives. Developing this kind of perfect heart is possible and a worthy goal for each child of God.


Who Is a Saint?

Ernest S. Underwood

Ernest S. UnderwoodSome time ago, the Roman Catholic Church announced that it had conveyed sainthood upon two of its now dead popes. Of course, no such action, practice or example is found anywhere in God’s Holy Book. Like all false doctrines and practices, this one originated in the corrupt minds of corrupt men. “But,” says someone, “Does not the Bible speak of saints?” The answer to this question is an emphatic, “Yes!” In fact, in the New King James Version of the Bible, the plural word “saints” appears sixty-four times in the New Testament and thirty-four times in the Old Testament. The singular word “saint” appears only two times in the entire Bible. The appearing of the word saints and its usage in the New Testament makes for an interesting study as one studies it in its many contexts.

From time to time through the years of studying with different people, one or more has occasionally stated, “Well, I am not a saint, but…,” in an effort to point out that though such a one had not obeyed the teachings of God for people today, he or she, after all, was not in such a state by which one would be lost if he or she continued in neglect or rebellion of biblical teaching. Such an attitude betrays a gross misunderstanding of the words “saint” and “saints.”

Let us look at a few of the many times the word “saints” is used in the New King James Version. “Then Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem’” (Acts 9:13). Saul was persecuting the first century church, even traveling to Damascus to further persecute it by binding and putting in prison those members whom he found following that Way. As he came near to his destination, the Lord Jesus appeared to him. In the continuing account, Saul essentially inquired of Jesus, “Lord, what would you have me to do?” Being instructed to go into the city and he would be told what he must do, Saul went, being led because of his blindness caused by the bright light. In the meantime, the Lord appeared in a vision to a disciple named Ananias, instructing him to go find one called Saul. Now read again the passage and look at Ananias’ reply, how that he reminded the Lord “how much harm he [Saul] has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.”

Notice some things. Saul had done much harm to saints in Jerusalem. Who were these saints? How and when did they become saints? In Acts 2, we have the record of the first Gospel sermon preached after the resurrection of Christ. As Peter preached this sermon, the people asked what they must do to rid themselves of the wicked sins of the denial of Christ as God’s Son and of demanding His death. Upon being told to repent and to be baptized for the remission of those sins, some three-thousand of them were baptized. The record then states that they were “praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).

Thus being sanctified by being washed in the blood of Christ, they were now saints of God. There was no Roman Catholic Church with its priests and false doctrines to make or declare them to be saints. By their obedience to the Gospel they became saints, being added to the New Testament church as a result. In short, they became saints of God when they obeyed the Gospel. From the time when that first Gospel sermon was preached in the first century until the present day, no one has received “sainthood” except those who truly believed the Gospel and then obeyed it. There are no exceptions to this found in the New Testament. Please read the following scripture passages, and in doing so please remember that the Roman Catholic Church was still centuries away from coming into existence with all of its false doctrines and manmade traditions.

This is but a sampling of the sixty-four times this word appears in the New Testament. In all sixty-four times, it refers to those who had obeyed the Gospel, and thus, they were in Christ.

Summary

In Psalm 116:15 it is written, “Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints.” In the Book of the Revelation the apostle John wrote, “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them” (14:13). In the first passage, the saints of God are mentioned. In the second passage, those “who die in the Lord” are the subjects.

How did one in the Old Testament become a saint or a sanctified one? Let David by inspiration give the answer. “Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path” (Psalm 119:4-5). Simply put, one kept God’s Word.

The ones spoken of in Revelation 14:13 had “died in the Lord.” According to the apostle Paul in Romans 6:1-6, when one dies to sin and is baptized into Christ, into His death, he is then raised to walk in newness of life. This same apostle stated in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” These are the same ones who were members of the church at Corinth, those who had been sanctified in Jesus Christ and called to be saints.

Thus again, in closing this article, we can with all certainty state that a saint is simply a person who is in Christ, having gotten into Him by obedience to His Word, the Word that sanctifies him. Now being sanctified, the Lord adds him to His church (Acts 2:47). In no other way today, being under New Testament law, can a person become a saint. There are no exceptions! Are you, dear reader, a saint? Are you sure? Can you prove your answer by rightly dividing God’s Word? Please think seriously on these matters.


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