The Plow: What Jesus Commanded Part 7

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All Scripture

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17) 

The words and commands of Jesus are simply all Scripture.  This can be concluded from what we have read to this point.  All means every part of Scripture: every verse is inspired (pasa graphḗ); each passage as a unit is inspired.  The Old Testament is the words of Jesus and the New Testament is the words of Jesus.  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God; literally the written and living Word is God-breathed.  God was actively involved in transferring His message to us through the pages of the Bible – all of it.  The true Author of each and every book of the Bible is God Himself: The Bible contains the words and commands of Christ to us His soldiers.  We will break down this passage in more detail in a later blog.  But for now, recognize when we learn when we teach, we teach the whole Bible from cover to cover as the commands of Jesus Christ.  Be a student of the whole Word of God.  Then teach others as God gives opportunity in your part of The Revolution.

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Poor in Spirit: Daniel 5:22-28, 30

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Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this, but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them; and you have praised gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand.  But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified.  Then the hand was sent from Him and this inscription was written out.  Now this is the inscription that was written out: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.  This is the interpretation of the message: MENE – God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to.  TEKEL – you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient.  PERES – your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians…That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain.  (NASB)

In contrast to Nebuchadnezzar, his grandson Belshazzar did not learn from the event that changed Nebuchadnezzar into a man poor in spirit.  Belshazzar was a prideful king and his actions speak volumes to his pride.  Here is a lesson of what being poor in spirit is not.

Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart.  What God desired in Belshazzar He desires in all of us: a humbled heart.  Thus, the Lord desires all of us to be poor in spirit.  Belshazzar never took that step towards God because he was consumed with self.

But you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven.  This is a good definition of pride: lifting the self to prominence against the Lord God of heaven.  Belshazzar fell to the sin of pride and refused to become poor in spirit.

They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you… have been drinking wine from them.  Another thing pride does is desensitize one to the holy things of God.  Belshazzar did not recognize the temple articles as holy and to be separate for God’s use only.

And you have praised gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand.  With pride reigning in the heart of man the Lord God is no longer on the throne and has been replaced by the self.  These objects were not gods because they are just representations of what the self is projecting.  Idols are just images of the god of self.  Self is the god on the throne of the heart of the man living in the sin of pride.

But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified.  As we have continually seen we see once again: The Lord desires the glory for Himself.  When man steals the glory from Him it is done because of the sin of pride.

… God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it…You have been weighed on the scales, and found deficient…Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians…That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain.  Judgment day awaits the man who lives in pride.  Humble yourself before God your Maker and become poor in spirit.

Clearly at this point you recognize that there is a daily choice to be made as to who is your god.  There are only really two choices: the god of self or the God of Heaven.  Purpose in prayer right now: to develop the daily habit of declaring that your god is the One True God as presented in the pages of Scripture, not created in the image of self.

Mystic Moments: Let Us Press On Because the Road to Spiritual Maturity is a Road of Suffering

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But solid food belongs to those who are full age (spiritually mature), that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.  Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles (the baby stuff) of Christ, let us go on to perfection (Hebrews 5:14; 6:1).

It is the desire after holiness, the tender conscience that longs above everything to discern good and evil, the heart seeks only, and always, and fully to know and do the will of God, that marks the perfect (spiritually mature).  The man who has set his heart upon being holy, and in the pursuit after the highest moral and spiritual perfection exercises his senses in everything to discern good and evil, is counted the perfect (spiritually mature) man.  We read of God’s perfecting Christ through suffering.  Perfection is that perfect union with God’s will, that blessed meekness and surrender to God’s will, which the Father wrought in Christ through His suffering.  We read of Christ’s learning obedience, and so being made perfect.  This is the true maturity or perfection, the true wisdom among the perfect, the knowing and doing of God’s will. – Andrew Murray

Waiting: Gird Your Waist with Truth

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Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.  (Psalm 25:4-5, NKJV, emphasis added)

Gird your waist with truth and do this through waiting on God with great hope.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having all, to standStand therefore, having girded your waist with truth  (Ephesians 6:11, 13-14, NKJV, emphasis added)

If you have not noticed, we are in the midst of a battle.  It is a spiritual battle engaged against spiritual beings (Ephesians 6:12).  Paul instructs us in the putting on the armor, piece by piece, so that we can stand firm in our walk and battle the Enemy of our souls.  Two things stand out to me in this passage (sorry for the pun): standing and the belt of truth (girded your waist) on which the rest of the armor would fall out of place or without the soldier would fall on his face.  Keep these important phrases in prayer as you meditate on this passage through waiting on God.

Put on the whole armor of God/Therefore take up the whole armor of GodPut on in the Greek is to envelop in, to hide in, and to clothe with and the whole armor is literally all the protective gear and weapons.  In classical Greek it would mean all the armor of a heavy-armed soldier.  Every piece of the armor is to be put on, none are to be neglected.  Of God in the Greek shows the source of the armor is from God Himself and is not earthly armor.  The armor is both divine and complete and to go without any piece is to leave an opening for the enemy to bring you down to defeat.  In Paul’s day the image would be of a Roman soldier, the military power of the world in that day.  Kenneth Wuest in Ephesians and Colossians in the Greek New Testament adds the following concerning the taking up the whole armor:

“The verb is aorist imperative, which construction issues a command given with military snap and curtness, a command to be obeyed at once and once for all.  Thus, the Christian is to take up and put on all the armor of God as a once-for-all act and keep that armor on during the entire course of his life, not relaxing the discipline necessary for the constant use of such protection.  The historian Gibbon, relates how the relaxation of discipline and the disuse of exercise rendered soldiers less willing and less able to support the fatigue of service.”

That you will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  In the Greek stand is to hold fast against the enemy, or to hold your ground.  Battle is about position, holding, and taking land.  The Christian soldier should not be in retreat, but here it is emphasized to holding ground.  Wiles in the Greek are cunning arts, deceit, craft, and trickery.  Wiles are the strategy of the devil.  God knows the strategy of the devil and has equipped us to hold the ground gained in developing Christian character and not being defeated by the enemy.

That you may be able to withstand in the evil dayWithstand in the Greek is to stand against, resist, oppose.  To withstand used here, is to stand against the devil and not be defeated.  The evil day is in reference to a serious attack from the enemy which will surely come upon every disciple in life.  It will come, but God has equipped us with His armor so we will not be defeated.  

And having all, to stand.  Understand as the whole armor of God is put on there is nothing protecting the back of the soldier.  Because there is no protection of the vital organs behind him the importance of standing firm and not retreating for the soldier is paramount.  Retreat would open up the vital organs to the enemy.  In this battle the goal is not to be defeated, to hold our ground.  We are not called to be battling Satan to take ground, but to hold the ground already given to us by God and not be defeated.  Stand firm. 

Stand therefore having girded your waist with truth.  We start now with the armor to be put on and the command is first to stand.  We are not running into battle and we are not retreating from it.  The belt is the first thing to put on because it holds the garments up so the soldier does not trip on them.  With the garments girded the soldier has the ability to move within the military lines being used by his commander.  The belt was the essential piece of equipment for without it the soldier could not put on his breastplate, put on his sword, or move about unencumbered.  The Christian’s responsibility is to gird himself with truth.  The Truth we have been led to is the truth we put on.  Truthfulness is then the essential character trait of the disciple in his relation to God, fellow believers, and the world around him.  We are led to truth through waiting and we apply the truth to our lives through submission, in all honesty and truthfulness, to the Spirit of truth.

Teleios: The Objective of Ministry?

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Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.  To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.  (Colossians 1:28-29)

Seriously?  This passage is in the Bible?  The Bible that churches everywhere claim to be their guide for living?  I am dumbfounded.  This looks contrary to what I see from most church ministries I have encountered.

Him we preach.  Verse 27 tells us it is Christ in us is the Him which Paul preaches.  Paul preaches the Christ in the sanctification mode rather than the salvation mode, at least for this exhortation.  Paul taught on sanctification?  He sure did.  It is time churches start to think likewise.

Warning every man.  Really?  Paul warned every man he ministered too?  Paul?  The Guy in the Bible?  He sure did.  I cannot remember the last time I was warned by anybody in the pulpit.  I do when I pick up a work from a Christian author that I like that is long dead and in the presence of Jesus.  Warning is such a strong word…I think we should probably take this seriously…don’t you think?

Teaching every man in all wisdom.  This still sounds serious to me; that maybe Paul is talking about something important.  If Paul is taking something seriously should not the Church as well?  But serious about what?

That we may present every man perfect (teleios) in Christ Jesus.  Really?  That’s it?  If Paul thinks it is important to minister to every man with the objective of presenting them perfect in Christ Jesus should not the Church as well?  Just wondering; it seems logical to me?  How about you?  Do you think it is logical?  Then why do churches neglect such a task that Paul considered important enough to use serious language to decide?  Just wondering out loud?  Does anybody have an answer?  Many churches official stance is that making disciples is making converts.  Does that seem right to you in reading this passage before us in plain English?

To this end I also labor, striving.  Paul seemed to be putting a lot of effort behind this task.  Shouldn’t the church do the same?  Just asking a simple question from a simple-minded person.  It sounds important to the great Apostle Paul.  It was the passion that drove Paul.  Why is it not the passion that drives churches?  Just wondering.  Simple guy with simple thoughts.

According to His working which works in me mightily.  Paul said it is by the power of Christ that this is accomplished.  Do we have the same access to the power of Christ that Paul had?  I cannot find any passage in the Bible that will tell me otherwise.

It sounds as if the task of Paul is important.  I pray that it becomes important to the church while there is still time to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

Poor in Spirit: Daniel 4:30 and 37

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The king reflected and said, “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?”  (Daniel 4:30, NASB, emphasis added)

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.  (Daniel 4:37, NASB)

 We are all familiar with before and after pictures.  We are bombarded with them all the time.  Whether it is weight loss, muscle gain, clothing, makeup, hairdos, or any other kind of makeover, a picture is worth a thousand words.  In this passage of Scripture we see the before and after picture of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon: from pride to poor in spirit.  Let us look at these two portraits and what God used to create this makeover.

Daniel 4:30: the picture of pride.  Notice the pride in this verse: I myself have built; by the might of my power; and my majesty.  Notice something?  It is all about King Nebuchadnezzar!  Pride always draws attention to self to exalt the self above all others.  Pride loves to take all the credit for actions and accomplishments done for self-promotion.  Pride wants the honor and to be recognized by everybody within earshot.  Pride is never satisfied and seeks more and more self-gratification.  The self is never done filling itself!

Daniel 4:31-33; 5:20: the makeover.  God goes to work by humbling Nebuchadnezzar with this bizarre event in his life; we can call this an extreme makeover.  Sometimes God intervenes with an extreme event uninvited as in this case with Nebuchadnezzar.  Often the Lord will only work when we invite Him to work in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit in complete surrender to His will. Verse 33 describes this makeover of Nebuchadnezzar in detail:

Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven from mankind and began eating grass like cattle; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.  (Daniel 4:33, NASB)

But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit became so proud that he behaved arrogantly, he was deposed from his royal throne and his glory was taken away from him.  (Daniel 5:20, NASB)

Daniel 4:34-37: the picture of poor in spirit.  When this event was completed Nebuchadnezzar was a changed man.  Verses 34-37 reveal the new heart of the king as he praises God with the complete recognition that the King of heaven is the true King and the king-maker upon the earth.  The glory, honor, and majesty that Nebuchadnezzar bestowed (or even stole from God) upon himself he now gives (or gives back) to the true King whom he now recognizes as the Most High (verse 34).   With this change of heart the kingdom of Babylon was restored to Nebuchadnezzar.  We need to learn, like him, to be poor in spirit because otherwise the Lord God will humble us some way as Nebuchadnezzar stated at the conclusion of this passage: “And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.”

Pray to determine what glory you have taken away from the Lord and restore that glory back to the rightful owner now.  Pray and allow the Holy Spirit to do something extreme in your life to accomplish His will.

Poor in Spirit: Daniel 2:25-28

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Then Arioch hurriedly brought Daniel into the king’s presence and spoke to him as follows: “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can make the interpretation known to the king!”  The king said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen and its interpretation?”  Daniel answered before the king and said, “As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king.  However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days…”  (NASB)

King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had a dream in which the usual advisors could not reveal the dream and its interpretation.  The king ordered the execution of all the wise men, in which Daniel and his three friends were included in that group.  Daniel asks for time which he uses for a prayer meeting and then he seeks an audience with the King of Babylon.  The Character of Daniel is plainly seen in this passage of Scripture; and that character is being poor in spirit.

“Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen and its interpretation?”  Nebuchadnezzar asked a question that had a temptation attached.  Daniel could have simply answered in the affirmative and taken the glory for himself because he already had the dream and interpretation in hand.  It would have been an easy way to be recognized as a person worthy of honor and a promotion would surely have been the result of this self-promotion.  Daniel could have rationalized that he was using God’s gifts for the furtherance of his people and blessing Daniel because he belonged to the Lord.  Daniel could have convinced himself that it was all right to say yes to the question.  But Daniel had the character of being poor in spirit, and as such was not into self-promotion, but was rather trusting in God to take care of him and reveal His will for his life as he needed it.  Daniel’s response revealed who he really was.

It is not good to eat much honey; so for men to seek glory, their own glory, causes suffering and is not glory.  (Proverbs 25:27, Amplified) 

However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.  Daniel’s response is God in heaven reveals the secrets, and the dream and interpretation are being brought to you by the Living God and to Him should be all the glory.  Daniel responded as a man who was poor in spirit, totally relying upon God to take care of his life for the glory of God. 

Ascribe to Yahweh, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.  Ascribe to Yahweh the glory due His name; worship Yahweh in the splendor of His holiness.  (Psalm 29:1-2, HCSB)

The Lord honored Daniel’s choice to give Him the glory for the revelation received by promoting him and his three companions:

Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief perfect over all the wise men of Babylon.  And Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the king’s court.  (Daniel 2:48-49, NASB)

Go to prayer and discern if there is any self-promotion in your life (I see this all too often in the church setting) and confess it as sin and trust in God to promote you to be where He wants you to be.

The Plow: What Jesus Commanded Part 6

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The Commands of Christ are from Scripture – The Testimony of the Early Church

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.  (Acts 2:42)

As the New Testament was being written the Church had two forms of God’s revelation, or commands: The Old Testament and the words of Jesus the Son of Man given orally to the apostles.  Only the apostles at this point had the words of the earthly ministry of Jesus and the authority to transmit those words as we saw earlier.  This was the doctrine of the early Church, and soon was added the New Testament, the delivered message of the apostles as directed by Jesus in Acts 1:2.  Continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine in the Greek is speaking that in a persevering manner the church is attending to the words of Christ, remaining by His side, not leaving or forsaking Him, through the teaching of the apostles.  The Church attended and adhered to the apostles’ teaching: it was a continuous action on the part of the early Church.  The desire to be instructed was great and they attended steadfastly to their instruction.  These apostles were trained for their mission by Jesus.  Now empowered by the Holy Spirit their work begins toward Revolution to an eager audience.  Why were the people attentive to the apostles’ teaching?  They were hungry for the words of their Savior; they had no other purpose but to be totally devoted to their Master and to the building of His Kingdom.

We have drifted far from the early Church and have turned from this deep desire for Jesus.  The doctrine may still be present and believed but the attentiveness to Christ and His mission is gone.  It is no longer about building His Kingdom but about building ours.  The Plow says cultivate the fields once again and start a fresh work for the Kingdom through desiring the words of Jesus once more and to give attendance to His commands.  The Scripture is not only to be learned but to be lived because the Word is the words and commands of Jesus Christ.

Waiting: Truth as a Fruit of the Spirit

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Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.  (Psalm 25:4-5, NKJV, emphasis added)

The fruit of the Spirit is truth and we know this when waiting on Him with great hope.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.  (Ephesians 5:8-10, NKJV)

Paul in Ephesians Chapter Five is laying down how a Christian should be living in his or her daily life, or in his terms their walk.  The apostle begins in verse one with the example by which the remaining of the chapter is built upon, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.”  As Christ is the example of self-sacrificing love, so are His disciples.  As the Son submitted to the Father’s will, so do his children.  This submission leads to the godly walk Paul is teaching.  Our walk depends upon our character, and character is built by the Holy Spirit, and one of the processes the Spirit uses is waiting upon the Lord with hope.

For you were once darkness.  The old you before the new life in Christ was darkness, the absence of light.  Paul is exhorting the disciple to not become darkness again.  The old life has been put off (Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:8-9; and 2 Peter 1:14).  Is your old life put off?

But now you are light in the Lord.  The new life is now to be embraced.  We are now light (Matthew 5:14), imitating Jesus who is the light of the world (John 8:12 and 9:5).  Light in the Greek is the light itself, not the lamp.  Light is now what we have become in the Lord.  The change in the disciple has gone beyond being enlightened like a lamp, to becoming light itself.  In a world of darkness we need to allow our lights to shine (Matthew 5:14-16).  Our direction is enlightened by the Lamp which shines for all to see.  Thus, the Light you follow is what others will see and maybe they will follow too.  The new life is to be worn (Romans 13:12-14; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:24; and Colossians 3:10-14).  Have you put on the new life?

Walk as children of light.  In the Greek walk is to order one’s behavior, to conduct one’s self.  The construction in the Greek is to “be habitually conducting yourselves as children of light (Wuest).”  As children, we have been born again and bear the image of the Father, the Father of lights (James 1:17).  The new life of the disciple is to be light, and as self-sacrificing in imitation, are to be light for others.  Is your character such that your light shines before men?

For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.  Fruit is the product of living the new life as light.  The fruit we bear as believers is the work of the Spirit.  We now come to the results of this new life in the Spirit of truth.  Goodness, righteousness, and truth are all active, meaning they are constantly being produced; they are due to the character of the disciple.  Goodness is benevolence, goodness in action.  Righteousness is what is right, proper, and fit.  Truth is in true and sincere holiness.  How is your fruit?

Finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.  This should be a goal of the Christian life.  We should want to know what is acceptable, or well pleasing, to our Lord the Master of our life and do it.  Because of the new life in the Spirit our fruit will conform to His liking.  As we wait upon God we learn what is acceptable and our character is transformed to be fruitful.

Prayerfully meditate upon this passage.  Recognize that you are light and what it means to be light in a dark world.  Take off the old and put on the new as the Lord of glory changes you day by day into His children, the light of the world.

Mystic Moments: Count All Things A Loss

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Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  There for let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.  Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.  Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.  (Philippians 3:12-17)

The mark of perfect, as set before us in Paul and all who are thus minded, is the passionate desire to be yet made perfect.  This looks like a paradox.  And yet what we see in our Master proves the truth of what we say: the consciousness of being perfect is in entire harmony with the readiness to sacrifice life itself for the sake of being yet made perfect.  It was thus with Christ.  It was thus with Paul.  It will be thus with us, as we open our hearts fully and give God’s words room and time to do their work…. To count everything loss for perfection in practice, is the surest proof that perfection in principle has possession of the heart…. And so Paul uses expressions which all tell us how what he already had of Christ was but a part.  He did know Christ, he had gained Christ, he was found in Him, he had apprehended in wonderful measure that for which Christ had apprehended him.  And yet all these things – of knowing Christ, of gaining Him, of being found in Him, of apprehending that for which he was apprehended – he speaks as of what he was striving after with all his might: “If by any means I may attain to the resurrection of the dead;” “I press on to the goal, unto the prize.”  It is of all this he says: “Not that I am already made perfect.  Let as many as are perfect be thus minded.”  Paul had known Christ for many years, but he knew there were in Him riches and treasures greater than he had known yet, and nothing could satisfy him but the full and final and eternal possession of what the resurrection would bring him.  For this he counted all things but loss; for this he forgot the things that were behind; for this he pressed on to the goal, unto the prize.  He teaches us the spirit of true perfection.  A man who knows he is perfect with God; a man who knows he must yet be perfected; a man who knows that he has counted all things loss to attain this final perfection; such is the perfect man.  – Andrew Murray