No Mountain Too High
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 4 January 2003
A couple of weeks ago I was meditating about a very dear friend who has been through a traumatic life when Yahweh showed me a vision of a beautiful snow-capped mountain. This woman, after four decades of physical and spiritual hell, is currently being challenged to complete the last stage of a long and painful spiritual journey which is proving to be very demanding indeed. She has wanted to give up many times. In that particular feeling I know she is not alone. Every single one of us faces mountains that seem too daunting to climb. We often conclude that we simply don't have the energy to complete the journey and our greatest desire is simply to stop in our tracks and lie down for good.
I begin today with the true story - which I recently read - of a little 7 year old girl and her father who joined a party that attempted to climb a very high mountain. From their camp it was nearly five miles to reach the south base of the mountain. From there was a short but challenging climb to get to the lower end of the ascent that led to the peak, and after that a one mile ascent up a fairly even, but nevertheless exhausting, slope.
After the first few miles, the smallest legs of the party began to tire and the aspiration that was there at first began to fade. That was when the most interesting example of love and determination from her father really began. Their pace slowed and there were pauses to rest. For a little while everyone wondered if they could manage the climb before it became too dark. The father encouraged the little girl, rested with her, challenged her, 'bribed' her and often would bend down and 'piggyback' his daughter for a while when she could or would go no further.
It took almost four hours to cover the first stage. By about 2.30 pm they finally arrived above the challenging part onto the lower slope of the mountain. The grandfather, who was also in the team, was often close and heard the exchanges. She did not want to go any further. She did not want to climb the mountain - and always the steady and patient voice of her father encouraged her. He didn't seem to get tired or discouraged throughout the whole experience. He seemed to sense that that it had become very important that she complete the climb. This was no longer just a mountain they were climbing: it was an event in her life that would have a great impact.
Although progress seemed slow, the top of the mountain finally got closer. Soon three older children who were with the group reached the top and called down that they had arrived. It was about 5 pm. The seven-year-old ran the last 200 feet up the mountain. She had made it!
To her grandfather's amazement, on the descent his granddaughter walked all the way down the slope, clambered down the challenging portion and walked the remaining almost five miles back to the camp without once asking for a 'piggyback'. She had changed. All the efforts of her father had been rewarded.
It is written in the Scriptures:
"...you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt.5:48, NKJV).
Such a teaching rests uncomfortably with most people who would rather not be challenged to become something that requires effort or forces them to leave their comfort zones for a high mountain ascent. Yet the words cannot be denied - we are commanded to become like El Elyon, the Most High God, our Father in Heaven, Yahweh. We are told to become perfect - or a better word would be 'complete' - a complete human being.
Because this passage of scripture has been abused by some groups it is important to point out here that this scripture is not saying that we should be come God or divine. The Greek word teleios means to become perfect or complete in our labours, our thinking processes, growth, and in our moral character. The Hebrew word from which we obtain this Greek word literally means 'wholehearted' which conveys the sense of being 'complete' or 'whole'. In other words, we have been commanded to fulfil the measure of our creation - to be what Yahweh-Elohim made us to be.
It follows that if we are to be perfect, we must first desire it. I suspect most people do not want to be. They would rather remain in their rut and find an excuse for staying there. Yah'shua (Jesus) said to the young man who asked Him what he needed to do to qualify for the Kingdom of Heaven:
"If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" (Matt.19:21, NKJV).
Notice that Yah'shua (Jesus) did not criticise or demean the desire to want to be perfect or complete, for He knew that the price would be high. For the young man it meant letting go of his particular idolatrous attachment - his wealth. For the next man or woman, it might be something else. No matter what the idol, it has to go. Yah'shua (Jesus) also gives us an incentive to want to let go - He says that if you don't, you won't have any kind of inheritance in the next life. Do you want to enter heaven empty-handed?
To be perfect means to follow Yah'shua (Jesus) in a life of moral imitation and practical obedience. He says so Himself, many times. Moreover, He says it is not as difficult as it might at first appear to be. To accomplish this mission in our own strength is, to say the least, impossible, and only a person possessed of of a reckless mind and heart would attempt it. He will, in any case, fail, as many have who have tried to attain perfection without Christ, or with a false christ who lacks the power to accomplish the task set by the true One. Discerning between the true Yah'shua (Jesus) of the Bible and the demonic counterfeits is therefore absolutely essential. In those cults who teach and follow a false Christ, who makes the same demands for perfection, a high incidence of suicide is not uncommon. Linking oneself to the true Redeemer is therefore of the utmost importance.
The path to perfection, Scripture makes clear, is not accomplished by a one-to-one relationship between believer and his Saviour, but is a many-to-one relationship of many believers linked together in common cause and fellowship and their Saviour. This principle we call the echad doctrine or oneness principle. One of the Saviour's last pleas before He was arrested and crucified was made in one of the most eloquent and profound prayers ever recorded in which He pours out His soul to Yahweh, His Heavenly Father:
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one [echad], as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one [echad] 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 [echad] just as We are one [echad]: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one [echad], and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me" (John 17:20-24, NKJV).
I want you to notice that He says of the disciples "that they may be made perfect in echad". Our call to perfection comes through an echad relationship with the Father, the Son and the Redeemed. It is indeed the duty of the Apostles, Pastors and other Elders in the Assembly or Church to teach, encourage, and set such an example or righteous living that they "may present every man perfect in Messiah Yah'shua (Christ Jesus)" (Col.1:28). We are admonished, are we not, to perfect what is lacking in our faith (1 Thes.3:10)? How, then, is our faith to be made perfect? The apostle James tells us:
"Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?" (James 2:21-22, NKJV).
Abraham was made perfect by releasing into the hands of Yahweh that which was most precious to him - his son Isaac. That is what made him righteous, not just passively believing, for James continues:
"And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God (Eloah), and it was accounted to him for righteousness."" (James 2:23, NKJV).
"It was accounted to him", meaning it was credited to him as treasure stored in heaven waiting for him to be collected when he passed out of mortality, though I am sure there we blessings which he reaped there and then too.
A wise man makes preparations for the future. That is the meaning of the Parable of the Ten Virgins as also the Parable of the Talents. A wise man prepares for eternity and resists the temptation to squander away his time, energy and resources on trivial and meaningless pursuits.
Yahweh through Yah'shua (Jesus) is the perfecting agent of our lives, and the means of that perfection is love. It is written:
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love" (1 John 4:18, NKJV).
Not any old love, but perfect love. Implicit in the commandment to love Yahweh with all our soul, and to love our neighbour as ourself, is to love them perfectly, for anything that falls short of that perfect love will not only make for an imperfect relationship but ultimately a damaging one also. To love means to love as Yah'shua (Jesus) loved, a love undergirded by obedience to Torah:
"For this is the love of God (Eloah), that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God (Eloah) overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus (Yah'shua) is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:2-5, NKJV).
We have come full circle, as we always do, to the inseparableness of faith and obedience. These are the ingredients of the perfecting life. Solomon realised it, the apostles knew it, and the prophets taught it. Yah'shua (Jesus) underlined it again and again. Yet how few believers acknowledge it because they do not want to know it! They would rather not climb that mountain. Indeed, they would rather not climb any mountain but choose the valley of indifference and laziness as Lot did, and pay the hefty price thereof.
All of us - you, me, and our friends, family, and neighbours - have been created to become like the Elohim (God). Yah'shua (Jesus) says to. The apostles say so. Do you believe them? The mountain is, I admit, a high one, and we most certainly are not able to climb it alone. Yahweh knows the way. He knows the sufferings and the effort that is needed. He is a loving Father who is determined that His children will reach the top. He too has carried his children 'piggyback' when they could go no further - when the two sets of tracks in the sand suddenly became one and we wrongly concluded that He had abandoned us. He too exhibits endless patience and love. Will you do the same for others like you on the same journey? If we will do this for one another, we will discover and enter the mystery of oneness or echad through which this commanded and promised perfection or completeness comes.
There is only one way to climb a mountain. You start at the bottom and slowly, sometimes painfully, work toward reaching the top. Anyone who believes in a gospel that teaches you that you are instantly put on top of the mountain by passive faith in Christ is teaching you a doctrine of demons designed to cheat and rob you of your victory and lull you into a false sense of security. It's a long and arduous walk, but it is worth it! Sometimes steps have to be retraced; rests will need to be taken. Refreshment is needed. Encouragement and support are absolutely requirements for the journey because we can't do it alone. That's why the first Christians met together every day to support one another - every day! (Heb.3:13) The Bible says that even Yah'shua (Jesus) was "made perfect" in His humanity by what He suffered (Heb.2:10). And who are we commanded to imitate? (1 Cor.11:1)
When we face difficulties in our lives they may either be because we have rebelled against the commandments and sought an imperfect love, or because it was Yahweh's loving and corrective way of making sure we don't abandon the mountain climb and slip into the captivity of Satan. Yahweh knows that the benefits of reaching the top of the mountain are worth every bit of suffering along the way, even suffering that at first seems meaningless or which momentarily (in the eternal perspective) may even outrage our moral senses. Abraham was probably outraged by the incomprehensible commandment to kill his son, the purpose of which was to stretch his heart out to its fullest extent so that it would be big enough to contain the endless ocean of love that is Yahweh. The apostle Paul stated that he counted nothing he had lost to be as important as attaining the goal which is perfection in Yah'shua (Jesus) (Phil.3:8-11) and shows that Yahweh helps the weak (Rom.14:4).
To accomplish this mountain-climb requires that we, first, have entered into a personal, saving relationship with Yahweh through His Son Yah'shua (Jesus); Second, that we join in with others of the Redeemed so that we may be of mutual support to one another in good times as well as in bad; and Thirdly, that we set our will, fighting both fatigue and the urge to quit, not always taking the easy road. For all of these - and more - are the steps we must take along the way in order to reach the top of any mountain. One day we will stand on the peak of that spiritual mountain and we will know it was worth the climb.
May Yahweh bless you and keep you upon that Path. If you have not found it - no matter how old or young you may be, for it is never too late - and would like to know more about it and how to get on it, speak with one of our ministers and he will be only to glad to guide you. And may your blessings not be a few. Amen.
Robert Berendt, Piggyback ('The Good News', Nov-Dec 2002, p.7, European Supplement)
This page was created on 3 January 2003
Last updated on 3 January 2003
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