Perfection – Captain’s Study

Captain’s Study

That chance meeting with the woman in Manila determined in me a task: study on Perfection. As I have come to trust my friend, this Word, I will read and study what is said about this: Did God ever say anyone is perfect? Did Jesus really mean, “Be perfect,” or was He speaking in an allegory or parable?

Do preachers really teach Perfection? I will learn this on my own. My last writing should read: It is true. I can be perfect here on earth.

Captain’s Log
The first week
I am sailing from Manila to Hawaii. It will take me four weeks. These are my private thoughts, things that I log for myself only. There are phenomena that I have searched out: the reefs off the Arabian Peninsula; the stars and constellations of the Northern Hemisphere; even the southern currents of the vast Pacific. These things I have studied for my own understanding, seeking knowledge. Now I am engaged in a deeper matter: those things pertaining to my life. I am settling a big question for myself.

Click to read the scripture

Captain’s Log
The first week
Since I left Panama in April, I have wrestled with what my lady friend told me: that we can be perfect. I have always been good. Faithful and honorable, to my wife and to my men. And most importantly to myself. But perfection, as that woman said in Manila, I question that. I have wrestled with my thoughts: my loss of “The Gull”, the desperation and aimlessness, the past. Now new things invade me, bigger things in some sense. They are in my mind because of the woman, “my lady friend” whom I have thought about more since leaving Manila. Her two statements have tacked themselves on to my memory, as if behind my eyes. I cannot shake them, though I wish I did not have them at all. She said, “I have an eternal destiny.” I quizzed her like a reporter (almost embarrassing myself): What’s eternity? Where is the proof? Where do you get the facts of life after death? Am I accountable for the death of my men? Why did I lose my wife and child? Her reply was very simple, “Seek the answers in this Book.”

I needed to know more, but I did not want to go to her church when she invited me. Then she ended on a different statement, “Without doing his perfect will, we shall not see God.” And the way she said it. This is what stays in me from the woman.

Her telling me this has haunted me. Questions. Two of the hardest statements I have ever faced, from anyone. I have lived this: To do good, to be faithful. The honor of being faithful is a man’s life: faithful in service, faithful to one’s wife, faithful in the time of trials. I loved my work and men. My wife was everything to me. And whenever I had to stand alone: I DID. This is my code.

But what of the Bible? I have read for hours. It makes sense to me. I am beginning to believe, because I am reading. There are important junctions of truth. Why couldn’t God make creation all at once? I would, if it meant enjoying it. It would be a good act. He is pure. It is all over the tabernacle in the wilderness: pure gold, a pure sacrifice, pure oil. Is he so pure that he cannot be touched? Are “holy” and “pure” his words?

Yes, as a boy, I went to church; but to be honest, the dark, early mornings in Ireland were damp and filled with statues that I had no inkling to like. They were dead people, some looking up and pious; others locked in a brutal torture of inner agony. And the priest on Sunday; I’d see him go out and drink at night. And sometimes he had too much. He sure wasn’t perfect.

And why was there so much fighting between my two neighbors? Mrs. Flanders on one side, spitting at Mr. O’Lind. That Mr. O’Lind, waking before dawn to go to work, and there was Mrs. Flanders – spitting. Two religions having a fight. Both claiming to serve Christianity. Well, if that’s Christianity, I decided then and there, that it is better to tend sheep. And in the town, when I would go with Mom, there they were – half the town – arguing.

I read novels, and works that made sense to me. Of course, Hemmingway’s Old Man and the Sea. All of Jack London along with Alexandre Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo one of the best); but I hold Cyrano D’Bergerac to be my favorite. Look at all that he did. The good. For Christian and Roxanne. Self-giving. Moby Dick? Melville was quite a writer, but his Ahab… just the opposite of me. College gave me some grounds for my own destiny: I knew I would captain ships, and honor the men under me.

I’m going to find out about this thing called perfection.

My Log
Second Week
I have begun to feel life again. I have found some understanding. Maybe a reference point. I have done a study on the two phrases: “Son of God” and “Son of Man.” I had been told that the Muslim clerics and scholars dispute that Jesus never made himself to be the Son of God. Well, somebody’s cooking in the wrong galley: “Son of God” is found in the Bible at least 47 times. Except for one mentioning in the
Book of Daniel, the rest of the time it is in the New Testament. I have read the references, but the most convincing ones are in the Gospel according to John.

Click to read the scripture

I need a way to love God. I am beginning to believe on his Son, Jesus Christ. It’s in Paul’s writings.

I am studying Perfection. I know that the word “perfect” is in the Bible many times. Noah was perfect. God told Abram to walk before him and be perfect. Does “perfect men” mean that he is a perfect God? What is a fault? What is sin?

The Book of Hebrews is the most puzzling so far. “Perfect” is there more than anywhere else in the Bible. Why? And who is Melchisedec? He is in Genesis. Now in Hebrews. What is a king and a priest? In Revelation, it talks of kings and priests.

In the Strong’s concordance that I purchased in Nassau, I was surprised to note that a form of the word perfect is used in the Bible 133 times. It appears in the Old Testament and the New Testament – 57 times in the New. There must be something to this if the Lord speaks about it so often. I wonder what the original Hebrew and Greek words were.

The references I have discovered include the words complete, completed, entire, without blemish, without spot, consecrated, finished, fulfilled, whole, sound, accomplished, undefiled, upright, ready, right, confirmed, faithful, fixed, ordained, prepared, set, stable, circumspectly, diligently, exactly, performed, full, sincerely, established, & restored. The original translations, carried on into the Authorized King James Bible, state these words as perfect or perfection.

From there, curious about current definitions of the words perfect and perfection, I went to the Webster’s Dictionary. The meanings I found there reflect the same understanding as the original Greek and Hebrew references.

My Log
Second Week

What does the Bible say about perfection?

The first mention of the word perfect is in Genesis and it goes on from there:

Genesis 6:9
These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. Was Noah perfect in his generation because he was just and walked with God? I suppose one could conclude that, but is there more to it?

Genesis 17:1
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. I wonder what Abram thought when God spoke that to him, “… be thou perfect.”

Deuteronomy 18:13
Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God. He told that to the Levites. There were very specific ways to dress and wash and kill the sacrifices. There were commandments on how to treat your fellow man. The books of Moses are very detailed and precise and the Levites were to follow those laws perfectly.

II Samuel 22:31-33
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him. For who is God, save the Lord? And who is a rock, save our God? God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.

I Kings 8:61
Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.

Proverbs 2:21
For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it.

What did Jesus say?

There are three references, and they make me shake.

Matthew 5:48
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
How could you be perfect like God himself?

Matthew 19:21
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. Why would he tell that rich young man that he could be perfect?

John 17:23
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Is this truly possible?

In Paul’s letters, he speaks of perfect and perfection many more times than in the four gospels.

I Corinthians 13:10
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. According to this, perfection is coming. Can I, or anyone, really achieve this?

Philippians 3:15
Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

I Corinthians 2:6
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: There must be some who are perfect.

Colossians 1:28
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

Colossians 4:12
Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

II Corinthians 13:11
Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Finally be perfect. Paul is saying this. The woman said, “Without doing his perfect will, we shall not see God.” This must be the way to see God. In the Book of Matthew it says, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

II Timothy 3:16-17
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 perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. There are too many scriptures that state it. I would be a fool to deny that men cannot be perfect… at least according to the Bible.

I am really taken by the book of Hebrews and how many times perfect and perfection are used there.
Is Hebrews the key to understanding perfection?

Click to read the scripture

Hebrews 7:11
If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? Jesus was a priest after the order of Melchisedec according to Psalms, and I know that he became the perfect sacrifice. Is he saying that perfection was not under the law? Why then did he tell Abram and the others to be perfect?

Hebrews 10:1
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. The law could never bring perfection through those sacrifices. Jesus, however, was the pure sacrifice without blemish and without sin.

Hebrews 7:19
For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. Our better hope is Christ. That is how we draw nigh to God and to perfection.

Hebrews 9:8-11
…the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; …But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Jesus is the way into the holiest place where God dwells.

Hebrews 11:39-40
And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. All those great men of faith cannot be perfect without us. So what is this “better thing” that God provided for us that they did not have? It has to be the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost could not come until Jesus laid down his life. That is what Jesus said.

Hebrews 13:20-21
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Here it is. This is what the woman said, “Without doing his perfect will, we shall not see God.”

Hebrews 6:1
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

The hours that I have spent studying this have left me with only one possible conclusion – according to the Bible, perfection is true.

My Log
Third Week
I have been reading about Jesus and perfection. One thing he did is he forgave – even when they crucified him. That’s perfection.

I don’t want to struggle with my conscience: I wish to forgive. It is in my power today. I love my men. I love my wife and son. I am sorry for my second wife, and forgive the other captain. I will see them if I ever get to Norway. Even… even the poor boy that took “The Gull” down. God, I forgive him. I forgive. This great man, Jesus, the Son of God and the son of Man (I am beginning to study on both): he forgave. On that terrible, bloody cross, he did this.

I forgive you, boy. I forgive you for starting the fire that took my men to their grave. I forgive.

My Log

The clouds are white and silver this morning. It’s a clear day. A giant sailfish glided by. What a creature. Two days ago, I spotted whales; they were breeching. As if they were laughing and playing. They went under “Reason” and back. It was the strangest formation and pod. Whales don’t do that.

As I have sailed, I have thought about perfection over and over again. I am getting some understanding on the Bible’s meaning. It is a manual for Perfection. The Bible is a way to become perfect. I am convinced of that. I’ve got to read Revelation. I remember the word “perfect” there.

Click to read the scripture

I have been told, and have believed, that only Jesus Christ was perfect: no one can be like him, perfect in all ways. After all, he was born the Son of God, perfect from the very beginning. Yet, what I am reading in the Bible refutes this. I have found nowhere that it says Jesus Christ was born perfect. In fact, I have found otherwise.

Hebrews 2:9
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. He became flesh and blood, the same as us.

Hebrews 2:14
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; Jesus destroyed the devil who had the power of death: he overcame the devil and sin.

Hebrews 2:17
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. He was made just like us in all things.

Hebrews 5:8
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; If he were born perfect, why would he have to learn obedience?

Hebrews 5:9
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Hebrews 2:10
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. He was made perfect, not born so. Are there others, if he is the captain? If anything, I can understand this. Yes, the ship he captains? Perfection. The Perfect Church. His Body.

I Peter 4:1
For as much then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

I Peter 2:21-23
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; When he suffered, he threatened not; Jesus is the example and we are to walk in his steps.

My Log
Fourth Week

The Final Convincing

I have sailed the world, have seen things most men only dream of, and have considered absurd the idea of a man being able to be perfect. However, the more I have examined it, I have found perfection woven from the beginning of the Bible to the ending, like the intertwined threads of canvas in a sail. As I put down my Bible and look out to sea, it appears a deeper blue than I ever remember it to be. Things are different.

I am now positive that God made man to overcome all flesh desires and the sinful nature he is born with, the Adam nature, just like Jesus had to do. If Jesus, who was born an imperfect flesh and blood being as we all are, and who was tempted in everything that all men are tempted in, learned obedience that he could walk in this Earth without sin – becoming perfect – I see no reason why we cannot do the same. To be perfect is to be without sin, to do whatsoever God commands, to be obedient in all things. I want to do this!

I am no longer the same man that started this journey – the man who knew nothing but the sea and his place in it. God, despite the shortcomings of my own wasted life, has had the grace to open my eyes to the truth. That he gave his own Son not just to take away sin, but also to prove by the life of Jesus Christ that it is possible to be perfect – without sin – and to live without seeing death in this present world. By the power of the Holy Ghost? Is this how it is done? I know. Then I read Revelations. I am convinced. Jesus speaks to the seven churches: BE PERFECT.

To be perfect even as my Father in heaven is perfect.

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Perfection – In The Bride’s Diary