Bleed As Much As You Cry

We need men of compassion, not merely empathy.

Empathy is good to have, but it becomes a form of vanity when not fulfilled in the substantive work of compassion.

I may feel the weight of every trouble and pain in this world, and be awakened to the horror of sin and the state of God’s people, and presumptuously condemn my brother for seeming in my eyes to be insensitive to it; and if God is merciful, then perhaps that same brother will have compassion upon my wretched soul, and not utterly abandon me for my insufferable blindness, that perhaps I might see my own error. For in the feelings of empathy we may presume to have great discernment; but by the grounded hand of compassion this vanity is shattered, and true discernment is built through the sharpening of iron.

Longsuffering is the mystery of compassion. I may feel all the sorrow of righteous Job, and sense the injustice against me as Job did against the ill counsel of his friends; yet still, it is the compassion of the Almighty which comes to me and says, “Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou ME.” For although his friends condemned him unjustly, Job then reactively argued to justify himself. It was the Lord’s steep rebuke of this sinful attitude which restored Job to offer a sacrifice on behalf of his friends. Those who vindicate themselves cannot practice compassion.

For what good is it to experience the privilege of feeling the burdens of the Lord, only to cast them heavily upon another without pity? The Lord shares His burdens not for us to sanctimoniously pontificate about them that we may be noticed by heaven for our mere sensitivity in spiritual things, as if that itself were the pinnacle of consecration; but rather for us to soberly act upon it before the Lord, in the discretion of the true compassion of a grown man who seeks no recognition even from his brothers.

Anyone who takes this to be a diminishment of the weight and importance of feeling God’s sense of things, is simply immature in this regard. For this is not a diminishment of that vital intercessory role, but rather an exhortation to properly fulfill it. Neither is this a rail against the existence of spiritual empathy’s emotional expression within us, but rather an exhortation that we hold it in a sound presence of mind: acting upon that which is from God, and beating into submission that which arises from the lusts and pride of life.

Godly compassion is the tangible fulfillment of spiritual empathy through sober action on behalf of another’s wellbeing – especially spiritual wellbeing. Therefore it will give mercy where none would have expected, and exhort where few would have desired or thought necessary. It needs make little sense to anyone except those walking in its obedience. It may appear exeedingly soft to the hardhearted and overly stoic to the emotionally incontinent. Yet it is not simply a middle-ground, but is truly an altogether higher expression of God’s love in the willingly wounded hands of Jesus. The compassion of Christ is inextricably tied to His longsuffering with we who pierced Him.

“And Jesus, moved with compassion,
put forth His hand…”

Bleed as much as you cry, or stop crying.

Newness Of Life

The good news of God’s kingdom is that through Christ He is always doing a new work, and in Christ He is making all things new. For that which is old is passed away, and that which is passed away can sustain no man in the ongoing work of God. The Lord walks onward, calling men to “Follow Me,” and gives little time to the hesitant.

Only an abiding movement in He who abides forever, the Word of the Lord, even the Son of God, is able to keep us walking in His newness; “For behold,” He says: “I do a new thing… Behold: I make all things new.”

A race is not finished or won by simply acknowledging that the finish line is already behind us at the starting point, and so we need not run. He who does not run the race to cross the “it is finished” line for himself is disqualified. The Spirit will not empower the pilgrim who desires no progress. The doctrine of our faith reveals itself vain in a life which possesses not the faith itself to manifest the ready obedience of one who loves God and the brethren. Our participation in the Body and Blood of Christ is not merely passive but also active. The same Apostle Paul who used the illustration of a race is also he who wrote, “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth…” There is a Rest into which we fail to enter apart from striving to enter into it. There is a spiritual maturity, or even true Life itself, that may be left untouched for a lifetime by being content with what is behind. In Paul’s case, those things were mostly religious credentials, and what men tend to perceive as spiritual acumen worthy of praise. No doubt these also became even his accomplishments as an apostle of Christ.

The Greek word Paul uses for “forgetting” means…

Forgetting.

Things which are forgotten are things which have no bearing upon a man’s decisions going forward; and hold not even a peripheral sway over his lightest considerations. He who forgets is free of the things forgotten. He who cannot walk as though former things are forgotten has not fully dealt with the matters of his inner heart before the Lord. Whether they be matters of outright sin or matters of pride in a good spiritual estate; the Lord would have every man walk with humble simplicity in what is newly set before their feet by the light of the Spirit.

The man who continually deals with God in all his inner motives, thoughts, and intentions remains a free vessel, at liberty for honorable use in God’s house. The man who neglects the stewarding of his own heart becomes unable to contain the ever new wine of the vintage of Life, and fades into a life of paralysis and defeat.

The still and quiet whispers of the Spirit of Christ are the invitation into a broader walk in the true calling of each one. Let every heart hear and walk after He who calls them.

The Blood Of Reconciliation

When Christian relationships have as their basis any other expectation than the efficacy of the blood of Christ to reconcile us both to God and to one another, we will indeed be torn apart through vanity and evil suspicion.

An experienced one, supposing himself to be great in understanding, may begin to expect great spiritual understanding of another; and a less experienced one, thinking himself to be wise, may yet be quite carnal in some way, expecting his brethren to fawn at his every self-serving whim: and both will be gravely disappointed – the one forgetting that only according to Christ’s blood is he himself being made truly spiritual, and the other not yet seeing the true weight of his calling. Yet in the case of both, it is truly the same deficiency, and only a differing expression of the same carnality, which strays from the faith. In short, they have each neglected, for their own souls’ vain satisfaction, their ongoing participation in the blood of Christ, which alone leaves no man disappointed, and alone disarms the vanity of both, unto a true and grounded reconciliation.

If we are to ever truly help one another in our weaknesses, we might begin by acknowledging the weakness that we all share to some degree: which is a lack of faith in the imminent power of the blood of Christ to make straight our way unto His throne of grace. For of this, there cannot be too much; and by this repentance, much joy of His salvation can be restored in our midst.

Then we might perhaps begin the very first steps of walking as His Body, and eventually be worthy to speak of moving on to maturity.

It is to be hoped.

Choice & the Sanctifying of the Will

Free will is not merely the ability to choose between good and evil: for that is merely freedom of choice, which every man possesses. But the man whose will is truly free is able to choose between multiple goods, and also become learned in discerning the most virtuous.

For choice, being an external impersonal principle, has no personal moral quality; whereas the will which performs the choosing is indeed held accountable, as it is a faculty of persons. The heart of this matter lies in the allegiance of the will, not in whether or not men are freely allowed to choose – for indeed they all are. The will is swayed much by the desire of the soul; so that the more sanctified the soul, the less it considers evil to even be a viable option, and the more goods from the providential hand of God are then opened to its discretion.

Therefore, the most perfectly free will would be that which beholds both good and evil, but chooses that which is only good. Or, to cast this as the choice in the garden according to philosophical terms: the most perfectly free wil chooses the Tree of Life over the Tree of False Dialectics; the latter being “knowledge, falsely so-called”.

Men come to Christ on their part by choice; but they remain obedient in Him on their part by the freeing of the will from sinful desire, through the renewing of their mind according to His Word, which teaches them every good thing, communicating to them the very Life of God.

The Test of Solitude

He (Elijah) said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
… “Yet I (the Lord) will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
1 Kings 19:14, 18 (ESV)

There must come a time in every man’s life, if he would continue to walk in the approval of God, that he realizes himself not to be the primary target of the devil, nor the sole barometer of the spiritual progress of other men; and that he likely does not perceive the secret devices of God’s true workings in others. And by degrees he must conyinually be reminded of this again and again.

He must indeed learn to walk in solitude and in the rejection of others; but this is for him to learn the trusting of God above all – it is not for him to merely become full of mere evil suspicion against his brother.

The man who lives vicariously through God’s past humbling of him, and thereby does not continue to humble himself today, deludes himself; and may quickly become as much a well of poison as he is a spring of living water to others.

The one who has become puffed up in his spiritual solitude will often predict that others will soon begin to avoid him due to his piety, his spiritual knowledge, or his comparative closeness to God; failing to see that this prediction is often only fulfilled because neither the wise nor many of the simple will long endure such a monster of pride, nor waste any time in vainly reasoning with him about it.

He will begin to manufacture his own rejection: for it is at the cost of others rather than himself. He will begin to think of his life as being quite representative of the rejection of Jesus by His own disciples, without having ever yet loved his own friends as Christ did.

And as those who loved him drift away, he will continue to spin his web of self-delusion, feigning humility, taking the weak-minded and gullible along with him. Therefore he warns agains the wise who warn him, and flatters the fools who flatter him.

He will have a secret kingdom all to himself, in which he is secretly the king over his domain of influence. The most unpardonable sin in his eyes is for another to take him less seriously than he takes himself.

(If only we could all see just how spiritually awake and correct he is: then we would all truly understand…)

The only way that such a man may exit this cycle of self-deception is honesty without bounds, without excuses, without agendas, and most importantly, without any regard for the self-image that has been built upon the sands of his completely undeserved martyr complex.

The man who becomes proud rather than humble in the midst of spiritual solitude has wrongly looked not unto Christ, but rather unto others, whom he despises, in order to confirm his delusions of grandeur.

Love… does not take into account a wrong suffered,
1 Corinthians 13:5 (NASB)

At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!
2 Timothy 4:16 (ESV)

“A Body You Have Prepared For Me”

I have written before that the fulcrum point of the gospel of Christ is His cross; and this is true.

Yet it must also be said that the over-arching essence of the gospel is the resurrection power of the incarnate Word, whereby we are made partakers in the divine nature. For our hope is not only in the final atoning sacrifice for sins, but even now much more in the resurrection life of God in Christ, which overcomes the power of sin & death at work in us, for our conformity into His likeness.

For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, by much more, having been reconciled, we will be saved by His life.
Romans 5:10 (LEB)

For just as the Father has life in Himself, thus also He has granted to the Son to have life in Himself.
John 5:26 (LEB)

That Son of Man, hidden in ages past, through whom all things created have come into being; He is the true Tree of Life in the paradise of God. Of His branches are borne the leaves of the hidden manna and the fruit of God’s Life in every season. Of His mind is taught wisdom: the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of the Holy One. In His blood is written the testament of the better covenant; in His body is mediated the exchange of our death for His Life.

He made the One who did not know sin to be sin on our behalf, in order that we could become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (LEB)

Of all the Sons of God, only the uncreated Son of God’s very being is the divine person in whom the ministry of reconciliation must be mediated to the fallen sons of men.

Therefore the scriptures say,

No one has seen God at any time; the one and only, God, the One who is in the bosom of the Father – that One has made Him known.
John 1:18 (LEB)

And the apostle which wrote of the blood of that Christ as speaking “better things” than the blood of Abel, opens his entire treatise by writing not only of the blood of Christ speaking, but even the very person of Christ Himself:

In these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
Hebrews 1:2 (LEB)

And of what does Christ’s person (more than only His blood) speak? It speaks of being a son both of God and of man.

For the Son by whom the Godhead made the world was always to be the Light of Life unto all men. As He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, so was that last Adam indeed the first Son of Man. He was always to be the One by whom the man Adam and his wife Eve were to grow in the wisdom and knowledge of God, whose image they bore. He is the true Tree of Life from whose branch we became cut off by our lust for the fulfillment of self-ascension unto that which was not our place.

For no plan of God has changed; and by that Son of Man, with whom dwells all righteousness, He still has determined that the seed of men will yet overcome their estrangement from Eden; by taking upon Himself the likeness of sinful flesh, not only to atone for its sins as High Priest, but even to condemn sin in the flesh itself, “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8:4 ESV)

This is to say that, although the serpent in his rebellion promised man apotheosis – even man, whose portion in Christ was already allotted to be theosis unto the likeness of the image of the invisible God – the plan of God’s mystery has still not been diverted in the least; but in Christ it rather prevails unto all of creation, and particularly unto men, without dilution or delay. For He has taken His own place as the new Adam at the right hand of the Head of Days, in whom all that are grafted into His lineage by way of the Spirit’s generation may begin to partake in the divine nature.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 8:22-23 (ESV)

Having been awakened from seep, we now groan for that which is only natural in God’s order. For in God’s design there is no tension between the human and divine natures intermingled in one person – such was the intended design for man. It is only sin and death that brings tension between the two. But Christ, being both fully God, and also more human than any man (being without sin), has restored the way for the whole creation to be transformed and made fit for His dwelling there, beginning with man, as He commanded at first in the garden.

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Romans 8:24-25 (ESV)

In saying that we do not yet see it, the apostle Paul has the end result in mind. But our being saved through the hope of this end has begun already, and ought to be becoming manifest in each soul. There is no excuse for resignation to the seeming fatefullness of sin’s so easily continued presence. For then we render the sacrifice of Christ of no more use to us than the sacrifices of the old covenant – which were powerless to remove sins – of which one apostle said:

But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, He said,
“Sacrifices and offerings You have not desired, but a body have You prepared for Me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings You have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God, as it is written of Me in the scroll of the book.'”
Hebrews 10:3-7 (ESV)

So we see that the greatest power of the cross is found in the nature of He who was hanged upon it: since in this particular matter He says not, “a cross you have prepared;” but rather in this instance, “a body you have prepared.”

For the death that He would die was in order to put an end to all atoning sacrifice and offering, and “to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness…” (Dan 9)
But the body in which He would live, die, and be resurrected was prepared in order to be the means through which God’s very Life and nature might be recapitulated in us, whose newness of life is being made after the likeness of the divinely natured Man, Christ, who is the firstfruits of the incarnate resurrection.

For by His death He put away the old; but in His resurrection He began to make all things new. For as the life is in the blood, so is it manifest in the body. And as by the spilling of His blood are our souls purchased, much more by the resurrection of His body are we being transfigured by the resurrection Life of His flesh, in whom we live – if indeed we have died with Him.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Hebrews 10:19-22 (ESV)


“He who, by sheer inclination of His will, established the beginning of all creation, seen and unseen, before all the ages and before that beginning of created beings, had an ineffably good plan for those creatures.
The plan was for Him to mingle, without change on His part, with human nature by true hypostatic union, to unite human nature to Himself while remaining immutable, so that He might become a man, as He alone knew how, and so that He might deify humanity in union with Himself.
Also, according to this plan, it is clear that God wisely divided “the ages” between those intended for God to become human, and those intended for humanity to become divine.”

– Maximus the Confessor


Elect In His Calling

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
1 Peter 1:1-2 (ESV)

The election of the saints is according to something, in something, and for something; all of which things play out in this present time upon the earth.

These are not theoretical matters, but living and consequential matters: each one of the three proceeding from God Himself with the intent and power to find their fulfillment by the obedience of faith in the elect ones.


Elect “According To”


“…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…”

The first of these three is the only sure fountain of the other two. If we do not appreciate the humbling enormity of what this election, or this choosing, is “according to,” then we rob the subsequent matters of their true source of power.

For if God’s electing grace was according to our own choosing, then He should still be waiting for our dead souls to impossibly come alive and choose. But praise be to God! That while we were yet dead in our trespasses and sins, He made us alive: so that we might see, with eyes of a faith once unattainable, the grace of God bestowed upon us in a predestinating love that conforms us to the image of His Son!

That God foreknew is not a theological term for divine time travel. God did not peer helplessly along the parade of souls through time, hoping to see if there were many who decided to believe in Him. The prophets indeed tell us what God sees when He looks upon fallen man: “And there was no man to intercede.” Men have altogether failed to intercede, even on behalf of their own souls. And how could they? For they are not able to please Him, being without the gift of faith, the seed of His Life, in them.

That God forknew the elect means that He KNEW THEM before their time. It is a term of the longing and loving relationship of the Shepherd who seeks out the one lost sheep of the hundred, laying down His very Life for it. The Life-giving call goes out, and His lost sheep awaken to hear His voice, responding with cries for help.

Later on (v.3), Peter will say that according to this abundant mercy, we have been caused to be born again “to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” A living hope! A tangible hope! This means that the subsequent sanctification of the Spirit also comes from God, and not from ourselves. It is God’s power by which we are being gaurded through faith for the revealing of this ever-unfolding salvation until the Last Day (v.4-7).


Elect “In”


“…in the sanctification of the Spirit…”

The relational foreknowing of God, once having planted its seed, is meant to produce the fruit of the same Spirit by whose power we have been generated from above. It is at this point of contact with our lives that the electing and calling will of God tests the soil of the heart of a man. It is here that the seed will germinate and become fruitful, or wither.

It is here that the birds of the air will consume the seed if the soil of the heart is hard and unreceptive to its manner of dying. It is here that the heat will scorch it for lack of depth and root, though it spring up quickly at first. It is here that thorns and thistles will choke it out unless resilient growth displaces them.

And in that parable of the soils is also seen the progression of growth based upon how those three bad soils failed to receive the seed: hardness of heart in the first case, lack of depth in the second, and worldly cares in the third. Whereas, the pattern of growth is as follows: first, the heart softening to recieve the Seed which died and now lives, that it may spring up anew; second, the newly softened ground giving way to greater depth of root; and third, depth of root producing a resilient and fruitful planting – a tree which the birds of the air rest in the shade of, the sun cannot scorch, and the thorns and thistles have no effect upon.

Such is the work of the Spirit of God in a heart that keeps its First Love, surrendering to His mighty work. It is not for lack of His powerful working that we have no power; it is rather for our lack of abiding faith in He who continually works powerfully in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. The three bad soils are so easily emulated in us – and the elect saint must vigilantly fight these conditions of the heart if Christ is to be fully formed in it.

The saints (Gk. holy ones) are elect in the santification of the Spirit.

“In” – it is a matter of abiding. Holy ones are those who do not allow their garments to remain defiled if they become stained. Therefore, we are later exhorted by Peter to be found confirming our calling and election; because continual repentance keeps the elect in the sanctification of the Spirit, by which their true obedience is made possible.


Elect “For”


“…for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood…”

This third matter of the elect’s calling is inseperably twofold.

There can be no true obedience – the obedience undefiled by selfish motives – unless the heart from whence it proceeds is already being purified by a worthy sacrifice. If even the prescribed sacrifices of the old covenant were in themselves unable to perfect those drawing near to God, nor could they cleanse the conscience, nor actually take away sins; how much more inadequate then are the sacrifices of which our own vain minds conceive in our pitiful attempts to enter the holy court of God.

Therefore the writer to the Hebrews said,

For by one offering He has perfected the carrying through of the ones being sanctified.
Hebrews 10:14 (LITV)

Those who are being sanctified are being “carried through” into the holy of holies: not by God deceiving Himself and merely hiding our sins from before His face; but rather by we no longer deceiving ourselves, and He actually taking away our sins as we behold His face.

The matter therefore once again comes down to the substance of our faith: what our hands and feet proclaim to be our hope, and what our path testifies to be our vision. The blood of Jesus is that by which our faith is fully assured, and that which sprinkles our hearts from an evil conscience, and that which washes even our body as in pure water to walk in the obedience of a living faith.
To enter the holiest place is to enter as a living sacrifice upon an altar. To remain in the holiest place is to remain and increasingly embody an intercessory posture.

Earlier I noted how the unregenerate man has no intercessory ability (or desire, truly). But those who are elect by God’s will in the santification of the Spirit are brought into an obedience that is a life of intercession on behalf of the body of which they are now becoming an integral member. The obedience to Jesus and the sprinkling with His blood is what they are now purposed “for,” as priests in His living temple, ministering unto God.

As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:4-5 (ESV)


“So great is the office for which God hath appointed them, and which it is not lawful for them to decline.”
– Author Unknown, to “Diognetus”
[circa 130AD~200s AD]