True Religion

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
James 1:26-27

The religion toward which every man’s heart is prone is characterized by a boasting in his own spirituality through the outward show of lofty words, and even lovely deeds, while inwardly there dwells secret depravity unchecked. But true religion in the sight of God is characterized by the golden harmony of authentic selflessness and personal holiness.

There is a sureity of tongue which is not born of holy confidence, but of arrogance; and yet there is also a self-deprication that is not born of humility, but of pride.
The spiritual worship that is to be the very walk of every child of God is a daily offering of life to receive Life; it is the fragrance of holy conduct born of the fear of the Lord’s mercy. For he in whom the demerrited mercy of God does not invoke a reverence unto obedience has not known God.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1

To “worship in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:24) is directly equivocal to living a selfless and holy life. For to be authentically selfless only flows from the shattering recognition of the mercy of God; and to be truly holy is to be true – which is to be without mixture in one’s dealings with He who is all-knowing.

How, therefore, does the selfish man walk humbly, and the sinner live holy? By the application of the cross to every facet of his life and being, spirit soul and body. For he to whom the cross of Christ truly applies shall bear his own cross also. And it is this bearing of the cross which promises the abundant entrance into the heavenly kingdom. In the urgency of such a life in God, there is found the foretaste of eternal rest; and in the overcoming obedience of such a faith, there runs a trust which takes hold of a purely God-ward contentment.

“The truly religious man does everything as if everything depends on himself, and then leaves everything as if everything depended on God.”
– Joseph Parker

The Lord Is A Man Of War

The Lord is a man of war: The Lord is His name.
Exodus 15:3

Throughout the earthly life of our Lord was manifested this very truth in all that He did and said. Never was the warfare a distant or partial truth to the Son of God – it always was the present reality within which His deeds were done, and His words spoken…

…For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
1 John 3:8

Whether in preaching the good news, in healing the sick, or in casting out demons, His eyes were alight with the vision of the battle before Him. His passion, His compassion, and His righteous anger all symphonized into the heavenly music of His ministration: vigorous, gentle, and awesome.

In the synagogue He healed the man with the withered hand; and in so doing condemned those who with vehement disapproval looked on. In this He warred against and exposed the false spirit of the pharisees’ religiosity. In large crowds He walked about, teaching men the way of Life; thereby releasing them from the bondage of contrived burdens unto the freedom of His Lordship. In this He warred against and exposed the captivity of the adversary. With great frequency He also cast out demons; directly throwing off the power of the wicked one from those who drew near to His holy light. In this He warred against and exposed the secret devices of the enemy. And in all these things, our Lord was ever in prayer, communing with the Father; and gained final victory over the corruption that is in the flesh by His perfect intercession.

What then of ourselves? Are we men of war after His likeness? For such will be those who are indeed His workmanship!

“…The Lord is a man of war: The Lord is His name…”

Is the Spirit of The Lord upon you? Should you not then be a man of war after His likeness? One will say, “Ah, but the scriptures say, “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace” (Ex 14:14), and, “The battle belongs to the Lord.” – And truly indeed does the battle belong to Him, truly indeed is it His own to glory in. Yet it is on the children’s behalf that He fights while they hold their peace, since war is not the province of children. But He is a man of war: for war is the province of men, not of children; and He would not have us always remain helpless children (Eph 4:13-14). For through men of war, God glories all the more in battle, since then He displays two victories: the one over us, and then the one through us. Under Joshua, the men who warred for the advance of Israel were at times called “mighty men of valour” – and would that we could also be so named!

But carnal men love the convenience of slavery to Pharaoh; and after a time, slaves grow to love the providence of their worldly captors over the deliverance of God. How many a warring man of God is met even by brethren with the accusation, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” (Ex 2:14) Cowards fear deliverance, and spit upon its purveyors.

How easily does the slumbering soul dismiss the Lord’s zeal for His house as undue severity! And how quick also is the conceited mind to mistake the Lord’s dispassion in battle as a lack of heart. For if many of us today had witnessed Jesus drive the moneychangers out of the temple, we might have thought to take Him aside and suggest that He utilize a more “civil” or “toned down” measure against their grievous evil. And if we had observed Him seated outside the temple beforehand, weaving the whip in silence, we might have gasped in self-righteous shock, hand-over-heart at this “uncaring” and “ruthless” display of quiet premeditation.

O, how we trust the unreliable fire of human offense, and disdain the white-hot furnace of Godly passion! O, how we embrace the nihilism and empty hatred of human apathy, and recoil at the unearthly calm of Godly dispassion! This is because we do not know God, and in particular because we have not spent a day on the battlefield – except either in captivity of the enemy, or in cowering behind the Lord, who is trying to teach our hands to war and our fingers to fight.

But the warring character of Christ – with both holy zeal and divine peace – shone forth brightly in Peter when he confronted Ananias and Saphira in their lie…

And Peter answered unto her, “Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much?” And she said, “Yea, for so much.” Then Peter said unto her, “How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.” Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
Acts 5:8-11

Peter derived no earthly pleasure in the demise of these two; yet he also did not shrink from his duty in keeping the house of God clean from the blemish of deceitful scheming. When the Spirit of the Lord is upon a man to do battle against the devil’s handiwork, the man is on fire; and as he fights, he finds peace in the Lord while doing the Lord’s will – though in his wake other men lie possibly condemned, and all around him the demons are stirred up.

“In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and His children shall have a place of refuge.”
Proverbs 14:26

But to fear man is to not fear the Lord; and Egypt is always more than happy to take back its slaves.

Let not the house of God remain such a den of theives: trading the souls of its men for mammon, and their divinely-given birthright for a single meal.

Men of war kneel only for their King.

On Being Lukewarm

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;” and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Revelation 3:15-18

To be spiritually lukewarm is not merely to be partially safe and partially in danger; it is rather to be in imminent danger and think ourselves safe.

It is not to be partially on fire for God and partially cold toward Him, it is rather to be unconcerned with our temperature altogether.

It is not to be partially in light and partially in darkness; it is rather to be blissfully ignorant of how deep we may truly be in darkness, and unenlightened of the Light which calls us out.

It is not merely to be half asleep and half awake; it is rather to be deep in slumber as we dream of the day in self-deception.

God would rather us know our evil and love it than feign loyalty to Him as proudly ignorant traitors.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Revelation 3:20-22

Thought – “God Gave Them Up”

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness… …For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections…
Romans 1:24-6

When God is stretching out His hand to save, those most in line with His will are reflective vessels of His action. But likewise, when God is giving over a people to their own devices, those who are most in line with His will are reflective vessels of the same. The functioning members of Christ do not contradict Him; and that which does is by definition the spirit of antichrist which is the spirit of the age. And the perpetuation of that world system is self-destructive, for so is the inevitable way of the world. To get caught up even into its trappings flatly contradicts the call of God’s own. There is no higher purpose than that which is found in the counsel of God’s inner sanctum; where not a vestige of the vanity around us has any place.

Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord : They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.
Proverbs1:24-33

The End From The Beginning

God does not merely see the end from the beginning, He declares it; and it is our perogative to see it as He has declared.

Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith, prove yourselves. Or do you not yourselves perceive that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are reprobates?
2 Corinthians 13:5 (LITV)

Therefore, regarding the prize with verity, run the race with vigilance.

For the man with heavenly vision is neither near-sighted nor far-sighted: he is clear-sighted. He does not neglect walking the path for understanding prize, yet neither does he neglect the assurance of the prize for walking the path; and he is inevitably ridiculed by those who err in both ways toward the sides of the pit. For both are the darkened vision of the flesh, by which men are led astray. It is just as evil to miss the forest for the trees as to miss the trees for the forest. It is just as evil to miss the means for the end as it is to miss the end for the means.

The salvation which belongs to the Lord was, is, and will be. If that does not describe your salvation, then is your salvation really that which belongs to the Lord? Do not neglect the “is” of salvation for the “will be” of salvation; yet also do not neglect the “will be” for the “is”. Both are the trap of the evil one, and neither errors are of the Lord’s salvation. There can be no compromise in this.

Those who see a contradiction here rather than harmony are still blinded by the Devil.

Faith becomes sight for blind men.

Open the eyes of Your people, O God!

In This World You Will Have Trouble

…the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.
Mt 8:20, Lk 9:58

The Lord is our only stay. We have this fantastical image in our minds of Daniel in the lion’s den: where the lions all have smiles on their faces and Daniel is petting their manes. But the man beloved of God whom the Lord ordains to be thrown in with the lions will shortly find that their den is no such place. The lions may well be subdued and have their mouths held shut from truly harming him; but they nonetheless have every intention of ripping at and tearing apart the man of God, and will mercilessly intimidate him day and night. Even in the envelopment of our Lord’s protection, there is every earthly reason to abandon faith and be devoured.

When the Lord our Shepherd prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies, we are no less in their presence. We may eat and rejoice at the bounty of the Lord, yet the ravenous wolves stand across from us, at every moment spitting and shouting curses upon the Food and Drink of which we partake, seeking to shame us from partaking in the table of His sufferings. But the one whom the Lord upholds will not give in to fear.

We shall find no rest in this world of rebellion. We will be afflicted on all sides. Our blessed hope is a heavenly one, and it is one which we yet await. Let our running therefore not be stumbled by vexation with trials, as if a temporary world of tribulation is not worthy to be suffered for His eternity victory.

Rejoice in affliction!

A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He
Lord Sabaoth, His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That Word above all earthly pow’rs,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

– Martin Luther

For the Sake of the Elect

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
2 Timothy 2:10

This is the heart of our Apostle and High Priest. The longsuffering of our Lord with this fallen world is truly astounding, and ought to give us pause in our own haughtiness as we face the same world every day. We have not suffered as He, nor shall we ever suffer in the same manner. And though the glories be few and far between, let the well of His Life water our souls in this desert, sending rivers out from us toward any who would come and drink of His fountain. For we are called as abassadors of He who endured all things for the sake of His elect. As for His flock which are driven to and fro in this hour, He has purposed for none of His true sheep to perish, but that each of them should reach repentance, that they may hasten the Day of the Lord. (2Pet 3:9-12).

And the words of His elect’s repentance are these: “I am the man that has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath. He has led me and caused me to walk in darkness, and not in light.” (Lam 3:1-2) For He makes darkness His slave, and the shadows He bends to His own will. In an hour of such thick darkness, there is yet a people that the Lord has determined to have for Himself, and He will have them even if He must drag them as it were through hell. But if this heart of Christ does not blossom and bear fruit within those who have knowledge in these things, how wretched shall they be to find that the labours of those with little understanding, yet great courage, showed forth the greater wisdom of God in the earth.

Or was it not also the will of the Lord to grant repentance to Ninevah for a time, so much so that He pursued a reluctant prophet, bringing glory to Himself by the mouth of the obstinate? The prophet of God was given no choice, and the soil of the heathen hearts was already tilled to recieve the seed of the Sower despite the imperfect method of its delivery. Shall any deny that this softness of Ninevah’s heart was the direct work of the very Spirit of the Lord; even as was the forcing of Jonah’s hand, who’s wavering heart God still knew to love righteousness? “So, then, it is not of the one willing, nor of the one running, but of the One showing mercy, of God.” (Rom 9:16) And knowing then that it is of mercy, let us by hope do better than Jonah, not grumbling in our witness; but let us rather stand firm upon the foundation of God which promises, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and also commands, “Let everyone naming the Name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

As Isaiah says regarding God’s electing grace,

I have been sought, not by those who asked. I have been found, not by those who sought Me. To a nation not calling on My name, I said, “Behold Me! Behold Me!”
Isaiah 65:1

For they will sing, “Worthy are You to receive the scroll, and to open its seals, because You were slain, and by Your blood purchased us to God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” (Rev 5:9) This scroll of which they speak is the Book of Life, in which the Father has already written the names of His own! Yet by what means has the Lord determined to unveil this marvel of redemption in the earth? By the foolishness of preaching! The time is at hand when the hidden men of God must arise from their dwellings and proclaim to those who have no choice the God who chooses men.

I have other sheep which are not of this fold. I must also lead those, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock, one Shepherd.
John 10:16

He came to gather the lost sheep of His own house, and He will not cease to intercede until each one of them is fully His; but to the rest He says, “You will not believe, because you are not of my sheep.” Yet who will bring His gospel to all their ears? Who will bear the burden of His call? Is not the Lamb worthy to receive the reward of His sufferings? And how little in comparison shall we ourselves suffer for the glory that is to be revealed in us!

What a sure hope there is for those whom He is drawing to Himself! Let this be an encouragement to all those whom He sends.

Love endures all things.