Gregory of Nyssa – Quote on Running The Race

“For in the same way that the start of death is the end of life, so too ceasing from the contest of virtue marks the start of the course of wickedness.”

– Gregory of Nyssa [A.D. 335-395]


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…

Philippians 3:13 (NKJV)


“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


Artificial Light

The Devil mocked and subverted God’s divine order in man by bringing us the dim light of self reason.

God desired for us to walk in the all-pervasive sunlight of His revelation; of which the mind and heart cannot conceive.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
John 1:9 (ESV)

He came not to give the light of knowledge, but the “Light of Life.”

True knowledge is given to those who have God’s Life. Without God’s abiding Life, all knowledge is death.

The spirit of this age is currently leading the masses back to the most potent and undilluted form of the Serpent’s first temptation, and at breathtaking speed. Prometheus is rising.

Not all “light” is of God. Nor is the Devil His equal. The Father of Jesus Christ is the God of Abraham, whose true offspring are those of the faith of Jesus.

This should all be obvious.

Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
1 John 2:22-23 (ESV)

Do not stand idly by and allow others to preach otherwise, simply because they seem the closest ally. They are sent by another spirit: antichrist.

There are two lights rising in this dark; and they could not be more opposed to one another. If you do not see this already, you are in great peril.

On Truth & Sin – Douglas Wilson

“To deny (the reality of) sin is to deny Christ… and sin lies hidden whenever Christ is veiled.”
– Douglas Wilson


If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:8

On Tolerance – G.K. Chesterton

“Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions.”
– G.K. Chesterton

Resurrection Life

And Enoch walketh habitually with God, and he is not, for God hath taken him.
Genesis 5:24 (YLT)

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
Hebrews 11:5


§IALL THINGS NEW


Although the death of the body is no longer to be feared by those in Christ, nevertheless, we ought not so quickly respect or contentedly resign to its unnatural sleep, but rather always gladly strive to ascend in the new life which Christ Jesus has purchased for us; even to the full redemption of our bodies.

“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.”
Luke 24:5-6

O, that the power of the curse were not so highly esteemed by those on whose behalf it has been lifted, and in whom it can be undone!

The things of the Spirit of God seem far off and ethereal to the carnally minded, who deem embodiment itself a curse. But to be with the Lord is to still be embodied: it is not be disembodied, but rather to be transfigured in body. “For there is a spiritual body.”

At this very moment, Jesus is sitting on the throne of majesty in a literal human body, even the same body which a young Hebrew servant-girl bore in her womb. But that same body, which was just as able to die as our own bodies, was also made incorrubtible by the power of God’s Spirit, of whom it had been conceived.

If therefore we ourselves have been born of the Spirit of God in His regeneration, then we too have become a generation conceived of the Holy Spirit until Christ is fully formed in us, so that even our body is able to become blameless – just as the body which Christ walked in and died in – and ought to be honored to such an end. Yes, these bodies are able to be walked in even as He walked, and to do, as He said, “greater works than these,” by the Law of the Spirit of Life in Him. And although they might still be able to be made subject to death, they are now by His quickening Spirit even more able to be made subject to a completed resurrection, even as death could not hold Him. For it may be that we are the generation timely-born, of which I believe Paul glimpsed, but could not declare much regarding.

If then our old man is put fully to death, how can our new man not be raised fully to life, even the body, which also belongs to the New Man, which is Christ’s own body? And this can indeed be, since the bodies of the redeemed are already able to be made subject to His life even now – He who was able to be transfigured even before His death, yet still submitted to it on our behalf, that He might taste death for us all, and we could obtain His resurrection life.


§II THE QUICKENING SPIRIT


And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Romans 8:10-11

Here there are two Persons of the Godhead expected to be dwelling in us. The first is Christ, with whom our body still remains “dead because of sin.” And this is where men tend to stop, which is the miserable life of Romans 7. But the second Person here is the Spirit, by whose power God “quickens our mortal bodies.” Therefore, it is unlawful for us to comfortably accept the death at work in our members when the gift of the Holy Spirit to us is the same power which raised up Christ from the dead!

So then, by the rebirth of that Spirit we are no longer of the seed of the first Adam, but rather of the Last, who in us becomes a life-giving Spirit. And if this be so, then that same Spirit who raised Christ Jesus from out of the dead is able also to do such a work in us, if in Him we likewise die. For if we in the new birth have already become like Him, whose body was able to die, yet now lives; how much closer are we (than we had thought) to His full resurrection life, even the redemption of our very bodies in transfiguration! For by Him we are unashamed to look upon He whose Word is near, “even in your mouth and in your heart.”

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV)

Now, might we still die an earthly death, just as generations of generations have done before us? It may well be. We are not greater than they who gave life and limb for the gospel to reach our own ears, nor than most of those whose bodies expired, as all things have been cursed to do. But that is not necessarily our only gift, if we should lay hold of the resurrection life of Christ Jesus. Why then should this glorious truth not be preached to those whose manifestation as sons of God has been groaned for by the whole of creation in every age since death entered in, and still groans to this day? Will not the God who answered the prophets of old by fire much more answer the righteous in things that pertain to better promises?

For the creation was not subjected to futility without hope; and that Hope has now come, and dwells even now in the redeemed, and even now graces many a life – and yet, do we still wallow in that which He has done away with? When will we ourselves be done with it?

Again,

“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.”
Luke 24:5-6


§III LIFE THROUGH DEATH


Or is it all in vain that the Spirit within us is provoked to righteous jealousy? No! Salvation is nearer than when we first believed; but who will labor for its fruit today, rather than waiting upon the death of the curse to do its work on their behalf? What many glories shall be missed by those who invested little in the work of the Master!

Why should we wait upon death to be our first and only enemy truly conquered, when Christ charged forth through all enemies in life, and conquered death as His last? Let us rather, as He did, conquer all other things at the present time, that we may also conquer death at its appearing, even as He did. Let rather He who began the good work in us be allowed to bring it to completion, even unto the Day of Christ; whose Day’s appearing does not end in the secret confines of the heart, but only begins; and whose Spirit groans for His very likeness become manifest even in our bodies! And His likeness is that of a man from whom the world stands aghast in rejection, and that of one who has been smitten by God and afflicted.

…His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and His form beyond that of the children of mankind…
Isaiah 52:14 (ESV)

If the image of God is to be seen in us, then it is an image to be painted with blood – both His and ours. Sanctification is costly, to the degree that one values the vanity of self.

For if those whom He justifies He also glorifies, then He does so by an ongoing resurrection through death in those who go about bearing the dying of Christ’s body in their own, filling up what sufferings are yet lacking in it. For even if we were to walk with God as Enoch or Elijah did, it is not therefore our assured right to be translated without suffering finally at the hands of evil men, but only a possible privilege.

There is no part of Christ’s body of flesh that was not subjected to scourging and death. Likewise, there can be no true part of Christ’s mystical body (the church) that does not partake in at least a similitude of the same suffering. Therefore, any member of this body that has not so humbled themselves remains a shame unto it, and remains unworthy to partake in His resurrection life.

And if one now says, “Ah, yet by the living sacrifice of His body and blood, He has made me worthy;” then let that one know, that such a powerful grace should be becoming manifest in a living sacrifice of themselves unto His workmanship.

There is a day appointed in which the God of peace will perfom a quick work, to sanctify us not in part but in whole, and to keep us blamless in spirit, in soul, and in body unto His Day: and His Day has begun to dawn already.

O, that our mortal flesh would see His appearing in immortality!
O, for the creature’s newness of life to be manifest as the noonday!
O, to lay hold of this gift, and the lowliness of spirit that is its price!

The Spirit Of Mockery

Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking.
Genesis 21:9

A most notable characteristic that distinguishes the children of the flesh from those of God’s Spirit is the mocking spirit by which they operate.

These children after the flesh, whose eyes are full of scorn, walk about freely in the household of faith quite unnoticed. They are given to much commentary concerning the things which they see, hear, and think; at best feigning humility, hungry for argument; hearing many things and being understanding in few; hating reproach, scoffing without reason at those who have wise counsel; witnessing to the words of others falsely, so that they may steer men into the same bitterness by which they themselves walk.

But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.
Jude 1:18-19

For as it was with Isaac and the son of the slave woman, so it is today.

But those who, like Sarah, have been blessed to carry the Son of Promise, and bear out His fruit of their womb, are able to discern the subtlety of that scorning which is seen in the posture of the fleshly children; and are sorely grieved by their presence, and become filled with a righteous anger that such are able to continue in their mocking ways among God’s flock.

I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers, nor did I exult. Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone, for You filled me with indignation.
Jeremiah 15:17

These walking mockeries of God’s children make sport of the righteous in their conversation, not fearing the Lord in their houses; and they make much outward fellowship among God’s people with the laughter of self-assurance, seeking always to be at ease in Zion. Alas for their souls! Unless they are struck with the true fear of the glorious God before the end, how great will be their final fall! For it is better to dwell more often in the house of mourning, and to quiet one’s soul before He who searches it, than to always break bread presumtuously, chattering on in the house of gladness, giving no thought to the day of judgement.

“These are ones who cause divisions,” the apostle says. For even if they are outwardly guilty of only a little of this mockery of the way of God’s Spirit, and even if they are not set above many brethren, nor so grieviously ravage the church as those described in Jude’s letter; it is still the same spirit (or spiritual posture) of mocking by which they walk. Even if they are not purposefully and conciously undermining the harmony of the body of Christ; these still are a blemish at its love feasts, waterless clouds, and raging waves of the sea, driven about by fierce winds.

For they love what benefits of the Lord’s table might numb their soul to His Spirit’s conviction of their depraved nature, and also what comradery of the brethren might justify them in the sight of certain men whom they percieve to be leaders. But because it is all a self-deception and a ruse, they indeed cause divisions by the very nature of their presence; since, being devoid of the Spirit, they cannot harmonize with those whose walk with Christ happens to challenge them, and so the flow of the Spirit is impeded by this dead wood that has fallen into the river.

Hence, brothers become divided over them unknowingly, and cease to work together in what the Lord is truly concerned with. Time is thrown into the void, and many a spiritual life is exasperated by the casting of pearls before the swine. Ever do they learn in order to keep up in the natural eyes of men, yet never do they come to a true knowledge of the truth. Ever do they hurl foolish and unlearned questions at those in God’s house whom they secretly despise, and ever is the proverb fulfilled in them, “A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain.” (Prov.14:6) For their wells are broken, and their soil salted.

In short, these sons of the slave woman are a mockery of the sons of the free simply by what they are.

Therefore, let the members of Christ see it fit to cease their worldly entreatment of the carnal; for such entreatment will not win such men over to Christ Himself. But the turning of them over to the world which they still love, which world is the mirror of all hypocrites, might bring even some of these to repentance.

The accomodating of Ishmael is not the mission of the church. He is rather to be repented of; so that perhaps God may later work salvation for him, and the church will also be blessed, and freed of his leaven. May we come to discernment! Without discernment there is no dividing between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit; and if division is not made between the workers of both, it will drive a wedge between the brothers of the latter. Because of this, even many a true son after the Promise is caught in the ways of the spirit of mockery, and are thereby driven to many unnecessary divisions.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
Psalm 1:1