To Whom Salvation Belongs

And He said, “Because of this, I have told you that no one is able to come to Me except it is given to him from My Father.” From this time many of His disciples went away into the things behind, and no longer walked with Him.
John 6:65-66

Many will say “Amen” or at least silently tolerate you when you tell them that nature determines fruit. But as soon as you say that the will of God determines nature, most will at best leave you for the things that are behind, and perhaps even seek to destroy you. Carnal hearts defy the sole glorification of God alone in salvation.

Scripture & Thought – Obedience & The Self

There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to flesh, but according to Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and of death. For the law being powerless, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous demand of the law might be fulfilled in us, those not walking according to flesh, but according to Spirit.
Romans 8:1-4 (LITV)

A man cannot overemphasize his total inability to please God in and of himself; but there are those who struggle to obey God because they overshadow the cross of Christ with the ruinous heap of their recurring sins. This in itself is actually a fleshly self-centeredness, it is a faithless sin to be repented of in view of God’s mercy. For if one fears and delights in the Lord, including the sufficiency of His work and a trusting in His desire to continue it, then that same one delights in nothing less than the glory of God’s Name; and to obey the Lord then becomes a joy despite one’s existing shortcomings.

Only by this does one draw near to God in such a way that his personal faults and long-entrenched sins can be overcome in the Lord’s ever-nearer presence; for this honors the Holy Spirit and invites His power. But when our obedience is about ourselves, and not all about the Lord of Glory, then it is not true obedience anyways, and will ironically benefit us nothing. The Lord calls us not to the limit of our means, but far beyond, where we have no means but He Himself. The fruit of the Spirit is not invoked by the striving of the flesh.

For the ones that are according to flesh mind the things of the flesh. And the ones according to Spirit mind the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; because the mind of the flesh is enmity towards God; for it is not subject to the law of God, for neither can it be. And those being in the flesh are not able to please God. But you are not in flesh, but in Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, this one is not His.
Romans 8:5-9 (LITV)

True Value – Some Thoughts

It is quite grievous to me when some well-meaning person tries to propogate the myth of my intrinsic value before God.

I do not trust the soul which so unduly esteems any man, including myself. For that soul cannot be rightly esteeming Christ, in whom are hidden and revealed the unsearcheable riches of the glory of God. They know not what holy rage and jealousy they provoke in the One by Whom all things consist.

I have no intrinsic value, only Christ does; and that is why I cling to Him, and to no other. But when I did not cling to Him, how devoid was my soul of His eternal joy; and how sumptuously did the fool’s gold glimmer in the false light! Then He Himself lit my darkness when I had not asked, and the gold was all revealed to be dross, and my own life was revealed to be the death of me.

All that I possess of any value to Him is actually His, it never was mine. The only honor I can give to Him is the honor which He has graciously bestowed upon me; and this I shall do, also by His grace. For of myself, I am altogether worthless; and He alone is worthy of my utmost devotion – even were I yet a son of hell.

If we truly value Christ, we cannot but speak of Him if we are to speak of true value. If a thing is not in Him, it is fuel for the fire. Those who have His joy within them know this truth vividly. They find the present world to be a weary abode, a miserable labrynth of fickle trivialities; and they find themselves to be as strangers in it. For the same Priceless Treasure which bought them, although they were worthless, has Himself become their true abode.

Bearing the Cross – John Calvin

“No one will calmly and quietly submit to bear the cross except those who have learned to seek their happiness beyond this world.”
– John Calvin

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.

The Confession of Holy Men

The confession of holy men is this:

By the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
1 Corinthians 15:10

The grace of God is always without measure upon His own so that they might labour abundantly in that which pleases the Lord. There is no man truly knowing the grace of God who will not labour to some degree; and when he has laboured, he will ascribe the good only to the glory of the grace of his Maker. And the greater he labours by faith in what is hoped for, the more grace yet unseen he discovers; according to which grace he may continue proving by obedience what is the will of God, his sanctification.

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
Psalm 29:1-2