Apostasy, Our High Priest, & Our Participation

The book of Hebrews was of course written to Christians, but also very much with the doubting Jew in mind. With this observation as part of his basis, John Owen had what seems to be a unique perspective on one particular element of the following warning:

He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith He was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Hebrews 10:28-29

“The last aggravation of this sin with respect unto the blood of Christ is that it is that ‘wherewith he was sanctified.’ This is not a real internal sanctification, but a separation and dedication unto God, in which sense the word is often used. Some have thought that this refers unto the person guilty of the sin here insisted on; but the design of the Apostle in the context leads plainly to another application of these words. It is Christ Himself who is spoken of, who was sanctified and dedicated to God to be an eternal High Priest by the blood of the covenant which He offered unto God. That precious blood of Christ whereby He was sanctified and dedicated unto God they esteemed an “unholy thing,” that is, such as would have no effect as to consecrate Him unto God and to His office.”
John Owen, from his commentary on the book of Hebrews

An earlier section of Hebrews directly confirms this:

For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.
Hebrews 7:26-28

This actually renders the warning much more grave than it sounds on the surface, particularly against the religious deception of antichrists. The writer of Hebrews is saying that this apostasy from Christ is of such a nature that it denies not only the full legitimacy of Jesus’ high-priestly office, but also its absolute uniqueness.

For Christ’s own blood consecrated Him unto an office that can neither be substituted, nor shared with, nor acted within, by any other man. And to do so is to “do despite unto the Spirit of Grace.” For the Holy Spirit is the only rightful person by whose power we can be made partakers in the very same Indestructible Life according to which our High Priest made His intercession.

Therefore it is by the Spirit’s groaning within us that we are continually made both witness and subject to the transaction of Christ’s death and resurrection within ourselves, as we also groan with Him.

By this we eat of His bread, and by this we drink of His cup; for in this we discover and become a functioning member of His living body, which is thereby being perfected.

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
1 Corinthians 10:16 (ESV)

The Form Of Sound Words

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 1:13

Sound words have a form, an exemplary pattern, a typification by which their nature is determined; and it is neither a literary nor auditory matter. Truly, their form is the state of the man from whence they proceed, even as a good mould brings forth a shapely moulding. Therefore the Lord said that from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

The words of a good form are the fruit of the “faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” And this form is not seen in a mere tone of voice or manner of presentation, but in the condition of the soul who speaks. For the heart abounding in deceit may speak well outwardly; but inwardly be full of wicked schemes. Conversely, the heart abounding in goodness may speak poorly outwardly; but inwardly be being filled with the knowledge and love of the holy.

And the words of a man, no matter the carefulness or roughness of their delivery, are yet always laced with either the presumptuous stench of self-deceit, or with the earnest aroma of Christ; and by the Spirit of wisdom, these can be known to the hearer. To this end, the man of God, in order to hold fast the form of sound words, must make himself subject to the form of Christ’s sound Life.

For the form of sound words IS the Life of Christ in a man; and the holding fast to that form of sound words is what holds a man sound in God, and God’s word sound in him.

Then Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”
John 6:68

To Know The Mind Of Christ

The intellect of a man is a gift from God; but no matter how great it may be, it must in all things be found subservient to the mind of Christ: which mind is made known only by the Spirit through the right operation of His Body.

For who (individually) has understood the mind of the Lord, so as to instruct Him? But WE (the Body) have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16 [ESV]

…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might NOW be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 3:10 [ESV]

Where the Body is at war with its own members, the mind of Christ is not understood by them; for they each serve their own interests. Nature itself displays this to us.

To know the mind of Christ, one must first be mindful of whom He knows.

“Faed Fiada” – Patrick of Ireland

“I bind me today,

God’s might to direct me,
God’s power to protect me,
God’s wisdom for learning,
God’s eye for discerning,
God’s ear for my hearing,
God’s word for my clearing.

God’s hand for my cover,
God’s path to pass over
God’s buckler to guard me,
God’s army to ward me,
Against snares of the devil,
Against vice’s temptation,
Against wrong inclination,
Against men who plot evil,
Anear or afar, with many or few.

Christ near,
Christ here,
Christ be with me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ be o’er me,
Christ before me.

Christ in the left and the right,
Christ hither and thither,
Christ in the sight,
Of each eye that shall seek me,
In each ear that shall hear,
In each mouth that shall speak me
– Christ not the less
In each heart I addresss.

I bind me today on the Triune – I call,
With faith in the Trinity – Unity – God over all.”

Patrick of Ireland

Thought on Devotion

Man tends to operate (without saying it) upon this strange notion that his self-made religion is steadfast, reliable, and eternal; whereas relationships are only turbulent, sporadic, and tenuous. Yet the opposite is true with God. Relationship with God is only as turbulent, sporadic, or as tenuous as we ourselves make it.

He is faithful. What are we?

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah
Psalm 62:5-8

The Good Confession

I charge you before God, He making all things alive, and Christ Jesus, He witnessing the good confession to Pontius Pilate…
1 Timothy 6:13 (LITV)

With these words Paul exposes the folly of our trust in the understanding of the mere creeds and so-called “confessions” by which we have so often defined our faith. For what great theological oration did Christ Jesus give before Pilate? Yet it says, “He witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate.” A witness is one who has lived that of which they speak; and the life of which they speak is their confession. Christ witnessed the good confession to Pilate; Christ’s confession was the very Life of God by which He was obedient to His Father in all things.

The good confession of which He witnssed was that He was the Son of God in the flesh. Ours is likewise to be that that same Life of the Son of God is being manifested in the life of our own flesh. Just as God and man were fully present in Christ before Pilate, so also our witness to Him shall be no witness at all until the substance of our real lives is being transfigured by the substance of God’s real Life working in us through the obedience of faith.

The witness which John makes of the apostles’ confession is, “That which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you…” In God’s appointed order, there is no discrepancy, though there be a distinction, between His Word and Christ Himself. Christ is the Word of God. If then we be Christ’s, and His word dwells in us, how can we not be constrained by that Word? “Why do you call Me “Lord, Lord,” and not do the things I say?” We have taken the distinction between command and Commander as justification for the glaring discrepancy between them in our own lives. But God does not abide such hypocrisy.

The incarnation of Christ Jesus is in itself the ultimate rebuke for our rending of the Word spoken from the Word lived. For in Him the Word was born a man, true Divinity elevating true humanity in Christ to its proper place in absolute harmony with God; so that those likewise born again of His Spirit from above might become partakers in the same resurrection life TODAY.

For how does John describe those who abide not in that Life?

By this we know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ IS come in the flesh is from God. And every spirit which does not confess that Jesus Christ IS come in the flesh is not from God; this is the antichrist which you heard is coming, and now is already in the world.
1 John 4:2-3

Notice how John says that it is a spirit which either confesses or denies the good confession. For he who confesses is he in whom righteousness is seen in the flesh, and he is from God; but he who denies is he in whom righteousness is not found in the flesh, and that one is not from God. In the case of the first spirit, it witnesses truly of that which it has seen and heard: which is the Word of Life; and in them the Life is manifest. But in the case of the second spirit, they bear witness of no such Life in the flesh; and their words are empty, because the Life, which is the good confession, is not manifest in them. Such is the spirit of antichrist: it is contrary to Christ’s Life working in us, though we speak His Name.

And again, regarding this second spirit which confesses not: it could be a demon, or it could be the spirit of a man, and there would be no difference. For the true confession that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is a life being evidently lived in the flesh “by the faith OF the Son of God.” (Gal 2:20). Does the faith of Jesus Christ Himself ever fail? That is the faith by which we are to be living. Religion stops at faith in Christ; but the righteousness of God is “through the faith OF Jesus Christ toward all and upon all those believing…” (Rom 3:22)

John, as he does throughout his first letter, is saying that those who have the Life of Christ ought to walk even as Christ walked: who, though being God, became a man, so that we, being men, might become “the righteousness of God in Him.”

Such is the good confession. To truly confess His name is to have His Life at work even in our life in the flesh, just as He was always about His Father in His own flesh.

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; because this is the witness of God which He has witnessed about His Son:
The one believing in the Son of God has the witness in himself.
The one not believing God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness which God has witnessed concerning His Son.
And this is the witness: that God gave us everlasting life, and this life is in His Son.
1 John 5:9-11 (LITV)

Indeed, I tell you truly: he that believes in Me, the works which I do, that one shall do also, and greater than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
John 14:12 (LITV)

Poem – “Invictus Refuted”

A parody in disdain of William Ernest Henley’s famous and Godless poem, “Invictus”:

Into the night that covered me,
Black as the pit which held me whole,
He became sin that He might be
The conqueror of my soul.

From blinding clutch of Satan’s bands,
I heard His voice and cried aloud,
Then saw His blood on my own hands;
His face was marred, His head thorn-crowned.

Beyond the veil, He draws me near;
Through horror He my ransom paid,
That now in me He finds revere
And by His grace makes unafraid.

He leads me through the straightest gate,
He purged of punishments the scroll.
He is the Master of my fate,
He is the Captain of my soul.