Sowing & Reaping In The Faith

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.”
Show me your faith apart from your works,
and I will show you my faith by my works.
You believe that God is one; you do well.
Even the demons believe – and shudder!
Do you want to be shown, you foolish person,
that faith apart from works is useless?
James 2:18-20

James in his much-disputed epistle is not questioning the possessing of faith, he is rather calling for the showing forth of it. He does not declare faith without works to be non-faith; he simply declares it to be useless (or “dead”). The foolish do not work according to their faith as the wise do; yet still they are said to possess faith, however unprofitable. It is simply of no more use in their outward walk than the empty and hopeless confession of the demons. They are not eternally lost as the demons, but their confession becomes as valueless before men as the confession of demons is before God. Tragically, men have used this scripture to justify their arbitrary and religiously defined litmus tests of “true faith”. Repent has come to mean only something which leaves men such as the thief on the cross damned. Jesus cried, “Repent, and believe” – in other words, “Turn from your unbelief, and believe!” What we discover in the scriptures is a call to child-like faith: which is effective not by its apparent strength but rather by its simplicity. But the self-righteous are blind to man’s most primal and central sin: the self-made religion of the inner heart. Deriving our assurance of faith from anything but faith itself only perpetuates our lack of faith. Of this we must also repent, and believe! The fruit of the Spirit is the result of growing faith; a lack of said fruit is the result of stagnant faith. Yet both are still faith, only one is shameful.

“By their fruits you shall know them” does not refer to discerning whether this one or that one may not be born-again; it is rather a call to discern false prophets by their fruit (teaching). For their words are the shoals upon which the faith of many becomes shipwrecked, teaching men to establish themselves in their own righteousness rather than being grounded in Christ’s. In the end they will say, “Lord, Lord, did we not do many mighty works in Your Name?” And He will declare to them, “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” For Christ is the fulfillment of the law, and they transgress His law of faith. These are they whom Jesus rebuked saying, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces, For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.” For without faith it is impossible to please God; and indeed, whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. It is only those who do the will of the Father in heaven that enter therein, “And this is the will of Him that sent Me: that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up on the last day.” The purer the faith, the purer the fruit – all else is tainted by the man of sin, who ever seeks to justify himself. If a man seeks to maintain his righteousness through works, he upholds not the righteousness given to him in Christ Jesus. If however he is justified by faith apart from works, he escapes the tyranny of self-imposed religion, and the Lord is able to work through that man. The yoke of the Lord becomes easy and His burden light to those who enter His rest.

Now, the highly contended chapter in the epistle of James appears within the context of a rebuke over a lack of charity and the failure of God’s people to show their faith by their works, rather than only through a confession – however legitimate and sincere that confession is before God. But the contention among many is only heightened by his next remarks…

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” – and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works
and not by faith alone.
James 2:21-24

Many have failed to properly reconcile these words with those of Paul regarding the same Abraham, where he said,

For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. Romans 4:13-14

Much of the confusion on this point reveals a lack of understanding in what sort of justification is being spoken of by James versus Paul. We see the words in our English bibles, “justified,” or “saved” without a thought as to their immediate context and intended implication. Justified before whom, and in light of what? Saved from what, and saved to what? This varies depending on the context at many points in scripture. The same Greek word is most commonly translated “saved” or “delivered;” but even beyond that simple distinction, the original meaning can speak of any number of other matters: from being spared of earthly torments, to avoiding divine discipline, to having eternal life. It is no mistake that both Paul and James were prompted to write of the same Abraham regarding these things so that we might have clarity – if we choose to listen.

James uses the word often translated “saved” [Gk. σῴζωsōzō] in the following examples, each time addressing those who already have eternal life:

“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save [σῴζω] your souls.” (James 1:21)
– Here the word of God is already implanted, signifying the regenerate state of their spirit. His word is to be further received for the deliverance or preservation of the soul [Gk. ψυχὰς – the soul, the living state of the person as brought about by the breath of life from God]. The fruitfulness of God’s word within us determines abundance of God’s life in us both here on earth as well as in heaven.

“And the prayer of faith shall save [σῴζω] the sick…” (James 5:5)
– Same word, [σῴζω]. And the context makes obvious here that σῴζω implies a release from illness.

“Brethren, if any of YOU do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he who converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save [σῴζω] a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)
– Here a brother falls into error, and is “converted” back to the truth. This is not speaking of the conversion of a lost man from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God; it is speaking of the conversion of an existing brother from walking in error back to walking in the truth. Notice that he is still a brother, yet here also a “sinner”. The sin (singular) in this case is simply the error in which he presently walks; but the multitude of sins (plural) which are graciously hidden by his turning back from error are the temporal fruits of that sin of error. This brother’s soul [Gk. ψυχὰς – explained previously] is here delivered (or “saved” [σῴζω]) from death (death’s bodily sting or reign) by the righting of his steps in Christ.

James in his epistle is exhorting believers to display the fear of God in their life here on earth in light of His discipline, in light of the needs of the brethren, and in light of their witness.

And to make the matter very clear, Paul wrote regarding Abraham’s works:

For if Abraham was justified by works,
he has something to boast about,
but not before God.
Romans 4:2

Abraham indeed had something to boast about in his works (which proceeded from faith) – but not before God. His faith was counted to him as righteousness, but his works fulfilled the scripture which spoke thus. Not all who are righteous by faith fulfill the scriptures – and no man but Christ Jesus has fulfilled them all. Abraham’s faith boasts before God in Christ; whereas his works boast righteously before men, that men might see a likeness of the One in whom he believed. So by his good works in offering up Isaac he preached not himself, but Christ crucified, who raises the dead. James is concerned in his letter with the witness of the church and their justification before men by good works: Paul is largely concerned with establishing the church in the surety of their justification before God by faith, from which faith a good witness will indeed blossom if allowed to remain in its pure form. The faith of James’ brethren was not producing good works because it was being held in a man-made cage of religious attitude (in this case, greivious partiality). Abraham’s faith did not itself consist of his works; rather his works consisted of his faith. Abraham simply believed God – that is why he could obey God truly. James is not preaching law to his brethren for them to prove something to God (for by works of the law no man is justified before God); he is rather exposing the impurity of their faith by its fruitlessness. For could such faith save them from before the face of men, or from the Lord’s earthly chastisement of those whom He loves? No.

For his fuller context, here is the first portion of his discussion of works:

My brothers, show no partiality AS you hold THE faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
James 2:1-4

The apostle is clearly speaking to a people whom he fears to be sitting on their laurels even as they hold the faith: to the earthly detriment of their neighbor, and the destruction of their own witness therewith. There is a judgement of the works of every man who will enter the kingdom. The works of the flesh (including those religious) will be burned up, though the man himself be saved; but the works of God by faith will endure to adorn that man in eternity. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” [James 1:12] James goes on to plead that we should save or deliver ourselves from the consequences (both temporal and eternal) of a faith which profits nothing.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
James 2:14-17

Just as we know through Paul that Abraham’s faith was his boast before God; we know through James that his works were the boast of that faith before men unto a sure reward. Faith alone is unto salvation; the works of that same faith are unto immeasurable blessing therewith. That which was gained without good works cannot be lost by a lack of good works; but being left alone, faith does remain unprofitable beyond this. A man reaps what he sows – especially if God is his Father. Of the athletes who compete in the race and cross the line, few are crowned. For the sake of His own great Name, God remains faithful even toward straying and unfaithful children; but such are denied the greater privileges of His reign, though mercifully they are chastened that perhaps they might come to maturity.

And also if anyone competes, he is not crowned unless he competes lawfully. It is right for the laboring farmer to partake first of the fruits. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in all things. Remember Jesus Christ, having been raised from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my gospel, in which I suffer ill as an evildoer, unto bonds; but the Word of God has not been bound.
Because of this, I endure all things on account of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus, with everlasting glory. Faithful is the Word: for if we died with Him, we also shall live with Him; if we endure, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny Him, that One will deny us; if we are unfaithful, that One remains faithful; He is not able to deny Himself.
2 Timothy 2:5-13

Contrary to the notions of some men, there are such things as carnal Christians – such are Paul’s own words. In the same great house there are both vessels of honor and vessels of dishonor. Of course dishonor is not a thing to glory in; yet it is sadly a matter of reality. Paul was accused of preaching that men should go on sinning because of the truth that where sin abounded grace much more abounded. He simply condemned his accusers and never adjusted his message. If that is all they hear in the gospel, then they simply cannot hear. The blindness of the blind should not cause those with sight to be ashamed of what they can see. Adding a law of commandments to the gospel of Christ does not keep men from sinning, it further enslaves them in the sinful nature; for “the power of sin is the law.” The fruit we are to bear is of the Spirit, not of the letter; for by the letter the flesh arises and the new man is paralyzed, and the Holy Spirit is quenched.

Many rise up and say that they have repented of all their sins: these deceive themselves and the word is not in them. A sinner who repents is saved because of his faith, not by the worthiness of his own repentance. For a man cannot perform adequate penance to please God, that is why it depends on faith. A man can have faith, and the Lord will help the unbelief of the one who asks! It is the man who knows his debt is paid that can freely offer himself without shame to the mighty hand of his new found Lord. In knowing the truth, we are made free. Our primary repentance is to be a repentance from dead works to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; it is to be a turn of the heart’s central trusting loyalty from the worship of what is false to serve the living God. This repentance preached by Jesus and the apostles was a turning from unbelief to faith in the Name of Christ. And when they did speak of turning from walking in impure and worldly ways, they spoke to those already within the realm of said faith as it being their reasonable service as obedient children. Only those who have first freely partaken of the heavenly bread become its true dispensers.

“Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of man will give to you; for God the Father sealed this One.” Then they said to Him, What may we do that we may work the works (plural) of God? Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work (singular) of God, that you believe into Him whom that One sent.”
John 6:27-29

So in keeping with this law of faith, we continue by it; and in light of our darkness thereby remain grateful and free to repent of inner wickedness unto fruitfulness in God. Our ability to repent of sins will be in proportion to our faith in His existing sufficiency apart from us. For in the flesh we find ourselves unable to offer ourselves one in whom we scarcely trust. To walk by the Spirit we must believe Him when He declared of His firm foundation, “It is finished;” so that upon this foundation, we now find liberty to further exercise this faith. For being in Christ Jesus without condemnation, we may now be lead of His Spirit, being built up as a worthy temple. And so we are saved unto good works, being His workmanship in joy. No man is able to pluck God’s children from His hand, no man. Not themselves, not another. Let us therefore live with assurance from our heavenly seat in Christ Jesus! By this we are able to conquer the doubts and timidity of spiritual youth as we are reminded that “when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” And we also are able to be delivered here from the present power sin in the flesh, in proportion to the measure of this FAITH…

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Romans 8:5-11

We are called to be holy as Christ Jesus is holy because without holiness no man will see the Lord. Few walk worthily of the calling wherewith they were called: they sow very little and will therefore reap very little. Many believe unto salvation; but few walk consistently in the faith in life. The Lord desires those whom He knows to know Him also, that they might have the full assurance of faith themselves. So let us reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, that finding strength before this throne of grace we may depart from iniquity! Those who know the wonder and joy of salvation and groan with God’s heart for others: these have an understanding of the eternal tragedy of a tainted or nonexistent witness. They do not need to be threatened with damnation in order to do good works – as is the way of self-righteous men and their teachers; but they need only to look upon the mercies of their savior, high and holy, meek and lowly, and they are evermore compelled to walk wisely in the fear of the Lord, showing forth HIS works before men. Our faith is tested not to determine its existence, but rather so that its proof may result in praise and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Remind them of these things, solemnly testifying before the Lord not to dispute about words for nothing useful, to the throwing down of those hearing. Earnestly study to present yourself approved to God, a workman unashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. But shun profane, empty babblings, for they will go on to more ungodliness, and their word will have growth like gangrene, of whom are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who missed the mark concerning the truth, saying the resurrection already has come, and overturn the faith of some. However, the foundation of God stands firm, having this seal, “The Lord knew those being His;” also, “Let everyone naming the name of Christ depart from unrighteousness.” But in a great house not only are there vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Then if anyone purifies himself from these, he will be a vessel to honor, having been sanctified and made useful to the Master, having been prepared to every good work.
2 Timothy 2:14-21

The virtues we are exhorted to add to our faith by the apostle Peter in his second letter are unto the end that “they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” [2Pet 1:8-9]

Notice that the qualities which characterized maturity and holiness are the visible attributes of man who has not diminished the ever-present truth of his cleansing by Christ; since the lack of these virtues is in fact the evidence of one who has become unmindful of it. But it is those who have rested from their own labors that will discover Christ most potently at work in them. The greatest task for man, and the one which his religious heart most resourcefully objects to, is to simply have pure faith in Another who promises that which cannot be fully seen through carnal eyes.

And Peter goes on to describe the final thing anticipated…

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:10-11

It is one thing to simply enter the eternal kingdom, it is another for that entrance to be richly provided. The confirming of faith before men by obedience to the word and Spirit of Christ renews the people of God unto greater realms of His glory being revealed both to and through them – indeed on this earth. But we are presently in such a low estate that even sins unto death are winked at in the midst of God’s house. It is a great unspoken tragedy. The place is filled with defilements and breaches of faith which only the Lord Himself can remedy before the last day; on which many are scarcely saved as through fire. And because we abide not in the word of Christ, we often lack the discernment and fortitude to rightly deal with such matters…

Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 5:2-5

The branches which abide not in the love of Christ become fruitless, and men gather them to be burned [John 15:6]. But where are these men? Blessed are those who, as God judges His house, He finds abiding faithful. If we abide in the word of Christ, we shall live as the new creature by His Spirit through faith. For the new man born of God “does not sin, because God’s seed abides in him, and he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God.” But the old man commits sin and is therefore “of the Devil, because the Devil sins from the beginning. For this reason the Son of God was revealed, that He undo the works of the Devil.” [1John 3:8-9] The children of God all have access to His means by which sin shall no longer have dominion over them. Or have we forgotten that the soul also, and not only the spirit of every man in Christ, is saved? For the evil which they do is no longer them doing it; but sin dwelling in the flesh [Rom 7]. The divide has been made, there is a new creation, the chain has been broken! Shall we then remain sitting in a prison cell whose bars have been sundered and its keeper overcome? “All things are possible to the one believing.”

Therefore, let every one in God’s house consider of what spirit he is. The Lord knows each of His own and He calls them by name; but many of His very own do not yet themselves know HIM. Many loved of God love not their brother and so lie in saying that they themselves love God. Many in God’s house still hate their brother, and so needlessly abide in death as murderers. The judgement of each man’s work to determine his reward is no light matter. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” It is far better to walk in holiness so that our joy be full and our hearts have no occasion to accuse us; that we may have confidence before God in fellowship with Him and with the brethren.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Galatians 5:7-10

Eternal life is the free gift of God received by faith alone; but the discovery of its endless depths are not reaped except by the sowing of ever-increasing faith. Life eternal is to know the Father and the Son by His Spirit; and the greatest riches of this relationship are reaped only by those who strive to find rest in the labors of He whose abundant life will continually cost them their own. The one losing their own life for His sake is continually finding it.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10

God, who willed and provided for all men to be saved, has also predestined for whoever trusts in Christ that they should redound to the praise of His glory. Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved; and let them who are so saved abide in His love, and not tire of pursuing their own upward calling in Him, lest they come short of His many great and precious promises! It is one thing to be a child of God, it is another to be an fellow-heir with Christ of His kingdom. The children are all heirs of God; but the co-heirs with Christ are those who have gratefully given themselves to His service, even unto death.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God, and fellow heirs with Christ provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Romans 8:16-17

Though surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who by faith went before us, the sin which still so easily besets us is our tendency to subvert the gospel by our own vanity, to the undoing of faith. We are afraid to forsake our inner religious tendencies in order to gain Christ by faith, and so despise the chastening of the Lord who is ever calling us to such. If we go on sinning by rejecting the call of this chastening, and become enemies of the gospel within His house; then we shall become undisciplined children who are called bastards, unable to become mature sons and partakers in HIS holiness. The bastard son of the slave woman will always persecute the son of the free. Cain will always trust in the fruit of his own labours; and he will always rise up jealously to slay his brother whose boast is the Lord. But the works of God’s people are judged according to whether they proceeded from faith or from self [Rom 14:23].

Such is the estate of His house:
Many have believed in Him, but few abide in His word.
Many are His own, but few are the free.
Many have received His grace, but few have continued by it.
Many have begun by the Spirit, but few have not quenched Him.
Many possess faith, but few are possessed by it.
Many have heard the gospel, but few have remembered it.
With the good news forgotten, the fruit becomes rotten.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him,
“If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples;
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8: 31-32

“There are many children, but few disciples.”
– Brian Troxel

The Old Man Hates The New Thing

Two posts ago on this blog, I published an article entitled A Dialogue.

That writing contained the words of a man feeling very sorry for himself, the words of a man longing for old things: for torn garments, for worn-out footwear, for expired wine, and for moldy bread.

That man was I.

That man’s confession, though derived of truths and sprinkled with good exhortation, still served as little more than his excuse to remain wallowing in the infancy of yesterday. That man could neither outwit nor overpower God though he tried; and even the tears of his pleadings were often selfish.

That man looked with great endearment upon God’s former works; but that man made idols of those memorial stones, and could scarcely see past them across the Jordan. That man risked gaining no promised land by desiring only the gold he once plundered from Egypt.

That man was looking back after having set his hand to the plow – a wicked soul unfit for the kingdom of God. That man still longed to bury the dead with the dead rather than die to death and live.

That man gave himself credit in the miracles of yesterday; when truly it had always been the grace of God covering and working where he could not yet see his own shortcomings.

But this man sees his need to move on into the higher places, from where his Shepherd now beckons: always more aware of his own insufficiency; and thus his need not to fall behind in that wretched wilderness of self.

Die old man, die.

Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters,
who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down,
they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Isaiah 43:16-19

A Dialogue

Read my rebuttal to this article HERE.

How ready, my soul, how ready was your tongue to speak of the King, and how swift were your hands to war against His adversaries; when from deep darkness and oppression He delivered you!

When the enemy sought death, Life was found.
When your heart and flesh were failing, the Lord invigorated you.
When the world sat in mockery, you stood unashamed.
When even brothers betrayed you, your God was enough.

And do you now forget the goodness of your Father? Has He changed, or have you now closed your eyes to His ceaseless wonders? Do you know the depths of darkness He has daily delivered you from, or the countless oppressors He has kept at bay all this time? Or do you suppose to understand the secret counsels of His will, as though your own comprehension has protected you?

He brought you to a place where no man could find you, to reveal things which few men can see; yet in the depths of the cave you have whispered, “The Lord has lead me into temptation.”
Fool! No, but the Lord gives over to themselves the unthankful of heart who do not acknowledge Him: this is your sin which leaves you subject to the present oppression of the former things.

The accuser’s voice masquerades as a good conscience, and his path cunningly weaves its way from the sweet weight of conviction to the bitter paralysis of condemnation. By heeding his treacherous tales, a cloud of gloom has met your stalling and ungrateful heart, while the Lord has continued on in faithfulness.

You ask to see, but turn your eyes away lest it be too bright. You ask to hear, but cover your ears lest He rebuke you too harshly. But those who hate the Light are condemned, and those who refuse discipline are not His own. Have you forgotten the loveliness of even His hardest words toward you, and of the present assurance of His love in repentance?

He has not changed, He has not become a harsh master: but you have hardened your own heart. Truly His kindness has remained, that you might find His ever-new mercies to a greater fullness than yesterday.

Therefore, quicken yourself as you once did, when by faith you stepped out to meet the leading hand of God, beholding His glory in the face of Jesus Christ. There is no safety but in walking upon the water.

“There Is A Door” – A Poem

There is a Door,

Whose thresholds are countless to cross
Whose Mystery dwells in my dross
Whose rooms I have yet to all see
Who by each new entrance makes free

This Door is the blest Son of Man
Forever unfolding His plan
With each day a whisper in ear
That crossing, I might be drawn near

There is no door other than He
Whose entrance by which one might see
His heavenly holiness shine
Here on earth as where all is divine

There is such a Door to be found
Every day His still voice does resound
Let us hear, for that Spirit does speak
To the lowly and unto the meek

Make your entrances while it is day
That at night you may not slip away
For He shuts and He closes at will
And the seats at His table do fill

O come to the Door and make haste
For His thresholds are just a foretaste
Of the glory which He shall make known
Through the ones within whom He’s now shown

Behold the Door, He is our sight
And an ark filled with children of Light
That the flood of His vengeance be passing
And renewed shall be Day everlasting

– Brendan

Every Good Thing Which Is In You

The words of the Lord are pure words:
as silver tried in a furnace of earth,
purified seven times.
Psalm 12:6

It is the method of God that His holy things are brought forth through earthen vessels who are being inwardly purged by His fire. The place of purity and holiness is the place of judgement: it is the realm of God’s dwelling wherein all the hidden secrets of men’s hearts are naked and exposed before the eyes of Him to whom each shall give an account. It is the habitation sought diligently TODAY by those who seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness. For righteousness is seen in the free flow of that lively river which makes glad the city of God, and it is heard in the pure words borne of His fiery trials. Each person in His city is to be the open conduit of that river, and each one of them the earthen furnace bearing His perfect silver.

So let the wise rejoice, those who seek the “seven times” refining of His furnace that only the purest of silver might be brought forth – yes, let them be glad; for He has placed within every heart of His redeemed a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their path, if they would but look unto that indwelling Counselor. And do not be restrained by the falsehood of men who minimize the salvation of the soul, as though it remained the perpetual enemy of God even in faith. For the soul of a man yields to the will whomever’s word he believes, and the soul of the redeemed can always freely yield to the Spirit of God. “He restores my soul” – it is the truth, let it be so! The soul trusting in God despite the accusatory voice is the soul which presently finds the benefits of its restoration: it is the redeemed heart being capacitated to house greater and deeper things of God for His righteousness to be walked in, in this life! Blessed are they who do not harden their hearts to Him who is speaking to them TODAY. The over-analysis of man’s fickle outward countenance works to the paralysis of faith; but by beholding His countenance whose Spirit dwells in us, we find ourselves inheriting the promise of the guarantee already deposited within the creature. For doubtless He gladly delivers us TODAY into a holy ability by the power of His Spirit; but “weeping and gnashing of teeth” is the inheritance of the faithless, who cast doubt upon the thoroughness of the Lord’s very present provision.

The wise keep ready with their lamps ever full of His oil; but the foolish must feign spirituality, for theirs are filled instead with the lengthy tomes of man’s darkened understanding. O, that they would see, and such grievous vanity be displaced by the beaming brevity of the Spirit of the Lord! The foolish refuse to discover and interact with the Lord’s inheritance within them so that they may preserve the familiarity of their emptiness; but the wise freely acknowledge His inheritance within them so that His living waters might liberally burst forth from out of their own being…

…that the communication of thy faith may become effectual
by the acknowledging of every good thing
which is in you in Christ Jesus.
Philemon 1:6

Every member of God’s house has the ability to quench the fire and dam the river. Many have gone to a certain point in the things of the Spirit and become content not to continue beyond whatever satisfies those around them. But those who refuse to become dull of hearing and weary of seeing the things of God are not content to stay behind the lines which their forefathers have drawn. My participation in THE faith which is mine in Christ Jesus becomes effectual not by the wishful admiration of things yet outside of me, but rather by the acknowledging of every good thing which is verily in me through Him! Let the veil of shame and false humility be removed; let the redeemed souls of the Lord not shrink back from walking after His declaration.

Those who never step forward despite the darkness which they see within themselves will never pass through that blinding shroud and cast it off behind them. What (or Who) we behold is that to which we become beholden in our walk; and we are to behold the glory of the Lord as in a mirror! For as much as it is not a matter of beholding ourselves, it is yet also not a matter of beholding a thing outside ourselves. For we shall only walk as children of light by beholding that Light who resides within us. At all times He is there, eagerly shining forth to the end that His illumination would be acknowledged and not neglected for the familiar ways of men. We are commanded to walk as children of light because we ARE already light in the Lord (Eph 5:8). And in the confidence of this soul-anchoring hope, we may turn our eyes with singularity upon He who hereby liberates us to walk in the fuller victory to which we have been called…

…whenever one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
And we all, with unveiled face seeing the glory of the Lord as in a mirror,
are transformed into the same image from glory to glory,
even as from the Lord, the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Is not your life hid with Christ in God? For He is the Shepherd Whose very habitation is His sheep: this is why they shall not want – unless they seek the ministration of another. The church of today are spectating at the Dead Sea rather than wading into the Jordan: not only do they err in their manner of participation, but they partake of the wrong sort of waters! They hang upon the empty words of men, whose rivers are long stilled and their fires long quenched; rather than allowing the word of the Lord to become as a fire in their very own bones, constraining them to act on the things which they have seen and heard unto the overflow of their own waters. The true Life of God begins flowing in the secret place; and it calls for the same dynamic in others. But the spirit of any other cistern is a strange woman seducing men of God to trade the fountain of living waters for a broken well which can hold none.

Drink waters out of thine own cistern,
and running waters out of thine own well.
Proverbs 5:15

Those merely going after the revelation of another are truly being drawn away by the spirit of antichrist, following the voice of mere men; trading the divine ministration already at work within them for the fireless words of man’s dammed river. For even if they “follow” a man whose words are truly fire and whose river is truly flowing, they can neither truly receive nor utilize it as such, since they themselves are still trusting in man. But we have one Teacher, even the Christ. For “there are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” (Prov 19:21). We each have a choice as to whether it shall be the council of men or the counsel of the Lord given audience within our hearts. True things shall not be settled for apart from the Truth Himself – it is a matter of Life or death. One keeps moving in the daily-new things of God; the other terminates course while His ever-present call continues flowing onward and upward.

While men remain sitting their whole lives contemplating the wonderful truth that there is nothing good in them apart from Christ, the wise are found shamelessly acknowledging unto transformation every good thing which He has now indeed placed within them. That which we commit to the Lord He is able to keep; let us therefore apprehend in Him that for which we were already apprehended by Him, guarding the good deposit entrusted to us. For that good deposit of His Spirit is guarded by the using of it; through which He brings forth the increase.

Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.

For this reason I remind you
to fan into flame the gift of God,
which is in you
2 Timothy 1:6

Purity of Faith

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not
receive the kingdom of God like a child
shall not enter it.
(Luke 18:17)

While men attempt the work of entering the kingdom in order to recieve it, Jesus reveals that in God’s wisdom we instead recieve the kingdom by faith in order to enter it.

When men lack faith to allow the cross to outweigh their sin, they redifine the gospel one way or another to fit their experience. Either they will make out Christ to be accepting of ungodliness in them, or they will place the power in their own soul to ensure their deliverance and salvation. Both are an afront to God, but I am dealing with the latter here, which can be the greater temptation to truly earnest hearts who have already seen something of holiness and desire to pursue it. Those whom the Devil cannot convince to live lawlessly, he tempts to live legalistically. Those in whom he cannot dispell the fear of God, he seeks rather to terrorize with doubting the sufficiency of His grace to provide true strength. The enemy is equally pleased to make us serve an unjustly permissive God as well as an unjustly overbearing one.

New believers who stumble in the Way yet have the fear of the Lord in them may become tempted to add dead works in order to gain visible righteousness; when truly the only righteousness that produces the works of God is the righteousness which is by faith.  For “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Where men build a golden house upon no foundation, it is fool’s gold. The great bane of immaturity is a lack of confidence in the sufficiency of the grace of Christ to provide strength in all things. The power to walk as Christ walked does not reside in the natural man, it resides in the promise itself; for truly the promise of eternal life is Christ Himself, and all His fullness, which is the fullness of God. We can do nothing pleasing to God except through Christ, by whom we can do ALL things! If we but trusted Him in this, we would with patience be enabled to see His righteousness working in us through obedience; and then our faith would continually bring growth as good soil and water bring to a great tree, like the kingdom of God is pictured (Mt 13, Mk 4, Lk 13, also see previous article).

But because in this devil’s world we are encouraged to lack such deep and unshakeable faith (and the spiritual patience inherent within it), we instead either settle for compromise, or “go on ahead” from the pure doctrine of CHRIST into our own methods, just because we do not see the manifestations of faith which we have lead ourselves to expect. Ironically, this is actually a foothold for all manner of sins. It is all too common that after someone finds deliverance from certain sins early in their walk, the temptation is to become proud in the self, as though a new spiritual status has been gained by improved behavior. Truly the change in behavior was by the power of God through faith; but nevertheless this pride makes way for a blindsiding fall, and the response to this fall will reveal just how pure the faith of a person is. How they get up may sady determine their trajectory for years to come. Will they stand up in faith and continue to rest in Christ, who alone can deliver those who believe? Or will they try crawling another way? Many turn to their own power with the unspoken intent of adding to God’s power for deliverance. This can only make matters worse. For if, after having begun by the Spirit, we now seek to be perfected by the flesh, then we will only further feed the pride of the same old man who also commits the other sins we think ourselves to be contending with. But the weapons of our warfare are only mighty because they are THROUGH GOD. Only those who wait upon HIM will renew their strength.

Therefore it is written,

Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
Say to them that are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, fear not:
behold, YOUR GOD will come with vengeance,
even God with a recompence;
HE will come and save you.”
(Isaiah 35:3-4)

True and pure obedience is that which chases the impossible out of an absolute trust in the power of God. What we so greatly lack by-and-large is humility enough to finally die and let only CHRIST be our vey life. We do not know the power of God! Righteousness rains down upon those who have already sown to themselves IN it. For in Him they already have it by faith, if their faith proves true.

Sow to yourselves IN righteousness, reap IN mercy;
break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD,
till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
(Hosea 10:12)

And how can we sow to ourselves in what may not yet be visibly raining upon us? The answer is that we sow IN a righteousness, which although not yet fully seen, has been bestowed upon us so that we may ACT upon SOWING in it. We obey not the possible works we make up for ourselves, but rather we obey the impossible works which God has prepared for us to walk in. For wherever we step into His impossible path, we shall find his power. The same sanctification and holiness which many of the scriptures call us to walk in is eslewhere stated to already be finished. This is not a contradiction, nor does it merit a compromise in our thinking. The answer is found in the integrity of our faith (or lack thereof). Faith mixed with the motives and excuses of the flesh cannot reconcile this thing and therefore leads to the production of many elaborate and compromising doctrines; but faith unmixed, unencumbered, and dying to self can say boldly to a true brother, “I am confident of this very thing: that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion until the Day of Christ.” (Php 1:6)

This is descriptive of faith LIKE a child. A new child believes without question its Father’s promise, and expects without compromise the fruits of that promise. This alone shall lay hold of all that God reserves in His inexhaustible treasury. For He has gladly bestowed upon us the riches of His grace in Christ Jesus – let us therefore not insult His Spirit through passing it by in unbelief! In the end, the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable was not the younger, who boldly received the open arms of his father; but it was the elder, who kept himself a stranger to the grace of his father even though he never left his vicinity. He had continual access to every good and perfect gift, but never asked or received of it. Under the self-made cloak of loyalty (dead works of the flesh), he lived after his own will rather than availing himself of becoming a son; something which his father had reserved for whomever would recieve it. “But as many as received him, to them gave he POWER to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12)

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
(Romans 8:12-15)

The sin of the elder brother in Jesus’ parable was a lack of faith disguised in the outward humility of dead works. Under the premise of not spoiling his father’s abundant grace, he never availed himself of any of it. But true humility is that which boldly asks God for strength in the time of need without pretending to bring anything of worth to the table; for it knows the folly of self-effort well enough to ask for nothing less than the provisions of God Himself in Christ Jesus. For if we have a perfect Father who rewards the diligent seeker (and we do), then we can be certain that He on His part will not fail – only let us also exercise faith to walk forward into the unknown, not shrinking back as those who are destroyed. The true humility of faith moves beyond the veiled pride of self-deprication: it is the confidence to depend upon God alone at the expense of all self. It is the same mind which also was in Christ Jesus, it is HIS faith! Our faith shall grow up to His stature if we exercise that which is already given; and His grace indeed sufficient. Do you believe this? Die! Rise and walk! God’s rest awaits those who by faith and patience inherit the promises, where the Spirit works through the yielded of God who trust and obey.

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it,
and those who formerly received the good news
failed to enter because of disobedience;
again He appoints a certain day,
TODAY, saying through David…
“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…”

(Hebrews 4:6-7)

We are all too eager in our day to label all boldness before God as “arrogance,” and all humanly-conceived works as “humility.” This propensity of ours is the Devil’s programming through the unstable and unspiritual men whom many today call teachers. Satan would not have any man approach the throne of grace, and he will do everything within his power to dissuade us. But the foot-dragging of doubt and self-sufficiency is the spiritual melodrama of a belligerent soul which only causes it to continue stumbling and falling in darkness. This will only continue where the Holy Spirit is given no further room to empower because the self remains enshrined, if not enthroned. Self-righteousness is the greatest obstacle to true repentance; and therefore itself requires much. The depth of REPENTANCE determines the potential depth of faith’s roots; and the depth of going beyond our own strength determines the depth in which the Holy Spirit can operate. “Now the lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the lord is, there is liberty…”

When Peter stepped out of the boat, he stepped further out of his own life and further into Christ’s. In that moment his heart caught a glimpse of the truth that the only safe place is to be with Christ wherever HE goes at the expense of all else.

“The christian life from start to finish is based upon this principle of utter dependance upon the Lord Jesus… Do you think that if you cease trying to please God your good behavior will cease? If you leave all the giving and all the working to God, do you think the result will be less satisfactory than if you do some of it? It is when we seek to do it ourselves that we place ourselves back again under the Law. But the works of the Law, even our best efforts, are “dead works,” hateful to God because they are ineffectual.”
– Watchman Nee, ‘Sit, Walk Stand’

For the Law perfected nothing;
but the bringing in of a better Hope did,
through Which we draw near to God.
(Hebrews 7:17)

“Come to Me, all those laboring and being burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, because I am meek and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest to your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30)

Dying To Live: The Faith Of Christ

For through the grace of God which is given to me, I say to everyone being among you, not to have high thoughts beyond what is right to think. But set your mind to be right-minded, even as God divided a measure of faith to each. For even as we have many members in one body, but all members do not have the same function, so we the many are one body in Christ
(Romans 12:3-5, LITV)

The fruit of faith will be in accordance with its measure. First there is that initial measure which “God divided” to each; and then there is the greater measure attained as each one humbly invests said deposit by the allowance of God’s power to be at work in them unto righteousness, bringing forth fruit unto salvation. For the gospel in which His righteousness is revealed from faith to faith is unto salvation (Rom 1:16-17). The parable of the talents illustrates to the wise the absurdity of not walking in such increasing faith; since the deposit of faith was freely given, as well as access to the power for said increase. This is also why we ought not to think highly of ourselves above one another, since even our increase is by the power of God through faith in Christ…

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
(1 Peter 1:3-5, ESV)

“Guarded through faith” – but what is the nature of that faith? It has long been taught that all one will ever need to walk in the power of Christ is faith the size of a mustard seed. No such thing can be found in all of scripture. Jesus said nothing about such little faith except in rebuke. He did however reveal that we are required to have faith LIKE a grain of mustard seed: “…If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt 17:20, Lk 17:6)
The difference here is immense, considering the parable of the grain of mustard seed. For while the natural man proudly settles for little faith (the size of a mustard seed), Christ Jesus meanwhile describes the kingdom within His people in terms of ever-increasing faith (LIKE a mustard seed)….

And He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard, which, when it is sown on the earth, it is less than all the seeds of those on the earth. And when it is sown, it comes up and becomes greater than all the plants, and produces great branches, so as to enable the birds of the heaven to roost under its shade.”
(Mark 4:30-32, LITV)

It is within the very nature of genuine faith to grow unto greater faith; and the sustaining of living faith over time actually depends upon its continual growth. Only through such faith as this can we be guarded by God’s power until the end. Today’s faith is not sufficient to lay hold of the power required to overcome the world tomorrow. But such faith cannot be born of the flesh. Only the ever-increasing faith of Christ Himself is the faith which becomes able to move mountains. Jesus has overcome the world, and we have yet to grow into the fullness of HIM! For by faith, “we all with unveiled face behold the glory of the Lord… being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor 2:18)

Faith will only attain life in God to the degree that it has attained death in ourselves. The great tree grown from a grain of mustard in the parable of the kingdom is the Tree of Life, Jesus. He was sown in the earth a dead Seed and now lives to give life to all who died with Him. We grow up into His fullness by being members of Him in His death, burial, and resurrection by faith. Now if these three things are indeed our spiritual history by faith, then they should also become present realities by the obedience of faith for which we have received grace from God. “…we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith…” (Rom 1:5, ESV) That which true faith believes, it finds power from God to apprehend in experience. The grace of God appeared not simply to be admired, but to be walked in the power of. For He who died is the One in whom we are to remain planted, and He who rose also seeks to water and supply the growth. Let us therefore accept and submit to our death in Him daily, laying hold of the nutrients of His word and the watering of His Spirit by faith ever extending itself heavenward; as our roots drink evermore deeply of the love of the One who first loved us when we were yet His enemies. And that is the first key of faith: the acceptance of our place IN HIM apart from our own doing. It is only the pride of the sinful nature which doubts this; and it must be reckoned dead before Christ’s own Life can live in us. He will not suffer a rival in His temple.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat that falls into the earth dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. The one who loves his life loses it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it to everlasting life.
(John 12:24-25)

If we derive the power to walk after Christ from our own soul, then we do not truly walk as Christ walked. Only the faith of Christ is of true substance, not ourselves. The soul is saved to be restored unto the rule of the Good Shepherd, not unto its own. The soul is always beholden to the storm-tossed flesh if it is not beholden to the spirit under God’s Spirit. Jesus calms the storm from the inside out. The only works pleasing before God are those wrought in HIM. Only Christ living in and through us is a true fruitful life in the sight of God. All we bring to the table is the faith to surrender to His working – the faith which He gave us in the first place! If the matter was finished for us when Christ died, how much more then, since He is risen and seated on high, shall it now be being finished in us by the power of His own Spirit whom He sent for that very purpose! Or are we greater than He who said, “I am able to do nothing from Myself… for I do not seek My will, but the will of the One sending Me, the Father”? Surely we are not! So let us be made conformable to His death, even that the measure of the stature of His fullness might be shown forth in we who are HIS body. We are not our own: He would see our spirit and soul and body kept blameless for His coming – all three must come under the dominion of His own Spirit. This is the inner working of true faith that produces the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Faith which reckons itself dead in Him is proven by the same faith springing forth and branching out in the tangible substance of Christ’s Life. If we truly submit to God’s Word, then He (the Word) will even divide soul from spirit and lay bare every secret of the heart and mind, giving way to the complete rule of the Spirit of God in us. For the will of man and the faith of his own soul cannot lay hold of that which belongs only to the Spirit of God. It is only possible by the very FAITH OF CHRIST, who beheld the Father at all times, which is unfeigned and ever-increasing from glory to glory; and it only comes “from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

For as He beheld His Father, so do we in Him, and He in us. And as His likeness becomes revealed in us, “His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are sons…” May such pure and unmixed faith thrive and multiply within the regenerated hearts of His own to become grown sons! Let that same mind of humble confidence be found in us which also was in Christ Jesus: the Seed who died to plant the kingdom of God within His people. Let us likewise more fully believe unto death that we would more fully believe unto Life: from glory to glory by faith to faith! Such is the faith of Christ, our only true Life.

For in it (the gospel of Christ) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; even as it has been written, “But the just shall LIVE by faith.”
(Romans 1:17)

The measure of faith exercised within us is displayed in the measure of His righteousness being revealed through us. If I know that I have already died on the cross with Christ, I can find rest in dying daily. And if I have so died and remain dying, His Spirit may thereby work His resurrection Life in me. This is how the daily cross which results from obedience in a rebellious world becomes a light and momentary affliction; and even the earthly body may begin to acquire the marks of the cross. But again, the order is from the inward man to the outward man; it cannot be the other way around – that is self-made religion. If we have come to rest in Christ, let us remain working from that surrendered bliss and allow the body to reflect what is first true of the soul…

…Always bearing about the dying of the Lord Jesus in the body, that also the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body.
(2 Corinthians 4:10)

For I calculate that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to compare to the coming glory to be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God.
(Romans 8:18-19, LITV)

Faith which suffers the cross rejoicing is faith that overcomes the world. And we can have confidence because this faith has been tried and proven true; for it was the Lord’s before it became ours.

The heart of genuine faith gives way to only the Life of Christ Himself within His body. How can we claim to possess the faith of Christ when we live from ourselves?

“When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?”