Forgotten Gospel – A Testimony

What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light.
And what you hear in the ear, proclaim on the housetops.
Matthew 10:27

Long have I inwardly burned against the self-deception of the liars and the unfaithful, who fell proudly from the grace of God into works of the flesh, boasting not in Christ but rather in themselves – though they do not admit to be guilty of it, nor have they even comprehended that this is their sin.

Hear this thing which I have seen; behold this treachery that has reached my ears.

In the day that the Lord redeemed my life from the pit, setting me upon the Rock of my salvation; others He also gathered. Repentance rang out, and many approached the throne of grace for true strength, as the kindness of God in Christ was being made known. The traditions of men were losing some ground, and the Spirit was moving very directly in the midst of some.

Then just as discernment was being given among a few and spoken by them to judge between dead works and a faith which gives way to the mighty power of the Spirit – the Devil injected his details among the many.

Many who at one time had found much deliverance from sin’s power began measuring themselves by themselves and so walked again after the powerlessness of the flesh. Where once the judgement seat of Christ was rightly considered unto the gathering of heavenly reward, now it became seen as eternal damnation upon those who yet gather little. The assurance in Christ they once possessed gave way to doubt in light of their stumbling; and so they would not approach Christ in the humble confidence that once had claimed them deliverance. The Spirit became quenched by their lack of faith; for as they obsessed over their own filthy rags, they no longer reckoned themselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus unto His fruitful work in them.

Few have continued into much excellence after the Spirit; for by forgetting that they were once-for-all purged of their sins by the blood of Christ, they refuse to lift their heads unto Him: preferring not to to be assured in what is hoped for, but rather in what is seen of themselves according to the law of works.

Now to the one working, the reward is not counted according to grace, but according to debt. But to the one not working, but believing on Him justifying the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as also David says of the blessedness of the man to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawlessnesses are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed the man to whom the Lord will not charge sin.”
Romans 4:4-8 (LITV)

The same temptation to fall into much unbelief has incessantly knocked at my own door; but I refuse to be so unmindful of the gospel which I received, in which alone can I stand, and by which alone am I kept safe. The truth of the wickedness of my own flesh leads me only to throw myself all the more upon the mighty strength of He whose life I choose to dwell in by this faith.

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you were enslaved to righteousness.
Romans 6:17-18

We present ourselves as instruments of righteousness only by presenting ourselves as we are in Christ Jesus according to His promise. We present ourselves to Him by faith as those who are the living out from among the dead; for in Him we are indeed that (Romans 6:8-14). Only then shall the Spirit find much room wherein to work, for the heart is at rest in His labors. Only then can we ourselves possibly learn to labor IN HIM. Only in this rest is known the ease of His yoke and the lightness of His burden.

If we seek to keep God’s commendments for any reason other than that He in Christ has already loved us, then we are walking after the flesh. For it is by the power of the very Spirit of Christ through the faith of HIM that more-than-conquerers are made. It is those who keep themselves in His unfailing love that will be kept by Him from stumbling.

…you who are justified by law are deprived of all effect from Christ, you fell from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness out of faith. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any strength, but faith working through love. You were running well; who held you back that you do not obey the truth? The persuasion is not from Him calling you.
A little leaven leavens all the lump. I trust as to you in the Lord that you will think nothing else, but that the one troubling you shall bear the judgment, whoever he may be.
Galatians 5:4-10 (LITV)

Life According To His Word

My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to Your word!

Psalm 119:25

Life according to God’s word is life according to His sword.

In the word we are given the mirror of God’s holy eyes to judge the true state of our souls, and by its piercing revelation we are continually brought to repentance. This is the kindness of God to give us His life in abundance.

Life eternal is to know the Father and the Son; and the abundance of that life working within and flowing forth from the vessel will be in proportion to the depth and efficacy of this relationship.

Those in God’s house are those who have the Son and thereby have life; but how many of them have that life in abundance? If we but looked into His mirror, we should stand aghast at our estate before falling on our faces as one dead. The children of God are those whom He knows; but the co-heirs with Christ are those who partake of and know Him, even through the suffering of death (Rom 8:17). The apostle Paul, of whom many teachers today speak so glibly as if they knew the man, cried out near the end of his ministry…

…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection,
and may share
His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death,
that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:10-11

There is no higher resurrection than Christ’s, there is no suffering greater than His, and there is no death more final than His. O, that we by any means possible might attain to these! Let HIM be the measure of our life! For then our souls in gladness shall ever cling to He who alone gives life, and not to the dust of our wilderness.

If we do not ask, we shall not receive; but if we do not know the depth of our need, we shall never continue asking. And the Lord is refreshed by our asking.

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
John 4:10

“My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to your word!”

One House, Two Sons

“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, ‘Son, go work today in my vineyard.’ He answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind, and went. He came to the second, and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but he didn’t go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Most certainly I tell you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering into God’s Kingdom before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. When you saw it, you didn’t even repent afterward, that you might believe him.”
Matthew 21:28-32

While religious men waste precious time boasting of their good intentions, those who boast in the Lord Jesus Christ alone perform His will.

 

There are two kinds of sons in God’s house…

The one promises his own faithfulness and thereby cannot not deliver; the other beholds God’s faithfulness and thereby learns faithfulness.

The one looks to his good works as the assurance of things hoped for; the other finds faith itself to be that assurance.

The one tries to discern if he is in the faith though he already believed the gospel; the other knows that he is in the faith because he believes and thereby hears the Spirit bearing witness.

The one supposes to remain in Christ by his new-found goodness, and is overcome by his own weakness; the other abides in Christ’s love, and is overcome by His strength.

The one works with fear and torment in order keep his salvation as though it were on loan; the other learns with fear and trembling to work out his salvation, the free gift of God.

The one is persuaded that he must be able to keep that which Christ Jesus entrusted to him against the day of judgement; the other is persuaded that Christ Jesus is able to keep the thing entrusted to God in Christ against that day.

 

He whose heart is pure does not approach God on the terms of pretense; for he knows that God has not called him into pretense, but rather upon a settled surety.

It is Christ who shall present us to Himself, not ourselves. Men are obsessed with their own presentation; and through this, the Devil distracts them from the only One who can ever wash them clean.

“You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the platter, that its outside may become clean also.”

“If I don’t wash you, you have no part with Me.”

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

“Vincēbar” – Inverting Invictus

A rebuttal of William Ernest Henley’s famous and Godless poem, “Invictus” (Latin: “unconquerable”).

 

“VINCĒBAR”
(Latin: “I, The Conquered & Being Conquered”)

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 brought me near.
Through horror He my ransom paid,
That now in me He finds revere
And by His grace makes unafraid.

He brought me through the straitest gate,
He purged of punishments the scroll.
He is the Master of my fate:
He is the Captain of my soul.

 

Vincēbar” – Latin: first-person singular imperfect passive indicative of vincō (“conquer”).

For context, the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley can be viewed HERE.

The One Who By Faith Is Righteous Shall Live!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation
to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed *beginning and ending in faith,*
as it is written,“*The one who by faith is righteous shall live.*”
Romans 1:16-17 (ESV, *with more literal order of Gk. phrasing*)

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
…Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means!
On the contrary, we uphold the law.
Romans 3:28, 31

Faith upholds the law of God by its object and substance being Christ alone, who is “the end of law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Rom 10:4) It is only those who are righteous by faith that discover the transformative power of God’s grace. For if they shall ever have faith pure enough to walk righteously, it must be the same faith by which they were first declared righteous – even the faith of Christ, the free gift of God. It is He who begins the good work that must be allowed to finish it; lest having begun by the Spirit, we now seek to perfect ourselves by the flesh.

The scriptures declare that in this gospel “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith…” And this “to” is not to say that maturity develops into a different kind of faith, but greater faith of the same stock: indeed, that very same faith ever being freed of man-made baggage and dead works. For how is faith greater if it is not purer? The righteousness of God is revealed beginning and ending in faith. The faith like a mustard seed which grows into a great tree does not lose the nature of that mustard seed, nor can it afford to despise that pure form from whence it first sprouted. For the man doing so is “trampling the Son of God, and counting common the blood of the covenant in which he was sanctified, and insulting the Spirit of grace…” (Heb 10:29) Those who consider themselves to have advanced beyond Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice for sins make themselves incompatible with His continuing benefits. They abide not in the one keeping them, and their branch will wither. They forget that only the blood of Christ cleanses them from all sin; seeing that, just as Abraham’s faith ultimately rested in He who was to come, ours likewise can only rest in that same everlasting covenant. He who passed over our former sins at the same time passed over our future sins also; that we, having died and been raised in in Him, might now live to God. And only that same faith of the new child of God shall suffice to please Him. We do not grow out of the gospel, we grow into it. “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (Rom 14:23) At the judgement seat of Christ, there will be a fiery judgment of everyone’s works – and what a shame it shall be for those whose foundation remains, yet nothing gracing it except filthy rags! They have stifled the possibilities of those great rewards by which they could praise God for His glorious grace in the midst of His assembly.

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15

Therefore, let that which each man builds upon the foundation be derivative of the precious and immeasurable resource who IS that foundation! Many have forgotten that the faith of a child, lost in the wonder of God’s grace and the innocence of new life, is the only faith immense enough to truly move mountains. And shall not our Lord be allowed restore our souls day by day to such an estate? Only such unencumbered and unentangled faith has this capacity for holy increase, because it is ever rooted in God’s love and ever deepens in its discovery of His unceasing mercies.

He that followeth after righteousness and mercy
findeth life, righteousness, and honour.
Proverbs 21:21

We love because He first loved us! This is why He holds His own to such a high account. But if He had not loved us first, we would not be His own, and He would not hold us to account as a loving father holds His children. We would be with out hope in the world.

Yet some,under the guise of maturity and moving onward from the elementary principles of Christ, end up forsaking the elementary principles as though they were not compatible with the obedience of maturity. The faith of these is nearing shipwreck unless they repent of their dead works to fully believe the gospel. But if they return to that old vomit, they crucify to themselves the Son of God a second time and put Him to an open shame; and such are those whose inheritance is weeping and gnashing of teeth in the outer court of heaven. They kept not the garments freely given to them for the wedding feast, and they buried their talents. They undermined faith rather than walking in its fullness; therefore their souls do not prosper. But those who first find rest in the work of Christ find the key to surrender, that His works may show forth in them as they are finally liberated to obey Him. They are found working out the salvation already given, in the assurance that it is God who works in them to will and to do according to His good pleasure.

It is those who know that they are not condemned based solely upon the work of God in Christ who discover the freedom to abide in His grace, the only place where strength to walk uprightly is truly found. This is a great irony in light of the natural man, who cannot understand this mystery; for he seeks to establish its own righteousness rather than that which is by the faith of Christ.

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed
beginning and ending in faith, as it is written,
“The one who by faith is righteous shall LIVE…”

IN HUMILITY:

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
Romans 4:4-8

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:6-11

WITH CONFIDENCE:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 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. 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.
Romans 8:1-5

…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!” 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 8:12-17

So let us not only be saved from the wrath of God; let us also keep the faith unto the fullest preservation of the soul! Shame on us; that there is much in God we have yet to obtain, while many have yet to be firmly rooted in the first things of Christ in order to go forward without shipwrecking their faith!

The man after God’s own heart is the man who keeps the faith. It is the man unwavering in his devotion to Christ, despite his failing heart and flesh, who discovers increasing victory over the darkness therein by the Spirit of God. Those who do not find rest in God must be reminded again of the elementary principles of Christ should they be able to be kept by Him from stumbling. It is those who see the faithfulness of God in Christ that are enabled to pursue faithfulness. It is those who know they are holy by God’s account that are enabled to be holy. It is the scandalous mercy of God in His holy Son being offered for the filth of the world which turns the hearts of men to the fear of the Lord. That we should adjust this gospel to appeal to the self-righteous heart is a reprehensible notion; and it reveals self-righteousness in ourselves.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.
John 3:17-21

It is those who see HIM that become like Him. That which they have seen and heard, they declare. There is a famine of seeing and hearing Jesus Christ and Him crucified in this land. There may be much teaching about the forgiveness of Christ; but men are not called to the substance of a faith which denies the tyranny of self-reliance and the restless man-made religion of the inner heart. Many of God’s children still need to be fully reconciled to Him in Christ. He is the vindicator of those who hang themselves fully upon Him.

Christ Jesus came trading life for life. All the evils of the curse which ail men are the symptoms of Christ not being lifted up in their place. But the church has lifted up man in the place of Christ – this is the very definition of antichrist. It is the gospel inverted. It is man’s ascension without God’s gracious condescension. It is the partaking of the tree of knowledge to the removal of the tree of life. It is the seeking of all but the kingdom of God and His righteousness to the ultimate loss of all. It is the disguise of the flesh as having made itself spiritual, to the quenching of the Spirit of God. In pursuing for themselves the thing spoken by God to His heavenly offspring, “Ye are gods” (Ps 82), they will never arrive at it and they will die like all men. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”” (Rom 9:32-33)

The lie of the serpent has never changed. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Then do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of patience, that having done the will of God you may obtain the promise.
“For, yet a very little and the One coming will come, and will not delay. But the just shall live by faith; and if he draws back, My soul is not pleased in him.”
But we are not of those withdrawing to destruction, but of faith, to the preservation of the soul.
Hebrews 10:35-39

Keep the faith.
Run the race.
Hold fast in the gospel.

But, brothers, I reveal to you the gospel which I preached to you, which you also received, in which you also stand, by which you also are being kept safe, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you in the first place what I also received, that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised the third day, according to the scriptures…
1 Corinthians 15:1-4

And we who are kept safe by holding fast to this gospel do not believe in vain; not because of our works, but because HE is risen.

But if Christ has not been raised, your faith is foolish; and you are still in your sins. And then those that fell asleep in Christ were lost. If we only have hope in Christ in this life, we are of all men most miserable. But now Christ has been raised from the dead; He became the firstfruit of those having fallen asleep. For since death is through man, also through a Man is a resurrection of the dead; for as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:17-22

In the flesh dwells no good thing. But in HIM we are no longer in our sins. It is the unbelieving who die in their sins. But the new creature cannot sin for he is born of God, and God’s seed abides in him. It is for a good witness and great reward unto God’s glory that we must walk by faith after the Spirit, and not by sight after the flesh. For “faith is the substantiation of things having been hoped, the evidence of things not having been seen. For by THIS the elders obtained WITNESS.” (Heb 11:1-2, LITV)

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed
beginning and ending IN faith, as it is written,
“The one who by faith is righteous shall LIVE.”

The Good Wine & His Hour

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: and both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, “They have no wine.” Jesus saith unto her, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.”
John 2:1-4

O, that Christ were so formed in us, in such an hour of thick darkness, when the wine has all but run out, that the travailing cry of those still carrying Him might likewise proceed heavenward to bring forth His hour! For she who once bore the Christ child still walked expectantly of Him in His manhood, as one interceding to the end that His hour might at last come; and it was her persistent faith in this one thing which at last birthed His giving of the new wine. How much more should we ourselves be found in such watchful intercession at this hour!

A mere pointing out the fact that there is no more wine has nothing to do with Him; but when the servants of the Bridegroom are ready to do whatever He says, His hour is come. Just as with the persistent woman whose daughter was oppressed by a demon, He awaits faith to arise of such substance that He may at last bring forth the ministry of His Spirit (the wine):

His mother saith unto the servants, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, “Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast.” And they bare it.
John 2:5-8

What do we bear of Him? Is it the thing we bring forth of ourselves, or is it of heavenly conception? It is quite appropriate that there were six water pots, (the number of man), since this washing was an added tradition of the elders, for which Jesus another time rebuked them (Mk 7:1-9). For the six waterpots of stone used after the tradition of the Jews could only be partially filled in order to serve man’s purpose. So it is in our lives when we are not filled with the things of God: man-made and self-made traditions are the empty portion. Jesus first commanded the servants to fill the vessels with water – just as we are exhorted that the word should dwell in us richly by the admonishing of one another (Col 3:16), so that we are thoroughly washed by His ministration through one another as by water (Eph 5:26-27). It is by this consecration that the vessel is increasingly made able to receive the things of the Spirit of God, the heavenly wine. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…” (Eph 5:18-19)

When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew); the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse:
but thou hast kept the good wine until now.”
John 2:9-10

This pictures the day of which we find ourselves standing at the threshold. It is the Day of HIS hour! It is day for which He has saved the best wine until last, just as the enemy has saved the worst. It is the day of the good wine ready to be brought forth by the calling of our Bridegroom, by His vessels consecrating themselves to be thoroughly washed by His water – and it need not take much time, O we of little faith! It is the day to forsake the old wineskin of man’s devices and traditions so that the new wine of the Holy Spirit might be received. For contrary to man’s way, this new wine of God is the only GOOD wine for such a time; it is the consuming fire which He sends upon the earth by the prayers of those who will settle for nothing less than to be filled with all the fullness of God. For He comes forth from His chamber to receive only such a holy and spotless bride, one who has mourned the absence of HIS voice and fasted of all but HIM.

And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound…
Revelation 8:4-6

At the cry of a bride made ready shall He stand and come; and all that is not of His making is shaken into pieces, and the earth melts before Him. Will HIS faith be made ours? Will the bride at last be in perfect unison with the Spirit, saying, “Come”? Will He find HIS faith still upon the earth? For He Himself still says, “Surely I come quickly.”

Even so, come Lord Jesus…

The marriage supper of the Lamb is both His and our calling fulfilled.

“…and both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.”