Partaking In God

NOTE:

This article will appear to be a mix of both what would be considered “devotional” and what would be considered “academic.” And unless the reader are somewhat read in ancient controversies (which is not my highest recommendation), then he or she will be new to some of the terms used here; which I have attempted to utilize in such a way as to plainly convey their intended meaning. But again, this is not a merely academic discourse – which can too easily be in vain. This is rather more a devotional exercise involving a tearing down of said vanity with some usage of its own vocabulary.

As I said, this article will appear to be a mix, though truly it is a cohesive whole, which I hope is clear by the end. I simply could not split up any of the various aspects of the matters discussed here. I suppose the heart and the mind are meant to be one organ. There was no typical format which either allowed me to say what needed to be said or how. My simple hope is that this meandering treatise harmonizes all things contained within it well enough, and that the resulting harmony is edifying to someone.


Whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily.
Colossians 1:29

[ἐνέργεια [“energeia“] – efficiency (“energy”): – operation, strong (effectual) working.]

And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
1 Corinthians 12:6

“…but the greatest of these is love.”

The uncreated energies (ἐνέργειαenergeia) of God are distinct from the very essence of God’s being, just as our human energies and operations are distinct from our own being; yet they proceed forth from Him in accordance with His nature, just as our energies and operations proceed from our own nature, being made after His image.

Love is one of the chief operations of God, and indeed the “greatest of these,” which so perfectly characterizes His every other working that the apostle John even speaks of it in such a way that he risks sounding as though this particular energeia of God is the very substance of the essence of His being:

“God is love.”

But this statement cannot mean that His love is isomorphicaly identical to His very being or and one of His Persons; since He is not an absolutely simple monadic oneness of almalgimated attributes, which every single philosophy of man from east to west has ever concluded of their “unknown god”. Rather, He, being the personal triadic God of which the philosophers could never rightly conceive in their unregenerate minds, shows such love toward His creatures that it characterizes all of His works, just as it ought to characterize all of our works, we who are made in His image. “For whosoever loves is born of God.”

Some will object to this by saying that I ignore the “plain language of scripture”. Tell me then: when Christ says, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” is this a plain one-to-one ontological comparison, or is it not rather the allegory of a mystery? In other words, did Jesus become a loaf of bread, or did He not rather become a Life-giving spirit? So also, then, when He says, “I am the light of the world,” is the very essence of His being reduced to an ontologically simple principle of spiritual enlightenment? Or is it not rather the case that His incarnation is the revelation unto a morally and spiritually darkened humanity? We hold that the latter is true; therefore John can rightly say that “God is light,” meaning that the action of the Son of God becoming man brings unto men an enlightenment that is special to God.

Hence, the same apostle John described the incarnation of the Son, saying, “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” Christ is here called the light because He enlightens by way of His incarnation; whereas we do not say that “light is God:” for then all light, even that of fallen Lucifer, which has much variableness and shadow of turning, would be of equal moral status to He in whose there are no such properties (James 1:17). Therefore, “God is Light” is not ontologically stating the substance of God’s being, but is rather stating a central attribute of the nature of His character as seen through all of His actions and operations (energeia). For there is distinction between nature and being: in that being (or essence) possesses a nature or natures, whereas a nature possesses not its own being. So also it is with God’s love, as John likewise indicates. Not that there is danger in speaking as John did; but rather that by misunderstanding it in the way to which I here object, we unintentionally begin to import the pantheistic philosophical conception of absolute divine simplicity into the holy scriptures, which quietly infects many of our underlying assumptions about God’s nature, thereby eroding our defense against the religions of the heathen.

For He said, “I am who I am.”

“I AM” is not a philosophical statement of absolute ontological simplicity. For if that were so, we might flip John’s statement, “God is love” to render it “love is God,” and find it to be equal in its ontological truth. But this is not so; for even John himself says in the same epistle, “love is OF God” meaning that it is from God: presupposing a distinction between God’s love and God Himself. So the procession of love from God presupposes a distinction of love, as an energeia of God, from the very essence of His being.

“I am who I am” indicates to us the Lord’s personal or relatable quality, which allows adequate room for distinctions of God’s essence from His energies (energeia) without there existing any “tension” within His being; and also of the distinction of His Persons within His being (essence) without there existing any composition of “parts.” God is one in essence, and His Persons are one in will. His energeia proceed from His essence, which are therefore distinct: and this procession is partaken in by each of His Persons: from the Father, by the Son, through the Spirit.

Therefore, we can confidently say that God’s love, as with all His attribute, personify none of the Godhead, but rather characterize the nature of the whole Godhead; and that they proceed via His energeia from the Father, by the Son, through the Spirit. For the Spirit of God proceeds only from the Father, and in His Spirit we are baptized only by the Son, just as the one crying out in the wilderness declared: “He (the Son) shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost…” And countering the teaching of some that the Holy Spirit is merely a linguistic or conceptual personification of the invisible force of God’s love, Paul tells us that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit,” rather than “as” the Holy Spirit; since He is a Person of the Godhead.

Thus, we experientially know God through two means: firstly through His energies (energeia) administered to us in various unseen ways, although at times perceived as visible; and secondly through true direct interaction with the incarnate Son in our transfigured resurrection state – but not by directly beholding the Father’s essence. For no man shall live who beholds the very essence of God the Father. Yet just as Moses beheld not the face of God, but rather the energeia of His goodness, and at other times beheld the Angel of the Lord speaking with him as a friend; we now shall much more behold His glory – not directly – but rather in the face of Jesus Christ,” the Incarnate One.

For Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, is the Bread of the Faces of the face of God, which occupies the soul of the temple and is seen by way of the Spirit’s light, whereas the outer court can only provide for a faith which remains grounded in a merely natural understanding. For that Bread is truly eaten not through a ceremony of bodily consumption, but rather by the inner revelation of His Divine Person through the enlightenment of the sevenfold lamp of the Spirit of God indwelling us, we who are that temple. By this Bread we are also instructed to enter further, as a sweet-smelling living sacrifice, into the holy of holies (the spirit of the temple), that we may truly worship in spirit and in truth.

For the outer court has the understanding of washings and of an offering for sins, just as we are commanded to be baptized and rest upon the offering of Christ for our sins. But the holy place pertains to the tasting and seeing of things invisible, and where the only light tolerated is that of the Spirit of God; so that we may become fit to continually abide in the most holy place: where we taste the hidden manna of His Covenant (Heb 9:4, Rev 2:17), and above it see the voice of He who stands in the midst of the golden candlesticks (Rev 1:12). For each successive place in God’s temple contains the true revelation of the previous. So returning back to the bread: Whereas the sign of baptism is outward, the Bread of which we are truly commanded to partake is not a visible bread that we eat bodily; yet in the partaking, we begin to see HIM.

For we partake in Christ’s broken body not by food and drink and appointed feasts, but rather by obedience to the same Spirit which raised Jesus bodily from the dead; the obedience by which the saints also shed their own blood and offer up their own flesh to be burned. For as often as we eat this bread of His fellowship, and drink this cup of His sufferings, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. As He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me.” Therefore any man who partakes in the divine nature is in fact having the various energeia of God’s Life imparted to him through obedience to the leadings of the Spirit, and not through observance of that which men have interpreted as a “sacrament”. For “the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” And that Spirit is given without measure to those that obey Him. The clarity of our seeing of God depends upon the degree to which we walk in obedience by His love.

This is no vapid over-spiritualization of the matter: it is only a spiritualization insofar as Christ and the apostles explained it. For when Paul chastised the Corinthians, “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat,” it is clear that their gathering’s failure to be considered by Paul “the Lord’s supper” was simply in that Lord was not honored due to their lack of consideration for the poor and hungry at their “love feasts” (Jude’s term for the early believers’ fellowship meals). “For in eating,” he continued, “each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.” (The presence of wine is no necessary indication of a ceremonial context; as wine is not forbidden to the Christian, and Jesus Himself drank frequently enough for the label of “drunkard” to stick among the prudish Pharisees who despised Him.)

What would constitute a “Lord’s supper” in Paul’s mind is that in their gathering together, they would eat and drink “to the glory of God,” neither neglecting the weak nor depriving the poor among them, which was the particular sin being addressed. For we miss supping with the Lord whenever we neglect the opportunities for love and charity that He places before us (Matt 25:31-46). Paul then utilizes the example of Christ’s last passover meal with His disciples (which He was about to fulfill once for all time in His passion) as an explanation of the mystical Body of Christ, and the discerning thereof, that they might honor Christ in the honoring of their brothers. For the neglect of their brethren was an “unworthy manner” of partaking of the Body and blood of the Lord, which is His church; for which reason many had become ill and even died.

Therefore Paul brings his admonition back down from spiritual allegory into the practical matter at hand with the words, “So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.” So it is clearly a fellowship meal, and not a sacramental ceremony, which Paul took as an occasion to teach them of the mystery of Christ’s Body and blood: the church. Paul writes after a similar pattern to the Ephesians, weaving in and out of allegory when speaking of marriage, but then at last remarking, “I speak of Christ and the church;” while indeed still addressing the practical matter at hand.

For not much earlier in the same letter to the Corinthians, the apostle said, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” And is not their participation truly in the mystery of being one with His Body? Therefore he immediately explains this with the saying, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (1Cor 10:16-17) For partaking of that Bread is the personal knowing of the Living Christ Himself, not the bodily consumption of a temporary stand-in, mysteriously endued with divinity. Any recommendation of such a supposedly vital practice is also conspicuously absent from the Jerusalem council’s advice to their newly baptized gentile counterparts (Acts 15).

And neither by saying “do this in rememberance of Me” was Jesus at all commanding them to observe the feast of Passover; for again in the same letter, Paul explained, “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” And lest we still insist upon the necessity of observing a feast, the apostle goes on to cast “keeping this feast” as the manner in which we partake of Christ’s Body and blood – that is, how honorably we interact with His people: “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1Cor 5:7-8) Yes, the practice of sincerity and truth among the brethren is truly the bread we must eat; and the sacrifice of our selfish desires for their good is truly the cup we must drink.

Thus, we partake in His divine nature through the Holy Spirit indwelling us by He who became not earthly bread but rather a Life-giving spirit – and not by means a wrongly construed “sacrament,” which takes a truth of the inward parts and pertains it to the outward. And one day we shall also see Him face-to-face; yet by the Son, and not by what some call the “Beatific Vision,” which is an eternal staring into the Father’s very essence. For our relating to God is personal and manifold.

But that concept of the Beatific Vision, which many have postulated awaits the faithful, is an eternal (and quite impersonal) seeing of God the Father’s pure essence; as opposed to the teaching of scripture, which indicates that whereas we now relate to God’s persons through His energeia, we shall soon in resurrected body relate to God in the bodily risen transfigured Christ. In other words, our present beholding of Jesus with unveiled face is “through the Lord who is the Spirit;” and our beholding of Him in the age to come will be in heavenly bodies like His, when we shall be like Him. For we shall still be men, which cannot behold the true impassible glory the Father at any time; but the one and only God, who is in the bosom of the Father: HE makes Him known.

Beatific Vision is really a “Christianized” adaption of the pantheistic notion that The Many will be re-absorbed back into the Beingness of the generic Oneness, or One or Fullness or Source from which they sprang, having always subsisted as mere extensions of Its being rather than as creatures distinct from the personal Creator who created all things ex-nihilo. Beatific Vision presupposes the absolute simplicity of God’s being, which at its ultimate end must be the generic impersonal ultimate being of ultimate beingness that is common to all perennial and gnostic philosophies, according to which all nations and religions are deceived.

For even the majority of the Jews, having missed God, have now followed after a god which is little more than this nihilistic conception, and the adherents of Islam worship a capricious god who transcends any personability that could be relatable to his creatures. Also, the seemingly endless pantheons of eastern Indian tradition eventually break down into impersonal principles, which themselves are ultimately slave to this over-arching impersonal principle of a generic oneness of all being. And the many practices of the orient are perhaps most obvious in following after this empty pattern.

Therefore, although man’s dim conceptions of the God of holy scripture too often become a balancing act of various attributes in seeming tension, the answer to this is not simply equating His attributes and His energies to His very being. For then God is rendered truly unknowable in ways that He has declared Himself to be quite knowable, impersonal in ways that He has declared Himself to be quite personable, and yet also able to be beheld in ways which He declares no man can behold Him (as in Beatific Vision).

For even Isaiah beheld “the Lord of Hosts;” which is God the Warrior-King of old times, the pre-incarnate Son of the cleansing of the land: who Himself visited Abraham with two messenger angels, raining down fire and brimstone upon the cities of Sodom; who Himself lead the armies of heaven in the days of Joshua’s conquest; and who Himself came down to slay 180,000 of the Assyrians in their sleep.

The temptation of men to make no distinction either between God’s essence and energies, nor between His being and Persons, is not merely a philosophical one – it is, in fact, rooted in the fall, by which man has become accustomed to a distance between himself and the direct workings (energeia) and personal presence of God, who once walked with Adam in the cool of the day.

Therefore:

“The Word (logos) became flesh, and dwelt among us.”

Now, the logos which the scripture here says “became flesh” is not being equated to the generic rational principle (logos) of Plotinas and the Greeks, as some would have us believe; nor is John merely taking that existing philosophical concept and inserting Jesus into it. John was a reader of the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament), in which the “Word” of Yahweh was translated as the “logos” of the Lord. Much more than making a philosophical point – which to some degree I grant he may be – John is personifying the eternal logos of the Lord as Jesus; for often the “Angel of the Lord” who delivers the words of God in the Old Testament is very clearly the second person of the Trinity.

And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
Exodus 3:2

All of creation burns with conviction of the triune personal God of scripture, who is revealed even in the design of the creature; and when the incarnate Son of God is declared, the witness of the Father by the Holy Spirit presses all the more with conviction upon the hearts of men, though without the light of His faith they cannot comprehend the matter, their own spirit being darkened through sin.

But the surge of atheism in recent decades has tempted the Christian anew to merely convince men of the existence of a generic deity, as if such were a legitimate stepping-stone towards knowing the true and living God. This reduction of our conception of God into terms that resemble little more than Aristotle’s “Great Architect” or Plato’s “Demiurge” is an apologetic of surrender to the religion of the unbelievers; and those who are newly convinced of its existence will simply come to worship any version of this reasonable singular generic deity, still hating He who is revealed, denying what He has made known within them.

And we, who ought to know better, still too easily think of God as transcendent in ways which do not allow for the fact that although now fallen, men are yet made in His image, and do indeed continue to reflect that truth in many ways; though they fail to walk according to it, suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. This is a rebellious estimation of God’s transcendence, cushioning men from the perception of full accountability to Him. It especially achieves this by rendering the incarnation as described in scripture to be an utter scandal for such an impersonal creator, and therefore improbable; when truly the slaying of the Lamb was foreordained before the foundation of the world, and held up before every eye to see.

Where is the wise person? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe.
1 Corinthians1:20-21 (LEB)


Historical Addendum


The Latin speaking fathers of the early church had much trouble with these things, being very learned in man’s philosophy; and so perpetuated and aggravated many of the misunderstandings and errors addressed above.

A most noteable consequence of the Latin scholastic tradition was an over-emphasis upon the legal aspects of Christ’s atonement, at the expense of its other vital elements. This (originally unintentional) reduction of the redemptive work has since lead much of God’s people into contriving countless ecclesiastical invetions and endless ritualistic innovations to fill the void. The extrapolation of the Latin tradition – which by default strictly submits all scriptural teaching under Aristotelian categorical understandings of being, substance, and accidents – and so casts the “ultimate divinity” as absolutely simple in nature – ultimately culminated in the Summa Theoligica of Thomas Aquinas, who is unequivocally Rome’s unofficial-official dogma.

Augustine, who preferred the legally-oriented language of Latin and worked very little with Greek, often gets the majority of the blame for starting all of this. For while his devotional life as shown to us in his great work “The Confessions” certainly displays a vibrant personal knowing of the God who redeemed him; his later theological works became especially filled with the relatively flat assumptions of Greek philosophical thought as perceived through the even flatter medium of Latin linguistics. Therefore he acknowledged no essence-energy distinction in God, somewhat frustrating his work “On The Trinity” (though perhaps not to his mind), and causing him to lay the groundwork for the doctrines of “created grace,” as well as reviving a version of the Beatific Vision that Origen had once proposed – all notions within which much of both Roman and Protestant understanding has remained grounded.

And while this may all sound quite obtuse and arcane to the majority of today’s ears, it does entually touch them all, however unwittingly. Therefore it remains necessary that some should be somewhat informed in these things, in order to provide an answer to the philosophical objectors who undermine the faith of many by much vain knowledge in matters which they themselves will yet declare cannot be truly known by men, since to them it is all merely conceptual. To such the apostle Paul declared of their unknown god, “HIM I proclaim to you” (not “it”). And thus, in preaching to the areopagus, he relied not upon sharing any presuppositions in common with those Greek philosophers; but rather he mmediately proclaimed the personally knowable God who is not far from men, who became incarnate, and who conquered death itself in bodily resurrection. Paul’s presupposition was not reliant upon the darkened plodding of fallen reason, but rather upon the immediacy of Christ’s manifest revelation.

The Greek-fluent “eastern fathers” of the early church were often wiser than their Latin counterparts in that they did not tend to presuppose the philosophy of man’s generic theism in their expounding of God’s revelation. One man in particular, who most thoroughly excelled in dealing with these matters, was Maximos (or Maximus) “The Confessor”. His voluminous writings summarize and explain many difficulties both in scripture and in the earlier church writers; frequenty offering his explanations in the philosophic language – yet not as submitting to the philosophers’ presuppositions, but rather as discerning many of those errors and emphasizing the good within the writings of his predecessors.

It seems that none of much note, however, have escaped even a mildly superstitious view of what men call the “sacraments:” especially those that exceed baptism, which I believe I have shown to be the only so-called “sacrament” that was commanded to the whole church.


In coming to understand these things, let us not squander them by adherence to yet another tradition which merely contains them in concept only; “for the word of God is not bound.”

And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend…
Exodus 33:11

Joseph Parker – Quote on John’s Gospel

Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 1:12


– This, again, is most emphatically in the style of John. Never can he lose sight of the spirituality of Jesus Christ’s work. John shows the very religiousness of religion. Christianity is to him more than a history, more than an argument, more than a theology – it is a spiritual revelation to the spiritual nature of man.

On the part of man it is to be not an attitude, but a life – the very mystery of his spirit, too subtle for analysis, too strong for repression, too divine to be tolerant of corruption.

– Joseph Parker


Philosophy A.D.

Reason alone cannot justify its own existence; and the philisophical impass of existence itself ever convicts the soul. Therefore God, the “unmoved mover” of the great philosophers, cannot simply be thought thinking itself, as they sometimes concluded.

For although there may be mind without thought, there cannot be thought without mind; and a mind which conceives of persons must know and experience personhood as much or more so than those conceived of. Yet also, if we are all merely thoughts in a greater mind, as some have concluded, then we ourselves may all be decieved in supposing that our thoughts are truly thoughts at all; and then our own “thoughts” about that very matter are also in vain, and, as likely as not, another layer of deception: and why then do we so speculate, and that willfully? We should then rightly abondon the whole discourse, and immediately attempt to discover what lies beyond this veil of tears through self-inflicted death!

Yet does it not burn deeply within our souls, that the reason by which we reason must have definite origin and definite purpose? And does not death also loom as a certain judgement over the soul, for good or for ill?

Therefore, we shall not speculate upon things which in themselves necessitate the meaninglessness of themselves; for this is madness, and we know that there is a good, and a true, as it has been imprinted upon us within and without, though our eyes have been cut off from its more explicit light. And that light without is what we ought to seek from within, seeing that our own light within has already proven itself quite inadequate to be sought from without.

Now, if the good and the true of that greater mind aforementioned shall be truly known, it must be more than a force of unseen nature: it must be the nature and character of a being who can be known not only as a mind but more importantly as a person; for a mind without personhood cannot create persons, only thoughts. Yet man is a person; and if we are speaking of the ultimate God at all, then we are speaking of man’s creator, who must therefore be a person – or else we speak of no god concerning man at all, but only of what is neither relevant nor existent (except in thought), and so deceive ourselves before we have scarcely begun to consider the matter.

For if man is a personal being – and we step into madness to deny such – then the good and true which is meant for him must have a like example to him in order to be truly known by him. If the good and true is only a force of unseen nature, then man, who is a personal being, can neither discover nor relate to it; and such is either not good and not true, or is at least not meant for him, since, being impersonal, it does not concern his person. Therefore, the good and true that is meant for him is the good and true found in a being relating to him personally. The great absurdity of the ages is that man, a manifestly triune being, scrambles to prove that a greater triune being cannot have created him. For, any good and true that is relevant to man, and especially the ultimate and transcendent, depends not merely upon the existence of that good and true as God, but upon that God being a person whose nature and character defines that very good and true, for which the created man longs, knowingly or unknowingly.

Therefore, as Christians, unless the person of Jesus Christ is our assumed presupposition in all argumentation, then all our philosophizing is in vain, try as Aquinas might to convince himself otherwise. His predecessors knew better.


“For I do not understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe – that unless I believe I shall not understand.”
– Anselm of Canterbury


The Person of Christ cannot be arrived at by outside wisdom: as all wisdom proceeds from Him. He cannot be reasoned to by outside knowledge: as all knowledge is hidden in Him from the wise. He cannot be found through the courses of the human mind: as true right-mindedness subsists only in Him through relationship.

How then shall anyone be saved through our apologetic?

They shall not; nor have they ever been.

For it is not our apologetic through which any are saved; but through the power of the God who knows men. The faith of Christ is the gift of God, and the apologetic is only the confirmation of the mind of the heart already being enlightened. Apologetics may at times be an instrument of the Spirit for the unbeliever, but they are a far more useful instrument for the believer.

Divine faith is not the fruit of true reason: true reason is the fruit of divine faith. Reason may discover by omission the chasm at its center, which is faith; but even so, it cannot fill that chasm with said faith – which is the work of God’s Spirit. The faith of Jesus Christ has root in the source of all things, God the Father, the transcendent, yet personal, uncreated God who subsits in Himself, who is “that than which none is greater,” regardless of our own failing conceptions or incomplete knowledge of Him.

Those who claim that they have arrived at, reasoned to, or found Jesus Christ by means of excellent philosophy fall into two categories: firstly, those who have not truly found Him, but only a concept of Him befitting their minds; or secondly, those who have truly been found by His faith, yet are still too proud to give Him the glory in their intellect.

These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
[Or, “interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.”]
1 Corinthians 2:13 (NKJV)

The above words of the apostle leave us no intermediary stepping-stone between the carnal mind and the spiritual mind that can be relied upon; no bridge between reason and revelation that can be crossed; no means of God-pleasing enlightenment except that which the Holy Spirit Himself works upon the soul. A man is either carnal or spiritual; he will either understand spiritual things or he will not; and the knowledge of God will either be conceptual, unto his puffing up, or experiential, unto his building up.

True wisdom is either hidden from a man or revealed to him; and a man of philosophy is either hopelessly enthralled by the unknown god or hopefully enraptured by the revealed God in Jesus Christ.

Christ is the only true philosopher’s Stone, if there ever was one – whom the builders of such conceptions have themselves rejected from the beginning. The torch of Prometheus is lit with the fire of hell, and its wisdom glows with the sickly dying light of the fallen one.

The beyond of the merely reasoning mind is the void of the Word of God. But the man enlightened by the faith of Jesus Christ no longer has need of such an elusive beyond to be concieved of in his mind; for he is now present in the revelation of the Word, who is very near to him, even in his mouth and in his heart.

Our known reality is not the manifestation of abstract concepts from the beyond of true reality: rather, true reality has been manifestly revealed in our known reality in the Man Christ Jesus, of whom the most excellent philosophical concepts are only derivative, and speak only faintly. Reality is right before us; and He who defines it must open our eyes to begin to see Him as He is.

Experience is the shadow of reality, and concepts are the shadow of experience. Therefore, mere concepts of God are only a shadow of a shadow; and have no use without the experience of what is real in God.

We do not reason to God to open men’s hearts, we reason from God, who opens men’s hearts.


“Now, since we do not live with our soul stripped bare, but, on the contrary, have it clothed over, as it were, with the veil of the flesh, our soul has the mind as a sort of eye which sees and has the faculty of knowing and which is capable of receiving knowledge and having understanding of things which are.
It does not, however, have knowledge and understanding (by) itself, but has need of one to teach it; so, let us approach that Teacher in whom there is no falsehood and who is the truth. Christ is the subsistent wisdom and truth and in Him are all the treasures of hidden knowledge.”
– John of Damascus


“After reading the doctrines of Plato, Socrates or Aristotle, we feel the specific difference between their words and Christ’s is the difference between an inquiry and a revelation.”
– Joseph Parker


True Philosophy – John Of Damascus

“Philosophy is a love of wisdom. But, true wisdom is God. Therefore, the love of God, this is the true philosophy.”
– John of Damascus

Elect In His Calling

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
1 Peter 1:1-2 (ESV)

The election of the saints is according to something, in something, and for something; all of which things play out in this present time upon the earth.

These are not theoretical matters, but living and consequential matters: each one of the three proceeding from God Himself with the intent and power to find their fulfillment by the obedience of faith in the elect ones.


Elect “According To”


“…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…”

The first of these three is the only sure fountain of the other two. If we do not appreciate the humbling enormity of what this election, or this choosing, is “according to,” then we rob the subsequent matters of their true source of power.

For if God’s electing grace was according to our own choosing, then He should still be waiting for our dead souls to impossibly come alive and choose. But praise be to God! That while we were yet dead in our trespasses and sins, He made us alive: so that we might see, with eyes of a faith once unattainable, the grace of God bestowed upon us in a predestinating love that conforms us to the image of His Son!

That God foreknew is not a theological term for divine time travel. God did not peer helplessly along the parade of souls through time, hoping to see if there were many who decided to believe in Him. The prophets indeed tell us what God sees when He looks upon fallen man: “And there was no man to intercede.” Men have altogether failed to intercede, even on behalf of their own souls. And how could they? For they are not able to please Him, being without the gift of faith, the seed of His Life, in them.

That God forknew the elect means that He KNEW THEM before their time. It is a term of the longing and loving relationship of the Shepherd who seeks out the one lost sheep of the hundred, laying down His very Life for it. The Life-giving call goes out, and His lost sheep awaken to hear His voice, responding with cries for help.

Later on (v.3), Peter will say that according to this abundant mercy, we have been caused to be born again “to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” A living hope! A tangible hope! This means that the subsequent sanctification of the Spirit also comes from God, and not from ourselves. It is God’s power by which we are being gaurded through faith for the revealing of this ever-unfolding salvation until the Last Day (v.4-7).


Elect “In”


“…in the sanctification of the Spirit…”

The relational foreknowing of God, once having planted its seed, is meant to produce the fruit of the same Spirit by whose power we have been generated from above. It is at this point of contact with our lives that the electing and calling will of God tests the soil of the heart of a man. It is here that the seed will germinate and become fruitful, or wither.

It is here that the birds of the air will consume the seed if the soil of the heart is hard and unreceptive to its manner of dying. It is here that the heat will scorch it for lack of depth and root, though it spring up quickly at first. It is here that thorns and thistles will choke it out unless resilient growth displaces them.

And in that parable of the soils is also seen the progression of growth based upon how those three bad soils failed to receive the seed: hardness of heart in the first case, lack of depth in the second, and worldly cares in the third. Whereas, the pattern of growth is as follows: first, the heart softening to recieve the Seed which died and now lives, that it may spring up anew; second, the newly softened ground giving way to greater depth of root; and third, depth of root producing a resilient and fruitful planting – a tree which the birds of the air rest in the shade of, the sun cannot scorch, and the thorns and thistles have no effect upon.

Such is the work of the Spirit of God in a heart that keeps its First Love, surrendering to His mighty work. It is not for lack of His powerful working that we have no power; it is rather for our lack of abiding faith in He who continually works powerfully in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. The three bad soils are so easily emulated in us – and the elect saint must vigilantly fight these conditions of the heart if Christ is to be fully formed in it.

The saints (Gk. holy ones) are elect in the santification of the Spirit.

“In” – it is a matter of abiding. Holy ones are those who do not allow their garments to remain defiled if they become stained. Therefore, we are later exhorted by Peter to be found confirming our calling and election; because continual repentance keeps the elect in the sanctification of the Spirit, by which their true obedience is made possible.


Elect “For”


“…for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood…”

This third matter of the elect’s calling is inseperably twofold.

There can be no true obedience – the obedience undefiled by selfish motives – unless the heart from whence it proceeds is already being purified by a worthy sacrifice. If even the prescribed sacrifices of the old covenant were in themselves unable to perfect those drawing near to God, nor could they cleanse the conscience, nor actually take away sins; how much more inadequate then are the sacrifices of which our own vain minds conceive in our pitiful attempts to enter the holy court of God.

Therefore the writer to the Hebrews said,

For by one offering He has perfected the carrying through of the ones being sanctified.
Hebrews 10:14 (LITV)

Those who are being sanctified are being “carried through” into the holy of holies: not by God deceiving Himself and merely hiding our sins from before His face; but rather by we no longer deceiving ourselves, and He actually taking away our sins as we behold His face.

The matter therefore once again comes down to the substance of our faith: what our hands and feet proclaim to be our hope, and what our path testifies to be our vision. The blood of Jesus is that by which our faith is fully assured, and that which sprinkles our hearts from an evil conscience, and that which washes even our body as in pure water to walk in the obedience of a living faith.
To enter the holiest place is to enter as a living sacrifice upon an altar. To remain in the holiest place is to remain and increasingly embody an intercessory posture.

Earlier I noted how the unregenerate man has no intercessory ability (or desire, truly). But those who are elect by God’s will in the santification of the Spirit are brought into an obedience that is a life of intercession on behalf of the body of which they are now becoming an integral member. The obedience to Jesus and the sprinkling with His blood is what they are now purposed “for,” as priests in His living temple, ministering unto God.

As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:4-5 (ESV)


“So great is the office for which God hath appointed them, and which it is not lawful for them to decline.”
– Author Unknown, to “Diognetus”
[circa 130AD~200s AD]


The Gospel Which Vindicates God

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
John 6:44

The wisdom of man says that unless our love for God proceeds from our own initial willingness to worship Him, then it is not truly love, but a robotic and forced relationship.

The problem with this assertion is that no man in himself is actually willing to love the true God until God opens the man’s eyes to His goodness in the first place. The will is only free to love that which is according to it’s nature; and the fallen nature is at its core a rejection of and a blindness to God’s goodness. To despise this fact is to despise the riches of God’s mercy.

“Seek and you shall find” was Christ’s admonition to those who are already His own disciples, and it was regarding prayer.
“There is not one who seeks after God” is the apostle’s precise description of fallen humanity without Christ.

“We love because He first loved us.”
– This means that unless He first freely loved me so as to open my eyes, I could never have freely loved Him. I may have sought my own earthly conception of Him; but that is not why He decided to have mercy upon me. He chose to show mercy before the foundation of the world for the glory of His own Name; and I dare not be so arrogant as to suggest that He simply foresaw that I was somehow more spiritually sensitive than others. I was in fact spiritually dead; that is what He foresaw. But His foreknowledge is a powerful personal knowing of the sinner which redeems them; this is what it means that He foreknew me.

It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me…
John 6:45

Pleading with men’s free will and intellectual desires does not win them to Christ; it rather wins them to a god who must always bow to their demands of mercy, as though it were an “inalienable right.” It brings them to worship a spiritually libertarian god of “fairness” who is obligated to give all sinners a “chance;” rather than the holy God of justice who was not lawfully required to save even a portion of such self-entitled, demonic wretches, yet who did.

The great conumdrum of the gospel is not how God can be fair if He chooses not to redeem every soul; it is rather how He can remain uncompromisingly just if He redeems any.

As the scripture says:

He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.
Proverbs 17:15

Therefore, the only Just One condemned Himself willingly under the wrath of God, that He might justify many wicked.

That is not fair.
But it was made to be just.
And those whose hearts He hardens, He hardens justly; for there is no one who of themselves seeks after God.

Let no man answer back to God, in any matter. Let them only come to Him, if by His gracious will they will come.

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:25-30

(I beat this dead horse not because in doing so I think I will raise it; but in obedience to He who raises the dead.)

Knowing God’s Mercy – John Calvin

“Men will never worship God with a sincere heart, or be roused to fear and obey Him with sufficient zeal, until they properly understand how much they are indebted to His mercy.”
– John Calvin