“Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions.”
– G.K. Chesterton
“Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions.”
– G.K. Chesterton
Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking.
A most notable characteristic that distinguishes the children of the flesh from those of God’s Spirit is the mocking spirit by which they operate.
These children after the flesh, whose eyes are full of scorn, walk about freely in the household of faith quite unnoticed. They are given to much commentary concerning the things which they see, hear, and think; at best feigning humility, hungry for argument; hearing many things and being understanding in few; hating reproach, scoffing without reason at those who have wise counsel; witnessing to the words of others falsely, so that they may steer men into the same bitterness by which they themselves walk.
But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.
For as it was with Isaac and the son of the slave woman, so it is today.
But those who, like Sarah, have been blessed to carry the Son of Promise, and bear out His fruit of their womb, are able to discern the subtlety of that scorning which is seen in the posture of the fleshly children; and are sorely grieved by their presence, and become filled with a righteous anger that such are able to continue in their mocking ways among God’s flock.
I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers, nor did I exult. Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone, for You filled me with indignation.
These walking mockeries of God’s children make sport of the righteous in their conversation, not fearing the Lord in their houses; and they make much outward fellowship among God’s people with the laughter of self-assurance, seeking always to be at ease in Zion. Alas for their souls! Unless they are struck with the true fear of the glorious God before the end, how great will be their final fall! For it is better to dwell more often in the house of mourning, and to quiet one’s soul before He who searches it, than to always break bread presumtuously, chattering on in the house of gladness, giving no thought to the day of judgement.
“These are ones who cause divisions,” the apostle says. For even if they are outwardly guilty of only a little of this mockery of the way of God’s Spirit, and even if they are not set above many brethren, nor so grieviously ravage the church as those described in Jude’s letter; it is still the same spirit (or spiritual posture) of mocking by which they walk. Even if they are not purposefully and conciously undermining the harmony of the body of Christ; these still are a blemish at its love feasts, waterless clouds, and raging waves of the sea, driven about by fierce winds.
For they love what benefits of the Lord’s table might numb their soul to His Spirit’s conviction of their depraved nature, and also what comradery of the brethren might justify them in the sight of certain men whom they percieve to be leaders. But because it is all a self-deception and a ruse, they indeed cause divisions by the very nature of their presence; since, being devoid of the Spirit, they cannot harmonize with those whose walk with Christ happens to challenge them, and so the flow of the Spirit is impeded by this dead wood that has fallen into the river.
Hence, brothers become divided over them unknowingly, and cease to work together in what the Lord is truly concerned with. Time is thrown into the void, and many a spiritual life is exasperated by the casting of pearls before the swine. Ever do they learn in order to keep up in the natural eyes of men, yet never do they come to a true knowledge of the truth. Ever do they hurl foolish and unlearned questions at those in God’s house whom they secretly despise, and ever is the proverb fulfilled in them, “A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain.” (Prov.14:6) For their wells are broken, and their soil salted.
In short, these sons of the slave woman are a mockery of the sons of the free simply by what they are.
Therefore, let the members of Christ see it fit to cease their worldly entreatment of the carnal; for such entreatment will not win such men over to Christ Himself. But the turning of them over to the world which they still love, which world is the mirror of all hypocrites, might bring even some of these to repentance.
The accomodating of Ishmael is not the mission of the church. He is rather to be repented of; so that perhaps God may later work salvation for him, and the church will also be blessed, and freed of his leaven. May we come to discernment! Without discernment there is no dividing between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit; and if division is not made between the workers of both, it will drive a wedge between the brothers of the latter. Because of this, even many a true son after the Promise is caught in the ways of the spirit of mockery, and are thereby driven to many unnecessary divisions.
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
§I – ICHABOD THROUGH THE AGES
Then the glory of the Lord went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim.
Ezekiel 10:18 (ESV)
And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city. [The Mount Of Olives]
Ezekiel 11:23 (ESV)
This took place before the destruction of the first temple in Ezekiel’s day.
And Jesus, who is Himself the Glory of the Lord, signifies again Jerusalem’s doom by following this exact path before the Day of the Lord came upon the second temple. I wonder how much the disciples realized how relevant this was to the question they asked Him next:
Jesus left the temple and was going away, when His disciples came to point out to Him the buildings of the temple. But He answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?”
He then proceeded to describe what would accompany the end of that age, (ostensibly the Jewish era in their mind), all of which things literally fell in a very real sense upon that literal generation, in 70AD. Not one stone of the temple was left upon another. Jesus indeed visited Jerusalem again in judgement; even according to the colorful apocalyptic language which God typically uses when speaking of the overthrow of nations in the old testament (coming on the clouds, sun darkened, moon turned to blood, stars falling from heaven, etc.) His warning about this very doom to the Christians, who would be living in that city some 35 years later, is also recorded by Luke:
But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.
Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill ALL that is written.
Luke 21:20-22 (ESV)
Josephus later recorded an incredible event in mid-65AD, right before the seige of Jerusalem properly began, which again mirrors the pattern of the Glory of the Lord departing:
Moreover at the feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests went by night into the inner court of the temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations; they said that in the first place they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that the heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence.”
But, what is still more terrible; there was one Jesus [a common 1st century name], the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for everyone to make tabernacles to God in the temple, began on a sudden to cry aloud, “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!”
(Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews 6:5:3)
This occured in the year before Jerusalem’s seige began. Many things recorded by the historians of that time sound much like an earthly observer’s account of John’s apocalyptic book unfolding upon the land. All the tribes [Gk. φυλή] of the land [Gk. γῆ] indeed mourned because of He whom they had pierced (Rev 1:7). And those in Jerusalem from all about the land did so mourn, by the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, before the later judgement of the unbelievers, just as Zechariah prophesied:
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on Me, on Him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over Him, as one weeps over a firstborn.
Zechariah 12:10 (ESV)
And afterwards, when the faithful evenually fled that city as Jesus had warned, there was no sacrifice for sins left in it; but only a fearful expectation of judgement, which consumed those particular adversaries of Christ, so that they also wailed on account of Him.
For example, some of the language in Josephus’ account as quoted above, secifically “a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides,” reminds us of the overthrow of that great city called by John “Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified”:
Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,
“So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more; and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters, will be heard in you no more, and a craftsman of any craft will be found in you no more,
and the sound of the mill will be heard in you no more, and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.”
Revelation 18:21-24 (ESV)
“…For it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.”
§II – MULTI-LEVEL FULFILLMENTS
These few years were full of great woe. All the plagues and woes fell upon that city as is written in the book of Christ’s unveiling [Gk. apokalupsis – unveiling, or revelation].
And as the earthly temple fell, and its practitioners were judged by the two witnesses of the Law and the Prophets, which they had proven to vehemently despise, the new temple was seen in heaven, heralded by seven trumpet blasts and many woes upon the disobedient; for then Christ had begun to reign (Rev 11:17).
I am becoming convinced that the great bulk of the book of Revelation, as well as Matthew 24:1-34, was in a very real sense fulfilled as of 70AD. In other words, Jesus meant exactly what He said when He spoke the words, “there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” For He indeed came back to that city in judgement, since they rebelled against His newly inaugurated reign, having declared, “We have no king but Caesar!” In His judgement of them, Christ proved Himself to be the King of kings, the Prophet of a better covnant, and the Priest of a new temple made without hands.
That said, similar cycles do continue to repeat themselves upon the church whenever God’s people reject His Lordship; and just as there were many false Christs of the Synagogue of Satan in that day, so it remains even to our own. But again, it can be instructional to us to see that much of the book of Revelation appears to have been written to initially tell of the great tribulation of those days, which was “shortly coming to pass;” a day of peril at the end of one age to commence another age, the beginning of the time of which Christ said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been geven to Me. Go therefore…” And this He said as He went to the Father on the clouds of heaven. Daniel also tells us of His ascension in this way:
I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a Son of Man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
Here His coming on the clouds is directed not to earth, but to the Father; having bound the Devil and won that which the Father then presents to Him. Therefore the Lord is always slowly building up His kingdom in the midst of the earth just as He promised – perhaps appearing in our impatient eyes to be taking one step back then two steps forward; and He is always cancelling the Devil’s apocalypse, because the true apocalypse belongs to Christ, who is truly the One revealing Himself in the earth.
If our understanding of the nearness of the Day of the Lord is expanded beyond the last 100 years of one particular continent, and if we turn from the voices of proven liars and worldly apocalypse merchants, then I believe that this will slowly become apparent. It is just as wicked to give up, hoping to magically escape in the times of darkness, as it is wicked to pretend that there are no such times in this age. For the Day of the Lord appears first in the hearts of men; and winnows its threshing floor there before anywhere else. Therefore Christ will have for Himself a great multitude from every tribe, tongue, and nation; and He will find servants willing to gather them, even if it takes centuries more.
The Stone grows into a Mountain,
The Leaven permeates the whole lump,
The Son sits at the right hand of the Father,
Until all enemies are made a footstool for His feet.
§III – THE AGE OF RESURRECTION
“Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool.”
Or as the apostle Paul stated it for this age,
For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:25-26
And later in the same discussion, Paul goes on to say:
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:50-52
Now if this trumpet is in one sense the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15, then it is that which inaugurates the same reign of Christ of which we have already spoken:
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”
They also say thereafter, “for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.”
We these things in mind, we can begin to understand that the seals, trumpets, and bowls of Christ’s unveiling are not particular to any one period in history, past or present; but they are ever being opened, blasted, and poured out at all times in every generation and in various ways. They even were fulfilled in one sense long before John’s time, when the Lord overthrew Jericho by the hand of Joshua. For since the book of Revelation concerns the unveiling of Christ, all things in it therefore have a fulfillment in what was, what is, and what is to come.
In John’s day, the fall of earthly Jerusalem, as initially announced by the trumpets he describes, marked for them the beginning of a new iteration of God’s kingdom through the church; which before had subsisted on earth in the earthly temple, but now would spread across the earth from a Cornerstone into a very great mountain, from a Seed into a very great tree: a greater temple made of living stones; a better covanent enacted on better promises. For as long as the earthly temple still stood, its age was not yet ended (Heb 9:8-9). But now He has begun to reign; and of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, though Satan is again fully loosed for but a very little season at the end of this age (Rev 20).
And concerning this present age, the apostle Paul continues:
For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:53-57
The victory in this present age is “through our Lord Jesus Christ;” and it is also called by the book of Revelation “the first resurrection” (Rev 20:5). The second death (the lake of fire) has no authority over the ones who partake in this resurrection life by the Spirit of Christ. The first generation of this new Israel overcame the persecution which accompanied the fall of the old order of things (42 months under Nero Caesar), and we still continue to find Christ’s same victory over the first death by that first resurrection, in all the trials that have followed on earth under His current reign.
But note especially the remark about the perishable putting on imperishability, and the mortal putting on immortality. This describes our translation to meet with the Imperishable One who put on what was perishable, the Immortal One who put on mortality; yet who also rendered both imperishable and immortal once again: so that, as the apostle said before, once all enemies are put under His feet in this age, He at last will fully defeat that death in us, even as He did so in Himself. Therefore we work in the hope of the second resurrection triumphing over the second death, as judgement is passed over the children of His covanent, who sing the song of Moses.
It is with this perspective, I believe, that great meaning is retained in Paul’s closing remark on the matter:
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58
§IV – THE WARNING
Now, if the church inherits all the blessings of Israel, then it also inherits all the same temptations, all the same risks of idolatry, and all the same curses for disobedience. Whoever steps outside of Christ’s rule steps outside of where all the promises of God are “yes” and “amen.”
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
That book is the unveiling of Jesus Christ. To add to Him or to take away from Him, is to reject Him. From such He will “remove hence.” There must be a remnant out of every generation, and in every age, who overcomes the dreadful condemnation of Christ, “Behold, your house is left to you desolate.”
Just as those who did not obey Christ in the last age were not able to proceed into the greater glory of His kingdom in this age; so also will those who disobey Him in this age not proceed into its greater glory in the next.
When the church of the previous age (Israel) fully rejected what was given to them, it was succeeded in the present age by a remnant, but with a better promise to bless all nations IN CHRIST. Therefore, when the present remnant of Israel (the church) fully obeys what has been given to it – and God will indeed see it done – it will be translated into a more blessed age.
And though it is now the age of the first resurrection, it was the second resurrection (translation) for which Paul longed even in this life when he said:
…to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, having been conformed to His death, if somehow I may attain to a resurrection out of the dead.
And Enoch walketh habitually with God, and he is not, for God hath taken him.
Genesis 5:24 (YLT)
“Now the day of the Lord comes not where the carnal mind might imagine, nor when man wills; neither according to the carnal desire of the carnal heart; neither according to the evil eye that looks out, can it be seen.
And as the day of the Lord is a mystery, the Spirit of the Lord is the only discoverer of it; for none can know the things of God, but by the Spirit of God. The day of the Lord; even his bright shining forth in the heart of man, is one of the glorious things of God, which only the Spirit of God gives the knowledge of to man, and in man.
The further men draw from the Light, the darker their hearts become; and their understandings being closed up, they cannot behold the Lord, neither his glory, which is revealed only by God’s Holy Spirit; which Spirit is near man, though he sees it not.”
– Francis Howgill
“Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Go thou [Moses] near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.”
Thus was the stubborn posture of the hearts of the children of Israel toward the Word of God when it came to them in power and great glory.
The hearts of wicked men are ever blind to the mercy that has already been shown to them unmerrited; therefore grace is a stranger to them, and they to it. Despite all the clear proof that God has not already struck them down in wrath, the ungrateful question of the accuser is always stirring within their souls, “Has God indeed said?” And by their love of that lawless question, however secret it may be, all of their ways are made crooked, and they always miss God. For notice that outwardly they still claim that they will perform the commandment of God; but only, they say, if another should “Go thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee.”
Now, although it pleased God in His soveriegn plan that for our learning Moses should stand as a kind of mediator for the children of Israel, prefiguring for us the unfathomable abasement of His Word in a Man on our behalf; still, His jealousy remained provoked in that ancient day toward those who so rejected His Word as it had appeared to them. For God will not be mocked; and His way will stand, though men so inventively seek any other door than what He graciously provides them. Therefore He was angry with that generation, and lamented their hardness of heart.
And the Lord heard the voice of your words, when ye [Israel] spake unto me [Moses]; and the Lord said unto me, “I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken. O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!”
“…they have well said all that they have spoken.”
The Lord who searches the thoughts and intentions is not taken aback by the self-deceit which pervades the hardened heart of merely religious men. Their most pious response is still dependant upon another man knowing God for them; and this He sees as no different, if not even more despicable, than those who shake their fists at Him unabashedly.
“O that there were such an heart in them…”
The hearts which tend by God’s grace towards true obedience are marked by a desire to know God’s voice for themselves. But those which tend away from desiring a personal knowing of God’s voice; who tend to desire the voice of other men; and perhaps even mock that God would so speak to them, except through a man, reveal that they are full of disobedience already.
“…that they would fear Me…”
The wisdom of God is obtained through the fear of Him: those who fear Him seek His counsel diligently for themselves, and leave it not in the hands of any other.
“…and keep all My commandments always…”
The scriptures loudly attest to us that true obedience is that which is born of a heart that has been made humble and contrite before the living God. When God appears to such persons, they bow in faith saying, “Thy will be done, and first in me!” – and they go forth, though they may not see how it is possible. For they trust that He who gives the commandment will grant within them its Breath unto Life. But the passing of one’s own responsibility onto another is the way of the dead.
“…that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!”
We damn not only ourselves, but in a way our children also, when we willingly give place to any other Mediator than Christ Jesus. Let us not render ourselves as another lesson of failure for a generation yet future; and if we do, may our own children quickly overcome our lawless and faithless spirit, however it might sting our wicked pride.
As Moses said to Israel earlier in the same discourse, recounting God’s marvelous deeds among them:
“Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the Lord.” Also the Lord was angry with me [Moses] for your sakes, saying, “Thou also shalt not go in thither. But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.”
And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. And whatever you bind on earth shall occur, having been bound in Heaven. And whatever you may loose on the earth shall be, having been loosed in Heaven.
Matthew 16:16-19 (LITV)
This scripture gives us an insight into the mystery of God’s intercession through His people on behalf of His people.
The “binding” and “loosing” which the church is here expected to do is that which accords with the will of heaven – for othewise it would not be reflected in heaven, as is here described. And don’t we pray, after all, for God’s will to be done on earth as it is done in heaven, and not the other way around? Therefore the church binds and looses according to God’s will, or it truly binds and looses nothing. For it is no single man except THE LAMB who is worthy to loose the seals that are bound; and the saints pray in accordance with HIS Spirit unto that end.
And by this we know the wicked church of man, along with its shepherds: that they themselves suppose to bind and to loose, but aginst the commandment of God; and therefore in heaven it is not reflected. For as Peter wrote, the cleverly devised myths of the false shepherds come not by the decree of God as given in His more sure Word of prophecy – which many of us are so fortunate to hold in our hands, and unto which we would do well to take heed (2Pet 1:16-21). Therefore, those unrepentant idol shepherds of men risk being bound in chains under gloomy darkness, as exemplified by their once heavenly predecessors, and having an eternal hell loosed upon them thereafter (Jude 1:6-8).
For this intercessory mandate is not a permitting of men to autonomously decree and declare that even good things occur by the hand of God as they see fit, nor some manner of test to see what the church will do with the keys. Rather, it is a call for the members of Christ to intercede for the things of the kingdom of heaven in accordance with the already decreed and declared will of God.
But what is that decree of God? Who has fully known the mind of the Lord? And let no man say, “I have the mind of Christ.”
For what do the scriptures declare?
“WE have the mind of Christ.”
Yet who is this “we”?
Paul made the above statement while explaining how the things of God are truly known only by the Spirit of God; and immediately after describes those who are not spiritual, who are not ready to rightly hear the deeper things of God due to their carnality. Concerning these he remarks:
And, brothers, I was not able to speak to you as to spiritual ones, but as to fleshly ones, as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, and not food, for you were not then able, but neither now are you yet able.
For you are yet fleshly. For where among you is jealousy, and strife, and divisions, are you not fleshly and walk according to man?
For when one may say, “Truly I am of Paul,” and another, “I of Apollos;” are you not fleshly? What then is Paul? And what Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, and to each as the Lord gave?
1 Corinthians 3:1-5 (LITV)
The striving after ministries of good repute and the dependence upon other men of the faith to define our own faith, doctrine and practice on our behalf, are the sure signs of a carnal people. Even the apostle Paul permitted no man to regard his own faithful reputation in their consideration of the very word that he himself preached, saying, “but even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Gal 1:9)
The discernment of spirits is the province of the Spirit of God alone; and unless each one submits to the tryings, searchings, and purgings of the Spirit, there shall be no “we” that can attain to any measure of knowing the mind of Christ, so as to bind and loose on earth what is to be bound and loosed in heaven. For that mind is the mind of He who searches hearts, “and He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Rom 8:27)
It is HE who fully knows the will of God, and to that end the Spirit is given. It is in the groanings of the Spirit of God that each member of Christ’s body begins to move according to the mind of Christ: even as God in Christ was incarnate in human flesh, always being about the Father. Whatever part of the body is out of harmony with CHRIST THE HEAD by His Spirit alone, is a disharmony in the body of Christ. Nothing brings the members of His body outside of His harmony more than when they subtly join themselves unto another.
This is how the Spirit of God views the condition of those who do so:
…being puffed up by the mind of his flesh without a cause, and not holding fast the Head, from whom all the body having been supplied through the joints and bands, and having been joined together, will grow with the growth of God.
The ministrations of the body of Christ on earth are to be born of the very will of God, according to whose will the Spirit of Christ intercedes on our behalf, groaning unutterably within us. No effectual intercession can take place in the body of Christ without the discernment of spirits through Him. When discernment dies in the church, the church can no longer partake in much of the Spirit who intercedes according to the will of God. For they defy His will in their lack of discernment.
The spirit of a thing is known only by the anointing [Gk. christos] of the only-begotten [Gk. monogenes = “one-of-a-kind,” “unique”] Son of God. And antichrist is that which is another anointing; of which there are many. [Gk. anti = “instead of”]
Therefore John writes for us,
Young ones, it is a last hour, and as you heard that the antichrist [Gk. antichristos] is coming, even now many antichrists have risen up, from which you know that it is a last hour.
They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they were of us, they would have remained with us; but they left so that it might be revealed that they all are not of us.
1 John 2:18-19 (LITV)
Take note first of the word “us”. This is the same collective “we” of which we already saw that Paul speaks, who, together as the body of Christ, know the mind of Christ according to His work in each member. It is those who depart from the one anointing of the one Good Shepherd who “went out from us”. It is those who take a postion of supposedly greater anointing unto themselves, cautioning no man against esteeming their reputation in the church, who reveal themselves to be “not of us”.
Among these are ones who say of themselves, “touch not the Lord’s anointed,” although Jesus is the Anointed One of God. Also they are raised up above the flock of Christ as “shepherds” and “pastors,” wielding an organizational authority, as though God recognizes anything less than a living body. Jude calls such men “shepherds feeding themselves”.
They deny the correcting and unifying word of the apostle, they silence the warnings and discernments of the prophet, they despise with great jealousy the outward call of the evangelist, and they steal unto themselves the role of all teachers, seldom allowing others to teach. In all this, they profane the calling of the true pastor, which is one who humbly serves in the body by helping to care largely for the earthly needs of its members. Thus, they destroy the fivefold ministry in the church by denying the unique intercessory roles of each, also thereby compromising their own, if they are even truly called to it.
And you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I did not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because every lie is not of the truth.
1 John 2:20-21 (LITV)
“And you know all things” – This is the beloved apostle’s encouragement to a body of believers who were solid in their discernment and rejection of other “anointed ones”. This is the compliment given not to great and clever minds, but to children of God who “by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.” (Heb 5:14) These ones see how the embracing of another anointing is a denial of the Son, and cannot abide the leaven of those who do so.
John continues a little further in his letter,
And the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone teach you. But as His anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and as He taught you, abide in Him.
1 John 1:27 (LITV)
How viscerally do the false shepherds react to this scripture whenever they are opposed with it! How greatly do they minimize its plain teaching! Any man who is uncomfortable with these words is untrustworthy in the ministry of the word, for he does not really trust that God can build HIS own church. It is only the unfiltered anointing of Christ Himself upon His body which produces a true harmony, and a harmony in the truth, unto the good pleasure of God. Only by HIS Lordship alone can the body of Christ “know what is the hope to which HE has called you, what are the riches of HIS glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of HIS power toward us who believe, according to the working of HIS great might…” (Eph 1:18-19)
This brings us back to the theme of our study: intercession. Those who fall under HIS anointing are able, according to the measuring of grace unto each, to discover the substance of His calling upon their lives; so that they, in whatever capacity He has gifted them, may through obedience in the Spirit be found partaking in HIS intercession on behalf of the saints, according to the ministrations of God operating in them.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (ESV)
One of the great lies surrounding this matter in our day is that God may give a stone when His children ask for bread. Truly the worst that the children will recieve is discipline. The insincere indeed have reason to so fear; but they do not care. The devil has created such a grotesque smokescreen of demonic and false manifestations, that now many of the true children fear what only the bastards should. The adversary has done this because he knows what is coming. The children who fled the fall of man’s church are restoring the altar of the Lord in their own hearts, calling upon the God who answers by fire. Let us lay hold of the immense promise of Christ to His own, an access to heaven of which the dry bones of this blind dead world cannot concieve: “Seek, and you shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened to you.”
It is the operation of the Holy Spirit in the secret places of our hearts, through our seeking of no anointing except the Son of God, then flowing out unto the good of the whole body, which brings us to participate in the sufferings and joys of He who is the Head of all that He calls His own. And this we long for if we seek His face.
The LORD is my Shepherd,
I shall not want.
When the members of Christ covet and follow after the anointings of men and the visions of people puffed up in their own imaginations, who also knowingly pose foolish and unlearned questions to those who challenge their fables, the jealously of God is kindled; for it is not they who have the right to bind and loose, nor to open and shut, but it is HE. Let them be found repentant, and enter by the only Door of the sheep, lest they be cast out with the hirelings, the thieves, and the robbers of God’s glory.
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia, write: “These things says the Holy One, the True One, the One having the key of David, the One opening, and no one shuts; and shuts, and no one opens:
I know your works. Behold, I have given a door being opened before you, and no one is able to shut it, for you have a little power and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Behold, I give out of the synagogue of Satan those saying themselves to be Jews, and they are not, but they lie. Behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they shall know that I loved you.
Revelation 3:7-9 (LITV)
The church fulfills her calling when she at last allows Christ Himself to be her kinsman redeemer.
Little children, guard yourselves from idols. Amen.
1 John 5:21
The book of Hebrews was of course written to Christians, but also very much with the doubting Jew in mind. With this observation as part of his basis, John Owen had what seems to be a unique perspective on one particular element of the following warning:
He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith He was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
“The last aggravation of this sin with respect unto the blood of Christ is that it is that ‘wherewith he was sanctified.’ This is not a real internal sanctification, but a separation and dedication unto God, in which sense the word is often used. Some have thought that this refers unto the person guilty of the sin here insisted on; but the design of the Apostle in the context leads plainly to another application of these words. It is Christ Himself who is spoken of, who was sanctified and dedicated to God to be an eternal High Priest by the blood of the covenant which He offered unto God. That precious blood of Christ whereby He was sanctified and dedicated unto God they esteemed an “unholy thing,” that is, such as would have no effect as to consecrate Him unto God and to His office.”
– John Owen, from his commentary on the book of Hebrews
An earlier section of Hebrews directly confirms this:
For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.
This actually renders the warning much more grave than it sounds on the surface, particularly against the religious deception of antichrists. The writer of Hebrews is saying that this apostasy from Christ is of such a nature that it denies not only the full legitimacy of Jesus’ high-priestly office, but also its absolute uniqueness.
For Christ’s own blood consecrated Him unto an office that can neither be substituted, nor shared with, nor acted within, by any other man. And to do so is to “do despite unto the Spirit of Grace.” For the Holy Spirit is the only rightful person by whose power we can be made partakers in the very same Indestructible Life according to which our High Priest made His intercession.
Therefore it is by the Spirit’s groaning within us that we are continually made both witness and subject to the transaction of Christ’s death and resurrection within ourselves, as we also groan with Him.
By this we eat of His bread, and by this we drink of His cup; for in this we discover and become a functioning member of His living body, which is thereby being perfected.
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
1 Corinthians 10:16 (ESV)
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
And what happens when moral authority is thrown out in the name of “free speech”?
You get the opposite blasphemy laws from what you once lived under.
Because you objected to the legislating of morality, saying, “the gospel is not law.”
By this, you fell for the diabolical dialectic game in assuming that the enforcers of earthly law should automatically understand the spirit of the gospel; while neglecting the Law of the Spirit of Life for yourself. You applauded the earthly rulers in their casting off of divine restraints, as you yourself became no more just than they. Therefore, instead of legislating morality, your rulers now legislate immorality; and that justified by the lawless social gospel which you have legitimized by desiring the state to do something other than punish evildoers – one of it’s few divine mandates.
You asked for it, christian.
You begged for the inversion of authority, and you are receiving it in spades.
You rendered unto Caesar that which is God’s, and unto God that which is Caesar’s.
You bought into every subtle lie of the Babylonian impulse to build an earthly temple for God, because you didn’t want to preach the gospel for yourself; and now what has been sown will be reaped.
Your children are led astray by those whom you trust, your treasury is left desolate by the greed of those from whom you borrowed, yet you think all is well; and your mind remains spellbound by the words of your chosen masters.
Do not bemoan the lawlessness in the land when you still hold to its arbitrary claims of imaginary “freedoms” and “rights” – the erroneous universalist assumptions which were seeded by your empire’s founders upon its very conception, and are finally coming to their logical end: a corrupted tree, according to its fruit. They did not count upon the unfathomable fallenness and corruptibility of men; rendering their expiriment a relatively short one in the graveyard of empires.
For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; it shall yield no flour; if it were to yield, strangers would devour it.
Justice will be served upon a cold platter, and you won’t be too proud when it comes.
The light exposing evil in the land will also provoke the Devil’s wrath.
Unless we really love the truth, to the shattering of our own trite notions of it, the road which lies ahead will become impossible to navigate. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit and OBEDIENCE to every word of God, you will remain a spiritual slave to carnal freedom, mere collateral damage in this warfare, fighting to preserve the foundations of that which enslaves you.
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
1 John 2:15-21