Newness Of Life

The good news of God’s kingdom is that through Christ He is always doing a new work, and in Christ He is making all things new. For that which is old is passed away, and that which is passed away can sustain no man in the ongoing work of God. The Lord walks onward, calling men to “Follow Me,” and gives little time to the hesitant.

Only an abiding movement in He who abides forever, the Word of the Lord, even the Son of God, is able to keep us walking in His newness; “For behold,” He says: “I do a new thing… Behold: I make all things new.”

A race is not finished or won by simply acknowledging that the finish line is already behind us at the starting point, and so we need not run. He who does not run the race to cross the “it is finished” line for himself is disqualified. The Spirit will not empower the pilgrim who desires no progress. The doctrine of our faith reveals itself vain in a life which possesses not the faith itself to manifest the ready obedience of one who loves God and the brethren. Our participation in the Body and Blood of Christ is not merely passive but also active. The same Apostle Paul who used the illustration of a race is also he who wrote, “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth…” There is a Rest into which we fail to enter apart from striving to enter into it. There is a spiritual maturity, or even true Life itself, that may be left untouched for a lifetime by being content with what is behind. In Paul’s case, those things were mostly religious credentials, and what men tend to perceive as spiritual acumen worthy of praise. No doubt these also became even his accomplishments as an apostle of Christ.

The Greek word Paul uses for “forgetting” means…

Forgetting.

Things which are forgotten are things which have no bearing upon a man’s decisions going forward; and hold not even a peripheral sway over his lightest considerations. He who forgets is free of the things forgotten. He who cannot walk as though former things are forgotten has not fully dealt with the matters of his inner heart before the Lord. Whether they be matters of outright sin or matters of pride in a good spiritual estate; the Lord would have every man walk with humble simplicity in what is newly set before their feet by the light of the Spirit.

The man who continually deals with God in all his inner motives, thoughts, and intentions remains a free vessel, at liberty for honorable use in God’s house. The man who neglects the stewarding of his own heart becomes unable to contain the ever new wine of the vintage of Life, and fades into a life of paralysis and defeat.

The still and quiet whispers of the Spirit of Christ are the invitation into a broader walk in the true calling of each one. Let every heart hear and walk after He who calls them.

Thought – Scripture & Knowing Christ

The scriptures are sufficient to teach us all that pertains to life and Godliness. They are not Life and Godliness incarnate. For that we are given the Lord Himself, the Spirit of the Living God. The written word without the Living Word easily becomes the confirming letter of our self-deception in spiritual vanity and decay. If we suppose that even a basic understanding of true spiritual life can be gleaned from these pages without the Life-Giving Spirit of Christ enlightening and enabling us unto obedience, then we quite literally reduce God to a series of distant words, never tasting the immeasurably wonderful substance of which they truly testify. If Jesus Christ Himself is not our Word of Life, truly present and truly known as friend, then His words of life recorded for us cannot invigorate us with His very Life, and our proclamation of His Lordship over ourselves is an empty one.

“You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and these are they which testify about Me. Yet you will not come to Me, that you may have Life.”
John 5:39-40 (WEB)

Song Lyrics – “Mirror Of Souls”

These are the excellent lyrics to the song “Mirror Of Souls” by the band Theocracy. They were a particularly great confirmation to me several years ago, and still ring true.

The (beautiful) song can be heard HERE.

With that, I will let the words speak for themselves.


[I: The Hall Of Mirrors]

Listen to the tale I tell, a haunting dream I know so well
When walking home alone one night, my path revealed by candlelight
Ahead I see an open door; with no idea what’s in store
I glance inside the door to see a hall of mirrors beckon me
I take a breath and step inside a tale of love and shattered pride
The door slams shut, I start to run; and it seems my journey has begun…

I run and turn from side to side with fear and panic in my eyes
The vastness overwhelming me: mirrors far as the eye can see
I see myself in every one, I see the things that I have done
A thousand forms of flattery; the fear soon turns to haughtiness in me…

Different mirrors, different shapes, my different strengths accentuate
Each mirror has a name and face, and all reflect me in some way
I look at them to see myself, to judge my life by someone else
The metaphors within replete: the mirrors are the people that I meet

Look at the man you see – in the mirrors
The things you can be – in the mirrors
The glory of me revealed in the mirror’s eye
(The mirror never lies)
The fire in my eyes – in the mirrors
The vanity rise – in the mirrors
The power of pride comes alive in the mirrors

Gazing in the mirrors I behold
All the greatest chapters of my story ever told
In the mirrors the world is turned to gold

At the end of the Hall of Mirrors I behold a golden door
I imagine all the beauty the other side must hold in store
So I quickly reach out my hand
To enter the next room in this promised land
I pull the giant door open wide
To continue my journey, I step inside
But it slams shut behind me, and I’m back outside
The pouring rain welcomes me
Into the arms of the coldest, blackest night

[II. The Stranger In The Storm]

The light of the mirrors has faded away into distant memory
As the rain keeps coming down
My candle extinguished, I struggle to walk a path I cannot see
And the rain keeps coming down

The darkness grows with every step, I could cut it with a knife
As the rain keeps coming down
I can’t see a thing and I’ve never felt so alone in all my life
But the rain keeps coming down…

Caught in the fury of the storm
(The darkness suffocates)
Body and soul weary and worn
(Another twist of fate)
Never been so afraid before
(The ending of this tale?)
Never should have opened the door
(From euphoria to hell)

I question my fate, my end to die in this storm
Maybe this was the plan back from the day I was born
But in the hall of mirrors I had felt so high…
I cannot walk another mile in this flood
So resigned to my fate, I just collapse in the mud
If I cannot go on, I’ll just lay down and die…

Suddenly a light I see, shining in the distance
I make my way toward it with my fading hope reborn
As I draw near, the light is clear though the rain beats its resistance
But I press on and pray this is a shelter from the storm
Advancing now toward the light, I’m quickly moving forward
This hope has given me new strength I thought I’d never know
But I take a step, and fall right back for the ground is gone beneath me
And I behold, illuminated in the light’s warm glow

A dark chasm, a great abyss, a vast expanse of nothingness
A pit that has no bottom as far as the eye can see
It spans the whole horizon, and there is no way across
My lonely heart is shattered and all hope I have is lost

I’m startled to feel a hand on my shoulder
I turn to see a shadowed figure standing in the rain
But somehow I’m not afraid of him, even when he speaks my name
And somehow I can tell that he means me no harm
Just by the peace that I see in his eyes
And even though I’ve never even seen him before
It’s like he’s known me all my life

“Why are you crying?” the stranger asks
As I wipe away the tears
I point toward the great abyss
The source of all my fears

“I must get across and get to that light
For it represents my only hope tonight
But when I saw the chasm, all that hope was lost
I’ve spent so long in the dark and the rain
That the sight of the light made my heart sing again
But the gulf’s so wide, and there’s no way across”

The stranger smiled, and took my hand
He said, “But you are wrong, my friend
You cannot cross the gulf yourself, that’s true”
He led me down toward the edge
And pointed just over the ledge
And said, “Behold, I built a bridge for you”

I cross the bridge toward the light
The stranger saved my life tonight
I turn to try to thank him, but he’s gone
A long way to the other side
I’ll make my way without my guide
No time to waste, for I must carry on

The bright light shines forth from behind
A door beyond description
Blood and scratches mark the door from ages of abuse
I’m confused no more, for above the door
Is a weathered, old inscription
“All who would see reality, enter the Hall of Truth”
And so I do…

[III. The Truth Revealed]

As I step inside, I can see another mirror
A mirror so bright, that my eyes must turn away
A mirror so high, I start to question all the others
And as I stand there in the Hall of Truth, my heart can only say:
“Show me the truth, I don’t know what to believe
For the mirrors all showed something different to me
And my pride has given way to misery
I’ve spent so long in the dark and the rain
That the sight of the light made my heart sing again
And the stranger built a bridge across for me”

“BEHOLD THYSELF” a voice rings out in paralyzing thunder
It echoes all throughout the hall and sends me to my knees
When the voice calls me by my name I’m overcome with fear and wonder
As I slowly start to rise and face the great mirror in front of me
When I open my eyes, I have to close them again
But still the image is burned into my mind…

A face with eyes as black as night
A terrifying sight
The flesh rotting away
In sickness and decay
It’s mangled by disease
I’m unable to breathe
Tell me what manner of creature this could be
‘Cause it’s not me

I run away as fast as my feet will carry me
Back to the door leading out into the night
Even the storm that almost claimed my life was better than this
And so I throw open the door and see a man
(The figure of a man)
The stranger from the storm returns again
(To save me once again?)
I see understanding in his eyes
(He’s seen this all before)
Maybe he can tell me what I saw behind that door

Traveller:
“Tell me what I saw in the mirror, before I ran away
Tell me what I saw in the mirror, that face of sickness and decay
Tell me what I saw in the mirror, that left me terrorized
Who was that I saw in the mirror, with the lifeless, blackened eyes?
Was it a demon from the fiery waves?
Was it the undead from beyond the grave?
Oh the face that I beheld in the mirror left me paralyzed
Won’t you tell me what I saw in the mirror on this night?”

Stranger:
“The light from the Mirror you saw from afar
The Mirror of Souls shows all men as they are
You entered the hall and you asked for the truth
The man that you saw in the Mirror was you”

Traveller:
“No! Don’t show me the truth, ’cause I don’t want to believe
What the Mirror of Souls has revealed unto me
And the face I saw reflected cannot be me
Dying and lost in the arms of decay
I do not recognize the face I’ve seen today
And if you say that’s my face I must disagree”

The meaning of these things I saw:
The mirror is the holy eyes of God

The truth unveiled before me
with these words of the stranger:
“The mirrors you saw in the hall long ago
Were mirrors of lies, not reflecting the soul
When you look unto others to see what they see
You see an illusion, deception, false reality”

I have seen my soul in the mirror
And it has broken me
I have seen myself so much clearer
Than I had ever seen
“Can’t you take away all this sickness
from my soul and set me free?
You can save me… I believe”

And then he said, “Arise, my child.
Your faith has made you reconciled
Now gaze into the Mirror once again”

We walked together through the door
And I looked in the glass once more
But the only one reflected back was Him
Somehow the only one the mirror saw was Him

Gazing in the Mirror of my soul
Staring at the Man who took my place and made me whole
In the Mirror, the Mirror of my soul


Lyrics written by Matt Smith. I do not own any of the above content.

Abide In Life or Abide In Death

“And it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by: and I will take away Mine hand, and thou shalt see My back parts: but My face shall not be seen.”
Exodus 33:22-23

The “back parts” of God are seen by those who follow Him, and in so doing, they abide in His Life.

The face of God is seen by those who turn against Him, and in so doing, they abide in death.

If no man who sees the face of God shall live, then no man shall live unless they follow Him. For there is only following Him or turning against Him: there is only Life or death.

The measure of the glory of God that we are privileged to see is only uncovered as we follow Him, and is proportionate to our devotion.

No Contingency Plan

HE indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world…
1 Peter 1:20 (NKJV)

There was always going to be an incarnation, no matter what. God was always going to continually fashion man after the manner of the Image of the Invisible God, who for that purpose was caused to become the firstborn of all creation, “the Lamb having been slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev 13:8, LITV)

There is no contingency plan.
God is never thwarted.

For by Him and through Him and to Him are all things.

Amen.

“A Body You Have Prepared For Me”

I have written before that the fulcrum point of the gospel of Christ is His cross; and this is true.

Yet it must also be said that the over-arching essence of the gospel is the resurrection power of the incarnate Word, whereby we are made partakers in the divine nature. For our hope is not only in the final atoning sacrifice for sins, but even now much more in the resurrection life of God in Christ, which overcomes the power of sin & death at work in us, for our conformity into His likeness.

For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, by much more, having been reconciled, we will be saved by His life.
Romans 5:10 (LEB)

For just as the Father has life in Himself, thus also He has granted to the Son to have life in Himself.
John 5:26 (LEB)

That Son of Man, hidden in ages past, through whom all things created have come into being; He is the true Tree of Life in the paradise of God. Of His branches are borne the leaves of the hidden manna and the fruit of God’s Life in every season. Of His mind is taught wisdom: the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of the Holy One. In His blood is written the testament of the better covenant; in His body is mediated the exchange of our death for His Life.

He made the One who did not know sin to be sin on our behalf, in order that we could become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (LEB)

Of all the Sons of God, only the uncreated Son of God’s very being is the divine person in whom the ministry of reconciliation must be mediated to the fallen sons of men.

Therefore the scriptures say,

No one has seen God at any time; the one and only, God, the One who is in the bosom of the Father – that One has made Him known.
John 1:18 (LEB)

And the apostle which wrote of the blood of that Christ as speaking “better things” than the blood of Abel, opens his entire treatise by writing not only of the blood of Christ speaking, but even the very person of Christ Himself:

In these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
Hebrews 1:2 (LEB)

And of what does Christ’s person (more than only His blood) speak? It speaks of being a son both of God and of man.

For the Son by whom the Godhead made the world was always to be the Light of Life unto all men. As He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, so was that last Adam indeed the first Son of Man. He was always to be the One by whom the man Adam and his wife Eve were to grow in the wisdom and knowledge of God, whose image they bore. He is the true Tree of Life from whose branch we became cut off by our lust for the fulfillment of self-ascension unto that which was not our place.

For no plan of God has changed; and by that Son of Man, with whom dwells all righteousness, He still has determined that the seed of men will yet overcome their estrangement from Eden; by taking upon Himself the likeness of sinful flesh, not only to atone for its sins as High Priest, but even to condemn sin in the flesh itself, “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8:4 ESV)

This is to say that, although the serpent in his rebellion promised man apotheosis – even man, whose portion in Christ was already allotted to be theosis unto the likeness of the image of the invisible God – the plan of God’s mystery has still not been diverted in the least; but in Christ it rather prevails unto all of creation, and particularly unto men, without dilution or delay. For He has taken His own place as the new Adam at the right hand of the Head of Days, in whom all that are grafted into His lineage by way of the Spirit’s generation may begin to partake in the divine nature.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 8:22-23 (ESV)

Having been awakened from seep, we now groan for that which is only natural in God’s order. For in God’s design there is no tension between the human and divine natures intermingled in one person – such was the intended design for man. It is only sin and death that brings tension between the two. But Christ, being both fully God, and also more human than any man (being without sin), has restored the way for the whole creation to be transformed and made fit for His dwelling there, beginning with man, as He commanded at first in the garden.

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Romans 8:24-25 (ESV)

In saying that we do not yet see it, the apostle Paul has the end result in mind. But our being saved through the hope of this end has begun already, and ought to be becoming manifest in each soul. There is no excuse for resignation to the seeming fatefullness of sin’s so easily continued presence. For then we render the sacrifice of Christ of no more use to us than the sacrifices of the old covenant – which were powerless to remove sins – of which one apostle said:

But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, He said,
“Sacrifices and offerings You have not desired, but a body have You prepared for Me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings You have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God, as it is written of Me in the scroll of the book.'”
Hebrews 10:3-7 (ESV)

So we see that the greatest power of the cross is found in the nature of He who was hanged upon it: since in this particular matter He says not, “a cross you have prepared;” but rather in this instance, “a body you have prepared.”

For the death that He would die was in order to put an end to all atoning sacrifice and offering, and “to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness…” (Dan 9)
But the body in which He would live, die, and be resurrected was prepared in order to be the means through which God’s very Life and nature might be recapitulated in us, whose newness of life is being made after the likeness of the divinely natured Man, Christ, who is the firstfruits of the incarnate resurrection.

For by His death He put away the old; but in His resurrection He began to make all things new. For as the life is in the blood, so is it manifest in the body. And as by the spilling of His blood are our souls purchased, much more by the resurrection of His body are we being transfigured by the resurrection Life of His flesh, in whom we live – if indeed we have died with Him.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Hebrews 10:19-22 (ESV)


“He who, by sheer inclination of His will, established the beginning of all creation, seen and unseen, before all the ages and before that beginning of created beings, had an ineffably good plan for those creatures.
The plan was for Him to mingle, without change on His part, with human nature by true hypostatic union, to unite human nature to Himself while remaining immutable, so that He might become a man, as He alone knew how, and so that He might deify humanity in union with Himself.
Also, according to this plan, it is clear that God wisely divided “the ages” between those intended for God to become human, and those intended for humanity to become divine.”

– Maximus the Confessor


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]