Purity of Faith

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore it is written,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Hebrews 4:6-7)

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

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

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

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

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

Dying To Live: The Faith Of Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reality & Doctrine, Obedience & Faith

The convenient divorce of reality from doctrine inevitably leads to the abandonment of both; so that what passes for either one of them is merely the imaginations and philosophies of man thinly veiled in biblical terms. But the doctrine of Christ is derivative of His very person; it is the expression not merely of an intellectual framework but rather of the Life of He who desires to be at work in both our thoughts and our actions by His Holy Spirit, that we may walk by such faith which through obedience increasingly lays hold of the reality of knowing Him.

When many don’t get the answers they want, or the answers don’t seem to be coming, they just settle for their own vain notions and move on – as though forgetting that God has anything to do with it (even though they’ll still claim they are being taught by Him.) But the realities of God as expressed in scripture will not be truly seen and walked in without the patient and confident faith which makes decisions and actually does things based upon what is yet unseen – and even as of yet, unconfirmed – except by the Still Small Voice.

God desires to have a people so given over to Christ their Shepherd that when they open the bible, every word they read would not be a far off mystery, but rather an ever clarifying revelation of that in which they have already allowed His Spirit to begin leading them. For a witness is not only one who has heard; but one who has also seen, looked upon and handled the Word of Life, who is Christ Himself, the treasure in these earthen vessels.

“…And we are witnesses to these things, and so is
the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

(Acts 5:32)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

…But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
(James 1:5-8, 22)

The Wise Man’s Eyes

The wise man’s eyes are IN his head
(Ecclesiastes 2:14)

Here is described in the simplest of terms the vision of those whom God calls wise.
True wisdom is not gleaned from what the eye of the body beholds outside, but rather by the continued discipline of a redeemed soul that remains watchful of its own internal affairs. We are exhorted to keep our hearts with all diligence because it is the nature of a man that determines his fruit.

For although our Lord and judge has for our sake become a man with like passions as we, still the prophet spoke of Him: “He shall not judge by what His eyes see, or decide disputes by what His ears hear; but with righteousness shall He judge…” (Isa 11:3)

And let that also be said of those who are to follow in His steps! The man who is motivated by apparent outcomes and outward appearances is caught in the ungodly self-awareness of sinful pride – minding  the things of the flesh rather than of the Spirit, which mind is “at enmity with God,” and “cannot please God…” But Christ Jesus, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, has once for all delivered us who believe into Him out of the slavery of that form of godliness into the substance and power of His indestructible Life; which now is evidently at work in those who obey Him in the Spirit of Life, by whose power we are raised from the dead in Him.

Therefore, we no longer need live as though debtors to the flesh; but rather we may despair of all but Him and give ourselves over to that One, whose power is ever at the ready to animate those who by faith will apprehend the fullness HIS resurrection Life in forsaking their own. And by such deliverance from darkness into His marvelous Light, we will indeed find that in HIS light we shall see Light! It is here that we shall live in the upright awareness of humility before the eyes of the Holy One – not according to human precepts and teachings, which “have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (Col 2)

For our confidence in He who IS our life allows us to look upon ourselves – yet not as the world, which sees the outward appearance of its self-projected image – but rather as beholding HIM, and thereby rightly knowing our own true estate through the very eyes of the One living in us, who beholds the hidden secrets of every heart. Only one born from above and walking in Christ as a new creature has the veil removed so as to rightly discern by the mind of Christ through His indwelling Spirit what things lie within his innermost being; whatever pure and lovely things that bring holy delight, or whatever lingering idols lie in wait for his soul; whatever effectual working of God must be allowed to shine forth before men, or whatever detestable old creature must be expelled without mercy.

The wise man’s eyes are in his head; his counsel is derived of the Spirit of God within him, and he seeks that Counselor diligently so that he may obey His voice faithfully and without hindrance.

The lamp of the body is the eye.
Then if your eye is sound, all your body is light.
But if your eye is evil, all your body is dark.
If, then, the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
(Matthew 6:22-23)