Forgotten Gospel – A Testimony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mocking the Grace of God

And why not do evil that good may come? – as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.
Romans 3:8

When men charge the grace of God with being such a low and powerless thing, they reveal the self-made religion of their wicked hearts and fail to truly behold His grace. For whether they desire to get away with overt sensual wickedness, or they intend to obtain God’s mercy through human works, in both cases they are laying the exact same charge against His grace: the charge of insufficency.

To both, I answer the same:
The strength of sin is not grace.
Behold now the cross, and tremble.

“Behold! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. Be found therefore in Him, that He be found in you. For the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overtake it.

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6

“Vincēbar” – Inverting Invictus

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

 

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

Into the night that covered me,
Black as the pit which held me whole,
He became sin that He might be
The conqueror of my soul.

From blinding clutch of Satan’s bands,
I heard His voice and cried aloud
Then saw His blood on my own hands,
His face was marred, His head thorn-crowned.

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

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

 

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

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

The One Who By Faith Is Righteous Shall Live!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IN HUMILITY:

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

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

WITH CONFIDENCE:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
Romans 8:1-5

…So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Romans 8:12-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?”

Holiness Through Surrender

...My brothers, you also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ, for you to become Another’s, to One raised from the dead, so that we may bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sin were working in our members through the law for the bearing of fruit unto death. But now we have been set free from the law, having died to that in which we were held, so as for us to serve in newness of spirit, and not in oldness of letter.
(Romans 7:4-6, LITV)

Holiness is not merely a way of living, it is the very Life of God reigning freely in a man who is given over to Him. We shall only authentically live like Christ from the inward parts to the degree that His impending Life is at last allowed to replace our own. To seek for anything less from God in light of our sins reveals the pride of life that is born of the self-deceived sinful flesh. “I am simply too weak Lord” is the inevitable cry of the man who has evidently tried to accomplish by the fleshly nature the holy Life which he himself can never live. But the proper cry of the new creature is, “Lord, you are all that I have, my very Life: as I bring nothing except what You work in me.”
For the “weakness” of God cannot even be lowered to comparison with the “strength” of man: it is a comparison of the very nature of God with the nature of that which cannot but oppose and fall short of His glory. The strength for which we must cry is not strength of ourselves, but rather the strength which is His very Life; because except for Christ, I do not even have life before God! Yes, even the new creature is not mine to operate: it is HIS vessel, meant to be operated by the power of His Spirit.
No other is able. Not I, but Christ – Christ in me.

The fear and trembling with which we work out our salvation is the sweet fear and trembling of surrender; for it is only God Himself who can work in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. The law of sin and death is set aside by the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus – and by no other means. And these two laws, which work in their respective subjects, were spoken of by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians…

For through law I died to law, that I might live to God.
(Galatians 2:19, LITV)

By faith’s surrender to the law of the Spirit of Life, we are released from the law of sin and death that is at work in the sinful flesh. That which causes us to walk against the will and pleasure of the Spirit may truly be done away with to continually receive the Life that is in Christ Jesus! “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2)
Without Christ, I lived after the flesh and was dead to God. But by faith, although still living in the flesh, I died in Him; so that my only Life may now be securely hidden with the risen Christ in God. For the righteous shall live by faith! And by a faith which has no motive except God’s own glory at every expense, we may lay hold of His Life in actual experience…

I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, the One loving me and giving Himself over on my behalf.
I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness is through law (that is, apart from the Spirit through faith), then Christ died without cause.
(Galatians 2:20-21, LITV)

Christ is the end of that which ministers condemnation through the fleshly attempts of outward observance: He is the very law God’s Life at work in those who keep HIS faith in themselves. The great sin of disobedience which caused the children of Israel to fall away, according to the writer of Hebrews, was unbelief. It was this bitter root of dissatisfaction with the original and unchanging promise of God by which they kept themselves from entering His rest. In other words, they judged God by what their carnal eyes saw rather than walking after the Spirit by faith which is the substance of things hoped for. Those who kept no faith in the promise instead longed again for the bondage of Egypt: rather than looking for the city of God, the heavenly kingdom, in which we now may be immersed by the Holy Spirit. For the King of glory has arrived to His people: let Him come in and reign! Is not the kingdom within His own? Are they not His temple? But when we have no trust in Christ to be our present sustainer and only strength, we shall likewise come short of entering that rest (Heb 4:1). Meanwhile, the promise of entering still stands, waiting to be reached by the steps of faith that can only be made in the very Spirit who labors graciously to that end. Let us therefore not insult Him by disallowing His rule in and over the entirety of our being.

“This is the work of God: that you believe into Him whom that One sent.” – Jesus spoke of faith as the key to the very powerful working of God. It cannot the work of a man; for the best that any man can do is revive the old man to rule over the new and so deceive himself. “You cannot serve two masters…” It is only by God that all things are possible, and this is given to those who actively believe. The key to holiness is surrender – nothing less. “It is finished” must become an ever-nearer reality in our lives, bearing the righteous fruit that can only be apprehended by unfeigned faith, trusting in God to increase in us as we ourselves decrease. All we can bring to the table is surrender on all fronts. It is finished: and by the grace of God through faith not pretended, let it continue to be finished within the purchased possession! For by blood of His covenant we are sanctified; as the the Spirit actively works even in the present moment through our faith – faith which surrenders the whole being to the refining fire of God. We take hold of Him as we let go of our own ways and things, knowing the love of God toward those who so believe Him with their lives. “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His.” (Heb 4:9-10) Today, let it no longer be we who live, but CHRIST!

…for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them to be trash, that I might gain Christ and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness of law, but through the faith OF Christ, having the righteousness of God on faith: 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. Not that I already received or already have been perfected, but I press on, if I also may lay hold, inasmuch as I also was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-12, LITV)