“And then He turned my heart, and made me love Him.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon
“And then He turned my heart, and made me love Him.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon
Truly then, God overlooking the times of ignorance, now strictly commands all men everywhere to repent, because He set a day in which He is going to judge the habitable world in righteousness, by a Man whom He appointed; having given proof to all by raising Him from the dead.
The gospel is proclaimed as much for judgement as it is for salvation. It is the seed of the Sower which reveals the existing nature of the ground upon which it falls. We have not paid careful attention to what Jesus said immediately after explaining the parable of the sower…
But no one lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel, or puts it underneath a couch, but sets it on a lampstand, that those coming in may see the light. For nothing is hidden which will not be revealed, nor secret which will not be known and come to be revealed. Then observe how you hear; for whoever has, it will be given to him; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.
The same Word of God which He first described as a seed, He now describes as a light that reveals the true substance of whatever it touches. Those “coming in” to the kingdom see the light of this gospel, and they come in because they are drawn of the Father (Jn 6:44). But the rest do not see its true light, even though it shines upon them, and even though some of them might walk amidst the children of light. Likewise, the seed of the Sower commands all; but not all have ears to hear, for to them it has not been given, and these (being many) are judged according to it.
And he said to him, “If they will not hear Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if one from the dead should rise.”
We like to suppose that the ground can be changed by the seed, if only the ground does the right thing with the seed. But in truth, the ground will be judged according to what the seed does with the ground, and it does not abide bad ground. “For nothing is hidden which will not be revealed.” We also miss the purpose of the warnings given to every ear, such as, “be careful how you hear,” or the reason for exhortations to seek God with all of the heart. For the warnings against falling away and the exhortations to seek the Lord are all serving to suggest that hard ground can deceive itself into thinking that it is good soil. For “whoever does not have, even what he SEEMS to have will be taken from him.” Time will tell the truth of mens’ hearts, and the Day will bring all to light.
Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith, prove yourselves. Or do you not yourselves perceive that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are reprobates? And I hope you will know that we are not reprobates.
2 Corinthians 13:5-6
For who determines the nature of the soils? If it were up to the choice of man, then no soil would ever become good. For in Adam, “there is not one doing good, there is not one seeking after God.” But it takes a hearing ear to seek after God; and it is His alone to give to whomever He wills.
Everyone believing (Grk: present & ongoing faith: used consistently by John to describe authentic fruitful faith, not a whimsical belief, nor even potential faith) that Jesus is the Christ, HAS been generated from God…
1 John 5:1
Faith that endures to the end is the result of true regeneration, not the other way around.
So then, to whom He desires, He shows mercy. And to whom He desires, He hardens. You will then say to me, “Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will?”
Bu rather, O man, who are you answering against God? Shall the thing formed say to the One forming it, “Why did You make me like this?” Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, out of the one lump to make one vessel to honor, and one to dishonor? What if God, desiring to show forth wrath, and to make His power known, endured in much long-suffering vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction, s that He make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy which He before pepared for glory?
God deals justly with all, and to some of them He gives mercy by dealing justly with their sin in the death of Christ. For this very reason we proclaim with great confidence the command of the Gospel: because He has a particular people whom He is calling each by name; and His command will bring them in, while at the same time it will judge the ones who do not obey, as is their nature.
For He came to gather the lost sheep of His own house; but unto the rest He says, “You will not believe, because you are not of my sheep.” His sheep hear His voice, He knows them, and they follow Him; but to the self-deceivers He says again, “I never knew you.” They are judged righteously according to the willful rebellion of their hearts; because self-will is the only will of those not generated from God, and they love their own will.
Where the will of men is given the throne by its being pleaded with rather than its being commanded, the gospel being preached is no longer the power of God – not that there is another gospel.
There is a great hatred in the body of Christ today for this truth of God’s sovereignty, just as it has always been drifted away from shortly after its light was revived. I have at times been guilty of questioning it myself, but have very recently been graciously dragged back to it by the Lord. He made this matter clear at first, and I reseisted it for a time; but now the clarity of His Word regarding these things is stunning, and I can take no credit for it. Truly His gospel is the command which tries the hearts! If I ever had anything to do with God’s mercy being bestowed upon me, then He is no God.
“The gospel is a command, not a suggestion.”
– James R. White
“An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”
What the adulterous body of Christ requires is not a revival, but a resurrection. Yet a true resurrection requires the body to be fully dead. That which does not die cannot be raised. We think that we shall save the church by trying to keep her alive, when it is God Himself who seeks to complete her death. For “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” We have before us a choice between the fellowship of man and the fellowship of God. We are so eager to postpone the inevitable, even unto the exclusion of ourselves from glory; but the body of Christ is comprised of those who will die to the elements of this world. Let us therefore abandon all hope in keeping ourselves alive in the world’s eyes, and let the Lord be pleased to crush our idolatrous spirit. The Spirit and power of God is unto those who so humble themselves, and He will raise them up.
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”
1 Corinthians 15:42-45
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
There is an order to the creating work of God. And just as He had an order in the original work of the heavens and the earth, so also He has an order in the making of every new creature in Christ. We might pair the summary statement of the scripture’s first words with these words of the apostle Paul:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2Cor 5:17)
Yet the work is not completed, though indeed its end is finished in the will of God – but His will shall be manifested in proportion to our conformity to it. “God created the heavens and the earth” – Amen! Yet shall we not uncover the wonder of His every decree in this matter? For the good work which God has begun, He intends to perfect even unto the Day of Christ, who has shined in our hearts by the operation of His power to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God as seen in the face of Jesus.
For just as it was God who created the heavens and the earth, so it must also be HE who makes each one into such a new creation. There is no power within the bosom of man by which he can ascend to the heaven of God; there is no right to which he can appeal in order to be adopted into the Father’s house. And except the mercy of God find us, we are not His children at all, we are truly the Devil’s; for after the likeness of that one we have sought our own glory and dominion and power, only to be cast out of the kingdom of God’s marvelous light. For emptiness and darkness is the natural lot of rebellion against the Excellent One, by Whose mercy undeserved He makes new creatures from the formless clay to the praise of His glory…
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Waters deep but undefined,
Where no light as yet had shined.
Darkness could not comprehend
Its reign of sleep should find an end.
Such is the state of every heart uncreated in Christ Jesus. And even of those already being conformed to His image, it remains true regarding the remnant of the old man as it wastes away; the Spirit of God ever striving against its corruption, ever working for the continual deliverance of those who yield it to Him.
But the whole creature – being yet untouched by God in the deepest heart of its waters – over the whole creature the Spirit of God broods with groanings unutterable in the pangs of childbirth until Christ be fully formed in it, that the eyes of those in Him might be ever more enlightened according to His word, so that the new man “being rooted and grounded in love may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, being filled with all the fullness of God.” The Spirit of God will convict and press and outrun a man until he surrenders and deepens in surrender; for God has set His eye to call a people unto His manifold purposes for His singular glory. And upon they who are found heeding the call, He does not ever relent in this mercy; so that a man might truly come to see joy and gladness in the Lord, and that the bones which the Lord has broken along the way may rejoice. “Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life.” (Job 33:29-30)
And God said, “Let there be light,”
and there was light.
Lift up your head, ye trodden down,
Look unto He who wears the crown!
Behold, the Lamb of God was slain,
And over the darkness took His reign!
And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
Upon the introduction of light there comes definition. It is an immutable law in God’s creative order that light and darkness are separated. Though men ever seek to obscure this separation in order to hide from the contrast between His perfect way and their lawless hearts, He remains unmoved in inapproachable light; and He will be given an account by every creature, rewarding back to them according to what they have done in light of Him.
The obscuring of God’s light is the obscuring of sight, and except a man be lead by the Light of Life, he shall never see. If we be found with a light which does not keep us evermore exposed before the eyes of the Lord, that is not the true light of God! In the account of the creation, the scriptures establish each day to consist first of evening, and then of morning. That is to say, the true light is ever shining unto the perfect Day; the Daystar is meant to be dawning ever brighter in the hearts of the redeemed.
God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
The separation of light and darkness is the first act of separation in the order of creation. So it is also in the making of a child of God. The presence of His light within us is the foundation of our every step into His ongoing work. By the practice of walking in the light, we begin to better discern between the light and the darkness. It is a simple discernment but a necessary one; it is the basis of our stability in God so that His work in us might continue.
“…In Thy light we shall see light.”
Those who walk not according to the light which they have already received from God never shine brighter – they become quenched in the shadows of their own obscurity. Without the light of the first day carrying over into the second, there is no purpose to what is done on the second, nor any ability for what follows it to function. By obedience our path is continually lightened. As we carry forward in His light, it continues illuminating the path before us as we its carrier step forward into the untraveled dark. Through the experience of conducting ourselves according to our revelation thus far, God can usher us into ever higher things prepared for those who love Him; which not eye has seen nor ear heard – nor can they be among those who fail to carry the revelation of the first day into the second and beyond.
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
CONTINUED IN PART TWO
Many have demanded of God, “Rain upon us!”
Let it be known: If you want rain, break up your fallow ground and sow not among thorns.
For the earth drinking in the rain often coming upon it, and producing plants fit for those for whom it is also worked, receives blessing from God; but bearing thorns and thistles, it is deemed unfit and near a curse, of which the end is for burning.
Hebrews 6:7-8 (LITV)
The Lord will not entrust His anointing unto a people who have done nothing but profane it by the idolatry of their hard and impenitent hearts.
Revival is the result of a heart’s darkness being exposed in the piercing light of God. If most men knew what true revival might entail for them, they would never ask for it.
So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.
Then Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God. He burned with anger also at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong.
Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he. And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger.
Job 32:1-5 (ESV)
Now here is a man that lived up to his name.
Elihu means “God is his strength.”
The God who truly requires no introduction is ever so gracious that He prepares the way before Himself: tilling the hardened earth of our hearts as best as it will allow so that His word might not go forth in vain. He needs no witness from the mouth of a man, yet in mercy he sends one. He sends the voice crying out in the wilderness, uprooting the excuse of men and exposing their great need of the One coming. These voices are held in contempt by those that are wise in their own eyes; but they are considered of God a blessing unto His people. (Elihu was a Buzite, which literally means “contempt;” and his father’s name Barachel means “God has blessed”.)
Such a blessed voice was this Elihu. For after the seeds of discord and confusion were sown by those three fools called friends of Job, this little-remembered young man delivers his word immediately before the Almighty boasts of His majesty, and is never mentioned again. The Lord never rebukes this one: indeed, He begins right where Elihu leaves off and even expounds upon much that he said. This man was a sword long sharpened for a particular day of war, to cut asunder the lies of one man’s heart; he was a choice arrow crafted for a single flight, to pierce one target reached by no other; he was a treasure-trove of precious gems, fashioned for the day of lack: he was the witness of God among the profane, that their babbling mouths might be shamed through the foolishness of preaching.
The words of Elihu are words of great offence to the religious heart. It is no wonder that he is left so forgotten. He is a sort of prophet – not one trained of men, nor versed in “higher thought;” but of the simplicity of true wisdom found only in the stillness of God’s voice…
And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said: I am young in years, and you are aged; therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you.
I said, Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom. But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right. Therefore I say, Listen to me; let me also declare my opinion. Behold, I waited for your words, I listened for your wise sayings, while you searched out what to say. I gave you my attention, and, behold, there was none among you who refuted Job or who answered his words.
Beware lest you say, “We have found wisdom;” God may vanquish him, not a man. He (Job) has not directed his words against me, and I will not answer him with your speeches.
They (Job’s friends) are dismayed; they answer no more; they have not a word to say. And shall I wait, because they do not speak, because they stand there, and answer no more? I also will answer with my share; I also will declare my opinion. For I am full of words; the spirit within me constrains me.
Those who know their God are ever ruined for Him: they cannot stand to bear the prattling on of carnal men, who love to pit fool against fool and declare the craftier wise. The end of all human thought without God is emptiness and confoundment.
Elihu observed all of this with eyes quite unhindered by the scales of man’s reasoning: he beheld the folly of Job’s defence as well as the folly of his accusers, for he beheld the manifold wisdom of the sovereign Lord. From within his belly there groaned a burden of righteous angst not of his own making; and from within his very bones there kindled a holy fire destined to enflame the words of his mouth – if by obedience he would allow it.
Like the pressure of a great river held back by a dam, he longed after the very desire of God for those waters to be liberated as is their nature – for the word of God is not bound. Those who truly have the word of God within them have also its desire at work in them. These have given up the futility of their own hearts for the in-filling of God’s heart. Those who so know their Maker speak of what they have seen and heard in the secret of His counsel, seeking not the approval of man, but of their Lord.
Behold, my belly is like wine that has no vent; like new wineskins ready to burst. I must speak, that I may find relief; I must open my lips and answer. I will not show partiality to any man or use flattery toward any person. For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away…
…My words declare the uprightness of my heart, and what my lips know they speak sincerely. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Job 32:19, 33:3-4
These are not the words of arrogance, but of humility’s confidence. Elihu did not come wielding the word of the Lord; the word of the Lord came weilding Elihu. The word was the wine, the man was the wine-skin; and this man recognized that such was the righful order. His rebuke was not to destroy Job, but to show him the right. It was to remind his self-justifying friend of God’s kindness and forebearance so that he might repent back unto the eternal blessedness of the Name he had once rested in.
Behold, I am toward God as you are; I too was pinched off from a piece of clay. Behold, no fear of me need terrify you; my pressure will not be heavy upon you.
Job had begun well in his suffering, and was commended for the saying “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” [For the scripture thereafter says, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:22)] But Job did not continue in this right and humble frame of spirit. For thereafter he began to rather pity himself; and in response to the false accusations of evil suspicion from his friends, he attributed their folly unto God and counted his sufferings unjust.
Surely you have spoken in my ears, and I have heard the sound of your words. You say, “I am pure, without transgression; I am clean, and there is no iniquity in me. Behold, He finds occasions against me, He counts me as His enemy, He puts my feet in the stocks and watches all my paths.”
Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you, for God is greater than man. Why do you contend against Him, saying, “He will answer none of man’s words?”
For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, then He opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings, that He may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man; He keeps back his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.
There is no injustice with God: He works great evil unto the good for those that are with Him. He turns loose the very hords of hell to prove the mettle of His servants; and He delivers them from the gates of destruction, that they might see how their God delivers destruction back unto the enemy’s gates. The sufferings of the present time are the growing pains of the Life begotten of God within the creature. It is of mercy that He will not relent, and it is of wisdom that we should submit ourselves to the knife of our skilled Physician. The Lord will ever draw out His own unto the brink of despair, that they may learn the trust of Him – the faith which is called heavenly vision. He will expose the self-preserving heart by any means until it at last cries aloud, “It is well! You have declared my soul Your own, here it is for safe-keeping, as I cannot preserve myself, nor endure unto the end. But with You it shall be possible.”
Man is also rebuked with pain on his bed and with continual strife in his bones, so that his life loathes bread, and his appetite the choicest food. His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen, and his bones that were not seen stick out.
His soul draws near the pit, and his life to those who bring death. If there be for him an angel, a Mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him, and He is merciful to him, and says, “Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom; let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor;” then man prays to God, and He accepts him; He sees his face with a shout of joy, and He restores to man his righteousness.
He (the man) sings before men and says: “I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not repaid to me. He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.”
Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the Light of Life.
Much more was also declared by the mouth of Elihu before the Lord spoke to Job from the whirlwind; but this I hope has introduced the essence of it. It is wisdom greatly despised by the world, and often forgotten by God’s people. He aquired his knowledge from heaven afar, he ascribed righteousness to his Maker; his words were not false, but perfect in knowledge. He declared purity in the heart by the loving of God’s justice, and trust in the Lord by the disciplines of His mercy.
Though perhaps little more than a youth, he yet spoke from what he had both seen and heard in the Lord.
God was his strength.
The LORD is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.
The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust— there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults.
For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.
To crush underfoot all the prisoners of the earth, to deny a man justice in the presence of the Most High, to subvert a man in his lawsuit, the Lord does not approve.
Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?
Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins?
Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said…
The mighty fortress of God wherein we find true shelter is the place where He reigns: and that place is the eye of the storm.
For it is His storm: it is the fervent whirling of every wind both foul and fair as He bends them all unto His will, that a man might at last be shaken and undone at the wonder that is HE. The closer we come to the calm of His shelter, the more fiercely the wind seeks to bewilder; but He brings it into subjection, and the strong tower of His strength shall envelop all who draw near on the wings of His Spirit.
He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
Without the veil of His cloud is a tempest of rebuke; within His bosom is the surety of His good rule. Amidst the swirling fury of many voices and the battering rains of many matters, the still of knowing God disarms our every excuse, giving way to that peace which no man can make for himself.
Though furor of words and turmoil of mind may prevail in this day, let us give our hearing and vision to that two-edged sword which cuts asunder this shadowy veil of our present darkness unto the seeing of the Lord seated in His temple. Let the prayer of our lives become that of the contrite soul which trembles at His word: bold in the Spirit and meek in the earth. Let Him be our fear, let Him be our dread; then shall He become our sanctuary, and we His.
Then Job answered the Lord, and said,
“I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils. He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay.