Elect In His Calling

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
1 Peter 1:1-2 (ESV)

The election of the saints is according to something, in something, and for something; all of which things play out in this present time upon the earth.

These are not theoretical matters, but living and consequential matters: each one of the three proceeding from God Himself with the intent and power to find their fulfillment by the obedience of faith in the elect ones.


Elect “According To”


“…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…”

The first of these three is the only sure fountain of the other two. If we do not appreciate the humbling enormity of what this election, or this choosing, is “according to,” then we rob the subsequent matters of their true source of power.

For if God’s electing grace was according to our own choosing, then He should still be waiting for our dead souls to impossibly come alive and choose. But praise be to God! That while we were yet dead in our trespasses and sins, He made us alive: so that we might see, with eyes of a faith once unattainable, the grace of God bestowed upon us in a predestinating love that conforms us to the image of His Son!

That God foreknew is not a theological term for divine time travel. God did not peer helplessly along the parade of souls through time, hoping to see if there were many who decided to believe in Him. The prophets indeed tell us what God sees when He looks upon fallen man: “And there was no man to intercede.” Men have altogether failed to intercede, even on behalf of their own souls. And how could they? For they are not able to please Him, being without the gift of faith, the seed of His Life, in them.

That God forknew the elect means that He KNEW THEM before their time. It is a term of the longing and loving relationship of the Shepherd who seeks out the one lost sheep of the hundred, laying down His very Life for it. The call goes out, and His lost sheep hear His voice, responding with cries for help.

Later on (v.3), Peter will say that according to this abundant mercy, we have been caused to be born again “to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” A living hope! A tangible hope! This means that the subsequent sanctification of the Spirit also comes from God, and not from ourselves. It is God’s power by which we are being gaurded through faith for the revealing of this ever-unfolding salvation until the Last Day (v.4-7).


Elect “In”


“…in the sanctification of the Spirit…”

The relational foreknowing of God, once having planted its seed, is meant to produce the fruit of the same Spirit by whose power we have been generated from above. It is at this point of contact with our lives that the electing and calling will of God tests the soil of the heart of a man. It is here that the seed will germinate and become fruitful, or wither.

It is here that the birds of the air will consume the seed if the soil of the heart is hard and unreceptive to its manner of dying. It is here that the heat will scorch it for lack of depth and root, though it spring up quickly at first. It is here that thorns and thistles will choke it out unless resilient growth displaces them.

And in that parable of the soils is also seen the progression of growth based upon how those three bad soils failed to receive the seed: hardness of heart in the first case, lack of depth in the second, and worldly cares in the third. Whereas, the pattern of growth is as follows: first, the heart softening to recieve the Seed which died and now lives, that it may spring up anew; second, the newly softened ground giving way to greater depth of root; and third, depth of root producing a resilient and fruitful planting – a tree which the birds of the air rest in the shade of, the sun cannot scorch, and the thorns and thistles have no effect upon.

Such is the work of the Spirit of God in a heart that keeps its First Love, surrendering to His mighty work. It is not for lack of His powerful working that we have no power; it is rather for our lack of abiding faith in He who continually works powerfully in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. The three bad soils are so easily emulated in us – and the elect saint must vigilantly fight these conditions of the heart if Christ is to be fully formed in it.

The saints (Gk. holy ones) are elect in the santification of the Spirit.

“In” – it is a matter of abiding. Holy ones are those who do not allow their garments to remain defiled if they become stained. Therefore, we are later exhorted by Peter to be found confirming our calling and election; because continual repentance keeps the elect in the sanctification of the Spirit, by which their true obedience is made possible.


Elect “For”


“…for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood…”

This third matter of the elect’s calling is inseperably twofold.

There can be no true obedience – the obedience undefiled by selfish motives – unless the heart from whence it proceeds is already being purified by a worthy sacrifice. If even the prescribed sacrifices of the old covenant were in themselves unable to perfect those drawing near to God, nor could they cleanse the conscience, nor actually take away sins; how much more inadequate then are the sacrifices of which our own vain minds conceive in our pitiful attempts to enter the holy court of God.

Therefore the writer to the Hebrews said,

For by one offering He has perfected the carrying through of the ones being sanctified.
Hebrews 10:14 (LITV)

Those who are being sanctified are being “carried through” into the holy of holies: not by God deceiving Himself and merely hiding our sins from before His face; but rather by we no longer deceiving ourselves, and He actually taking away our sins as we behold His face.

The matter therefore once again comes down to the substance of our faith: what our hands and feet proclaim to be our hope, and what our path testifies to be our vision. The blood of Jesus is that by which our faith is fully assured, and that which sprinkles our hearts from an evil conscience, and that which washes even our body as in pure water to walk in the obedience of a living faith.
To enter the holiest place is to enter as a living sacrifice upon an altar. To remain in the holiest place is to remain and increasingly embody an intercessory posture.

Earlier I noted how the unregenerate man has no intercessory ability (or desire, truly). But those who are elect by God’s will in the santification of the Spirit are brought into an obedience that is a life of intercession on behalf of the body of which they are now becoming an integral member. The obedience to Jesus and the sprinkling with His blood is what they are now purposed “for,” as priests in His living temple, ministering unto God.

As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:4-5 (ESV)


“So great is the office for which God hath appointed them, and which it is not lawful for them to decline.”
– Author Unknown, to “Diognetus”
[circa 130AD~200s AD]


On Truth & Sin – Douglas Wilson

“To deny (the reality of) sin is to deny Christ… and sin lies hidden whenever Christ is veiled.”
– Douglas Wilson


If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:8

Priesthood: The Calling Which Purifies


§I ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICES


You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:5 (ESV)

Our obedience to the priestly calling of every member of God’s house is the only source of our ability to please Him in what we do. And the priestly calling of all believers is not, as many evangelical traditions have made it, to primarily be the confidant of one another’s sins: it is rather to be a minister UNTO THE LORD, who purifies the true ministers of His temple.

For despite the small good that can come by the confession of our faults one to another (Jas 5:16), there is no overcoming power in the act of itself; and even the prayer of a righteous man, though it may avail much, is soon discovered by many to be of little use in the continued overcoming of worldly and fleshly lusts. This is because we tend to minister in these things not unto the Lord, but rather unto ourselves.

Men seek “accountability” for their besetting sins amongst themselves, and in so doing tend to quickly neglect the power of God; which is found only in each one offering his own incense upon the altar of the brokenness of interceding love to Him, through obedience according to the giftings and callings of God.

For there is but one mediator between God and men: “the MAN Christ Jesus.” And if that Man alone (to whom we truly have to give an account) does not appear or seem close enough as to keep us from falling, then we have found the real root of what besets us: that our present experiential knowledge of God Himself is lacking.

“…to offer spiritual sacrifices…”
A spiritual sacrifice makes no excuse for the self: this means that the one offering does not consider their present sins worthy of hindering an entrance into the holy places. For the blood that has been sprinkled for us, and the body that has been torn open for us, gives us entrance, so that “going boldly” we may find grace in the time of need. His throne in the temple is the mercy seat – and have not our own hearts become a seat of mercy for His holiness, if He has indeed regenerated us in Christ? We have no excuse not to offer the spiritual sacrifices that are pleasing to the Lord, in view of God’s mercy.

“…acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
To confess sin to a brother, or to receive prayer from an elder, is only a spiritual sacrifice as far as it is done freely as a love offering to the Lord (and this can only proceed from a heart enraptured in some degree by His goodness). But the confession of a sin or the receiving of a prayer as a resort to please the real or perceived standards of others, or to attain to a level of personal piety whereby one might feel spiritually accomplished, is idolatry, and is an unacceptable sacrifice.

Time will tell the source and motive of all personal piety. Even an external source or motive, if it is yet other than the goodness of God Himself, falls woefully short of His glory. God will not be mocked. And He will not uphold the proud: He will allow them to fall again, especially if one whom He loves cannot be humbled unto His grace by any other means.

Therefore, we are not left to our own devices, nor to the cleverness of schemes, nor to the wisdom of sound counsel only. But we are called to fulfill the calling of a new priesthood, wherein is found a santification that goes far beyond the overcoming of only one particular sin, though that victory is also given.

The office of priesthood is the office of intercession. If we will minister to the Lord acceptably as priests, then we will seek Him earnestly in all our motives – especially those pertaining to good works, though without delaying in action. We will also be willing for Him to lay upon our hearts the burden of His own soul for His house, and for the lost sheep of His pasture.

We too quickly excuse ourselves in saying, “But I am unworthy to minister to others.” Yet aren’t we much more unworthy to minister to the Lord, which is our first and primary calling, and for which He has made us a way into the holy of holies? Surely then, He will make us able to minister to others in word, in deed, and in prayer, if only we are found ministering to Him in the same things by the bearing out of our souls before Him, and the seeking of His heart to become our own.

And how, one might ask, can this ministry intercession cleanse a man’s way?


§II“LIFT UP YOUR EYES”


And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.
Acts 5:32

Ministering to the Lord in the seeking and doing of His will, despite ourselves and despite our existing shortcomings, is the magnet for His overcoming power. We become witnesses of His work only through obedience. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “Exercise thyself UNTO Godliness.” A man with no living experience of walking by the palpably leading hand of God will be a man of little or no strength in God; since the scope of his walk requires little or no strength, and he sees nothing beyond where he sits.

The overcoming power of God is given according to the measure of obedient faith in the various callings of God upon each one. And although the obediences to which He may call us might appear irrelevant or unable to affect our present sins, that is not at all the point. Dare we counsel God in the methods by which He delivers us from our own folly? He places one step at a time in front of us; and He orders those steps according to HIS wisdom, not our own.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NKJV)

The Hebrew for “loyal” here carries the concept of which Jesus spoke when He said “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single (or sound), thy whole body shall be full of light.”

In other words, while men seek to rid themselves of particular sins by developing tunnel-vision for those sins, the greater answer is truly found in developing a focused vision for whatever places Christ is calling one to in Him. For what the eye beholds, the body will soon reflect. The beholding of He who dwells in us and calls us will transform the beholder and the obeyer – and He is only beheld unto transformation by those who obey Him.

To neglect any prompting of the Holy Spirit is to neglect stepping into a greater place of His power.

If we wait to cross the Jordan until we are first made perfect, then we will never cross. We need to cross in order to find the beginnings of His perfecting power; for in that obedience are contained the seeds of perfection, and also the loyalty of heart which God answers in overcoming strength. In stepping into Jordan, the floodwaters which seemed to prevent us from taking the promised land are suddenly backed away from us, even beyond Adam (Josh 3:16), and the conquering of Jericho (the stronghold) comes well within the realm of possibility.

God fights on behalf of devoted hearts, and teaches them through continued experience to also fight for themselves. We are being made perfect through the crucible of obedience unto greater obedience.

As it was prophesied of such a priestly generation, to whom He comes as God into His temple:

And He (the Lord) shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
Malachi 3:3

Priesthood in God’s temple means that we are called to fearfully minister to His heart through walking by faith in the face of all ungody fear; and in this ministry we will find that He begins ministering far more deeply to our own hearts in the purification of the Holy Spirit than by any other means. It is the office by which the exercise thereof will call up a dead church to rise and meet the Lord who calls her to “come away,” shedding all the trappings of self-made religion as the faces of heaven’s inhabitants beam with awe and joy at the sight of a worthy Bride.

The heart of sanctification is not to please ourselves, but to honour God, who is worthy.

They shall enter into My sanctuary, and they shall come near to My table, to minister unto Me, and they shall keep My charge.
…And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
Ezekiel 44:16,23


“Experience is the secret of power.”
Brian Troxel


SEE ALSO:

Neglect It Not: Intercession

HIS Intercession Is Our Calling

The Spirit Of Mockery

Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking.
Genesis 21:9

A most notable characteristic that distinguishes the children of the flesh from those of God’s Spirit is the mocking spirit by which they operate.

These children after the flesh, whose eyes are full of scorn, walk about freely in the household of faith quite unnoticed. They are given to much commentary concerning the things which they see, hear, and think; at best feigning humility, hungry for argument; hearing many things and being understanding in few; hating reproach, scoffing without reason at those who have wise counsel; witnessing to the words of others falsely, so that they may steer men into the same bitterness by which they themselves walk.

But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.
Jude 1:18-19

For as it was with Isaac and the son of the slave woman, so it is today.

But those who, like Sarah, have been blessed to carry the Son of Promise, and bear out His fruit of their womb, are able to discern the subtlety of that scorning which is seen in the posture of the fleshly children; and are sorely grieved by their presence, and become filled with a righteous anger that such are able to continue in their mocking ways among God’s flock.

I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers, nor did I exult. Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone, for You filled me with indignation.
Jeremiah 15:17

These walking mockeries of God’s children make sport of the righteous in their conversation, not fearing the Lord in their houses; and they make much outward fellowship among God’s people with the laughter of self-assurance, seeking always to be at ease in Zion. Alas for their souls! Unless they are struck with the true fear of the glorious God before the end, how great will be their final fall! For it is better to dwell more often in the house of mourning, and to quiet one’s soul before He who searches it, than to always break bread presumtuously, chattering on in the house of gladness, giving no thought to the day of judgement.

“These are ones who cause divisions,” the apostle says. For even if they are outwardly guilty of only a little of this mockery of the way of God’s Spirit, and even if they are not set above many brethren, nor so grieviously ravage the church as those described in Jude’s letter; it is still the same spirit (or spiritual posture) of mocking by which they walk. Even if they are not purposefully and conciously undermining the harmony of the body of Christ; these still are a blemish at its love feasts, waterless clouds, and raging waves of the sea, driven about by fierce winds.

For they love what benefits of the Lord’s table might numb their soul to His Spirit’s conviction of their depraved nature, and also what comradery of the brethren might justify them in the sight of certain men whom they percieve to be leaders. But because it is all a self-deception and a ruse, they indeed cause divisions by the very nature of their presence; since, being devoid of the Spirit, they cannot harmonize with those whose walk with Christ happens to challenge them, and so the flow of the Spirit is impeded by this dead wood that has fallen into the river.

Hence, brothers become divided over them unknowingly, and cease to work together in what the Lord is truly concerned with. Time is thrown into the void, and many a spiritual life is exasperated by the casting of pearls before the swine. Ever do they learn in order to keep up in the natural eyes of men, yet never do they come to a true knowledge of the truth. Ever do they hurl foolish and unlearned questions at those in God’s house whom they secretly despise, and ever is the proverb fulfilled in them, “A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain.” (Prov.14:6) For their wells are broken, and their soil salted.

In short, these sons of the slave woman are a mockery of the sons of the free simply by what they are.

Therefore, let the members of Christ see it fit to cease their worldly entreatment of the carnal; for such entreatment will not win such men over to Christ Himself. But the turning of them over to the world which they still love, which world is the mirror of all hypocrites, might bring even some of these to repentance.

The accomodating of Ishmael is not the mission of the church. He is rather to be repented of; so that perhaps God may later work salvation for him, and the church will also be blessed, and freed of his leaven. May we come to discernment! Without discernment there is no dividing between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit; and if division is not made between the workers of both, it will drive a wedge between the brothers of the latter. Because of this, even many a true son after the Promise is caught in the ways of the spirit of mockery, and are thereby driven to many unnecessary divisions.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
Psalm 1:1

Alpha & Omega

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Revelation 22:13

Jesus Christ precedes all causes, and exceeds all ends.

Let His revelation determine our reason,
Let His faith determine our knowledge,
Let His hope determine our wisdom,
Let His love determine our life.
For from the least to the greatest, these all proceed from Him; and their end is in Him.

He Kissed Churchianity Goodbye

The Pharisees of my childhood continue their coming-out parade:

Josh Harris, author of the bestselling 1997 book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, announced on Instagram Friday that he had kissed Christianity goodbye, as well. He is also divorcing his wife. In recent years, Harris has rightly repented of his extraordinarily stringent and slightly heretical teachings in the evangelical purity movement, but he seems to have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Ironically, the evangelical ex-pastor went from preaching one worldly dogma dressed up in Christian garb to fully embracing another worldly dogma clearly opposed to Christianity.

Last week, Harris announced that he and his wife of 21 years would be separating. This is significant in part because Harris made himself the model of the promises of a pure Christian life in his book. He essentially promised young Christians that if they keep themselves pure for marriage — he even suggested refraining from kissing until the wedding day — they will find the perfect spouse, enjoy the frequent satisfaction of desire, and the blessings of children.

That didn’t seem to work out for him, and in his Instagram post, Harris wrote, “I wish you could see all the messages people sent me after the announcement of my divorce. They are expressions of love though they are saddened or even strongly disapprove of the decision.⁣⁣”

Yet the former evangelical Christian made an even bigger announcement in the same post:

“I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now,” Harris wrote.

As Katelyn Beaty noted at Religion News Service, Harris’s book and others like them were part of a “sexual prosperity gospel.” Prosperity gospel huxters preach that if you have faith in God and pray, then God will reward you in this life with health, wealth, and prosperity. This dangerous message also has a tragic corollary — if you get sick and don’t recover or if you become poor, that means your faith was lacking.

Similarly, the sexual prosperity gospel preaches that if Christians hold themselves back for marriage, they will be rewarded with a perfect marriage full of bountiful intercourse. Now, it is true that there are natural benefits to saving yourself for marriage — but that’s not the promise of the gospel. And it certainly does not follow that the more you deny yourself in terms of kissing or hugging while dating (or “courting”), the more passion and intercourse you will enjoy during marriage. God promises no such trade-off, and it is an unrealistic expectation.

Worse, it elevates marriage and intercourse above God’s true promises. Marriage itself is but a shadow of heavenly intimacy with God. As C.S. Lewis wrote in his masterful essay The Weight of Glory, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Josh Harris, it seems, is still far too easily pleased. In his statement about “falling away” from Christianity, he added an apology “to the LGBTQ+ community.”

Excerpts taken from https://pjmedia.com/faith/josh-harris-kisses-christianity-goodbye/

While the writer of this article doesn’t appear to value purity as much as he ought, his critiques regarding the inherent flaws in the popular evangelical purity/family movement are absolutely correct – perhaps even understated. That movement pushes a form of godliness, but lacks the power thereof, though the power of God is given lip-service. And more often than not, the organizations therein are easily infiltrated by well-spoken perverts who manipulate naive people in order to get close to their families. Take the premise of Wit’s End from the popular kid’s program Advertures In Odyssey, for example.

Perhaps I have seen too much of what runs the world; but it still doesn’t take a disturbed mind to see what is hiding in plain sight there. It’s the appetites of demons coursing through the veins of earthly rulers and “spiritual leaders”, it’s the blood of the innocent that oils the gears of the Mystery Babylon machine. There is an apocalypse (unveiling) of these things in our day; and men will have to choose more clearly and viscerally than ever what master they will serve.

I’m glad I never wasted my time with Harris’s book despite it’s being pushed upon me at a young age. It would not only have not helped – it would have actually made things a whole lot worse. Even in my more foolish years, I could somehow never trust these “christian” writers and figures that were so heavily marketed as having “traditional family values”; they always seemed quite “off” to me, even if I occasionally derived value from bits and peices of their material (very little, now that I consider it).

To say that I am dubious of any so-called “ministry” that focuses primarily upon the subject(s) of money and/or sex would be an understatement. The fact that this is even controversial to say among christians is a testament to how far they have fallen. When the family falls apart, don’t turn to a “ministry”: they don’t have any financial stakes in your spiritual success – you are merely an investment, and that’s just the bottom line. Turn instead to God, and if you can, seek the support of real people who are proven to be trustworthy

The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Eventually, all that remains are grifters and whores.

Such is the church of man.
Like moths to a lamp,
Like flies to a pile of dung.
Let it fall, and good riddance to it.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
1 John 5:21

Carry His Day Into The Night

At that time Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
Joshua 10:12-13 (ESV)

Those who do warfare in the Lord know that they need not do battle in darkness, though it should be the season for night.
Children of light carry The Day Of The Lord with them at all times, for it lightens their way and exposes the enemy right before them.

Yet for the wicked and unrepentant, the Day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. But the man whom the light of the world has permeated becomes a beacon of its radiance. For these, it is always the day, though it be the hour of darkness. For these, victory is seen where unlightened eyes are shrouded in gloom.

But those whose way is not lit by that ever-present flame of the Day of the Lord, and those for whom the Day of the Lord is darkness and gloom: these are the armies of darkness, set against the Lord’s army. These cannot live in the light of the Day, and retreat into deeper darkness as the mighty men of valour deliver vengeance upon the enemies of God.

Vengeance is the Lord’s; and the men of His warfare bear the sword of His mouth in the brightness of His countenance. They carry His Day into the night, to the great dismay and ultimate downfall of those who have made peace with the encroaching darkness.

In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
John 1:4-5 (KJV)