Newness Of Life

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

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

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

The Greek word Paul uses for “forgetting” means…

Forgetting.

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

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

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

Abide In Life or Abide In Death

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

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

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

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

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

Partaking In God

NOTE:

This article will appear to be a mix of both what would be considered “devotional” and what would be considered “academic.” And unless the reader are somewhat read in ancient controversies (which is not my highest recommendation), then he or she will be new to some of the terms used here; which I have attempted to utilize in such a way as to plainly convey their intended meaning. But again, this is not a merely academic discourse – which can too easily be in vain. This is rather more a devotional exercise involving a tearing down of said vanity with some usage of its own vocabulary.

As I said, this article will appear to be a mix, though truly it is a cohesive whole, which I hope is clear by the end. I simply could not split up any of the various aspects of the matters discussed here. I suppose the heart and the mind are meant to be one organ. There was no typical format which either allowed me to say what needed to be said or how. My simple hope is that this meandering treatise harmonizes all things contained within it well enough, and that the resulting harmony is edifying to someone.


Whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily.
Colossians 1:29

[ἐνέργεια [“energeia“] – efficiency (“energy”): – operation, strong (effectual) working.]

And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
1 Corinthians 12:6

“…but the greatest of these is love.”

The uncreated energies (ἐνέργειαenergeia) of God are distinct from the very essence of God’s being, just as our human energies and operations are distinct from our own being; yet they proceed forth from Him in accordance with His nature, just as our energies and operations proceed from our own nature, being made after His image.

Love is one of the chief operations of God, and indeed the “greatest of these,” which so perfectly characterizes His every other working that the apostle John even speaks of it in such a way that he risks sounding as though this particular energeia of God is the very substance of the essence of His being:

“God is love.”

But this statement cannot mean that His love is isomorphicaly identical to His very being or and one of His Persons; since He is not an absolutely simple monadic oneness of almalgimated attributes, which every single philosophy of man from east to west has ever concluded of their “unknown god”. Rather, He, being the personal triadic God of which the philosophers could never rightly conceive in their unregenerate minds, shows such love toward His creatures that it characterizes all of His works, just as it ought to characterize all of our works, we who are made in His image. “For whosoever loves is born of God.”

Some will object to this by saying that I ignore the “plain language of scripture”. Tell me then: when Christ says, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” is this a plain one-to-one ontological comparison, or is it not rather the allegory of a mystery? In other words, did Jesus become a loaf of bread, or did He not rather become a Life-giving spirit? So also, then, when He says, “I am the light of the world,” is the very essence of His being reduced to an ontologically simple principle of spiritual enlightenment? Or is it not rather the case that His incarnation is the revelation unto a morally and spiritually darkened humanity? We hold that the latter is true; therefore John can rightly say that “God is light,” meaning that the action of the Son of God becoming man brings unto men an enlightenment that is special to God.

Hence, the same apostle John described the incarnation of the Son, saying, “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” Christ is here called the light because He enlightens by way of His incarnation; whereas we do not say that “light is God:” for then all light, even that of fallen Lucifer, which has much variableness and shadow of turning, would be of equal moral status to He in whose there are no such properties (James 1:17). Therefore, “God is Light” is not ontologically stating the substance of God’s being, but is rather stating a central attribute of the nature of His character as seen through all of His actions and operations (energeia). For there is distinction between nature and being: in that being (or essence) possesses a nature or natures, whereas a nature possesses not its own being. So also it is with God’s love, as John likewise indicates. Not that there is danger in speaking as John did; but rather that by misunderstanding it in the way to which I here object, we unintentionally begin to import the pantheistic philosophical conception of absolute divine simplicity into the holy scriptures, which quietly infects many of our underlying assumptions about God’s nature, thereby eroding our defense against the religions of the heathen.

For He said, “I am who I am.”

“I AM” is not a philosophical statement of absolute ontological simplicity. For if that were so, we might flip John’s statement, “God is love” to render it “love is God,” and find it to be equal in its ontological truth. But this is not so; for even John himself says in the same epistle, “love is OF God” meaning that it is from God: presupposing a distinction between God’s love and God Himself. So the procession of love from God presupposes a distinction of love, as an energeia of God, from the very essence of His being.

“I am who I am” indicates to us the Lord’s personal or relatable quality, which allows adequate room for distinctions of God’s essence from His energies (energeia) without there existing any “tension” within His being; and also of the distinction of His Persons within His being (essence) without there existing any composition of “parts.” God is one in essence, and His Persons are one in will. His energeia proceed from His essence, which are therefore distinct: and this procession is partaken in by each of His Persons: from the Father, by the Son, through the Spirit.

Therefore, we can confidently say that God’s love, as with all His attribute, personify none of the Godhead, but rather characterize the nature of the whole Godhead; and that they proceed via His energeia from the Father, by the Son, through the Spirit. For the Spirit of God proceeds only from the Father, and in His Spirit we are baptized only by the Son, just as the one crying out in the wilderness declared: “He (the Son) shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost…” And countering the teaching of some that the Holy Spirit is merely a linguistic or conceptual personification of the invisible force of God’s love, Paul tells us that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit,” rather than “as” the Holy Spirit; since He is a Person of the Godhead.

Thus, we experientially know God through two means: firstly through His energies (energeia) administered to us in various unseen ways, although at times perceived as visible; and secondly through true direct interaction with the incarnate Son in our transfigured resurrection state – but not by directly beholding the Father’s essence. For no man shall live who beholds the very essence of God the Father. Yet just as Moses beheld not the face of God, but rather the energeia of His goodness, and at other times beheld the Angel of the Lord speaking with him as a friend; we now shall much more behold His glory – not directly – but rather in the face of Jesus Christ,” the Incarnate One.

For Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, is the Bread of the Faces of the face of God, which occupies the soul of the temple and is seen by way of the Spirit’s light, whereas the outer court can only provide for a faith which remains grounded in a merely natural understanding. For that Bread is truly eaten not through a ceremony of bodily consumption, but rather by the inner revelation of His Divine Person through the enlightenment of the sevenfold lamp of the Spirit of God indwelling us, we who are that temple. By this Bread we are also instructed to enter further, as a sweet-smelling living sacrifice, into the holy of holies (the spirit of the temple), that we may truly worship in spirit and in truth.

For the outer court has the understanding of washings and of an offering for sins, just as we are commanded to be baptized and rest upon the offering of Christ for our sins. But the holy place pertains to the tasting and seeing of things invisible, and where the only light tolerated is that of the Spirit of God; so that we may become fit to continually abide in the most holy place: where we taste the hidden manna of His Covenant (Heb 9:4, Rev 2:17), and above it see the voice of He who stands in the midst of the golden candlesticks (Rev 1:12). For each successive place in God’s temple contains the true revelation of the previous. So returning back to the bread: Whereas the sign of baptism is outward, the Bread of which we are truly commanded to partake is not a visible bread that we eat bodily; yet in the partaking, we begin to see HIM.

For we partake in Christ’s broken body not by food and drink and appointed feasts, but rather by obedience to the same Spirit which raised Jesus bodily from the dead; the obedience by which the saints also shed their own blood and offer up their own flesh to be burned. For as often as we eat this bread of His fellowship, and drink this cup of His sufferings, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. As He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me.” Therefore any man who partakes in the divine nature is in fact having the various energeia of God’s Life imparted to him through obedience to the leadings of the Spirit, and not through observance of that which men have interpreted as a “sacrament”. For “the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” And that Spirit is given without measure to those that obey Him. The clarity of our seeing of God depends upon the degree to which we walk in obedience by His love.

This is no vapid over-spiritualization of the matter: it is only a spiritualization insofar as Christ and the apostles explained it. For when Paul chastised the Corinthians, “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat,” it is clear that their gathering’s failure to be considered by Paul “the Lord’s supper” was simply in that Lord was not honored due to their lack of consideration for the poor and hungry at their “love feasts” (Jude’s term for the early believers’ fellowship meals). “For in eating,” he continued, “each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.” (The presence of wine is no necessary indication of a ceremonial context; as wine is not forbidden to the Christian, and Jesus Himself drank frequently enough for the label of “drunkard” to stick among the prudish Pharisees who despised Him.)

What would constitute a “Lord’s supper” in Paul’s mind is that in their gathering together, they would eat and drink “to the glory of God,” neither neglecting the weak nor depriving the poor among them, which was the particular sin being addressed. For we miss supping with the Lord whenever we neglect the opportunities for love and charity that He places before us (Matt 25:31-46). Paul then utilizes the example of Christ’s last passover meal with His disciples (which He was about to fulfill once for all time in His passion) as an explanation of the mystical Body of Christ, and the discerning thereof, that they might honor Christ in the honoring of their brothers. For the neglect of their brethren was an “unworthy manner” of partaking of the Body and blood of the Lord, which is His church; for which reason many had become ill and even died.

Therefore Paul brings his admonition back down from spiritual allegory into the practical matter at hand with the words, “So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.” So it is clearly a fellowship meal, and not a sacramental ceremony, which Paul took as an occasion to teach them of the mystery of Christ’s Body and blood: the church. Paul writes after a similar pattern to the Ephesians, weaving in and out of allegory when speaking of marriage, but then at last remarking, “I speak of Christ and the church;” while indeed still addressing the practical matter at hand.

For not much earlier in the same letter to the Corinthians, the apostle said, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” And is not their participation truly in the mystery of being one with His Body? Therefore he immediately explains this with the saying, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (1Cor 10:16-17) For partaking of that Bread is the personal knowing of the Living Christ Himself, not the bodily consumption of a temporary stand-in, mysteriously endued with divinity. Any recommendation of such a supposedly vital practice is also conspicuously absent from the Jerusalem council’s advice to their newly baptized gentile counterparts (Acts 15).

And neither by saying “do this in rememberance of Me” was Jesus at all commanding them to observe the feast of Passover; for again in the same letter, Paul explained, “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” And lest we still insist upon the necessity of observing a feast, the apostle goes on to cast “keeping this feast” as the manner in which we partake of Christ’s Body and blood – that is, how honorably we interact with His people: “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1Cor 5:7-8) Yes, the practice of sincerity and truth among the brethren is truly the bread we must eat; and the sacrifice of our selfish desires for their good is truly the cup we must drink.

Thus, we partake in His divine nature through the Holy Spirit indwelling us by He who became not earthly bread but rather a Life-giving spirit – and not by means a wrongly construed “sacrament,” which takes a truth of the inward parts and pertains it to the outward. And one day we shall also see Him face-to-face; yet by the Son, and not by what some call the “Beatific Vision,” which is an eternal staring into the Father’s very essence. For our relating to God is personal and manifold.

But that concept of the Beatific Vision, which many have postulated awaits the faithful, is an eternal (and quite impersonal) seeing of God the Father’s pure essence; as opposed to the teaching of scripture, which indicates that whereas we now relate to God’s persons through His energeia, we shall soon in resurrected body relate to God in the bodily risen transfigured Christ. In other words, our present beholding of Jesus with unveiled face is “through the Lord who is the Spirit;” and our beholding of Him in the age to come will be in heavenly bodies like His, when we shall be like Him. For we shall still be men, which cannot behold the true impassible glory the Father at any time; but the one and only God, who is in the bosom of the Father: HE makes Him known.

Beatific Vision is really a “Christianized” adaption of the pantheistic notion that The Many will be re-absorbed back into the Beingness of the generic Oneness, or One or Fullness or Source from which they sprang, having always subsisted as mere extensions of Its being rather than as creatures distinct from the personal Creator who created all things ex-nihilo. Beatific Vision presupposes the absolute simplicity of God’s being, which at its ultimate end must be the generic impersonal ultimate being of ultimate beingness that is common to all perennial and gnostic philosophies, according to which all nations and religions are deceived.

For even the majority of the Jews, having missed God, have now followed after a god which is little more than this nihilistic conception, and the adherents of Islam worship a capricious god who transcends any personability that could be relatable to his creatures. Also, the seemingly endless pantheons of eastern Indian tradition eventually break down into impersonal principles, which themselves are ultimately slave to this over-arching impersonal principle of a generic oneness of all being. And the many practices of the orient are perhaps most obvious in following after this empty pattern.

Therefore, although man’s dim conceptions of the God of holy scripture too often become a balancing act of various attributes in seeming tension, the answer to this is not simply equating His attributes and His energies to His very being. For then God is rendered truly unknowable in ways that He has declared Himself to be quite knowable, impersonal in ways that He has declared Himself to be quite personable, and yet also able to be beheld in ways which He declares no man can behold Him (as in Beatific Vision).

For even Isaiah beheld “the Lord of Hosts;” which is God the Warrior-King of old times, the pre-incarnate Son of the cleansing of the land: who Himself visited Abraham with two messenger angels, raining down fire and brimstone upon the cities of Sodom; who Himself lead the armies of heaven in the days of Joshua’s conquest; and who Himself came down to slay 180,000 of the Assyrians in their sleep. For it is in seeing the Son that one sees the Father.

“Isaiah… saw HIS glory, and he spoke about HIM.”
John 12:41

The temptation of men to make no distinction either between God’s essence and energies, nor between His being and Persons, is not merely a philosophical one – it is, in fact, rooted in the fall, by which man has become accustomed to a distance between himself and the direct workings (energeia) and personal presence of God, who once walked with Adam in the cool of the day.

Therefore:

“The Word (logos) became flesh, and dwelt among us.”

Now, the logos which the scripture here says “became flesh” is not being equated to the generic rational principle (logos) of Heraclitus and the Greeks, as some would have us believe; nor is John merely taking that existing philosophical concept and inserting Jesus into it. John was a reader of the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament), in which the “Word” of Yahweh was translated as the “logos” of the Lord. Much more than making a philosophical point – which to some degree I grant he may be – John is personifying the eternal logos of the Lord as Jesus; for often the “Angel of the Lord” who delivers the words of God in the Old Testament is very clearly the second person of the Trinity.

And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
Exodus 3:2

All of creation burns with conviction of the triune personal God of scripture, who is revealed even in the design of the creature; and when the incarnate Son of God is declared, the witness of the Father by the Holy Spirit presses all the more with conviction upon the hearts of men, though without the light of His faith they cannot comprehend the matter, their own spirit being darkened through sin.

But the surge of atheism in recent decades has tempted the Christian anew to merely convince men of the existence of a generic deity, as if such were a legitimate stepping-stone towards knowing the true and living God. This reduction of our conception of God into terms that resemble little more than Aristotle’s “Great Architect” or Plato’s “Demiurge” is an apologetic of surrender to the religion of the unbelievers; and those who are newly convinced of its existence will simply come to worship any version of this reasonable singular generic deity, still hating He who is revealed, denying what He has made known within them.

And we, who ought to know better, still too easily think of God as transcendent in ways which do not allow for the fact that although now fallen, men are yet made in His image, and do indeed continue to reflect that truth in many ways; though they fail to walk according to it, suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. This is a rebellious estimation of God’s transcendence, cushioning men from the perception of full accountability to Him. It especially achieves this by rendering the incarnation as described in scripture to be an utter scandal for such an impersonal creator, and therefore improbable; when truly the slaying of the Lamb was foreordained before the foundation of the world, and held up before every eye to see.

Where is the wise person? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe.
1 Corinthians1:20-21 (LEB)


Historical Addendum


The Latin speaking fathers of the early church had much trouble with these things, being very learned in man’s philosophy; and so perpetuated and aggravated many of the misunderstandings and errors addressed above.

A most noteable consequence of the Latin scholastic tradition was an over-emphasis upon the legal aspects of Christ’s atonement, at the expense of its other vital elements. This (originally unintentional) reduction of the redemptive work has since lead much of God’s people into contriving countless ecclesiastical invetions and endless ritualistic innovations to fill the void. The extrapolation of the Latin tradition – which by default strictly submits all scriptural teaching under Aristotelian categorical understandings of being, substance, and accidents – and so casts the “ultimate divinity” as absolutely simple in nature – ultimately culminated in the Summa Theoligica of Thomas Aquinas, who is unequivocally Rome’s unofficial-official dogma.

Augustine, who preferred the legally-oriented language of Latin and worked very little with Greek, often gets the majority of the blame for starting all of this. For while his devotional life as shown to us in his great work “The Confessions” certainly displays a vibrant personal knowing of the God who redeemed him; his later theological works became especially filled with the relatively flat assumptions of Greek philosophical thought as perceived through the even flatter medium of Latin linguistics. Therefore he acknowledged no essence-energy distinction in God, somewhat frustrating his work “On The Trinity” (though perhaps not to his mind), and causing him to lay the groundwork for the doctrines of “created grace,” as well as reviving a version of the Beatific Vision that Origen had once proposed – all notions within which much of both Roman and Protestant understanding has remained grounded.

And while this may all sound quite obtuse and arcane to the majority of today’s ears, it does entually touch them all, however unwittingly. Therefore it remains necessary that some should be somewhat informed in these things, in order to provide an answer to the philosophical objectors who undermine the faith of many by much vain knowledge in matters which they themselves will yet declare cannot be truly known by men, since to them it is all merely conceptual. To such the apostle Paul declared of their unknown god, “HIM I proclaim to you” (not “it”). And thus, in preaching to the areopagus, he relied not upon sharing any presuppositions in common with those Greek philosophers; but rather he mmediately proclaimed the personally knowable God who is not far from men, who became incarnate, and who conquered death itself in bodily resurrection. Paul’s presupposition was not reliant upon the darkened plodding of fallen reason, but rather upon the immediacy of Christ’s manifest revelation.

The Greek-fluent “eastern fathers” of the early church were often wiser than their Latin counterparts in that they did not tend to presuppose the philosophy of man’s generic theism in their expounding of God’s revelation. One man in particular, who most thoroughly excelled in dealing with these matters, was Maximos (or Maximus) “The Confessor”. His voluminous writings summarize and explain many difficulties both in scripture and in the earlier church writers; frequenty offering his explanations in the philosophic language – yet not as submitting to the philosophers’ presuppositions, but rather as discerning many of those errors and emphasizing the good within the writings of his predecessors.

It seems that none of much note, however, have escaped even a mildly superstitious view of what men call the “sacraments:” especially those that exceed baptism, which I believe I have shown to be the only so-called “sacrament” that was commanded to the whole church.


In coming to understand these things, let us not squander them by adherence to yet another tradition which merely contains them in concept only; “for the word of God is not bound.”

And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend…
Exodus 33:11

Gregory of Nyssa – Quote on Running The Race

“For in the same way that the start of death is the end of life, so too ceasing from the contest of virtue marks the start of the course of wickedness.”

– Gregory of Nyssa [A.D. 335-395]


Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…

Philippians 3:13 (NKJV)


Just To Be Clear

If an organized group of Christians has been ratified on any paper except that of the Scriptures alone – which by the Spirit have already ordained and set forth in words the measure of Christ’s Body, which is in Spirit – then it has automatically become an entity separated unto itself.

Its totality has ceased fellowship with Christ the Head; and its members have cut themselves off from His sole authority by their own fellowship with it, and especially by their submission to it.

It does not matter how perfect its doctrine – it is cut off from Christ by nature of its existence as a ficticious entity, recognized in the Babylonian system of governance. For Christ has His own governance, which is not seen in the machinations of men, however well-intentioned they might be at first.

The true living Body of Christ is viewed by the organizations of men as an unpredictable and dangerous cancer to be removed; and so ought the true living Body view those false constructs of men which have been imposed upon it.

God’s occasional merciful visitations to His people in the midst of these constructs are not Him condoning their ways, but rather Him calling out His own unto Himself.

How easily we suppose that the declaration of “Christ alone” applies in some isolated manner only to the salvation of individual souls; when truly it is just as intrinsic to the ongoing function of HIS own Body as a whole.

None of the roles in what is generally called “the church” today, or even for much of its taught history, are biblically legitimate.

No more revivals.
No more reformations.

May its fall be biblical.

May God’s people both find and be found again.

This thing cannot die fast enough.
We have been grieving God for far too long.

Many who know His rule in their own lives long to see it honored in the life of His people between one another.

To remain in the true fellowship of the Father and the Son, one must break the fellowship which contradicts it – not with known brothers & sisters, if it can be helped; though many are yet unwilling to trust the Lord with any measure of His Body, and it cannot presently be helped.

Let God be honored first, and let each one choose this day whom they will serve.

Let God be true, and every man a liar.

One Shepherd, One Anointing

The visible church of today, and especially its recognized leaders, are quick to warn of what they see as the dangers of so-called “lone-wolf christianity.”

Aside from this being a manipulative and disengenuous rhetorical jab; it is usually an utter misrepresentation of those whom they so accuse. They themselves are in fact the ones placing themselves between men and God. It is their false and merely organizational authority which has led astray the sheep of the Good Shepherd from HIS Spiritual authority.

They often warn that if each member of Christ’s body only followed the anointing of His Spirit according with the gifts and callings apportioned to each, then there would only be chaos. Little do they recognize in their damning pride what chaos their rending of the True Head from the Body has sown, and what it has already reaped, and continues to reap.

They may even to some extent be feeding the sheep; nonetheless, God is long finished with their ways, and they must repent of their arrogance, insolence, and slander.

Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.

For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.”

Ezekiel 34:10-12 (ESV)


Apocalypse: Then & Now


§I ICHABOD THROUGH THE AGES


Then the glory of the Lord went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim.
Ezekiel 10:18 (ESV)

And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city. [The Mount Of Olives]
Ezekiel 11:23 (ESV)

This took place before the destruction of the first temple in Ezekiel’s day.
And Jesus, who is Himself the Glory of the Lord, signifies again Jerusalem’s doom by following this exact path before the Day of the Lord came upon the second temple. I wonder how much the disciples realized how relevant this was to the question they asked Him next:

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when His disciples came to point out to Him the buildings of the temple. But He answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?”
Matthew 24:1-3

He then proceeded to describe what would accompany the end of that age, (ostensibly the Jewish era in their mind), all of which things literally fell in a very real sense upon that literal generation, in 70AD. Not one stone of the temple was left upon another. Jesus indeed visited Jerusalem again in judgement; even according to the colorful apocalyptic language which God typically uses when speaking of the overthrow of nations in the old testament (coming on the clouds, sun darkened, moon turned to blood, stars falling from heaven, etc.) His warning about this very doom to the Christians, who would be living in that city some 35 years later, is also recorded by Luke:

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.
Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill ALL that is written.
Luke 21:20-22 (ESV)

Josephus later recorded an incredible event in mid-65AD, right before the seige of Jerusalem properly began, which again mirrors the pattern of the Glory of the Lord departing:

Moreover at the feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests went by night into the inner court of the temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations; they said that in the first place they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that the heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence.”

But, what is still more terrible; there was one Jesus [a common 1st century name], the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for everyone to make tabernacles to God in the temple, began on a sudden to cry aloud, “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!”

(Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews 6:5:3)

This occured in the year before Jerusalem’s seige began. Many things recorded by the historians of that time sound much like an earthly observer’s account of John’s apocalyptic book unfolding upon the land. All the tribes [Gk. φυλή] of the land [Gk. γῆ] indeed mourned because of He whom they had pierced (Rev 1:7). And those in Jerusalem from all about the land did so mourn, by the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, before the later judgement of the unbelievers, just as Zechariah prophesied:

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on Me, on Him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over Him, as one weeps over a firstborn.
Zechariah 12:10 (ESV)

And afterwards, when the faithful evenually fled that city as Jesus had warned, there was no sacrifice for sins left in it; but only a fearful expectation of judgement, which consumed those particular adversaries of Christ, so that they also wailed on account of Him.

For example, some of the language in Josephus’ account as quoted above, secifically “a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides,” reminds us of the overthrow of that great city called by John “Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified”:

Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,
“So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more; and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters, will be heard in you no more, and a craftsman of any craft will be found in you no more,
and the sound of the mill will be heard in you no more, and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.”
Revelation 18:21-24 (ESV)

“…For it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.”


§II MULTI-LEVEL FULFILLMENTS


These few years were full of great woe. All the plagues and woes fell upon that city as is written in the book of Christ’s unveiling [Gk. apokalupsis – unveiling, or revelation].

And as the earthly temple fell, and its practitioners were judged by the two witnesses of the Law and the Prophets, which they had proven to vehemently despise, the new temple was seen in heaven, heralded by seven trumpet blasts and many woes upon the disobedient; for then Christ had begun to reign (Rev 11:17).

I am becoming convinced that the great bulk of the book of Revelation, as well as Matthew 24:1-34, was in a very real sense fulfilled as of 70AD. In other words, Jesus meant exactly what He said when He spoke the words, “there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” For He indeed came back to that city in judgement, since they rebelled against His newly inaugurated reign, having declared, “We have no king but Caesar!” In His judgement of them, Christ proved Himself to be the King of kings, the Prophet of a better covnant, and the Priest of a new temple made without hands.

That said, similar cycles do continue to repeat themselves upon the church whenever God’s people reject His Lordship; and just as there were many false Christs of the Synagogue of Satan in that day, so it remains even to our own. But again, it can be instructional to us to see that much of the book of Revelation appears to have been written to initially tell of the great tribulation of those days, which was “shortly coming to pass;” a day of peril at the end of one age to commence another age, the beginning of the time of which Christ said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been geven to Me. Go therefore…” And this He said as He went to the Father on the clouds of heaven. Daniel also tells us of His ascension in this way:

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a Son of Man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
Daniel 7:13-14

Here His coming on the clouds is directed not to earth, but to the Father; having bound the Devil and won that which the Father then presents to Him. Therefore the Lord is always slowly building up His kingdom in the midst of the earth just as He promised – perhaps appearing in our impatient eyes to be taking one step back then two steps forward; and He is always cancelling the Devil’s apocalypse, because the true apocalypse belongs to Christ, who is truly the One revealing Himself in the earth.

If our understanding of the nearness of the Day of the Lord is expanded beyond the last 100 years of one particular continent, and if we turn from the voices of proven liars and worldly apocalypse merchants, then I believe that this will slowly become apparent. It is just as wicked to give up, hoping to magically escape in the times of darkness, as it is wicked to pretend that there are no such times in this age. For the Day of the Lord appears first in the hearts of men; and winnows its threshing floor there before anywhere else. Therefore Christ will have for Himself a great multitude from every tribe, tongue, and nation; and He will find servants willing to gather them, even if it takes centuries more.

The Stone grows into a Mountain,
The Leaven permeates the whole lump,
The Son sits at the right hand of the Father,
Until all enemies are made a footstool for His feet.


§III THE AGE OF RESURRECTION


“Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool.”

Or as the apostle Paul stated it for this age,

For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:25-26

And later in the same discussion, Paul goes on to say:

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:50-52

Now if this trumpet is in one sense the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15, then it is that which inaugurates the same reign of Christ of which we have already spoken:
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”
They also say thereafter, “for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.”

We these things in mind, we can begin to understand that the seals, trumpets, and bowls of Christ’s unveiling are not particular to any one period in history, past or present; but they are ever being opened, blasted, and poured out at all times in every generation and in various ways. They even were fulfilled in one sense long before John’s time, when the Lord overthrew Jericho by the hand of Joshua. For since the book of Revelation concerns the unveiling of Christ, all things in it therefore have a fulfillment in what was, what is, and what is to come.

In John’s day, the fall of earthly Jerusalem, as initially announced by the trumpets he describes, marked for them the beginning of a new iteration of God’s kingdom through the church; which before had subsisted on earth in the earthly temple, but now would spread across the earth from a Cornerstone into a very great mountain, from a Seed into a very great tree: a greater temple made of living stones; a better covanent enacted on better promises. For as long as the earthly temple still stood, its age was not yet ended (Heb 9:8-9). But now He has begun to reign; and of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, though Satan is again fully loosed for but a very little season at the end of this age (Rev 20).

And concerning this present age, the apostle Paul continues:

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:53-57

The victory in this present age is “through our Lord Jesus Christ;” and it is also called by the book of Revelation “the first resurrection” (Rev 20:5). The second death (the lake of fire) has no authority over the ones who partake in this resurrection life by the Spirit of Christ. The first generation of this new Israel overcame the persecution which accompanied the fall of the old order of things (42 months under Nero Caesar), and we still continue to find Christ’s same victory over the first death by that first resurrection, in all the trials that have followed on earth under His current reign.

But note especially the remark about the perishable putting on imperishability, and the mortal putting on immortality. This describes our translation to meet with the Imperishable One who put on what was perishable, the Immortal One who put on mortality; yet who also rendered both imperishable and immortal once again: so that, as the apostle said before, once all enemies are put under His feet in this age, He at last will fully defeat that death in us, even as He did so in Himself. Therefore we work in the hope of the second resurrection triumphing over the second death, as judgement is passed over the children of His covanent, who sing the song of Moses.

It is with this perspective, I believe, that great meaning is retained in Paul’s closing remark on the matter:

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58


§IVTHE WARNING


Now, if the church inherits all the blessings of Israel, then it also inherits all the same temptations, all the same risks of idolatry, and all the same curses for disobedience. Whoever steps outside of Christ’s rule steps outside of where all the promises of God are “yes” and “amen.”

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Revelation 22:18-19

That book is the unveiling of Jesus Christ. To add to Him or to take away from Him, is to reject Him. From such He will “remove hence.” There must be a remnant out of every generation, and in every age, who overcomes the dreadful condemnation of Christ, “Behold, your house is left to you desolate.”

Just as those who did not obey Christ in the last age were not able to proceed into the greater glory of His kingdom in this age; so also will those who disobey Him in this age not proceed into its greater glory in the next.

When the church of the previous age (Israel) fully rejected what was given to them, it was succeeded in the present age by a remnant, but with a better promise to bless all nations IN CHRIST. Therefore, when the present remnant of Israel (the church) fully obeys what has been given to it – and God will indeed see it done – it will be translated into a more blessed age.

And though it is now the age of the first resurrection, it was the second resurrection (translation) for which Paul longed even in this life when he said:

…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.
Philippians 3:10-11

And Enoch walketh habitually with God, and he is not, for God hath taken him.
Genesis 5:24 (YLT)

“Now the day of the Lord comes not where the carnal mind might imagine, nor when man wills; neither according to the carnal desire of the carnal heart; neither according to the evil eye that looks out, can it be seen.

And as the day of the Lord is a mystery, the Spirit of the Lord is the only discoverer of it; for none can know the things of God, but by the Spirit of God. The day of the Lord; even his bright shining forth in the heart of man, is one of the glorious things of God, which only the Spirit of God gives the knowledge of to man, and in man.

The further men draw from the Light, the darker their hearts become; and their understandings being closed up, they cannot behold the Lord, neither his glory, which is revealed only by God’s Holy Spirit; which Spirit is near man, though he sees it not.”

– Francis Howgill