“No one will calmly and quietly submit to bear the cross except those who have learned to seek their happiness beyond this world.”
– John Calvin
“No one will calmly and quietly submit to bear the cross except those who have learned to seek their happiness beyond this world.”
– John Calvin
…the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.
Mt 8:20, Lk 9:58
The Lord is our only stay. We have this fantastical image in our minds of Daniel in the lion’s den: where the lions all have smiles on their faces and Daniel is petting their manes. But the man beloved of God whom the Lord ordains to be thrown in with the lions will shortly find that their den is no such place. The lions may well be subdued and have their mouths held shut from truly harming him; but they nonetheless have every intention of ripping at and tearing apart the man of God, and will mercilessly intimidate him day and night. Even in the envelopment of our Lord’s protection, there is every earthly reason to abandon faith and be devoured.
When the Lord our Shepherd prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies, we are no less in their presence. We may eat and rejoice at the bounty of the Lord, yet the ravenous wolves stand across from us, at every moment spitting and shouting curses upon the Food and Drink of which we partake, seeking to shame us from partaking in the table of His sufferings. But the one whom the Lord upholds will not give in to fear.
We shall find no rest in this world of rebellion. We will be afflicted on all sides. Our blessed hope is a heavenly one, and it is one which we yet await. Let our running therefore not be stumbled by vexation with trials, as if a temporary world of tribulation is not worthy to be suffered for His eternity victory.
Rejoice in affliction!
A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He
Lord Sabaoth, His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That Word above all earthly pow’rs,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
– Martin Luther
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
2 Timothy 2:10
This is the heart of our Apostle and High Priest. The longsuffering of our Lord with this fallen world is truly astounding, and ought to give us pause in our own haughtiness as we face the same world every day. We have not suffered as He, nor shall we ever suffer in the same manner. And though the glories be few and far between, let the well of His Life water our souls in this desert, sending rivers out from us toward any who would come and drink of His fountain. For we are called as abassadors of He who endured all things for the sake of His elect. As for His flock which are driven to and fro in this hour, He has purposed for none of His true sheep to perish, but that each of them should reach repentance, that they may hasten the Day of the Lord. (2Pet 3:9-12).
And the words of His elect’s repentance are these: “I am the man that has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath. He has led me and caused me to walk in darkness, and not in light.” (Lam 3:1-2) For He makes darkness His slave, and the shadows He bends to His own will. In an hour of such thick darkness, there is yet a people that the Lord has determined to have for Himself, and He will have them even if He must drag them as it were through hell. But if this heart of Christ does not blossom and bear fruit within those who have knowledge in these things, how wretched shall they be to find that the labours of those with little understanding yet great courage showed forth the greater wisdom of God in the earth – and so shall it likely be.
Or was it not also the will of the Lord to grant repentance to Ninevah for a time, so much so that He pursued a reluctant prophet, bringing glory to Himself by the mouth of the obstinate? The prophet of God was given no choice, and the soil of the heathen hearts was already tilled to recieve the seed of the Sower despite the imperfect method of its delivery. Shall any deny that this softness of Ninevah’s heart was the direct work of the very Spirit of the Lord; even as was the forcing of Jonah’s hand, who’s wavering heart God still knew to love righteousness? “So, then, it is not of the one willing, nor of the one running, but of the One showing mercy, of God.” (Rom 9:16) And knowing then that it is of mercy, let us by hope do better than Jonah, not grumbling in our witness; but let us rather stand firm upon the foundation of God which promises, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and also commands, “Let everyone naming the Name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
As Isaiah says regarding God’s electing grace,
I have been sought, not by those who asked. I have been found, not by those who sought Me. To a nation not calling on My name, I said, “Behold Me! Behold Me!”
For they will sing, “Worthy are You to receive the scroll, and to open its seals, because You were slain, and by Your blood purchased us to God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” (Rev 5:9) This scroll of which they speak is the Book of Life, in which the Father has already written the names of His own! Yet by what means has the Lord determined to unveil this marvel of redemption in the earth? By the foolishness of preaching! The time is at hand when the hidden men of God must arise from their dwellings and proclaim to those who have no choice the God who chooses men.
I have other sheep which are not of this fold. I must also lead those, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock, one Shepherd.
He came to gather the lost sheep of His own house, and He will not cease to intercede until each one of them is fully His; but to the rest He says, “You will not believe, because you are not of my sheep.” Yet who will bring His gospel to all their ears, who will bear the burden of His call? Is not the Lamb worthy to receive the reward of His sufferings? And how little in comparison shall we ourselves suffer for the glory that is to be revealed in us!
What a sure hope there is for those whom He is drawing to Himself! Let this be an encouragement to all those whom He sends.
Love endures all things.
The confession of holy men is this:
By the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
1 Corinthians 15:10
The grace of God is always without measure upon His own so that they might labour abundantly in that which pleases the Lord. There is no man truly knowing the grace of God who will not labour to some degree; and when he has laboured, he will ascribe the good only to the glory of the grace of his Maker. And the greater he labours by faith in what is hoped for, the more grace yet unseen he discovers; according to which grace he may continue proving by obedience what is the will of God, his sanctification.
Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds – livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
How appropriate it is, that just before the creation of man, the very beasts which will later help him in earthly duties are prepared beforehand. And not only these, but other creatures which themselves contribute to the care and furnishing of the earth are still being made. Yet the livestock in particular may be of note. The scriptures refer to the oxen as the image of the Servant of God. For it is through making Himself nothing and taking the form of a servant that our Lord Christ, the very image of the invisible God and firstborn of all creation, became so highly exalted. The cross precedes the crown, the burden precedes the glory, humility precedes exaltation. Therefore man ought to be mindful of his humble beginning, considering it indicative of his place before the Lord; for he is but dust, and having fallen shall return thence. And only the Lord shall raise him up on the last day, if indeed the faith of Christ was in Him. For in the kingdom of God, the lowest servant is the greatest; while they that exalt themselves shall be lightly esteemed, as they “esteemed Him not.”
Behold, my Servant shall act wisely; He shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.
As many were astonished at you – His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and His form beyond that of the children of mankind – so shall He sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of Him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.
It is He to whom all dominion is given, who laid Himself aside for it all; it is He who tasted death for every man, who from the dust was again raised up that His own might share in that Life incorruptible: so that being last they might share in the firstfruits, being despised they might become embraced, and being condemned they might become accepted. They that are being made in His image and after His likeness are taking up the cross and following after Him. For it is the loss of all else which gains Christ, it is the suffering with Him which finds His fellowship, it is the conformity to such a death as His – “His appearance so marred, beyond human semblance” – which discovers the fullness of His resurrection life. “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…”
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
If He is not found ruling in us, we shall never reign with Him. It is in being conformed to the image of the Son of God that we discover the incomprehensibility of His great work, and the necessity of that work to be brought unto completion in us. And the giving of Life by the Father unto His chosen gives them the power to be raised up unto “the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ” – for nothing less is the goal. It is from His various workings within each one that the manifold wisdom of God is displayed in the building up of His body before every creature, before all that exalts itself against the knowing of Most High. It begins in the dust, not in temples made with human hands; and it becomes the very temple of He who created it, the very house of His reign…
And I heard a great voice out of Heaven, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God with men! And He will tabernacle with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. And death shall be no longer, nor mourning, nor outcry, nor pain will be any longer; for the first things passed away.” And the One sitting on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He says to me, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”
And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was VERY good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
This is the mandate of God in the making of man into His image: that His rule be complete in His own, and by this shall the kingdom come. “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, ‘Lo here!’ or, ‘Lo there!’ For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Just as the first Adam was formed from the dust of the ground, let the Last Adam be formed in us in like manner. Let us present ourselves as the nothing that we are before Him: for it is out of nothing that He is truly glorified to create. And when at last Christ Jesus is fully formed in us, then shall He “see the fruit of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.” Unto this very end the Spirit groans and travails within His own for that final adoption; and the Son awaits His bride.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all his work that He had done.
So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.
The rest of God is for things being completed – let us not restrain Him from completing His work. Let us give over our own yokes and burdens, man’s philosophies and self-made religious compulsions for HIS yoke and burden, and His rest will carry us. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Then let us fear lest in any way a promise having been left to enter into His rest, that any of you may seem to come short.
For, indeed, we have had the gospel preached to us, even as they also; but the word did not profit those hearing it, not having been mixed with faith in the ones who heard.
For we, the ones believing, enter into the rest, even as He said, “As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest,” though the works had come into being from the foundation of the world.
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the Ending. To the one thirsting, I will freely give of the fountain of the water of life. The one overcoming will inherit all things, and I will be God to him, and he will be the son to Me.”
“…betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?”
The chief enemy of the Truth is pretention: pretention is the epitome of falsehood. Corruption is most fully at work in they that feign loyalty to Christ rather than confessing to have none. In contrast, not one Roman soldier who nailed Jesus to the cross was betraying Him: indeed, few knew anything of him; and even the religious class of the Jews who demanded His death had rarely veiled their hatred of Him. But the betrayer of the Lord walked by His side for three years, waiting for the opportune time at which to give Him over into the hands of men.
Judas! The most cowardly in heart, the most loathsome in spirit! And this same irredeemible wretchedness is present in the midst of God’s people today. But who possesses the fortitude to face Judas and force him into action, saying, “That thou doest, do quickly”? Let it be done, for we shall see the day of Christ only through death! Let there fall swiftly upon us that hour of man and the power of darkness; for we have put off our humiliation far too long. The bread has been dipped and handed over to the traitor, the deepest night closes in, and the kiss of death is already being placed upon the cheek. Time will tell all, and not a moment too soon. Who will face their cross in the hour of treason? Who will for the joy set before them endure it, and scorn its shame?
And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be collected to one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. And God called the dry land, Earth. And He called the collection of the waters, Seas. And God saw that it was good.
God’s work in separating our waters from His (see previous article) brings upon us the ability and thereby also the responsibility to subdue our own raging waters, so that we as the instruments of His will might not hinder the continued work of His Spirit in and through us.
Excerpt from previous section:
“The new creature which submits itself to the word continues discovering the evidence of even greater depths in God far above its present experiential knowledge; thirsting always to drink deeper of that eternal spring so that even the waters of earth below might be made conformable to the word of His mouth…”
“Let the waters under the heavens be collected to one place.” – It is a grave mistake to suppose that just because God has separated our earthly waters from His heavenly ones, He wants nothing to do with them. Truly, He wants to be the only One to do with them: they must also become His waters, for unto His glory they are created. But this can only occur to the degree that we ourselves give them up unto His designs – such obedience is our responsibility. It is by the allowance of His increase within us that we ourselves decrease. There is a purpose for our waters, and it is for a very particular and focused calling, hence the gathering of them into “ONE place.” This represents the specific calling of every creature in Him, whatever that may be for each one. For once having partaken of His waters, in drinking more of Him we find greater power to conform our own waters according to His calling.
Subsequent to the second day’s obedience of the dividing of the waters, the third day’s work is revealed in discipline of our unruly waters by the word of His mouth: “Let dry land appear.” This now establishes His solid ground within us, raising up the humbled earthen creature to bear fruit of the Spirit of the Lord…
And God said, “Let the earth sprout tender sprouts, the plant seeding seed, the fruit tree producing fruit according to its kind, whichever seed is in it on the earth.” And it was so.
The planting of God produces various fruits according to the measure of grace given it, which also produce fruit after its own kind. Just as a tree yields others of its kind after itself, so also the fruitful Christian plants the seeds of their Godly virtues in the soil of another’s heart. It is on this third day, after the dry land appears, that the inward work of the Spirit is becoming outwardly evident. Just as the dove later sent from Noah sought out dry new ground, and did not settle until such was found; so also the Spirit of the Lord ever seeks within us the hidden ground in which His roots can spread deeply to support His fruit above, according to the calling with which we have been called.
And the earth bore tender sprouts, the plant seeding seed according to its kind, and the fruit tree producing fruit according to its kind, whichever seed is in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning the third day.
The third day initiates growth in God: it is the day of resurrection which brings up a fruitful harvest through the dying of former things; so that the coming days might become fully lighted by the sun from within the creation, and even the darkness of each night season be kept lit by that hope of the Day of Christ burning within them as a candle
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
CONTINUED IN PART FOUR