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.

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 Plotinas 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

“Let My People Go”

One of the greatest lies that the Bride of Christ has yet to fully overcome in history is the lie that Christ’s authority is passed tangibly down through men by way of institution.

Even the defectors from Rome – the protestants – and also the ancient institutions of the east, have not avoided this great pitfall, no matter their very poor excuses and semantic wizardry.

As John records,

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me that an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is of the Jews.
But an hour is coming, and now is, that the true worshippers will worship the Father in more localized tabernacles.”

Oh wait, He didn’t say that last bit.
Remind me, what exactly did He “institute”?

A member of Christ’s body is one whom Christ Has purchased with His own blood and in whom the Spirit dwells by HIS impartation. That any man was instrumental is incidental to the invisible workings of God Himself.

They may gather in a particular place; but it is only those who are born of the Spirit of Christ that are the tabernacle.
One may teach; but the authority is in the word of Christ alone.
One may prophesy; but the authority is in the Spirit of Christ alone.

Now, many can understand all of this, and say “amen” to these things, yet still remain under the aforementioned lie.

1) They still suppose that some particular tradition of the governing of the local assembly (although it has become sub-local by way of extra-local institutions) is somehow blessed by God, or that at the very least, that it is inherently acceptable to Him.

This could not be further from the truth. That God has done so in certain times past, or even presently meets men in the midst of it, is no endorsement; it is rather a calling out to “come up hither.” The jealousy of carnal men is provoked when they are confronted with this truth, and they are often quick to condemn to eternal fire any who would dare point this out; for their livelihood and self-delusion depends entirely upon they system which they perpetuate.

2) They fear that those who are lead by the Spirit will easily fall into the gnostic and pagan storm of deception that has (always) filled the horizon. This is foolish. For if the accused “unchurched” (as they call them) christians truly remain under the authority of the Holy Spirit, then they shall not be drawn away after another.

This fear is based upon an experience with carnal men who were full of themselves, and not of the Spirit, who were drawn away into even greater error than that from which they departed. Yet such things are unavoidable with or without an institution; therefore this is not an argument. That men are corrupt and self-serving is no excuse to therefore set up earthly institutions to represent the spiritual reality. If anything, it is an argument against such.

3) They will agree that Jesus is the only head, the only mediator, the only priest of the new covenant, and the only good shepherd; yet they insist that these truths become “balanced” in a “practical application” via the institutional methods of man.

But there is no more practical application possible than that which the Holy Spirit Himself can execute; and He, unlike men and their institutions, cannot be infiltrated or driven off course; He will rather (if only we allowed Him) drive such maladies away from His temple, which are His people.

The more absurd objection which now inevitably becomes raised is that if we are lead by what is unseen, how will men know for certain what God is doing, without an institution to represent it? The answer is that to know what God is doing, one must be walking by the Spirit. Again, institutions are no more immune to infiltration, or corruption in general, than any one of their members.

The design of an organic Body is such that it develops immunity to corruption; the design of an institution is such that it cannot help but incubate and feed into corruption.

To set up institutions as the bellweather of God’s movings is to miss God Himself. For if anything, it men who are lead of the Spirit that are the bellweather; but even these can only be perceived by those who are likewise lead. And if anyone does not approve of this arrangement, then he does not trust the Lord with His own people, and cannot be trusted with their care. Unfortunately this is the mindset of almost every man who is considered to be a teacher or spiritual father in our day. They do not truly believe that the Holy Spirit can lead God’s people into all truth.

Therefore, they ought not boast in their knowledge of the scriptures, which say,

“The Spirit breathes where He desires, and you hear His voice; but you do not know from where He comes, and where He goes; so is everyone who has received birth from the Spirit.”
John 3:8 (LITV)

The institutional system that has lorded over God’s people is a mockery of the incarnation of Christ, who said, “a body you have prepared for Me.” For He became man in order to raise us unto partaking in the divine nature; but the trappings of manmade institutions only obstruct this resurrection from among the dead. For the ceremonial laws were fulfilled in a human BODY; and a day is dawning in which the redeemed are breathed upon anew by the Spirit of the Living God; and as a Body like unto His, will rise as in Ezekiel’s vision.

And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.
Ezekiel 37:13-14

A child can understand the most basic spiritual implications of when Paul said that God “does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.”

Nor do children need our “correction” when they read and simply understand Jesus’ words when He said, “where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.”

If we were truly wise and understanding as serpents, as He commanded us to be in this age, then we would come to Him as the little children; not being drawn under so-called spiritual authority of top-heavy men and their lifeless, corporate fictions.

But where are those who know these things and will continue to heed the call of the Bridegroom? Will they remain hiding in the shadows of the ruins, or will they begin to partake in the life of Christ’s Body?

Jesus Christ has already declared, “Let My people go.” He has already been leading as many of His children as will follow Him into the wilderness. He has already parted for them the Red Sea. He has already drowned the armies of Pharaoh. Now He springs forth streams in the desert, and sends down manna to eat; and yet they grumble, not trusting Him to lead them into the promised land.

He WILL find those ready to obey His voice.

“And all with one mind began to beg off.
The first said to him, I have bought a field, and I have need to go out and see it; I ask you, have me excused.
And another said, I bought five yoke of oxen and I am going to try them out; I ask you, have me excused.
And another said, I married a wife, and for this reason I am not able to come.
And the lord said to the slave, Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.
For I say to you that not one of those men who had been invited shall taste of my supper.”

And great crowds came together to Him. And turning, He said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers and sisters, and besides, even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”

Luke14:18-20, 23-26 (LITV)

“A Body You Have Prepared For Me”

I have written before that the fulcrum point of the gospel of Christ is His cross; and this is true.

Yet it must also be said that the over-arching essence of the gospel is the resurrection power of the incarnate Word, whereby we are made partakers in the divine nature. For our hope is not only in the final atoning sacrifice for sins, but even now much more in the resurrection life of God in Christ, which overcomes the power of sin & death at work in us, for our conformity into His likeness.

For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, by much more, having been reconciled, we will be saved by His life.
Romans 5:10 (LEB)

For just as the Father has life in Himself, thus also He has granted to the Son to have life in Himself.
John 5:26 (LEB)

That Son of Man, hidden in ages past, through whom all things created have come into being; He is the true Tree of Life in the paradise of God. Of His branches are borne the leaves of the hidden manna and the fruit of God’s Life in every season. Of His mind is taught wisdom: the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of the Holy One. In His blood is written the testament of the better covenant; in His body is mediated the exchange of our death for His Life.

He made the One who did not know sin to be sin on our behalf, in order that we could become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (LEB)

Of all the Sons of God, only the uncreated Son of God’s very being is the divine person in whom the ministry of reconciliation must be mediated to the fallen sons of men.

Therefore the scriptures say,

No one has seen God at any time; the one and only, God, the One who is in the bosom of the Father – that One has made Him known.
John 1:18 (LEB)

And the apostle which wrote of the blood of that Christ as speaking “better things” than the blood of Abel, opens his entire treatise by writing not only of the blood of Christ speaking, but even the very person of Christ Himself:

In these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
Hebrews 1:2 (LEB)

And of what does Christ’s person (more than only His blood) speak? It speaks of being a son both of God and of man.

For the Son by whom the Godhead made the world was always to be the Light of Life unto all men. As He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, so was that last Adam indeed the first Son of Man. He was always to be the One by whom the man Adam and his wife Eve were to grow in the wisdom and knowledge of God, whose image they bore. He is the true Tree of Life from whose branch we became cut off by our lust for the fulfillment of self-ascension unto that which was not our place.

For no plan of God has changed; and by that Son of Man, with whom dwells all righteousness, He still has determined that the seed of men will yet overcome their estrangement from Eden; by taking upon Himself the likeness of sinful flesh, not only to atone for its sins as High Priest, but even to condemn sin in the flesh itself, “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8:4 ESV)

This is to say that, although the serpent in his rebellion promised man apotheosis – even man, whose portion in Christ was already allotted to be theosis unto the likeness of the image of the invisible God – the plan of God’s mystery has still not been diverted in the least; but in Christ it rather prevails unto all of creation, and particularly unto men, without dilution or delay. For He has taken His own place as the new Adam at the right hand of the Head of Days, in whom all that are grafted into His lineage by way of the Spirit’s generation may begin to partake in the divine nature.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 8:22-23 (ESV)

Having been awakened from seep, we now groan for that which is only natural in God’s order. For in God’s design there is no tension between the human and divine natures intermingled in one person – such was the intended design for man. It is only sin and death that brings tension between the two. But Christ, being both fully God, and also more human than any man (being without sin), has restored the way for the whole creation to be transformed and made fit for His dwelling there, beginning with man, as He commanded at first in the garden.

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Romans 8:24-25 (ESV)

In saying that we do not yet see it, the apostle Paul has the end result in mind. But our being saved through the hope of this end has begun already, and ought to be becoming manifest in each soul. There is no excuse for resignation to the seeming fatefullness of sin’s so easily continued presence. For then we render the sacrifice of Christ of no more use to us than the sacrifices of the old covenant – which were powerless to remove sins – of which one apostle said:

But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, He said,
“Sacrifices and offerings You have not desired, but a body have You prepared for Me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings You have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God, as it is written of Me in the scroll of the book.'”
Hebrews 10:3-7 (ESV)

So we see that the greatest power of the cross is found in the nature of He who was hanged upon it: since in this particular matter He says not, “a cross you have prepared;” but rather in this instance, “a body you have prepared.”

For the death that He would die was in order to put an end to all atoning sacrifice and offering, and “to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness…” (Dan 9)
But the body in which He would live, die, and be resurrected was prepared in order to be the means through which God’s very Life and nature might be recapitulated in us, whose newness of life is being made after the likeness of the divinely natured Man, Christ, who is the firstfruits of the incarnate resurrection.

For by His death He put away the old; but in His resurrection He began to make all things new. For as the life is in the blood, so is it manifest in the body. And as by the spilling of His blood are our souls purchased, much more by the resurrection of His body are we being transfigured by the resurrection Life of His flesh, in whom we live – if indeed we have died with Him.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Hebrews 10:19-22 (ESV)


“He who, by sheer inclination of His will, established the beginning of all creation, seen and unseen, before all the ages and before that beginning of created beings, had an ineffably good plan for those creatures.
The plan was for Him to mingle, without change on His part, with human nature by true hypostatic union, to unite human nature to Himself while remaining immutable, so that He might become a man, as He alone knew how, and so that He might deify humanity in union with Himself.
Also, according to this plan, it is clear that God wisely divided “the ages” between those intended for God to become human, and those intended for humanity to become divine.”

– Maximus the Confessor


Resurrection Life

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

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
Hebrews 11:5


§IALL THINGS NEW


Although the death of the body is no longer to be feared by those in Christ, nevertheless, we ought not so quickly respect or contentedly resign to its unnatural sleep, but rather always gladly strive to ascend in the new life which Christ Jesus has purchased for us; even to the full redemption of our bodies.

“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.”
Luke 24:5-6

O, that the power of the curse were not so highly esteemed by those on whose behalf it has been lifted, and in whom it can be undone!

The things of the Spirit of God seem far off and ethereal to the carnally minded, who deem embodiment itself a curse. But to be with the Lord is to still be embodied: it is not be disembodied, but rather to be transfigured in body. “For there is a spiritual body.”

At this very moment, Jesus is sitting on the throne of majesty in a literal human body, even the same body which a young Hebrew servant-girl bore in her womb. But that same body, which was just as able to die as our own bodies, was also made incorrubtible by the power of God’s Spirit, of whom it had been conceived.

If therefore we ourselves have been born of the Spirit of God in His regeneration, then we too have become a generation conceived of the Holy Spirit until Christ is fully formed in us, so that even our body is able to become blameless – just as the body which Christ walked in and died in – and ought to be honored to such an end. Yes, these bodies are able to be walked in even as He walked, and to do, as He said, “greater works than these,” by the Law of the Spirit of Life in Him. And although they might still be able to be made subject to death, they are now by His quickening Spirit even more able to be made subject to a completed resurrection, even as death could not hold Him. For it may be that we are the generation timely-born, of which I believe Paul glimpsed, but could not declare much regarding.

If then our old man is put fully to death, how can our new man not be raised fully to life, even the body, which also belongs to the New Man, which is Christ’s own body? And this can indeed be, since the bodies of the redeemed are already able to be made subject to His life even now – He who was able to be transfigured even before His death, yet still submitted to it on our behalf, that He might taste death for us all, and we could obtain His resurrection life.


§II THE QUICKENING SPIRIT


And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Romans 8:10-11

Here there are two Persons of the Godhead expected to be dwelling in us. The first is Christ, with whom our body still remains “dead because of sin.” And this is where men tend to stop, which is the miserable life of Romans 7. But the second Person here is the Spirit, by whose power God “quickens our mortal bodies.” Therefore, it is unlawful for us to comfortably accept the death at work in our members when the gift of the Holy Spirit to us is the same power which raised up Christ from the dead!

So then, by the rebirth of that Spirit we are no longer of the seed of the first Adam, but rather of the Last, who in us becomes a life-giving Spirit. And if this be so, then that same Spirit who raised Christ Jesus from out of the dead is able also to do such a work in us, if in Him we likewise die. For if we in the new birth have already become like Him, whose body was able to die, yet now lives; how much closer are we (than we had thought) to His full resurrection life, even the redemption of our very bodies in transfiguration! For by Him we are unashamed to look upon He whose Word is near, “even in your mouth and in your heart.”

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV)

Now, might we still die an earthly death, just as generations of generations have done before us? It may well be. We are not greater than they who gave life and limb for the gospel to reach our own ears, nor than most of those whose bodies expired, as all things have been cursed to do. But that is not necessarily our only gift, if we should lay hold of the resurrection life of Christ Jesus. Why then should this glorious truth not be preached to those whose manifestation as sons of God has been groaned for by the whole of creation in every age since death entered in, and still groans to this day? Will not the God who answered the prophets of old by fire much more answer the righteous in things that pertain to better promises?

For the creation was not subjected to futility without hope; and that Hope has now come, and dwells even now in the redeemed, and even now graces many a life – and yet, do we still wallow in that which He has done away with? When will we ourselves be done with it?

Again,

“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.”
Luke 24:5-6


§III LIFE THROUGH DEATH


Or is it all in vain that the Spirit within us is provoked to righteous jealousy? No! Salvation is nearer than when we first believed; but who will labor for its fruit today, rather than waiting upon the death of the curse to do its work on their behalf? What many glories shall be missed by those who invested little in the work of the Master!

Why should we wait upon death to be our first and only enemy truly conquered, when Christ charged forth through all enemies in life, and conquered death as His last? Let us rather, as He did, conquer all other things at the present time, that we may also conquer death at its appearing, even as He did. Let rather He who began the good work in us be allowed to bring it to completion, even unto the Day of Christ; whose Day’s appearing does not end in the secret confines of the heart, but only begins; and whose Spirit groans for His very likeness become manifest even in our bodies! And His likeness is that of a man from whom the world stands aghast in rejection, and that of one who has been smitten by God and afflicted.

…His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and His form beyond that of the children of mankind…
Isaiah 52:14 (ESV)

If the image of God is to be seen in us, then it is an image to be painted with blood – both His and ours. Sanctification is costly, to the degree that one values the vanity of self.

For if those whom He justifies He also glorifies, then He does so by an ongoing resurrection through death in those who go about bearing the dying of Christ’s body in their own, filling up what sufferings are yet lacking in it. For even if we were to walk with God as Enoch or Elijah did, it is not therefore our assured right to be translated without suffering finally at the hands of evil men, but only a possible privilege.

There is no part of Christ’s body of flesh that was not subjected to scourging and death. Likewise, there can be no true part of Christ’s mystical body (the church) that does not partake in at least a similitude of the same suffering. Therefore, any member of this body that has not so humbled themselves remains a shame unto it, and remains unworthy to partake in His resurrection life.

And if one now says, “Ah, yet by the living sacrifice of His body and blood, He has made me worthy;” then let that one know, that such a powerful grace should be becoming manifest in a living sacrifice of themselves unto His workmanship.

There is a day appointed in which the God of peace will perfom a quick work, to sanctify us not in part but in whole, and to keep us blamless in spirit, in soul, and in body unto His Day: and His Day has begun to dawn already.

O, that our mortal flesh would see His appearing in immortality!
O, for the creature’s newness of life to be manifest as the noonday!
O, to lay hold of this gift, and the lowliness of spirit that is its price!

The Gardener

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
Genesis 2:15 (NKJV)

Jesus said to her [Mary Magdalene] “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener…
John 20:15 (NKJV)

Indeed, He is the Gardener.

The first Adam, having fallen into death, last set foot in the old garden, which he had been tasked to keep, and was driven from it, to keep it no longer.
The Last Adam, having risen from the dead, first set foot into the new garden, which He took upon Himself to keep, and draws men into it, to partake in its keeping.

Death began to take its hold in a garden.
Death began to lose its grip in a garden.

Behold, He makes all things new!

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

HIS Intercession Is Our Calling

And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. And whatever you bind on earth shall occur, having been bound in Heaven. And whatever you may loose on the earth shall be, having been loosed in Heaven.
Matthew 16:16-19 (LITV)

This scripture gives us an insight into the mystery of God’s intercession through His people on behalf of His people.

The “binding” and “loosing” which the church is here expected to do is that which accords with the will of heaven – for othewise it would not be reflected in heaven, as is here described. And don’t we pray, after all, for God’s will to be done on earth as it is done in heaven, and not the other way around? Therefore the church binds and looses according to God’s will, or it truly binds and looses nothing. For it is no single man except THE LAMB who is worthy to loose the seals that are bound; and the saints pray in accordance with HIS Spirit unto that end.

And by this we know the wicked church of man, along with its shepherds: that they themselves suppose to bind and to loose, but aginst the commandment of God; and therefore in heaven it is not reflected. For as Peter wrote, the cleverly devised myths of the false shepherds come not by the decree of God as given in His more sure Word of prophecy – which many of us are so fortunate to hold in our hands, and unto which we would do well to take heed (2Pet 1:16-21). Therefore, those unrepentant idol shepherds of men risk being bound in chains under gloomy darkness, as exemplified by their once heavenly predecessors, and having an eternal hell loosed upon them thereafter (Jude 1:6-8).

For this intercessory mandate is not a permitting of men to autonomously decree and declare that even good things occur by the hand of God as they see fit, nor some manner of test to see what the church will do with the keys. Rather, it is a call for the members of Christ to intercede for the things of the kingdom of heaven in accordance with the already decreed and declared will of God.

But what is that decree of God? Who has fully known the mind of the Lord? And let no man say, “I have the mind of Christ.”

For what do the scriptures declare?
“WE have the mind of Christ.”

Yet who is this “we”?

Paul made the above statement while explaining how the things of God are truly known only by the Spirit of God; and immediately after describes those who are not spiritual, who are not ready to rightly hear the deeper things of God due to their carnality. Concerning these he remarks:

And, brothers, I was not able to speak to you as to spiritual ones, but as to fleshly ones, as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, and not food, for you were not then able, but neither now are you yet able.
For you are yet fleshly. For where among you is jealousy, and strife, and divisions, are you not fleshly and walk according to man?
For when one may say, “Truly I am of Paul,” and another, “I of Apollos;” are you not fleshly? What then is Paul? And what Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, and to each as the Lord gave?
1 Corinthians 3:1-5 (LITV)

The striving after ministries of good repute and the dependence upon other men of the faith to define our own faith, doctrine and practice on our behalf, are the sure signs of a carnal people. Even the apostle Paul permitted no man to regard his own faithful reputation in their consideration of the very word that he himself preached, saying, “but even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Gal 1:9)

The discernment of spirits is the province of the Spirit of God alone; and unless each one submits to the tryings, searchings, and purgings of the Spirit, there shall be no “we” that can attain to any measure of knowing the mind of Christ, so as to bind and loose on earth what is to be bound and loosed in heaven. For that mind is the mind of He who searches hearts, “and He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Rom 8:27)

It is HE who fully knows the will of God, and to that end the Spirit is given. It is in the groanings of the Spirit of God that each member of Christ’s body begins to move according to the mind of Christ: even as God in Christ was incarnate in human flesh, always being about the Father. Whatever part of the body is out of harmony with CHRIST THE HEAD by His Spirit alone, is a disharmony in the body of Christ. Nothing brings the members of His body outside of His harmony more than when they subtly join themselves unto another.

This is how the Spirit of God views the condition of those who do so:

…being puffed up by the mind of his flesh without a cause, and not holding fast the Head, from whom all the body having been supplied through the joints and bands, and having been joined together, will grow with the growth of God.
Colossians 2:18-19

The ministrations of the body of Christ on earth are to be born of the very will of God, according to whose will the Spirit of Christ intercedes on our behalf, groaning unutterably within us. No effectual intercession can take place in the body of Christ without the discernment of spirits through Him. When discernment dies in the church, the church can no longer partake in much of the Spirit who intercedes according to the will of God. For they defy His will in their lack of discernment.

The spirit of a thing is known only by the anointing [Gk. christos] of the only-begotten [Gk. monogenes = “one-of-a-kind,” “unique”] Son of God. And antichrist is that which is another anointing; of which there are many. [Gk. anti = “instead of”]

Therefore John writes for us,

Young ones, it is a last hour, and as you heard that the antichrist [Gk. antichristos] is coming, even now many antichrists have risen up, from which you know that it is a last hour.
They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they were of us, they would have remained with us; but they left so that it might be revealed that they all are not of us.
1 John 2:18-19 (LITV)

Take note first of the word “us”. This is the same collective “we” of which we already saw that Paul speaks, who, together as the body of Christ, know the mind of Christ according to His work in each member. It is those who depart from the one anointing of the one Good Shepherd who “went out from us”. It is those who take a postion of supposedly greater anointing unto themselves, cautioning no man against esteeming their reputation in the church, who reveal themselves to be “not of us”.

Among these are ones who say of themselves, “touch not the Lord’s anointed,” although Jesus is the Anointed One of God. Also they are raised up above the flock of Christ as “shepherds” and “pastors,” wielding an organizational authority, as though God recognizes anything less than a living body. Jude calls such men “shepherds feeding themselves”.

They deny the correcting and unifying word of the apostle, they silence the warnings and discernments of the prophet, they despise with great jealousy the outward call of the evangelist, and they steal unto themselves the role of all teachers, seldom allowing others to teach. In all this, they profane the calling of the true pastor, which is one who humbly serves in the body by helping to care largely for the earthly needs of its members. Thus, they destroy the fivefold ministry in the church by denying the unique intercessory roles of each, also thereby compromising their own, if they are even truly called to it.

John continues,

And you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I did not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because every lie is not of the truth.
1 John 2:20-21 (LITV)

“And you know all things” – This is the beloved apostle’s encouragement to a body of believers who were solid in their discernment and rejection of other “anointed ones”. This is the compliment given not to great and clever minds, but to children of God who “by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.” (Heb 5:14) These ones see how the embracing of another anointing is a denial of the Son, and cannot abide the leaven of those who do so.

John continues a little further in his letter,

And the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone teach you. But as His anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and as He taught you, abide in Him.
1 John 1:27 (LITV)

How viscerally do the false shepherds react to this scripture whenever they are opposed with it! How greatly do they minimize its plain teaching! Any man who is uncomfortable with these words is untrustworthy in the ministry of the word, for he does not really trust that God can build HIS own church. It is only the unfiltered anointing of Christ Himself upon His body which produces a true harmony, and a harmony in the truth, unto the good pleasure of God. Only by HIS Lordship alone can the body of Christ “know what is the hope to which HE has called you, what are the riches of HIS glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of HIS power toward us who believe, according to the working of HIS great might…” (Eph 1:18-19)

This brings us back to the theme of our study: intercession. Those who fall under HIS anointing are able, according to the measuring of grace unto each, to discover the substance of His calling upon their lives; so that they, in whatever capacity He has gifted them, may through obedience in the Spirit be found partaking in HIS intercession on behalf of the saints, according to the ministrations of God operating in them.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (ESV)

One of the great lies surrounding this matter in our day is that God may give a stone when His children ask for bread. Truly the worst that the children will recieve is discipline. The insincere indeed have reason to so fear; but they do not care. The devil has created such a grotesque smokescreen of demonic and false manifestations, that now many of the true children fear what only the bastards should. The adversary has done this because he knows what is coming. The children who fled the fall of man’s church are restoring the altar of the Lord in their own hearts, calling upon the God who answers by fire. Let us lay hold of the immense promise of Christ to His own, an access to heaven of which the dry bones of this blind dead world cannot concieve: “Seek, and you shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened to you.”

It is the operation of the Holy Spirit in the secret places of our hearts, through our seeking of no anointing except the Son of God, then flowing out unto the good of the whole body, which brings us to participate in the sufferings and joys of He who is the Head of all that He calls His own. And this we long for if we seek His face.

The LORD is my Shepherd,
I shall not want.

When the members of Christ covet and follow after the anointings of men and the visions of people puffed up in their own imaginations, who also knowingly pose foolish and unlearned questions to those who challenge their fables, the jealously of God is kindled; for it is not they who have the right to bind and loose, nor to open and shut, but it is HE. Let them be found repentant, and enter by the only Door of the sheep, lest they be cast out with the hirelings, the thieves, and the robbers of God’s glory.

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia, write: “These things says the Holy One, the True One, the One having the key of David, the One opening, and no one shuts; and shuts, and no one opens:
I know your works. Behold, I have given a door being opened before you, and no one is able to shut it, for you have a little power and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Behold, I give out of the synagogue of Satan those saying themselves to be Jews, and they are not, but they lie. Behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they shall know that I loved you.
Revelation 3:7-9 (LITV)

The church fulfills her calling when she at last allows Christ Himself to be her kinsman redeemer.

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