Battle Hymn Of The Republic

May such a fire return to the army of the Lord:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps,
His day is marching on.

I have read His fiery gospel writ in rows of burnished steel!
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you My grace shall deal!
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,”
Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him; be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free!
While God is marching on.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)

The Good Confession

I charge you before God, He making all things alive, and Christ Jesus, He witnessing the good confession to Pontius Pilate…
1 Timothy 6:13 (LITV)

With these words Paul exposes the folly of our trust in the understanding of the mere creeds and so-called “confessions” by which we have so often defined our faith. For what theological oration did Christ Jesus give before Pilate? Yet it says, “He witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate.” A witness is one who has lived that of which they speak; and the life of which they speak is their confession. Christ witnessed the good confession to Pilate; Christ’s confession was the very Life of God by which He was obedient to His Father in all things.

The good confession of which He witnssed was that He was the Son of God in the flesh. Ours is likewise to be that that same Life of the Son of God is being manifested in the life of our own flesh. Just as God and man were fully present in Christ before Pilate, so also our witness to Him shall be no witness at all until the substance of our real lives is being transfigured by the substance of God’s real Life working in us through the obedience of faith.

The witness which John makes of the apostles’ confession is, “That which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you…” In God’s appointed order, there is no discrepancy, though there be a distinction, between His Word and Christ Himself. Christ is the Word of God. If then we be Christ’s, and His word dwells in us, how can we not be constrained by that Word? “Why do you call Me “Lord, Lord,” and not do the things I say?” We have taken the distinction between command and Commander as justification for the glaring discrepancy between them in our own lives. But God does not abide such hypocrisy.

The incarnation of Christ Jesus is in itself the ultimate rebuke for our rending of the Word spoken from the Word lived. For in Him the Word was born a man, true Divinity elevating true humanity in Christ to its proper place in absolute harmony with God; so that those likewise born again of His Spirit from above might become partakers in the same resurrection life TODAY.

For how does John describe those who abide not in that Life?

By this we know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ IS come in the flesh is from God. And every spirit which does not confess that Jesus Christ IS come in the flesh is not from God; this is the antichrist which you heard is coming, and now is already in the world.
1 John 4:2-3

Notice how John says that it is a spirit which either confesses or denies the good confession. For he who confesses is he in whom righteousness is seen in the flesh, and he is from God; but he who denies is he in whom righteousness is not found in the flesh, and that one is not from God. In the case of the first spirit, it witnesses truly of that which it has seen and heard: which is the Word of Life; and in them the Life is manifest. But in the case of the second spirit, they bear witness of no such Life in the flesh; and their words are empty, because the Life, which is the good confession, is not manifest in them. Such is the spirit of antichrist: it is contrary to Christ’s Life working in us, though we speak His Name.

And again, regarding this second spirit which confesses not: it could be a demon, or it could be the spirit of a man, and there would be no difference. For the true confession that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is a life being evidently lived in the flesh “by the faith OF the Son of God.” (Gal 2:20). Does the faith of Jesus Christ Himself ever fail? That is the faith by which we are to be living. Religion stops at faith in Christ; but the righteousness of God is “through the faith OF Jesus Christ toward all and upon all those believing…” (Rom 3:22)

John, as he does throughout his first letter, is saying that those who have the Life of Christ ought to walk even as Christ walked: who, though being God, became a man, so that we, being men, might become “the righteousness of God in Him.”

Such is the good confession. To truly confess His name is to have His Life at work even in our life in the flesh, just as He was always about His Father in His own flesh.

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; because this is the witness of God which He has witnessed about His Son:
The one believing in the Son of God has the witness in himself.
The one not believing God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness which God has witnessed concerning His Son.
And this is the witness: that God gave us everlasting life, and this life is in His Son.
1 John 5:9-11 (LITV)

Indeed, I tell you truly: he that believes in Me, the works which I do, that one shall do also, and greater than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
John 14:12 (LITV)

“Come and Die”

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Luke 9:57-58 (ESV)

Men look for their own sense of purpose; but God wants to take His own beyond this into walking in the lively substance of He who is the very purpose. Your hopes of success or earthly blessing will not get you through the onslaught of the Devil when he with heaven’s approval tears all your hopes and dreams into pieces. And then, poor soul, what will you do? How long will you shake your fist at God? Not even the prospect of the grave shall give you solace thereafter, though you wished it would; for you have dug it far too shallow.

“But though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies.” (Lam 3:32) To be raised up most fully into the heavens, you must pass most fully through the blackness of death itself. The cross’s work is not finished until it finishes you. You must be crucified into the Life which is deeper than a mere sense of your own purpose. You must walk through hell’s onslaught, through the terrors of death itself; holding fast your flame before the cold black stare of Satan’s nothingness. Your sense of purpose is only as good as your ability to keep it; but if you would go to deeper and higher places with God, His depths and heights will demand of you its demise: for the kingdom of God is where men and their own aspirations go to die.

And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
Luke 9:23-24 (ESV)

God in Christ brings us into His purpose by bringing us beyond ourselves – if only we will allow His death to be ours in this life daily; so that His very Life might reign in us, and consequently, we in His Life. God Himself must become our only means to His only ends; our only vision and our only Hope beyond hope. If you have another plan, may God shatter it beyond repair! O, let nothing be of any use to us but the keeping of the presence of God with us! It costs absolutely everything else; but there is no other way. Only then are we no longer entrapped in this world by the selfishness of seeking our own things; only then are we sufficiently broken vessels to pour forth the sweet aroma of Christ’s work for the glory of God alone.

Obedience to God as the means of finding our own sense of purpose is idolatry. His ministration will not be mocked even by what men call “ministries.” But obedience to God because He is worthy is its own reward to the humble; for it is the power of God moving within a man beyond that man’s capabilities, and it is the Spirit of God unhindered even by a man’s most seemingly pious desires. It is the legacy of those who have counted all as loss; it is the result of men reaching the end of their own rope, and finally letting go.

There is nothing more embittering than the anguish of defeat and loss without purpose. But there is nothing sweeter to the soul than the continual repentance whose heavenly joy is birthed by God’s own hand through said anguish; which finds strength beyond strength in the admittance of defeat; whose purpose is wrapped up in the mystery of Godliness at the willing loss of all else.

Let this mind be in us, which was also in Christ Jesus.

The Holy Spirit’s Longing

The immensity and depth of the anointing into which the Holy Spirit longs to baptize God’s children is such that words too holy to be spoken, songs too holy to be sung, and deeds to holy to be done might yet be able to become spoken and sung and done through we as His broken vessels – if we only will allow ourselves to be so shattered by His revelation to us. He would put a new song in our mouths, if only we stopped using them to make excuses.

The Spirit Of The Void

Here are the words of one of Job’s three foolish friends. They are the words of a man led astray, thinking to counsel rightly; when truly he speaks according to a demonic message which he received:

“Now a word was brought to me stealthily; my ear received the whisper of it. Amid thoughts from visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, dread came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones shake. A spirit glided past my face; the hair of my flesh stood up. It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; there was silence, then I heard a voice:
‘Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? Even in His servants He puts no trust, and His angels He charges with error; how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like the moth. Between morning and evening they are beaten to pieces; they perish forever without anyone regarding it. Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them, do they not die, and that without wisdom?’
Job 4:12-21 (ESV)

This is a chillingly familiar experience to many people in our own day. We live in a time dominated by this spirit – and it particularly targets the children of God. It works to crush all hope in the possibility that “a man can be in the right before God,” or “be pure before his Maker.” It works to undermine all trust in God on the part of His servants, by accusing the all-knowing God of evil suspicion, saying, “even in His servants He puts no trust…” And it even tries to excuse its own rebellion as the fault of the Most High: “His angels He charges with error…”

There sat Job: penniless, comfortless, and sickly; and here came the void to swallow him whole by utter despair. It is a spirit which causes men an empty dread, “…and trembling, which made all my bones shake.” Its appearance could not be discerned, just like the nothingness into which it drives men. And it blames God for the very meaningless existence that it is truly the purveyor of, saying, “Between morning and evening they (men) are beaten to pieces; they perish forever without anyone regarding it. Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them, do they not die, and that without wisdom?”

This is not the Spirit of the Living God: for He is not a spirit of such fear; “but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.”

But those who do not quickly shun and rebuke this spirit of despair in their own lives are left to gradually accept the slow descent into spiritual apathy and compromise; until they come to embrace it as the very wisdom of God, the gospel truth, and refuse to overcome its stranglehold upon them, returning to God nothing upon the investment He made in them. It is the strongman of vices beyond number: it is the invisible pressure which suffocates us from the breath of God, it is the filth of the world which smothers our hearts with callousness; and its only bane is HE WHO IS IN YOU.

Get it out.

For Thine Is The Kingdom – Part 1

|


THE FALLEN SONS
“Because you have said in your heart, ‘I will ascend…'” – Isa 14:13



When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God [Heb. “bên ‘ĕlôhîym”] saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose…
…The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
Genesis 6:1-2, 4 (ESV)

We are naive to suppose that the self-made utopian impulse is no temptation to those who have stood in the presence of the Holy One.
For doubtless these sons of God which sinned were once among those of whom it was said during the creation of earth,

On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God [Heb. “bên ‘ĕlôhîym”] shouted for joy?
Job 38:6-7 (ESV)

These who witnessed the creation of the earth and the forming of man, these who saw that God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and these who heard the blessing of the mandate with which God first charged His new human sons, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion…” – some of these heavenly beings apparently followed after the same abomination of Satan in his fivefold rejection of the state of grace: “I will ascend…I will…I will…I will…I will.” (Isa 14) They dawned independence as a king dawns a crown; but the Most High did not coronate them.

This infectious pride of the fall is so abominable to God that the sin of Adam is justly imputed to all his offspring, so that by one man’s disobedience, the many are made sinners (Rom 5:19). And within the heart of those who abide not in the discipline of God’s Law, there arises the same impulse, the mantra of Babylon, constraining them to establish a heavenly kingdom on earth by the might of their own hands and the ingenuity of their own minds. They say, “These gifts are of God, and with them, let us build His kingdom.” Now, some do not even acknowledge God, and the folly of these is most obvious, as they are confessedly their own gods. But many do acknowledge Him; yet it renders their impulse toward the same ends no less grievous – if not more. Those who truly know the power of God ought to only look for a kingdom whose builder and maker is He: which temple is composed of righteous souls; and whose glory is imparted to it by obedience, not by the expectation of men upon the work of their hands. For He has made no special covenant with any nation except the children of His faith.

Since the fall, it is not God’s prescribed will that all men should come together under their own banner of unity. For only in spirit and in truth, by the working of God Himself, does unity not compromise the holy with the profane.

But for those who attempt to build from the ashes of their own existing ruin, the Lord shows only disdain, and eventually disperses them from their project:

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
Genesis 11:1-9 (ESV)

|


THE BABYLONIAN IMPULSE
“Come out of her, My people.” – Rev 18:4



The Babylonian impulse is spiritual fornication. It is the attempt of fallen creatures to divinize apart from the method of the Divinity. It is a denial of the glory which is given to the creature through the creature’s attempt to have it’s own self-perpetuating glory. In this they have been detached from the singular and unique glory of God; a deviant path which can only produce corruption.

This corruption is perhaps most clearly illustrated in the earlier fornication of the sons of god with daughters of men (Gen 6), producing only a wicked offspring of unholy mixture, against which the people of God would have to make war for centuries to come. There is a real power in that witchcraft of Babylon: but it is a power that must feed upon flesh, and eventually can only further itself by the open practice of every form of depravity; until a people are left like the scattered remains of a rotting corpse, and the cancer moves on to its next willing victim.

And the discipline of God, upon both divine rebel and human kind alike for this building of their own kingdom, was that the latter should be ruled over by the former; until such a time as the Lord would reveal His heavenly kingdom in Christ unto a newly adopted people from out of every tribe and tongue and nation. I mentioned before that humanly derived unity is not God’s prescribed will for fallen man; since although His decree in creation was that man under God should subdue the earth and have dominion, man has since by the fall lost many freedoms within that privilege under God’s current prescription for him:

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when He divided mankind, He fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. [Heb. “bên ‘ĕlôhîym” – DSS, LXX]. But the LORD’s portion is His people, Jacob His allotted heritage.
Deuteronomy 32:8-9 (ESV)

Notice two things from this scripture:
All nations were called to separate from one another (“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when He divided mankind, He fixed the borders of the peoples…”), but it is the church’s calling to separate from the nations, in the midst of the nations, unto God (“But the LORD’s portion is His people, Jacob His allotted heritage.”)

For the Israel of God in all ages is the body of Christ, which in heaven is never divided. God divided the nations upon earth purposefully; and His only intended place for an integrated unity of the nations is within His kingdom, that even fallen men might behold the glory of God by our love one for another. But the impulse of men to build Babylon ever perverts this wondrous goal even within the church, and God gives such a people over to their own devices, that their own towers may fall upon them. This is why all such unions inevitably fail, and the last and greatest of them shall also be crushed at His coming, when His bride from among every tribe and tongue and nation is finally done dancing with such idolatry, that at last for a chaste virgin He may come.

So He set up the nations, whom He had divided, under the rule of the principalities and powers – which still must answer to Him, and whom He also chastens when they step out of their own bounds (we will cover this momentarily). And He began to re-establish His reign over man within the hearts of one obscure people (Jacob), raised up from the miry cesspool of mankind. To these He gave His oracles, and to these He began revealing His covenant. And among these was already a mixed multitude (Ex 12:38), so that no man could boast in his own flesh. The priesthood of the One coming was also prepared for and foreshadowed in the patience of God, as He endured with a hand of discipline the waywardness of these children of Israel, His church in the wilderness.

|


THE LIGHT TO THE NATIONS
“Of Him shall the nations inquire.” – Isa 11:10



But regarding the nations round about them, He was not entirely silent; and for those whom He longed to graft into the Vine, He was preparing the table of mercy. For though His wrath is rightly kindled against iniquity, rebellion, and sin; still “He delights in steadfast love.” Therefore, His people out of all the world, whom He foreknew from of old, would not be forgotten; and in the hardness of earthly Israel’s heart, He remembered the nations.

In a Psalm it is said of those principalities who ruled over the nations of earth:

God [Heb. “ĕlôhîym”] has taken His place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods [Heb. “ĕlôhîym”] He holds judgment: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?”
Selah
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods [Heb. “ĕlôhîym”], sons [Heb. “bên”] of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.” Arise, O God, judge the earth; for You shall inherit all the nations!
Psalm 82 (ESV)

This council is comprised of heavenly beings [Heb. “bên ĕlôhîym”], but their rule is here seen as unjust by He who both created and placed them in that role. The psalmist’s cry “Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit the nations!” is prophetic of the One coming, whose appearing would spell certain doom to the wicked schemes of those principalities, and in whom all His elect from the nations, who are found written in His book, would be redeemed (Rev 5:9-10). The “divine council” pictured here is not strange to the rest of scripture. In one instance, we even see that the most infamous rebel at times conversed among their ranks…

Now there was a day when the sons of God [Heb. “bên ‘ĕlôhîym”] came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them…
Job 1:6 (ESV)

Also consider what the prophet saw regarding the decree from God that Ahab must die:

And Micaiah said (to Ahab), “Therefore hear the word of the LORD:
I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside Him on His right hand and on His left; and the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the LORD said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And He said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ Now therefore behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the LORD has declared disaster for you.”
1 Kings 22:19-23

Now the above vision serves to illustrate a wider truth regarding the first coming of Christ. The decree was set: only the means was to be determined. For it is not in the nature of God Himself to lie; but if one insists to trespass His law, He will work even their iniquity toward His end. But regarding Christ; not only was the end decreed, but the means also – and the means was hidden in the scattered and cryptic sayings of the prophets. He has irreversibly confounded the wicked principalities and powers through the blindness of their own arrogance and rage; that by their pride they should deceive themselves into thinking that they could supplant the Holy One of God when He came. Little did they realize what an open shame His death would put them to, and what disarmament His rising would cause them!

For until His incarnation, the Son was not yet explicitly revealed, but only scattered in the words of the prophets, and occasionally appearing in pre-incarnate theophanies. And that He should die without immediately establishing a visible earthly kingdom was not what the “wisdom” of the world, nor its rulers, nor even the leaders of the Jews, had counted upon. Yet this Anointed One was not only decreed to die, but was even decreed to die at their very hands as the yet unnamed Suffering Servant (Isa 53); whom they considered not to be the same man as He who would rule the nations with a rod of iron. As He pointed out multiple times, they were the ones in contradiction with scripture regarding Him – particularly because they thought that His kingdom ought to be of this present world.

As the apostle Paul wrote, “But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God [Christ crucified], which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1Cor 2:8). And this same veil of blindness was afterward cast upon the stubborn practitioners of the law without grace “until the fullness of the nations has come in” (Rom 11:25). For the Israel of God is complete when He has gathered His people whom He foreknew of all nations, the elect who obtain salvation (Rom 11:2,7). It may then be of little wonder that Paul, no matter how far his gospel reached, would always say, “I must go…I must go to Spain… I must go further…” As one fluent in the Hebrew scriptures, and now being enlightened of Christ, he would see the nations as each requiring representation at the marriage supper of the Lamb, that the promise of God inheriting all the nations might be fulfilled.

And this He will do. Yes, all who deny Him His right and seek to thwart His work will likewise be denied and their own works thwarted. For He declares the end from the beginning, and “His works were finished from the foundation of the world.” The Book of Life is the book of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth. He has not reacted to man’s rebellion with a secondary plan, as though He took a “calculated risk” in the creation of man. No, in this He had but one plan, one decree, one mind, one means. And in that eternal purpose, He accounted for sin, (for sin is not a created thing, but is an opposing of the creaturely will to the divine will); causing what was meant for evil by the ungodly to result in the showing forth of His wisdom, glory, and power before the eyes of His lowly creatures. He will have His way, and He will take those worthy of His bride’s garments through the onslaught of the very councils of hell when necessary.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

Part 2 can be read HERE

The Church Of His Countenance

The Body of Christ is not comprised of curiosity seekers; it is comprised of living martyrs. If curiosity seekers come into a meeting of believers and their curiosity is not soon turned into conviction, how can we claim that the Spirit of God is working in our midst? Our sensitivity ought to be toward the Seeker and Judge of men’s souls, not merely the “felt needs” or curiosities of of men.

Men who only want their endless questions constantly answered ought not to be the legacy of our faith, for such is not the faith of Christ. But men who know their God and are only satisfied with His likeness are what allow the authority and power of Christ into the midst; and with an army of such as these, God cannot be ignored on the earth, and men quickly run out of questions in the light of His countenance. For one who has seen the face of the Lord, even in the face of another man, has been given the final answer of all, and now has but to unravel it for the rest of eternity, if he so humbles himself.

Christ is coming for a glorious church, one beaming with His countenance. This cannot be its state so long as it exists to satisfy the demands of men who neither see nor desire to look upon Christ the LORD.