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.

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

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

Therefore:

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

Now, the logos which the scripture here says “became flesh” is not being equated to the generic rational principle (logos) of 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

“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


Elect In His Calling

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

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

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


Elect “According To”


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

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

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

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

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

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


Elect “In”


“…in the sanctification of the Spirit…”

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

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

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

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

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

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


Elect “For”


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

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

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

Therefore the writer to the Hebrews said,

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

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

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

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

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


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


Vanity’s End

How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
“I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.
Isaiah 14:12-15 (NKJV)

The lowest depths…

As with the Devil, the heights of vanity also bring men’s hearts into the lowest depths of a living death; and this dark, hellish imprisonment of the soul makes it all the more fit for the even more real hell of eternity.

There is a kind of living hell in which some persons find themselves when the vanity of self, the lusts of the flesh, and the meaningless pursuits of the world have been permitted to take their full course through the life and being. This dark abode, this endless slide into the consuming void of emptiness, has at its core only eternal decay of spirit and bottomless despair of soul.

There lies within the fallen creature a restless evil, an insatiable lust for that which already infects it unto death. The more that it is fed, the more that its appetite grows; and the more that it is numbed through other courses of wickedness, the more that it longs for the inevitable and fearful death into which it reluctantly falls. Until the creature’s access to vain and wicked paths is cut off, it will forever return to its vomit as a dog, and go back to wallowing in the mire as the swine – loving itself in vain, hating itself in vain.

Yet even in the cutting off of its life from upon the earth, such a soul, in the torments of hell itself, continues the same inward spiral of wickedness and hatred towards God within the heart – and that with even greater despair upon despair, and sorrow upon sorrow.

The hopelessness of this woeful state cannot be sufficiently described in words – yet how many a soul is dragged away by his own lusts and enticed to the slippery sides of that pit, to crawl along the wall like a blind man unassisted by any means, his vision consumed by darkness within! The love of this world is as cold as it is sharp when it stabs one’s back; and the bitterness of this world is kindled into an unbearable flame that sears the conscience and scalds the mind to retreat into dull resignation.

But there is Truth which undercuts all excuse and disarms every defence of the thoughts.
There is Love which warmly bears all things until the heart’s complete surrender to it.
There is Light which makes bare every motive and intention, and graciously lays out a path once known to be impossible.
There is a LIFE of whole and unending goodness, a fountain of life and healing from within, which has been given in exchange for this existence of endless degeneration and vanity.

There is One who is all these things, Jesus Christ; and He is the mercy and grace of God to the lost sheep of His house.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”
John 10:27-28 (NKJV)

He is calling.
Who is hearing?
Let them hear!

The hypocrites do not truly hear; but God is near to those who have been humbled.

Let His voice be heard throughout the land by whomever He is calling!
Let eyes of new faith be opened by His visitation!
Let hearts of stone be crushed and transplanted for hearts beating with the life of Jesus!

And may those who have already known His hand be found in the seeking and partaking of these things!

There is no captivity that He did not lead captive for the freedom of all those whom He is calling.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.”
Matthew 5:6 (NKJV)

His righteousness is not merely an external cloak for the covering over of transgressions: it is also a new pure and righteous state of the inward being which increasingly displaces and replaces the old unrighteous state of being that made us love to walk in vanity and sin. It is a spiritual food and a spiritual drink which increasingly sustains and overflows from within all those who partake of its living way through repentance.

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, My steadfast, sure love for David.
Isaiah 55:1-3 (ESV)


“And all illusion ceases to exist.
The world’s caress is just the Serpent’s kiss.”
Theocracy (band)


Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in.
Let them thank the LORD for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man!
For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.

Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. So He bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart.
Let them thank the LORD for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man! For He shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.
He sent out His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.
Let them thank the LORD for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His deeds in songs of joy!

Psalm 107:4-22 (ESV)

Apostasy, Our High Priest, & Our Participation

The book of Hebrews was of course written to Christians, but also very much with the doubting Jew in mind. With this observation as part of his basis, John Owen had what seems to be a unique perspective on one particular element of the following warning:

He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith He was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Hebrews 10:28-29

“The last aggravation of this sin with respect unto the blood of Christ is that it is that ‘wherewith he was sanctified.’ This is not a real internal sanctification, but a separation and dedication unto God, in which sense the word is often used. Some have thought that this refers unto the person guilty of the sin here insisted on; but the design of the Apostle in the context leads plainly to another application of these words. It is Christ Himself who is spoken of, who was sanctified and dedicated to God to be an eternal High Priest by the blood of the covenant which He offered unto God. That precious blood of Christ whereby He was sanctified and dedicated unto God they esteemed an “unholy thing,” that is, such as would have no effect as to consecrate Him unto God and to His office.”
John Owen, from his commentary on the book of Hebrews

An earlier section of Hebrews directly confirms this:

For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.
Hebrews 7:26-28

This actually renders the warning much more grave than it sounds on the surface, particularly against the religious deception of antichrists. The writer of Hebrews is saying that this apostasy from Christ is of such a nature that it denies not only the full legitimacy of Jesus’ high-priestly office, but also its absolute uniqueness.

For Christ’s own blood consecrated Him unto an office that can neither be substituted, nor shared with, nor acted within, by any other man. And to do so is to “do despite unto the Spirit of Grace.” For the Holy Spirit is the only rightful person by whose power we can be made partakers in the very same Indestructible Life according to which our High Priest made His intercession.

Therefore it is by the Spirit’s groaning within us that we are continually made both witness and subject to the transaction of Christ’s death and resurrection within ourselves, as we also groan with Him.

By this we eat of His bread, and by this we drink of His cup; for in this we discover and become a functioning member of His living body, which is thereby being perfected.

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?
1 Corinthians 10:16 (ESV)

Poem – “Invictus Refuted”

A parody in disdain of William Ernest Henley’s famous and Godless poem, “Invictus”:

Into the night that covered me,
Black as the pit which held me whole,
He became sin that He might be
The conqueror of my soul.

From blinding clutch of Satan’s bands,
I heard His voice and cried aloud,
Then saw His blood on my own hands;
His face was marred, His head thorn-crowned.

Beyond the veil, He draws me near;
Through horror He my ransom paid,
That now in me He finds revere
And by His grace makes unafraid.

He leads me through the straightest gate,
He purged of punishments the scroll.
He is the Master of my fate,
He is the Captain of my soul.