Will & Desire, Nature & Grace

Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Psalm 37:4

The heart which delights in the Lord will eat the fruit of Godly desires; but the heart which delights in itself will eat the fruit of sinful desires.

The sinful will desires not against its own nature, nor do the sinful desires will against their own nature.
Likewise, the sanctified will desires not against its own nature, nor do the sanctified desires will against their own nature.

But the will of each desires against the nature of the other, and the desire of each wills against the nature of the other; for two contrary natures cannot be at peace in one man.

Therefore God in Christ became man so that body soul and spirit might escape the sinful nature through the likeness of His death and resurrection by faith; and the God-man first became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God – not in ourselves – but in Him.

As the scriptures say,

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
Galatians 5:17

If you have found a hunger and thirst for righteousness, it is His mercy alone to which you owe thanks, and His grace alone by which you must walk; only then will you find HIS righteousness bestowed upon you as a garment, and HIS holiness poured upon you as pure water.

There is no righteousness you can apprehend, no mercy you can earn, and no state of grace you can achieve. But that which Christ has apprehended, earned, and achieved, He now gives; and He gives it beginning in the seed of faith, which He alone also plants, waters and gives growth to: so that the man of faith might, by the application of grace, apprehend – and not apprehend that which God has already apprehended for him, but rather apprehend that which God has apprehended him for.

For that which the Spirit of God concieves is “born, not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” And if such a thing born should become full-grown, it must not forsake, but rather mature in, the very same elements of the very same Christ. For His gospel is unto His own, and they hang upon it, and He is their vindicator unto life.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” We are not our own workmanship, nor can we ever be forged in the foundry of our own will unto these good works. For only His will is that which follows after His desire, and so proceeds from His divine nature. And this perfect cascade of nature down unto holy deeds cannot be ascended from deeds unto nature by any man, any more than a worm can ascend the watery steps, the grace and vigor for which is given only to the river trout.

It is our tendency, according to the flesh, to venerate the “free will” of man, which truly is free only within the realm of its given desires; so that we prove ourselves unfruitful in the actual works of God, building rather a faith unto ourselves (though we confess no such thing aloud), unto great and terrible disappointment.

For the will is free only to follow after the desires of the heart; and the desire is free only to follow after the dictates of nature.

Will is determined by desire, desire is determined by nature, and nature is determined by God.

Thou wilt say then unto me, “Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will?” Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, “Why hast Thou made me thus?”
Romans 9:19-20

God’s decree is not limited by the bounds of our desire; the bounds of our desire are rather set by God’s greater decree.

The soul which cries at the supposed “unfairness” of this arrangement has not considered the fierce wrath which he has deserved since before he was brought forth from the womb, and how merciful it is that divine justice has not yet been poured out upon him. For it is the kindness of God which leads us to repentance.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Romans 12:1-3

What, according to this scripture, does our ability to sacrificially offer ourselves derive from?
“The mercies of God”!

And how are we freed from being conformed to this world?
Not by renewing our own minds (which men are tended towards), but rather “by the renewing OF” our minds (a work of the Word and Spirit of God); which then leads to the working out in us of the singular decreed will of God, which singular will is “good, acceptable, and perfect.”

And the command here is one toward humility before God, which can be genuinely and soberly practiced only in light of God’s graceful gifting of faith toward each one who has ever found it.

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
1 Corinthians 15:10

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.

For Thine Is The Kingdom – Part 3

Part 2 can be read HERE
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THE CITY OF GOD IS OUR CALLING
“My kingdom is not of this world.” – Jn 18:36



“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
Matthew 6:10

This prayer does not request mixture, it rather acknowledges contrast. What great perversion is wrought by men concerning these words of the Lord! For they postulate that the church itself must impose heaven’s method of governance upon the earthly authorities, and establish the heavenly kingdom by the means of earthly rulership. Now they would not all explicitly describe it in this way, but this truly is what they seek to do and how they operate. They contradict the Lord’s silence when He was offered all the kingdoms of the earth by Satan; forgetting that even after Christ was risen, His all-encompassing authority was for the church to “preach repentance and remission of sins in His name among all nations,” (Lk 24:47), not to obtain cultural sympathy. For example, the persecuted apostles found no need to argue for any form of “free speech;” they simply spoke, because they were free men (Acts 5). Cultural influence is only acceptable as a coincidental product of discipleship; whereas a “discipleship” born of cultural or political influence is inauthentic and blasphemous in God’s sight.

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the lawmaker from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and the obedience of the peoples to HIM.
Genesis 49:10 (LITV)

Shiloh has come. When Shiloh (Heb. “He whose it is”) came, the theocracy of earthly Israel ended, and the theocracy of Christ reigning within the hearts of men by the direct infilling of the Holy Spirit began. God’s answer to the Jews’ expectation is and always will be Pentecost, not dominion. If you do not partake in the Holy Ghost in this age, you will not partake in the kingdom in the age to come. (I say to partake in, not merely to partake of, which is different.) As long as you are without the first coming of Christ, you will most assuredly miss the second. You cannot reject the one and be able to recieve the other. This is the explicit teaching of the apostles…

“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”
Acts 2:36-40 (ESV)

“Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” – The kingdom comes when God sees that the church is pure, unspotted by, and unmixed with the ways of this present world – and this can only begin in each individual “sanctifying the Lord God in their hearts” (1Pet 3:15). God’s will being done on earth does not mean that we demand the earthly governances to operate by our best conception of the heavenly standard: it rather means that HIS CHURCH is pure, and that as such, she worthily commands all men everywhere to repent, by which call He gathers His elect from the four winds of the earth. For truly the phrase “as it is in heaven” speaks of the perfect degree to which His will is done. It is a prayer that His will be adhered to on earth as obediently as it is adhered to in heaven. And what is His will for the nations on earth? To be divided. (Read Pt. 1) And what is His will for the church? To be united under His absolute Lordship wherever they dwell. But where the one is compromised to supposedly accomplish the other, there is Babylon; and of this our wicked and perverse generation is most assuredly guilty. They render unto Caesar what is God’s, and unto God what is Caesar’s.

By no means, therefore, can the the will of God being done on earth, in this age, imply anything that contradicts the spiritual chasm which the Lord God has set between the kingdoms of this world and His own kingdom since the fall of man. This is not a gnostic dichotomy, of which I have been accused by the simpletons; this is rather to point out the obvious boundary which God has set in lieu of man’s sin and Satan’s rebellion. There are realms of authority witheld from men, including from the church, until the new heavens and new earth appear. To overstep these bounds is not the zeal of the Lord, it is really the pride of the fallen one seducing us. It is not by human conquest that Christ subdues the nations, but rather by His final coming; and it is not by the cultural ingenuity or political zeal of religious men that the earthly kingdoms become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ:” but rather by the preserving of souls from out of this wicked generation; since in this age His reign takes place in their hearts, and theirs in His. Then the rest will finally be thrown into everlasting fire, and whoever remains are His body: those whom He has redeemed from out of all the nations, who overcame the draw of this present evil age by nothing except the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony; having become Israel His portion, which are Jacob His allotted heritage. “And so all Israel will be saved.”

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FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM…
“…and the power, and the glory, forever.” – Matt 6
:13


And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: *and we shall reign on the earth.”
Revelation 5:8-10

It is because God has an elect from out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation that the scriptures will be fulfilled which say, “God in Christ was reconciling the world to Himself,” and, “I will draw all men unto Myself,” and, “God so loved the world… that every believing one might not perish…” (accurate Gk. for Jn 3:16 – and note the specificity). Election is the scriptures’ rebuke to every form of universalism. For the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world has names excluded from it; though there will be names written in it from every corner of the earth. *[As for their “reign on the earth,” the saints here speak of it as a future event, in a passage which describes the culmination of His redemption in the present age. It therefore cannot speak of them reigining now in a material sense.]

The Lord’s design for His own people from eternity is hanged upon the wisdom of His cross: wherein is both hidden and revealed the fulcrum of all justice, before which the wise are made foolish and the foolish are made wise. It would have been just and righteous for Him to have wiped out all of creation upon the commencement of the fall; yet He freely chose not to do so, being pleased to make the justification of the unjust a just reward for those who will have the sufferings of Christ at work in themselves by His mighty power. For in sin being made much of in ages beforehand, how much more now the glory of God in breaking sin’s hold! Who then is man to answer back to God, who finds fault with some, yet mercies others? The Almighty is under no obligation to show mercy; yet He has done so, while retaining for Himself all the rights to His grace. “What if God, desiring to show His wrath, and to make His power known, patiently endured the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory to vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory – we whom He has called, not of the Jews only but also of the nations?” (Rom 9:22-24) This reveals no capitulation or moral compromise in God, but rather reveals the infinite glory of Christ who bore the sins of many in His own body on the tree, showing forth the longsuffering and patience of God toward all who will trust in Him.

And those who have this mystery at work in them rise not unto earthly gain as though it is Godliness. For in this world we are rather exhorted:

Therefore let us go to Him outside the camp and bear the reproach He endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His Name.
Hebrews 13:13-15

Not by might or by power, but by the Spirit of Christ, He has begun, as our psalmist cried, to “judge the earth.” (Ps 82).

And this is the judgment: the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light because their works were evil.
John 3:19

“For what fellowship has light with darkness?” Do not let this warning pass you by. Consider the day when Israel made a covenant with the deceitful Gibeonites in exchange for earthly utility (Joshua 9). It was grievous enough that the leaders of Israel did not inquire of the Lord regarding the Gibeonites before swearing an oath of protection to them – but we today are far worse: for we, even when we do inquire of the Lord, and He tells us what they really are, we still make covenants with them from behind a facade of ignorance regarding their true nature. Until all of our Gibeonite oaths are renounced, and the son of the slave woman kicked out, God’s people will have no sustained power to do His will. Let not those who think to have crossed the Jordan be sure of themselves as did the children of Israel in the deception of the Gibeonites; for the Jordan crossing is only the first step in the taking of the promised land. These are the most elementary schemes of the devil; meanwhile, there are even more deep and more treacherous waters through which we have yet to wade before we find rest beyond Egypt, which is also Babylon.

Now the synagogue of Satan are the high priests of Babylon; and in response to their doctrine the apostle wrote:

Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.
For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now.
But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.”
So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.
Galatians 4:25-31

Ever have the false prophets slowly drawn men of God away from their rightful post (apostasy – to leave one’s post) by speaking things which even may come to pass, leading us to follow after their gods (Deut 13:1-3). And who are their gods? They are those principalities which the god of this age has used to infatuate the prophets with earthly glories! And for the sake of earthly gain they will even prophesy of the true prophets, saying, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” (Acts 16:16-18). By their smooth words they steal the flock of God away to the idolatry of earthly power, to the erection of the tower of the city in which all the nations fornicate. For in their own unity, the hearts of men find no need of the unity that is found only in Christ.

The whore is Babel, the city of man’s unity; but the church invisible is true Zion, the city of God’s unity. God divided the nations at Babel; He unites the nations in the redeemed souls of His heavenly kingdom. But when man seeks to do this for himself on earth, he rebuilds Babel every time; and every time, it falls. God will not be mocked.

Of Zion it is said over Babylon:

On the holy mount stands the city He founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.
Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God.
Selah
Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush – “This one was born there,” they say.
And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in HER”; for the Most High Himself will establish HER.
The LORD records as He registers the peoples, “This one was born there.”
Selah
Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in YOU.”
Psalm 8
7

For THINE is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever! Amen.

From Babylon to Zion bright,
Let children tread above the mire.
For gods in which man takes delight
Shall drag him to eternal fire.

The rulers fought for kingdom-come
Without a thought of Christ within.
How much indeed will be the sum
Of judgement if we likewise sin.

There is no rest, no throne on earth,
That grasping, we shall have repose.
But God in Christ has made a birth
In which His kingdom is disclosed.

For Thine Is The Kingdom – Part 1

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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 Life of God, 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 own 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)

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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 humankind 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 for one 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“He fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.” These still must answer to Him, and these 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 men could not boast in their 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.

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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 One Who By Faith Is Righteous Shall Live!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation
to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed *beginning and ending in faith,*
as it is written,“*The one who by faith is righteous shall live.*”
Romans 1:16-17 (ESV, *with more literal order of Gk. phrasing*)

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
…Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means!
On the contrary, we uphold the law.
Romans 3:28, 31

Faith upholds the law of God by its object and substance being Christ alone, who is “the end of law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Rom 10:4) It is only those who are righteous by faith that discover the transformative power of God’s grace. For if they shall ever have faith pure enough to walk righteously, it must be the same faith by which they were first declared righteous – even the faith of Christ, the free gift of God. It is He who begins the good work that must be allowed to finish it; lest having begun by the Spirit, we now seek to perfect ourselves by the flesh.

The scriptures declare that in this gospel “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith…” And this “to” is not to say that maturity develops into a different kind of faith, but greater faith of the same stock: indeed, that very same faith ever being freed of man-made baggage and dead works. For how is faith greater if it is not purer? The righteousness of God is revealed beginning and ending in faith. The faith like a mustard seed which grows into a great tree does not lose the nature of that mustard seed, nor can it afford to despise that pure form from whence it first sprouted. For the man doing so is “trampling the Son of God, and counting common the blood of the covenant in which he was sanctified, and insulting the Spirit of grace…” (Heb 10:29) Those who consider themselves to have advanced beyond Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice for sins make themselves incompatible with His continuing benefits. They abide not in the one keeping them, and their branch will wither. They forget that only the blood of Christ cleanses them from all sin; seeing that, just as Abraham’s faith ultimately rested in He who was to come, ours likewise can only rest in that same everlasting covenant. He who passed over our former sins at the same time passed over our future sins also; that we, having died and been raised in in Him, might now live to God. And only that same faith of the new child of God shall suffice to please Him. We do not grow out of the gospel, we grow into it. “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (Rom 14:23) At the judgement seat of Christ, there will be a fiery judgment of everyone’s works – and what a shame it shall be for those whose foundation remains, yet nothing gracing it except filthy rags! They have stifled the possibilities of those great rewards by which they could praise God for His glorious grace in the midst of His assembly.

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15

Therefore, let that which each man builds upon the foundation be derivative of the precious and immeasurable resource who IS that foundation! Many have forgotten that the faith of a child, lost in the wonder of God’s grace and the innocence of new life, is the only faith immense enough to truly move mountains. And shall not our Lord be allowed restore our souls day by day to such an estate? Only such unencumbered and unentangled faith has this capacity for holy increase, because it is ever rooted in God’s love and ever deepens in its discovery of His unceasing mercies.

He that followeth after righteousness and mercy
findeth life, righteousness, and honour.
Proverbs 21:21

We love because He first loved us! This is why He holds His own to such a high account. But if He had not loved us first, we would not be His own, and He would not hold us to account as a loving father holds His children. We would be with out hope in the world.

Yet some,under the guise of maturity and moving onward from the elementary principles of Christ, end up forsaking the elementary principles as though they were not compatible with the obedience of maturity. The faith of these is nearing shipwreck unless they repent of their dead works to fully believe the gospel. But if they return to that old vomit, they crucify to themselves the Son of God a second time and put Him to an open shame; and such are those whose inheritance is weeping and gnashing of teeth in the outer court of heaven. They kept not the garments freely given to them for the wedding feast, and they buried their talents. They undermined faith rather than walking in its fullness; therefore their souls do not prosper. But those who first find rest in the work of Christ find the key to surrender, that His works may show forth in them as they are finally liberated to obey Him. They are found working out the salvation already given, in the assurance that it is God who works in them to will and to do according to His good pleasure.

It is those who know that they are not condemned based solely upon the work of God in Christ who discover the freedom to abide in His grace, the only place where strength to walk uprightly is truly found. This is a great irony in light of the natural man, who cannot understand this mystery; for he seeks to establish its own righteousness rather than that which is by the faith of Christ.

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed
beginning and ending in faith, as it is written,
“The one who by faith is righteous shall LIVE…”

IN HUMILITY:

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
Romans 4:4-8

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:6-11

WITH CONFIDENCE:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 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. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
Romans 8:1-5

…So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Romans 8:12-17

So let us not only be saved from the wrath of God; let us also keep the faith unto the fullest preservation of the soul! Shame on us; that there is much in God we have yet to obtain, while many have yet to be firmly rooted in the first things of Christ in order to go forward without shipwrecking their faith!

The man after God’s own heart is the man who keeps the faith. It is the man unwavering in his devotion to Christ, despite his failing heart and flesh, who discovers increasing victory over the darkness therein by the Spirit of God. Those who do not find rest in God must be reminded again of the elementary principles of Christ should they be able to be kept by Him from stumbling. It is those who see the faithfulness of God in Christ that are enabled to pursue faithfulness. It is those who know they are holy by God’s account that are enabled to be holy. It is the scandalous mercy of God in His holy Son being offered for the filth of the world which turns the hearts of men to the fear of the Lord. That we should adjust this gospel to appeal to the self-righteous heart is a reprehensible notion; and it reveals self-righteousness in ourselves.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.
John 3:17-21

It is those who see HIM that become like Him. That which they have seen and heard, they declare. There is a famine of seeing and hearing Jesus Christ and Him crucified in this land. There may be much teaching about the forgiveness of Christ; but men are not called to the substance of a faith which denies the tyranny of self-reliance and the restless man-made religion of the inner heart. Many of God’s children still need to be fully reconciled to Him in Christ. He is the vindicator of those who hang themselves fully upon Him.

Christ Jesus came trading life for life. All the evils of the curse which ail men are the symptoms of Christ not being lifted up in their place. But the church has lifted up man in the place of Christ – this is the very definition of antichrist. It is the gospel inverted. It is man’s ascension without God’s gracious condescension. It is the partaking of the tree of knowledge to the removal of the tree of life. It is the seeking of all but the kingdom of God and His righteousness to the ultimate loss of all. It is the disguise of the flesh as having made itself spiritual, to the quenching of the Spirit of God. In pursuing for themselves the thing spoken by God to His heavenly offspring, “Ye are gods” (Ps 82), they will never arrive at it and they will die like all men. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”” (Rom 9:32-33)

The lie of the serpent has never changed. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Then do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of patience, that having done the will of God you may obtain the promise.
“For, yet a very little and the One coming will come, and will not delay. But the just shall live by faith; and if he draws back, My soul is not pleased in him.”
But we are not of those withdrawing to destruction, but of faith, to the preservation of the soul.
Hebrews 10:35-39

Keep the faith.
Run the race.
Hold fast in the gospel.

But, brothers, I reveal to you the gospel which I preached to you, which you also received, in which you also stand, by which you also are being kept safe, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you in the first place what I also received, that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised the third day, according to the scriptures…
1 Corinthians 15:1-4

And we who are kept safe by holding fast to this gospel do not believe in vain; not because of our works, but because HE is risen.

But if Christ has not been raised, your faith is foolish; and you are still in your sins. And then those that fell asleep in Christ were lost. If we only have hope in Christ in this life, we are of all men most miserable. But now Christ has been raised from the dead; He became the firstfruit of those having fallen asleep. For since death is through man, also through a Man is a resurrection of the dead; for as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:17-22

In the flesh dwells no good thing. But in HIM we are no longer in our sins. It is the unbelieving who die in their sins. But the new creature cannot sin for he is born of God, and God’s seed abides in him. It is for a good witness and great reward unto God’s glory that we must walk by faith after the Spirit, and not by sight after the flesh. For “faith is the substantiation of things having been hoped, the evidence of things not having been seen. For by THIS the elders obtained WITNESS.” (Heb 11:1-2, LITV)

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed
beginning and ending IN faith, as it is written,
“The one who by faith is righteous shall LIVE.”