“And then He turned my heart, and made me love Him.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon
“And then He turned my heart, and made me love Him.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon
And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds – livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
How appropriate it is, that just before the creation of man, the very beasts which will later help him in earthly duties are prepared beforehand. And not only these, but other creatures which themselves contribute to the care and furnishing of the earth are still being made. Yet the livestock in particular may be of note. The scriptures refer to the oxen as the image of the Servant of God. For it is through making Himself nothing and taking the form of a servant that our Lord Christ, the very image of the invisible God and firstborn of all creation, became so highly exalted. The cross precedes the crown, the burden precedes the glory, humility precedes exaltation. Therefore man ought to be mindful of his humble beginning, considering it indicative of his place before the Lord; for he is but dust, and having fallen shall return thence. And only the Lord shall raise him up on the last day, if indeed the faith of Christ was in Him. For in the kingdom of God, the lowest servant is the greatest; while they that exalt themselves shall be lightly esteemed, as they “esteemed Him not.”
Behold, my Servant shall act wisely; He shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.
As many were astonished at you – His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and His form beyond that of the children of mankind – so shall He sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of Him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.
It is He to whom all dominion is given, who laid Himself aside for it all; it is He who tasted death for every man, who from the dust was again raised up that His own might share in that Life incorruptible: so that being last they might share in the firstfruits, being despised they might become embraced, and being condemned they might become accepted. They that are being made in His image and after His likeness are taking up the cross and following after Him. For it is the loss of all else which gains Christ, it is the suffering with Him which finds His fellowship, it is the conformity to such a death as His – “His appearance so marred, beyond human semblance” – which discovers the fullness of His resurrection life. “It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body…”
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
If He is not found ruling in us, we shall never reign with Him. It is in being conformed to the image of the Son of God that we discover the incomprehensibility of His great work, and the necessity of that work to be brought unto completion in us. And the giving of Life by the Father unto His chosen gives them the power to be raised up unto “the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ” – for nothing less is the goal. It is from His various workings within each one that the manifold wisdom of God is displayed in the building up of His body before every creature, before all that exalts itself against the knowing of Most High. It begins in the dust, not in temples made with human hands; and it becomes the very temple of He who created it, the very house of His reign…
And I heard a great voice out of Heaven, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God with men! And He will tabernacle with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. And death shall be no longer, nor mourning, nor outcry, nor pain will be any longer; for the first things passed away.” And the One sitting on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He says to me, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”
And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was VERY good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
This is the mandate of God in the making of man into His image: that His rule be complete in His own, and by this shall the kingdom come. “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, ‘Lo here!’ or, ‘Lo there!’ For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Just as the first Adam was formed from the dust of the ground, let the Last Adam be formed in us in like manner. Let us present ourselves as the nothing that we are before Him: for it is out of nothing that He is truly glorified to create. And when at last Christ Jesus is fully formed in us, then shall He “see the fruit of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.” Unto this very end the Spirit groans and travails within His own for that final adoption; and the Son awaits His bride.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all his work that He had done.
So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.
The rest of God is for things being completed – let us not restrain Him from completing His work. Let us give over our own yokes and burdens, man’s philosophies and self-made religious compulsions for HIS yoke and burden, and His rest will carry us. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Then let us fear lest in any way a promise having been left to enter into His rest, that any of you may seem to come short.
For, indeed, we have had the gospel preached to us, even as they also; but the word did not profit those hearing it, not having been mixed with faith in the ones who heard.
For we, the ones believing, enter into the rest, even as He said, “As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest,” though the works had come into being from the foundation of the world.
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the Ending. To the one thirsting, I will freely give of the fountain of the water of life. The one overcoming will inherit all things, and I will be God to him, and he will be the son to Me.”
“…there is not one that seeks after God.”
“Seek, and you shall find…”
Men do not find God because they do not seek for Him. For if they truly sought, they would find. A seeking of power or of wisdom as distinct from the seeking of God Himself is idolatry; and it is the fool who supposes that God will suffer His might or counsel to be either mingled with or weighed by that of men. Woe to them that go on tickling their own ears, who repent not of their own devices and conceptions when the Lord makes Himself known; for in due time He grants them strong delusion! Woe to them that become proud of seeking the satisfaction of their own minds as an end in itself, as though having no higher authority were the truest of wisdom; for in vain they seek out an excuse not to find the immovable reality of He who is Lord of all, and their reward is the void which they have so esteemed. To deify the mind of man is to blaspheme the mind of God. “Proffessing to be wise, they became foolish…”
All things (under the sun – natural light) are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
The ears of men are ever itching to hear a new thing; but let a matter be spoken of God, and it cannot be tolerated. They cannot bear to hear of their true predicament, because it breaks the noise of their elaborate distraction: the machinery of artificial crisis, the religion of passing the blame. The monument to destruction is ever so carefully built up, the meaninfulness of vanity is ever so highly venerated to draw the heart unto anything but the subtance and reality of God Himself. The emptiness of man’s soul is ever feeding upon the devices of its own self, never to satiate its hunger. The more of its own debt that it thinks to pay, the more that it finds to be owing. Well does the symbology of the enemy mockingly betray a truth: that the serpent remains ever consuming its own tail, for it cannot fulfill itself. Such madness is the prospect confronting those who reach the end of all earthly learning and wisdom in a world which lies under the power of that wicked one.
But the spiritual are free of this vanity, for through the operation of the Spirit of Truth within them “by the faith OF the Son of God,” they overcome Devil’s persuasion to share in his fate. These recognize through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit that all deception begins in the heart of a man, including their own; and must be overcome by the Truth of God dwelling in the innermost parts. By Him they are made free of their rebellious state, which disposes the heart to so readily to be flattered by the crafty peddler of the tree of knowledge. For the fruit of the tree of Life can only be planted and nurtured by that one Spirit of God Himself – which feat no mere man can accomplish, “because the mind of the flesh is enmity towards God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither CAN it be.” With those after the flesh, the Sovereign Lord is righteous to find fault, and against such He is also righteous to execute judgement; “for the saving grace of God has appeared to all men,” and “men loved the darkness instead of the light, for their deeds were evil,” so that men are without excuse.
The demonstration of man’s depraved heart without God’s Life reveals His longsuffering and patience; and the impossibily of men to choose freedom from themselves reveals how much that grace truly is grace. For among whom none was righteous and not one merrited favour, He raises up from among the incapable dead a people for His own possession, which by Him are also made into His likeness; as the likeness of God was otherwise inseperably lost, and no man but those being conformed to the likeness of the One Son of Man can claim truly to bear the image of God – though even many christians are ignorant to this fact. It is not in the least unfair that the many are allowed into destruction: truly it is of His mercies that not all men are utterly consumed. Indeed it is a wonder that He has so decreed and laboured to save even some, working unto the good of those who love Him, who do so because they are “THE called according to His purpose.” And being that such is the gift of God, there are none of them which can boast! For not by prudence in observing signs of power have the zealots been delivered, any more than that by knowledge in plausible arguments have the wise been truly enlightened; but salvation is revealed “to those who are called, of both Jews and Greeks: Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
For the power is He who died now reigning over death; and the wisdom is He who was raised now living in those who by His operation have died.
For except the Lord has implanted the working of His faith within a soul, it proudly lives unto itself and remains dead to God, existing under that great darkness concerning which the apostle rightly spoke, “There is NOT ONE that seeks after God.” Now it is tempting for the carnal mind to minimize or try to deny so comprehensive and infinitely deep a chasm; but enduring faith rests upon power unseen of the eyes, and it reckons by wisdom unknown of the mind, having first accepted this horrible truth. And since the will of sinful man is utterly free of God, praise be unto God that His will is utterly free of sinful man, so that He may bridge the chasm without the loss of any to whom His mighty arm is revealed!
For the freedom of the human will is only ever unto the bondage of the tyranny of self; and the breaking of this evil will by God is required to bring about the true freedom of serving His good, pleasing, and perfect will. The creature indeed has capacity for much; but no son of Adam has any capacity for spiritual goodness without first the extension of uncommon grace which gives power to become a child of God. Seeking with the whole heart after the One who exposes the thoughts and intentions of the heart is a characteristic of those being made alive in Christ Jesus: it is the province of those that are being drawn of the Father; for only by His Spirit are uncovered the wonders of His great Mystery. And those who have found the mystery (which is the glory of God hidden in Christ, and living in them), if these shall continue to overcome the snare of mere human ingenuity, let the prayer of their regenerated hearts ever remain, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law.”
For if we are saved not of ourselves, but by the gift of God, how much more then should we also dispose the continuation of our growth in Him unto that same power and wisdom of Christ; for now within us He strives to will and to do according to His good pleasure. For that power and wisdom of Christ, which before we lacked and has now been endowed – shall we not with fear and trembling now submit to its working, a choice which before we could not have made? For it is not unto the heathen, but unto the children, that God says, “Choose you this day whom you will serve,” and, “receive not the grace of God in vain.” The Law of the Spirit of Life is come!
“…faith arises from disposition of soul, but dialectic from the skill of its inventors. Wherefore to those who have the inworking through faith, demonstrative argument is needless, or even superfluous. For what we know through faith you attempt to prove through words, and often you are not even able to express what we understand. So the inworking through faith is better and stronger than your professional arguments. We Christians therefore hold the mystery not in the wisdom of Greek arguments, but in the power of faith richly supplied to us by God through Jesus Christ.”
– Antony of Egypt, to the Greeks who came to visit him. (Taken from the account of his life written by Athanatius of Alexandria)
“…betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?”
The chief enemy of the Truth is pretention: pretention is the epitome of falsehood. Corruption is most fully at work in they that feign loyalty to Christ rather than confessing to have none. In contrast, not one Roman soldier who nailed Jesus to the cross was betraying Him: indeed, few knew anything of him; and even the religious class of the Jews who demanded His death had rarely veiled their hatred of Him. But the betrayor of the Lord walked by His side for three years, waiting for the opportune time at which to give Him over into the hands of men.
Judas! The most cowardly in heart, the most loathsome in spirit! And this same irredeemible wretchedness is present in the midst of God’s people today. But who possesses the fortitude to face Judas and force him into action, saying, “That thou doest, do quickly”? Let it be done, for we shall see the day of Christ only through death! Let there fall swiftly upon us that hour of man and the power of darkness; for we have put off our humiliation far too long. The bread has been dipped and handed over to the traitor, the deepest night closes in, and the kiss of death is already being placed upon the cheek. Time will tell all, and not a moment too soon. Who will face their cross in the hour of treason? Who will for the joy set before them endure it, and scorn its shame?
How broadly and thinly we have partaken of the grace of God, that it is become only a veneer to cover up our sins, and not the power to uproot them utterly from the heart by which they continue to be commited! We consider only what is behind – and that with much triteness – taking no thought as to what death we shall continue to sow, and what hell-fire we may thereby reap. The saving power of the grace of God through faith is not found in its being a doctrine admired, but in being a doctrine lived.
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
“Sanctified by God the Father… preserved in Jesus Christ…” – The firey words of Jude find their basis in this verity of God’s ever-present salvation for His own. They are pure words, sanctioned by God Himself for the use of those sanctified by HIM; they are the unerring and skillful arrows of the Captain’s quiver against the enemies of He who by HIS own mighty hand preserves His saints. They are a calling unto the called, that their obedience to the gospel would develop and flower into an obedience in it by the contention for it. And this contention begins at the house of God, which is the true battleground for the faith.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Overt depravity is the inevitable outcome of an impotent religious grace. “…turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness” – There is not a more apt description of the hypocrisy within the self-made heart; a heart which regards the grace of Christ according to the flesh and so denies His great power by instead walking in its own. When men so mistake the grace of God for laciviousness, they choose to walk not in grace; but by their own means they seek to perfect themselves according to their own standards, calling it holiness. And rather than giving grace unto others so that true holiness might be seen, they lay burdens upon men too great to bear; according to which none can attain the righteousness of God which is by faith. It is through this circumventing of God’s grace that they deny Him, even the Lord Jesus Christ, leaving both themselves and others to wallow in the flesh. Saul of Tarsus was such a man: “According to the flesh, blameless” – but we regard Christ not according to the flesh any longer. Those things which Paul later counted loss, these men would still count aquisitions.
[The Greek for “turning” here is μετατίθημι (Str. 3346) – meaning to change, remove, translate, or turn something.]
The thing which Jude contends for the defence of is the the gospel – “THE faith once delivered to the saints.”
We make ourselves an enemy of this faith when we give not freely that which we freely received; and until we repent unto God, renewing faith toward Christ, we have put ourselves under the curse of the law for having counted common the blood of the covenant through such a blatant lack of its use. For to live in such a sore disregard of the faith, through which alone we have access to the grace wherein we stand, is to walk in unbelief. It is a posture of heart which keeps not our first estate of being seated in the heavenlies in Christ, but leaves behind that rightful habitation in order to commit fornication with the man-made religion of earth and all of this present world’s corruption. This is why man’s every religious institution becomes a house of filth; for in not being the spiritual kingdom within the hearts of the redeemed (which consists not in talk but in power), they are necessarily built upon the sinking sands of the flesh and of earthly wisdom. It is the mark of the whoring daughters of Babylon: who seek to ascend of their own volition and so persecute those whose strength is God Himself; mocking the ones who trust not in man, but in God.
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation (apostacy – to leave one’s post), he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example (of said apostacy), suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
For the gospel of Christ is that by which He touches our eyes unto seeing all things from our heavenly abode by faith. By this alone are we cleansed, and even is our flesh saved; and through the same faith we submit to the dominion of the kingdom of God within ourselves, always accepting the word of the Lord from the mouth of His true dignities. Therefore, those who mock the grace of God and so deny this faith, supposing that they have found godliness without surrendering to the working of God’s grace: these sear their own consciences through the constant denial of their ever-present sin, which has been neither purged nor covered; and they cannot see in their high-minded rebuke of sinners that their own guilt yet remains. They speak little and lowly of grace, for they know it not except according to the feeling of the flesh; and within the walls of their whitewashed tombs they rot away in the very corruption which they suppose to be their deliverance.
Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke thee.”
But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
Those who walk not both under and by the grace of God walk accursed. Such a curse was the lot of Ham’s lineage, who, rather than gracefully submitting his father’s indiscretion to the Lord, impiously aired the matter to his brothers instead…
And Noah, a man of the ground, began and planted a vineyard. And he drank from the wine, and was drunk. And he uncovered himself inside his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father. And he told his two brothers outside.
Genesis 9:21-22 (LITV)
Such are the actions of the arrogant, who dwell in a world of offence and brute reaction where the scandal of their own sins is buried beneath a ruinous facade of self-defined virtue. Ham’s gross impropriety regarding the sin of his father was the very revelation of his own great wickedness. For if he had done as his brothers did, then Noah would have awoken covered, and offered a sacrifice of thanks unto God for the prudence and integrity of his younger son. But as it was, Ham bears the blame for the curse of his own progeny; whereas the other sons of Noah showed wisdom in the grace of God, even that love after the manner of Christ which covers a multitude of sins, unto a blessing.
And Shem and Japheth took a garment and put it on both their shoulders. And they went backward and covered the nakedness of their father, their faces backward. And they did not see the nakedness of their father.
And Noah awoke from his wine. And he came to know what his younger son had done to him. And he said, “Cursed be Canaan. He shall be a slave of slaves to his brothers.”
And he said, “Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Shem; and may Canaan be his slave. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall live in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be their slave.”
Genesis 9:23-27 (LITV)
The inability or refusal of men to grow into and walk in the grace of God in the midst of the brethren is telling that they do not behold their own iniquity as being so vile that it requires recompense on the very account of God. If they have not entered into the Lord’s fold by way of HIS cross, then they are theives and robbers. These are they who make offerings unto God, but not according to His mercies; they desire reward in the things of God, but seek it not according with the heavenly kingdom; they have great zeal, but not according to the knowledge of Christ. They speak much of holiness, but produce only the dead works of the fleshly heart; they speak much of righteousness, but display only the hypocrisy of man’s religion. They claim to have life, but give birth only to the corruption of their own shame; they seek to lead the way, but drive men only into confusion…
Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
The ungodly thing being illustrated here is foremost a man-made religious spirit. Cain offered the works of his own hands and the fruit of the accursed ground as though it were holy unto the Lord. Balaam took the riches of the world for the riches of God at the price of perverting the word of God. Core (Korah, the son of Izhar) was dissatisfied with the way and the leading of God; so he slandered the Lord’s command through Moses and lead a rebellion in which thousands out of Israel perished (Numbers ch 16).
He who speaks from heaven will judge between men. He is transcendent of man’s every imagined paradigm; and He is the leveler of man’s every device by which they seek to undermine His preeminence. No one is excused before Him; for no creature is unrevealed before His sight, and He has not excluded Himself from being sought out by each one.
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying,
“Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints (holy ones), to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
The ungodly are those whom God Himself does not make Godly. They rather seem to make themselves Godly; but this is not the true gate and way unto life. These are they who mind earthly things, seeking the deliverance of their own hands, following after worldly wisdom, living by the power of their own imaginations in the name of Christ Jesus: seducing His people to share in their hypocrisy unto boundless corruption. The appetite of religion is the great overreaching appetite of all sinful flesh: it is anything but the means of God as the means of godliness, and thereby it becomes anything but God Himself as the true object of worship. What men dream, say, and build unto the flattering of their own hearts and minds becomes the very word of the Lord to them; and what the Lord truly says becomes an obstacle to their plans.
These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.
But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
“These be they who separate themselves: sensual, having not the Spirit.” – It is not the Word of God which divides these men soul from spirit, but only themselves. They discern themselves, but not according to the word of Christ. Thus the lusts after which they walk are the result of their ungodly self-suffuciency. The neglect and replacement of God’s inner working by the Spirit for fleshy means and worldly device renders men unable to work out their salvation; for God is not even working that salvation in them according to His good pleasure. What the sword of the Spirit ought to be doing within them, they have not allowed. They may think themselves to be wielders of that mighty weapon; but truly no man wields the word of the Lord, the word of the Lord wields men. It is the contrite in heart who tremble at His word that are made instruments of its work; but those who do not fall upon the word of Christ will be fell upon by Him.
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
“…hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” – This speaks of the spotless garments of righteousness given to us by our Lord at His cross, according to which we have our identity in His kingdom. Those who follow after the ungodly ones here described will inevitably render their garments filthy, tattered and trampled under foot unto great loss in the coming kingdom. The mixture of the heavenly with the earthly, the mixture of the gospel with dead works, the lowering of God’s grace into an unworthy or insufficient means of righteousness: these are all unto the spotting and rejection of keeping the purity of that identity – even unto disrobement.
Try to deliver the ones who are so lead astray; but turn away from those who so lead them astray. For these deceivers defile the consciences of men in every way; for by glorying in the arm of the flesh while calling it the Spirit of God, they are left prey to its every weakness. By this they betray that they themselves both reason and walk according to the flesh, both denying and knowing not what evils still dwell in the secret places of their own hearts. And regarding the very things in which they stand condemned, they even exhort other men in hypocrisy. It is the shame of their own hidden deeds about which they speak, it is the darkness of their own hearts which they project. The light in them is darkness; and how great is that darkness! For they behold not Christ, but themselves; and they fear not God, but men.
For many walk as the enemies of the cross of Christ, of whom I often told you, and now even weeping I say it: whose end is destruction, whose god is the belly, and who glory in their shame, those who mind earthly things. For our citizenship is in Heaven, from where we also wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our body of humiliation, for it to be conformed to HIS body of glory, according to the working of HIS power, even to put all things under HIMself.
Philippians 3:18-21 (LITV)
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.
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…”
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.”
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.
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.
…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.
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.
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.
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.”