Partaking In God

NOTE:

This article will appear to be a mix of both what would be considered “devotional” and what would be considered “academic.” And unless the reader are somewhat read in ancient controversies (which is not my highest recommendation), then he or she will be new to some of the terms used here; which I have attempted to utilize in such a way as to plainly convey their intended meaning. But again, this is not a merely academic discourse – which can too easily be in vain. This is rather more a devotional exercise involving a tearing down of said vanity with some usage of its own vocabulary.

As I said, this article will appear to be a mix, though truly it is a cohesive whole, which I hope is clear by the end. I simply could not split up any of the various aspects of the matters discussed here. I suppose the heart and the mind are meant to be one organ. There was no typical format which either allowed me to say what needed to be said or how. My simple hope is that this meandering treatise harmonizes all things contained within it well enough, and that the resulting harmony is edifying to someone.


Whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily.
Colossians 1:29

[ἐνέργεια [“energeia“] – efficiency (“energy”): – operation, strong (effectual) working.]

And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
1 Corinthians 12:6

“…but the greatest of these is love.”

The uncreated energies (ἐνέργειαenergeia) of God are distinct from the very essence of God’s being, just as our human energies and operations are distinct from our own being; yet they proceed forth from Him in accordance with His nature, just as our energies and operations proceed from our own nature, being made after His image.

Love is one of the chief operations of God, and indeed the “greatest of these,” which so perfectly characterizes His every other working that the apostle John even speaks of it in such a way that he risks sounding as though this particular energeia of God is the very substance of the essence of His being:

“God is love.”

But this statement cannot mean that His love is isomorphicaly identical to His very being or and one of His Persons; since He is not an absolutely simple monadic oneness of almalgimated attributes, which every single philosophy of man from east to west has ever concluded of their “unknown god”. Rather, He, being the personal triadic God of which the philosophers could never rightly conceive in their unregenerate minds, shows such love toward His creatures that it characterizes all of His works, just as it ought to characterize all of our works, we who are made in His image. “For whosoever loves is born of God.”

Some will object to this by saying that I ignore the “plain language of scripture”. Tell me then: when Christ says, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” is this a plain one-to-one ontological comparison, or is it not rather the allegory of a mystery? In other words, did Jesus become a loaf of bread, or did He not rather become a Life-giving spirit? So also, then, when He says, “I am the light of the world,” is the very essence of His being reduced to an ontologically simple principle of spiritual enlightenment? Or is it not rather the case that His incarnation is the revelation unto a morally and spiritually darkened humanity? We hold that the latter is true; therefore John can rightly say that “God is light,” meaning that the action of the Son of God becoming man brings unto men an enlightenment that is special to God.

Hence, the same apostle John described the incarnation of the Son, saying, “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” Christ is here called the light because He enlightens by way of His incarnation; whereas we do not say that “light is God:” for then all light, even that of fallen Lucifer, which has much variableness and shadow of turning, would be of equal moral status to He in whose there are no such properties (James 1:17). Therefore, “God is Light” is not ontologically stating the substance of God’s being, but is rather stating a central attribute of the nature of His character as seen through all of His actions and operations (energeia). For there is distinction between nature and being: in that being (or essence) possesses a nature or natures, whereas a nature possesses not its own being. So also it is with God’s love, as John likewise indicates. Not that there is danger in speaking as John did; but rather that by misunderstanding it in the way to which I here object, we unintentionally begin to import the pantheistic philosophical conception of absolute divine simplicity into the holy scriptures, which quietly infects many of our underlying assumptions about God’s nature, thereby eroding our defense against the religions of the heathen.

For He said, “I am who I am.”

“I AM” is not a philosophical statement of absolute ontological simplicity. For if that were so, we might flip John’s statement, “God is love” to render it “love is God,” and find it to be equal in its ontological truth. But this is not so; for even John himself says in the same epistle, “love is OF God” meaning that it is from God: presupposing a distinction between God’s love and God Himself. So the procession of love from God presupposes a distinction of love, as an energeia of God, from the very essence of His being.

“I am who I am” indicates to us the Lord’s personal or relatable quality, which allows adequate room for distinctions of God’s essence from His energies (energeia) without there existing any “tension” within His being; and also of the distinction of His Persons within His being (essence) without there existing any composition of “parts.” God is one in essence, and His Persons are one in will. His energeia proceed from His essence, which are therefore distinct: and this procession is partaken in by each of His Persons: from the Father, by the Son, through the Spirit.

Therefore, we can confidently say that God’s love, as with all His attribute, personify none of the Godhead, but rather characterize the nature of the whole Godhead; and that they proceed via His energeia from the Father, by the Son, through the Spirit. For the Spirit of God proceeds only from the Father, and in His Spirit we are baptized only by the Son, just as the one crying out in the wilderness declared: “He (the Son) shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost…” And countering the teaching of some that the Holy Spirit is merely a linguistic or conceptual personification of the invisible force of God’s love, Paul tells us that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit,” rather than “as” the Holy Spirit; since He is a Person of the Godhead.

Thus, we experientially know God through two means: firstly through His energies (energeia) administered to us in various unseen ways, although at times perceived as visible; and secondly through true direct interaction with the incarnate Son in our transfigured resurrection state – but not by directly beholding the Father’s essence. For no man shall live who beholds the very essence of God the Father. Yet just as Moses beheld not the face of God, but rather the energeia of His goodness, and at other times beheld the Angel of the Lord speaking with him as a friend; we now shall much more behold His glory – not directly – but rather in the face of Jesus Christ,” the Incarnate One.

For Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, is the Bread of the Faces of the face of God, which occupies the soul of the temple and is seen by way of the Spirit’s light, whereas the outer court can only provide for a faith which remains grounded in a merely natural understanding. For that Bread is truly eaten not through a ceremony of bodily consumption, but rather by the inner revelation of His Divine Person through the enlightenment of the sevenfold lamp of the Spirit of God indwelling us, we who are that temple. By this Bread we are also instructed to enter further, as a sweet-smelling living sacrifice, into the holy of holies (the spirit of the temple), that we may truly worship in spirit and in truth.

For the outer court has the understanding of washings and of an offering for sins, just as we are commanded to be baptized and rest upon the offering of Christ for our sins. But the holy place pertains to the tasting and seeing of things invisible, and where the only light tolerated is that of the Spirit of God; so that we may become fit to continually abide in the most holy place: where we taste the hidden manna of His Covenant (Heb 9:4, Rev 2:17), and above it see the voice of He who stands in the midst of the golden candlesticks (Rev 1:12). For each successive place in God’s temple contains the true revelation of the previous. So returning back to the bread: Whereas the sign of baptism is outward, the Bread of which we are truly commanded to partake is not a visible bread that we eat bodily; yet in the partaking, we begin to see HIM.

For we partake in Christ’s broken body not by food and drink and appointed feasts, but rather by obedience to the same Spirit which raised Jesus bodily from the dead; the obedience by which the saints also shed their own blood and offer up their own flesh to be burned. For as often as we eat this bread of His fellowship, and drink this cup of His sufferings, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. As He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me.” Therefore any man who partakes in the divine nature is in fact having the various energeia of God’s Life imparted to him through obedience to the leadings of the Spirit, and not through observance of that which men have interpreted as a “sacrament”. For “the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” And that Spirit is given without measure to those that obey Him. The clarity of our seeing of God depends upon the degree to which we walk in obedience by His love.

This is no vapid over-spiritualization of the matter: it is only a spiritualization insofar as Christ and the apostles explained it. For when Paul chastised the Corinthians, “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat,” it is clear that their gathering’s failure to be considered by Paul “the Lord’s supper” was simply in that Lord was not honored due to their lack of consideration for the poor and hungry at their “love feasts” (Jude’s term for the early believers’ fellowship meals). “For in eating,” he continued, “each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.” (The presence of wine is no necessary indication of a ceremonial context; as wine is not forbidden to the Christian, and Jesus Himself drank frequently enough for the label of “drunkard” to stick among the prudish Pharisees who despised Him.)

What would constitute a “Lord’s supper” in Paul’s mind is that in their gathering together, they would eat and drink “to the glory of God,” neither neglecting the weak nor depriving the poor among them, which was the particular sin being addressed. For we miss supping with the Lord whenever we neglect the opportunities for love and charity that He places before us (Matt 25:31-46). Paul then utilizes the example of Christ’s last passover meal with His disciples (which He was about to fulfill once for all time in His passion) as an explanation of the mystical Body of Christ, and the discerning thereof, that they might honor Christ in the honoring of their brothers. For the neglect of their brethren was an “unworthy manner” of partaking of the Body and blood of the Lord, which is His church; for which reason many had become ill and even died.

Therefore Paul brings his admonition back down from spiritual allegory into the practical matter at hand with the words, “So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.” So it is clearly a fellowship meal, and not a sacramental ceremony, which Paul took as an occasion to teach them of the mystery of Christ’s Body and blood: the church. Paul writes after a similar pattern to the Ephesians, weaving in and out of allegory when speaking of marriage, but then at last remarking, “I speak of Christ and the church;” while indeed still addressing the practical matter at hand.

For not much earlier in the same letter to the Corinthians, the apostle said, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” And is not their participation truly in the mystery of being one with His Body? Therefore he immediately explains this with the saying, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (1Cor 10:16-17) For partaking of that Bread is the personal knowing of the Living Christ Himself, not the bodily consumption of a temporary stand-in, mysteriously endued with divinity. Any recommendation of such a supposedly vital practice is also conspicuously absent from the Jerusalem council’s advice to their newly baptized gentile counterparts (Acts 15).

And neither by saying “do this in rememberance of Me” was Jesus at all commanding them to observe the feast of Passover; for again in the same letter, Paul explained, “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” And lest we still insist upon the necessity of observing a feast, the apostle goes on to cast “keeping this feast” as the manner in which we partake of Christ’s Body and blood – that is, how honorably we interact with His people: “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1Cor 5:7-8) Yes, the practice of sincerity and truth among the brethren is truly the bread we must eat; and the sacrifice of our selfish desires for their good is truly the cup we must drink.

Thus, we partake in His divine nature through the Holy Spirit indwelling us by He who became not earthly bread but rather a Life-giving spirit – and not by means a wrongly construed “sacrament,” which takes a truth of the inward parts and pertains it to the outward. And one day we shall also see Him face-to-face; yet by the Son, and not by what some call the “Beatific Vision,” which is an eternal staring into the Father’s very essence. For our relating to God is personal and manifold.

But that concept of the Beatific Vision, which many have postulated awaits the faithful, is an eternal (and quite impersonal) seeing of God the Father’s pure essence; as opposed to the teaching of scripture, which indicates that whereas we now relate to God’s persons through His energeia, we shall soon in resurrected body relate to God in the bodily risen transfigured Christ. In other words, our present beholding of Jesus with unveiled face is “through the Lord who is the Spirit;” and our beholding of Him in the age to come will be in heavenly bodies like His, when we shall be like Him. For we shall still be men, which cannot behold the true impassible glory the Father at any time; but the one and only God, who is in the bosom of the Father: HE makes Him known.

Beatific Vision is really a “Christianized” adaption of the pantheistic notion that The Many will be re-absorbed back into the Beingness of the generic Oneness, or One or Fullness or Source from which they sprang, having always subsisted as mere extensions of Its being rather than as creatures distinct from the personal Creator who created all things ex-nihilo. Beatific Vision presupposes the absolute simplicity of God’s being, which at its ultimate end must be the generic impersonal ultimate being of ultimate beingness that is common to all perennial and gnostic philosophies, according to which all nations and religions are deceived.

For even the majority of the Jews, having missed God, have now followed after a god which is little more than this nihilistic conception, and the adherents of Islam worship a capricious god who transcends any personability that could be relatable to his creatures. Also, the seemingly endless pantheons of eastern Indian tradition eventually break down into impersonal principles, which themselves are ultimately slave to this over-arching impersonal principle of a generic oneness of all being. And the many practices of the orient are perhaps most obvious in following after this empty pattern.

Therefore, although man’s dim conceptions of the God of holy scripture too often become a balancing act of various attributes in seeming tension, the answer to this is not simply equating His attributes and His energies to His very being. For then God is rendered truly unknowable in ways that He has declared Himself to be quite knowable, impersonal in ways that He has declared Himself to be quite personable, and yet also able to be beheld in ways which He declares no man can behold Him (as in Beatific Vision).

For even Isaiah beheld “the Lord of Hosts;” which is God the Warrior-King of old times, the pre-incarnate Son of the cleansing of the land: who Himself visited Abraham with two messenger angels, raining down fire and brimstone upon the cities of Sodom; who Himself lead the armies of heaven in the days of Joshua’s conquest; and who Himself came down to slay 180,000 of the Assyrians in their sleep.

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

Therefore:

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

Now, the logos which the scripture here says “became flesh” is not being equated to the generic rational principle (logos) of Plotinas and the Greeks, as some would have us believe; nor is John merely taking that existing philosophical concept and inserting Jesus into it. John was a reader of the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament), in which the “Word” of Yahweh was translated as the “logos” of the Lord. Much more than making a philosophical point – which to some degree I grant he may be – John is personifying the eternal logos of the Lord as Jesus; for often the “Angel of the Lord” who delivers the words of God in the Old Testament is very clearly the second person of the Trinity.

And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
Exodus 3:2

All of creation burns with conviction of the triune personal God of scripture, who is revealed even in the design of the creature; and when the incarnate Son of God is declared, the witness of the Father by the Holy Spirit presses all the more with conviction upon the hearts of men, though without the light of His faith they cannot comprehend the matter, their own spirit being darkened through sin.

But the surge of atheism in recent decades has tempted the Christian anew to merely convince men of the existence of a generic deity, as if such were a legitimate stepping-stone towards knowing the true and living God. This reduction of our conception of God into terms that resemble little more than Aristotle’s “Great Architect” or Plato’s “Demiurge” is an apologetic of surrender to the religion of the unbelievers; and those who are newly convinced of its existence will simply come to worship any version of this reasonable singular generic deity, still hating He who is revealed, denying what He has made known within them.

And we, who ought to know better, still too easily think of God as transcendent in ways which do not allow for the fact that although now fallen, men are yet made in His image, and do indeed continue to reflect that truth in many ways; though they fail to walk according to it, suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. This is a rebellious estimation of God’s transcendence, cushioning men from the perception of full accountability to Him. It especially achieves this by rendering the incarnation as described in scripture to be an utter scandal for such an impersonal creator, and therefore improbable; when truly the slaying of the Lamb was foreordained before the foundation of the world, and held up before every eye to see.

Where is the wise person? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe.
1 Corinthians1:20-21 (LEB)


Historical Addendum


The Latin speaking fathers of the early church had much trouble with these things, being very learned in man’s philosophy; and so perpetuated and aggravated many of the misunderstandings and errors addressed above.

A most noteable consequence of the Latin scholastic tradition was an over-emphasis upon the legal aspects of Christ’s atonement, at the expense of its other vital elements. This (originally unintentional) reduction of the redemptive work has since lead much of God’s people into contriving countless ecclesiastical invetions and endless ritualistic innovations to fill the void. The extrapolation of the Latin tradition – which by default strictly submits all scriptural teaching under Aristotelian categorical understandings of being, substance, and accidents – and so casts the “ultimate divinity” as absolutely simple in nature – ultimately culminated in the Summa Theoligica of Thomas Aquinas, who is unequivocally Rome’s unofficial-official dogma.

Augustine, who preferred the legally-oriented language of Latin and worked very little with Greek, often gets the majority of the blame for starting all of this. For while his devotional life as shown to us in his great work “The Confessions” certainly displays a vibrant personal knowing of the God who redeemed him; his later theological works became especially filled with the relatively flat assumptions of Greek philosophical thought as perceived through the even flatter medium of Latin linguistics. Therefore he acknowledged no essence-energy distinction in God, somewhat frustrating his work “On The Trinity” (though perhaps not to his mind), and causing him to lay the groundwork for the doctrines of “created grace,” as well as reviving a version of the Beatific Vision that Origen had once proposed – all notions within which much of both Roman and Protestant understanding has remained grounded.

And while this may all sound quite obtuse and arcane to the majority of today’s ears, it does entually touch them all, however unwittingly. Therefore it remains necessary that some should be somewhat informed in these things, in order to provide an answer to the philosophical objectors who undermine the faith of many by much vain knowledge in matters which they themselves will yet declare cannot be truly known by men, since to them it is all merely conceptual. To such the apostle Paul declared of their unknown god, “HIM I proclaim to you” (not “it”). And thus, in preaching to the areopagus, he relied not upon sharing any presuppositions in common with those Greek philosophers; but rather he mmediately proclaimed the personally knowable God who is not far from men, who became incarnate, and who conquered death itself in bodily resurrection. Paul’s presupposition was not reliant upon the darkened plodding of fallen reason, but rather upon the immediacy of Christ’s manifest revelation.

The Greek-fluent “eastern fathers” of the early church were often wiser than their Latin counterparts in that they did not tend to presuppose the philosophy of man’s generic theism in their expounding of God’s revelation. One man in particular, who most thoroughly excelled in dealing with these matters, was Maximos (or Maximus) “The Confessor”. His voluminous writings summarize and explain many difficulties both in scripture and in the earlier church writers; frequenty offering his explanations in the philosophic language – yet not as submitting to the philosophers’ presuppositions, but rather as discerning many of those errors and emphasizing the good within the writings of his predecessors.

It seems that none of much note, however, have escaped even a mildly superstitious view of what men call the “sacraments:” especially those that exceed baptism, which I believe I have shown to be the only so-called “sacrament” that was commanded to the whole church.


In coming to understand these things, let us not squander them by adherence to yet another tradition which merely contains them in concept only; “for the word of God is not bound.”

And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend…
Exodus 33:11

“Such A Heart In Them”

“Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Go thou [Moses] near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.”
Deuteronomy 5:25-27

Thus was the stubborn posture of the hearts of the children of Israel toward the Word of God when it came to them in power and great glory.

The hearts of wicked men are ever blind to the mercy that has already been shown to them unmerrited; therefore grace is a stranger to them, and they to it. Despite all the clear proof that God has not already struck them down in wrath, the ungrateful question of the accuser is always stirring within their souls, “Has God indeed said?” And by their love of that lawless question, however secret it may be, all of their ways are made crooked, and they always miss God. For notice that outwardly they still claim that they will perform the commandment of God; but only, they say, if another should “Go thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee.”

Now, although it pleased God in His soveriegn plan that for our learning Moses should stand as a kind of mediator for the children of Israel, prefiguring for us the unfathomable abasement of His Word in a Man on our behalf; still, His jealousy remained provoked in that ancient day toward those who so rejected His Word as it had appeared to them. For God will not be mocked; and His way will stand, though men so inventively seek any other door than what He graciously provides them. Therefore He was angry with that generation, and lamented their hardness of heart.

And the Lord heard the voice of your words, when ye [Israel] spake unto me [Moses]; and the Lord said unto me, “I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken. O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!”
Deuteronomy 5:28-29

“…they have well said all that they have spoken.”
The Lord who searches the thoughts and intentions is not taken aback by the self-deceit which pervades the hardened heart of merely religious men. Their most pious response is still dependant upon another man knowing God for them; and this He sees as no different, if not even more despicable, than those who shake their fists at Him unabashedly.

“O that there were such an heart in them…”
The hearts which tend by God’s grace towards true obedience are marked by a desire to know God’s voice for themselves. But those which tend away from desiring a personal knowing of God’s voice; who tend to desire the voice of other men; and perhaps even mock that God would so speak to them, except through a man, reveal that they are full of disobedience already.

“…that they would fear Me…”
The wisdom of God is obtained through the fear of Him: those who fear Him seek His counsel diligently for themselves, and leave it not in the hands of any other.

“…and keep all My commandments always…”
The scriptures loudly attest to us that true obedience is that which is born of a heart that has been made humble and contrite before the living God. When God appears to such persons, they bow in faith saying, “Thy will be done, and first in me!” – and they go forth, though they may not see how it is possible. For they trust that He who gives the commandment will grant within them its Breath unto Life. But the passing of one’s own responsibility onto another is the way of the dead.

“…that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!”
We damn not only ourselves, but in a way our children also, when we willingly give place to any other Mediator than Christ Jesus. Let us not render ourselves as another lesson of failure for a generation yet future; and if we do, may our own children quickly overcome our lawless and faithless spirit, however it might sting our wicked pride.

As Moses said to Israel earlier in the same discourse, recounting God’s marvelous deeds among them:

“Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the Lord.” Also the Lord was angry with me [Moses] for your sakes, saying, “Thou also shalt not go in thither. But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.”
Deuteronomy 1:35-38

The Form Of Sound Words

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 1:13

Sound words have a form, an exemplary pattern, a typification by which their nature is determined; and it is neither a literary nor auditory matter. Truly, their form is the state of the man from whence they proceed, even as a good mould brings forth a shapely moulding. Therefore the Lord said that from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

The words of a good form are the fruit of the “faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” And this form is not seen in a mere tone of voice or manner of presentation, but in the condition of the soul who speaks. For the heart abounding in deceit may speak well outwardly; but inwardly be full of wicked schemes. Conversely, the heart abounding in goodness may speak poorly outwardly; but inwardly be being filled with the knowledge and love of the holy.

And the words of a man, no matter the carefulness or roughness of their delivery, are yet always laced with either the presumptuous stench of self-deceit, or with the earnest aroma of Christ; and by the Spirit of wisdom, these can be known to the hearer. To this end, the man of God, in order to hold fast the form of sound words, must make himself subject to the form of Christ’s sound Life.

For the form of sound words IS the Life of Christ in a man; and the holding fast to that form of sound words is what holds a man sound in God, and God’s word sound in him.

Then Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”
John 6:68

Battle Hymn Of The Republic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Good Confession

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preceding All Causes, Exceeding All Ends

First, a short list of basic meanings for Logos (Gk. λόγος):

a saying, speaking, speech, mode of speaking, eloquence, discourse; conversation, talk; word, expression; assertion; principle, maxim; proverb; oracle; promise; order, command; proposal; condition, agreement; stipulation, decision; pretext; thought, reason, reckoning, computation, reflection, deliberation, account; cause, end; argument, demonstration; meaning, value; proportion; Christ.


For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Romans 1:18-23

Man’s tendency to speculate in one way or another that there was chaos in his beginning is simply his philisophical attempt to legitimize the presence of sin and darkness within his own soul. For he knows where he came from, and where he ought to be going; but he loves the darkness instead of the light, because his deeds are evil.

And we have been given this great revelation:

In the beginning was Logos:
with God was Logos,
and Logos was God.

Logos (Jesus Christ, here characterized by John as Logos) cannot proceed from chaos; chaos is by very definition of its nature the deviation from Logos. Logos cannot but only be first and primary.

For there to even be chaos, there must already subsist either an existence and/or a being distinct from God which is capable of rejecting Logos, since God Himself is not a God of confusion. The Spirit of Christ declares of Him that in the beginning only God’s Logos was, and this Logos was indeed very God. Such a decription leaves no room for any existence or being outside of Him “before” creation.

Neither, then, in the beginning, could there have yet been that chaos of which men speak; since there only was God, with whom is that Word (Logos), within whom no deviation can be. And so, where there is found chaos and disorder, the true and orderly beginning has to have come before it, and then a transgression. For chaos is a transgression of Logos.

As the scripture says:

In the beginning, God
…and God created…

By this we see clearly that only God, and that which God creates, and the energies and actions of either, can be spoken of; for elsewise nothing is. It is therefore somewhat misleading when we declare that God created ex-nihilo (“out of nothing”); since nothing is not existent, and nothing is not being. Existence derives from preexistence; being derives from being. Does not nature itself teach us this principle? For truly God is said to have created – as we might axiomize in Greek – ektós-theos (“out of God”); since that which is cannot proceed from that which is not.

All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. (LITV)

“Without Him” means apart from, beside, and includes the meaning of outside of. That which He created, He did not create from outside of Himself; but rather from within Himself. For as it states clearly, apart from Himself there became neither existence nor being. Hence, all things came into being “through” Him, for He is the matrix of all possible existence and of all possible being. Therefore, the nature of the created order, even with disorder now present, unmistakably illustrates His eternal truth because it still bears the marks of the same mystery of He who made it; who both precedes and exceeds it, who both sustains and upholds it by the word of His own power.

And He is before all things, and all things consist in Him.
Colossians 1:17 (LITV)

Creation is originally derivitive of God Himself. The propensity in men to avoid this truth reveals the very separation of the creature from God which began at the fall. Now, this is not a denial of “the many” (the distinction of creation from God) as much as it is neither a denial of “the One” (the consistence of creation through God). For sin is manifested in both denials; because sin itself is the division of the many from the One (the creation from the Creator). For although we are to distinguish between them, they are not meant to be divided; and this division is the fall. For the fall is the creature’s declaration of his independance from the Creator.

Therefore, to deny the One for the many, or to deny the many for the One, is to embrace the very deviation of spiritual selfishness which divided the two. That is the exact definition of heresy. We might clumsily label these two denials of God’s order “pantheism” and “radical individualism;” but they are both manifestations of the same separation of the creature from the Creator: and they both therefore magnify the creature at the expense of the Creator. The one error is not better than the other.

Upon this separation, the Word of Christ (again, characterized as Logos) is exchanged for the constantly disordering motion of chaos; yet only in the life of the creature. For although God created man through Christ; He tasked them to willingly remain in Christ, which they did not. Disorder cannot touch God because He is the final and highest definition of Logos; and He is immovable: so that whatever deviates from His Way removes itself from Him, and He Himself is not changed.

The disorder in ourselves is not to be embraced, nor even tolerated, but rather expelled: otherwise we ourselves will be fully expelled to exist entirely outside of the possibility of grace. Our deviation is not natural to God, in whose image we were intended to exist; therefore we know that it ought not be natural to ourselves.

Logos preexisted chaos, True Life preexisted death; and death will again be swallowed up in victory for all who live through and in Him – He who both preceded and exceeded death. For He precedes all causes, and exceeds all ends. He IS the beginning and the end.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.

After all, how could it?

Awake, O sleeper, arise from death; and Christ will give you light.

If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Logos is not in us.
1 John 1:10

Music: To Worship, Uplift, Distract, Or Subvert

A comparison of four classical composers, with observations on how their music either helps uplift the soul to God, or draws the mind down to wallow in the things below.


1 – Johann Sebastian Bach: The Harmony Of Logos


Examples of Bach:

Brandenberg Concerto No.3:

Bach’s beautiful choral arrangement of the Lutheran hymn “By The Rivers Of Babylon” (“An Wasserflüssen Babylon”):

Toccata & Fugue:

Bach’s music describes in vivid sonic detail the reality of God’s divine order and eternal truth. There is seemingly no phrase or note in his music not written to this one end; all has distinct purpose. There is no waste; and everything is addressed in a most dignified manner. In Bach’s music, the Light is spoken of with awe and reverence; and the darkness is spoken of within the context of God’s mastery over all. There is pure joy in the Lord, with nothing trite or frivolous. There is pure fear of the Lord, with no hint of despair. There is no glorying in man’s thoughts or strength; but much rather in God’s wisdom and power.

Bach is (among other things) the great exegete of the keyboard, and his extensive repertoire lays out for us, as it were, the divinely appointed boundaries of every note’s potential use in relation to another, with every measure of his many compositions effortlessly reflecting his own remark that “harmony is close to Godliness”. There is no flirtation with musical subversion or mindless dissonance; and the occasional unusual sound is employed only to serve the well-being of the hearer as far as it reflects the realities of God’s truth within the created order of the music.

“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”
– Johann Sebastian Bach

How well indeed did his music fulfill that saying!
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2 – George Frideric Handel: The Sound Of Majesty


Examples of Handel:

Overture, from Messiah:

Comfort Ye My People, from Messiah:

Overture, from Alexander’s Feast of the Power of Music:

A contemporary and fellow countryman of Bach (though they never met), Handel’s music is hewn from the same substance, with an ever-present consciousness of honoring God’s glory. There is always a sense of divine majesty in his compositions, by which the sensitive hearer is at times made to feel that they tread on holy ground – and this without either pretension or any sense of overbearing forcefulness on the part of the music: it simply speaks for itself when played, as truth always does when uttered.

The instrumentation alone in his famous work “Messiah” can easily take one into the very holy of holies if the soul is prepared to heed its call; and the accompaniment of prophetic scriptures borne upon its heavenly melodies carries an anointing unparalleled in most hymnody. There is often a hush of awe which falls upon even the most secular of audiences when these pieces are performed in succession. That particular work was reported to have been written by Handel in the course of approximately 30 days (in its base form, without many of the large choral parts – still an astounding feat).
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3 – Ludwig Van Beethoven: The Self-Interest Of Man


Examples of Beethoven:

Piano Concerto No.1 – Allegro Con Brio:

Cello Sonata No.3 in A Major:

Beethoven’s music still lives within the world of reality and truth, but it often does very little to consciously acknowledge such. There is still an adherence to the orderliness and natural beauty of things; but the element of divine authority is replaced with a largely unanswered search for meaning. Vast portions of his compositions are dedicated to meander through the deep woods of a lonesomely reasoning mind; and their occasional discoveries, though useful, are usually not revelatory. There is natural light, but always the bright sun is hidden behind a blanket of cloud; and the divine is so distant that it need not be directly spoken of.

In Beethoven the transcendent is lost to long rabbit trails of thought, and, at times, impulsive little adventures in melody. Not that anything is ever objectionable to the hearing – there is still a clear appreciation for beauty – yet it is limited to created beauty, and seemingly not the Creator Himself. Beethoven does eventually come to an appropriately resolved end in his compositions; but we are usually left wondering what ultimate reason there was for much of the journey. There is a distinct sense of spiritual unfulfullment despite the typical excellency of his musical form.

One always remembers the feeling of Beethoven’s music; but only a few of his pieces leave a definite impression – and even where they do, all of his music is strongly laced with the sighing melancholy of humanism’s emptiness. Even where he breaks through his troubles into a happy theme, it is always with a certain dullness of heart. Even if the light is brilliant without, it is as though the eyesight remains dim from within. Any soul not lulled to a certain numbness by much of his music is left wanting for a warmth and wholeness that was not granted; and who now shall sing to that soul of the brighter Day?
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4 – Richard Wagner: The Madness Of Devils


Examples of Wagner:

Prelude of “Tristan und Isolde” – which has been cited by some as an early inspiration to Nietzsche’s trajectory of thought.* It is a daunting and tiresome listen:

The Ride of the Valkyries – known to often evoke in men a heightened desire for war and pointless worldly conquest:

Much of Wagner’s music (particularly as heard above) is the expression of the subversive amoral philosophy of will-to-power. There is no reality or truth there except whatever the soul desires to conquer and call its own. As an excellent example of this Satanic mindset, the starting notes of “The Ride Of The Valkyries” sound perfectly like the arousal of jealousy; and the ensuing journey is one of a constant blowing about in the swirling winds of the growing lust for power, which is the only meaning in this nihilistic worldview.

Therefore, its end is wanting of any real wholesome resolve; and throughout, the key signature changes frequently, but not often to a wholly related key. Its sense of mounting triumph has no source outside of what it has accomplished in itself by sheer will: the transcendent is drowned out completely by self-glory. At last, it crashes to an end after a swift tumble into darkness, having left the listener’s heart in great alarm. And after its echoes die off in the ears, one is left with no new thing to contemplate, no melody by which the soul is given a path toward the Logos of God. The divine is utterly cut off; the soul (if it has trusted the music) is left open to the first thought or spirit that may seek to lead it astray.

It is also worth noting that this Wagner, the composer, was a great personal influence upon Nietzsche, the philosopher; and a hefty portion of Wagner’s music certainly does seem to subvert divine order, just as the philosophy of that madman, leaving in its wake the chaotic void into which he himself no doubt gazed.
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There hasn’t been a time since the fall of man when music was not a battleground for men’s souls.
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Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!

Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!

With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it!
Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the LORD, for He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

Psalm 98:4-9

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*For some additional interesting information on this subject matter, listen to this interview which I came across recently. He lays out the history of the subversion of music in the late classical era quite well, and particularly touches upon the relationship between Wagner and Nietzsche.
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** I do not own any of the music or audio used in this post; it is herein used for reviewing purposes only. **