The Confession of Holy Men

The confession of holy men is this:

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

The grace of God is always without measure upon His own so that they might labour abundantly in that which pleases the Lord. There is no man truly knowing the grace of God who will not labour to some degree; and when he has laboured, he will ascribe the good only to the glory of the grace of his Maker. And the greater he labours by faith in what is hoped for, the more grace yet unseen he discovers; according to which grace he may continue proving by obedience what is the will of God, his sanctification.

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
Psalm 29:1-2

Thought & Scripture – God’s Sovereignty

I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity. I am the Lord, who does all these things.
Isaiah 45:7 (ESV)

It is easy for us to say that God is sovereign over all things; but it is another matter entirely for us to say that He is also sovereign in all things. Few are they that love God for the latter, for He leaves them nothing to boast in, not even their own will.

…for it is God who is working in you both to will and to work for the sake of His good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13

The one saying, “I have known Him,” and not keeping His commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that one. But whoever keeps His word, truly in this one the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.
1 John 2:4-5

Soli Deo Gloria

The Hour Of Treason

“…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 betrayer 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?

The Church & The Sign Of Jonah

“An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”
Matthew 16:4

What the adulterous body of Christ requires is not a revival, but a resurrection. Yet a true resurrection requires the body to be fully dead. That which does not die cannot be raised. We think that we shall save the church by trying to keep her alive, when it is God Himself who seeks to complete her death. For “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” We have before us a choice between the fellowship of man and the fellowship of God. We are so eager to postpone the inevitable, even unto the exclusion of ourselves from glory; but the body of Christ is comprised of those who will die to the elements of this world. Let us therefore abandon all hope in keeping ourselves alive in the world’s eyes, and let the Lord be pleased to crush our idolatrous spirit. The Spirit and power of God is unto those who so humble themselves, and He will raise them up.

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 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. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”
1 Corinthians 15:42-45

Short Accounts – F. Bartleman

“I came to abhor myself. I begged the Lord to drop a curtain so close behind me on my past that it would hit my heels. He told me to forget every good deed as though it had never occured, as soon as it was accomplished, and go forward again as though I had never accomplished anything for Him, lest my good works become a snare to me.”

– Frank Bartleman

Short accounts should be kept with God as much regarding our good works as with our failings.

Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, if it is so that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I don’t regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, think this way. If in anything you think otherwise, God will also reveal that to you. Nevertheless, to the extent that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule. Let us be of the same mind.
Philippians 3:12-16 (WEB)

God Is His Strength

So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.
Then Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God. He burned with anger also at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong.
Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he. And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger.
Job 32:1-5 (ESV)

Now here is a man that lived up to his name.

Elihu means “God is his strength.”

The God who truly requires no introduction is ever so gracious that He prepares the way before Himself: tilling the hardened earth of our hearts as best as it will allow so that His word might not go forth in vain. He needs no witness from the mouth of a man, yet in mercy he sends one. He sends the voice crying out in the wilderness, uprooting the excuse of men and exposing their great need of the One coming. These voices are held in contempt by those that are wise in their own eyes; but they are considered of God a blessing unto His people. (Elihu was a Buzite, which literally means “contempt;” and his father’s name Barachel means “God has blessed”.)

Such a blessed voice was this Elihu. For after the seeds of discord and confusion were sown by those three fools called friends of Job, this little-remembered young man delivers his word immediately before the Almighty boasts of His majesty, and is never mentioned again. The Lord never rebukes this one: indeed, He begins right where Elihu leaves off and even expounds upon much that he said. This man was a sword long sharpened for a particular day of war, to cut asunder the lies of one man’s heart; he was a choice arrow crafted for a single flight, to pierce one target reached by no other; he was a treasure-trove of precious gems, fashioned for the day of lack: he was the witness of God among the profane, that their babbling mouths might be shamed through the foolishness of preaching.

The words of Elihu are words of great offence to the religious heart. It is no wonder that he is left so forgotten. He is a sort of prophet – not one trained of men, nor versed in “higher thought;” but of the simplicity of true wisdom found only in the stillness of God’s voice…

And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said: I am young in years, and you are aged; therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you.
I said, Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom. But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right. Therefore I say, Listen to me; let me also declare my opinion. Behold, I waited for your words, I listened for your wise sayings, while you searched out what to say. I gave you my attention, and, behold, there was none among you who refuted Job or who answered his words.
Beware lest you say, “We have found wisdom;” God may vanquish him, not a man. He (Job) has not directed his words against me, and I will not answer him with your speeches.
They (Job’s friends) are dismayed; they answer no more; they have not a word to say. And shall I wait, because they do not speak, because they stand there, and answer no more? I also will answer with my share; I also will declare my opinion. For I am full of words; the spirit within me constrains me.
Job 32:6-18

Those who know their God are ever ruined for Him: they cannot stand to bear the prattling on of carnal men, who love to pit fool against fool and declare the craftier wise. The end of all human thought without God is emptiness and confoundment.

Elihu observed all of this with eyes quite unhindered by the scales of man’s reasoning: he beheld the folly of Job’s defence as well as the folly of his accusers, for he beheld the manifold wisdom of the sovereign Lord. From within his belly there groaned a burden of righteous angst not of his own making; and from within his very bones there kindled a holy fire destined to enflame the words of his mouth – if by obedience he would allow it.

Like the pressure of a great river held back by a dam, he longed after the very desire of God for those waters to be liberated as is their nature – for the word of God is not bound. Those who truly have the word of God within them have also its desire at work in them. These have given up the futility of their own hearts for the in-filling of God’s heart. Those who so know their Maker speak of what they have seen and heard in the secret of His counsel, seeking not the approval of man, but of their Lord.

Behold, my belly is like wine that has no vent; like new wineskins ready to burst. I must speak, that I may find relief; I must open my lips and answer. I will not show partiality to any man or use flattery toward any person. For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away…
…My words declare the uprightness of my heart, and what my lips know they speak sincerely. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Job 32:19, 33:3-4

These are not the words of arrogance, but of humility’s confidence. Elihu did not come wielding the word of the Lord; the word of the Lord came weilding Elihu. The word was the wine, the man was the wine-skin; and this man recognized that such was the righful order. His rebuke was not to destroy Job, but to show him the right. It was to remind his self-justifying friend of God’s kindness and forebearance so that he might repent back unto the eternal blessedness of the Name he had once rested in.

Behold, I am toward God as you are; I too was pinched off from a piece of clay. Behold, no fear of me need terrify you; my pressure will not be heavy upon you.
Job 33:6-7

Job had begun well in his suffering, and was commended for the saying “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” [For the scripture thereafter says, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:22)] But Job did not continue in this right and humble frame of spirit. For thereafter he began to rather pity himself; and in response to the false accusations of evil suspicion from his friends, he attributed their folly unto God and counted his sufferings unjust.

Elihu continues,

Surely you have spoken in my ears, and I have heard the sound of your words. You say, “I am pure, without transgression; I am clean, and there is no iniquity in me. Behold, He finds occasions against me, He counts me as His enemy, He puts my feet in the stocks and watches all my paths.”
Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you, for God is greater than man. Why do you contend against Him, saying, “He will answer none of man’s words?”
For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, then He opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings, that He may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man; He keeps back his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.
Job 33:8-18

There is no injustice with God: He works great evil unto the good for those that are with Him. He turns loose the very hords of hell to prove the mettle of His servants; and He delivers them from the gates of destruction, that they might see how their God delivers destruction back unto the enemy’s gates. The sufferings of the present time are the growing pains of the Life begotten of God within the creature. It is of mercy that He will not relent, and it is of wisdom that we should submit ourselves to the knife of our skilled Physician. The Lord will ever draw out His own unto the brink of despair, that they may learn the trust of Him – the faith which is called heavenly vision. He will expose the self-preserving heart by any means until it at last cries aloud, “It is well! You have declared my soul Your own, here it is for safe-keeping, as I cannot preserve myself, nor endure unto the end. But with You it shall be possible.”

Man is also rebuked with pain on his bed and with continual strife in his bones, so that his life loathes bread, and his appetite the choicest food. His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen, and his bones that were not seen stick out.
His soul draws near the pit, and his life to those who bring death. If there be for him an angel, a Mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him, and He is merciful to him, and says, “Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom; let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor;” then man prays to God, and He accepts him; He sees his face with a shout of joy, and He restores to man his righteousness.
He (the man) sings before men and says: “I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not repaid to me. He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.”
Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the Light of Life.
Job 33:19-30

Much more was also declared by the mouth of Elihu before the Lord spoke to Job from the whirlwind; but this I hope has introduced the essence of it. It is wisdom greatly despised by the world, and often forgotten by God’s people. He aquired his knowledge from heaven afar, he ascribed righteousness to his Maker; his words were not false, but perfect in knowledge. He declared purity in the heart by the loving of God’s justice, and trust in the Lord by the disciplines of His mercy.

Though perhaps little more than a youth, he yet spoke from what he had both seen and heard in the Lord.

God was his strength.

The LORD is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.
The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust— there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults.
For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.
To crush underfoot all the prisoners of the earth, to deny a man justice in the presence of the Most High, to subvert a man in his lawsuit, the Lord does not approve.
Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?
Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins?
Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!
Lamentations 3:24-40

Idle Words from Idol Shepherds

But Peter and John answered and said unto them, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
Acts 4:19-20

There is no speaking for Christ where He is not known in person; and His true abassadors are sent by no man but Himself.

There is much speaking amidst God’s house through the ages in accordance with the philosophies of men, of which God has not spoken. Much is carelessly extrapolated from God’s word, and much is purposefully avoided where that word is emphatic – these are signs of men sending themselves, or corrupting their calling. The surgical nature of the Word of Christ is derived of His anointing: and that which He does not ordain, He does not anoint.

As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:9-12

A sent man can render himself un-sent. A sent man can also step outside of his calling unto the shipwrecking of many. Greatly instrumental men of God have shaken whole nations and peoples with the gospel, only to also spoil them through philosophy and vain deceit after the traditions of men and the rudiments of this world, and not after Christ.

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
James 3:5-6

We will be judged for every idle word. The teacher of the scriptures is the Author of them. The darkened glass through which we behold the form of the Living God must be illuminated of the Holy Ghost. HE is the anointing of the meek to make them mighty; the strength of those who righteously tremble, invigorating them to withstand on the evil day. Sages, leave your contemplations, brighter visions beam afar! Brilliant men, philosophers and lawyers, intellectuals, musers, and scholars: these all must bow to the one who has so graced them. Such were not the credentials by which the beloved apostle wrote,

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life… That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you…
1 John 1:1, 3

The perfection of the word going forth from a man is determined by the conformity of the man unto that word. The one who speaks most truly from God speaks from the present ongoing crucible of experience with Him. Not only has he known God by the hearing of the ear; but his eyes have seen the Lord and he has abhored his own means for the sake of knowing that One. All the words of man’s reasoning are regarded as empty by the wise who fear God. Even if the wise does not yet know the reply of the Lord against another’s teaching, he does not meanwhile give himself unto them, nor does he consult the sayings of the many; but he patiently waits in discretion. This man will the Lord bless liberally with all wisdom and insight, who so asks in humility, despairing to know God’s very Person.

Not so are the shepherds of men, who, by waiting upon the whims of others, disqualify themselves as ministers before the Lord…

Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.
Zerchariah 11:17

Men are only shepherds to the extent that they privately serve before God’s throne. Those who leave their prostration before His throne to be seated upon their own have left the flock in God’s eyes, even though they might “lead” more men than before. The turning of the heart toward man’s admiration is the rejection of true spiritual authority; producing blindness and deafness to the things of God. The lifting up of men’s personas is the worship of idols in the house of God. These speak from the world, therefore the world hears them. These cloud the understanding of many, for they become a wedge and mediator between men and God. Their words, which unto the flesh sound holy, are truly the sewing together of the veil which was torn; and their deeds, which unto the flesh appear righteous, are a denial of the precious blood that was shed to give us entrance. The hand of God is against these who so undermine the power of His gospel through worldly cunning. They inherit the quenching of His Spirit by boasting in their own arm and by walking according to the darkness of the pride of their eye.

Many will say to me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?”
And then will I profess unto them, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Gk. “lawless ones”).”
Matthew 7:22-23

Sin is lawlessness: In other words, those to whom Christ is not the end of the law for righteousness remain under its curse. Likewise, those to whom Christ is not the end of earthly wisdom for the riches of His very Person remain blind, though they think to see. For the wisdom not according to Christ is of the same lawlessness of all sin; since only in HIM are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

All unrighteousness is sin: In other words, where righteousness is not imputed, all remains sin; because nothing there is of faith. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. The new man born of the Spirit cannot sin, but the old man wallows in sin and his own devices – therefore we must reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus, putting off the old and putting on the new. For all else being at work within us is begotten of the world’s corruption, and touches idolatry.

We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. THIS is the true God, and eternal life.
Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Amen.
1 John 5:18-21