Preaching Christ and Christ Crucified

September edit

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes that when he had come to them, he did not come proclaiming the gospel in words of eloquence or human wisdom and philosophy, but he had resolved to know nothing among them except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

There is much preaching available today. There are brick & mortar buildings with preachers, there are books written by preachers, there are email devotionals and podcasts and YouTube subscriptions and Facebook posts and tweets by those who have so-called spiritual influence. What are they influencing? What is the by-product of all of the preaching and listening?

There are words written and spoken which are nothing but human wisdom propped up by Scripture which has been interpreted by human reasoning and emotion. There are so-called influential people who are calling their followers or attendees to do this or that because of what another person didn’t do or say. It is a Christianity that looks just like the world. It is the blind leading the blind. One writer I followed for years began to lean into the anti-gay movement so deeply that it was being touted as the Church’s persecution when a preacher could not preach anti-gay sermons. Another and more recent article I read was on how an American pastor told his congregation how to vote due to a celebrity’s lack of sympathy for a certain historical fact which had nothing to do with Christ. All of this merely draws in those with similar opinions and fuels the flesh. There is no stumbling block of offense, there is no absurdity; just a clanging of religious cymbals with zero ability to offer Life.

It became an inquiry of my own heart as to what it would look like if what was being preached was nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified? Christ crucified brings into view Christ risen with all that means. It became an inquiry of my own heart as to whether the one writing on this so-called persecution of those who would no longer be able to preach anti-gay sermons is merely a passing away of all that is not Christ so that He may come into view. The Lord put on my heart a couple of years ago not to lament the lie but to glorify the truth; much of what I once was able to write eloquently was shut up, but the Scriptures opened, and my writing would never be the same. There is much that will be shaken and pass away that we do not need to fear, beloved. What comes to mind are Jesus’ words in Matthew 7: 24-27

So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them [obeying them] will be like a sensible (prudent, practical, wise) man who built his house upon the rock.

And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them will be like a stupid (foolish) man who built his house upon the sand.

 And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great and complete was the fall of it.

Let us be encouraged that the wise man who built his house upon the rock, or in other words, the one who hears the words of Christ and acts upon them, obeying them, the rains still fell, the floods still came, the winds still blew and beat against that house… YET IT DID NOT FALL because it was FOUNDED ON THE ROCK. This brings to mind Jesus’ words to Peter after God, not flesh and blood, revealed to him who Jesus was. It was on that Christ would build His church and the gates of hell could not prevail against it. The gates of hell are able to prevail against many things, but Christ risen is not one of them. Hallelujah!

Let us also be encouraged by Paul’s words in Colossians 3: 1-4

If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.

For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.

When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory.

Friends, this world is not our home. Our King has a kingdom that is not of this world. We are sojourners and pilgrims, looking forward to the city which has fixed and firm foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God. Let us therefore, receiving this kingdom that is firm and stable and CANNOT BE SHAKEN, offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship. Lord, we believe. Help our unbelief.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. In John 8 Jesus is recorded as saying that to know the Truth is to be set free, and clarifies that statement later with: Whomever the Son sets free is free indeed (v. 36). In another place Jesus tells His disciples that He still has many things to tell them, but that they are not able to bear them (John 16:12.) Beloved, we are that same way today. There are many things that He wants to tell us, but we are unable to bear them. It requires the Spirit, Whom Jesus points to in John 16:13, to guide us into all truth. The Holy Spirit is not honoring and glorifying trending topics, political agenda’s, though they may be ‘good’, human opinions, or anti- _________ (fill-in-the-blank). The Holy Spirit honors and glorifies Christ (v. 14). May He find us willing to adjust to Him!

T. Austin-Sparks writes that: It is the birthright of every child of God to know the voice of the Lord in his or her own spirit. Since that is true, we must know the Lord in order to know His voice. Whatever it is we are listening to, reading, or focused on, is it a voice pointing us towards Christ, so that we may know Him ourselves. Are we receiving that which is validating our human reasoning and opinions, or is it like the Chip Brogden quote on the image above, a revelation that is eliminating our illusions and creating in our lives less of us and more of Christ?

It is Christ Who sets free (John 8:36).

It is Christ Who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30).

It is Christ in Whom all natural and fleshly distinctions fall away (Gal. 3:28)

It is Christ in Whom we are to delight ourselves, rejoicing that we are in Him (Phil. 3:1).

In a situation of growing spiritual death, and darkness, and decline, and loss, John writes all this and says in effect, “Oh, you believers, you need to recover in this day your knowledge, your experience of this Life that is in Christ! This matchless Life! This mighty Life! It is the Life that is going to solve the problems, answer the questions, meet the needs, overcome the adverse forces, and triumph at last. It’s this Life in Christ! That’s what you need to know, and apart from that, apart from that, things will go from bad to worse, and from worse to awful – they’ll just decline.”

And John stands right in that gap, in that gap and says, “The answer is a recovery of Jesus Christ as the eternal Life in the power of this endless Life, a recovery in your spiritual history, in your spiritual experience”. T. Austin-Sparks

August

Father, I pray that You may grant to us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Your Son. By having the eyes of our hearts flooded with light, so that we can know and understand the hope to which You have called us and how rich is our glorious inheritance, Your set-apart ones. And so we may know and understand what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of Your power IN AND FOR US WHO BELIEVE, as demonstrated in the working Your mighty strength, which You exerted in Christ when You raised Him from the dead and seated Him at Your right hand in the heavenly places.  Thank You, amen.

Correction Unto Humility and Conformity

Salida skies September 2019

For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

On the heels of the most recent post which can be found by clicking here, this morning I read the final chapter in T. Austin-Sparks’ Born From Above titled, “The Man in Glory.” The 2nd from the bottom paragraph reads:

You see, the beginning, “Ye must be born from above” (John 3:3), has tremendous potentialities, immense possibilities and far-reaching destiny. That which is born from above is seen at last to be above in governmental function and fulfilment. But remember it all comes back to this: just how far we will let the Spirit of God build Christ into us, build us into Christ, and conform us to His image, deal with us in the light of that Man, make changes, put us through discipline, chastening, and conforming fires. It depends on how much we will let Him do that.

I have recently been re-reading Hebrews 12 and, coupled with the discipline of the Lord which seems unrelenting as of late, I noted that the definition of ‘chastening’ is: correction unto humility and conformity. Also keeping in mind that it teaches us that for the present time this chastening is not joyous, but seems grievous and painful. Isn’t that so encouraging that we do not have to rejoice in our suffering merely for suffering’s sake. But verse 11 goes on that it is in the but afterwards it yields peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it

These very points have been the meditations of my heart in recent days and to read Sparks’ words just brought the point home even more. The Amplified Classic translates this fruit of righteousness as: “conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God.

Beloved, our rejoicing is not in flat out denial of these grievous and painful disciplines the Lord has for us, but in the recognizing and accepting that it is the BUT AFTERWARDS, which will mean more of Christ being ‘built into us’ or as the final paragraph of Sparks’ chapter states: “an increase of Christ…”

We must remember that what I am here for on this earth, in God’s mind, as a Christian, is that Christ should be here and should abound. However much I do, if it does not mean an increase of Christ, however much I may say and profess, however much truth I may know and hold, if my presence does not mean the presence of the Lord Jesus, and that in an increasing and growing way, I have missed the point, I have missed the way, I have missed the meaning. When it is all finished, the measure of the Man in the glory will be put against us, and all will be determined by how far up the measure of Christ we have come. That is heaven’s verdict upon a life. Christ is the verdict, Christ is the standard. Oh, then let us give ourselves, not to intensive self-occupation and self-cultivation and all that kind of introspective stuff, but let us give ourselves constantly before God that we shall be found growing in the measure of Christ, that it may be true as heaven and earth and hell look on, that they are discerning and seeing Christ, feeling Christ, and having to say, “He is here, Christ is here!” Will you make that your quest with me?

May we be among those who are trained by our chastenings unto humility and conformity to the image of the Son. Amen.

Consider Him – Part 2: The Education of Suffering

Stone House Tree2 Oct 23 2019

Part One is here <—-

Friends and readers, the following quotes have been read by me in recent weeks and, coupled with deep experiences, they are weaving a thread of understanding in my spirit. I leave them here to encourage and edify those who are on this same narrow pilgrimage in Christ.

“…we are in very serious times when God is coming very near to His people to sift out. The end is going to be a tremendously sifting time amongst the Lord’s people.” T. Austin-Sparks

[Read Romans 8, verses 6-9 specifically; Hebrews 2:10]

(G.D. Watson – Tribulation Worketh) “We are His disciples, and are united to Him by faith. The same Scriptures which apply to Jesus apply in a modified sense to all the members of His Body. The lesson would do us no good if we did not apply it to ourselves. We are to learn obedience by the things which we suffer, just like Christ. When do we get the spirit of obedience?…When we are born of God (John 3:1-8), God plants within us all the elements of His life, all the elements of Christ’s life – humility, faith, hope, love, perseverance, longsuffering, obedience…every part of Jesus’ life is implanted in the heart that is born of God. […]Although you are born of God, and although the principle of obedience is implanted within your heart, at the same time there are remains of the carnal mind…you have got to learn obedience in this sanctified life by the things you suffer, just as the Lord did.”

[Read Hebrews 2:10; Romans 5:3-5; Romans 6:4-14; Galatians 2:19-20]

(Andrew Murray – The Holiest of All) “In suffering, His (Jesus) will was perfected, His character fashioned, His dependence on God and delight in His will was confirmed and made manifest. […]There was no way to come out of fallen nature, with the power of self and self will ruling it, but by entirely dying to it; suffering anything rather than let it have its way. This was the way in which Jesus would have to lead us. And He had to walk in it Himself…Christ was perfect from His birth; every wish and inclination was as it should be; but only as a disposition, as a power, that needed to be tested and developed and strengthened by trial.”

If I may interrupt: Even so now, Christ in us is as He should be, which then must be tested, developed and strengthened by trial for Him and His likeness to be made manifest in and through us.

(Andrew Murray, continued) “It was needful that God should make Him perfect through suffering; the perfectness that comes through suffering is meekness and gentleness; patience and perfect resignation to God’s will.”

Another interruption: Upon reading that last line yesterday morning at my breakfast table, I wanted to look up the definition of the word resignation. I pull out my brand new seventeen pound Oxford American Dictionary (exaggeration – it only feels seventeen pounds) and flip through the pages to resignation, and I read: An act of retiring or giving up a position. No, that’s not it. And then: A document conveying someone’s intention of retiring. No, that’s not it. And then: The acceptance of something undesirable but inevitable. Those words settled around me with great discomfort. I walk away to brush my teeth and ponder what I’d just read. No. It couldn’t be. That’s not the way Jesus saw His Father’s will, as undesirable but inevitable. I return to the breakfast table and decide to look up the word resign instead. My eyes scan the columns. Ahh, there it is. Resign. I read each definition, and the last one was: Surrender oneself to another’s guidance. Ahh, there it is! That’s what Andrew Murray is communicating to the reader. The perfectness that comes through suffering is meekness and gentleness; patience and the perfect SURRENDER to God’s will. Take a deep breath and we will go on.

(Andrew Murray, continued) “…Jesus came and was made like us: we must come and be made like Him…the Lamb of God has no salvation and no perfection to give us but His own meek spirit of entire dependence and absolute submission to God. The meekness and humility that it was needful God should perfect in Him are as needful for us. We must suffer and be crucified and die with Him. Death to self and the world, at the cost of any suffering or self-denial, this is the only path to glory the Leader of our salvation opened to us.”

(T. Austin-Sparks – The Place of God in His House, link will be at the bottom of this post) God must educate His people in the school of suffering by way of purging; so that they will be willing to walk in the way of His thoughts, to act with the deepest interest from the heart for His will to be done.”

(T. Austin-Sparks – The Meekness of the Heavenly Man, link will be at the bottom of this post) “He was meek and lowly in heart, and only God knows the heart, and God can read through all our make-believe. I am not saying that you have to go away and try to be meek and put on meekness. I am saying that you have got to be conformed to Christ, and you have to put yourselves into the hands of the Spirit of God to do it, and when He does it, or begins to do it, don’t begin to kick. This, as we said in a previous meditation, is going to be a deep heart formation, very deep down in the heart – no make-believe, no mockery with God, but reality. We shall be stripped of our pride and everything that accounts for our pride, all that which would in any way make us think something of ourselves and deceive ourselves.”

Scripture tells us to rejoice in our sufferings:

“…rejoice in our sufferings.” Romans 5:3-5

“…in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice.” Psalm 63:7

“…as grieved and mourning, yet [we are] always rejoicing.” 2 Corinthians 6:10

“…in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, rejoice,…” 1 Peter 4:13

This rejoicing is not an attitude of gladness for the suffering alone and of itself. It is a rejoicing for the result of the suffering. This takes a change of heart and perception to get to, and we do not have to bemoan our not having arrived, but can with the cloud of witnesses, press on to lay hold of and make our own, that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of us and made us His own. Not that we consider that we have captured and made it our own, but one thing we can and should do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead; pressing on toward the goal to win the prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward (Philippians 3:12-14).

And what is the result of our suffering, when we allow God to do its work in us? Our conformity to the image of His Son.

“…we must share His suffering if we are to share His glory. [But what of it?] For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory, that is about to be revealed to us, in and and for us.” Romans 8:17b-18

For our light, momentary affliction is ever more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:17

We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor], all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also destined from the beginning to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness] that He might become the first-born among many brethren.” Romans 8:28-29

I will end with this Sparks quote which interprets this ever-narrowing journey in Christ, and undoubtedly many of you as well.

The Lord seems to lead us in a way where we are less and less able to naturally understand Him. He gets us altogether beyond our capacity, beyond our capacity for interpreting His ways. We just do not know what the Lord is doing, or why He is doing what He is doing; yet it is the way by which we come to a very real kind of inward knowledge of Himself. It may not be capable of explanation in words to anybody, but we know, somehow or other we know, and that is a mighty thing, a mighty power of knowledge. It is light through the Cross.

Amen, hallelujah, and thank You, Father!

Link —-> The Place of God in His House

Link —-> The Meekness of the Heavenly Man, this is the 6th chapter in a 7 chapter body of work titled, Born From Above. Every chapter would be worth while for any Christian to prayerfully read to-day.

 

Consider Him – Part 1: Do Not Lose Heart

Fallen tree3 Cinnabar Park Wyoming August 2019

 

Dear reader, this multiple-part series is being shared for our edification and encouragement in Christ.

I have been experiencing the depths of conviction as to the root of self in me…it is remarkably difficult to admit, and yet at the same time, it has been pointed out so poignantly it is blatantly obvious; I sigh in agreement at the reality of the self-centered motives and un-Christlike demands of the flesh. Having this wrought in our beings is by way of the powerful and indwelling Holy Spirit (Hebrews 4:12) through our circumstances and our initial, immediate and often lengthy reactions to them.  It is altogether different from merely hearing or reading Scriptures, mixing it with faith, and believing it is so. The Lord so desirous of having a vessel to manifest His Life must work this out in us – He must increase and we must decrease – so it is no longer a written word believed only, but a Living Word lived. It becomes far more than our agreeing with the Spirit when He reveals to us that we, like Paul, have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer (the) I (self) who lives but it is (the) Christ who lives through us (Galatians 2:20). This spiritual reality must get worked out into the very fabric of our lives as to whether we will in actuality and by all practical means reckon ourselves dead; it is no longer me, myself and I with whom I am preoccupied, for the wages of this kind of preoccupation is death; but we allow it to become the Lord’s will and way with which are preoccupied, and not just that but the Living Lord Himself. This, beloved, will touch every area of our life, not one stone of self will be left untouched. This is not fun to experience, nor is it fun to write here to whomever reads. But to be obedient to Christ in me, it must be stated.

If I may share now a piece written by Andrew Murray from his book on the letter to the Hebrews which has so infiltrated my life the last few years, titled, “The Holiest of All.” (Edited to update language)

Do Not Lose Heart

Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

You have not yet struggled to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the divine word of encouragement which is addressed to you as sons,

My son, do not make light of the discipline of the LordAnd do not lose heart and give up when you are corrected by HimFor the Lord disciplines and corrects those whom He loves,
And He punishes every son whom He receives and welcomes [to His heart].” 

Hebrews 12:3-6

 

It is ever still the danger of discouragement and falling away that the writer seeks to avert. In these verses we find the words, do not lose heart, twice used, and twice the way is pointed out to be kept from it. The first time the words are used in connection with the considering of Jesus, our Example and Leader. The second time, with the teaching, that it is God from whom all affliction comes. In affliction, look to Jesus as our Forerunner, who was Himself so tried; to God as our Father, who has appointed the trial, as the safeguard against losing heart.

Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. We have previously had the injunction (Heb. 3:1): Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, [thoughtfully and attentively] consider the Apostle and High Priest whom we confessed – that pointed out to the work He did for us. Here it is: Consider Him in His sufferance and patient endurance. The thought that He suffered like you, that you are suffering like Him, will give courage and patience. Consider Him. It will remind you how necessary suffering is. If He could not be perfected without it, how much more we. If suffering wrought such blessing in Him, to whom God has given Him as Leader in the path that leads through suffering to glory. We may be sure of it, all that is most precious  in a Christlike character – the virtues that were perfected in Him through suffering, the meekness and lowliness of heart, the gentleness and patience and submission of the Lamb of God, will come to us too if we will but consider Him.  Looking to Jesus, the suffering One, will bring us comfort of His sympathy, the courage of His victory, the blessed consciousness of conformity to Him. You have not yet struggled to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin: the thought of His blood in Gethsemane and on Calvary, and the insignificance of our own suffering, will urge us to endure and resist. And we shall neither grow weary or lose heart.

And you have forgotten the divine word of encouragement which is addressed to you as sons, My son, do not make light of the discipline of the Lord. The words from Proverbs (3:11-13) warn against a double danger. On the one hand, we may make light of the discipline of the Lord, and think too little of it. We may seek to bear up against it with human wisdom; looking upon it as the lot of all, counting ourselves too brave or strong to bow before it, trusting to time and fortune to bring a change. We fail to recognize the hand of God in it; we do not accept it as indeed God’s discipline, and lose all the teaching and the blessing it was meant to bring. My son, do not make light of the discipline of the Lord.

And, here is the other danger – do not lose heart and give up when you are corrected by Him. Be not discouraged or downcast as if the discipline was too heavy, more than you deserved or are able to bear. Beware above everything, in your Christian life, of casting away your boldness, of becoming impatient, of losing courage. It is trial and difficulty, care and anxiety, persecution or reproach that often causes this. Learn to-day the secret of never suffering loss in the soul by the sufferings of life, rather, always make them your greatest gain.  Link them to God and to Jesus. It is God who sends them. He sent them to Jesus and perfected Him through them. He sends to us in the same love and will make them our highest gain. “Receive every inward and outward trouble, every disappointment, pain, uneasiness, temptation, darkness, desolation, with both your hands, as a true opportunity and blessed occasion of dying to self and entering into a fuller fellowship with your self-denying, suffering Savior.” (Andrew Murray there is quoting William Law.)

For the Lord disciplines and corrects those whom He lovesAnd He punishes every son whom He receives and welcomes [to His heart].

Sufferings are for correction. And correction is from love, a token of God’s fatherly care. We live in a world full of trial and suffering. Thousands of God’s children have complained that their circumstances were too unfavorable for a life of full devotion, of intimacy with God, of pressing on unto perfection. The duties and difficulties, they cares and troubles of life, render it impossible, they say, to live a fully consecrated life. Would God that they might learn the lesson of His word! Every trial comes from God as a call to come away from the world to Him, to trust Him, to believe in His love. In every trial He will give strength and blessing. Let but this truth be accepted, in every trial, small or great: first of all and at once recognize God’s hand in it. Say at once: My Father has allowed this to come; I welcome it from Him; my first care is to glorify Him in it; He will make it a blessing. We may be sure of this; let us by faith rejoice in it. The salvation God has provided for us, the blessed life in the new and living way into the Holiest, through Jesus Christ, has such power that it can enable us amid every trial to be more than a conqueror through Him that loved us. “Give up yourself absolutely and entirely to God in Christ Jesus, as into the hands of infinite love; firmly believing this great and infallible truth, that God has no will towards you, but that of infinite love, and infinite desire to make you partaker of His divine nature; and that it is as absolutely impossible for the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ to refuse all that good, and life, and salvation which you want, as it is for you to take it by your own power.” (Andrew Murray is here again quoting William Law.)

Consider Him. If Christians would only understand that God’s word says, that it is impossible for them to live the true Christian life unless they keep their eye daily, unceasingly fixed on Jesus. Not a step in the race is safe if they are not looking to Jesus.

O God, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is.

So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.

So will I bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.

My whole being shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips

When I remember You upon my bed and meditate on You in the night watches.

For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice.

My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You; Your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:1-8

Part Two, Lord willing, coming later this week.

We Are Not of This World

 

San Diego 2 June 09

Dearest reader, if this reaches your heart and you know of others who need this light and life and encouragement, please feel free to forward it along to them. But be warned, this is contrary to Churchianity, to what the majority believe and have learned during a lifetime of brick & mortar church attendance, under the teaching of pastors who demand a strict adherence to the traditions of men, having a form of godliness but denying its power. The following is Christ-centered and Kingdom-minded, which has no place for the flesh in any form, be it the worldly or religious. May God give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen.

Written by William Law to a friend in the 1700’s:

My dear and most worthy friend,

[…] I shall not trouble you with apologizing for this long silence, but speak directly to the matters of yours, concerning your difficulty to join in any church communion.

Religion, or church communion is in its true nature, both external and internal, which are thus united, and thus distinguished; the one is the outward sign, the other the inward truth signified by it: the one never was, nor ever can be, in its true state without the other. The inward truth, or church, is regeneration, or the life, spirit, and power of Christ, quickened and brought to life, in the soul. The outward sign, or church, is that outward form, or manner of life, that bears full witness to the truth of this regenerated life of Christ, formed or revealed in the soul. The inward truth gives forth its outward proper manifestations of itself, and these manifestations bring forth the true outward church, and make it to be visible, and outwardly known. As thus, everything in the inward life, spirit, and will of Christ, when it becomes living, dwelling and working in the spirit of our minds, or inward man, is the inward church, or kingdom of God set up within us: and everything in the outward behavior, and visible conversation of Christ, whilst dwelling amongst men, when practiced and followed by us, in the form and manner of our life, makes us the members of that outward church, which he set up in this world.

Inwardly nothing lived in Christ, but the sole will of God, a perpetual regard to his glory, and one continual desire of the salvation of all mankind.  When this spirit is in us, then are we inwardly one with Christ, and united to God through him. Outwardly Christ exercised every kind of love, kindness and compassion to the souls and bodies of men; nothing was visible in the outward form of his life, but humility and lowliness of state in every shape; a contented want, or rather total disregard of all worldly riches, power, ease or pleasure; a continual meekness, gentleness, patience and resignation, not only to the will of God, but to the haughty powers of the world, to the perverseness, and contradiction of all the evil and malice of men, and all the hardships and troubles of human life: now this, and such like outward behavior of Christ, thus separate from, and contrary to the spirit, wisdom and way, of this world, was that very outward church, of which he willed all mankind to become visible, and living members.  And whoever in the spirit of Christ, lives in the outward exercise of these virtues, lives as to himself in the highest perfection of church unity, and is the true inward and outward Christian.  He is all that he can be, he hath all that he can have, he doth all that he can do, and enjoyeth all that he can enjoy, as a member of Christ’s body, or church in this world.

For as Christ was God and man, come down from heaven, for no other end, but fully to restore the union that was lost betwixt God and man, so church unity is, and can be nothing else, but the unity of this, or that man, or number of men with God, through the power and nature of Christ.  And therefore it must be the truth, and the whole truth, that nothing more is required, nor will anything less be able, to make anyone a true member of the one church of Christ, out of which there is no salvation and in which there is no condemnation, but only and solely his conformity to, and union with the inward spirit, and outward form of Christ’s life and behavior in this world.  This is the one fold under one shepherd; though the sheep are scattered, or feeding in valleys, or on mountains ever so distant, or separate from one another.

On the other hand, not only every unreasonable unjust action, be it done to whom it will, not only every unkind, proud, wrathful, scornful, disdainful inward thought, or outward behavior to any person, but every unreadiness to do good of all kinds, to all that we can; every unwillingness to rejoice with them that rejoice, and to weep with them that weep, and love our neighbor as ourselves; every aversion to be inwardly all love, and outwardly all meekness, gentleness, courtesy, and condescension in words and actions towards every creature, for whom Christ died, makes us schismatics, though we be ever so daily gathered together, into one and the same place, joining in one and the same form of creeds, prayers and praises offered to God, and is truly a leaving, or breaking that church unity, which makes us one with Christ, as our head, and unites us with men, as the members of his body.

That the matter is thus; that the true church unity consists in our walking as Christ walked, fully appears, as from many others, so from these plain words of our Lord himself: “Ye are not of this world, as I am not of this world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” Therefore to have that contrariety to the world, which Christ had, is the one necessary and full proof of our being his, of our belonging to him, and being one with him.

Again, “Abide in me, and I in you, if ye abide in me, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done to you.  If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch withered, etc.  For without me ye can do nothing.”

Therefore the one true proof of our being living members of Christ’s church on earth, or only dead branches, fit for the fire, is nothing else but our being, or not being inwardly of that spirit, and outwardly of that behavior, which Christ manifested to the world.

Again, “This is my commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you, and by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples.”

Therefore the true and sufficient mark of our outward church membership, is there only, and fully, outwardly known, and found in every man, where the outward form of Christ’s loving behavior to all men, is outwardly seen and known to be in him.  These and like passages of Christ and his apostles (though quite overlooked by most modern defenders of the one church) are the only places that speak home to the truth, and reality of church unity.

It may now be reasonably asked, What is the divine service, or worship in this church?  For every church must have its divine service and worship which is the life, strength, and support of it.

It is answered: “That no man can call Christ Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”  Therefore nothing is, or can be a divine service in that church, which has Christ for its Lord, but what has the Holy Spirit for its beginner, doer, and finisher.  For if it be certain that no one can own Christ as his Lord, but by the Holy Spirit, then it must be equally certain, that no one can serve or worship God through Christ his Lord, in any other way, help, power, or means, but so far as it is done, in, and by the power of that same Holy Spirit.  Whatsoever is born of the flesh is flesh; that is, whatsoever proceeds from, or is done by the natural powers of man, from his birth of flesh and blood, is merely human, earthly, and corrupt, and can no more do anything that is heavenly, or perform a service or worship that is divine, than our present flesh and blood can enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Thus saith the apostle, “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be, the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.  Now if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”  And consequently if not his, he can perform no divine service to him.  Nor can any worship cease to be carnal, or become divine, but by its being all that it is, and doing all that it doth, by the power, and presence of Christ dwelling in our souls, and helping us by his Holy Spirit to cry in truth and reality, Abba Father.

The New Testament never calls us to do, or offer, or allows anything to be done or offered to God, as a divine service, or worship, but what is done in the truth, and reality of faith, of hope, of love, and obedience to God.

But through all the New Testament, no faith, no hope, no love is allowed to be true, and godly, but only that faith, that hope, &c., which solely proceeds from, and is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, living, dwelling, and working in our whole heart, and soul, and spirit.

This spirituality of the Christian religion, is the reason why it was first preached to the world under the name of the kingdom of God, because under this new dispensation, freed from veils, shadows, and figures of good things absent or to come, God himself is manifested, ruling in us and over us, as an essential light of our lives, as an indwelling Word of power, as a life-giving Spirit within us, forming us by a new birth, to become a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices to God, through a new and living way which Christ hath consecrated for us.  The truth and perfection of which state, is plainly set forth by the following prayer of Christ, viz., “that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us–I in them and thou in me, that they be made perfect in one, and that the love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them.”  Now for the truth and certainty of this spiritual kingdom, in which are only spiritual worshippers baptized from above, into an union, and communion with Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, through the mysterious union of God and man in the one mediator Jesus Christ; for the truth, I say, of this spiritual state of Christianity, we have the plainest words of Christ, expressly declaring that the Jerusalem service, and consequently every thing, or service that has the nature of it, was to have its end in the establishment of his church.

“Believe me,” saith he, “the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father: but the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.”

Therefore it must be certain in the highest degree, that Christ cannot, nor could set up any other kind of worship, or worshippers, but such as the Father seeketh; because he and his Father were one, both in will and work.  And the reason and necessity of this kind of worship, is added by Christ in the following words, “God is a spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

Therefore if Christ had not only and solely set up this truth of spiritual worship, he had been but another Moses, and though a better teacher, yet still but as a schoolmaster, to some higher state of religion, that was yet wanted, and must be revealed, if so be that man was to be restored to his true state of life, union, and happiness in and with the divine nature.  For as God is a spirit, and our life is spiritual, so no religious worship can be in its true perfection, or bring us into the possession of our highest good, till it raises all that is spirit and life in us, into union and communion with spirit and life in God.

If it should here be asked, how we are to become and continue worshippers of the Father in spirit and truth?

Unbeknownst to me, and prior to my finding the above, I shared William Law’s letter on how we are to become and continue worshippers of the Father in spirit and truth back in June. For that, please click here.

Spiritual Preparedness

Cinnabar Park Wyoming sunset August 2019

If you or someone you know well and personally is being drawn away from a church-focused life; if you or someone you know well and personally is filled with trepidation over the matter; if your heart is aching for Christ in a manner in which you cannot describe with words, but the hunger is deep and the dissatisfaction is almost tangible; if you have been walking the wilderness alone and discouraged, fear not and read further.

Heavenly Father, We rejoice and glory in You, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have concealed these things from the wise and the understanding and revealed them to babes –  the childish and unskilled and untaught. Yes, Father, for this was Your gracious will and choice and good pleasure! May this be brought home to us in a living way which will result in deeper resurrection union with You in Christ Jesus. Amen.

For every term that religion has hijacked and used for its own gain, the Spirit must renew again for us. To hear the words that Jesus speaks to us by way of His indwelling Spirit, we must allow the blinders to fall off, and be willing to adjust to that which He speaks that is Spirit and Life. For every Scripture that religion has hijacked and used for its own purpose, we seek to know what the Spirit of Truth is telling us. It most certainly isn’t comfortable to have righteously stirred up what we once believed was settled. But we cannot learn, we cannot grow spiritually, without the Spirit bringing us beyond the borders of our comfort zone. He is faithful and He is true! He is our Hope, and is a sure and steadfast anchor of our soul which cannot break down under whoever steps out upon it; He is our Hope that reaches farther and enters into the very certainty of the Presence within the veil. Beloved, if you are being drawn, rest assured on Christ alone!

The following Scriptures will shine a light on what has been misunderstood, misrepresented and misconstrued. When Christ is drawing us away from that which we built our life’s foundation upon, it is imperative to know the truth which cannot be shaken. I pray the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation – of insight into mysteries and secrets – in the deep and intimate knowledge of Christ, by having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints – the set-apart ones. Amen.

Hebrews 10:20-26 By this fresh (new) and living way which He initiated and dedicated and opened for us through the separating curtain (veil of the Holy of Holies), that is, through His flesh,

And since we have [such] a great and wonderful and noble Priest [Who rules] over the house of God,

Let us all come forward and draw near with true (honest and sincere) hearts in unqualified assurance and absolute conviction engendered by faith (by that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), having our hearts sprinkled and purified from a guilty (evil) conscience and our bodies cleansed with pure water.

So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word.

And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities,

Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.

For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward].

Colossians 1:20-23 And God purposed that through (by the service, the intervention of) Him [the Son] all things should be completely reconciled back to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, as through Him, [the Father] made peace by means of the blood of His cross.

And although you at one time were estranged and alienated from Him and were of hostile attitude of mind in your wicked activities,

Yet now has [Christ, the Messiah] reconciled [you to God] in the body of His flesh through death, in order to present you holy and faultless and irreproachable in His [the Father’s] presence.

[And this He will do] provided that you continue to stay with and in the faith [in Christ], well-grounded and settled and steadfast, not shifting or moving away from the hope [which rests on and is inspired by] the glad tidings (the Gospel), which you heard and which has been preached [as being designed for and offered without restrictions] to every person under heaven,…

Psalm 27: 1-5 The Lord is my Light and my Salvation—whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, [even then] in this will I be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and[insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple.

For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter; in the secret place of His tent will He hide me; He will set me high upon a rock.

Lord willing this will all lead into a post on God’s Fatherhood in the coming weeks. 

And, now, a timely word from Chip Brogden, as spoken approximately ten years (2009) ago in a message on Ephesians 3 (LINK). Chip speaks well what the Spirit has laid on many hearts.

I believe that fellowship is a byproduct, a fruit, a result of people who have been made one in the (Holy) Spirit; who have one goal, one focus, one passion, one love, and they all come together and then that’s a fellowship. And if you’ve got that you don’t have to gather together physically. Yes, I know, there’s all kinds of benefits to a physical gathering but, listen, I’ve been to all kinds of physical gathering’s and they really weren’t focused on Christ, they weren’t focused on their first love, there wasn’t a bond in the (Holy) Spirit: that we’re all in this together and we are all joined together because of Christ and because of Who He is, and we all have insight into this wonderful mystery and we see it as a stewardship and we want to share it with one another and with the world. You can get people together and that doesn’t mean that they are in fellowship – let’s get real! On the other hand, we could be joined together and be one in the (Holy) Spirit and have that spiritual fellowship even if we’re not in the same physical presence of one another. I think God is trying to prepare us for something, and I think we need to be prepared for a time when physical fellowship with other Christians may not be possible. Regardless of what you think about church, regardless of what you think about gathering together, you need to have your spiritual affairs and your spiritual foundation in place so that your spiritual life doesn’t depend upon the physical gathering together of other people, because one day that may not be available to us. For many of you it’s not available now, it’s just not something that the (Holy) Spirit has ordained for you.

The physical gathering together has not been available to me, not because there are not brick and mortar church buildings available, some within walking distance, and not because some haven’t beaten me silly but, and it has taken a long and arduous road to come to see and accept this, the Spirit, in fact, has not ordained that gathering for me. And in its place, oh, in its place, He has made and is making Himself known. Hallelujah!

Beloved, there will be difficulty, there are challenges and it all comes at a high cost to our flesh. But we do not become discouraged – well, we do, let’s face it, we really do! But the Scriptures, when Spirit-revealed are Life to our weary bones. Christ’s call is, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Now, this suffering we are experiencing, this slight distress of the passing hour, is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory – beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease! SINCE we consider and look NOT to the things that are seen BUT to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal, but the things that are invisible are everlasting. Hallelujah and amen!

Meditations in the Word: True Knowledge

Harriman Lake black and white May 2019

For a nobody who came from nowhere with nothing human to boast in, and only by the grace and mercy of the Lord, I have found Life by way of the Scriptures.  That this was a possibility, never occurred to me before. A once-upon-a-time-rebel with a severe disdain for God and for the bible, this fact continues to both shock and sustain me. I am often left with the inability to write; all the pretty words and fancy descriptions are lost, yet I long to offer that which has been opened up to me for others who are seeking and hungry in this spiritual wasteland. I pray this reaches the heart of someone in need today.

The verses below are taken from the Amplified Classic, which is more wordy than other translations, but gives more breadth and depth to what is being said. Of course a person should read the translation most suited to their own reading style, so use the following as a guide to your own reading and seeking and studying. We are living in a time in the world where there is a smorgasboard of options available to us in the Christian world. Who are we listening to? Who are we reading? Of Whom are they speaking and to Whom are they pointing us? Are our opinions being validated? Or are we being challenged to go deeper in resurrection union with the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you feel alone and isolated, with no fellowship? Beloved, this is the prime time for the Lord to draw us closer and reveal Himself to us.

Father, that we would strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12: 1-2).

Where You so rich in Your mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and    wonderful and intense love with which You loved us, even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, You made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [You gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which You quickened Him, for] it is by grace (Your favor and mercy which we did not deserve) that we are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation). And You raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-6).

That You would allow these pixels on this screen to be filled with Your Life and Your Light to the edifying and building up of the weak and the weary. Amen.

The words (truths) that I have been speaking to you are spirit and life. John 6:63b

But about going further [than the words given by one Shepherd], my son, be warned. Of making many books there is no end [so do not believe everything you read], and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Ecclesiastes 12:12 

But it is from Him that you have your life in Christ Jesus, Whom God made our Wisdom from God, [revealed to us a knowledge of the divine plan of salvation previously hidden, manifesting itself as] our Righteousness [thus making us upright and putting us in right standing with God], and our Consecration [making us pure and holy], and our Redemption [providing our ransom from eternal penalty for sin]. 1 Corinthians 1:30

For God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). 2 Corinthians 4:6

May grace (God’s favor) and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you in [the full, personal, precise, and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2 

[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, by having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), Ephesians 1:17, 18

This revelation of Christ, this seeing by the Spirit into a depth of Jesus I had not ever seen before, that signaled the beginning of the end of my career as a preacher for organized religion…Jesus ruined my life because He revealed something of Who He is to me, and it change and it shattered all of my preconceived ideas. And as I like to say, revelation is not to substantiate your illusions about God but to eliminate them and replace them with truth. The deeper I got into this walk with Jesus, the more repulsive I became to that system of religion that I had labored in and worked in for so long, and eventually that system spouted me out. So this is serious business, this is serious stuff. It is not to be taken lightly, it is not to be dabbled with. It will change your life, this revelation, this seeing of Christ…the more stubborn you are, the more deep you are in religion, the more radically God has to do things to get your attention, which is why Paul had to be blinded for 3 days…for God to strip all that off of us, the baggage we carry from religion, and for us to pay the cost…there is a price to be paid. Thank God this seeing is by grace, we couldn’t receive it any other way, but that doesn’t mean that it’s cheap, it doesn’t mean it’s free, and it doesn’t mean its free as in it doesn’t cost you anything. Oh, yes it does! It costs you everything. It cost me everything. Are you willing to pay the price? That’s what it comes down to. Chip Brogden

For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world, even our faith. Who is it that is victorious over [that conquers] the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on that fact]? 1 John 5:4-5