My heart is rejoicing in the theme of ultimate conversion, what I like to call a true and deep conversion. Along side of that is the theme of the necessary perseverance of the saints. This will be a long post a “last post of 2012“
It was the best of times, It was the worst of times.
Art Katz “Whether by death or by deliverance, whatever gives the most glory to You God.”
This is an ultimate understanding of our lives in light of the glory of God. We do not hold God captive, proclaiming that He must deliver us. The three Hebrew children faced death with this attitude, and so will the end time church. Revelation 12:11.
Revelation 13:8 “It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.” This verse will not make sense if you think that this life is ultimate. The glory of God is ultimate.
From Charles Spurgeon
"Can the rush grow up without mire?" / Job 8:11
The rush is spongy and hollow, and even so is a hypocrite; there is no
substance or stability in him. It is shaken to and fro in every wind just as
formalists yield to every influence; for this reason the rush is not broken by
the tempest, neither are hypocrites troubled with persecution. I would not
willingly be a deceiver or be deceived; perhaps the text for this day may help
me to try myself whether I be a hypocrite or no. The rush by nature lives in
water, and owes its very existence to the mire and moisture wherein it has
taken root; let the mire become dry, and the rush withers very quickly. Its
greenness is absolutely dependent upon circumstances, a present abundance of
water makes it flourish, and a drought destroys it at once. Is this my case?
Do I only serve God when I am in good company, or when religion is profitable
and respectable? Do I love the Lord only when temporal comforts are received
from his hands? If so I am a base hypocrite, and like the withering rush, I
shall perish when death deprives me of outward joys. But can I honestly assert
that when bodily comforts have been few, and my surroundings have been rather
adverse to grace than at all helpful to it, I have still held fast my
integrity? Then have I hope that there is genuine vital godliness in me. The
rush cannot grow without mire, but plants of the Lord's right hand planting
can and do flourish even in the year of drought. A godly man often grows best
when his worldly circumstances decay. He who follows Christ for his bag is a
Judas; they who follow for loaves and fishes are children of the devil; but
they who attend him out of love to himself are his own beloved ones. Lord, let
me find my life in thee, and not in the mire of this world's favor or gain.
Every single act of faith in God during times that seem unfair-is sending a message that rings loudly through out the universe! “My Broken Palace” web-site
“God has not changed tactics. He still uses silences and Bible difficulties and offensive situations as challenges for us to rise to the occasion and prove that we believe that no matter what, the answer is found in Jesus and in him alone, and that if we cling to him for long enough, all that we need will be revealed.
We again see this in Jesus’ interaction with the Canaanite (Syrophenician) woman. She needed him. He gave her the silent treatment. Instead of giving up, she hounded him all the more. When she finally wrung a response from him it was worse than nothing. He insulted her and said he wouldn’t give her a thing. Still she hounded him and ended up receiving not only her request but Jesus’ high praise (Matthew 15:21-28). It turned out that despite not revealing a hint of it until it was all over, her persistence thrilled him. And when you receive the silent treatment, your determination to keep badgering him because you believe he cares and will not remain silent forever, will likewise thrill him, gain you high praise and you’ll hear from him as well.”
Hosea 6:1 “Come, let us return to the Lord.
For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.
2 “He will revive us after two days;
He will raise us up on the third day,
That we may live before Him.
3 “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth.”
4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
For your loyalty is like a morning cloud
And like the dew which goes away early.
5 Therefore I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets;
I have slain them by the words of My mouth;
And the judgments on you are like the light that goes forth.
6 For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
7 But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant;
There they have dealt treacherously against Me.
8 Gilead is a city of wrongdoers,
Tracked with bloody footprints.
9 And as raiders wait for a man,
So a band of priests murder on the way to Shechem;
Surely they have committed crime.
10 In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;
Ephraim’s harlotry is there, Israel has defiled itself.
11 Also, O Judah, there is a harvest appointed for you,
When I restore the fortunes of My people.
The Syrophonecian woman Reggie Kelly style.
Only as the veil of human will and moral sufficiency is shattered by the ‘No’ of divine justice can the ‘Yes’ of God in Christ be heard. A kind of hearing is required that is only possible where there is first a death to any residue of confidence in one’s own righteousness. Such hearing comes only through ‘the Word of division’. For this, there must be first a “dividing asunder of soul and spirit” (Heb.4:12) that is only accomplished as the Word is quickened by the Spirit. It is the quickened Word that kills in order to regenerate, that cuts in order to heal. It is the principle of resurrection out of death. Therefore ‘in the place’ where the stern sentence of justice is clearest, ‘there’ the word and work of grace is dearest. The revelation of this grace comes with the revelation of death to all that the apostle Paul calls “confidence in the flesh.”
The word of grace and resurrection is always preceded by the word of judgment, and sanctified by an unfeigned acknowledgement of its awful righteousness, however severe (Lev.26:40-42). The righteousness of the Lord’s severity alone prepares the way for the glory of grace and mercy. “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God” (Ro 11:22 ). To refuse to acknowledge the righteousness of God’s severity is to downgrade the cost, the sovereignty, and the glory of His goodness on the vessels of mercy. This wisdom is observed in the order of the dispensations: “For the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (Jn.1:17).
Since the word of grace can not be more precious than the preceding word of judgement is clear and dreadful, the second (the word of grace) is only heard ‘in the place’ of the first (the word of judgement). Unless ‘the first’ is profoundly ‘heard’ and justified as utterly righteous and inexorable in its requirement, ‘the second’ can not come in a depth and power that endures (“because they had no depth of earth…no root in themselves,” Mt. 13:5, 6, 21).
We see this pattern demonstrated in the episode of Jesus’ encounter with the Syrophenecian woman (Mt 15:21-28; Mk. 7:25-30). To prepare the way of mercy, Jesus enforces recognition that the provisions of the covenant are restricted to Israel by right of unconditional election. The woman’s humble submission to the sovereignty that justly excludes her constitutes a study in true spiritual poverty. Far from an attitude of insult and offence towards the sovereignty of God’s discriminating choice, she justifies the righteousness of divine denial with the exclamation “truth Lord!”
Natural and moral disqualification becomes the basis of gift and grace.
Observe the method of grace in the tact that the Lord takes with this desperate woman. Through the wisdom of an initial denial, the woman is brought to a humility that now becomes the place of God’s boundless Yes! Natural and moral disqualification becomes the basis of gift and grace. Jesus must take before he can give, that is to say he must remove natural hope in order that she might receive God’s gift on the basis of grace that is only accessible to faith. After such a proving, grace is much more amazing and God is much more glorified. Here once more we see an example of that great axiom of redemptive wisdom: “He takes away the first that He may establish the second.” The woman’s imploring words “Truth Lord!” embodies the starting point for any appeal to the ‘throne of grace’.
Covenant exclusion, thus understood, becomes the necessary setting for grace, not only to Gentiles of this dispensation, but to all the saints of the older dispensation who despaired of perfecting righteousness under the first covenant. In order for grace to be free, sovereign, and unconditional, it is not only lawlessness that is rejected, but even the presumption of religious man who imagines a righteousness that requires something less than death and resurrection. The design of all is to empty the heart of this it’s most naturally resilient tendency.
However impressive it’s natural nobility and virtue, the ‘righteousness’ that issues out of the first creation is rejected as inadequate to fulfill the covenant. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zech 4:6). Not only is man spiritually inert through original sin, he is further distanced from the life of God through the inclination of a fallen nature of enmity towards God. The principal character of this enmity is an irrepressible proclivity towards the autonomy of self will. It is the strength of this inborn presumption that stands between fallen humanity and the meekness of the divine nature.
The last obstacle to grace is not so much those things that men count vile, but the irrepressible presumption that righteousness stands even partly in human ability. At the end of power is the confession that no longer justifies self but God, “if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they accept of the punishment (that it was neither unjust nor incommensurate) of their iniquity” (Lev.26:40-42).
The old is crucified to its own initiative so that the power to believe and live might appear
Nothing more effectively bars the door of grace than the delusive presumption of self-determinism. Hence, coming to terms with the justice of God’s sovereignty, whether in judgment or in distinguishing grace is necessary if we will be brought to ‘the place’ (the dust of helplessness) where the ‘Yes’ of grace and resurrection can be ‘heard’ in transforming power. In this way the old is crucified to its own initiative so that the power to believe and live might appear as removed from human initiative as a corpse promoting its own resurrection. This since Christ is only revealed as our righteousness at the end of strength, and therefore ‘the end of the law’ (Ro. 10:4). “How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed” (Amazing Grace, John Newton). Indeed, grace is never so precious until faith itself, the one thing needful, is seen as ‘impossible to man’ apart from the gift of divine quickening.
This is how the truth of unconditional election severs at the root the one thing blocking the reach of reconciling mercy, namely, confidence in the flesh. Like the word of the cross, it destroys all hope of a righteousness that is one’s own; the best virtues of which fall hopelessly short of that righteousness which is Christ’s alone. Therefore, the most admired of those virtues that can be generated by human will and moral ability can never be the basis of divine acceptance (see Jn.1:13 with Ro.9:16). Because election assumes the total destitution of the natural man as spiritually dead, it ultimately becomes the ‘Yes’ of grace to all who justify God’s sovereign right to “quicken whom He will” (Jn.5:21), and that “apart from works” (Rom.4:6). “So then, it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs” (Ro.9:16).
Strategically, He has “concluded all [both] in unbelief” that no flesh might glory, and so that mercy might appear to the praise of the glory of grace alone. If grace is to be demonstrated as free, unconstrained, and uninfluenced it must be ‘according to election.’ And “in order that the purpose of God according to election might stand” (Ro.9:11), “it is [necessarily] not of him who runs or of him that wills” (Ro. 9:16 ).
With the principle of covenant rejection as background, we turn now to consider the process that effects the covenantal reinstatement of Israel as a redeemed nation. There is one condition for which Israel waits that must be realized before the Shekinah glory can return to a resurrected and reborn nation. Specifically, it is “when He sees that their power is gone” (Deut 32:36); and again “when He shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished” (Dan 12:7). Is this not also a principle that the church must realize for itself if it will attain to its own eschatological victory and fullness?
Many are called but few are chosen. Even fewer will read to the end, but for those who did, I hope it was a blessing. Happy New Year!