The touchstone of Discipleship is revealed in our abandonment to His Glory. It is in our touching of Him where we are brought to the place of facing our own inherent desire for recognition and pre-eminence. This is something so vital to our walk and our sharing of Him with others. Freedom from ourselves is the path to our freedom in His Spirit.
“He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory, but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and no unrighteousness is in him”
John the Baptist
“Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus”
Do we really want this? Do the ministers of God and the multitudes of church organizations across the land really desire this one thing; for men to rise up and follow Jesus? Our part is to declare “Behold the Lamb of God” and to do it in such a way that men actually rise up to follow Him. We are here to make Him known. Those to whom we minister should hear us speak and then rise up and follow Jesus! How simple and pure ministry is to be! The sad part is that men, their organizations, and their own desire for recognition corrupt this simple truth and lead men to follow them and to “support” their ministry rather than the development of others in their own ministrations.
The purpose of the New Covenant…
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” Jeremiah 31:33-34
It is to this end that we labour and preach the wonder of His Name! Purify us Lord for your glory.
” Only by pride cometh contention…”
Pride is the spring from which every form of contention flows. It may be masked by earnest religious phrases but its poison results in much human sorrow within the Body of Christ.
Pride is the curse of humanity. It is the cause of unforgiveness, bitterness, envy, jealously, and malicious talk. It may be hidden in the smile of hypocrisy or the vehemence of outright aggression. It erects walls between close friends and breeds separation and schisms within the people of God. It is often cloaked in the “spiritual garments” of truth and sincerity, declaring with the subtly of Cain, “am I my brother’s keeper”? In the end, Pride brings spiritual blindness. It is its own judgment. Pride denies an individual their own progress in Christ and brings with it stagnation, deception, and sorrow. The love and forgiveness they deny to others become the harvest they reap. Forgiveness destroys the insidious workings of pride, darkness, and deceit. To forgive another one must give up their rights and hurts to the One who bore all sin in Himself.
The unforgiving remain unforgiven*
“Then laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil words, as newborn babes desire the pure soul-nourishing milk, that you may grow…”
1 Peter 2:1-2
May we set a watch upon our words, for out of the abundance of the heart does the mouth speak. Paul entreats us all:
“And, finally, be all of one mind, sympathetic, loving the brothers, tender-hearted, friendly, not giving back evil for evil, or reviling against reviling; but, on the contrary, give blessing; knowing that you were called to this in order that you might inherit blessing. For the one desiring to love life, and to see good days, let him restrain his tongue from evil, even his lips not to speak guile. Let him turn aside from evil, and let him do good. Let him seek peace, and pursue it; because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous…”
1 Peter 3:8-14
*“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father, who is in heaven, may also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your transgressions.” Mark 11:25-26
“and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us”
Hope’s fulfillment rests in the love that fuels it. The power of hope is in the purity of His love inspiring our lives. A hope with selfish agendas will fail and disappoint us, for love “seeks not its own”.
The simplicity of the Love of God being shed abroad in our hearts BY the Holy Spirit requires a life that is lived IN the Holy Spirit.
Mercy must be coupled with truth to equal righteousness. Truth must be in harmony with mercy to be consistent with the character of God. Mercy tempers self-righteousness and truth delivers us from apathy and carelessness. It is in the blending of these two Divine realities of God that righteousness culminates.
“…keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation”
Moses’ response to such a pure and Holy revelation was this:
“And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped”
Pure worship is the result of seeing God in the wonder of His Glory and Holiness. His Glory is His character; His character is the basis of His Judgment. The deceived corrupt His Likeness by “perverting the grace of our God into moral anarchy and lack of self-restraint”. Others corrupt His truth into a callous caricature of a malicious despot. Truth magnifies mercy and brings the work of Christ into holy living, worthy of His sacrifice. Mercy breaks the proud heart of the natural man. In brokenness, we find obedience unto Him by which we are made free and alive in Him.
“But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple”
There is no contradiction between the Mercy of the Lord and the Fear of the Lord. Only the pure in heart can understand the fusion of these two great and solemn attributes.
A Gospel which declares a mercy void of truth produces apathy, the womb of unholy living and damnable heresies.
“For certain men entered surreptitiously who were of old predicted with reference to this judgment, men destitute of reverential awe towards God, perverting the grace of our God into moral anarchy and lack of self-restraint, and denying the only absolute Master, even our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jude goes on to declare:
“Now I desire to remind you, though you already know this**, that the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who didn’t believe”
How we need to be reminded of the verity of God. It is to this end we encourage and admonish one another to “live godly in Christ Jesus”. Let the unmerited ministrations of His mercy break our stubborn hearts and bring us into obedience that the world may see the truth of Him in us.
“Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God”
2 Corinthians 7:1
Those who believe in the “promises of God” pursue purity of heart and are ever in the process of seeking holiness in the fear of the Lord.
“The diverse aspects of the divine nature, to separate which is the tendency of the unregenerate mind of man and of all paganism, are united in perfect harmony in the Lord Yahweh… But the perfect revelation of the harmony was reserved for the fulness of time when “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” was made known to us in the flesh as both our Saviour and our Judge”
* Hebrew – To meet together (face to face), to concur, join
** The early Church knew of these powerful truths and the resounding expression of them brought forth a people who were the light of Christ unto the world. Compare the glory of the early church with the ethos of the present.
“Ifwe love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”
1 John 4:12
God measures our life in Him by the Love we have for one another. Love is the bond, the ligaments as it were, of the Body of Christ. Love is never content with shallow religious affiliations. It seeks out, pursues, and ever desires full knowledge of another. Within its own heart is the flame of relationship and union in Christ. Its reach into another heart is for the purpose of apprehending oneness; the same oneness for which Christ prayed unto the Father. This union of hearts is the very essence and heartbeat of His Spirit within His own. It is a cry which can only be fulfilled in the purity and wonder of His Holiness becoming in truth our holiness. Many fear such depths of fellowship for in the intimacy of holy bonds there is no room for the hypocrisy and pretense of an insincere heart. Holiness in Christ is the fearful abode in which only the authentic can live and be at home. The depth of our abiding in Him corresponds with the depth of our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. The measure of our own partaking of His resurrection life is revealed in the love we have for His people. Only the deceived can find rest in a life lived outside of the love of God.
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.”
1 John 3:14
Authenticity is the fruit of a life lived in God. The Life of Christ is the sole bonding agent which fuses one member to another. Obedience is the means to this purity by which our relationship with our brothers and sisters becomes filled with the wonder of God Himself. An impure heart is filled with mixed motives, carnal and self-seeking desires which by their very nature prevent the true union of His Spirit and Life with Him and one another.
“Having purified your souls in the obedience of the truth through the Spirit to unpretended brotherly love, love one another fervently out of a pure heart…”
1 Peter 1:22
Transformation and change are the natural order of those who are active and current in their relationship with Jesus. Those who merely subscribe to the tenets of the “Christian” faith remain unaffected by the wonder of His life and Being. Change comes from seeing Him who is invisible, tasting of His Goodness, Mercy, and Holiness. One cannot touch His presence and not grow in the reverence of who He is. Without change, there is no understanding of the fear of the Lord.
“Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God”
Knowledge may increase, familiarity with the things of God may have the appearance of being good and deep, but it is in the crucible of growth that our relationship is revealed. He came moreover He is come to work within our hearts fundamental and revolutionary transformations from what we are into the image of Christ. This transition from fallen Adam to the Risen Christ is the vehicle and means by which we are moved from an isolated and selfish entity into the substance of being “members one of another”. The validity of our walk with God is revealed in those who are being united by faith into One Body, One Life, and One Heart! Jesus prayed for this, He gave Himself up to cruel and wicked men to pay the price of redemption to this end. Not only did He give Himself as an offering but He is even now giving Himself to us to make it so. Those who do not feel the pull and the cry for this union of hearts within the wonder of His life have become distant and unable to hear the Spirit of Truth.
“Again I write a new commandment to you which is true in Him and you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true Light already shines. The one saying to be in the light, and hating his brother, is in the darkness until now. The one loving his brother rests in the light, and no offense is in him. But the one hating his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness blinded his eyes”
1 John 2:8-11
Indifference is hatred held in apathy. They who are indifferent to the members of the Body of Christ around them are walking in the darkness. Darkness is the absence of light. Light is simply the life of Jesus beating within our hearts.
“In him was life; and the life was the light of men”
The Unity of His people will never come from God moving without… Its wonder can only be known by the work of Grace within our hearts. It is not an event, it is a life, it will not come with observation (Luke 17:20). They who live in His Light know of this unity. Just as Jesus prayed… “that they may be ONE IN US”. Unity is the fruit of our relationship in Christ.
“Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him. that glory may dwell in our land”
In the purposes of God, salvation and glory are inextricably linked. His Glory is the reason for His gracious dealings with us. When we separate these two, we make salvation something very different; we make salvation about ourselves rather than about Him.
“Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake”
The end of His saving grace unto us that His Name is glorified in the earth. We receive His mercy that we may then shine forth His divine attributes into a dark and dying world. His salvation is the world’s hope of glory. Those who honour His salvation shine as lights and ambassadors in the foreign landscape in which we live. A nation loses its way when the church has lost her way.
God’s answer is us! In His wisdom, He uses His people to communicate His likeness and heart as we are faithful witnesses of His salvation.
“Ye are the Light of the World”
May these words strike us with the full force of His Spirit. His intent is for us to breathe in the Spirit of those words and let them be the ignition of His quickening grace. “You are the light of the World”; not your pastor, not your teacher, not someone on television. The word carries little power until it is YOUR Word. Until our hearts reverberate with His word, until we see that His salvation is to result in the manifestation of His Glory, we have missed the wonder of it.
“Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory”
2 Timothy 2:10
A salvation concerned only with itself is stunted. Salvation ought to produce in us a desire to live right that others may “obtain” His grace, that they also may shine forth His “eternal glory”.
“Arise, sleeping ones and stand up out of the dead ones, and Christ will shine on you”
Ephesians 5:14 (LITV)
The shining forth of Christ from an individual is realized by the vigilance of a heart to stay alert and awake to the Life of Christ within. How easy it is to let the awareness of His presence slip (Hebrews 2:1); and to pass through life with His Words on our lips without the corresponding passion within our hearts. A common deception among believers is the presumption that belief alone is sufficient. However, the evidence of His Life is that we “live, move and have our being” in Him. If we do not know the wonder of new revelations of His Life, the movings of His Spirit within and without, and the experiencing of His ever-changing work in us, we have fallen into a life of slumber.
“For in Him we live, and move, and have our being…”
The absurdity of claiming to hold the King of kings within our hearts without the power of His Spirit producing the evidence and demonstration of His heart to the world around us is deception.
“They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him…”
“Let us rouse ourselves in so far as we can, most beloved brethren, and, breaking the sleep of old inertia let us awake to the observing and keeping of the Lord’s precepts. Let us be such as He Himself ordered us to be when He said: ‘Let your loins be girt, and your lamps brightly burning, and you yourself like to men waiting for their Lord when He shall come from the wedding, that when He comes and knocks, they may open to Him. Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when He comes, shall find watching.’ We ought to be girt, lest, when the day of departure comes, it finds us burdened and entangled. Let our light shine forth in good works and glow, so that it may lead us from the night of this world to the light of eternal brightness. Let us always with solicitude and caution await the sudden coming of the Lord, so that, when He knocks, our faith may be vigilant, ready to receive from the Lord the reward of its vigilance. If these mandates are kept, if these warnings and precepts are maintained, we cannot be overtaken while sleeping by the deceit of the devil; we will reign as vigilant servants with Christ as our Lord”
Oh, the penetrating questions of Jesus. “Do you believe now?” Our Lord is ever bringing us to the truth. There is something about the heart of man that evades the “present” tense of God; it is far easier to put truth off to a future age or dispensation. There can be a soothing and narcotic effect in occupying ourselves with future concepts and ideas. It is an escape, a diversion from present reality. Jesus is the “I AM” and it is the purpose of truth to make us true in the present. The reality is we only have enough breath for the moment and our present condition is our condition. It is here and now that Jesus brings us to the fundamental truth of our state.
“Do you believe now?”. Do you love Him now, His Body (His people)? Are His purposes your purposes for now? Years ago, I sat with a dying friend who had spoken often of his “destiny”; that one of these days God was going to speak a living word and he would be quickened to step into it. But it never happened. If truth is always kept in the future, we run out of the precious commodity of time.
Past, Future, and Present Truth
Martha and Mary were loved deeply by our Lord. Lazarus was dying and they sent for Jesus in desperation and trust. Upon hearing their urgent request Jesus tarried two more days. He knew all that was transpiring and plainly told the disciples that Lazarus was “now” dead. When Jesus arrived, He was met with the faith of the past.
“Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died”
A very powerful statement. Jesus in His pre-resurrection state, as a man incarnate, was restricted to the “present truth” of His physical existence. Yet even in this situation, He tarried in the wisdom of God. He is ever-pressing us to “believe now” and to conduct ourselves accordingly.
As the narrative unfolds Jesus meets these statements with the living truth: “Your brother will rise again”. Immediately comes the heartfelt response, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection in the last day”. In this interaction with two souls that Jesus loved greatly, we see that He is pressing them into the “now”, into the situation at hand. He has a deep desire to bring us in all things to the present truth, the reality of the now. May we who have ears to hear recognize the pressing of His Spirit to free us from our past and our unsubstantiated future concepts. It is an intense and difficult thing to allow Him to penetrate our religious notions with the present reality. But it is necessary and vital to bring us to the acknowledgment of our true condition. Those who hold to future things, while denying the present reality of themselves, circumvent the development needed to become all that He has purposed.
Paul declared in Philippians that he had not yet fully apprehended the call of God. He did not rest in some future thing but cried out with great urgency of spirit, “I press toward the mark”. There was no room for concepts and beliefs to deter him from the apprehension of Christ. His life was abandoned to Christ. He did not isolate himself from the ministry of God to the Body of Christ; he did not segregate himself from interaction with others. He was in fact a vessel poured out because of the love of Christ in his heart. It is the synthetic who hide from others, who deceive themselves to be ones set apart (as the Scribes and the Pharisees* of old). His Love propels His Own to identify with the lost, the hurting, and the bound. It is in the touching of others that we discover the truth of ourselves. The truth of our nakedness is revealed in our touching the nakedness of others. It is in our discovery of our needs on their behalf that we find His provision! How good and how right are His ways with us!
Religion as a mere belief relieves people from having to face the current fitness and verity of themselves. The true in heart desire to know and to face the truth of the moment. Multiple times the disciples asked Jesus why their prayers did not meet the situation at hand. Deep within they desired truth, the truth, of their powerlessness. They did not mask their condition with a future hope. Jesus responded to them with the thing they needed to hear: “because of your unbelief”. These moments are necessary for our growth and development in Him. If we brush past these moments, we are none the better and we continue our way without facing the facts. The true in heart receive the truth as it is and the door opens for greater faith, a living faith that releases His wonder in the situation. The discovery of our poverty is the door into His riches!
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
The disciple of Christ must discover in present situations their present condition. Therein lies the challenge and the adventure into the discovery of Him within our own experience. The seeker of truth does not seek to comfort themselves in past or future things for the Christ they pursue IS COME to lead them, and more importantly, bring them to the Truth in all character and wisdom. Jesus in His wisdom presented to Martha and Mary the crowning revelation of the mystery of Himself.
“I AM the resurrection…”
He is not the “I Was” or the “I Will Be”; He is always the I AM.
“And when He was come into the house, His disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could not we cast him out?”
A few years ago, in my private time with Him, the words came to me, “To grow in truth one must be true with oneself”. Our journey into truth must begin and remain open to receive its piercings and exposure of our condition.
“Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?”
To which the answer of God is:
“He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart”
When the truth is reduced to a confession, its wonder fades, its sword no longer pierces the heart. The result is faith without works, teachings instead of substance, and a limited vision of His power and glory.
“ Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth UNTO unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another from the heart fervently”
1 Peter 1:22
The true in heart measure their obedience and walk with God by the fervency of love for His people (not only the ones in their immediate circle). This love reveals itself in deeds produced by a faith made alive through love (Galatians 5:6).
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth”
1 John 3:18
Can we hear Him calling us to the depths of Himself? Can we hear Him drawing us out of the ethereal, the forms of truth, and the comfort of mere confessions, into the vast wonder of His substance? Truth is the womb of repentance. Repentance brings us out of the shadows of obscurity into the penetrating gaze of Him alone before whom we must all give an account. Let not another day pass without a true turning unto Him who can cause us to become true witnesses of His Testimony within!
In the seeing of Him, we are afforded a seeing of ourselves (Isaiah 6:1-5). This great work of His Spirit will unveil all that Grace means. It causes us to glory afresh in His redemption of “our mortal bodies” by that SAME Spirit that raised Christ from the Dead. His resurrection will become more than a scriptural fact; it will be the living truth of Him at work within us. Love can only flourish between those who have seen themselves in the light of Him through the lamp of obedience. It is only through obedience that our “souls are purified UNTO the pure and fervent love of our brothers”. Love is the signature of God in a life. Love is being the face of Jesus to one another, where all our actions are governed by a pure desire to see His people WALK in the present truth of Christ.
“I have no greater joy than this, to hear about my children walking in truth. Beloved, you do a faithful work in whatever you accomplish for those who are brothers and strangers…”
3 John 1:4-5
God is not interested in truth coming from our lips only. The words which proceed from our lips are to be verified by our walk and our deeds.
“So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty”
* Note: Pharisees (Original meaning) “separated ones”; “called out ones”.
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” Matthew 11:19
The contrast between the narrow perceptions of the religious and the wideness of the love of Christ is evident within this singular verse. The perfect and Holy One extending Himself to the common and flawed sea of humanity, being fully able to mingle with what some considered beneath the reach of their conceptions of God. “A friend of sinners” was the allegations they hurled at Him with the acrimony of disdain and utter contempt.
It is here we must pause and reflect upon our own interactions with the world and the same lost sea of humanity that is in the face of everyone we meet. Do we harbor fear, disdain, or a desire to remain uninvolved in the world around us? Are we like the priest in the parable of the Good Samaritan able to pass by the broken without the slightest inclination to get involved in the real issues of others’ lives? Jesus ended His statement to them by declaring that the true wisdom of God is revealed in the works (deeds) of those who live in Him.
Deeds are the revelation of God’s wisdom abiding within His Own. It is the stage from which those who walk in the fear and the Love of God become involved in the lives of others. The religious on the other hand will speak great things, declare and discuss doctrinal issues of the Day yet remain isolated. The wise like Jesus reveal their truth in the works of Christ through them and are able to love without compromise. Kindness is the love of God expressed without fear or compromise.
Is His “wisdom justified by her deeds”
in our life?
“My little children, let us not love in word, or in tongue, but in deed and in truth”
1 John 3:18
“Whoever wishes to meet Jesus must meet him in places where brothers and sisters of Jesus are hungry, thirsty, naked, unwanted, sick, or in prison. Whoever keeps himself distant from these places remains distant from Jesus”
– Richard Wurmbrand