“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear, having a good conscience that whereas they speak evil of you, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”
It is sad that this passage of the scripture has become a battle cry for some and a condemnation of the same against the children of hope. Those of the modern evangelical persuasion have adopted this as a license to go forth and proclaim to any and all their beliefs and convictions whether the recipient cares to hear or not. Likewise these theories and tenants teach that those who attest to the hope that is within and deny the modern evangelical ideologies have no substance to their faith. Yet faith is the substance of things hoped for.
The inspiration of the Holy Spirit moved Peter to write a treatise of comfort and hope to those of like precious faith. It is a communication of hope in the finished work of Christ Jesus and the love of the brethren, one for another. There is no room for the ego of Adam or his relentless drive for advancement and self aggrandizement. Rather there is the abasement of self, the willing subjection unto each other and the watch and care for the fellow members of the fold. This is in defiance to the natural tendencies of the natural man but can in no wise change that nature. There is no absolution of the failures and faults of the corruption of the flesh yet there is absolute assurance in the incorruptibility of that seed which is born from above. The result is the dichotomous existence of the flesh and the Spirit within, which lives and abides forever.
The continuity of the Spirit of God dwelling in His people is exemplified in the unity and singularity of understanding that harmoniously exists in everyone who is born from above. It is the same mind that is in Christ Jesus wherein He, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, made Himself of no reputation and took upon Himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of man (Phil.2:5). This common understanding is because of a common existence in God and a common experience in the flesh. Because these have been born from above they are sons of God and therefore brethren. They have a common homeland, common language, common affections for the things above and a desire after the Law of God. These come not from the nature or teachings of Adam for they are foreign to the natural man.
There is also a common experience in that these have all been made partakers of flesh and blood. They have been made subject to the vanity of the corruption of the flesh and the seemingly endless and worthlessness cycle of the things of this world. They have experienced the contradiction of the inability and separation of Adam from the perfect Holiness of the righteous standard of God. They know what the standard of perfection is because of the Spirit within. This same Spirit also reveals to them the bondage of the body of this death and the vileness of the natural man. Without the Spirit there is no understanding of Adam and the condition that they dwell in but having the Spirit of the Most High God abiding with them they all speak the same thing (I Cor. 1:10).
Once the Spirit reveals this commonality in the chosen vessels they all have the common understanding of the exacting demands of the Law of God and they know their condition. No one can tell them what they feel and know as the commandments revive and they view themselves as separated from God and without hope. Herein do they hear the voice of their Redeemer and find the deliverance that He has accomplished for His elect race. They all, in the time appointed of the Father, hear the Word and live. This is their common salvation wherein they all sing the song of the Lamb who is worthy for He has loved His people with an eternal love.
Therefore, because He has loved them, they reciprocate that love back to Him and to each of His children for they are ONE. It is the same love for it is the eternal love of the Father (I John 4:19). Any love that is not equal to the love of the Father for His children is as unacceptable as any attempt at love that does not proceed from the Spirit within could not be accepted of Him. Thus being of this singular understanding and having compassion one for another, the church of Jesus Christ loves as brethren being merciful and courteous one to another. This is the second commandment which is identical to the first, “for there is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:28). Or shall we say, having the mind of Jesus Christ in them, the Spirit of the Most High dwelling in them and the Father abiding in them bodily, they have the testimony of the finished work and they keep the commandments of God (Rev. 12:17).
This is that wheel inside of the wheel that the prophet saw which was part of the “appearance of the likeness of the glory of God” (Ez. 1:28). It did not stray from its course but went straight forward without the shadow of turning. It is self contained with no need of any assistance or influence from another and it encompassed the whole earth.
This is also the new covenant which the same prophet spoke of wherein Yehovah God cleansed His people “from all your filthiness and from all your idols”. He alone replaced the heart of stone with an heart of flesh and put His Spirit within and will “cause you to walk in My statutes and you shall keep My judgments and do them”. When this work, which was finished from the foundation of the world (Heb. 43), is made manifest in them, “then shall you remember your evil ways and your doings that were not good and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations” (Ez. 36:25-31).
In this condition, which cannot be altered in any way, the children of grace are hated of all men for the name of Jesus Christ (Luke 21:17). They are as disallowed and rejected as the chief corner stone is (I Pt. 2:7), hated of the world because of the Word within (John 17:14), their beliefs are called heresy (Acts 24:14) and the preaching of the cross classified as foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18). But to this the Spirit instructs that, even though these of the ‘seed of the serpent’ and inhabitants of the earth shall shamefully entreat you (Matt. 12:4), there shall be no retaliation of evil for evil. The actions of the valley dwellers (Amalekites) is according to their nature and it is unbecoming and inconsistent with the nature of those who dwell in the city set upon the hill to descend to that level because even though they are in the world they are not of the world, even as Christ is not of the world (John 17:16). But it is not limited to retaliation in conduct only for there is to be no accusation, disgrace or shame laid upon them for this conduct is contrary to or in opposition to the praise and consecration the sons of God have received.
Anyone who has the desire for the love of life and the excellency of days must lay aside the language of pernicious things which are according to the nature of Adam. He will also not speak the speech of deceit or craftiness nor use his liberty of conscience in Christ as a cloak for hiding his lusts of the flesh for the love of the brethren precludes such conduct. He will deviate from death, condemnation and destruction and will swiftly pursue the excellency and harmony of the children of light. This is not because of any restraint or discipline he has been able to impose upon his nature but rather because;
“...the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and His ears are open to their prayers.”
The Sovereign of the Universe is not looking for righteous people for there are none. He is not seeking to find candidates to become righteous or anything that might remotely resemble righteousness. He already looked and He saw that there was none righteous. He is not listening closely to hear the sobbing cries of one who is earnestly seeking to come unto Him any more than His ears are attentive to the pathetic mantras or recitations of those who draw nigh unto Him with their mouths but their hearts are far away.
His eyes are continually upon all those who are adorned in fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of the saints because this is His Beloved Bride. He knows them because He has fashioned their frames of the dust (Ps. 103:14). He has experienced the feelings of their infirmities being tempted in all points like unto them yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). He knows their works for they are His workmanship and it is He who works in them both to will and do His good pleasure. The prayers and supplications of the saints rise up continually before the throne of grace in the smoke of the incense (Rev. 8:4) of the intercession of the Spirit with groanings and utterances which cannot be heard of man (Rms. 8:26).
Therefore, who can harm them? The accuser of the brethren is cast out (Rev. 12:10). The way of man is not in himself and it is not of he that walks to direct his own steps (Jer. 10:23). The hearts of man are under the sovereign command of God who has put it in their hearts to fulfill His will (Rev.17:7), the eyes of Yehovah go to and fro upon the face of the earth beholding and controlling the ways of man (II Chr. 16:9, Zech. 4:10) and none have resisted His will (Rms. 9:19). Therefore who shall lay any charge against the elect of God for whom He has shed His precious blood? It is God who justifies. And who is he that condemns since it is the Anointed of Yehovah who has died, yea rather is raised again and is seated at the right hand of God making intercession for His elect? (Rms. 8:33f).
And so dear brethren, if you have been given to believe and to be counted worthy to suffer for the name of the Salvation of Yehovah God, be content. This is but a light affliction which is but for a moment yet which works an eternal weight of glory that shall be revealed when He is revealed from heaven. Then shall they that wait for Him see Him a second time, coming in the clouds of glory, without sin to manifest the sons of God
There is therefore no reason to be afraid of the terror which the inhabitants of this world fear. This is the fear of they who stumble at the Word being disobedient unto which they were appointed. They have disallowed the Rock and have deemed Him unworthy to be a part of the works of their hands. He therefore is a Rock of offense to them that have not been given to believe for they do not know the Master with whom they have to deal. His face is against them that deal wickedly but nothing can separate his people from His love, no man can pluck His sheep from out of His hand and He will never leave nor forsake His Beloved.
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and be ready”
Moreover brethren, consecrate, venerate, dedicate and acknowledge, by the testimony of the Spirit from faith to faith, that Yehovah God dwells in the new heart of the inner man who delights in the Law of God. This is not an invitation to accept anything or anybody; it is the standard of excellence whereby a child of hope may speak of Jesus Christ. It is the evidence whereby the verbal argument may be presented, when called for, in defense of something that cannot be seen of Adam, explained or rationalized for the mind of man or demonstrated to convince him of the existence of God or His power and holiness. Those whom He has predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son manifest their kinship one with another by the love they have for the members of like precious faith. It is not demonstrated by charitable works done unto the world, philanthropic endeavours to advance the printing of books or sending forth of labourers into the vineyards or the outward expressions of self denial. It is not manifested by casting the precious pearls before the swine, giving that which is holy unto the dogs or attempting to convert “natural brute beast made to be taken out and destroyed” who “speak evil of the things that they understand not and shall utterly perish in their own corruption” (II Peter 2:12). It is not a new fertilizer that will make tares produce wheat or cotton balls glued to the goats to make them pass for sheep. It cannot change the skin of the Ethiopian man or the spots of the leopard and this testimony will not stop those who are accustomed to do evil from their pernicious ways (Jer. 13:23)
“Who shall believe our report and to whom is the arm of Yehovah revealed?” (Is. 53:1)
Since the preaching of the cross is foolishness unto them that perish and not all men have faith, then this question is just. Who can believe, or as the disciples asked Jesus, “Who then can be saved?” (Luke 18:26) “Have they not heard? Yes truly their sound went forth into all the earth and their words to the end of the world.” (Rms. 10:18) Has not the arm of Yehovah been made bare and all the ends of the earth seen the salvation of the God? (Is. 52:10). Indeed, the light to lighten the gentiles and the glory of His people Israel has come. He has finished the work set before Him in righteousness. He has suffered as it pleased the Father to lay on Him the sin of His people. He has seen the travail of His soul and is satisfied in the justification of many (Is. 53:10ff). He has built the walls of the city, which are salvation, in troubled times and has confirmed the oath with many (Dan. 9:27). He is the captain of their salvation who is made perfect through sufferings and has brought many sons into glory (Heb. 2:10) and when he shall appear, we, who have been born from above and have this hope of glory within, shall be like Him (I John3:2). No one can believe but it be given unto them to believe and they have the Spirit within for faith is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22)
“...to give answer every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear...”
An answer cannot be given if a question is not asked. To walk up to someone and begin giving an answer would no doubt result in that person taking offense and may lead to an altercation. Is this suffering for righteousness sake? But and when, according to the purpose of God who causes all things whatsoever comes to pass, He entices the curiosity of a person to the point that they inquire of one, who has the hope of the glory that shall be revealed in them, to ask concerning that hope, then a reason, account and an explanation shall be given. Does this require advanced training as to what should be said or is the preparation of the heart in man and the answer of the tongue of Yehovah God? (Pro. 16:1). Is this just cause for education in proper apologetics so as to be able to confound the accusations of the learned fools of this world? Or is it the Spirit within that shall give “what ye shall answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist” (Luke 21:15)?
And what is this Hope? Is it a wishful thinking of those things which may be considered nice and pleasant to the individual? Is it the desire for financial stability, social acceptance, physical ability or longevity of life? Or is it the earnest expectation of the living “inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you”? The expectation of the return to the land of nativity where the Father shall welcome home His good and faithful servants is according to His abundant mercy. This is made manifest in the resurrection of His Elect Servant from the dead wherein He removed the sin of His people. The shedding of His blood cleanses them from the unrighteousness in Adam and provides a covering over them (atonement) and the sprinkling of that blood consecrates them for the work in the sanctuary not made with hands. The power that effected the resurrection of Christ, wherein His body was raised incorruptible and undefiled, is the same power of God which keeps and preserves the children of the house of the first-born as they travel through the time of this habitation.
Can this hope be proven unto the natural man? Of course not. The things of the Spirit cannot be comprehended by the carnal mind and nothing can be done in the flesh that can prove the existence of the Spirit within. Yet Jesus told His disciples that all men will know that they are His disciples if they HAVE love one for another. This unconditional love is yet another evidence of the indwelling of the Spirit of God (Gal. 5:18). It cannot be taught by the wisdom of Adam, obtained through the commerce of this world or understood by the mind of man yet it stands ready to be revealed in the last time, to every man in his order.
And how is this answer given to the question asked? The answer of the hope that is within cannot be but with the mildness of disposition, the gentleness of Spirit and reverence for this hope which is not of the will of man, nor of the power of his will or the strength of his arm. All praise and glory is unto the Father who has begun this work in His children and shall continue it until its fruition. He brought salvation to Himself. He saved His people from their sin and He declared His generation.
“...having a good conscience...”
A good conscience is the understanding of the hope that hits the mark and meets the standard of holiness in the presence of Almighty God. It is the distinction between that which is finite being of the earth and that which is eternal. It is the transformation of the mind to the qualifying judgment whereby the children of the Kingdom “prove what is that good and acceptable will of God” (Rms. 12:2) and only those who have been justified by faith are in possession of this good conscience.
It is also the contentment in Christ that even though the inhabitants of this world speak of the children of God as those who “trouble all Israel” (I Kings 18:17), “these that have tuned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) and speak of you as ‘one who commits evil’ “they may be made ashamed that falsely accuse your good conscience in Christ”. It is not the job of the stranger and sojourner in the foreign land to forcibly spread the news of the homeland among the inhabitants of the land. It is not the responsibility of those scattered throughout the earth to win the world for Jesus and fill the mansions in heaven with converted souls. It is the privilege of those who have been delivered from the house of the strong man and given the hope of glory, to present a verbal defense of that hope in the same meekness and reverence that the Anointed of Yehovah did when He was lead as a sheep to the slaughter. When He was oppressed and afflicted, He did not open His mouth for He was wounded for the transgressions of His people. When He was brought forth as the lamb to the slaughter, He, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross and despising the shame became obedient unto death. Therefore He was declared the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (Rms. 1:4) and is set down at the right hand of the Father.
It is the purpose and the will of the Father in heaven that His children have many trials and tribulations in this world for the proving of that faith within. It is according to the working of the good pleasure of that perfect will that the refiners fire and fullers soap of His perfection cause the wood hay and stubble to be consumed. It is His good pleasure to give unto His children His kingdom wherein is no residue of Edom and no flesh shall ever glory in His sight. Here all praise and glory is unto the Lamb of God which took away the sin of the world. Here His people, having been raised up together with Him, are seated with Him in the heavenlies, ready to be revealed at the conclusion of the time of this habitation.
“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:13)
“Blessed are they that do His commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter in through the gates of the city” (Rev. 22:14)
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
January 12, 2014