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8.21.2005

The goal


What is the goal a regenerate, saved Christian sets in front of him?

To assault heaven is the goal; yet to assault heaven is obviously not literally to be as Bunyan's knight (in The Pilgrim's Progress) who literally fights the guards at the gates of heaven and forces his entry (to cheering from those inside heaven, and to the embarassment of those sitting docilely outside the gates of heaven waiting to be let in in what they consider to be the 'correct' way) though that is, figuratively, what must be done. That - heaven - is the ultimate destination. The immediate, practical goal, though, is to glorify God. This is sort of the classical definition of the goal (made famous in the first question and answer in the Westminster Shorter Catechism). I prefer, though, to use another way to define the goal (similar but slightly different) which is: to attain the full recovery of the Image of God. This contains the goal to glorify God, but it also introduces scale, or an ascent that defines the effort one makes in sanctification. This latter is needed to introduce the necessary element of provoking limits and extending limits, and developing and cultivating and connecting with functions and abilities that were lost in the Garden. You can only extend your limits by first provoking your limits, and this requires effort.

The Image of God is best defined as becoming a prophet, priest, and king. A prophet is able to communicate with God. A priest sacrifices suffering and does it gratefully. A king has inner command (command of his kingly domain). Jesus is the Prophet, Priest, and King. He is the King of kings. Yet an heir of God is also a prophet, a priest, and a king. Jesus is our example and pattern and forerunner.

Note on effort and sanctification: the process of sanctification is both the Work of the Spirit in you and your own effort. Once regenerate you have the ability to make real efforts to develop in a real way. Check your Reformed systematic theologies. Sanctification is not merely something done to you while you sit around doing nothing. If that were the case Christian need never have left home (another Pilgrim's Progress reference).

Defining the goal as recovering the full Image of God is better than defining the goal as glorifying God because the former contains the latter, and the latter doesn't carry with it, necessarily, the command to increase that which God has given you. God gives you talents (silver), and He doesn't want you to bury them in the ground. He wants you to make more from what you've been given. One can glorify God from a stagnant, non-developing state (or one can easily think they are). God wants you to glorify Him and to increase and develop.

It requires effort to recover the Image of God. It requires effort to be able to be in communication with God and to sacrifice suffering with gratitude and to possess the command of a king within your inner domain, your inner being.

To do this you need to provoke your limits and then extend your limits, in all these areas. This is the battle of the Christian; to be in conflict with your carnal self, the world, and the devil.

How do you increase your talents? By prayer, and fasting, and then by struggle when you get on the battlefield (as described in the post on prayer, real prayer fills you with the Holy Spirit; the Spirit and the flesh, then, will be in conflict; this conflict also pulls the world and the devil into conflict with you as well). You struggle then to glorify God in your conflict with your carnal self, the world, and the devil. This struggle is what potentially extends your limits and increases and develops your very being (your very ability to glorify God). Getting to the battlefield is provoking your limits. Being on the battlefield and struggling to glorify God in the midst of the storm and thunder of attacks and temptations and noise and dust is how you extend your limits.

Your goal is to attain to the full recovery of the Image of God. To be a prophet, a priest, and a king.

The Word of God needs to be in you and hence with you in this struggle. To glorify God is to act from God's will rather than from self-will. You learn God's will from the Word of God. The complete readings is what puts the Word of God into you. Ultimately it needs to be written on your heart.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Cosmo said...

PRESSING INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD



Luke 16:16
The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it....

The Doctrine that I observe from the words is this,- "It concerns every one that would obtain the kingdom of God, to be pressing into it." -In discoursing of this subject, I would,

First, Show what is that way of seeking salvation that seems to be pointed forth in the expression of pressing into the kingdom of God.

Secondly, Give the reasons why it concerns every one that would obtain the kingdom of God, to seek it in this way.- And then make application.

-Jonathan Edwards

August 22, 2005 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

I don't talk of seeking salvation. You can't save yourself. Glorifying God only happens on a foundation of regeneration, and faith and repentance.

An unregenerate person can't glorify God.

This is why I hammer on the need to engage the Word of God as a foundation for everything. Regeneration is effected, when it is effected, by the Word and the Spirit. You draw close to God and God draws close to you (James 4) most practically and seriously by engaging the Word of God in a serious, humble, dedicated way.

Notice I direct people to Hebrews 6:1. Before you build the house (which is what I'm talking about) you need the foundation. The foundation is regeneration, faith and repentance.

Once regenerate you have the ability to make real efforts to glorify God.

(And also, that is the goal: to glorify God. Kingdom of Heaven in this verse from Matthew 11:

12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

refers to glory (glorifying God).

Further, the goal is to recover the Image of God lost in the Garden. This glorifies God. This requires effort as well, based on a foundation of regeneration and saving faith and repentance (conversion).

One has to conclude that it's not for everybody. There will be people saved who make no effort described as taken heaven with violence. But this is explained in Scripture. Paul speaks of differences in reward and hierarchical level of being in heaven. Jesus tells you a parable of the talents in which one person achieves more than others.

Assautling heaven (glorifying God, i.e. increasing one's ability to glorify God, developing in level of being by glorying God, by assaulting heaven which is provoking your limits and extending your limits; by being in conflict with your carnal self, the world, and the devil which is done by prayer and fasting (if you know what prayer and fasting is at this level of provoking limits, and the church level doesn't).

When someone like myself writes on this subject it's not to communicate to a mass audience. It's to put knowledge out for the few who are ready for such knowledge...

August 22, 2005 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

In many ways what I'm doing seems empty because I'm provoking a level of the church that is not able to see the practical level nor does it have any valuation for it or for practicing the faith at the practical level.

Yet there are individuals who can benefit from what someone like myself puts out there.

I can do less of the confrontation with the seminary/pastor/church level types (and I have). Some of all that was myself using foils to generate some heat for learning purposes solely (myself learning the church/exoteric level). But I've done that, so I don't need to play the jester and provoker any more as I have in the past...

(I may disappear altogether if this Christian internet realm proves to be not very fertile fields. The individuals that connect with the practical level of the faith tend to connect once they've already ventured off the coast some. That requires a development in itself...)

August 22, 2005 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

The iMonk in a comment to one of the posts below says I always make new blogs and quit them and make more, but the fact is on several of them I've written pretty much all one can write regarding the practical level to people who basically aren't yet ready for the practical level. In other internet 'environments' where there is interaction with individuals who have valuation for the practical level more is gone into, but when you are in this mainstream Christian realm all I can really do is adminster quick shocks and write in terribly hamstrung fashion (because [a] one can't speak out of school, just practically one can't do that, and [b] adapting to only speaking in biblical language [not that theologians restrict themselves to that limitation, by the way] hamstrings the necessary refinement of definition many of the practices of the practical level of the faith require. Though it is a good exercise, nonetheless...)

August 22, 2005 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

Just the comments I've written above do something because they at least give a reader the impression that there is more going on in the Faith than he knows about at the seminary/church level...

For the record: when you do break through into the higher level (the practical level) you see very clearly it is hardcore, five solas, doctrines of grace Calvinism that is the truth of God's Plan (even the dreaded hyper-Calvinism [other than the intentionally dumb hyper-Calvinism designed solely to discredit the truth of Calvinism...I mean the just more hardcore yet on-the-mark Gill-type so-called hyper Calvinism when I say 'even' the dreaded hyper-Calvinism])... Which is why the practical level is experimental Calvinism and, for those who know, high-form experimental Calvinism. Calvinism (including covenant theology as a Witsius elucidated it) is apostolic biblical doctrine. It is just that there is more there than one can see until they get some perspective on the exoteric level. In Christian language eSoteric means practical level. Ironically in its plain, practical dress it plumbs the deep foundation and soars to the celestial heights of God's Plan...

The seminaries are currently turning out viciously stupid men. Until a person figures out that to even have a chance at attaining wisdom you have to ONLY fear God and not man you will never see the practical level. The cult of authority cultivated by these dumb pastors and seminary graduates (and I'm even talking about the self-defined Calvinists, folks) is reminiscent of the dead spiritual machinery that turned out commissars from approved schools in Moscow circa the 1930s. (Not Moscow, Idaho, though that's another bad influence...)

August 23, 2005 at 12:01 AM  
Anonymous Cosmo said...

PRESSING INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD (cont)

Objection. 1. Some may be ready to say, We cannot do this of ourselves; that strength of desire, and firmness of resolution, that have been spoken of, are out of our reach. If I endeavor to resolve and to seek with engagedness of spirit, I find I fail; my thoughts are presently off from the business, and I feel myself dull, and my engagedness relaxed, in spite of all I can do.

Answer. 1. Though earnestness of mind be not immediately in your power, yet the consideration of what has been now said of the need of it, may be a means of stirring you up to it. It is true, persons never will be thoroughly engaged in this business, unless it be by God's influence; but God influences persons by means. Persons are not stirred up to a thorough earnestness without some considerations that move them to it. And if persons can but be made sensible of the necessity of salvation, and also duly consider the exceeding difficuly of it, and the greatness of the opposition, and how short and uncertain the time is, but yet are sensible that they have an opportunity, and that there is a possibility of their obtaining, they will need no more in order to their being thoroughly engaged and resolved in this matter. If we see persons slack and unresolved, and unsteady, it is because they do not enough consider these things.

August 23, 2005 at 6:51 AM  
Anonymous Cosmo said...

PRESSING INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD (cont)

2. Though strong desires and resolutions of mind be not in your power, yet painfulness of endeavors is in your power. It is in your power to take pains in the use of means, yea very great pains. You can be very painful and diligent in watching your own heart, and striving against sin. Though there is all manner of corruption in the heart continually ready to work, yet you can very laboriously watch and strive against these corruptions; and it is in your power, with great diligence to attend the matter of your duty towards God and towards your neighbour. It is in your power to attend all ordinances, and all public and private duties of religion, and to do it with your might. It would be a contradiction to suppose that a man cannot do these things with all the might he has, though he cannot do them with more might than he has. The dullness and deadness of the heart, and slothfulness of disposition, do not hinder men being able to take pains, though it hinders their being willing. That is one thing wherein your laboriousness may appear, even striving against your own dullness. That men have a dead and sluggish heart, does not argue that they be not able to take pains; it is so far from that, that it gives occasion for pains. It is one of the difficulties in the way of duty, that persons have to strive with, and that gives occasion for struggling and labour. If there were no difficulties attended seeking salvation, there would be no occasion for striving; a man would have nothing to strive about. There is indeed a great deal of difficulty attending all duties required of those that would obtain heaven. It is an exceeding difficult thing for them to keep their thoughts; it is a difficult thing seriously, or to any good purpose, to consider matters of greatest importance; it is a difficult thing to hear, or read, or pray attentively. But it does not argue that a man cannot strive in these things because they are difficult; nay, he could not strive therein if there were not difficulty in them. For what is there excepting difficulties that any can have to strive or struggle with in any affair or business? Earnestness of mind, and diligence of endeavor, tend to promote each other. He that has a heart earnestly engaged, will take pains; and he that is diligent and painful in all duty, probably will not be so long before he finds the sensibleness of his heart and earnestness of his spirit greatly increased.

August 23, 2005 at 6:54 AM  
Anonymous Cosmo said...

PRESSING INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD (cont)

Objection 2. Some may object, that if they are earnest, and take a great deal of pains, they shall be in danger of trusting to what they do; they are afraid of doing their duty for fear of making a righteousness of it.

Answer. There is ordinarily no kind of seekers that trust so much to what they do, as slack and dull seekers. Though all seeking salvation, that have never been the subjects of a thorough humiliation, do trust in their own righteousness; yet some do it much more fully than others. Some though they trust in their own righteousness, yet are not quiet in it. And those who are most disturbed in their self-confidence, (and therefore in the likeliest way to be wholly brought off from it,) are not such as go on in a remiss way of seeking, but such as are most earnest and thoroughly engaged; partly because in such a way conscience is kept more sensible. A more awakened conscience will not rest so quietly in moral and religious duties, as one that is less awakened. A dull seeker's conscience will be in a great measure satisfied and quieted with his own works and performances; but one that is thoroughly awakened cannot be stilled or pacified with such things as these. In this way persons gain much more knowledge of themselves, and acquaintance with their own hearts, than in a negligent, slight way of seeking; for they have a great deal more experience of themselves. It is experience of ourselves, and finding what we are, that God commonly makes use of as the means of bringing us off from all dependence on ourselves. But men never get acquaintance with themselves so fast, as in the most earnest way of seeking. They that are in this way have more to engage them to think of their sins, and strictly to observe themselves, and have much more to do with their own hearts, than others. Such a one has much more experience of his own weakness, than another that does not put forth and try his strength; and will therefore sooner see himself dead in sin. Such a one, though he hath a disposition continually to be flying to his own righteousness, yet finds rest in nothing; he wanders about from one thing to another, seeking something to ease his disquieted conscience; he is driven from one refuge to another, goes from mountain to hill, seeking rest and finding none; and therefore will the sooner prove that there is no rest to be found, nor trust to be put, in any creature whatsoever.

August 23, 2005 at 6:57 AM  
Anonymous Cosmo said...

PRESSING INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD (cont)

It is therefore quite a wrong notion that some entertain, that the more they do, the more they shall depend on it. Whereas the reverse is true; the more they do, or the more thorough they are in seeking, the less will they be likely to rest in their doings, and the sooner will they see the vanity of all that they do. So that persons will exceedingly miss it, if ever they neglect to do any duty either to God or man, whether it be any duty of religion, justice, or charity, under a notion of its exposing them to trust in their own righteousness. It is very true, that it is a common thing for persons, when they earnestly seek salvation, to trust in the pains that they take: but yet commonly those that go on in a more slight way, trust a great deal more securely to their dull services, than he that is pressing into the kingdom of God does to his earnestness. Men's slackness in religion, and their trust in their own righteousness, strengthen and establish one another. Their trust in what they have done, and what they now do, settles them in a slothful rest and ease, and hinders their being sensible of their need of rousing up themselves and pressing forward. And on the other hand, their negligence tends so to benumb them in such ignorance of themselves, that the most miserable refuges are stupidly rested in as sufficient. Therefore we see, that when persons have been going on for a long time in such a way, and God afterwards comes more thoroughly to awaken them, and to stir them up to be in good earnest, he shakes all their old foundations, and rouses them out of their old resting places; so that they cannot quiet themselves with those things that formerly kept them secure. I would now proceed to give some directions how you should press into the kingdom of God.

August 23, 2005 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger c.t. said...

I go back to my very first response above: I don't speak of salvation. This extract from Edwards is not addressing the subject of this blog. It is addressing the self-will that characterizes the pre-regenerate state.

Once regenerate you have the ability to make efforts and to make real, effective efforts.

The humiliation Edwards talks of I referred to in my 'mugging' line regarding finding the King's Highway.

This is all common for the mainstream Christian level (and I don't include Jonathan Edwards since he wasn't addressing the words above to what I've been saying, and he was, afterall, a Puritan who knew of the practical level to a degree that is pure mystery to the mainstream level of Christianity.

Notice I say it all before you even get around to writing it. I cut you off at the pass everytime, yet you can't help but churn out the same old same old. You write and think and act in the context of pre-regeneration. The subject of what I write is written in the context of post-regeneration...

There are at least a few post-regeneration individuals out there I have to assume... (Though I have tended to form the opinion, from experience, that regeneration is indeed rare...)

August 23, 2005 at 4:34 PM  
Anonymous Cosmo said...

Methinks ye dichotomizes too greatly, or so JonnyE would say so. Let's review again a particular line posted:

"Their trust in what they have done, and what they now do, settles them in a slothful rest and ease, and hinders their being sensible of their need of rousing up themselves and pressing forward. And on the other hand, their negligence tends so to benumb them in such ignorance of themselves, that the most miserable refuges are stupidly rested in as sufficient. Therefore we see, that when persons have been going on for a long time in such a way, and God afterwards comes more thoroughly to awaken them, and to stir them up to be in good earnest, he shakes all their old foundations, and rouses them out of their old resting places; so that they cannot quiet themselves with those things that formerly kept them secure."

Now Jonny doesn't seem to dichotomize so greatly the difference between regeneration and sanctification. Or perhaps he speaks of levels of converstion?

Frankly, I'm rather shocked that you would take such a linear approach to the ordo salutis. The Magisrerial Reformers were less inclined toward this sharp of division between regeneration and sanctification. Yes, the old man fights vicously for survival and sets of disciplines for the battle must be engaged. Oftentimes, however, it is easy to be fooled into thinking certian habits guarantee regeneration.

Well, the unintended consequence of Jonny's marriage of Lockean empiricism and experientalism is current day California christianity. Walk an aisle, say a sinners prayer, shed a few tears and we have evidence of regeneration.

August 23, 2005 at 8:53 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

You are writing in a very confused manner regarding the relationship of regeneration to sanctification. I don't pose them as a dichotomy at all. I really don't know why you would state that based on anything I've written.

Sanctification is a process that happens on the foundation of regeneration and conversion (conversion consisting of faith and repentance). It is both something that is worked in you by the Spirit and your own effort to, basically, act from God's will rather than from self-will, and to make that more and more, more or less, a permanant state. It is unfinished of necessity while you are still in the flesh, yet effort and development is real when it is made.

Sanctification requires effort. A regenerate person is able to make such efforts. Prior to regeneration a person is not even able to make such efforts. God has to give you a talent before you can make anything of it (parable of the talents). An unregenerate person doesn't even have a single talent of silver to work with. Once you do have some silver to work with you then are able - or not, depending on effort and valuation for making efforts - to make something with it.

Your basic take on regeneration and actual (and rather common) mocking of the notion that one could possibly know they are regenerate is typical of the mainstream, seminary, church-level approach. A very worldly approach. A worldly mocking.

I assume there are at least some in the audience (when I write) who know they have experienced regeneration. When you have it's not a hall of mirrors as it is for the unregenerate who are forever sceptical (and who transfer that sceptisim onto everybody else).

But for the subject of regeneration there is really only one thing someone like myself can say: read the Bible. Read it complete, Genesis through Revelation. Read it humbly. Read it in a dedicated manner. Regeneration is effected, when it is effected, by the Word and the Spirit. When you read the Word of God complete you are making the effort to move closer to God. God moves closer to you when you do that (James 4). You can't regenerate yourself, but you can put yourself in the very environment where regeneration potentially happens: the Word of God.

Read it complete once, three times, seven time. These aren't 'new age' numbers, they are merely practical, doable goals. They make you serious.

August 23, 2005 at 11:05 PM  
Anonymous Cosmo said...

"Regeneration is effected, when it is effected, by the Word and the Spirit."

I don't think I follow you in your woodenly narrow definition of "Word" as I perceive you to mean.

If I follow your thinking you assume that the "Word" of Romans 10 is strictly the canonical tradition handed down through the ages and even perhaps a new dispensation beginning in 1611.

This brings up a plethora of questions regarding the means of regeneration. Is God hampered by only one temporal means of regeneration? Are blind people or those of lesser reading abilities somehow put at risk because of their inabilities?

Or perhaps "Word" simply means language and is open to verbal communication as well as written? But that again begs the question of whether God is hampered in the means He is able to use to merely language.

Or perhaps "Word" means the Incarnate Word and the Spirit. That regeneration is effected by the Spirit of Christ. This would leave God open to many temporal means all which are wrought only through the supernatural work of the Spirit of Christ.

Or maybe not. Just some musings.

August 24, 2005 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

Theologians (Berkhof writes this, for instance) deal with what you bring up by stating that though the Holy Spirit 'usually' works in concert with the Word of God in regeneration (effectual calling) this doesn't mean that the Holy Spirit is limited to only working in concert with the Word of God. Yet the fact is: the Holy Spirit usually works in concert with the Word of God in the work of effectual calling.

I don't consider the AV1611 a 'new disposition of the Word', as you put it. I believe even a bad translation can deliver enough of God's Word to effect effectual calling (then growing discernment will lead one to better translations and ultimately to translations based on the manuscripts preserved by God and used by Christians prior to the dawn of the atheist higher critics and their sudden 'discovery' of 'better' manuscripts that just happen to delete and mangle and defile God's Word at every turn).

Blind people aren't hampered by hearing the Word of God. Hearing, reading, both together, however God's Word is delivered it is effectual in his elect.

'Word' in the phrase 'the Word and the Spirit' refers to the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, proclaimed, read, or however delivered.

Yes, most emphatically I will state that the Word of God is central in the Work of the Spirit in effecting regeneration (effectual calling). The Word of God (the specific Words of the Old and New Testaments) are a living language. They cut to the heart and vivify God's elect.

August 25, 2005 at 1:59 AM  

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