The heralding of the crucified God
The Father – A cross in his heart
This is the apostolic conundrum – God carrying a cross in his heart.
Philip, one of the apostles in formation, asked hesitantly and with serious intent: “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” Knowing the Father, the knowledge of the Holy, settles all things, it “sufficeth us”. Knowing, intimate knowledge, orders all things. And, there is a cross at the core of this revealing. Our God ought to be strong – we say, a true warrior, an overcomer – and so He is, because of the cross, because of the weakness displayed in the cross.
The mystery at the heart of it all is the continuity of the cross. It is there, in His heart, before Calvary. It is there as a burden for His people during their pilgrimage. It is present throughout eternity as a redeeming reality, as the moral factor – a people dressed in white, praising Him as the Righteous and Holy One. They all sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”
The protocol of Heaven, the sending of the Son, fulfills one central purpose, which is the revealing of the Father – the consummation thereof to be found in the “I have manifested thy name”. The Father speaks ultimately and exhaustively in and through the Son. He speaks attributes and character, He speaks redemptive purposes in righteousness, He speaks wisdom, a wisdom opposed and contrary to the laborious thinking of this world. The Son’s showing forth of the heart of the Father in the emptying of Himself for redemptive purposes reveals, in no shaded or uncertain terms, the very glory and greatness of the triune God. The beauty of holiness is brought to its optimum in the combining of truth and righteousness together with grace and humility. What a glorious protocol, this protocol of Heaven, to be captured and heralded by men who have learnt to behold and to consider.
“All things are delivered to me by my Father; and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” Matt 11:27
“We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world to our glory.” 1 Cor 2:7
The knowing of the Father is to be given to men in the Son, and the seeing of the glory in the Son is bestowed to men by the Father. That which belongs to heavenly protocol, that which holds eternal reality and value must by necessity be sent into this dense world as revelation, as a gift from above. No man can take it, such a person will break it – fragile as it is. No man will stand as a possessor of any of these eternal values – each and every part of it has to be humbly received as the giving from above proceeds according to heavenly measure. The mystery of apostolicity rests on the process of heavenly mercy in the giving and sending. The Father’s sending of the Son is an eternal investment, the glory of the Father waited expectantly for the obedience of the Son. The sending of apostolic men is, according to the first sending, a matter of investing of eternal values in fragile vessels, learning the obedience of the Son, Jesus Christ, for the glory of the Father to be revealed and established as solid testimony.
The ministry of beholding
“We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Cor 3:18
Apostolic ministry rests in the beholding of the glory of the Lord, it rests in the constant flow of light in the face of the Father. The light in the face of the Father changes the face of the beholder, he dares to stand unveiled. The character of the one beholding the face of the Father changes, it changes into likeness – and the mirror reveals a cross, the “bright mirror” helps identify and magnify the cross in the heart of God. The beholding of the glory of the Lord invites to a journey, to a journey into the heart of God – and there is a standing invitation to begin such a perilous effort. And we say “perilous”, because the cross confronts the pilgrim in each and every fraction of the way. The Lord invites to manhood, – he is still searching for men after His own heart.
The Lord is in search after men of His own heart to be recruited for an extra-ordinary seeing, for an intrinsic knowing of God as He is. The ministry of beholding will ruin their former categories, it will devastate whatever there is of compatibility with the world and its common wisdom. The perceiving of theirs will change fundamentally from a trivialized perspective to an eternal seeing and sensing. The light in the Father’s face will lift the heart and the thinking away from that which is sensual and sensational into realms of propheticness, into a realm where words have become weighty and meaningful. The ministry of beholding creates a mode of mindful observing, a watching and watchfulness befitting a man of God in his serving of pilgrims on their way towards the city which their Lord has prepared.
The eternal cross
“You were not redeemed with corruptible things, silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot; indeed having been foreknown before the foundation of the world, but revealed in the last times for you.” 1 Pet 1:18-20
Peter, the simple fisherman, had learned by revelation a few foundational things which not many men were able to see. His learning came with the breakings of his and with the ministry of beholding. He wrote about them to be pondered in the Church for the correcting of its view of the Father. The one-attribute-god was nowhere to be found with the apostle Peter. He turned the Creator/Saviour-view upside down for the many to stand perplexed. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are indeed painted as the suffering and crucified God before the creation of the world. They not only knew the gruesome outcome of the acts of creating, they included the advantages gained by a sacrificial suffering in their calculating – a redemptive operation, exclusive and conclusive, meant as a creative phase following creation – a creative phase in the bringing forth of one new man.
Dear reader, this author is, of course, at loss as to words, as to understanding but not as to a heart moved, deeply moved, by the superiority of greatness in the seeing of the cross firmly established in the hearts of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit way back in eternity, well beyond and before the creative efforts and spoken words setting the redemptive operation in motion in the bringing forth the vastness of the universe. The setting up of the stage for the “bringing many sons unto glory” is indeed a master piece of light, of holiness, of wisdom and of love. ”It became Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” The revealing and the beholding of the cross in its eternal perspective are devastating – Isaiah produced ample words: “Then I said, Woe is me! For I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of Hosts.”
The matter of the cross in the Father’s heart is one quintessential, a constituting element which comprises apostolic reality. It is the ministry of beholding which brings the light of eternity to illuminate facts settled in heavenly protocol. The Scriptures, opened by the ministry of beholding, holds treasures of immense value. Fantasy has no, absolutely no part in the process of the revealing of the cross in the Father’s heart. Apocalyptic writings, and there were plenty at the time of the Lord’s first coming, adds no single thing to the apostolic writings which we hold in our hands as the New Testament. The matter of beholding the cross in the Father’s heart brings forth an anguish, a breath-taking search for the applying of absolutes, of pure truth, in the gatherings of the pilgrims. Apostolic reality does not allow for any kind of obstruction of the foundational element in the Christian faith, which is the eternal cross.
In the apostolic realm are all things weighted by eternal values. Its categories are at every moment a challenge. It causes a trembling. The awareness of the cross in the Father’s heart, seeing the sending of the Son in the perspective of a fellowship which had been growing and developing during days immeasurable – then interrupted by a humbling, by an emptying, by an obedience unto death, by the deepest humiliation and experience of a dying and a death on a cross, – this awareness, the seeing of these things in the light of the Father’s face causes a continuous trembling before the Word of the Lord. The apostolic realm is weighted by the cross, and the light shining forth from it – an overwhelming perspective which provokes and challenges unto breaking and invites to a pilgrimage into the heart of God – a walk in the light.
Being brought to His seeing
Paul, the apostle, prayed: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.” Eph 1:17
The process set forth for the bringing of a man into the realm of seeing as God sees is presented to us as a pilgrimage towards Zion, as an ascent unto the Holy Hill. The man of God may be characterized as a lifting of the man into the purposes of the Lord. It is not ours by the reading good books, it is not ours by the use of techniques of faith and believing. It involves a willful turning aside to behold a bush burning, but not consumed. It certainly involves a wrestling amidst perplexity. In it there is an ongoing dying away from that which belongs to the old nature and to the worlds and its powers. There are those who speak about the cross, the cross in the Father’s heart in the same fashion as Peter spoke about building huts on the Mount of transfiguration – it is all good, it is a marvelous setting, but the poor fellow had no idea of what went on between the Father and the Son in the final preparing for the crucifixion.
Being brought to His seeing involves a radical apprehension of things eternal, of things holding utter significance and value. It involves an unveiled seeing of the horror of sin, a seeing of man as he is in his unredeemed state of being, a seeing of casualties increasing at a tremendous rate. An inadequate sense and seeing of sin is indeed an inadequate sense and seeing of the Holy One. There is a seeing of the marriage, the Lamb and His bride – the glorious opening towards Eternity, and then a seeing of the nations gulping from the cup of fornication. It is the breakpoint between that which is to be made righteous and that which is unwilling for redemption.
The cross is a horrendous instrument of execution; the Son takes it on in an obedience far beyond man’s understanding and capacity. The cross is a sign of utter glory, the beginning of the beauty of holiness. The cross is the very token of the vindication of God, and it is the very weapon annihilating the forces of evil. It is the pivotal point in the redemptive operation set in motion before time for the purpose of bringing many sons to glory. Who is sufficient for the taking in of all this?? And, what about our cross to be carried anew each day – a plastic, sentimentalized, similitude which will immediately break when pressure is applied, or the real thing which will be of foundational help in the formation of men and women for their corporate testimony. The reality of the cross is to be gathered as the Father comes alongside to reveal His perspective and to provide parts and impressions from his own heart as a source of overcoming.
Wisdom from God
“We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God.” 1 Cor 2:12
“The preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but to us who are saved, it is the power of God.” 1 Cor 1:18
The wisdom of God, present and uncompromised from before the beginning of the world, defines and classifies the wisdom of this world as being utterly offensive, as being repugnant, framed and motivated by every force of iniquity. From the heavenly viewpoint its existence is without value or weight, an item deserving no other fate than a wholesome eradication and annihilation. The tension between the two wisdoms, the wisdom of God, expressed in the cross of Jesus Christ, and the wisdom of the world to be shown in its revulsion against godly living is forever resolved in the redemptive humility resident in Heaven, in the heart of God. The wisdom of God is explicit foolishness to the world and its forces, but its weakness proves to be stronger than the fiercest mobilization of power. True testimony is martured living, a living by the expressing of the humility of God in all its simplicity and sacred wisdom. The cross of Jesus Christ, the humility of God, is brought forth as an eternal factor to oppose unto annihilation the powers of the world and the way of life offered by them.
The wisdom of the Lord brings a seeing, by which man’s exploits and efforts are to be regarded as tedious, aimless as well as powerless, carried on in a constant opposition to the wisdom of Heaven, a wisdom which is settled from before time. God reduces the wisdom of the world to stand foolish – tasteless, like salt without saltiness. The apostle Matthew sets forth words regarding a salty testimony as opposing the powers of the world as well as the uselessness of salt without flavour. Paul paints the conflict between the two wisdoms by using the same concept – a war between salty values and a wisdom which is devoid of value. He speaks about the wisdom of the world as set forth and upheld by weak and beggarly spiritual forces. None of them are, at any time, to be engaged in redemptive efforts. All of them are to be regarded as weak elements to be sharply counteracted by priestliness, by the humility which is to be found in the heart of God – and there only.
The conflict between the two wisdoms is summarized in the opposition between a self-focused lifestyle and the priestly view – in priestliness, which is ready to give, to support and to act sacrificially for redemptive purposes. The wisdom of this world is designed to induce aspirations for position, for possessions and prestige. It plays on man’s cravings for identity and belonging, for recognition and endorsement. The weak and beggarly forces of this world also operate through segmentation and fragmentation. Each and every man given the right to formulate his own measure and to build his own fortress. And the armament race – efforts for the securing belongings and realms of influence – is on at every level, in every petty kingdom leaving no area of existence excluded.
The wisdom of God – the humility of the crucified life resident as a vital part of the nature of God. The wisdom of God – a revealing of the truth about God, a revealing of heavenly servanthood in mercy and meekness. The wisdom of God, set forth by the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of sacrificial living. The wisdom of God – redemptive efforts, a salvation to the uttermost presented in priestliness, perfectly presented in the Son.
The Cross of Christ: A complete devastation of the wisdom of the world. The Cross of Christ: A radical change of direction, a foundational shift in the perceiving of life and eternity. The cross of Jesus Christ: A daily considering of values and approach as the implications of the cross are to be apprehended and applied in the life of the pilgrim.
The wisdom of Heaven, the wisdom of God, provides categories of humility and godliness which dispatches the pilgrim far beyond the reach of the world. It induces a priestly insistence, even a jealousy, for the things which will only be sent from and come down from Heaven. Apostolicity holds a high-priestly regard and reverence for the things sent from Heaven. The apostolic man learns to wait until the sending is a radical fact in tangible measures.
The apostolic man prepares for a passing through of experiences of a formative kind, experiences which will leave him hungry for more of the humility which is only to be found in the heart of God. His journey into the heart of God will bring him to an attaining of consistency and correspondence which is not to be found under the wisdom of the world. Apostolic men belong to eternity, they are made guardians of eternal values. They shun the captivity which the world presents as liberties – temporal values vastly exaggerated as to importance and comfort by which souls are made merchandise. These rare men know the eternal weight of glory which makes present afflictions momentary and light.
Apostolicity, the ministry of the quiet life
The Father’s perspective, His personal view and experience: A cross which defines eternal values in the setting forth of combinations of attributes before which the world and its wisdom must bow. Heaven brings righteousness and redemption into marvelous cooperation, it combines holiness and mercy in an interaction of utmost beauty, it sets forth truth and humility as a team invincible. These pairs are impossibilities on earthly ground. It takes a cross to send them into functional operation. The crucified God regard them to be eternal values, meant to substantiate the spirituality, the quiet life, of the heavenly city, His Zion.
At the table of the Lord, a heavenly meal is readily served. Its spiritual components are there in tangible form. The breaking of the Lord, the humility of the Lord is there to be handled as a piece of bread. His covenant, His everlasting will to cover His people and to fulfill His redemptive purposes are there, represented in the cup to be lifted in perfect reverence. The meal is ever present among His saints as a declaration of His humility and His breaking – until He returns to Zion. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of holiness and of sacrifice is ever present to produce substantial maturity and godliness according to the cross of the Lord – the cross, which indeed is heavenly protocol. The meal is a declaration of the sovereign Lordship of Christ, on the basis of His humility and obedience unto utter sacrifice.
The brokenness of God brings forth to show the ugliness, the grossest manifestation of the iniquity expressed among men. The humility of God, superbly settled by the obedience of the Son, directs men towards Heaven, towards the heavenly city, in an ascent marked by the beauty of holiness. Pertinent questions are ever present among true saints: “How do we handle His continuous brokenness over sin?” “How do we relate to His holiness, His humility?” “By what measure do we value the work of the cross of Jesus Christ?” He, the Lord, is continuously praying for the redemptive operation to produce thorough impact, as “He is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” The cross of Christ does not change the heart of God, it is an everlasting expression of it. To us is offered a companionship, a fellowship in His sufferings, an apostolic “for me to live is Christ”.
Apostolic living, a church in its maturity and sobriety, is a configuration of relations where hearts are laid bare, where walls are broken down, where masks are torn asunder and where character is reoriented. A “for me to live is Christ”, a “for us to live is Christ” engages the cross in thorough and continuous work. True fellowship is by necessity a suffering under the cross before it is made able to harbor the glory of the cross. From what source are we drawing forth the many-coloured feelings and experiences which we commonly call “glory”? The breaking is the evidence of God present – the labour of love and sacrifice following the breaking is the projected outcome according to heavenly protocol. The tears of joy which follow the breaking and the labour of love is a most precious component of the beauty of holiness. Apostolic preaching as well as living brings forth the three phases in sequence as well as in fullness.
We always find a priestly waiting at the heart of maturity. We find a priestly waiting at the heart of apostolicity. Priestly waiting precedes a sending, it is the foundational preparing for a sending as well as for a receiving of eternal values. In the waiting on God, the worship which truly pleases Him has its ever-lasting hiding-place. In the waiting on God in humility, the sending has its birth-place. Corporate stillness, saints gathered for a corporate waiting on God creates and establishes a body which God can address unto a sending. Amidst the consensus created by the Spirit of Holiness, God finds a sacred place for His Word as well as for His ability to speak a sent word for the sake of a solemn testimony. For such a miracle to take place and to be seen by the many, God mobilizes heavenly humility and truth under the cross of Christ amidst His saints.
Apostolicity – the ministry of the crucified life. Apostolicity – the ministry of the quiet life. Apostolicity – the ministry of corporate life under the cross. Apostolicity – the heralding of the crucified God.
Heavenly protocol: A redemptive perspective.
The redeemer coming to Zion, to continue His redemptive efforts out of Zion.
Isa 59:20, Rom 11:26
Heavenly protocol: A heavenly perspective, a solemn assembly, a priestly community.
Joel 2:15-18, Isa 56:6-7, Isa 58:6-8, Isa 61:1-3
Heavenly protocol: A prophetic perspective, an apocalyptic perspective
A proper seeing of roots and sources, an ability to discern as well as an expectant waiting for the King, for the throne and for righteous rule to be established in Zion.
Reading: Rev 15:3-4, Mark 10:45, Joh 17:6, Acts 13:22, Hebr 2:10, Isa 6:5, Phil 2:5-8, Isa 66:5, 1 Joh 3:8, Col 2:14-15, 1 Kor 1:19-21, Matt 5: 13, Gal 4:9, Hebr 7:25, Phil 3:10, Phil 1:21