Much of what many of us were brought up as, was to be a human doing. We set about earning our salvation by assorted actions imbued with a misplaced zeal derived from scriptures like, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue towork out your salvationwith fear and trembling.’
Except that our salvation is certain, a salvation of works was not what Jesus gave us and is the opposite of Paul’s Gospel – which in summary is that Christ is our life. Paul who spoke into people’s hearts the new covenant – with much difficulty – was saying that the new and living way of Christ our life was something that needed to be gripped with passion and persistence because it was contrary to human self-centeredness and a complete negation of life in the law/knowledge of good and evil.
The bottom line of many ‘other gospels’ is that ultimately we are our life as Christians, since we think it is up to us to believe, our responsibility to apply the atonement to our lives, our task to love Jesus so much that we will not displease Him and our obligation to ‘keep close to Jesus.’ There is a place for the will and for choice, but this is not it.
None of these modes are any more achievable than the Jews attempts to keep the law and are in fact a Christian version of the law and a continued way of living in the knowledge of good and evil. It is this hotchpotch of belief and unbelief, of veils and myths that Jesus is urging us to reject in the Parable of the Sower – with its carrion crows, rocks, stones and briars and weeds. The deep soil is our embeddedness in the fellowship of the trinity* which is us in God.
BAPTISED INTO FELLOWSHIP
Paul is urging that we live in that which Jesus urged us to live: His life as ours in the fellowship of God.
‘On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20 NIV.
REALIZING [Living with insight and understanding]
To this day many have not realised the comprehensive gospel of the Kingdom in which we are joined to God and is joined to us so that all that Jesus is and all that Holy Spirit and Father represent becomes our life by INCARNATION.
The truth of us and our journey is that we would have been better not to be a ‘doing’ at all. We would be better to just agree that Christ is our life, agree that the incarnation is our reality, agree that we are one with God, agree that we and Father are one, agree that we are being made whole, agree that all of life is holy because we are holy in Christ and as a result cease to be a Christian jitter-bug or one of those irritating persons that evangelicals can be seen to be. Nevertheless the journey of each who become sons in spirit and in truth passes through this valley of ineffectualness. Once we learn that we can’t do it, we are ready for the next stage – the stage in which Jesus becomes us because Jesus is our life and we are the place of the Trinities indwelling.
In this growth we increasingly become the manifestation of Christ.
A debilitating aberration of the Gospel of the apostles is the notion of limited atonement. ‘Limited atonement means that you (think) you are separated from God by yours sins until you repent. However while we were still sinners, Christ died for all. In Christ all are made alive even if they have not accepted that life or chosen to live in it. [This is not universalism. It means the treasure is in the field and there for the taking].
Limited atonement means you don’t really think Christ’s death is for all and you’re not all that sure that is covers you. You live with the uncertainty that it may not be for you unless you have ‘done enough’ as some put it.
Curiously people can assert that they belong to the Body of Christ and simultaneously live in the insecurity that they have ‘not done enough,’ that there is something additional they need to do in order to apply the atonement to their lives. Like some scrap of law or some work of virtue signalling.
They live in a hollow assurance because proof of belonging rests with them - when in fact your belonging is the achievement of Christ your life. It’s not a process and a life work in which you demonstrate that you have ‘received Christ.’ It a life to lived with rejoicing because you have already been received into His life and fellowship with our Father.
Paul says, ‘Be reconciled to God because you are.’
‘Be.’ What does this mean? Thomas Torrance describes this as being at one with the reality of God for you, in you and as you. Agree with God so that Reconciliation – which is who God is - is your state of being.
It is Jesus Christ who sets us free to choose freedom in the truth of God.
* The trinity is emphasised in these posts since it is basic to who God is and fundamental to the nature of the ‘belonging’ that is enjoyed by the saints. God is not an unmoved mover, not an object and not an inert entity of godness. God is love – which refers to the relationship of oneness, togetherness and joy that is God as one God. The members of the trinity are distinct and part of each other. This is the template of our relationship to God. We are part of God as sons, yet uniquely ourselves: Perichoresis.