This is a continuation of our recent posts on the incarnation and the interwoveness of our being into the being of God – which is not something that is vaporous and without substance but the real and enduring reality that is the Kingdom of Heaven among us.
Those who make the law their island of belief often do so in the supposition that the law is something solid on which to stand and build their faith. The truth is that it is altogether vacuous, situating the Believer in a pre-cross mindset that cancels out the cross and as Paul says, means that Christ died for nothing.
Jesus used the words spirit and truth to distinguish between religion that is without substance to the grounding of our being in the reality of God’s being. Isaiah prophesied this communion many years before when he spoke of our being united to the parent rock – a prophecy of the spirit of sonship and the grounding of our being in God and the union of God’s being in Christ with us.
It is this perichoresis – this interwoveness of God and humanity that is the substance of the Kingdom and the reason why the law must be negated and left behind because God has abandoned it. The law must be repented of because it extinguishes Christ our life and the union of being that is ours in interwoveness of God and humanity. By living in the law we can be dead even though we are Christians. The flip-side of ‘those who eat me will live because of me’ is found in Jesus own words, ‘Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you.’ He is distinguishing between notional members of His Body and actual members of His Body.
In Gospel, Church, and Ministry (Jock Stein, Ed.), TF [Thomas Torrance] says this concerning the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Here we see that our ‘belonging’ is not just an assertion or theological position but a state of being one with God – which is to say those that eat the Son of God will be sons in spirit and in truth.
“It is at Holy Communion above all that we see Christ face to face and handle things unseen and feed upon his body and blood by faith. It is there in the real presence of Christ that we grasp something of the wonder of the Saviour’s love and redeeming sacrifice, and understand that it is not our faith in Christ that counts but his vicarious life and sacrifice, his redeeming life and death that count.
It is at Holy Communion when the bread and wine are put into our hands, that we know it is not our believing that counts but he in whom we believe, not what we do but what the Saviour has done for us and what he means to us. It is at Holy Communion, in short, that we really understand best the gospel of salvation by grace alone. Thus it was at Holy Communion that [as a pastor] I found it easiest to proclaim and make clear to people what the unconditional grace of God’s saving love really is….
As members of the new Adam… we are nourished by the life residing in Christ… continually being nourished with “the vivifying flesh” of Jesus Christ [quoting Calvin] who gives us to participate in the eternal life that abides in him…. It is not easy to preach the truth that we are saved by the grace of Christ alone, and [that] it is through the vicarious humanity of Jesus and in its substitutionary bearing upon faith that we can properly believe, but this is what may be proclaimed at Holy Communion as nowhere else….
I have found in my own ministry that it is easiest to preach the unconditional nature of grace, and the vicarious humanity and substitutionary role of Christ in faith, at the celebration of the Eucharist, where the call for repentance and faith is followed by Communion in the body and blood of Christ in which we stretch out empty hands to receive the bread and wine: “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy Cross I cling.”
There at the Holy Table or the altar I know that I cannot rely on my own faith but only on the vicarious faith of the Lord Jesus in total substitution of his atoning sacrifice on the Cross…. That is what the covenant in his body and blood, which the Saviour has forged for us, actually, practically, and really means. It is the very essence of the gospel that salvation and justification are by the grace of Christ alone, in which he takes our place, that you may take his place. (pp. 47, 88, 251-252) (1)
These observations are insightful and as such might be noted as a timely reversion to the Gospel of the Kingdom as lived out by Jesus Christ and preached by Paul and John. We see here what it meant by ‘being’ and the relevance of spirit and truth.
We are talking being included in the Relationship we call God – the trinity. But not just members of this relationship. We in our entirety have been woven into the being of God and God is woven into us in Christ. Much different to religion as an ideology and a construct of the law. Spirit and truth has has dimension and holistic reality. It’s not just a list of fundamentals or a convoy of iconic positions that give us a crippled identity and a partial gospel.