ALL CAN BE A RIVER OF LIVING WATER
I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen. Nicaean Creed 325 AD.
The at-one-ment of the cross applies to all. But we must participate in it by agreeing with Christ that He is our life. Jesus’ call to all is ‘Come to Me all who are heavy laden with guilt, self-hatred, the burden of religion and the cares of life.’ Jesus asserts that if folks agree with Him, that He is their life and believe it, the triune God makes their home in us.
It’s an advantage to live from the Gospel of Jesus and the apostles and attach to the Christ of God rather than a self-invented Christ. It makes for a healthy spirituality.
What is fundamentalism? There are different degrees of it. Christian fundamentalism is often characterised by rigid thinking and rigid textual interpretation. It is either frozen in legalism or heavily influenced by it. In fact it is difficult not to be fundamentalist to some extent if one is contained in the law and one’s being is a product of the law.
Words as themselves are abstractions when disconnected from the reality they point to. Reality is Christ as Paul says and the foundation of all that is real is the trinity. Legalism and anti-trinitarianism are a pair because legalism is about abstractions and the incarnation is about our real life in the Life Who is Real.
YOU-THE EXPRESSION OF CHRIST
In the new covenant one is not a product of the law but the manifestation of Christ. The scriptures are a point of reference but Jesus is our life.
Fundamentalism is a creation of the letter. Never of the Spirit. It is a handy back-stop, when we are desperate to fortify some fiction that is ours as a result of our attachment to the law. But it is life denying.
ONENESS WITH GOD
What is the relationship of ourselves to God in the new testament age? It is this: ‘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. This is both the fact of our relationship and the mode of interpreting that relationship – our living communion with God.
Our real life in Christ is always better than diluted versions of decayed religion. The Best teaching does not present anything new. It recovers what has been lost or never realised. When Paul used the words ‘Christ our life’ he was referring to the Grace that is the incarnation and the truth that in every way, Jesus represents us in our relating to God. Theologians call this the vicarious humanity of Christ.
Professor Torrance, one of the leading Christian theologians of the twentieth century explains why fundamentalism as a lens is incapable of conveying the truth about God and ourselves. Don’t be put off by the language that follows. It means that God is not separated from the life and salvation He is offering. He is that life and salvation as Himself. In Jesus we are made part of the life that is God.
“Fundamentalism stumbles at the consubstantial relation between the free continuous act of God’s self-communication and the living content of what He communicates, especially when this is applied to divine revelation in and through the Holy Scriptures.
It rejects the fact that revelation must be continually given and received in a living relation with God ¬ i.e., it substitutes a static for a dynamic view of revelation. [Because it is encased in the law]
…The practical and the epistemological effect of a fundamentalism of this kind is to give an infallible Bible and a set of rigid evangelical beliefs primacy over God’s self-revelation which is mediated to us through the Bible.
This effect is only reinforced by the regular fundamentalist identification of biblical statements about the truth with the truth itself to which they refer. …The living reality of God’s self-revelation through Jesus Christ and in the Spirit is in point of fact made secondary to the Scriptures.” (1) The fundamentalist looks for truth in words. The sons of God have found it in the Living Word who inhabits them and imbues them with Himself.
AVOID A MIRAGE
We can think to have a relationship with God when what we have is a relationship with a belief system. Of course, we do have a relationship with God. But it’s diluted. We are insulated from genuine interwoveness with God – not because we are not worthy but because we have married ourselves to a substitute – to words and our partisan definitions.
CLOTHES WITHOUT CONTENT
We can live a religiously respectable life as an adherent of a set of beliefs in a framework that is a construction built by ourselves and others. The Kingdom is lived in community but is it is the community of those who have taken John 14.20 seriously? Thus Jesus encourages. ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’ The issue is whether we are fruitful as daughters and sons because we share Christ’s spirit and life. BECAUSE WE ARE ONE SUBSTANCE WITH JESUS.
Our new testament inheritance is union with God. What the trinity have among themselves has become our possession among them and us with each other. We can talk Holy Spirit as much as we like but unless we are living in this new covenant communion with Father, Son and Holy Spirit we will have difficulty in producing more than a few drops among ourselves – even with the Spirit’s help. Why? Because such communion is a state of being. We need to agree that union with God is ours and possess it. The result will be rivers of living water.
(1) Thomas F. Torrance, Reality and Evangelical Theology. Westminster Press. 1981. pgs 16,17,18