There is real presence, a real Jesus, a real gospel and a real life.
REAL PRESENCE/REAL GOSPEL
Some years ago I read an excellent book by Leanne Payne entitled Real Presence. It was about the incarnation and had such a sharp level of discernment I realised that this was not just a gifted author but an example of apostolic writing.
Genuine apostleship is not what institutional spokespersons might have implied. It’s not about a mega - ministry. Apostolic teaching comes from those who have made themselves part of God’s person by agreeing that this is what they already are –sons and daughters - not notionally but in spirit and in truth. The latter state of being is ours when we live in the fact that we and Father are one – not attained through tremendous efforts of piety but by knowing and believing the truth about the new covenant and the incarnation. Spiritual truth is ‘entered.’ Not just believed.
Garry Deddo writing in the Princeton Theological review, observes that, “Key to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, Jesus Christ is understood to be not only homoousios with God, but also homoousios with us. It is often overlooked that the Creed contains this double homoousios.” (1) This word denotes the fact of the one substance of the Father and the Son. It also indicates the ‘one substance’ of the Believer and Jesus. You have oneness with God courtesy of Jesus. This is the truth obscured by all legalisms and all false gospels founded on the law. You have this oneness now and it is your starting point, your alpha and omega of Godliness and spirit and life.
‘Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them’ John 14.23 NIV. This is more than living in us. It is the kind of indwelling in which we and they are woven in being together.
DROPS AND RIVERS OF LIFE
We can mount a passable ministry rooted in the old covenant. We can do some good. But grace works best with truth rather than ignorance. Old covenant ministry can multiply religion but not the Kingdom of God. This requires union with God*. The feature that distinguishes the new covenant from the old. But it is unlikely that we will see that what we are doing lacks spirit and life in the OC. This is because the blind don’t know they are blind because they are blind.
Payne exposes the dualistic nature of law driven religion. Writing on on C.S Lewis, her point is that in the knowledge of good and evil ‘the good’ can stand apart from us and tyrannize us. Whereas our Gift from God is that Jesus becomes us. This happens when we believe the truth, as in ‘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.
In the law ‘good’ is something you aspire to. In the incarnation God is Someone who becomes you.
There is no separation in Christ Jesus. Actually union with God became our inheritance when Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” The separation wrought by Adam was undone. Since Pentecost the incarnation has become the grand reality of Kingdom life – when it is realized by our agreeing with Jesus that we have been drawn into His life and that as sons and daughters, we are part of God and God is part of us. We are part of the family of the trinity. We are not one with God because we found a scripture saying ‘we are all part of the one loaf’. We are of the Body when we live in the reality that we are one substance with Christ John 14.20.
The law is irrelevant to oneness. It’s the fellow traveler of the Tree of Knowledge Primitivism. Jesus left it behind for us at the cross. The least we can do is to live in the pearl of great price that He has given us: Union with God.
CHRIST OR LIFE
Either Christ has become our life or we remain our life. Either Christ is our life or we are not born again. Either we say that in Him we live, move and have our being or we delude ourselves because we live in ourselves, trying to achieve the union with God that is already ours by acts of will, by psychological artifices or focusing on iconic bits of morality that become for us a false christ. Either separation really is finished or it is not because we are remain in the old covenant perpetuating the fall – as the Deceiver intends.
God has not secured for us a new version of ‘the letter’ for the post cross age. We have been gifted interwoveness with God. What does this means? An insightful person writes about a man who ALLOWED JESUS TO LIVE HIS LIFE THROUGH HIM.
WHEN CHRIST IS YOU
Our inheritance in Christ is not a religion called Christianity. Our inheritance should we be smart enough to see it is Christ as us.
“Some years ago I was at a scholarly conference and there was a Roman Catholic priest. The rest of us were Protestants, and he quickly sized us up and he realized it was going to be a long weekend, so he decided to inject a little levity into our time together, so he offered to lead us in the Eucharist. I thought this would be a rather amusing event, for a Roman Catholic priest and scholar to lead a bunch of Protestant academic-types in the Eucharist, so I went along to see what would happen, more than to worship. But this Roman Catholic priest was a man who lived in the presence of God and who allowed Christ to live his life through him, and it was an absolutely moving time of worship.” (2)
NOT A FEAT
He lived in the new covenant. He lived union with God. He lived the reality of Christ come in our flesh. He lived what Christ had given Him – oneness with God. It’s not a spiritual feat to do this. It’s just doing what Jesus said to do. Only believe.
This feature of allowing Christ to live through us is the difference between Christianity as religion and the Kingdom of God. It’s also the difference between being born again and not being so. He continues..
IN THE REALITY OF CHRIST
“I was having a heart-to-heart conversation with another theologian and this priest about the things that really matter most, and it got to a certain point in the conversation, and the other theologian said to the priest, “I did my PhD work in one of the finest PhD programs in North America.” (The person wrote a dissertation comparing and contrasting Karl Barth and Karl Rahner’s doctrine of the Trinity.) The theologian said to the priest, “I know how to manipulate the symbols of the faith, but you participate in the realities of the faith and I do not.” Seldom have I heard a more honest admission of the danger of being a Christian and compartmentalizing our life. We compartmentalize it and pretty soon, we’re just going through the motions of being a Christian rather than participating in the reality. (3)
Adherence to positions and proof texts is probably not a life in God. Real life is a state of being in which we are one with God because we believe Christ and have not buried this treasure in the ground.
Note this from the quote above: ‘[You live in] The realities of the faith and I do not.’ Living from and promoting a belief system is not what Jesus gifts us. His gift to us is union with God. Not union with Christianity. Getting stuck in the latter can cause us to adopt the illusion that we are of Christ’s body when we are in our own intellectualised body of death. Theoretically we are all in the Body of Christ. Experientially we are what we are living in. That is to say living in Christianity or living in union with God. Jesus said, ‘I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20 NIV.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
Look at it this way. Your wife cooks you a delightful dish of Garlic Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon. You don’t eat it though. You look at it, admire it and praise her for it. But who knew? You did not eat it. So as rich, savoury and life-giving as the dish was – it never became you! We can do this at the Lord’s Table. The bread and the wine is RELIGION BUT NEVER US because in the law we cannot see its real meaning. This feast is not an occasion for lament about the cross. It’s a sign of the incarnation – a reminder that Christ’s life is our life and that by eating Him HE BECOMES US.
The difference between Believers living in religion and agreeing with Jesus that He becomes us is discernible by the discerning. Not so much if we are satisfied with what we have and are committed to an old wineskin because that’s where our identity is. Here our Barby Doll can fade before our eyes but given we have old covenant eyes we will not see it because we intent on erecting and maintaining the rationalisations we on which we rely to keep the light out.
Christ Our Life Believers really do go on from glory to glory as sons and daughters of God because they have agreed that Jesus has joined them to infinite life. God did not rub anointing oil into the Adamic/Mosai religion and old covenant wineskin and neither should you – not if you value spirit and life more than the appearance of it or an identity as a son rather than as an acolyte of a religion.
‘Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them’ Matt 13.12 NIV. _____ * We all have access to union with God. Whether we possess this union depends on whether we believe it; whether we know what the cross accomplished and whether our beliefs are the same as Jesus ‘beliefs and not some wacky doctrine of our own. Paul spoke of gospels and ‘gospels’ that bring a curse. (1) Rev. Gary Deddo, PhD University of Aberdeen, is senior editor for InterVarsity Press Academic and lives with his wife and three children just outside of Chicago, IL. He is the author of Karl Barth’s Theology of Relations: Trinitarian, Christological and Human (Peter Lang, 1999). Deddo is also founding president of the T. F. Torrance Theological Fellowship (www.tftorrance.org). (2) Anderson, Ray; Colyer, Elmer; Dawson, Gerrit; Deddo, Gary; Kettler, Christian; Kruger, Baxter; McKenna, John; McSwain, Jeff; Newell, Roger; Young, Paul. Trinitarian Conversations, Volume 1: Interviews With Ten Theologians (You're Included) (pp. 58-59). Grace Communion International. Kindle Edition. (3) Ibid. Trinitarian Conversations, Volume 1: Interviews With Ten Theologians (You're Included) (p. 59). Grace Communion International. Kindle Edition.