Before the world was made God decided that he wanted to be God with us and for us as one of us. He also decided that he wanted us to be one with him in the deepest fellowship. So the Father elected his own Son to be the One in whom God and humanity would be united in the Spirit. And in Jesus that eternal election moved into time. He is God’s chosen man who comes into our world to be God for humanity and humanity for God. We cannot think of election or of God’s eternal purposes for humanity apart from Jesus. Election is centred not around an abstract decree, but concretely election is Jesus Christ.
In Jesus, God’s chosen man, God turns towards humans and wills to be one with us, and in him humans are turned wholly towards God to be one with him. Yes, Jesus is himself the one movement of redeeming love in which God gives himself unreservedly to humans and in which he gathers up humans into his own life. In Jesus, the elect man, God has given himself to be our God once and for all and nothing can undo that decision. So we look at Jesus and know for sure that God is now who he always wanted to be: God with us and for us as one of us. Furthermore, in Jesus, God gives humans to himself once and for all, and nothing can undo that decision. We, therefore, look at Jesus and know for sure that we are now who God always wanted to us to be: humans with God in union and communion.
As we speak about the Triune God we use human words to express who this God is within himself. But we are trying to express the inexpressible. So, in all our attempts to know the Triune God, we must accept that what we most know is that we do not know the one who surpasses our knowledge. Nevertheless, we can know the Triune One because he has revealed himself to us in his Son and Spirit.
We are now called to reflect on his revelation to know something of who he is within himself. But we always make sure that we stay focussed only on Jesus. He is the saving love of the Triune God invading our world in dramatic action. So we always remain focussed on Jesus as the communication of God himself. In him we see the dynamic movement of God’s redeeming love as Father, Son and Spirit move together as One towards their redeeming goal.
We delight in this saving love together as we worship the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit. And all our devotion wells up from the living water of the Spirit in love for Abba in union with the Son. In this spirit of love and devotion, we attempt to shape a Trinitarian understanding of God and we are shaped by the Triune one as we do so. More and more we became a Trinitarian shaped community. And in community we press forward together with a reverent and humble mind as we seek insight into the personal relations of God within himself and towards us.
Jesus is God’s unique Son. He is, therefore, the act of God to and for humans as human. So we must be careful not to separate who Jesus is from what he does for us. For what Jesus does for us is one and the same with who he is as God’s Son. With T. F. Torrance we hold together the person of Christ in his work and the work of Christ in his person.
God acted to create all things, but in that action he created a reality wholly distinct from himself. But in Jesus, God acts in such a way that he is himself in his act. What he acts he is, and what he is he acts.
In his work of revealing he is himself what he does. Only God can truly reveal God. And Jesus is himself God’s self-revelation. Jesus speaks the truth; he does the truth; he enacts the truth ; he is the truth. And the Spirit of truth opens up to us the heart of the true God towards us through Jesus, the truth.
In his work of reconciling he is in himself what he does. He is God reconciling the world to himself as the one who is the reconciliation. Reconciliation isn’t something that Jesus achieves it is someone. He is the one in whom God and humanity are reconciled and the Spirit brings us into union with him so that we share in the reconciliation as dearly loved children.
The Father’s unique Son became fully human. He did so to live in total solidarity with his fellow humans. He is God and yet he identifies totally with us even in our sin. He submitted to a baptism among sinners at the Jordan and finally to a baptism in blood on the cross even becoming sin for us. Between these two points he continually identified with sinful humans. This was no easy thing. It threw in him into an intensity of battle within his own soul reaching its culmination in the agony of Gethsemane. And yet, throughout it all he was tranquil resting trustfully in his Father.
Just as Jesus lived in total oneness with us he lived in total oneness with God his Father. As he said himself, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me…I and the Father are one” This oneness meant he entered more and more intensely into the hostility of humanity against the true God. For he was living out, in the midst of humanity, his own oneness with the God that humanity rejects. And yet he did so in total solidarity with the hostile humans. This too was no easy thing. It threw in him into an intensity of battle within his own soul reaching its culmination in the agony of Gethsemane. And yet, in Gethsemane, he came to rest trustfully in the will of his Father. In union with his Father he wants to be one with humanity in sin and suffering in order to gather men and women into the heart of God.
Before the world was even made the Father wanted to bind himself to us in the deepest union and communion. And even though we resisted God’s purpose he resisted our resistance. For at God’s appointed time the Father’s Son stepped among us as human deliberately entering into living solidarity with his fellow humans. At last in the midst of our fallen humanity, in spite of our estrangement from God, he comes in his love binding himself to us for ever. In this total solidarity with us he even Jesus went down the lowest place to lift us up to the highest place at home with his Father.
So in Jesus, the Father’s Son, God has pledged his very Being to us and us to himself. Can God go back on this? If he did so he would deny himself. As T. F. Torrance says, “He cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself”. For Christ is God himself as human giving himself totally to us and for us that we might belong with him to his Father in the communion of the Spirit. God and humans are now bound together in Jesus as new covenant that is better by far than the one before.
Through Jesus, our Great High Priest, we have bold access into the Holy of Holies where we freely embrace Abba Father as he embraces us. In his embrace, we embrace all people holding them within the sphere of our Father’s promised blessing.
We share in this ministry because, in union with Jesus, we are God’s royal priesthood interceding for humanity in the presence of our Father. But we only fulfil this calling through the Holy Spirit. For it is the Spirit himself who intercedes within us with goanings too deep for words. And we do not have to first pray the Spirit down. He’s here! Always alive in us, and always interceding through us. Through the intercessions of the Spirit, we are connected with the intercessions of Jesus, our Royal Priest in the presence of our Father.
So the priestly ministry of intercession is gift rather than task. We might say the New Covenant gift of praying is like breathing. Though not always thinking about it we are always doing it. For the Spirit is continually welling up within us connecting us with our Royal Priest in his Father’s presence.
We must also stress that this gift of prayer is not just for a special person at a special time in a special place! As a kingdom of priests we all share in the ministry of intercession by the Spirit in union with our Royal Priest in the presence of his Father.
God promised Abraham he would become a great nation that would be a blessing to all nations. In order to be a blessing, Abraham’s offspring were called by their God to be “a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6). Priests represent God to the people and that was Israel’s calling to the world as they lived in covenant under God’s rule. In their light the nations would see Israel’s God as the Blessed One who blesses. Priests also represent people to God and that too was Israel’s calling under God’s rule. They were to hold all nations before their God for blessing.
In this covenant calling Israel foreshadowed Christ. He is the Royal Priest who gathers to himself a new covenant people who are a blessed with every spiritual blessing in him. And also a blessed people empowered by the Spirit to become a royal priesthood for the blessing of all nations.
This new covenant priestly calling is ours. We represent our God to all people as we live before them in the blessing of our Father in Christ by the Spirit. And we also represent all people to our God as we hold the world before our Father within the sphere of his promised blessing. This we do in union with the Father’s Son through the intercession of his Spirit within us.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood
and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father,
to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen
God made a covenant with Abraham promising to bless him and make him a blessing to all. The Lord proved faithful to this promise. At the end of Abraham’s life we read, “The Lord had blessed Abraham in every way (Genesis 24.1). Abraham was blessed with material prosperity and an heir along with the promise of a future inheritance for his offspring. However, the primary blessing for Abraham was relationship with God himself. He was called the friend of God and walked with his friend in close relationship even after failing badly. In this love relationship he was truly blessed.
Paul tells us that in Jesus the blessing of Abraham has come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith (Galatians 3 :14). Jesus, the messiah, is himself the true seed of Abraham who was cursed so that we might be blessed. And, in union with him, we are truly blessed as we now receive the promised Spirit and enjoy God himself as our blessing.
Through the indwelling Spirit Father and Son make their home with us. And by the Spirit we are lifted up into the communion of Father and Son. Sharing in the Father’s love for his Son, we cry Abba Father by the indwelling Spirit of adoption knowing that our Father has bound himself to us in covenant love. He has done so in such a way that he will never let us go. Even if we fail him, his love for us will never cease.
We are truly blessed!
While the whole world was turned away from God he turned towards one man, Abraham. He made a covenant with Abraham promising to bless him and make him a blessing to the nations. This covenant promise was a freely-given and undeserved relationship of blessing. Abraham didn’t do anything to merit such a promise. God’s covenant relationship was an act of his free grace. It was unconditional.
God made this unconditional covenant of promise with Abraham and his offspring, Israel. He promised that they too would be blessed and a blessing to the nations. But was the covenant with Israel unconditional? There were many laws that Israel must obey to enjoy blessing. Nevertheless, the basis of this covenant with Israel was the unconditional covenant of promise with Abraham. And Paul makes the point that the law that came 430 years after Abraham was a temporary measure that does not annul the unconditional covenant of promise.
The covenant God proved faithful to his unconditional promise by sending his Son into the world for us. The Father’s Son was the faithfulness of God towards us in saving action. He was also our covenant faithfulness towards God for he lived before his Father as us. And now we put our faith in his faithfulness so that in him we are the faithful ones before our Father. Faithful, not through our own faithfulness, but only through the faithfulness of Jesus.
The covenant God also proves faithful by sending the promised Spirit into our hearts. He does so that we may live faithfully in union with Jesus through Spirit enabled transformation.
It’s all unconditional grace!
God entered into a covenant of love with Israel promising to be faithful to them always. Even when the people were unfaithful the Lord went on loving them with unfailing love. His promise was repeated over and over in all Israel’s history “I will be your God and your shall be my people” and he kept to his promise. For the covenant promise was fulfilled by unfailing love not by legal obligations.
The story of God’s covenant with Israel shows that we humans cannot be faithful as covenant partners. For that reason the God who is love made a new kind of covenant with us not like the one he made with Israel. In this new covenant God keeps both parts of the relationship himself. His own Son comes as God among us fulfilling his part to be our God according to his covenant promise. At the same time, Jesus also fulfils our part. He is the true man who was faithful to God on our behalf because he lived as us before his Father. In him we are faithful to our calling as God’s covenant partners. Not faithful because of our own faithfulness to God, but only because of the faithfulness of Jesus.
God’s Spirit brings us to faith in Jesus’ faithfulness and also joins us to Jesus, the faithful one, so that we share in his faithfulness to the Father. And so, our life in the new covenant does not depend on our faithfulness but rather on the faithfulness of the covenant God through his Son for us and his Spirit in us. This makes the new covenant “better” by far.