In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself. Reconciliation is now accomplished in him. In his Love, God was entirely free to do this. No one could resist him. No one could say you cannot do this. No one could prevent this eternal purpose of love from being accomplished once and for all. This is what God wanted to do for us in the freedom of his love. God wants us in relation with himself. And in the freedom of his love God acts to do what he wants freely in Jesus, the Father’s son.
It is all done!
Now, God’s Spirit acts for us on both sides of our relation with God. He opens to us all that God is for us in Christ. And the same Spirit opens us to God as dearly loved children in union with his unique Son. We know we are loved. We know we belong. And in this knowing we respond with confidence and glad obedience to Abba Father.
Yes, we now relate to Jesus’ Father as our Father crying Abba Father with Jesus in the Spirit. Jesus indwells us, by the Spirit, to live his own life in and through us. Christ himself is our very life. We live in him and he lives in us and the life we now live is lived in Christ as he lives in us. In this way, our relation with God is truly a sharing in the Son’s relation with the Father in the Spirit.
The Triune God is Love. The One God is three persons mutually indwelling one another in other-centred love. And so, there is within the very Being of God a desire to be for others in love. This God, who is love, has demonstrated his love for us by giving his Son even unto death. And he has poured his love into our hearts in the gift of his Spirit. He has moved freely out of himself as love to bring us into the communion of love with himself. Even though we turn away from him, he refuses to be shut off from us. He wants to be with us and for us to be with him.
The Triune God is also Light. I don’t think we are meant to separate light and love into two different ways of seeing God. The Light of God is his love shining towards us in all its beauty and brilliance. We see the light of God in the face of Jesus as we gaze on the radiance of his love. And the Spirit is the one who shines this light into our hearts so that we may see the light of God’s glory in the face of Jesus. The Spirit lights up the Face of God in the face of Christ. In Jesus, and by the Spirit, the God who is all love and light and light and love shines in our hearts. And as we gaze on the light of his glory we are transformed into his likeness.
God is essentially personal, relational and dynamic. He is not some static divine substance in eternal stillness. The One God is within himself three persons who relate together dynamically. Within God’s triune life there is always life and movement and relationship. Far from being static, the Being of God is essentially and eternally dynamic.
In the Jesus story, we see this God moving towards us in lowliness and love. He moved dynamically to save us from all the dark powers that ruled over us. And now, this saving action comes to us personally in living encounter by the Spirit. The Spirit makes actual within us and among us the saving action of the Triune God. And this same dynamic God continues to move in us and among us to energise us so that we share in all that God continues to do through Jesus in the Presence and Power of the Spirit.
In union with Jesus, by the Spirit, God is always with us as the dynamic and ever-living one. He continually desires to encounter us personally in his livingness. He continually desires to transform us personally in his livingness. He continually desires to include us in his ongoing mission on behalf of the world in his livingness. God’s intention is that, through his dynamic Spirit, we may live and move with the Father and Son to share in all they are doing. And he desires all this so that, in the Spirit, we may find our deepest joy in the joyful love of God.
Jesus was born of a poor and lowly girl in weakness. But he was conceived, within the girl, by the power of God’s Spirit. An angel announced to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
At his baptism, the Spirit came upon Jesus without measure. From that moment, we see Jesus living and moving in the Spirit. In lowliness and weakness he served his Father and yet always in the power of the Spirit. And so, his lowly serving was always dynamic movement
Everything Jesus did for us was in the Spirit. All his teaching was in the authority of the Spirit. All his miracles were works of power in the Spirit. He offered himself as the once for all sacrifice for us in the Spirit. And he was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4).
This lowly man, who served in the power of the Spirit, is now exalted to his Father’s side. And he received from his Father the promised Holy Spirit to pour out on us. And now, joined to Jesus in the Spirit, we may share his communion with the Father and participate in all that Jesus is for us as one of us. We also share in the ongoing mission of Jesus as he continually lives and moves and acts in us and through us serving his Father on behalf of the world.
The Father’s Son became human and he remains human today and forever. Now, in the presence of his Father, this human is our High Priest. He represents us in the Most Holy place continually offering himself before his Father on our behalf. He does so as our fellow human with tender care and desire for our welfare. He is always asking his Father to supply all that we need for ongoing life with him. This is what Scripture means when it speaks of Jesus our High Priest ever living to make intercession for us.
We are very imperfect in our praying, but this human priest takes hold of our prayers and offers them to the Father as his own. And so whether we ourselves pray well or badly is not the main thing. What really matters is that the perfect prayers are always being offered by the Son to the Father on our behalf. Jesus prayers in the presence of the Father really are our prayers. And when we offer our imperfect prayers they really are taken by Jesus and turned into his own prayers.
Jesus prays for us before we pray for ourselves. And he draws us into his praying by the Spirit who intercedes in us and for us with groans too deep for words (Romans 8:26). As the Spirit prays in us, we are caught up into the Son’s communion with the Father. The conversation is always going on; we just get to be part of this conversation in the Spirit and through the Son.
We live in a time when “self-worth” and “self-image” are major concerns. And there are many “Christian” books telling us how to find our worth. However, our true worth is found in the value God in Christ has placed upon us. It is what he has done (and who he is as the One who has done it) that gives us a real sense of value. For us, the Father’s Son was willing to actually become one of us. He took the form of a servant making himself nothing. He became poor that we might become rich in him. He endured the cross of shame that we might appear with him in glory. For us, he became sin that we might become the righteousness of God in him. Furthermore, he gave himself to all this for the joy that was set before him of having us with him in God.
Truly, Jesus values us all so very much. He tells us that he won’t allow himself to lose any one of us. Even though all the powers of the world combine to take us out of his hand he will hold onto us in love. Yes, “Christ parted with everything for us; but he will never part with us” (Sinclair Ferguson).
Only when considering Jesus’ value of us do we find our own true worth. All false self-worth is dissolved in the presence of his supreme valuation. And this, in turn, leads to the value we place on Jesus. We value him above all counting everything as loss in order that we might gain Christ and be found in him.
The self-giving of God always moves from the Father through the Son and in the Spirit towards us. We respond to God’s grace through faith, but even this arises from the movement of Grace. For our response of faith moves from our hearts in the Spirit through Jesus to his Father. Yes, even our faith is the gift of God. From both sides of the relation, Triune Grace acts. This shatters any idea of religious self-effort.
This same double movement of Grace continues throughout our whole lives. For the God of Grace who encounters us in Jesus is now personally present bringing us into personal transformation through life in the Spirit. Jesus gave himself for us once and for all and now, in the Spirit, he continually gives himself to us in order to live out his own life in and through us. So now I no longer live but Christ lives in me and the life I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.
We easily slip into seeing grace as “something” we need in order to live the Christian life. So we must continually acquire grace in order to live well as Jesus followers. If we receive grace we will perform better. We really need to see that Grace isn’t a commodity for us to make use of in our own lives. Grace is God continually giving himself to us through Jesus and the Spirit setting us in a completely new world as new humanity.
We sometimes talk about Grace as if it were “something” that God gives to us. T F Torrance reminds us that Grace is never a quality transferred to us so that it becomes our “private possession”. Grace cannot be thought of apart from God himself. For Grace is simply God giving HIMSELF to us through Jesus in the Spirit. Concerning Jesus, John says, “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The fullness of grace that John saw now comes to us in union with Jesus. Through the Spirit, the Father gives us to Jesus and gives Jesus to us. We are joined to Jesus so that we are in him and he is in us. And now “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” Everything you ever lack is found in him; all you will ever need is given to you in him. For the Father has “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”
Jesus is just what we need, and he is all that we need: Are you dead? Christ is life. Are you weak? Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Are you crushed under the sense of guilt and condemnation? Christ is our righteousness. Are you troubled? Christ is our peace. From beginning to end, therefore, Grace is all about Jesus. When he fills the horizon of our vision, we find ourselves drawn to him, embraced by him and enjoying God with him.
The Old Testament Zephaniah wrote,
The Lord your God is in your midst,
A mighty one who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by his love;
He will exult over you with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17)
Now, in union with Jesus, we can say that our Father is exulting over us with loud singing. Nevertheless, we may not dare to think so. Maybe our gaze is fixed too much on ourselves as unlovely and unlovable. Or maybe we are in the habit of looking past rather than at the love of our Father. But with our eyes fixed on Jesus, we will see the Father’s love that is demonstrated in him. Only then shall we hear our Father’s loud singing over us.
As we hear our Father’s loud love song, we will find ourselves returning his love. And, just as Jesus is the One through whom the Father’s love comes to us, so through him our love is returned to the Father by his Spirit. The Father’s loud and joyful song over us is returned though our loud and joyful song to the Father. For through Jesus, we now rejoice over our Father with singing as we rest satisfied in his love.
It should not escape our notice that all takes place in the Spirit. The Spirit brings the Father’s love song down from heaven into our hearts as God’s love is poured into our hearts by the Spirit. And then, by the same Spirit, our love is returned to the Father through the Son.
God demonstrated his love for us through his Son who loved us and gave himself for us. We experience this love personally as God pours his love into our hearts by his Spirit. And we are now called to live in love for God. However, our love for God must always be understood as a response to his love in Jesus. We don’t love God so that he might love us. As John says, “We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19).
If we put our love for God before his love for us we might mistakenly believe that his love for us depends on our love for him. So when our days become crowded and God ends up neglected, we may feel we are not worthy of his love. We then start to avoid God. We even imagine that God is waiting for us to get ourselves together before we can again enter his presence.
Such thinking betrays our failure to grasp that God’s love for us is constant. Any increase in our love for him cannot increase his love for us. Any decrease in our love for God cannot make him love us less. Nothing we do can make him love us more; nothing we do can make him love us less. While it is true that our Father sometimes disciplines his children (Heb. 12.6), he does so as an expression of his love for us. His love for us is always free, lavish and constant. The God who IS love does not drive us to the duty of love in guilt and shame. No! In love, he draws love out of us in response to his immeasurable love.