Total Oneness

Jesus is true God and true man in one person. This living union is dynamic. He continually expresses his total oneness with the one he calls Father in the presence and power of the Spirit. He continually expresses his total oneness with sinful humanity in the presence and power of the Spirit. He is God moving dynamically towards humanity in love. He is humanity moving dynamically towards God in love. He deliberately enters into active and living solidarity with his fellow humans to bring us back to God in himself. This why his Father sent him into the world as one of us.

Jesus’ eyes were constantly on his Father doing only what he saw his Father doing. All his works of compassion towards needy humans were done in total dependence on his Father. He continually lived in his Father as his Father lived in him. So, all his works were the works of his Father by the Spirit.

Though he lived and moved in constant oneness with his Father He also lived and moved in total oneness with his fellow humans. He gave himself to be baptised along with sinners in the Jordan to identity totally with them. He also gave himself in a baptism in blood on the cross identifying totally with us in suffering, desolation and death. And yet, he was always at rest in his Father’s love as he served his Father to gather us into his communion with the Father.

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Relational Response

In union with the Father’s dearly loved Son we are dearly loved children. Within this relationship, we do not do what God wants so that we can get him to act favourably towards us in some way. That sounds like God has made a contract with us. He agrees to do good to us if we do what is good in his eyes.
This is a mistaken idea that we easily slip into. Instead, we must see clearly that God has not entered into a legal contract with us. He has rather bound us to himself in a covenant of love. And within this covenant relationship, we are his dearly loved children enjoying family love.

We did not establish this covenant relationship through our responses to God. Only God can create the relationship. Our personal responses create nothing, but God looks for them as we live in union with Jesus by his Spirit. The Spirit joins us to Jesus so that we live and move in union with him. We really do share in his life as we live in him and he lives in us. And within this union, we become dearly loved children who walk in love by the freeing and enabling power of the Spirit. We have been included in the relationship Jesus has with his Father in a transforming and renewing relationship with God—a relationship that calls for our response.

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Responding to God’s Love

We can add nothing to all that God has done for us once and for all in Jesus. Everything is already DONE. However, the God who has done all for us now calls us to DO whatever he wants us to do. Because God loves us, he desires a response to his love. He even tells us the kind of responses he wants within the relationship he has already given us by grace. For example, the God who has loved us and done all for us calls us to walk in love as dearly loved children. We don’t try to earn his love by loving. We know that we are already deeply loved and so we now aim to live lives of love as God has loved us in Jesus.

All our responses to what God has done for us in Jesus are made possible only because of what God is still DOING within us by his Spirit. At the very core of our persons God is at work within us to freely and gladly will and work for his good pleasure. So, Paul can say, I no longer live but Christ lives in me. Yes, Jesus himself lives his own life of love in and through us, so that we are now able to love with his love.

Furthermore, Jesus not only lives in us, we also live in him. The Spirit has joined us to Jesus lifting our lives into his life. So now, all our imperfect responses are taken into his perfect responses before the Father. In living union with Jesus, we share in the perfect responses that he has made and continues to make for us.

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Reconciling Love

We were enemies of God, alienated from him in every way, but he moved towards us to bring us back home. This reconciliation to relationship takes place in Jesus. As Paul says, “IN CHRIST, God was reconciling the world to himself” (2 Corinthians 5: 19 NRSV). Jesus is the true God moving faithfully towards humans to accomplish reconciliation in himself. He is also the true human moving faithfully towards God on our behalf for our reconciliation.

This reconciliation in Jesus, calls for a personal response from us. Having said, “In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself”, Paul goes on to say, “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God” God himself is appealing to us because he is the relational God who simply wants to be in relationship with us. That’s why he created us. That’s why he sent his Son into the world as human. And so, the reconciling God appeals to us to be reconciled.
However, our personal response to God’s reconciling love is enabled by God’s Spirit. For God sends his Spirit to us personally creating within us a personal response to his reconciling love in Jesus. Through Jesus, God moves towards us in order to reconcile us; and by God’s Spirit, we now move towards God to be reconciled. So, from both the divine and human sides, reconciliation moves from God’s reconciling love. The God who is love wants us in a relationship as his family and does everything in Jesus to have us with himself. And by his Spirit, we respond gratefully in wonder, love, and praise.

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Grace meets Grace for Relationship

The One God exists as three Persons in relationship. This relational God created us for relationship and he comes to us as Jesus to reconcile us for relationship. As Jesus acts as one of us to bring us to his Father, he shows us his Father. And now, he actually includes us in his own relationship with his Father by his Spirit. In this way, we are fully restored as dearly loved sons and daughters who cry Abba Father with Jesus in the Spirit of adoption. So, we are drawn into a relational knowing made possible by the God who is himself a communion of joyful love.

We are not passive in all this. We are given the freedom to respond as God’s Spirit opens us to freely receive God’s love and to live into his love. We do not have to make the first move by making ourselves ready to respond. God doesn’t move towards us only when we first move towards him. The God of Grace moves towards us freely in the overflow of his love for us. And, by his Spirit, his grace also moves from within us to respond. It is our response, and yet it is a response that is a free gift of God’s Spirit in Jesus. For it is the Spirit of God alone who draws us into a relational knowing of the relational God in Jesus. We might say that Grace meets Grace for relationship.

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Knowing the One God

In the Old Covenant, belief in the One God was relational rather than merely rational. It wasn’t just a theoretical acknowledgment that there is only One Supreme Being. The daily repeated Shema says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut 6:4 NRSV). To know the One God is to love him totally and to serve only him.

As a devout Jew, Saul of Tarsus loved and served only the God of Israel as the one who is in a class of his own. However, after the risen Jesus encountered Saul, (now known as Paul), he explicitly and continually spoke of his relationship with the risen Lord Jesus in the same exclusive way. And he urged other believers to turn from idolatry to love and serve the risen Jesus as the only true Lord.

We also come to know Jesus as the one true God as he encounters us bringing us into a relationship with him. That means grasping who Jesus is does not depend on our own ability to grasp the message concerning him. It rather depends on our being grasped by Jesus as he encounters us personally by the Spirit. And so, we do not come to know the One God as a mere object of intellectual knowledge, but only in Jesus as he moves towards us personally, dynamically, and relationally.

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For me to live is Christ

For Saul of Tarsus, Israel’s God was in a class of his own. All other gods were actually no gods at all. This belief was expressed through whole hearted devotion to his God. He aimed to be faithful to the Lord offering total loyalty to him alone. However, Jesus encountered Saul personally turning his life around. And from that moment on he offered this same total devotion to Jesus.

How did this happen? Did he come across evidence showing that Jesus is God? Did he spend many hours working things out? No! He spoke about God revealing his Son in/to him. The Father unveiled Jesus, as divine Lord by the Spirit and that turned Saul’s life around. All his religious achievements were now counted as nothing compared to knowing the Lord Jesus. He now summed up his whole life as “for me to live is Christ.”

Saul (now known as Paul) was a learned Jew who was dedicated to persecuting those who contaminated the Jewish faith with “mistaken” ideas about Jesus. But God changed him by breaking into his life to reveal who Jesus is. That encounter was a surprise and a shock, resulting in a complete change in direction. No one would have predicted this. Nor could anyone explain it. This dramatic change can only be explained by divine revelation.

We also believe that Jesus is Lord. We do so, only because God has revealed Jesus to us through his Spirit. And as the Spirit continues making Jesus a living reality to us and in us we too may say, “For me to live is Christ.”

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God Making Himself Known

God the Father wants to draw near and be known. And through his Son, he actually came among us making himself known. “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart who has made him known” (John 1:18 NRSV). Through Jesus, we see God as Father and Son relating to each other.  We only know the Son as Son relating to his Father.  We only know the Father as Father relating to his Son. We know God this way because the Son has revealed it all to us.

Jesus knows who the Father is from within the very life of God. That means the Son knows the Father more intimately and deeply than anyone can ever know the Father. However, Jesus comes to us personally by the Spirit opening to us the Triune communal life. He opens up God’s shared life in such a way that we are taken inside the inner relations. We don’t stand at a distance looking at the son’s relationship with the Father in the Spirit; we actually participate in his relationship with the Father in the same Spirit. The Spirit engrafts us into union with the Son so that all that is his becomes ours, including his relationship with the Father in union with him.

Yes, the Triune God has so opened his inner life to us that we can actually share in his own circle of knowing. In union with his Son and by his Spirit, he brings us into his own knowing of himself within the circle of love that he is.

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Jesus is God revealing HIMSELF through himself

As Jesus was praising his Father in the joy of the Spirit he said, “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him (Luke 10: 22).” So, within the life of the Triune God, Father and Son know one another in a way no-one else can share. This is a deep relational knowing within God’s own triune life. However, the Father’s Son makes his Father known as a human amongst humans. He once said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14: 9). The Son does not reveal the Father to us as one who has some truth about God to make known.  He is the Father’s unique Son who is one with his Father.  He is, therefore, the very unveiling of God in person. 

That same Jesus comes to us personally by his Spirit to reveal both himself and his Father. He alone knows who the Father is because he is in the Father and the Father is in him. And so, Jesus is God revealing HIMSELF through himself and not merely the revealing of something about God.

Furthermore, Jesus reveals his Father to us in such a personal way that we get to share in the knowing of God as Father and Son in the Spirit. For we now share in the Son’s knowing of his Father and the Father’s knowing of his Son. And we gaze into an utterly new vision of God that we could never tell ourselves.

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God with us and for us

In the Jesus story, we see the Father loving his Son and the Son loving his Father. We see them no other way. And the way we see them in the story is the way they always are within the eternal circle of love. They are never other than this. Not in time or eternity.

In the Jesus story, we also see God loving us by giving his Son to be God with us and for us as one of us. And through Jesus, the Father himself is with us as the One who is for us. We say this simply because we can never separate Father and Son. The two always move indivisibly as One in the Spirit. As Jesus is with us and for us in the Spirit so is his Father. And so, Jesus expresses the freedom of the Father’s love reaching out to bring us home to himself as Father.

This means we no longer know about God as a nameless and faceless being behind the back of Jesus. We know God himself as our Father who shows his face through Jesus by his own Spirit. And in the same Spirit, we gain access to the Father, through the Son, so that we are brought inside the life and love of the Triune God himself. We may still not be able to solve the doctrinal puzzle of three in one and one in three. Nevertheless, within this access, we come to know the Triune God with us and for us within the circle of love and in no other way.

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