The term “Trinity” refers to the incorporation of the semi-distinct personalities of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The enigma surrounding the idea of the Trinity arises because the Bible makes clear that God, even as this incorporated Trinity, still remains but one God. So, the usual question is, “How can this be?” (Ref. Deut. 6:4 / Mk. 12:29 / Eph. 4: 4-5 NKJV)
The second preliminary issue that we will consider is the nature of the very elemental shaping mechanism which God employs to renew and grow His people. But, for now, let's just begin with the nature of the Divine Trinity.
In later sections, we will delve into the very intimate details of the unique operational means of the Trinity. But, let’s first begin with some very basic ideas and illustrations here. And, let's begin with you – yep, you – because you are also a trinity of sorts.
In the genesis of mankind, God said, “Let us make man in our image.” And, He did. Among other ways in which He made us to be like Himself, He also made us to be our own kind of trinity. And, He did so in this way. He made us to be an intellectual being. He made us to be an emotional being. And, he made us able to be a blended expression of the two.
Indeed, it is possible for human beings to express themselves in a purely intellectual way. It is also possible for us to express ourselves in a purely emotional way. But, most of the time we express ourselves in a blended way which involves both our intellect and our emotions at the same time.
Thus, we are these three expressions of the same personality. And, even though we may choose one mode of expression over the other two in a given moment, that expression remains entirely one with our corporate personality.
There is that, however: as human beings we have to make a choice. We must choose to act in only one of those three modes of our personality at the time. For example, we cannot express ourselves in a blended way and a purely intellectual way at the same time. Or, we cannot express ourselves in a purely emotional way and a purely intellectual way at the same time.
God, on the other hand, can act in all three expressions of the Divine Trinity as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit at the same time and yet remain entirely incorporated. And, as mentioned earlier, it is this more complex operational nature of the Divine Trinity which often gives us pause.
It’s likely that we only struggle with this complexity in the Divine Trinity because we tend to think in terms of the human limitations. But, God is, after all, an all-powerful Spirit. So, being entirely free of corporeal limitations, and resulting from His much more sophisticated nature, God is simply capable of more complexity than is afforded by our more limited physical nature. (Ref. John 4:14 / Isaiah 55:9)
Nevertheless, when it comes to this greater complexity of the Divine Trinity, a good illustration of its workings exists in the world of computers. Think about it. Often, we set up powerful, large capacity computers (called mainframes) which have multiple outlying terminals connected to it. That mainframe computer is defined and “singularly identified” by its central store of data and its unique computing architecture into which the outlying terminals are all tied.
These outlying monitor terminals then essentially all become the different “faces” of that one mainframe computer. And yet, those outlying terminals are all capable of doing different things at different locations, at the same time. Nevertheless, these terminals are still merely an expression of the mainframe, in that all of them only ever draw from the shared informational content and capabilities of that primary mainframe computer.
Similarly, in the case of the Divine Trinity, that singular central source is the divine character essence. It is that divine heart or core essence, which is, at all times, shared by all three persons of the Trinity, no matter what different things each may be doing at any given moment.
Thus, God’s “Complex Oneness” is simply a function of His various “faces,” the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, constantly sharing that Divine Character Essence. And, like the data which defines the mainframe computer, the divine core essence is chiefly defined by the divine value system which it contains, and which is constantly shared by all three “faces” of the Divine Trinity. (Ref. John 14:7-11)
So, to put a point on this illustration, it follows then, that we human beings are merely simple PC's, while God is a powerful mainframe computer with multiple terminals. OK, now that I think about it, maybe that’s just too fine a point to put on the whole matter. But, you get the idea. It is the shared central content of the one divine heart which enables all three persons of the Trinity to ever remain completely singular in their essential identity. (Ref. John 17:17-23)
The Divine “Shaping Mechanism”
We will revisit this idea of the Divine Trinity in more detail later, but for now let’s jump to that second preliminary idea. It too, is a necessary precursor to our discussion of the Savior and the nature of His redemptive work. So, let’s consider what seems to be the favored divine mechanism for shaping and renewing the human heart. And, that mechanism is simply composed of two elemental values. These two very primary heart motives are simply, Respect for Authority and Love. (Ref. Jude 1:20-22 / 1 John 4:17-18)
We can easily observe how God employs these two basic values in concert with each other in some very strategic places. For example, in the binary makeup of the Bible – the Old and New Testaments. This division clearly demonstrates the concerted use of these shaping motives.
In the Old Testament, the overarching message is the “Fear of the Lord.” The idea conveyed by the world “fear” in this case is most accurately understood to be simply, respect. The larger idea is, then, respect for God’s authority. However, in the New Testament the overarching message is clearly the message of God's tender love.
And, here’s another strategic use of this shaping mechanism. In the home, again we see these two elemental values operating together. The father figure has typically represents and models respect for authority. And the mother figure has generally represented and modeled the idea of tender love. And through the mingled influence of both parents, comes a balanced blend of these molding motives acting upon the child for his or her proper formation.
And finally, when we look at God, Himself, we can easily see these same two primary shaping values working in concert within His nature. God the Father, is easily seen as portraying to His creation, the requirement of respect for His authority. While Jesus, God the Son, is easily seen as primarily portraying God’s tender love. And, God the Holy Spirit then becomes the everyday perfect blend of these two defining motives.
And, it is easy to see how this Respect / Love employment well serves the business of friendship building and heart-oneness with God. It is not unlike what happens in an ideal home situation as noted above. These two concerted motives, are carefully used by God, in balance, as part of our Christ-enabled growth process toward heart-oneness with God.
Now, The Role Of The Savior
So, as we begin to discuss the role of Christ in the redemptive drama, the first thing to understand is simply that He is, indeed, that Second Person of the Divine Trinity, and thus, every bit God. He is of the very same character essence as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
Arguably, the best way to grasp the scope of Christ’s role, is to begin at the beginning. So, let’s first look briefly at some key events and issues rooted in previous times.
Christ In Context
Let’s first go back and re-examine what really happened to mankind, as a species, in the Garden of Eden. This early probe will explain much about why we do what we do and why we are the way we are. And, it will explain much about the role of Christ as our Savior.
The early existence of Adam and Eve was nothing less than precisely what we have been talking about in this writing - a wonderful friendship with their Creator. It was a beautifully uncomplicated – though, by no means, unsophisticated - daily walk with Him. It was an easy, unforced companionship which was truly fulfilling to both God and man.
And, there was,
indeed, a sophisticated responsibility involved in the relationship. It
was the responsibility of choice.
When God created Adam and Eve, it was with the privilege and the responsibility of personal autonomy. And, this afforded them a true personal sovereignty over their life and destiny. And that sovereignty even extended to the opportunity, at any time, to choose self-determination over God-guidance.
Thus, in effect, Adam and Eve became truly independent influences in the Universe. They were, indeed, from the very beginning, capable of making independent choices and taking independent actions which affected their own and the larger circumstance around them in the most real ways.
The Great Lie First Appears
Adam and Eve were, of
course, the first of our species to address this question of personal
sovereignty and what to do with their personal influence. And, in fact,
these were the underlying issues of that first temptation.
Essentially, Satan’s temptation to the first couple was an enticement to reject God's authority, and assert control over their own life and destiny. His goal was to get them to assert their influence in a way which, first and foremost, pleased themselves. (Ref. Gen. 3:4-6)
Satan’s indication was that they could take control and elevate themselves if they chose do so. He encouraged them to do that by trusting in their own interpretations of good and evil, rather than God's interpretations, in order to bring personal fulfillment to themselves. (Ref. Gen. 3:4-6)
So, The Great Lie which Satan presented to the first couple is a fairly uncomplicated proposition, though it was, indeed, presented in a very deceitful way. It is the same one he still uses, in each new generation, to subvert human souls. In essence, it was simply this: “You, not God, are your own best hope for personal fulfillment.”
The underlying inference is that there is really more security and a greater certainty of experiencing fulfillment in life if we direct our own life affairs instead of entrusting that responsibility to God. So, this is the delusion which has become humanity's chronic downfall. And, this is the glittering emptiness which continues to mesmerize and entice humanity to this very day – the temptation to risk ourselves to ourselves.
Thus, Satan encouraged the first couple to become self-sustaining instead of remaining God-dependent. He encouraged them to ignore the consequences, and simply risk themselves to their own initiative. He said to them, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it [taste your own perspective on life] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Ref. Genesis 3: 4-5) [Brackets Added]
With these words, Satan made Adam and Eve to believe that they really were their own best hope. And beyond this great error, they were also made to believe that there were no consequences for pursuing life on these terms.
So, the first couple ignored God’s protective warnings and decided to act on this false promise which Satan held out to them. But, as we now know, the outcome was not exactly as promised. In the end, Adam and Eve were actually completely duped. Instead of becoming elevated by their choice, they were destroyed by it - just as God had warned that they would be.
The toxic psychological change which they were tricked into experiencing instantly ruined their relationship with God and with each other. It entirely distorted their view of life, and thus, undermined their whole existence. And it also did so for their posterity. So, let's explore a bit more, this thing which so devastated the psyche of mankind.
What Really Happened In Eden
The knowledge which
Adam and Eve actually gained from that forbidden fruit was not an objective,
broad-based knowledge, which is based in unchanging principles, such as
scientific knowledge or divine truth. Rather, just the reverse occurred. The
knowledge which they gained was a completely subjective knowledge. It was a perspective on good and
evil which was entirely based in the individual's point of view.
So, for Adam and Eve, instantly, good and evil ceased to be based in the objective thoughts and decrees of a loving, holy, and all-knowing God. Instead, good and evil suddenly became defined by their own individual perceptions and preferences.
Thus, good and evil became this: “Good” is what seems good to me. And, “Evil” is what seems evil to me. Good and evil became entirely determined by how “I,” as an individual, perceive a given circumstance, which was, in turn, largely determined by how “I” am affected by that circumstance.
And, this very subjective view of good and evil goes far beyond mere moral issues. Good and evil are involved in all of our life choices and directions. Our view of good and evil colors all of our thoughts, everything we do, and all that we are. So, our view of good and evil is very basic to our life perspective.
Thus, we see Adam and Eve’s new self-awareness, their new personalized perspective on good and evil, beginning to exert itself immediately as they decide to drape themselves in fig leaves. Suddenly, they now view their nakedness as an evil thing as they begin to diverge from the views and interpretations of their Creator. (Ref. Gen.3:7)
And, because this poisonous personal perspective on good and evil was passed to the rest of humanity through the psyche of the first couple, every subsequent generation has been affected in the same way. And, this chronic self-centered perspective on life, which places each of us at the center of our own universe, has been wrecking our relationship to God and to each other, ever since.
This immutable penchant for self-centeredness subconsciously colors all of our relationships, be they familial, business, or political. And then, conflicts come as this selfish motive in us collides with the same in others.
Thus, this very
subjective view of life creates the ever-present potential for interpersonal contention
and competition. And, even when we try to resist it, this latent selfishness remains
a stubborn and ever present pressure, always urging us to use our influence to bend
reality to our own preferences, to our own perception of good and evil – often
at the expense of others. (Ref.
So, it is this subjective view of life’s circumstance which destroys marriages. It makes nations go to war. It makes children rebel against the good advice of good parents. It is the constant and underlying threat to all of our cooperative endeavors. And, worst of all, this self-based view of good and evil has entirely estranged humanity from God. (Ref. James 4: 1-10)
Thus, this personalized, designer view of life actually keeps us in constant turmoil on every level of our existence and on every stage of human activity. Deep within our subconscious, it always prescribes various levels of disagreement, with each other and with God. (Ref. Rom. 8:7)
So now, it has come to be that, from the moment of our birth, this self-based view of what is “good” and what is “evil” pressures us to reject God’s ideas on the subject in favor of our own. Thus, we now enter this world with every intention of asserting and maintaining a personal sovereignty over our own life choices. And this makes us more than a little contentious regarding the issue of who is in charge of charting our life course - or, more precisely, in a larger sense, who gets to determine truth? (Ref. Psalm 51:5 // Rom. 3:23)
All of this is not to say that human beings cannot agree with each other, even for a moment. Obviously, that is not true. Nor is this a contention that our every act is selfish, or that humanity is not at all capable of rising to true charity and selflessness. That is also, obviously, not true.
But, the inescapable reality is this. While we have our high and noble moments, we are always under pressure from our own self-centeredness. And, not unlike gravity, it is a constant background force which acts on us in every circumstance, though certainly, with varying degrees of impact depending on many factors.
But, bottom line, this personalized knowledge of good and evil is a psychological poison which skews and blurs our entire view of life. And, if we are able to sometimes get beyond its deceptions, it is with no small effort; and only on a limited basis.
The Obvious Effects
So now, in this late hour of human history, the impact of that Garden treachery is easily observed and understood. Mankind has now spread far and wide across the planet. He has organized himself into groups and built great civilizations across the centuries.
But characteristically, we have struggled to make those civilizations to long endure. Our competing selfishness constantly disturbs, and disrupts, and destabilizes, and eventually, destroys them.
Always, the results are essentially the same. It is constant turmoil, growing out of this divisive and relentless “Me Perspective.” And, while it is obvious that mankind is intellectually capable of great accomplishment; yet, it is equally obvious that we are also constantly defeated by this embedded selfishness which ultimately imperils our every momentary success. Thus, the real stuff of self-determination is shown to be merely emptiness.
So, we are left with this. Good and evil are the most elemental issues of life. And, the question, “Who gets to decide what is Truth regarding those issues?” is, indeed, the central point of contention in our relationship with God.
Thus, the basic effect of the satanic treachery in the Garden of Eden has been to create a kind of “alternative truth,” an alternative interpretation of good and evil, an alternative interpretation of reality. And these alternative views are essentially endless, replicating themselves in each new human being. And, in each of us, this personalized alternative view of truth, puts us at odds with God as we contend for our own viewpoint as opposed to His.
But, here are the facts - the truth, if you will. Authentic Truth is always and only “the correct interpretation of reality.” And, that determination is always and only based in God’s view of things, not in man’s.
So, it’s only God’s interpretation of reality which actually defines true good and true evil. And, any alternative view of reality is nothing more than a competing error.
Thus, as we grasp this larger context of what’s really going on in the human economy, indeed, it does explain a lot concerning our relationship with God. It becomes obvious why God makes this issue of Truth, and who gets to determine it, to be the Prime Issue in our relationship with Him. It is because this issue is at the very heart of a trusting relationship.
Enter Jesus Christ,
The One True Savior
So, the real situation is this. If we choose to assert a personal sovereignty over our life and develop our own interpretations of reality (our own sort of “designer truth”), then we become estranged from a true enlightenment, an awareness of God’s truth – God’s correct interpretation of reality.
In this condition, we are simply stumbling through life in the darkness of our own self-determined delusions regarding reality. And this arrogant, self-concentric life-approach keeps us separated from God and defeats our friendship with Him. This is owing to the fact that this arrogant life-approach is the exact opposite of faith, a genuine humility of influence which allows us to trust and embrace God interpretations of reality.
But then, enter Jesus Christ, our Enlightener and the Bringer
of God’s authentic truth. The New Testament describes Jesus as “the
Way, the Truth, the Life” and “the Light.” Jesus, Himself, said, “No
man comes to the Father but by Me.” (Ref. John. 14:6 /
These simple ideas give great definition to the role of Christ as the friendship builder in God’s redemptive plan. It tells us that He is the Way back to God’s loving embrace. He is our means to rediscover and live in the “light,” the enlightenment of an accurate awareness of God’s truth. It reminds us that He is our Life, the true means to enduring personal fulfillment.
Very simply, it is the role of Christ to extricate us from the delusion of our own self-sufficiency. It is His mission to bring us back to a real agreement with God’s interpretation of good and evil. And this Christ-restored heart-agreement with God, then enables our true friendship with Him.
The Binary Nature of the Savior’s Role
Sometimes, it is also helpful, as we explore the scope of Christ’s role in redemption, to briefly step back and take a larger overview of the redemptive plan, itself. The idea is to let some of the more intricate details fade temporarily away. In this way, we can more easily comprehend just the basic facts and how they relate to Christ.
For example, using this lesser magnification, we can then quickly notice that redemption is really about only two primary things. It is about Reconciliation, restoring the true friendship with God, which was lost in Adam. And, it is about Renewal – fixing what broke the relationship in the first place. (Ref. Eph. 4:20-24)
So, let’s begin with this Reconciliation Aspect of God’s redemptive plan. And, the first thing to notice is that our reconciliation is based in our sincere decision to stop trusting in our own self-sufficiency and begin trusting in God’s guidance through Christ. And note, this decision primarily happens in the conscious mind of man. There, on that upper level of our consciousness, is where we decide to bow to the Lordship of Christ and simply trust God’s love and sufficiency to guide and sustain us – thus we embrace His values, His truth, and His daily directions for our life, as mentioned earlier.
However, the Renewal Aspect of redemption must go further to achieve its end – a thorough newness of heart and life. To achieve this end necessarily involves, not just the conscious mind, but the reclamation of the subconscious mind also. This is true, because it is in the subconscious mind where our most basic self resides. It is the subconscious which is the real seat of our character essence and our value system. And, it is in that subconscious core person where that “Me Perspective” of self-determination really lives.
So, in short, redemption must necessarily involve both levels of our consciousness if we are to be not only forgiven, but renewed. And certainly, God is aware of this wider scope of our need.
Thus, God’s graceful mind designed a redemptive plan, entirely centered in Christ, to thoroughly answer the whole of man’s brokenness in both his conscious and subconscious being. Therefore, the authentic redemptive plan addresses, not just the surface issues of the conscious mind, but also, the very depths of our brokenness in the subconscious mind.
Christ: Our Solution On Two Levels
The Apostle, Paul, wrote in the New Testament, “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” The thorough renewal of our consciousness – this is exactly what Christ does for us. And, it changes everything.
As we have seen, mankind has been deeply and chronically affected in his mind and heart by Satan’s deception in the Garden. Through the first couple, Satan has, indeed, infected the whole of the species with what might be called the “Sin Instinct.” This is that powerful inner motive for self-determination. And, it actually does affect both the conscious and subconscious make-up of the human psyche to this very day.
Thus, Christ, as our Savior, must necessarily solve this essential sin problem (that ingrained instinct for self-determination) both on levels of human consciousness. This binary renewal is indispensable if man is to be durably reconciled to God and genuinely renewed in his character essence (his heart, his core being).
And, the two major redemptive events which underwrite this reclamation of mankind are the Crucifixion (Christ’s death on the Cross) and the Resurrection, (His coming back to life from the grave). Thus, when the redemptive work of Christ is finished, the faithful believer is left with two wonderful benefits flowing out of these two pivotal events: 1. Forgiveness, bringing a wonderful new Reconciliation to God, and 2. A thorough personal renewal on both the conscious and subconscious level of the mind.
On The Conscious Level:
The Work Of
The “Dying Christ”
So, let’s begin with the Cross and forgiveness. Obviously, the first things we need in redemption are Forgiveness and Reconciliation to God. Forgiveness is the only thing that will allow us to escape the consequences attached to that essential sin motive of self-sufficiency.
Christ secures this forgiveness and heals the rift in our relationship with God by His death on the Cross. His death on the Cross is essentially Jesus stepping into our place, at the moment we truly consciously repent of our self-willed approach to life, to spare us the punishment that has always been assigned to this intention of self-determination. In spite of what Satan may have told the first couple, and even whispered in our own ear from time to time, there are always consequences to the self-determined life-approach as we have already noted. (Ref. Gen. 2:16-17 // Eph. 2: 13 - 18)
So, in a true embrace of the Lordship of Christ, when an individual makes a conscious decision to bow before the Lordship of Christ, rejecting the great lie of self-sufficiency, Christ then becomes their personal Savior. And, for Christ's sake, God then forgives that previous arrogance - without punishment. The reason being, Christ has already taken their punishment on Himself by His Cross, thus satisfying God’s sense of justice. (Ref. Rom. 6:23)
Something else also happens at this point as a direct benefit of Christ’s death on the Cross. We are assigned a personal righteousness. That’s right, this righteousness is just ascribed to us because the death of Christ immediately absolves us of all guiltiness before God.
This Imputed Righteousness has absolutely no basis in reality. It is gained through no merit of our own. Again, it is simply the initial benefit of the atoning work of Christ on the Cross. It is true that, eventually, Christ also does bring a Reality Based Righteousness to the believer. But initially, we simply enjoy this imputed righteous as an initial benefit of the Lordship of Christ.
But, here is what the Cross does not directly fix. It does not provide a fix for that root cause of our brokenness hidden deep within our core being, on the subconscious level. But, as mentioned, it is in those deeper recesses of our character essence that the root of our brokenness still lies.
The reality is that even the Cross does not eliminate that gnawing, subconscious motive which pushes at us, down deep, to still prefer that self-determined life-tactic, the freedom to decide life’s affairs for ourselves and to form our own truth perspectives. Like some resistant virus, that Sin Instinct still lingers there in our subconscious, even after our conscious embrace of Christ as Lord, attempting to defeat our new found faith. This dilemma is precisely as the apostle describes it in Romans, chapter 7. So, the Cross does not repair this subconscious malady because our subconscious renewal is not really a function of the Dying Christ of the Cross. So, how does God’s redemptive plan address that deeper problem? (Ref. Rom. 7: 14-25)
On The Subconscious Level:
Work Of The Living Christ
Our subconscious renewal primarily flows out of Christ’s Resurrection, not His Cross. It is the Living Christ who actually facilitates our very intimate, deeply fulfilling, and completely durable friendship with God through this indispensable subconscious renewal. (Ref. 2 Corinthians 5:17 / Ephesians 2:10)
In reality, the Resurrection of Christ is much more than just an assurance to believers of their own eventual resurrection. Rather, it also affords us the real means to experience a thorough personal newness – in the here-and-now.
Through the Living Christ, the believer is afforded an empowerment, far beyond his or her own, which can rid us of that residual, subconscious instinct for self-determination, thus undividing our heart and establishing the faith motive as ascendant throughout our consciousness. (Ref. Rom.8: 1-11)
All of this, and much, much more, is accomplished through a very personal and very literal metaphysical merger between the character essence of the believer and that of the Living Christ. This is what the Church has come to commonly refer to as The Spiritual Baptism. And, the simple and indispensable progression toward and beyond that metaphysical merger with Christ is as follows.
The purpose of the Resurrection was (and is) to provide us with a living Savior. The necessity of a living Savior is to make possible the sharing of His renewing character essence. The purpose of that access is to enable the nobility of Christ’s character essence to empower an “overwrite” of the brokenness of our own, as He literally lives there in Spirit form. And, the purpose of that core renewal is to bring us to a true and profoundly peaceful state of heart-oneness with God – to a genuine, durable, and enduring friendship, ever sustained in the vitality of the Living Christ, living within. (Ref. Col. 1: 27 / Eph. 4: 1-13)
Thus, this integration
with the Living Christ enriches the believer. It provides the needed
empowerment to completely transform and renew the believer in his or her core
person. And, owing to this inner renewal, the believer’s external life is also
then transformed. It is, indeed, simply a process which brings all into
the blessed harmony of a beautifully enriching daily friendship with our
Jesus, The Completely Unique Savior of the World
So, very obviously, Jesus is, indeed, the central character in the Redemptive Drama. He is the one, perfect Savior who, alone, can reconcile mankind to God - as well as - entirely renew our capacity for an intimate and durable daily friendship with Him.
And, as per God’s authentic redemptive agenda, Christ does all of this through what is actually His dual role as both the Dying Christ of the Cross and the Living Christ of the Resurrection. In coming sections, we will delve much more deeply into the details of, not only the what, but also the how of all that Christ does for the believer in His completely unique role as the one true Broker of God’s graceful redemptive offer to mankind.