Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Section 4: Spiritual Dynamics: God, The Son


  
 But First, The Trinity

            Before we begin to talk about the Savior, perhaps we should talk about a couple of preliminary issues.  The first would be the nature of the Divine Trinity:  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  The nature of the Divine Trinity becomes a significant background issue as we start to look at the interactive roles of God the Son and Holy Spirit. 

            The second preliminary issue that we will consider is the nature of the shaping mechanism which God employs to renew 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, yes, 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 that 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 act in a purely intellectual way.  It is also possible for us to act in a purely emotional way.  But, most of the time we act 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 expression over the other two, 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 act in a blended way and a purely intellectual way at the same time.  Or, we cannot act 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, it is this more complex operational nature of the Divine Trinity which seems to most often give 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 allowed by our more restricted 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.  Consider, often we set up computers with multiple outlying terminals emanating from one main frame.

            Those terminals are obviously distinct from the main frame, existing in an entirely different location and doing completely different things, all at the same time.  And yet, those outlying terminals are still the main frame in that they still share and draw from the shared informational content of the one mainframe.   

            It is this “complex singularity” in computing, then, which helps us begin to conceptualize the same in the Divine Trinity.  But, where the computer is defined and “singularized” by its central store of digital data - in the case of the Trinity, that centralization becomes the divine character essence, the divine heart which is shared by all three persons of the Trinity, creating the Trinity's “Complex Oneness.”  (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 wireless mainframe 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 the Trinity God to, at the same time, remain completely singular.

The Divine “Shaping Mechanism”

            Finally, as a precursor to our discussion of the Savior and the nature of His redemptive work, 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 motives are, very simply, Fear (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 at very strategic places in life.  For example, in the makeup of the Bible, the Old Testament clearly conveys the message of Fearor respect for God’s authority.  However, the New Testament carries the overriding message of God's Love. 

            Traditionally, in the home, again we see these two elemental values operating together.  The father figure has typically represented and modeled 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 values working in concert within the nature of God.  God the Father, is easily seen as portraying to His creation, respect for authority.  While Jesus, God the Son, is easily seen as primarily portraying God’s 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 heart-oneness and friendship-building.  It is not unlike what happens in an ideal home as noted above.  These two concerted motives, are carefully used by God in a balanced way to bring good formation to our hearts as part of the heart-oneness process. Indeed, it is these two primary motives, operating within the matrix of our humility before God (our faith), which daily move us toward that desired compatibility.    

Now, The Role Of The Savior

            So, as we begin to discuss the role of Christ in the divine 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 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 their Creator. 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

            Adam and Eve were, of course, the first individuals 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 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 knowledge 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 was, in essence, a very simple one. It was the same one he still uses to subvert the soul.  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 finding 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 deception. And, this is the glittering emptiness which continues to mesmerize and entice each new generation to risk themselves to themselves (rather than to God) - even to this very day.

            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.” [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 every human being to follow after them in every generation. So, let's explore a bit more, this thing which devastated the psyche of mankind.

What Really Happened
            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. Rather, just the reverse occurred. The knowledge which they gained was a completely subjective perspective on good and evil. That is, it was a knowledge based entirely 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.

            Thus, good and evil became this: “Good” is what seems good to and for me. And, “Evil” is what seems evil to me and for me. Good and evil became entirely determined by how “I” perceive a given circumstance, which was, in turn, largely determined by how “I” am affected by that circumstance.

            And, this personal determination 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, and everything we do, and all that we are. So, our view of good and evil certainly does impact our more strictly moral choices. But, it is by no means limited to only those. It is a basic consideration in our every life choice.

            Thus, we see Adam and Eve's new self-awareness, their new 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 generation which followed 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 subconsciously colors every thought of humanity in varying degrees. And this latent motive, even when we try to resist it, remains an ever present subliminal drive which constantly urges us to try to use our influence to sway reality according to our own perception of good and evil.

            And, this very often conflicts with that same selfish motive in others. Thus, there is this ever-present potential for contention with each other. (Ref. James 4:1-5)

            It is this subjective view of the circumstances of life which destroys marriages. It makes nations go to war. It makes children rebel against the good advice of good parents.

            It is this chronic, self-centered perspective which keeps us from an easy and enduring harmony in our relationships. And, it is the always 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 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 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 selfish point of view pressures us to reject God and his idea of goodness in favor of our own. Thus, now we enter this world with every intention of asserting and maintaining a personal sovereignty over our own life. 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, who gets to determine good and evil? (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 selfishness. 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. 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 have been 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.

Clarity

            So, we are left with this. Good and evil are the most basic 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 has been to create a kind of “alternative truth,” an alternative interpretation of good and evil, an alternative interpretation of reality. And this alternative view of life puts us at odds with God as we contend for our own selfish viewpoint.

            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 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 mistake.

            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 with God.

Enter Jesus Christ, 
          The One True Savior Of The World

            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 delusions, entirely owing to our choice for self-determination. And that self-concentric life-approach keeps us separated from God and defeats our friendship with Him. Enter Jesus Christ, our Enlightener and Bringer of authentic truth.

            The New Testament describes Jesus as the Way, the Truth, the Light, and the Life. Jesus, Himself, said, “No man comes to the Father but by Me.” (John. 14:6 / John. 8:12)

            These simple ideas give great definition to the role of Christ as a 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,” 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 friendship with Him. We typically just call this humble eagerness to once again embrace God's interpretations of life's circumstances - “Faith”

The Binary Nature of the Savior’s Role

            It is also helpful, as we explore the scope of the Savior's role, to sometimes step back and take a larger overview of redemption, itself, so that some of the more intricate details fade away.  In this way, we can more easily comprehend just the basic facts and how they relate to Christ. 

            For example, in doing this, we can then notice that redemption and participating in a friendship with God is really about only two primary things. It is about Reconciliation, restoring the relationship.  And, it is about Renewal, fixing what broke the relationship in the first place. (Ref. Eph. 4:20-24)

            And, here is another simple thing which comes into view when we just look generally at redemption. The Reconciliation Aspect of salvation, which is essentially based in our decision to stop trusting in our own self-sufficiency and begin trusting in God's guidance through Christ, primarily happens in the conscious mind of man. It is in the conscious mind that we decide to bow to the Lordship of Christ and simply trust God’s love and sufficiency to guide and sustain us.

            However, the Renewal Aspect of redemption must go further to also involve the subconscious mind of mankind. 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, it is in the sub-conscious person where that “Me Perspective” 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 the of man's brokenness. God’s authentic redemptive plan addresses, not just the surface issues of the conscious mind, but also, the very depths of 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 renewal of our mind – this is exactly what the Living Christ does for us. And, it changes everything.  

            As we have seen, mankind has been deeply and chronically affected in his mind 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 the sin (self-determination) problem on both of these mental levels.  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. a complete forgiveness 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 the sin attitude 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 repent of our self-will, 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 approach to life 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 for faith, a decision bow before the Lordship of Christ and renounce their belief in The Great Lie of self-sufficiency.  Christ then becomes their personal Savior.  And, for Christ's sake, God then forgives their 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)

Imputed Righteousness

            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, it's just assigned to us because the death of Christ absolves us of all guiltiness.

            This “Imputed Righteousness” has absolutely no basis in reality. It is simply a benefit of the atoning work of Christ on the Cross. The sacrifice of His life on the Cross immediately makes the new believer entirely clean and righteous in God's eyes. 

            It is true that, eventually, Christ also does bring a Reality Based Righteousness to the believer. But initially, we simply enjoy this Imputed Righteousness as a benefit of Christ's redemptive work on the Cross.

            But, here is what the Cross does not provide. It does not provide a “fix” for that problem hidden deep within our core being, on the subconscious level of our mind.  But, as mentioned, it is really there, in those deep recesses of our mental makeup, that the root cause of our broken relationship still lies.    

            And, the Cross simply does not eliminate that gnawing, subconscious motive which causes us, down deep, to still prefer the self-determined approach and the freedom to decide good and evil of life's affairs for ourselves. It does not fix this Sin Instinct which continues to linger on the subconscious level of our mind, even after conversion.

            The Cross does not repair this subconscious malady because our subconscious renewal is not a function of the Cross or the Dying Christ. Our subconscious renewal is primarily a function of the Resurrection and the Living Christ.

On The Subconscious Level: 
             The Work Of The Living Christ

            The second great redemptive event precipitated by the Savior and aimed at enabling our friendship with God is, of course, the Resurrection of Christ. It is through the Living Christ of the Resurrection, that the second major facet of God's redemptive plan, the thorough Renewal of the believer, is enabled.  And, more specifically, this is that necessary subconscious renewal, previously mentioned.  (Ref. 2 Corinthians 5:17 / Ephesians 2:10) 

            So, this facet of redemption moves the believer beyond mere forgiveness based in the decision within his or her conscious mind to embrace the faith life-style under the Lordship of Christ.  It brings the believer to the true necessities of a consistent and enduring friendship with God.  This is the place where “Friendship Building 101” truly begins in earnest.

            In reality the Resurrection of Christ is way more than the typical assumption - just the promise to the believer of the eternal life to come.  From Christ's Resurrection, flows the real means to thoroughly remake the believer - in the here-and-now. 

            Out of the Resurrection and the Living Christ, flows the divine power which can rid us of that residual, subconscious instinct for self-determination.   It is through the power of the Living Christ that the believer is actually able to experience that ”peace that passes understanding,” the peace that come from a true heart-oneness with God.  

            All of this, and much, much more, is accomplished through a very literal personal merger between the character essence of the believer and that of the Living Christ. The simple progression of the “Resurrection Necessity” is as follows.

            The purpose of the Resurrection was to provide us with a Living Savior. The purpose of a Living Savior is to provide us with a real access to the vitality of His Divine Nature. The purpose of that access is to enable us to rise above our own subconscious brokenness by sharing in the vitality of Christ’s character essence as He literally comes to live within ours, in Spirit form.

            This Spiritual Merger with Christ is, very literally, an integration of the divine nature with the human nature. Through this spiritual merger, the character essence of Christ is actually mystically mingled with that of the believer. 

            Thus, this integration with the Living Spirit 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 circumstance is then also transformed.  (Ref. 2 Pet. 1:4)

The Completely Unique Savior of the World

            So, very obviously, Christ 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 this through what is actually His dual role as both the Dying Christ of the Cross and the Living Christ of the Resurrection.
                        Continue to Section 5