Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spiritual Dynamics: The Spiritual Realities Explained

     A 10 Section Series 

Section 1: 
The Author's Foreword

So, it would seem that in the mind of modern mankind, the question has become, does God really matter in a world like this? With science, technology, and materialism now so very ascendent, should we even care about the abstract concepts of spirituality and the divine purpose anymore? And, at this present, enormous level of social, political, and economic stress, does the “God Agenda” still hold any practical relevance?

In truth, God and His purposes are all that ever do remain relevant at any point in time. This is true because of one invariable reality. It is this. The conditions of the present are always short-lived.

Always, for better or worse, time sweeps the human condition irresistibly forward, on to some new “present condition.” And, as it does so, only two things ever remain unmoved and impervious to this force of passing moments: God and His agenda. All else is eventually swept away.

So, in fact, the divine issues are the only issues which ever really do continue to matter. Thus, the smart move is to focus on what will endure to confront us again tomorrow. It is not to be consumed by the things which the force of time will very quickly blow away.

And so, I write. I write for any who do, indeed, still retain their spiritual wits in this ever more tin-hearted world. I write for any who still hear the divine call upon their heart above the noise of crumbling social structures. I write for any who, even at this late hour in human history, remain willing to undertake that mysterious personal pilgrimage which restores our soul, our relationship with our Creator, and the goodness of our personal here-and-now.

At the time of this writing, I have, myself, enjoyed this redemptive journey for 40+ years. And, across the course of that long path, I have discovered that it all simply comes to one thing – God’s friendship.

After all the elements of my own journey: the study of grand theologies, the personal struggles, the celebrations, the social evolutions, the new technologies, the confrontations, the praying, the soul searching, the agonizing, the mistakes, the apologizing, the tears, the joy, the challenges, the drama, the failures, the successes, the surprises, the relationships, the revelations, and the just-in-the-nick-of-time rescues – I can find no better way to sum it all up than this. The work of Christ, in its ultimate purpose, is really only about creating a strong and wonderfully fulfilling “League of Two” with our loving Creator.

It seems so obvious now, looking at it from this end. My redemption - as is everyone’s - was always only about awakening within me, through Christ, this trans-formative daily friendship.
And the living Christ has been, and is, even now, enlarging this amiable relationship.

He is ever expanding this comfortable oneness of heart with my Creator. And this Christ-brokered heart-agreement has, indeed, over the years, become the strong matrix of our enduring friendship.

So, my uncomplicated purpose for this writing is to provide a thorough, A-Z exposure of the beautiful workings of this life-transforming God encounter. My hope is to simply achieve a real clarity in the mind of the reader concerning this renewing odyssey of the heart.

Obviously though, any religious writings are fertile ground for the cultivation of contention. And, I’m sure that these will be no different. When the old timers and religious insiders, for example, don’t recognize their seemingly “canonized” words and phrases, the language by which they learned, they are not going to be happy about that. And so, almost certainly, many of them will simply reject these writings out of hand, assuming them to be some new and inordinate thing.

Others, who have wrapped themselves in a delicate security blanket of their own cobbled together “patchwork theology” will not want their comfortable, pick-and-choose belief system disturbed.  And that will remain true even if greater cohesion and clarity may be in the offing. So, their insecurity will almost certainly cause them to choose the seeming safety of their disjointed religious cliché’s over a broader and more coherent explanation.

And for a thousand other reasons, many others will reject these ideas as absurd and far inferior to their own more familiar religious ideas. Nevertheless, for all of their protests, the truth which Sir William exposed so many years ago remains true. Merely casting the “rose” into the fresh light of a more vibrant language has absolutely no impact on its immutable qualities.

So is this attempt to simply display Christ’s redemptive work in the brighter light of contemporary language and 21st century awareness levels. The point is not to reinvent redemption, but rather, to better frame it - in order to better communicate the opportunity.

Obviously then, it falls to the reader to be willing to lower, at least somewhat, the defenses you have established to protect your religious status quo. Most all of us harbor those security measures on some level. But, by their very nature, they get in the way of new levels of discovery.

Perhaps it would help to simply remember that, in fact, you are always in charge of the buy in. You, alone, decide what you will believe and what you will not.

So, there is really no need to fend off every new, and thus, less familiar, perspective which may, after all, actually hold some value for you. Please, do give yourself a real chance to find out if that’s the case with this writing. Please don’t begin building barriers in your mind to protect the more familiar – only because it is.

A “fresh eyes” approach always requires a willingness to venture beyond the zone of the already familiar. That's just the nature of life’s important pursuits.

So, all of that being said, if you choose not to be driven away by such insecurity, you are about to read something I think you will find extraordinary - not so much for its literary beauty, but for the clarity of its content. And, indeed, I hope you will consider giving yourself permission to just relax and explore the issues of this writing with some curiosity.

                          Continue to Section 2

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Section 2: Spiritual Dynamics: God's Friendship

The Higher Purpose Of Faith

God's plan to elevate the human circumstance involves a beautifully sophisticated process. But, in its basic aspects, the process of God's help remains very simple – though we often try to make it otherwise.

Nevertheless, in what follows, you will be shown this life-changing process in the clearest terms. And this knowledge is, indeed, valuable as it can produce a priceless result: a vital personal friendship with Almighty God - and from that friendship, an entirely new and empowered you.

On Friendships

But, there are friendships, and then there are friendships. Obviously, some friendships are all that you would hope for them to be. But, there are also friendships which are hardly worth it.

For example, some friendships are very high maintenance with very little pay back. Others are so shallow as to be almost meaningless. Still others are so pretentious that they actually become disconnected from reality. Obviously, all of these are just bad relational deals.

But, God doesn’t really traffic in such emptiness when it comes to the interpersonal. His interest is in high quality, deeply meaningful, and mutually fulfilling relationships.

In a prayer for their well-being, Jesus revealed the level of relational access which He envisions with those who would be His friend. He said, “… that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (Ref. John 17:20-23 NKJV)

To be a true friend of God, is to come to this distinctive oneness of heart with Him. Always, the redemptive relationship which Christ enables moves the believer in the direction of this wonderful relational harmony with God. And what does this growing connection mean in terms of the everyday human reality?

The Dividends Of God's Friendship

Well, for one thing, it means we will always know the reassurance which comes from an ever present divine companionship. Thus, in Christ, we never wake up alone, consigned to the surrounding darkness of our circumstance with only our own puny resources with which to face it down.

Rather, there is always with us the Divine Presence. And, from this everyday partnership flows a new confidence and an empowering synergy. Thus, this intimate league of two is exponentially more substantial in every way than a life lived alone and apart from our divine friend.

And God’s friendship also means that we are not forsaken to humanity’s chronic inner darkness. Whether that darkness takes the form of some latent and unexplained anger, or an ugly appetite, a blazing character flaw, or some unresolved guilt, etc., a friendship with the Almighty means – “It’s all solvable.”

And Then, There's The Voice

And certainly, as an incredible element of the divine friendship there is the most life-changing resource of all – His voice. What could possibly compare to actually being able to converse with God in one’s heart on a moment to moment basis. Certainly, His inner voice becomes the every day matrix and means of our relationship with Him.

To hear in our heart the divine whisper exposing powerful, even life-changing, insights does change us. To know the joy of being able to ask for divine direction in our life circumstance is so confirming.

To experience God's comfort in our devastation, His encouragement in the face of our discouragement - such intervention is incomparable. Certainly, this ability to get an answer, to discover God's wisdom, or to hear His inspiration or correction changes everything.

In addition to the careful study of God’s written Word, His inner voice becomes the daily connection which enables real depth and sophistication in our friendship with Him. And, without this conversational interaction, a truly intimate relationship with God simply wouldn’t be possible. But, in Christ, the divine conversation is, indeed, our everyday privilege.

What The Larger World Is Missing

The reality which escapes non-believers, at least in concrete terms, is that Christ truly is a Living Savior. And, because He is alive, He is able to live in Spirit form within devout believers.

And, in the privilege of this shared life essence, the devout are then afforded this invisible, but constant and very real, daily access to God. And through this affectionate access, we are enriched in a thousand ways every day – far beyond just the most immediate needs of our soul.

The world needs a Savior of the soul; and Christ is certainly that. But, in real life terms, the Savior also brings to us the every day reality of a vital and energizing divine companionship.

And, in that intimacy, He becomes our confidante’, our advice giver, our direction provider, our forgiver, our encourager, our helper, our therapist.

He becomes our rescuer, our teacher, our mentor, our corrector, our enlightener, our counselor, and our defender. And, in all of these roles, and many more, He remains, through all of the ups and downs of life's struggles, our unfailing and very true Friend – always looking out for our very best interests.

The Joy Supersedes

It’s true, nevertheless, the divine friendship does, indeed, involve a willingness to embrace the real requirements of that friendship -and there are some. Every important relationship has those. But eventually, these mechanics are simply swallowed up in the glorious shinning of our easy daily companionship.

And again, that's what the uninitiated don't really get. They simply miss the great joy of it all. But, indeed, the sheer beauty of this every day friendship stands in diametric opposition to the larger world's mistaken idea that a renewed life in Christ involves some Spartan lifestyle entirely governed by "The Big List" - i.e. the big list of oppressive dos and don’ts.

To be sure, the divine friendship is one which changes us - but not by oppression. Rather, in essence, the redemptive process remains, first and finally, merely the process of a good friendship - doing what a good friendship always does. It elevates and enriches and enlarges our existence.

The proverbist put it this way. "As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
(Ref. Proverbs 27:17 NKJV) So it is when God becomes, not just the Savior of your soul, but your very best friend.
                            Continue to Section 3

Section 3: Spiritual Dynamics: God, The Father

The Redemptive Drama

The process by which God creates these very personal friendships with us is a thoroughly redemptive process, as we shall see. And, this "Redemptive Drama" has now become very large.

It actually sprawls across the whole of human history. And, by now, it involves virtually endless subplots stemming from each new life that Christ touches. So, there are many, many players filling the various scenes of this "redemptive play."

But, reduced to its basic plot, the story line actually becomes very easy to follow. And, the main players are reduced to only a few, at least in general terms.

So, let's go over the "program" of this grand drama and use it as you might use the program of any play. Let's discover the identity and the roles of the players. And, let's also pay careful attention to the basic plot of this epic story of God's love and His life transforming process of friendship building.

God, The Father:
     So, Who Is God – I Mean, Really?

But First, The General Process

We could hardly talk about a meaningful friendship with God without first discussing some general principals of relationship. So, let's begin there. For a moment, let's just consider relationships and friendships in general.

The process of friendship-building is discovery. And, the purpose of discovery is appreciation. And, the hopeful intent of appreciation is heart-binding.

Now, to expand those ideas a bit, in building a relationship we first simply seek to know, to build a larger awareness. And the point of this discovery effort is to probe the positive possibilities for relationship by discovering a real appreciation of what we find.

And this appreciation then becomes the binding mechanism of our heart to that of another. And the deeper the appreciation, the more durably bound our hearts become.

So, for example, how many young ladies have found themselves sitting under those Friday night lights of a high school football game focused on one special player on the field. And, as she observes him in this, his very flattering element, she starts to admire what she sees in him.

And what of the proud parents who sit under those same lights to watch their quarterback son direct his team with precision and skill under great pressure? And as they watch, they too gain a new level of awareness, which goes something like this, “He really is growing up!”

These, and countless other such situations, are just the very gratifying process of relationship-building. Discovery is how we do it. It’s how we start relationships. And, it’s how we sustain, and deepen relationships. And, it's how we keep our relationships updated.

And, at the end the discovery process, if all goes well, we will perhaps find a valuable, new relationship. And, if we do, it will be based in some level of appreciation which draws us and amiably binds our hearts together. And the level of that cohesion will depend on the real level of appreciation that we feel.

The Other Side Of The Coin

Obviously too, this discovery process also carries with it an intrinsic risk. Certainly, it can result in a negative outcome. It can result in the rejection of disapproval - a lack of appreciation. Obviously, that's always a very unpleasant thing to the human psyche.

But, this is the risk we must be willing to take to experience relational success. This risk is just the "long limb" we go out on, in order to get to the truth in a relationship.

The Universal Mistake

And it's also on this side of the relational coin, where the universal mistake often occurs. And, that mistake is this: an involvement based in only a narrow range of awareness.

How many couples, a few months into their marriage, have found themselves sitting across from their pastor or some other counselor - totally surprised. Thus, they sit there expressing disappointment at what they consider some outrageous post-wedding behavior on the part of their mate?

This disappointment is usually easily traced back to a rush to relationship where little real discovery has taken place. Thus, in their great hurry to become deeply involved, a couple sometimes fails to become broadly involved – to develop a broad awareness of their partner.

Now, in the stark light of reality, she comes to a realization: “All he ever really had going for him was his football prowess - well, and nice hair.” Obviously, even with the good hair thrown in, however, that’s a pretty narrow ledge upon which to base an important relationship.

And, it doesn’t really matter if we’re talking boy-girl, parent-child, or God-man. All important relationships are the same in this regard. Strong appreciation based in the broad awareness of a large context is essential to a solid relationship.

So, to minimize this essential, at best, consigns the relationship to shallow levels. And, at worst, it is to doom it altogether.

Now, The Main Question

So, with this bit of relational bedrock under our feet, we are better able to return to and answer the main question, “Who is God, really?” The answer to such identity questions, even regarding God, is still a function of this same relationship-building process which we have been discussing.

So, it's probably obvious by now that to really get to that answer you will have to broadly experience Him. You will need to go up and down some of life’s hills with Him, so to speak.

It is simply impossible to grasp more than the mere basics of His identity unless you are willing to actually experience life with Him. A thorough and accurate God awareness only comes through this simple but very essential discovery process.

The two of you will have to spend good times as well as hard times, together – deeply immersed in the real issues of life. To discover who God really is, involves celebrating together, and crying together. It involves many good days. And, it involves some rough days with less than desirable outcomes.

But, it’s out of all of this intimate interaction, the good and the not so good, that there comes a heart-binding appreciation for who God really is. And, it's out of this broad appreciation that an enduring friendship grows.  God, held at arms length, simply will not produce surch a friendship.

What Does God’s Friendship Look Like?

So, what does God’s friendship look like in everyday life? Well, like any friendship, it goes through different stages in its development. And, certainly, it is fair to say that, especially in the early days, sometimes - the relationship “ain’t” that pretty.

But later, as it goes through its various stages of development, and the discovery process has a chance to work, that all changes. Indeed, the divine friendship becomes very precious and deeply fulfilling. But, that’s later. First come “the trenches.”

The Early Stage Friendship

A succinct description of an early stage friendship with God would probably best be described this way. It is, invariably, a trans-formative confrontation of love. It is not unlike the relationship between a good parent and a young child.

As time goes along, a loving parent is required, by love, to confront the childishness of the child, while they still are that – a child. The idea is to mold the child’s heart, while it is still moldable.

The parent does this in view of a time when this parent / child relationship will morph into an entirely different kind of relationship. A wise parent always anticipates a fulfilling adult friendship with the child, which is based in a shared core value system.

In order for that to happen, this loving confrontation is essential while the child is young and teachable. What is really occurring through this process is the shaping of the child’s value system and character, and through that, his or her basic world view.

From this process, results a comfortable core likeness with the parent. And again, this then becomes the basis for a strong adult relationship between the two, later.

You have probably already noticed that in this cultivation of the later friendship, it is the child which is required to do most of the changing and adjusting. You’re quick. You’re very quick. Welcome to “God Friendship - 101.”

So, indeed, as with the parent / child thing, in the God / man relationship, the onus is on man to embrace this "agree-ability" of heart. In this analogy, God is the “mature parent” and we are the “developing child.” And that is never more clear than early on, in our pursuit of His friendship.

However, this trans-formative confrontation is not nearly as off-putting as many assume. It is always, after all, a loving, process. And it is couched in patience, and time, and careful explanations, and the joy of gaining new and valuable “life stuff.”

And, as it should with our children, the process incorporates some latitude for our own trial-and-error confirmations. Although, after a while, and more than a few bumps and bruises to our “headstrong,” most of us do eventually realize - "Ooo, trial and error, not really the easiest way to learn or confirm the truth."

The Rubber Reality

Nevertheless, so goes our work-a-day discovery process as we explore the question, Who is God? It really is very similar to the earliest growth process of our childhood and that of our children.

So, we enter this very intense time of discovery. Certainly, it is a time which is not quite like any which will follow it – perhaps due, indeed, to the high level of intensity.

And, it is certainly here, in this early phase of our developing friendship with God, where the learning curve is the steepest. And, it's here that we first encounter what might be called the “Rubber Reality.”

The Rubber Reality is a situation which is naturally generated by our faith. This is the reality which always occurs when the smallness of humanity bumps into the bigness of a loving God. It is the place where our developmental childhood encounters His divine parenthood.

Essentially the Rubber Reality is the parental molding process - on steroids. It is God’s means to challenge us, and stretch us, and stimulate us to learn and discover.

And, this process enables us to achieve a greater awareness, not only of what God is presently doing and why, but more ultimately, of who God truly is. And, in fact, as we experience this Rubber Reality, it also gradually changes who we are.

The reality that we know before this faith-generated reality comes along is the more concrete reality of our own self-determination. This self-determined reality is the reality where we are essentially in charge of life’s interpretations and decisions. Thus, we are generally in good command of the facts in a given situation – or at least, we tend to feel like we are.

Ah, but not so in the Rubber Reality. It's interpretations are much more challenging and disconcerting. This is true because in this more elastic reality of faith we are usually playing catch up with the facts as a part of the divinely orchestrated discovery process.

So, the Rubber Reality of faith is a much more uncertain existence. It is a place where we often find ourselves searching for God’s interpretation of, and purpose in, a given life situation.

It is a reality in which we are often left wondering, for a while at least, what in the world God is up to, or where he might be taking us. It is a reality where all facts and conclusions remain debatable while we search for His interpretation and intent, and our proper response to all of that.

In both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible, we see this Rubber Reality of faith in operation. Again and again, we can notice God bringing His people into concrete situations only to turn them into very elastic situations which lend themselves to the God discovery process.

For example, we can notice how God rubberized reality when the nation of Israel became trapped between the military legions of Egypt and the Red Sea during their historic Exodus Journey. The concrete reality was this, Oh no, we’re trapped, and at the mercy of our pursuers! 

But, God changed the concreteness of those facts into this more elastic version.  Oh no you’re not. Because, I will part the sea. And then, you can “figure out” the why, the how, and most importantly, the Who of it all. (Ref. Exodus 13-15)

And on and on this Rubber Reality goes from the manna which fell from Heaven, to the falling walls of Jericho, to the miracles connected to the prophets of old. God challenges the usual to stimulate us to understand Him and His ways at higher levels.

And certainly, in these New Testament times, this divine tactic continues. From the miracles of Jesus and the apostles to the Resurrection, itself, our faith is challenged by these divinely orchestrated situations which confront the normal interpretations of the facts.

And certainly, well beyond the realm of miracles, God often immerses the faithful in the stretchy realities of the everyday. From a counter-intuitive Biblical principle, to a delayed answer to prayer, to a moral inversion where the guilty escape while the good suffer - God uses these Job-like situations to confront our status quo.

Always, this elastic reality asks us to move beyond the more childish levels of our understanding. The Rubber Reality is ever about the greater view which God would show us of Himself and the true nature of our existence and our relationship with Him.

A Bit More Difficult 

Obviously, when compared to the more concrete reality of self-determination, where we are able to pretty much call the interpretive shots, the Rubber Reality is a more difficult place to navigate. But this faith-generated reality is also much richer in the dividends of discovery as we find ourselves challenged to know and understand God’s heart and actions.

Thus, the Rubber Reality facilitates relational strength and maturity by bringing a much higher level of God awareness and a more accurate self awareness. And this stands in real contrast the more concrete and less taxing reality of self-determination.

Essentially, A Humbling Process

What we are calling the “Rubber Reality” is but a part of what the Church has, from the beginning, understood to be a divine Humbling Process. And that humility becomes the strong matrix of our friendship with Him.

From The Trenches To The Blessing

So, as we follow the Lord up and down the hills and valleys of the Rubber Reality of faith, we do, eventually, begin to gain our relational footing. And, as we do so, something wonderful happens. We start to experience the point of the whole exercise. We begin to taste the priceless blessing of a true "heart-oneness" with God in our daily life.

The Oneness of Two

Jesus once said, as he prayed for his disciples on one occasion, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word; that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us..." (Ref. John 17:20-21 NKJV)

The discovery path of the Rubber Reality of faith may meander from one life lesson to another. And, it may take us through various levels of personal growth. Yet, there is always one constant direction to the journey.

There is always a single end point toward which God nudges us. It is Oneness with Him. This ideal of concerted hearts, a mature harmony with God, is the ultimate prize toward which our friendship is always moving.

This is not, of course, oneness in the sense of actual identity. We do not become God. Neither does our own identity or personality cease to exist in His.

Rather, this is a core oneness. A similar harmony is easily seen in couples who have continued to grow together over the period of a long and healthy marriage. Eventually, these wonderfully special relationships reach a point where the partners can easily anticipate each other, because they have become so merged in heart.

Consider the larger text from the previous passage quoted from the book of John, where, again, Jesus says, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

"And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. "
(Ref. John 17:20-23 NKJV)

“Heart-oneness,” it is the ultimate quest of our friendship with God. Everything that Christ has done and is doing is about affecting this eclipsing harmony in our relationship to God.

But, the former question was this, “What does such a friendship with God look like? Well, in every day terms, what Jesus described above is exactly what it looks like. It looks like a very completing togetherness.

It’s The Ultimate In Relationship

Every day - good day, bad day, it makes no difference - this oneness of heart, this energizing companionship constantly expresses itself in our life circumstance. And, through Christ, we can certainly have this constant and easy harmony with our Creator. Indeed, this is precisely the agenda which God is pursuing through the redemptive work of Christ.

                       Continue to Section 4

Section 4: Spiritual Dynamics: God, The Son

   But First, The Trinity

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

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 to begin the conversation, let’s first talk about 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:  we have to make a choice.  Regarding the human trinity, we must choose to act in only one of those expressions of our personality at the 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.    It is this more complex operational nature of the Divine Trinity which most often gives us pause.

It’s likely that we only struggle with this complexity in the Divine Trinity because we tend to think of personality in terms of human limitations:  one body - one personality expression at a time.  But, in fact, God is an all-powerful Spirit.  As such, He is entirely free of all corporal limitations.  As a result of this entirely different and 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.  Often we set up computers with multiple outlying terminals emanating from one main frame.  Those terminals are obviously distinctly different from the main frame.  And, they exist in an entirely different location.  And yet, they are the main frame as far as their core informational content.  So, this “complex singularity” in computers is, indeed, a good illustration to help conceptualize the Divine Trinity’s “complex oneness.”(Ref. John 14:7-11)

Thus, to complete this illustration, it follows then, that we are a simple PC, 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.

Nevertheless, there is another, far more important difference between the human trinity and the Divine Trinity.  This more significant difference lies in what characterizes and defines the two.  Where the human trinity, as noted, is primarily defined and characterized by our emotional / intellectual make up, the Divine Trinity is defined and characterized by two elemental values.

These two primary values are at the very base of the Divine Personality and do, in fact, give primary definition to the Divine Trinity.  These “Prime Values” 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 Holy Bible, the Old Testament of the Bible mostly conveys the message of Fear, or respect for God’s authority.  However, the New Testament mostly conveys the message of His Love for mankind.  And, the Bible, as a whole, then becomes a beautiful blend of these two most primary values to impact and shape man and his response to God.

In the home, at least before the social insanity of these more modern times, 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 again, through the mingled influence of both parents, comes a balanced blend of these molding values 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 giving definition to the Divine Trinity.  That is, God the Father, is easily seen as portraying respect for authority to His creation.  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 values.

Understanding all of this about the Trinity, it becomes easy to see how this Respect / Love nature of the Trinity so perfectly serves the business of friendship-building and heart-oneness.  Not unlike what happens in an ideal home, as noted earlier, these two prime values, are carefully modeled and conveyed to us by the personalities of the Trinity, our “Divine Parents.”  Thus, as we interact with God, in all three Persons of the Trinity, these values eventually begin to imprint on our heart to shape and/ or reshape who we are.   Indeed, it is these two prime values, operating within the matrix of influential humility (faith), which daily move us toward a beautiful heart-oneness with our Creator.    

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 the very same essence as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. 

Christ is distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit only in His ministry role, as noted, but in character essence, the Divine Trinity is one at all times.  And these same ideas are true when applied to God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit.  (Ref. John 14:1-11)

Now, on to discover more about the Savior.  The best way to grasp the role of Christ, the one true God-Savior of the world, is to set that discussion in an historical backdrop.  So, let’s first look briefly at some key events and issues of previous times.

The Context

Let’s begin by going back to the very beginning to 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 are talking about in this writing - a friendship with God. 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, he immediately gave them the privilege and the responsibility of personal autonomy. And this afforded them a true personal sovereignty over their life and destiny. At any time, they could choose to be self-determining rather than God-directed.

Thus, in effect, Adam and Eve became true 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 take charge of their own lives, to assert their influence in the universe 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. So, instead of trusting God’s directions, Satan encouraged them to trust in their own knowledge of good and evil in order to bring personal fulfillment to themselves. (Ref. Gen. 3:4-6)

In fact, The Great Lie which Satan presented to the first couple was essentially a very simple one. It was this: “You are your own best hope for personal fulfillment.”

The underlying thought is that there is really more security and a greater certainty of finding fulfillment in life if we direct our own path instead of entrusting that responsibility to God.  So, this is the delusion which has become humanity's chronic misconception. Thus, it is this repeated glittering emptiness which continues to mesmerize and entice each new generation to risk themselves to themselves - even to this very day.

So, 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 of 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 truthful warnings about the down side of that choice and decided to act on the 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 completely duped. Instead of becoming empowered by this subjective knowledge of good and evil, they were poisoned by it.

The toxic psychological change which they were tricked into experiencing instantly ruined their relationship with God and with each other. It entirely flawed 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 these outflows more fully for a bit.

What Really Happened

The knowledge that 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 Awareness. That is, it was a knowledge based entirely in the individual's perspective.

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 point of view.

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 interpretations. 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 involved in our every 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 selfish 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 selfishness subconsciously colors every thought of humanity. And this 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 his 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 basic issues of life. And, the question, “Who gets to decide what is Truth regarding those issues?” is 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. Real 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 delusional mistake.

So, 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 true reality is this. If we choose to assert a personal sovereignty over our life and develop our own interpretations of reality (embrace our own subjective view of good and evil), then we become estranged from the light (awarness) 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 self-determined view of life. And that selfish view keeps us separated from God and defeats our friendship with Him. Enter Jesus Christ, our Enlightener and the Restorer of 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 in God’s redemptive plan as a friendship-builder. 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," an awareness of God's truth, (the correct interpretation reality). 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 willingness to once again embrace God's interpretations of life's circumstances - "faith"

The Binary Nature Of The Savior’s Role

When we step back and take a longer view of redemption, as we have been doing, much of the detail fades out and we can more easily see just the basic facts. 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 guidence, 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. 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. 

 So, God designed a redemptive plan, in Christ, to thoroughly answer the whole of the problem. Thus, His authentic redemptive plan addresses, not just the surface issues of the conscious mind, but also, the very depths of who we are in the subconscious mind.

Thus, Christ is God’s redemptive agent, who goes far beyond just absolving us of the consequences of our conscious choice for self-determination. Rather, He also repairs our subconscious brokenness.

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 Christ does for us. And, it changes everything. (Ref. Romans 12:2)

As we have seen, mankind has been deeply and chronically affected by Satan’s deception in the Garden. Through the first couple, he has infected the whole of the species with what might be called the "Sin Instinct." This is a powerful inner motive for self-determination. And, it actually does affect both the conscious and subconscious make up of humanity to this day.

Thus, Christ, as our Savior, must necessarily solve the sin (self-determination) problem on both of these awareness levels in order to fully reconcile man to God and truly renew His fallen creature. And, the two major events which anchor this redemptive work, the Crucifixion (Christ's death on the Cross) and the Resurrection, (His coming back to life from the grave) enable Him to do exactly that. And when Christ is finished, His trusting follower is left with two wonderful benefits: complete forgiveness and a thorough personal renewal – just as God intended.

On The Conscious Level: 
           The Work Of The “Dying Christ”

So, let’s begin with The Cross. 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 conversion to Christ, when an individual has a change of heart, and decides to renounce their belief in The Great Lie of self-sufficiency, he or she relinquishes control of their life (their personal influence) to Christ. Christ then becomes their Savior; and 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. His Cross makes us entirely righteous in God's eyes. It is true that eventually, Christ also brings a Reality Based Righteousness to the believer. But initially, we simply enjoy this Imputed Righteousness in God's eyes.

So, by His Cross, Jesus secures our forgiveness, bringing us a personal reconciliation to God. And, beyond all of that, His death assigns this imputed righteousness to us in God's sight.

But, here is what the Cross does not provide. It does not provide a “fix” for the problem in our basic nature, our sub-conscious nature - which is the root cause of the rift in our relationship with God in the first place. The Cross 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 for ourselves. It does not fix this Sin Instinct which continues to linger on the subconscious level of our awareness.

The Cross does not repair this subconscious brokenness 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 aimed at enabling our friendship with God is, of course, the Resurrection of Christ. And, from His Resurrection, flows the second facet of God's redemptive intention: The subconscious renewal of the believer. (Ref. 2 Corinthians 5:17 / Ephesians 2:10)

The Resurrection of Christ is way more than just a promise of the eternal life to come. From His Resurrection, flows the real means to thoroughly remake the believer - in the here and now. From the Resurrection, flows the divine power which can rid us of that underlying instinct for self-determination, and replace it with a consistent motive of faith (an attitude of humility which always embraces God’s interpretation of life).

All of this is accomplished through a very literal personal merger with the Living Christ. The progression goes like this. The first 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 in the shared energies of the Living Christ as He literally comes to live within us 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 mingled with the character essence 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, oweing 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 His dual role as both the Dying Christ of the Cross and the Living Christ of the Resurrection.

                        Continue to Section 5

Section 5: Spiritual Dynamics: God, The Holy Spirit

As Promised

Luke records in the New Testament that Jesus said this, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Ref. Luke 24:49-NKJV)

The “promise” of which Jesus was speaking is recorded in the Old Testament where God’s said, “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh...” With this promise, God was forecasting a time when He would make the Divine Spirit, universally available to mankind on a personal basis. (Ref. Joel 2:28)

So, Jesus was simply letting His disciples know that the time for the fulfillment of that promise was at hand. Thus, He was encouraging them to wait for this divine enrichment in Jerusalem.

And, we now know that the promise was, indeed, fulfilled shortly after Jesus gave them these instructions. The fulfillment first came, in dramatic fashion, to a group of Christ’s disciples who were gathered in an upstairs room in Jerusalem during the celebration of the Jewish feast called Pentecost. And, with that event, both a new era and a new dimension of the God / man relationship came into being, as we shall see. (Ref. Acts 2:1-4)

God With Us

In a real sense, you could say that the Holy Spirit is God in His natural state. The New Testament clearly indicates that God is a Spirit. It also indicates His intention to be Emmanuel, meaning, “the God who lives among us.” And so we see the Holy Spirit as the third person of the Trinity simply being God in both of those ways. (Ref. John 4:24 // Matthew 1:23)

The Holy Spirit is, indeed, always an invisible Spirit. And, He is, every day, very near to each one of us as the perfectly blended expression of God’s love and respectability, as discussed earlier. And through this invisible nearness, He enables a basic God consciousness for non-believers and an entirely new level of God awareness for the truly devout.

The difference in these two impacts is due to a simple variation in conditions. It is the difference between encountering God as merely an intellectual issue of life as opposed to having a true personal involvement with Him.

Thus, in the first case, in order for the non-believer to ultimately experience an intimate relationship with God, the Holy Spirit becomes merely an everyday God consciousness. His purpose is to help the non-believer experience a correct response to God. Always, He is nudging the non-believer toward an enlarging and truthful relationship with God.

It is true, sometimes non-believers suppress this urging. Sometimes they pervert it. But, the Holy Spirit is always that Invisible God who is ever near them to move them, subject to their willingness, toward His love.

For believers, on the other hand, the Holy Spirit has an entirely different impact – actually on two levels. For the new believer, the Holy Spirit immediately becomes a “truth guide” and provides the new believer’s introduction to God.

However, in this case, the Spirit remains external. That is, He is not yet living within the believer. It is more like He is gently leading the believer by the hand through the early process of getting to know God.

But, eventually, as the new believer becomes more initiated (more on this later), the Spirit enables a literal merger between the nature of the believer and the nature of Christ through the Spiritual baptism. And, at this point, a whole new level of God awareness comes into being.

Through this very intimate Spiritual connection a new intuitiveness is enabled within the believer regarding God. Suddenly he or she becomes beautifully attuned to the divine nuances at a level which simply does not exist before this Holy Spirit brokered oneness with Christ.

So, to summarize, in the former case regarding the distant non-subscribers to relationship, the Holy Spirit’s interest is simply to urge them toward a relationship with the Savior. And, in the case of the new comer to Christ, the Holy Spirit is an external guide and very attentive care taker.

But, in the latter case of the more initiated believers who have experienced the Spiritual merger with Christ, the Spirit becomes the conduit to an entirely new level of sensitivity to God. And, through this new more intuitive Spiritual connection, the believer’s God awareness rises to previously unknown levels. Indeed, this is a level of intimacy which simply does not exist for the Spiritually uninitiated.

So, Jesus would say to His disciples as He spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit, “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

“A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (Ref. John 14: 15- 21)

About That Invisible Thing

Now, let’s revisit that Invisible thing for a moment before we get into the details of the role of the Holy Spirit in the divine drama. A lot of people have a problem with invisible when it comes to God. But, invisible is simply what God looks like in His natural, Spirit form. And a friendship with Him definitely involves becoming comfortable with that reality.

So, to begin that process, consider this. Invisible makes God no less real. It makes Him no less loving. It makes Him no less attractive. In fact, it may actually make Him even more attractive by virtue of the mysteriousness of invisibility. But, in any case, invisible is very much a part of who He is.

And beyond the issue of sight, it is also true that we cannot touch God, nor can we smell Him, or taste Him, or hear Him with our physical ear - at least on most days. So, out of the five physical senses, exactly none of them normally enable us to encounter the reality of God.

This has not always been true, of course. Christ, as God, enabled us to know God through all of our physical senses as He walked upon the earth. But even then, with all of our physical senses in play, we found ourselves still unable to really grasp God - so much so, that we crucified Him, instead of embracing His love.

So, bottom line: we will never be able to know this invisible God with just our physical senses. He is simply beyond the reach of such puny equipment. On our best day, God will still be incomprehensible to humanity’s sensory and even our empirical probes for that matter.

And granted, there are some among us who get very upset at that thought. Their attitude seems to be, “How dare God presume to be bigger than my sensory comprehension?” They seem almost to expect an apology for such a presumption.

However, I don’t really think an apology will be forthcoming. I believe God is pretty confident about who He is. And I am pretty sure He is not going to be apologizing for it any time soon.

I’m truly sorry for those who think God is somehow obligated to present Himself to their physical senses for inspection. He did, indeed, do that once, in Christ. But I think He is of the opinion that, Once is enough. And, I don’t think He is very inclined to do it again, and certainly not on a demand basis. He has never really been a big fan of such human arrogance.

So, for those who would embrace such a self-important approach, perhaps I could simply suggest another. You might consider humbly presenting yourself to Him for His inspection, instead of expecting Him to do that for you. I think you will find this a much more effective way to discover the invisible God.

Without question, He is a really big fan of such humility; and, He responds to it quickly. And, in fact, it is only to such faith that He ever surrenders the opportunity of His intimate friendship. But, within the bounds of this humility-based approach, He absolutely becomes very perceptible through a whole new set of inner sensibilities which Christ enables, as discussed earlier. (Ref. John 14:19)

So, it’s simple, really. To be friends with God requires that we become comfortable with “Invisible.” It’s just the way God looks as a Spirit. The reality is that the color of God is normally - well - clear.

Now, The Role Of The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit has several very important aspects to His role as a player in the redemptive drama. So, let’s now consider those that are more prominently exposed in the New Testament to better understand the whole of His role.

The Holy Spirit: 

    The Conveyor of Jesus

Again, the New Testament records these words of guidance from Jesus regarding the Holy Spirit, “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And, I will pray the Father; and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you...” (Ref. John 14:15-18 NKJV) 

“But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you…”
(Ref. John 16:5-8 NKJV)

These passages of scripture begin to expose the idea of the Holy Spirit as the Conveyor of Jesus to mankind following Christ’s return to the Father after the resurrection. Jesus, here, begins to introduce to us His perfect Surrogate, the Holy Spirit, who brings the Savior to mankind in an omni-present (present everywhere at once) way.

But these passages also raise the question of how this relationship between Christ and the Holy Spirit works – exactly. And the wording of the above passage certainly does tend to stimulate that discussion.

Jesus begins by saying that He is going to send “another Helper,” to His disciples. He then makes it clear that He is speaking of the Holy Spirit when He identifies the Helper as “the Spirit of Truth.” But then, He concludes by saying, “I will come to you,” seemingly indicating that He will be the Helper. So, the obvious question is this: What gives here?

These statements by Jesus can be explained easily once we introduce three key terms into the discussion. When we understand these ideas, the sense of it all becomes very clear. The three key terms are these: Influence, Control, and Character Essence.

Understanding the realities which surround these three terms will make very obvious what Jesus is saying here. And, as promised in our earlier discussion of the Trinity, we will also come to a much deeper understanding of its real operational mechanism.

And additionally, the realities flowing out of the Divine Trinity will also introduce us to the greater complexities of our own nature. So, let’s begin with the concepts of Influence and Control.

The Proverbial Question

Let’s start with a simple and familiar question which brings sharp clarity to the issues of Influence and Control. The question is this: Which is better - to be a big fish in a little pond, or a little fish in a big pond? Most people quickly choose, Big fish - little pond. But, why?

People typically gravitate toward this option because they instinctively understand that they would have more control over their immediate reality in a big fish - little pond situation. And, in fact, this need for circumstantial control is a universal motive which moves all of us on the most basic level.

So, let's examine this need for control, more closely. This examination will show us the central place of this motive in man’s existence, in our relationship to each other, and in our relationship to God. And we will be able to note its central standing in God’s redemptive work.

The “Real Money” 

Really, everything starts and ends with this idea of control. Whether you are black, white, yellow, or brown, a Type A or B personality, Muslim or Christian, prince or pauper, your daily life, your eternal destiny, and certainly your relationship with God are all primarily defined by this one question: “Who is in charge?” The idea is, of course, who has control, and thus, the ability to govern my life.

Because this issue of control is so primary to our existence, it actually creates the "universal currency" after which we all seek - whether wittingly or unwittingly. And, this universal currency is Influence.

Influence, It's All About Influence

Influence, by definition, is the power or capacity to produce a desired result. In simpler terms, influence is the power to effect your own will (to exercise control) within a given situation.

In still more earthy terms, influence might be said to be our total personal power to bend circumstance to suit our wishes. So, our influence can be seen as the sum total of our ability to express our self in and upon our reality.

Influence - Who has it? How much do we have? What will we do with it? And, what can it do for us? These and other issues surrounding the idea of circumstantial control are the subliminal issues which drive us all on a very primal level.

And, while most of us don't often look at life merely in terms of influence and control, God absolutely thinks about life in these terms. And Satan certainly thinks in these same terms. These are, in fact, the prime issues of life, whether we have a keen awareness of them or not.

These are the terms which really explain who we are, and why we do what we do. And these are the issues which mostly define our relationship to God and the workings of His redemptive agenda.

Power In Many Forms

Influence comes in many forms. For example, knowledge, material wealth, military might, social position, or political clout are all just forms of influence. So, as we employ these various means to manage and control life, they simply coalesce under the one heading of a very personalized (you guessed it) - Influence.

And, as the idea of universal currency indicates, we can simply use real money as an analogy to better understand the realities surrounding the idea of influence. This is true because the actions, appetites, and motives connected to influence perfectly mimic those which are connected to money. And, that is understandable, since again, money is perhaps the most liquid form of influence.

So, like money, influence is all about how much we have. It is about how we can use it to express ourselves and further our own ends.

Influence is about where we might strategically invest it to gain more. It is about having more than the next guy. It is about always having enough to get what we want - just like money.

Indeed, influence is the real driver and medium of exchange in both the physical and spiritual dimensions of life. So, deep in the human psyche, we all covet this "wealth." We want this raw personal power which allows us to impose our will upon our reality - and sometimes, upon the reality of others. And we use many tactics regarding to be able to achieve that end.

The Means Of Enlarged Ownership

For example, many of us busy ourselves, sometimes entirely, in the aggressive pursuit of material wealth. But, again, what we are really pursuing is the power to better control our life circumstance through the use of that wealth.

Sometimes, as mentioned, we also invest our influence to gain more influence later. We invest our energies in education, for example. Sometimes we align our influence with others to enlarge it, as in politics or labor unions.

But, all of these tactics, are really just expressions of our deep seated desire to have and wield personal influence. They simply facilitate our ability to maintain as much control as possible over our life circumstance.

Influence: Personalized and Identified

The Bible says in Genesis “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” And, with that gift of life, man also became a very personalized influence in the Universe.

So, from the very beginning, mankind had the capacity for sophisticated, consequential, and completely self-determined thoughts and actions. And that capacity for influence was very personalized to each individual. And, that personalization of influence is entirely achieved through one thing: our Character Essence.

The Character Essence

Very obviously, human beings have never been mere mindless clones of each other. Indeed, exactly the reverse is true. We each have this absolutely unique character essence from the moment our soul is formed. And it is from this character essence that our influence develops and our personal identity is established. (Ref. Jeremiah 1:5)

So, what exactly is our character essence? It is simply our unique core being. If we were forced to parse out the different ingredients which make up our character essence it would certainly involve our conscious and subconscious minds, our emotions, and our conscience and value system.

But, in the simplest terms, it is merely that unique “inner wiring” which makes us who we are. It is actually to the character essence that the Bible refers when it figuratively uses the word “Heart,” as in, “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Ref. Romans 10:10 NKJV)

So, the overview is this. Our character essence thoroughly identifies and defines us, and thus, shapes the nature of our distinct personal influence. And, in turn, the nature of our influence clearly reflects back to our character essence because it is the express product of that essence.

When you think about it, on those occasions when others seek to truly get to know us they are really just searching for our true character essence and the influence which it expresses. So, they watch us. They listen to what we say. They delve into our reputation.

Further, they seek to understand our value system. And they weigh our actions, our interactions with others, and our reactions to life. But, in all of this, what they are ultimately seeking to know is our true identity (character essence) and our influence (our personal impact upon reality) over time.

And additionally, it’s also true that, often, as they try to accurately identify us in this way, they are also able to clearly identify the “character image” and influence of others through us. The character image of our parents, for example, can often be well identified by their influence (impact) upon us.

So, identifying someone in this more in-depth way, in terms of their character essence and their influence upon reality, is not really that unusual at all. We simply think of it as carefully vetting a person in order to truly know them. And, obviously, this deeper look at someone is a much more precise, thorough, and accurate way to achieve that end.

Now, The Application

With these thoughts in mind, we are ready to return to the previous statements of Jesus. We can now better explore what He was indicating about how the Persons of the Divine Trinity interact to convey each other – and especially, how the Holy Spirit conveys Christ to mankind.

Again, Jesus said this, “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And, I will pray the Father; and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” (Ref. John 14:15-18 NKJV)

So, it comes to this. Very obviously, God also has a character essence and an influence. And, because the various Persons of the Divine Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share that single Character Essence (the inner make up of their core being) they have a unique ability. They are able not only to be themselves, individually, but, they are able, at the same time, to perfectly represent each other – because they are one in their character essence at all times.

Even when their respective actions may differ in a given moment, yet, they always remain one in that identifying inner character essence that is God. And even those differing momentary actions, in all cases, merely point back to that same shared character essence. So, when it comes to one person of the Trinity being a surrogate for the other, it is not even hard. They are always that - due to the shared make-up of their character essence.

This reality clearly emerges from the conversation which Jesus had with Philip as part of his discourse on the coming Holy Spirit. The Bible records this request of Philip to Jesus during the conversation: “Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.’”

Jesus then said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father?’” (Ref. John 14:7-11)

What Jesus was actually indicating to Philip was that He, Jesus, was one in character essence (core make-up) with the Father. Thus, He could accurately say, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”

So, what these followers of Christ, at the time of this discussion of the Holy Spirit’s coming, failed to recognize was that they had been observing the character essence and the influence of the Father through the Son all along. They did not understand that Christ, in His daily activities, was constantly and perfectly expressing the character of the Father in the form of values, thoughts, words, attitudes, and actions. And through that exhibition, He had already clearly identified for them the character essence of God the Father.

Thus, Jesus would also say to Philip, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves” [the expressions which clearly point right back to and identify the Father’s Character Essence which I share]. [Brackets added] (Ref. John 14:7-11)

And this idea of a surrogate representation of the common character essence remains exactly the same when it comes to Christ being conveyed by the Holy Spirit. The character essence of Christ is also perfectly conveyed to the believer through the Holy Spirit by the same oneness of essence which allows Christ to convey the Father. Thus, Jesus could accurately say about the coming Holy Spirit, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”
Jesus made this statement knowing that His character essence would, indeed, be perfectly conveyed to believers in an “omni-present” way by the Holy Spirit through the essential oneness of the Divine Trinity.

Thus, the Holy Spirit becomes the believer’s very intimate connection to the living Christ. He literally provides all believers with constant and simultaneous access to the character essence of Christ.

The Holy Spirit: 
  The Bringer Of Newness And Power

So, the Holy Spirit changes everything by serving as the agent of this very personal access to the living Christ. And, by this agency He is able to effect a very literal merger between the character essence of Christ and that of the believer.

He is the medium though which Christ is able to become truly enjoined to every devout believer through the Spiritual baptism. And, in turn, through this merger of the divine with the human essence, we are able to know the personal newness and empowered existence which comes from Christ living within. So, Jesus would say, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high." (Luke 24:49 NKJV)

Indeed, the ultimate purpose of the Holy Spirit is to affect this very real merger with Christ. And the ultimate purpose of this Holy Spirit-brokered merger with the Christ essence is to empower a thorough renewal of the believer’s core essence, which, in turn, radiates renewal outward into their entire influence.

And the purpose of this renewal is to bring the believer to a “like-heartedness” with God. And, indeed, this brilliant, grace-designed redemptive process does precisely that. It brings an intimate, comfortable, and durable friendship with God based in the strong matrix of a shared core oneness.

So, Jesus would say near the end of His discussion with His followers on the coming of the Spirit, “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." (Ref. John 14:19 -21 - NKJV)

And, a short time later, as Jesus anticipated His return to the Father, He would say this as He prayed to the Father for His followers in light of that departure, “…Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are...

“…I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”
(Ref. John 17:11-23 - NKJV)

A Brief Clarification

We should note at this point that this oneness with the divine essence which we are discussing, as wondrous as it is, does not make us divine. It does not turn us into God or make us almighty. Nor does it entirely erase our humanity or our personal identity.

What it does do, and all that it was ever intended to do, is renew our relationship to God through the renewal of our fallen nature. God created the human creature that He wanted to love and share life and reality with. So, He is not now trying to re-make us into a god, or absorb us into His God-nature, through Christ. He is simple restoring the beautiful human nature of the creature He loves, which has been so deeply diseased by the treacherous introduction of self-determination (sin) into our essence.

To be sure, there is a dimension of power afforded to the devout believer who shares in the Christ-essence. But, this power is a very defined and targeted energy which only ever works in the interest of human renewal.

It is not, and never will be a broad based power which operates on the level of the Almighty’s. So, the empowerment that we receive through our connection to the Christ-essence does not turn us into superseding titans of power.

Not one human being, from the beginning of time until now, has ever been able to performed a single miracle (the setting aside of the natural laws) in and of themselves. Only God has ever demonstrated the power to do such things. And, when such events do occur, it is God’s power only which initiates them – not that of the human beings who may be present at the time.

So, we are not God and never will be – even in Christ. Christ simply has no interest in turning us into a god. His simple intention is to turn us into a better us, so that we can experience a truly elevated and enduring relationship with the God who created us, simply in the interest of deeply meaningful companionship.

The New Testament Twist 

Now, getting beyond all of that, this renewing merger with Christ through the Holy Spirit, is the element in God’s redemptive plan which no one really saw coming until these New Testament times. But, this empowering Spiritual connection is, in fact, the Target Event of these New Testament times.

Our penitent conversion is but the gate through which we pass to get to this truly life changing event: our personal Spiritual Integration with Christ. And, this powerful and trans-formative experience is what the Holy Spirit enables as He makes Christ universally available to the truly devout.

The Holy Spirit: 

    Our Interpreter for Truth

Again, as we have already read, Jesus also said this of the Holy Spirit, “…And He will guide you into all truth.” And remember, as discussed earlier, the definition of Truth is really very simple.Truth is the correct interpretation of reality. The Holy Spirit actually becomes that for the believer every day, just as Jesus promised. (Ref. John 16:13)

If you recall, we discussed, in earlier sections, how, as a part of the treachery of that first temptation in the Garden, man was induced to embrace his own alternative and very subjective interpretation of reality. Again recall that, resulting from this deception by Satan, good and evil became subject to the individual’s point of view.

Thus, the Adversary managed to ingrain into the thinking of mankind the confusion of alternative interpretations to God’s view of reality. So, sin (self-determination: interpreting good and evil for yourself) was born in the heart of mankind. And, by this devastating divergence of heart, man became separated from God.

However, the Holy Spirit has now become the powerful and completely effective remedy for that ingrained confusion which was introduced so long ago. Now, finally, in these New Testament times, believers are reconnected to the truth, God’s correct interpretation of reality, though their merger with the character essence of Christ, which is enabled by the Holy Spirit.

So, the Holy Spirit enables us once again to see true good and true evil. He becomes the believer’s real clarity, furnishing us, once again, with not only an awareness of the Godly perspective on life, but an empowered inclination (faith) to embrace it.

The Holy Spirit: 

   Bringer Of A Whole New Way Of Life

Having discussed the previous issues, we are now better able to appreciate a powerful message in the timing of God’s broad based offering of His Spirit to humanity. As we noted earlier, God chose the Jewish holiday of Pentecost as the occasion upon which to first make His Spirit universally available to devout believers.

The Feast of Pentecost was and is celebrated by the Jewish culture to commemorate “the giving of the divine law” which occurred in the region of Sinai in the Jewish culture's early history. That law, given through Moses, was God’s graceful guidance to them for a good and fulfilling life.

But, there was one very pronounced problem with the Mosaic Law. It was external to the human nature, written on tablets of stone, both literally and figuratively. The law was not integral to the human psyche. That is, the Law was not intuitive or instinctive to those early Jewish recipients.

So, lacking this natural internalization, the Law, though intended for good, yet remained to them awkward and hard to consistently implement in their daily lives. It simply couldn't naturalize itself within the fallen human nature.

But God, even at that early beginning place, already had a plan to do that very thing. It was a plan to entirely solve this problem of the external law’s “awkwardness.”

By this final solution, He would initiate within the heart of mankind a completely natural form of righteousness. And, that brilliant solution is simply a literal merger between the believer and the Living Christ.

It Was Foretold

The prophet Ezekiel beautifully foretold God’s ultimate plan for healing mankind’s aversion to God’s values and views. In his writings the prophet conveyed this hope from the Lord, first to ancient Israel, but prophetically and ultimately, to New Testament believers in Christ.

These are his God-inspired words, “…Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them." (Ref. Ezekiel 36:24-27- NKJV)

So, on the day of that very special Pentecostal Feast in that upstairs room in Jerusalem, God began to fulfill this trans-formative intention. Beginning with that first small group of Christ’s devoted followers, everything changed in the God / man relationship.

On that day, believers began to experience a true transformation. On that day the righteousness of God's law became truly internalized and naturalized in man's heart. Thus, through the Spiritual merger with Christ, God's truth became the beloved and fulfilling thing that it was always meant to be

This happens because, through the Spiritual merger, the believer becomes internally connected to the value system of Christ. As a result, His interpretation of reality becomes our interpretation of reality.

So, God’s truth, His correct interpretation of reality, is now, no longer an awkward external. Rather, it has become a very instinctive part of our own essence through our Spiritual merger with Christ.

Thus, on that very first post-ascension Pentecost, the faithful began to experience and celebrate the final, and wonderfully effective, “Giving of the Law” as a beautifully internalized value system. This was truly the Pentecostal Celebration (the giving of the law) that God had long anticipated for His people.

This time, God’s love appeared as what it truly is. No longer is it just some rigid, stone-like external, but a completely benevolent, comfortable, and fulfilling life view.

So, for the first time since man’s fall in the Garden, through this merger with the character essence of Christ, mankind began to taste, once again, the sweetness of a true heart-agreement with his Creator. And through this new Christ-based view of life, we began to discover a whole new level of personal intimacy with Him.

The First Impact: Faith And Grace

     First, Faith

This personal merger with Christ is, indeed, inestimable in its value to the believer’s quality of life. And, as you might expect, this transforming influence of Christ within changes everything. But one of the most immediate impacts of the Spiritual merger is to our faith.

It’s really very simple. Our own puny faith (humility of influence before God), through the Spiritual Baptism, is immediately strengthened by the faith (strong and consistent humility toward the Father) of Christ. As we connect to His character essence and the value system it contains, as promised, we are empowered in this way.

In the New Testament, the apostle, Paul, describes this transition from merely our own small and inconsistent faith to the much more vital and empowering faith of Christ in this way. He says, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Ref. Galatians 2:16 KJV)

And, in another place the apostle, Paul, said, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith…" (Ref. Philippians 3:8-9 KJV)

So, among the foundational corrections made to our own character essence through the Spiritual merger with Christ is the inconsistency of our faith. The strong vitality of Christ’s faith immediately begins to bolster our weaker faith as we connect to His essence.

And out of this more consistent attitude of humble trust is born, not only a consistently obedient lifestyle, but a profound peace in our relationship with God. And how could that not come to pass as we begin to experience a more consistent heart-agreement with God through this new Christ-based humility?

Enlarging harmony, in most any relationship, is only the natural outflow of a deepening heart-agreement. And that is certainly the case as our Christ-empowered faith begins to deepen our embrace of all that God is. As the New Testament indicates throughout, this enlarging heart-embrace (core integration) is, again, the foundational matrix of our friendship with Him.

Now, Grace

Another immediate impact of the Spiritual baptism involves the idea of Grace. Obviously, grace is also a very important concept to the redemptive agenda and the divine friendship. However, in more recent times, grace has come to be popularly, but erroneously, understood to mean merely, “unmerited favor.”

This is actually more the definition of mercy (which is only one product of grace) than it is grace. But, “Mercy” and “Grace” do not equally interchange as terms.

So, to accurately understand the meaning of Grace, and thus, its full scope in the redemptive work, let's just look at the dictionary’s recognized definition of the word.

And, we should probably point out here that the Bible does not have its own special meanings for the words which it contains. In fact, just the reverse is true. In any reputable translation of the Bible, every effort goes toward the accurate rendering into the commonly held usage.

It is a necessary requirement for a Bible translator that he or she have a broad and accurate knowledge of both the language which is being translated from and the language which is being translated to. This is always the prime requirement so that words can be employed accurately regarding their well established common meanings.

So, to understand the Bible correctly and really understand God accurately, we should hold to those accurate common meanings as well. Off-handed catch phrases and the clichés of pop-preaching are not really the stuff of durable truth. So, let’s consult the books that are.

Webster's Dictionary defines Grace as, “Seemingly effortless beauty, ease and charm of movement, proportion, or form; a charming quality or characteristic.” Funk and Wagnall's Standard Dictionary defines it as, “Any excellence, characteristic, quality, or endowment.”

The Greek word which is translated as grace every time, save one, in the New Testament is “Charis.” Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, a widely and highly regarded work, gives this definition for that word. “That which affords joy, pleasure, delight.”

Strong's Dictionary of the Greek New Testament, also a very highly regarded work, gives this meaning for "charis" or "grace." “Graciousness (as gratifying) of manner or act.” 

Obviously, these dictionaries give us a much broader definition of grace than is involved in the popular but very limited idea of “unmerited favor.” And, the broad, composite idea that they provide is really a very simple one. These respected lexicons describe grace, in short, as simply an “innate goodness” (innate meaning, occurring naturally).

So, this broader idea of Grace as simply a characteristic goodness of nature is, indeed, a much larger idea than that of mere mercy or unmerited favor. And, this distinction becomes very important to an accurate understanding of the transforming process which brings us to a vital friendship with God.

It is this larger idea of grace as a naturally occurring goodness which is exactly the way the term should, and really must, be understood. This larger and more accurate definition allows us to mine all of the richness which the New Testament offers to believers in this word.

And, if we are truly astute, we will not ponder this larger concept of grace for long before we start to wonder about God’s capacity for this naturally occurring goodness. In other words, we will start to ask questions like, Where does God's grace come from? or What is the underlying mechanism which enables this naturally occurring goodness in the character essence of God?

So, let’s explore, for a time, the implications of this larger idea of grace. And, while we’re at it, let’s just go ahead and deal with those “How can this be” questions which attend it.

True Grace - And It's Source

So, the operations of grace unfold like this in God’s renewal process. As we are integrated with Christ through the Spiritual baptism, grace, like faith, is another aspect of the divine nature which is immediately transferred to the believer through that merger.

But, what is important to understand is that this transfer is more about the “Goose” than the “Golden Egg.” In other words, it is Christ’s whole capacity, including the underlying mechanism which produces this instinctive goodness in His nature, which is shared with the believer through the Spiritual merger.

Thus, through our Spiritual baptism into Christ, a truly graceful nature comes to life in the believer. And, it is, indeed, a nature which has the capacity to respond to life’s circumstances and to God in a spontaneously good way.

The Spectacular Impact Of Grace

For believers to gain, through Christ, His capacity for intuitive goodness changes everything. And, this change includes the way God's people are personally governed and guided in their day-to-day response to life. After our Spiritual merger with Christ, as noted earlier, that response becomes internalized and very instinctive. And those instincts are based in this now internalized "intuitive goodness."

Paul confirms the transition to this new “Grace-based heart-government” by his statement in Romans, chapter 6. There he says, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

With this and many other such statements, Paul affirms that in these New Testament times Christ has enabled us to move beyond a life response based in external rules. Rather, He has brought the believer to this intuitive grace, an infinitely more natural and articulate means of "heart-government."

And, with this very fundamental change comes a wonderful new simplicity to the believer’s daily existence and to his or her relationship with God. Now, instead of a constant and demanding rule management process, the Spirit-filled believer simply responds from her own Christ-provided awareness of good. So, in this very comfortable and natural way, grace (nature-based goodness) becomes the very effective internal replacement for the awkward and ineffective external law.

Obviously, this is a far superior means of life management. Now, the believer is able to naturally and comfortably respond a given life circumstance in the simplicity of their shared Christ-based instinct for goodness. And they are able to respond to God in the same way. Such is the ease of this new, heart-government. And, it is entirely the gift of the Living Christ living within us.

Now, The Mechanism

But, how could this seemingly imprecise spontaneity in Christ not take us far astray in our perspectives, and thus ultimately, in our behavior. What keeps our powerful Want-To’s, for example, from overriding our true Need-To’s. What keeps our Druthers, from derailing our Duty?

To be sure, it is very important to understand that this new grace guided life does not make us a law unto ourselves. Rather, it attunes us to God's highest law – His own good heart. And the mechanism of that tuning is not at all difficult to understand.

So, let’s take an even deeper look at the intricacies of what happens when we are Spiritually enjoined to the grace of Christ. And, as we continue our careful dissection of this event, the nature of the “grace mechanism” will become very visible.

Values Distill Grace

So, here we go to the very depths of the Spiritual transformation of the believer. Let’s begin with this. In short, when we are joined to the nature of Christ, we experience an instant transition to a whole new plane of awareness.

And this sudden, new perspective can be explained by one occurrence: the inflow of a new set of values. As noted earlier, the faith value is the foundational value. But, beyond that, we are connected to the whole of Christ’s value system through the Spiritual baptism.

We have mentioned the idea of Values several times in earlier discussions. But, at this point, we need to discuss the idea of values a bit more extensively.

Values: Life's Filter System

A value is simply a very primary and dearly held belief, life tenet, principle, etc. And a value system is the whole of all of our values taken together. And, these values are so basic to our character essence that they actually become mostly instinctual in their impact on our thoughts and actions.

And, these very primary instincts serve as our first line of perception, the interpretive context through which we filter all of life. Thus, our value system serves as our motivational autopilot to guide our actions and reactions in life.

Ultimately, our values filter and interpret all of the issues of life. As a result, it's our values with determine our likes and dislikes. They determine what is important and what is not. And, our values determine what we understand to be right or wrong. And, it is our value system which always decides the most basic issue of all: the issue of good and evil.

So, understanding all of this about values, it's easy to see how God's good value system produces gracefulness (an innate goodness) in His nature. And, it then becomes easy to see how, as we start to share the value system of God through our Spiritual baptism into Christ, the same is done for us.

Truth Restored

And, beyond the wonder of this new gracefulness that we are able to experience through the indwelling Spirit of Christ, still another benefit comes. Indeed, it is the superlative benefit of a Christ-interpreted life.

As we begin to share in Christ's interpretive context (His values) we are brought back to a true perspective on the ultimate issue of life: good and evil. Thus, through our Spiritual Baptism into Christ, that precious thing which we lost in the Garden of Eden: Truth (the correct interpretation of reality - God's interpretation) is restored to us.

So, this new Christ-based value system then, is, indeed, the “goose” which constantly lays the daily “golden eggs” of grace (intuitive goodness) in our daily lives. And, beyond that, it enables us to escape the delusions of our self-based perspectives and again, see life truthfully - as God sees it. Such is the important impact of the Spiritual baptism as it brings to our own character essence the “grace mechanism,” a value system overwrite by the Living Christ.

In Infant Form 

Certainly, we should note that all of this, the value system of Christ and the grace which it produces, comes first in primordial (infant) form. In fact, it is easy to see an analogy between the Spiritual rebirth and the physical birth in this regard. 

It goes like this. Notice that in the physical birth, at the very moment of conception, the stage becomes set for an entirely new personality expression in the world. And that expression is largely defined by the encoded DNA message contained within that new life.

And, that defining genetic message is there from the very beginning of our existence as a person. But, also note this. It only ever fully expresses itself with time and life experience.

So also, is the process of this new Spiritual birth in Christ. Indeed, in the Spiritual birth, it is very important to understand that we receive the Christ essence, including His values, in infant, form. And, God then uses time and the circumstances of life experience as maturing agents to bring full expression to "the Christ Code," (the new value system) within us.

And, we should also note that, just as there are environmental impacts, challenges, and setbacks, etc. in the physical maturing process, so also are these in the Spiritual process of growing up in Christ. Nevertheless, these struggles do not disable the growth process.

In fact, they are actually an integral and important part of it. Thus, with time, this new "Spiritual DNA," the primordial “Christ Code” within the believer, eventually finds its full expression in the form of a mature Christ-based character essence containing this wonderful grace producing value system.

Paul describes this growth process. and the eventual maturity which results from it, in these words. “And He [Jesus] Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

"Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect [mature] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

"That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ…” [Brackets added] (Ref. Ephesians 4:11-15 NKJV)

In Summary

So, through the Spiritual baptism is transmitted to the believer the values of Christ. And this new value system, as the “grace mechanism” begins to produce grace (a natural goodness) within the believer as he or she matures in Christ.

And, this grace creates a beautiful like-mindedness to God. And, that enables a very comfortable and intuitive friendship with God.

The Faith / Grace Advantage 

Before we close, for now, our discussion of the Role of the Holy Spirit and His impact on the believer, we should point out something else. To be clear, we should also note that even sharing in the faith and grace of Christ does not make good choices and actions completely automatic for the believer.

Never – neither in this physical life or in the life to come – is the human being relieved of his or her moral capacity or responsibility to always willfully embrace good over evil. This capacity and this responsibility are intrinsic and indispensable elements of the human existence. God created us with this moral dimension, and our reclamation in Christ in no way erases it or diminishes its necessity and importance.

So, if the guiding faith and grace of Christ, does not make good choices and actions an "autopilot response," what do these things do? Well, the short answer is this. Faith and grace change our attractions.

How It Works

It works like this. Where the sinful motive of self-determination, the motive to merely please one's self, once seemed so irresistibly attractive, now, revitalized in Christ, the grace mechanism (a new Christ-based value system) recognizes and exposes this sin motive for what it truly is: ugly and evil. And similarly, the grace mechanism also exposes the faith motive for what it is: truly good.

So, in Christ, the grace mechanism (our new value system), giving us a new and more accurate instinct for what is truly good, has shifted the weight of attractiveness away from the sin motive to the faith motive. Thus, equipped with this new awareness of, and attraction to, true good, the Christ-based faith and grace motives, which now guide our response to life, become more than a match for the sin motive, which was once so irresistible.

So, while good choices and actions are not absolutely automatic to the believer, yet, in Christ, that responsibility is no longer overwhelming. Instead, it has been made completely manageable and consistently doable as the grace of God, now operating in us through Christ, makes the sin response ugly and the faith response beautifully attractive to the believer.

So, when faced with the choice to humbly trust God’s perspective (the faith motive) or gratify self (the sin motive), it becomes, not automatic, but much easier to choose faith. The reason being, it is now the more naturally attractive choice – made so by the value system of Christ operating in us.

Paul framed his description of this new Christ-based affinity for the faith response this way in his writings. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ref. Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV)

Now, to really enjoy the power of these verses and the wonderful redemption they describe, lets’ take a moment to paraphrase them by plugging in the concepts which we have been discussing. In that case, the verses could be read like this:

A Conceptual Paraphrase

Through His innate sense of good (grace) God found a way to forgive you by recognizing your faith response to the Savior (your willingness to make your personal influence entirely subject to His - by embracing his value system and directions for your life).

But, be advised and do not be proud or boastful regarding this faith decision. For, the faith which finally saves you is not really yours at all. It is the faith (humility) of Christ operating in you, a gift from Him, provided through the Spiritual baptism.

So, this renewal of your inner person, through the character essence of Christ living in you, is truly the redemptive workmanship of God. And, as a result, you too are now equipped by the faith of Christ and His innate sense of good to embrace true good and produce truly good works, just as God intended that you should do all along.

Not Just A Growth Process

Now, there remains but one final caution to be offered regarding this Spiritual renewal in Christ. Obviously, as noted, the temporal aspect (the personal growth, in Christ, which happens over time and through life experience) is important and intrinsic to our Spiritual maturity. However, a simple growth process should never be thought the entire nature of the redemptive process.

As noted earlier, the Spiritual merger with Christ certainly initiates this time-based aspect of the renewal process. But, to be clear, it is not, and never can be – merely that.

Genuine newness and our eventual maturity in Christ never results from merely the longevity of a religious walk or the enlarging of religious experience or knowledge. Becoming a “new creature in Christ” is always rooted in an actual Spiritual integration with Christ, not merely in growing older, wiser, and more sophisticated in your religious walk.

Again, Jesus said in John, chapter 15, of the Bible “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” 

So, absent a personal merger with Jesus Christ (an actual connection to the vitality of the “Vine,”) the believer is left without any real possibility of reaching a “God-approvable” state of completion.

To be sure, intense human effort can, in some measure, make us wiser and enable us to live somewhat more consistently than if we did not try at all. But, such effort, in any measure, cannot literally connect us to the real character essence of Christ.

Thus, it cannot connect us to His empowering faith or the intuitive goodness of His grace distilling value system. So, mere learning and personal growth, in and of itself, can never bring us to a truly intimate heart-oneness with God.

Only a personal, Spirit-enabled merger with the Living Christ can do those indispensable things. Human effort, in and of itself, simply has no real capacity for true and thorough redemption. That occurs only through our literal connection to Christ which brings His shared character essence to life within us.

The Present Grassroots Condition 

As we close this discussion of the redemptive role of the Holy Spirit for now, it becomes very obvious that the New Testament is new in much more than just a chronological sense. It is completely new in terms of the believer’s Christ-enabled capacity for daily intimacy with God.

Because the Spirit now literally connects the very nature of Christ to that of the believer, everything has, indeed, changed. Thus, the apostle could truly write “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (Ref. 2 Corinthians 5:17 - KJV)

But, the sad truth is that the grassroots condition of the contemporary Church, under all of its different labels, has become, and is becoming, increasingly deteriorated in this regard. And, that deterioration is largely based in two errors in contemporary thought.

The Errors

First, the Spiritual vitality of the Church is presently sagging because of the widespread assumption that the Spiritual merger is simply intrinsic to the conversion moment. That is, the Spiritual baptism is just an automatic and undistinguished part of one's conversion to Christ. Thus, the believer has no inclination to intensely pursue this experience after conversion as a stand-alone event in the redemptive process.

And second, the present Church is struggling to find this elevated Spiritual life-plane in the Living Christ because it has widely embraced an unbalanced pop-gospel. In truth, the ascendant Gospel of the modern Church is one which maximizes the idea of forgiveness and virtually ignores the idea of a real and substantial personal renewal of the believer's character essence.

Error #1: The Timing

So, let’s look first at this idea of the Spiritual baptism as being “intrinsic” to the conversion event. In other words, this is the idea that the Spiritual baptism occurs at the very moment of our conversion to Christ.

In fact, the Spiritual baptism is not normally “an automatic” of the conversion moment. It is vastly more often a stand-alone event which occurs some time later in the redemptive process following our initial embrace of Christ. And encountering this life-changing integration with the Savior is very much predicated on the intensity of our desire to find and experience this trans-formative event.

This is why Jesus would say, regarding the gift of the Spirit, “… ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” The idea here is that we are expected to actively pursue this intimacy with God.

And, Jesus was very specific that we should be truly adamant in this desire. Indeed, the successful pursuit of the Spiritual baptism is very much predicated on the intensity of the believer's appetite for God’s up-close friendship. (Ref. Luke 11: 5-8)

In truth, there are no specific explanations in the Bible as to whether the baptism of the Spirit is intrinsic to the conversion moment or involves something of an intervening time after conversion. But, all of the anecdotal evidence in the Old and New Testament, save the one very specialized incident at the home of Cornelius in the book of Acts, clearly indicates that there is, indeed, an intervening time of varying length between the moment of conversion and the Spiritual baptism.

In The Old Testament

For example, in the Old Testament, the comparison of the Jewish Exodus to the New Testament redemptive journey is an analogy which works very well. Indeed, we can gain great insight from that Old Testament transformation of the nation of Israel as we compare it to the New Testament transformation of the individual believer.

However, this analogy only accurately holds up if we recognize the significance of the intervening period of time between the Jew's initial commitment to follow God out of Egypt and their later entry into the Promise Land.

That intervening period was intended to humble God's people and affirm their faith. And, the words of the Bible indicate that the people were aware of this. The Old Testament records these words.

"And all the people saw the thundering’s, and the lightning’s, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, 'Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.'

"And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.” (Ref. Exodus 20: 18-21)

So, in the Exodus journey of the Jewish nation, a wonderful Old Testament archetype of New Testament redemption, there was this confirmation period which occurred before the Promise Land was made available. And, it had this very definite purpose: to confirm the devotion of God's people.

In The New Testament

We can also point to many believers in the pages of the New Testament who were converted to faith in Christ well before they received the gift of the Spirit. Among these would be the original Apostles and other early disciples. (Ref. Acts 2:1-4)

We can also notice references in the writings of the New Testament to those who received the Spirit fairly quickly after their conversion – but still very clearly after the conversion moment. This would be the Apostle, Paul, and the believers which he later discovered at Ephesus during one of his missionary journeys. (Ref. Acts 9:1-18 // Acts 19: 1-7)

And, indeed, there does seem to be one incident in the New Testament where the baptism of the Spirit was received essentially at the moment of conversion. This occurred on the occasion of Peter preaching the Gospel to a group in the home of Cornelius.

However, this was a very unique situation though which God intended to convey a clear message to the early Jewish Church, in an unmistakable way, that salvation in Christ was also available to the Gentile world. And the scripture makes it fairly clear that this was a group of people who were already, for some time, devoutly pursuing an intimacy with God. (Ref. Acts 10:1-45)

So, The Take-away

Obviously, God is always free to do as He pleases, and He did so in the case of Cornelius to suit His ends. However, the vast preponderance of scriptural examples indicates that the norm is definitely to encounter a waiting period, a confirmation time - sometimes longer, sometimes shorter - between conversion and the baptism of the Spirit.

But, the point of all of this case building is not simply to win an intellectual point. It is to expose the error and the danger of this widespread contemporary notion that the Spiritual baptism is always intrinsic to the conversion moment when, in fact, the opposite is true. This mistake causes believers to exert no substantial effort to pursuing the Spiritual baptism – when substantial investment is actually the requirement.

So, resulting from this failure to follow Christ’s instructions to adamantly ask, and seek, and knock after the gift of the Spirit, the believer fails to experience the Spiritual merger with Christ. And that failure entirely preempts the renewal aspect of redemption, as we have seen, and, ultimately, it defeats redemption, itself.

Thus, we come to the wide-spread condition in the contemporary Church. It is a non-Christ-empowered life where believers are left attempting to follow and serve Christ with nothing more than their own puny resources. But, as noted earlier, mere human resource is totally insufficient to bring us to a God-approved condition.

Thus, the obvious and correct course of action is simply rise above this prevailing error of our times. The right thing to do is to pursue, with all of our heart, a personal and vividly perceptible Spiritual baptism into the character essence of Christ, following conversion.

Error #2: Forgiveness Only 

We have been noticing throughout this section on the Holy Spirit, just how indispensable the baptism of the Spirit is to the redemptive process. And it is true that the Holy Spirit immediately begins to nudge us toward this priority-one experience after our conversion. However, due to pop-preaching and bad theology, those urgings are being widely defeated in the modern Church by another serious mistake.

We often fail to respond to this leading of God’s Spirit simply because, as mentioned, we have widely begun to conceive of redemption only in terms of forgiveness. But, in truth, the authentic redemptive plan of God is now and has always been about forgiveness and renewal.

So, the New Testament writer would pen this encouragement:  “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ref. Ephesians 4:17-24 - NKJV)

When we understand that God’s redemptive intention is not only to provide forgiveness, but to immediately initiate a renewal in the believer through the indwelling Christ, then the importance of the Spiritual baptism becomes easily apparent. But, when we conceive of redemption as only being about forgiveness, the real point of the Spiritual baptism, and thus the impetus to pursue it with intensity, is lost.

A Quick Side Note

And, as a quick side note, this fundamental mistake also causes the modern Church to make a residual mistake in its thinking. This one-dimensional, “forgiveness-only gospel” also causes us to conceive of redemption, essentially, as a momentary decision rather than the life process that it actually is.

This happens because, indeed, our forgiveness is initiated in the moment of our conversion to Christ. So, if forgiveness is all you are thinking about, then redemption, itself, becomes essentially defined by that conversion moment where you were instantly forgiven.

But, in the correct view of a redemption, which takes into account the necessity of both forgiveness and renewal, we start to understand redemption in a much more accurate, multidimensional way. We start to see it, as we should, for the longer, every-day process that it also involves.

So, for sure, authentic redemption is initiated in a moment of time. But, it is by no means completed in a moment of time, as the pop-gospel of mere forgiveness has caused us to widely believe across the ranks of the contemporary Church.

A Dangerous Course

So, these are some serious errors in the thinking of the contemporary Church which have contributed to our widespread Spiritual anemia. And these mistakes have deeply eroded our understanding of the Holy Spirit’s role in our redemption. And they are the reason we are largely losing our experiential grip on an actual Spiritual merger with Christ.

But, in this critically late hour of God’s redemptive time table, it is both ludicrous and dangerous to be minimizing the experience this stand-alone, redemptive event: our personal Spiritual baptism into Christ. It is absolutely the Target Event of God's authentic redemptive agenda for mankind. And it certainly deserves better than to be minimized or made into some childish sideshow.

Truly, it is Christ’s magnificent Cross which enables our forgiveness. But, it is His Resurrection which furnishes us with a Living Christ who can, in turn, share His living essence with us through the Spiritual baptism. And, in that sharing, believers are then able to experience, not only God’s forgiveness, but also a Christ-empowered renewal in their character in the here-and-now.

So, redemption is not just about the Cross and forgiveness. It is also about a game-changing Resurrection and a life-changing renewal. The authentic Gospel has always been about both of these elements.

The Holy Spirit: 

    The Facilitator Of Newness

Again, Jesus said, “I will not leave you comfortless [helpless]: I will come to you.” And He does that by the Holy Spirit as we have discussed.

And, facilitating this life changing daily intimacy with the Savior is the encompassing role of the Spirit in the Redemptive Drama. He is truly the Initiator and the “Maintenance Man” of our intimate daily friendship with God.

                                               Continue to Section 6