Friday, October 30, 2009

Notes on John's Prologue 1

Over the next few months I will be sharing some of my thoughts on John’s famous prologue (1:1-18). Much like Paul’s opening statement in Ephesians, which runs from vs. 3 to vs. 14, John’s prologue is packed. Each and every word and phrase are chosen deliberately. I suspect John wrote his prologue last, as a shorter version of his gospel at large. For the gospel is the prologue expanded.

John begins and ends with a revolution in human thought about the very being of God.

In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was (face to face) with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning (face to face) with God (1:1-2).

No human has ever seen God. The one and only Son of God, who dwells in the bosom of the Father, he has made Him known (1:18).


As a good Jewish man, John believes that God created the heavens and the earth, and all things. And while John affirms the opening verse in the Hebrew bible, (In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth) he wants to fill out our concept of God by adding relationship. So John starts before creation itself, and places the Word, or the Son, there before the beginning with God.

John has met Jesus, and in meeting him, in knowing him, he has concluded that Jesus belongs to the divine side of things. Jesus is everything that God is, the one and only Son, who dwells in the Father’s bosom from all eternity. And he became human.

John’s thought is a revolution in human thought about the being of God, a revolution which took over three hundreds to reach formulation in the doctrine of the Trinity. But for John, the implications are staggering, and form the heart of his message. The one who is face to face with the Father from before the beginning, the one who dwells in his bosom, and knows the Father inside out, this one has become a human being (1:14) to be with us. The Father’s Son himself has come. He has become human, what we are, and the Father’s Son has become one of us so that he could share with us all that he is and has with his Father in the anointing of the Holy Spirit. That is the staggering sequence. Divine relationship. Incarnation. Sharing of divine life. And nothing less.

Before the beginning, the Son was face to face with his Father, dwelling in his bosom. He became one of us, to dwell among us, so that we could receive of his own fulness and life. Herein lies the heart of John’s message, and he writes so that we can come to see who Jesus is and who we are in him, and what stunning life has been given to the human race in him.

Put your big boy britches on and deal with it. This is what has happened. The Father’s Son himself has come. And he has established a real relationship with us in our darkness, so that we could share in, taste and feel, and experience, all that he is and has in his life with his Father.

Everything in John’s gospel is calculated to help us, who live in the great darkness, to come to ‘know’ Jesus for ourselves, so that believing in him, we may begin to experience his own life, rather than our own. So John’s gospel is both the announcement of the coming of the Father’s Son in person, and the news that summons us to believe in him, rather than in ourselves, so that we can know what he knows—the Father, and experience life in his embrace.

48 comments:

Pastor Paul said...

Baxter, God bless you, You continue to make the TRUTH in Jesus so clear and plain. The Plain Truth!!! Thanks for being so yeilded to the direction of the Holy Spirit and willing to help all of us who live in utter darkness.

Your brother,

Paul Kurts

Anonymous said...

Fancy that!? Another Perichoresis article from the book of John.

John, Ephesians, a handful of other books....the bible is small for most Perichoresis advocates.

Richard said...

Hi there,

It strikes me that we moderns are faced with a challenge in how to use the Bible. In some places, it seems so wrathful, while in other places, it seems so filled with love. What is the problem?

Well, the problem is not with the Bible. It is with our understanding of the Bible and how it was put together. Basically, it was put together like a great "novel," and this novel flows to a grace conclusion in Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, starting with the Gospel of John and running through the books (letters) that follow, we can read this conclusion.

However, we moderns easily miss this flow of the Bible and instead mix the Bible's letters and books together into some sort of telephone book like document, with a little here and a little there used to form our understanding of the Bible's message. It is all hopelessly confusing.

My approach is to read the Bible and study it as it was laid out. Furthermore, the whole Bible excites me as I read how God brought and is now bringing everything together in Jesus Christ.

And I look forward to reading what Baxter has to say as John kicks off the conclusion of the "novel" about Jesus Christ.

Go John! Go!

The best to you all always!

J. Richard Parker

Talk Story said...

Hi Baxter. Just love your blog and the thoughts on John. I am about to teach for two days in the school of communications here in Sweden and can not get away from the thought: the Word became flesh... thank you for adding so much to my understanding of Incarnation and Jesus being the express image of the father!!!

Anna Leitao
(YWAM)

Great Googly Moogly! said...

"Herein lies the heart of John’s message, and he writes so that we can come to see who Jesus is and who we are in him, and what stunning life has been given to the human race in him."

I've just been introduced to your site and blog and have so far loved everything that I've read...but...

...I'm reading your material as a Christian who has been granted life out of death in Christ. I have been granted life in Christ because of the presence of the Spirit who is progressively forming the life of Christ in me. But those who do not possess the Spirit of God are still separated from God and are still dead in their trespasses and sins.

I find a lack of clarity in your writing that suggests that what is true of the Believer is also true of the non-Believer, that he/she has been granted life and restoration to true humanity in Christ but that he/she just simply doesn't know it. I absolutely agree with you that the work of the Son is cosmic in scope with redemption reaching to all of creation and that Christ has accomplished the restoration of humanity . But your writing suggests a Universalism that extends to the salvation of every individual human being--some have come to belief and some haven't, but all either do or will experience redmeption in Christ.

Maybe I'm misreading you, and if I am I apologize. But the Bible is clear that only those who have the Spirit are Children of God and only those who believe in Jesus (by God's grace through personal faith) are granted the Spirit and therby joined to Christ.

With this foundation I applaud your work in helping us understand the fulness of what Christ has accomnplished and the Trinitarian reality of the purpose of God in redemption.

Christ certainy came to redeem creation and to recover all things to Himself--but not simply to recover creation back to what once was. Jesus came to consummate the purpose of God of which "Eden" was simply a type. "Adam's" humanity is only perfected in the "True Man", the God-Man Jesus Christ so that human beings are not fully human (not what we are supposed to be) apart from Him. With His coming and His work on the Cross (which includes His ascension and enthronement as King/Priest), not only humanity but the entire created order finds its fulfillment or destiny.

But this is not to say that every individual person is or will be caught up in Christ. The Bible stresses the inclusivity of the Gospel with respect to humanity as union with Christ by the Spirit on the basis of personal faith by God's grace.

Would you agree with this?

Thanks,

Jason

Anonymous said...

OOgly Moogly speaks for a lot of folks, folks. I know the answer but have an awful time explaining it to others. All I can offer OOgly is for you to keep listening and it will begin to show a little more truth.
Ron

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Ron,

Thanks for the response, but I don't know why it would be difficult to give a straight answer. Why be coy about the Gospel? Either Baxter is a Universalist or he isn't. Either Christ's redemption extends to every individual human being whether he/she knows it or not, or it extends only to those who have been joined to Him by the Spirit through faith. The Bible teaches only one of these two paradigms with regard to humanity...which is it?

I know I haven't read (or heard) everything that he has written or said, but it should be no problem to state plainly and clearly an answer to my concern without forcing me to wade through all of his material first.

As I said, Baxter's writings (what I've read so far) are an encouragement and blessing to me as a Christian. I've read some of his material and have gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of this relationship that Christ has secured for me and I'm beginning to know more fully this transformation that has come in Him. But this relationship and transformation is a reality only for those who have come to Him by faith, only for those who have been given the Spirit (Rom. 8, etc.).

I'm afraid that a non-Christian (the one who does not possess the Spirit) can read Baxter's material and be deceived into thinking that he is a participant in this relationship with God without having experienced the New Birth at all.

I'm not sure why it should take much effort to respond to my concern.

Jason

Anonymous said...

Jason,

I love your response because I do need to learn to express what God has done. He has come and reconciled humanity to Himself. He has done it. If we say he has given us the potential to be reconciled to him, that puts us in charge of whether we're reconciled doesn't it?? Of course, most of humanity doesn't know this yet even though the Holy Spirit is working with all. The fact that God in Jesus has done this is the good news. It takes away the agony of us being able with our actions and thoughts to achieve the potential God has made possible. I am loved at this moment, not because I'm clean minded etc. but because God has met me where I am and brought me to Himself. He is that good Jason.
Ron

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Ron,

I appreciate your sentiments. You'll get no argument from me as to who it is that does this reconciling--it is God alone through Christ!

But your lack of clarity in dealing with my question(s) is...disappointing. Is there some compelling reason why you are trying to "beat around the bush"?

Let me tell you where I'm coming from. I'll be as clear as I can.

I'm regenerated by the Spirit through no act or quality of my own. You may or may not be going this far in what you said, but I believe the Bible teaches that this act of "salvation" (the complete work of Christ on my behalf: redemption, propitiation, sanctification, glorification, etc.) is completely monergistic--God does it all and He does it alone. Even the faith that I express is a gift of God by His grace, though it is me who expresses it and not God for me. I am a Reformed believer who counts Arminians as my Brothers in Christ even though as synergists I disagree with them over the role that God and Man plays in this redemption.

I am not a Christian Universalist. I believe that Christian Universalism is a heretical teaching (though not necessarily a "damning" teaching depending on how one understands the Person and Work of Christ).

I believe that the Bible clearly states that not all individual human beings will be redeemed and reconciled to God, though this hope is laid out for all. Humanity as a class has been restored, but not every individual human being has been, is or will be. Christ's atonement is universal in scope, but effectual only for those who by God's grace have been regenerated by the Spirit and have come to Him by faith.

Only those who are joined to Christ by the Spirit are reconciled to God and it is only these that are now being transformed by the power of the Spirit into the likeness of Christ (in His true humanity).

Hmm...I think I've covered the main points of my theological, "salvific" understanding as clearly as I can at 8:30 in the morning :-). Obviously this is not as thorough and detailed as it could be, but I'm not trying to write a theological treatise here in a "blog comment" :-).

Now, can you interact with these thoughts with a little more...shall we say...definition?

You can begin by answering this question: Is Baxter (or are you?) a Christian Universalist or not? Beyond that, I'd like your thoughts about my comments here.

Thanks Ron,

Jason

Anonymous said...

Jason,

As you, I am not a Christian Universalist either and this is my attempt to explain.

In your response I'm having trouble understanding when you say:

"I'm regenerated by the Spirit through no act or quality of my own."

My confusion is, since it is no act or quality of your own, how are you, in you reconciled state, different from the ones you say are not reconciled? Have you become reconciled because you believe? That would be a quality or act wouldn't it?

When we get to where we're going and God is there and the Lamb comes serving at the banquet and the people are told of the forgivness He offers, for example forgivness for the sexual abuse of parents to their children (who may be sitting across from each other at the table), and they are asked do they accept the forgivness being offered, some will say yes, some may say no because of their pride or anger or hatred or lack of ability to be loved. The children may be asked do they forgive their parents as well and that may be tough to accept. Can you understand what I'm trying to say?

Ron

Boyd Merriman said...

Hi oogly and everyone else. The Big Question: is Baxter a universalist or not?

To put it this way, he has a Universalist hope with a reality that he knows not all will accept the reality of who and what they are in Christ.

Keep these two words in mind:
Subjective and Objective.
Baxter is speaking an Objective truth of who they really are in the Trinity's view of things.
But we see ourselves, not objectively in the Trinity, but subjectively in our brokenness.

So Objectively, humanity has been redeemed, and because of our brokenness and subjective views, we refuse to see it.

And honestly speaking, we cannot see it without Jesus opening our eyes to that truth. So what happens to those who were never "called"? If God did not open their eyes to that Objective Truth about them, then how can they see? Will they be punished? Why? God will open their eyes even after death and resurrection! God can do that you know. His right. So they will be able to one day see.

But just because WE cannot subjectively see it now, does not mean that God cannot see Objectively!

I hope this helps.

No, he is not a Universalist. But we sure have that hope!

Boyd

Boyd Merriman said...

Sorry, I wrote oogly, when I meant Googly.

I would like to make a comment about Adam. He was created in God's image and likeness as stated. Even after the Fall, that was never taken away. We just subjectively think otherwise.

What sin is, if you will take this simple analogy, is goodness twisted. We took what was good (God created all things and all things created by God is good) and twisted it to where we no longer recognize it. We do not see Adam and Eve as created in God's image. We still see it as bad and our view of things is what makes things that was called good, evil. But it is evil only in our sight, not God's sight.

Again, it's that Objective and Subjective view of things.

Let's speak of God's Objective Truth.

Boyd

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Ron,

Thanks for the dialogue.

In answer to your question, the difference between me being in a reconciled state and those who are not in a reconciled state is the fact that I possess the Spirit of God: I've been joined to Christ and have been given the Spirit. Romans 5-8 is the clearest example of the distinction between those who are Children of God and those who are not.

There are two categories of people in this world--those who belong to God through Christ and those who do not (Jesus continually made this distinction). The difference is the abiding presence of the Spirit (John, Acts, Romans, Gal., Eph., 1John, etc.). There are two categories of humanity: those who are joined to the first Adam and those who are joined to the second Adam. Only those who are joined to the second Adam have been given life out of death; only those who have been joined to the second Adam are those who have been delivered out of darkness into God's marvelous light; only those who have been joined to the second Adam are those who are said to be in Christ and are Children of God.

These are the realities of our existence now. Either we are now in Christ or we are not now in Christ. The Bible clearly teaches that whatever state we are in when we die is the state we will be in for all eternity (whether in a literal hell or annihilated). No where in the Bible is it suggested that after death we are given the opportunity to then believe in Christ. Your entire last paragraph suggests that the offer of reconciliation is made after death.

Jesus died for our sins and we either accept or reject His deliverance in this life, not the next. If we die in our sin there is no hope for us. Only if we are joined to Christ by the Spirit (in Christ) will we dine with Jesus at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

You know, it's occurred to me that not once in all of our dialogue have you even attempted to clarify your understanding of the Gospel. It's almost as if you are purposefully shying away from the clear teaching of the Scripture with regard to justification. I've clearly explained my understanding of the Gospel, but you continue to skirt around the issue of who Christ is and what was accomplished in His work on the Cross (which includes His ascension to the throne as the long-promised King/Priest).

The book of Hebrews (along with Romans) is the clearest treatise on the Person and Work of Christ in fulfillment of the Scriptures and the division between the two types of humanity in Him. Either a person is Christ's or he is not Christ's. Either a person has been "born again" by the Spirit or he hasn't been "born again" by the Spirit. There are two humanities--in Christ or in Adam. And the distinction that is made in this life is set for eternity when a person dies.

I'm not dense. I surmise that you are clearly not interested in theological dialogue. You don't seem interested in clearly defined terms. In fact, you don't seem interested in doctrine at all. I understand there is a movement within evangelical Christianity that seeks to diminish doctrinal clarity and importance in order to "follow Jesus" (as if that is even possible without clearly defined doctrine). Knowledge (if knowledge is even possible) it is said is a hinderance to our walk with Jesus. God does not agree.

Jason

Boyd Merriman said...

Moogly wrote: "I surmise that you are clearly not interested in theological dialogue. You don't seem interested in clearly defined terms."

Lets calm down a moment. This is Baxter Kruger s Blog, not Ron's. He is a student pretty much like the rest of us, so he does the best that he can.

So may I try and explain? Thank you. (Note: I am also a student, so my answer may be almost as good as Rons)

You said that you have God's holy spirit. And by that, you belong to God. But may I ask a fair question? What doesn't belong to God?

True, God is working with you via the holy spirit, and by that, you gain more understanding. But did you get that understanding before or after you received the spirit of God? If you did not have the holy spirit, could you have understood before you repented and received?

Did God call you his child before you received the gospel message?

The Gospel is Good News. The Good News is that Jesus came and became flesh, and by that, the whole world was affected. God cannot become flesh and land on earth and the earth and all that is in it not be affected! For where God stands is holy ground.

By God's very act, humanity was changed. You have to decide which is more powerful, Adams' sin or Gods forgiveness. If Adams one sin can affect the whole earth and all of humanity, then cannot Jesus perfect humanity affect the whole earth as well? He was called the Second Adam for a reason.

It is true that God pours out his spirit upon his people, but again, we are still looking at humanity in a broken way, and as a result, see things as broken. So we do not see clearly who Gods' people are.

Our repentance, our prayers, our understanding will always come before God broken. Only Jesus can repair and make it right. So no matter how righteous or sinful you are, you always come to the Father through Jesus as broken and the Father will always see you as cleaned up and repaired in Christ.

When the Father sees Jesus (who is still flesh and bone), then the Father sees humanity. When the Father sees humanity, he sees Jesus.

The Father claims all as his children. It is we who makes that decision to believe his redemptive act of love and receive (not get) his holy spirit.

We cannot "get saved", we can only receive and believe what has already been done for humanity.

May you receive and believe this wonderful Good News!

Boyd

Jerome Ellard said...

Great comments here. I'd add that we need to comprehend God as revealed in salvation history - God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit - an eternal communion of overflowing love. THIS God created the universe as the stage upon which to accomplish the most spectacular purpose of all - the creation of children to share in the irrepressible life of love that God has had from eternity. What a GOOD God! God is not a solitary, unitary being who made us because of a lack within the Godhead, but a Triune God of love that overflowed so much that we are the result. God is patient, and at just the right time, the 2nd person of the Godhead, the Son of God, also became the Son of Man, and now, remains both. The One who created the cosmos and mankind is now and forever human! He came to heal our brokenness (not just a judicial transaction,but REAL healing) by taking upon Himself our flesh and by His death to destroy the power of sin and death to separate us from The Triune God who is Love. Then, this same Jesus, still God in the flesh, was resurrected to give us new life, real life. The continuing incarnation of the glorified Jesus is of staggering importance to every human being who has ever existed and to the cosmos He created. If we don't see God this way, as revealed by Jesus in these last days, then we really read the scriptures through a glass VERY darkly.

Anonymous said...

Jason,

You said:

You know, it's occurred to me that not once in all of our dialogue have you even attempted to clarify your understanding of the Gospel. It's almost as if you are purposefully shying away from the clear teaching of the Scripture with regard to justification.

Jason,I cannot argue with your words concerning my lack of clarity. Indeed I need and will do better. The bible has revealed God as coming to us in our brokeness. He, being God, has accomplished the impossible by establishing his kingdom here on this planet. He has overcome death and sin by His incarnation among us. That's justification.

If I may be bold, it seems you lack a certain vital knowledge of who Jesus is. Do you realize when you think of or speak to Jesus you are speaking to the whole of God? Jesus was not just God's son, but he was the Creator God of the universe and beyond, come down among us. When I have mentioned this to my friends they say oh yes, we know that Ron; but they then go about seeming to think Jesus is a small part of God. It seems, Jason, you are doing the same. Your words are eloquent and obviously backed by education beyond mine, and honestly, I envy your ability to express your mind the way you do. But again, allow me to be bold once more, and you may disagree with this, but you do seem to lack a clear understanding of who Jesus is. Yes, you may respond with the words, but it seems you are separating Jesus from the Father. When we look at Jesus we see the Father. The one God is a trinity.

For me, this view I'm speaking of Jesus is the foundation of theology. What I run upon though is people agree with everything I say and they think they are already believing what I'm trying to get across about who Jesus is. But they don't seem to know what He has done when He, the triune God, came among us and accomplished the most amazing thing in His incarnation and accension. If we can ratchet up our belief in who Jesus is,then we can begin to better understand what He has done.

Please, Jason, keep responding to me because it helps so much to express myself. I must face doctrine head on. I love doctrine. I've seen the results of people against knowledge and doctrine and agree with you on that.

Ron

Great Googly Moogly! said...

"To put it this way, he has a Universalist hope with a reality that he knows not all will accept the reality of who and what they are in Christ."

You're putting the cart before the horse here, Boyd. You are suggesting that every individual human being has been transformed already in Christ regardless or apart from personal faith in Him. There is no in Christ for an individual apart from his first being joined to Christ by the Spirit through the New Birth. This is what it means to be in Christ.

Only those who are in Christ are New Creations (new creatures) and participate in Christ's humanity. Everyone who is not in Christ is in Adam. This is the thrust of Paul's argument dealing with our justification in Romans 5-8.

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." For those who are not in Christ Jesus, God's condemnation remains upon them.

"...if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ (the Holy Spirit), he (that individual) does not belong to Him (Christ)."

" God will open their eyes even after death and resurrection! God can do that you know. His right. So they will be able to one day see."

Where is the Scriptural argument for this? The Bible nowhere holds out a hope for those who die in their sins. In fact, the Scripture is clear that those who die in their sins will never be joined to Christ. A person must repent and believe before he/she experiences the transforming work of the Spirit.

...to be continued

Great Googly Moogly! said...

...continued.

" I would like to make a comment about Adam. He was created in God's image and likeness as stated. Even after the Fall, that was never taken away. We just subjectively think otherwise."

Who thinks that? Every individual human being still exists as "image-bearers", though we all have been corrupted by sin. Your statement here is irrelevant.

"Let's speak of God's Objective Truth."

Yes. And it's found in the Scripture...which I've been dealing with.

God's "objective truth" is that Christ died as the propiatory, sacrifice for sin as the Lamb of God and all who come to Him by faith, believing who He is (that He is our mediator) as Lord and Savior (in whatever various ways the Scripture speaks of Him), all those and only those will be saved.

Why can't we believe the Scripture?

"You said that you have God's holy spirit. And by that, you belong to God. But may I ask a fair question? What doesn't belong to God?"

Please...! You know what I'm talking about. I even referenced Romans 8 in my comment where Paul specifically states that only those who have the Spirit are Children of God. If you don't understand the purpose and role of the Spirit I suggest you re-read (especailly) Acts, Romans 5-8, Galatians, Ephesians, etc. Please interact with the Scripture in a meaningful way as I'm attempting to do.

"Did God call you his child before you received the gospel message?"

The experience of my "sonship" (as God's child) did not exist before I received Christ. Those who are not joined to Christ are not God's "sons" in the sense of relationship. We are only "sons" of God in the Son of God. Those who are not in Christ are not considered children of God. This is fundamental. I can't believe that we would even need to discuss this.

"You have to decide which is more powerful, Adams' sin or Gods forgiveness. If Adams one sin can affect the whole earth and all of humanity, then cannot Jesus perfect humanity affect the whole earth as well? He was called the Second Adam for a reason."

Yes, and Romans 5ff clearly explains the different paradigms of in Adam and in Christ. Until you are ready to deal with the text, I don't know if there is anything more to say.

"The Father claims all as his children. It is we who makes that decision to believe his redemptive act of love and receive (not get) his holy spirit."

The Father only receives those who are joined to Christ by the Spirit as His Children. Please let Scripture and not sentiment be your guide. And yes, I know that we receive the Spirit; but we do so on the basis of faith in Christ. He is only given to those who believe (read Acts 2ff).

"We cannot "get saved", we can only receive and believe what has already been done for humanity."

Only those who repent and believe are "saved". Those who don't repent and believe do not "get saved" or "enter into salvation" or whatever language you want to use.

"May you receive and believe this wonderful Good News!"

Thank you...I have received the wonderful good news of Salvation in Christ. And I know this because God has granted me the Spirit who is even now conforming me into the image and likeness of Christ. Only those who believe the Gospel have been given the Spirit and it is only these who have been granted life out of death, deliverance from the domain of darkness into God's marvelous light.

I hope that anyone reading my words would repent and believe the Gospel so that they too can experience the New Birth and be joined to Christ as God's "sons" in the Son.

Jason

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Ron,

"He, being God, has accomplished the impossible by establishing his kingdom here on this planet. He has overcome death and sin by His incarnation among us. That's justification."

No. Justification is Christ's righteousness being imputed to me. Romans is as clear as possible on this point; and Hebrews is another very clear treatment on our Justificaion in Christ.

I agree with what you are saying, God has established His Kingdom on Earth in Jesus (the Christ) His Son, but justification has everything to do with the Person and Work of Christ on our behalf.

I understand the Trinity and when I speak of Jesus (or Christ), I'm speaking of the Second Person of the Trinity as the Bible would have us speak of Him. I do not separate Christ from the Father (or the Spirit) as I also don't separate the Spirit from the Father (or the Son). But wihtin the Godhead, each "member" or Person of the Trinity stands in a distinct relationship with the other members of the Trinity and have certain/specific roles as "persons".

We must use Scriptural language when speaking about God. Neither the Father nor the Spirit died for our sins--the Son did this work. But, the Father and the Spirit were active and present in the work of the Son, etc.

" When we look at Jesus we see the Father."

I agree. But when we look at Jesus we also see the perfect human being. Not "perfect" because He was sinless, per say, but perfect because He is the fulness of what it means to be "human". And this is proved in His relationship with God (the Father) in the life that He lived. He is the perfect "man" because He was fully human; yet as the Second "Person" of the Trinity, He was also God who promised to come and deliver His people (which He did in His work on the Cross--which includes His ascension and enthronement as King/Priest).

I appreciate the opportunity to dialogue, Ron. I will interact more with your post later...work is calling! :-)

Jason

Great Googly Moogly! said...

In my previous post I wrote:

"I understand the Trinity."

I don't mean to say that I understand the Trinity exhaustively...I'm not that bold! :-)

I just meant, Ron, that I understand what we're talking about with regard to the Trinity--that God is Father, Son and Spirit. We worship one God who consists of three distinct "Persons".

Of course I came to Baxter's website (and subsequently, this blog) because I want to know God more fully and the more I understand God and the relationship between Father, Son and Spirit that make up the Trinity, the better and more profoundly I know and love God.

But in saying this, I have no problem using Biblical language to distinguish between Father, Son and Spirit in their Persons and their Work.

I wanted to clarify so that I didn't come across as arrogant, thinking that I fully understand the Trinity. I believe those of us who know Christ as our Lord and Savior will spend our eternity continuing to learn who are God is and to be amazed with Him!

Jason

John Geerlings said...

I want to thank you Jason for your enthusiasm, it reminds me of myself. I used to teach “The exchanged Life” and know what you are saying, however have found myself to have repented of many of my own zealous beliefs. It wasn’t what people told me, but the Holy Spirit that used others to continue to bring me to brokenness so that He could renovate my thinking. I was pretty dogmatic in what I believed but have mellowed knowing that changing my mind will be ongoing.
I can only speak from where I find myself in my relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit today and cannot think ahead until He brings me there. That’s the problem, we all see dimly, think we have it all figured out and then march forward in our own strength not knowing how many people we trample under our own resounding noise. Let’s agree to disagree in the love of Jesus and admit that we will have to repent a lot of what we believe today in the future. Holy Spirit open our eyes from our own darkness Your brother John

Anonymous said...

Jason. John's prologue tells of a great light that has come into the darkness. As Baxter mentioned, it is such a revolution in human thought it took hundreds of years to formulate it into the doctrine of the trinity. I think we're still fighting that revoution being able to believe the awsomeness of it. It seems to me this discussion involves how penetrating is that great light God has brought into the world and to us? It seems your thinking stops just short of where that light has shone. Or in your view it doesn't do what Perechoresis says it does. You do say that light is all inclusive in reaching humanity but not in reconciling humanity. This seems to be our discussion doesn't it?

Ron

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Ron,

As I re-read your latest comment the idea of "Immanuel" (God with us) kept coming to mind.

I understand the importance you place on not separating Jesus from the Father and the Spirit. It is true that Jesus is the fulness of God as much as the Father and the Spirit are the fulness of God. But even from the very beginning (unarguably as far back as Genesis 3:15, but I would argue from before the creation itself), God's purpose was to consummate all things in the Son--not in the Father nor in the Spirit, but in the Son. Now the Trinity is at work throughout every facet of redemption and restoration, but, as Jesus Himself stresses (as well as every NT writer), the purpose of God is fulfilled in Him. The coming of Jesus is the fulfillment of the Scripture because it is all about Him! God's redemption and reconciliation of all those and only those human beings that are joined to Christ by the Spirit through faith in Him is accomplished in the Son. God's redemption and restoration of the Cosmos is accomplished in the Son. Over and over again in the OT when we read of God's final deliverance of His people and His restoration of His creation it is in and through Christ--His Son. God does this great work and He does it through His Son.

The great promise that the "Seed of the woman" will crush the Serpent's head, overthrow the curse and recover Sacred Space (go here:http://greatgooglymoogly.net/ and here:http://shalomistheword.blogspot.com/search/label/sacred%20space%20series for a couple of quick reads regarding my understanding of Sacred Space), this great promise of God made back in the Garden of a Deliverer who will come and set things right is fulfilled by God Himself in His dwelling with man once again in Immanuel--God with us. This promise, as with all the Scripture is fulfilled in the Person and Work of the Second Person of the Trinity--Jesus the Christ (as He and the NT writers proclaim over and over again).

The promise of Immanuel is fulfilled in Jesus.

I don't disparage the Trinity when I speak of Christ this way because this is the way the Scripture (from beginning to end) speak of the Son. God's purpose is fulfilled in the Son and the Spirit's purpose is to form the Son in those who've been redeemed by Him. It's when we diminish the Person and Work of the Son that we are guilty of disparaging the Trinity. It is the Son who is reigning over God's Kingdom, not the Spirit or the Father--though they cannot be separated from the Son even as we who have been joined to Christ cannot be separated from Him.

We must be careful with the language we use in speaking of God. Yes God is a Trinity--but the Father is not identical to the Son and the Spirit and the Son is not identical to the Father and the Spirit, and so on....

The Father did not become flesh--but the Son did. Yet, it is God Himself who came and took on humanity to deliver His people and His creation from the curse. It is the Spirit who resides in those who've been "born again"; yet both the Father and the Son are said to united with us. It is the Trinity who has redeemed those who have been joined to Christ, but it was the Son who hung on the cross and was raised from the dead who ascended to present Himself before the Father as our sacrifice and great High Priest. It was the Son who sent the Spirit to administer His work, but we also read that the Father sent the Spirit (as He also did the Son).

There is no reason for us to abandon the Scriptural language concerning God, but as you suggest we must never lose focus with regard to God being Trinity.

I wanted to speak more about Immanuel, but that will have to be another time--breakfast is on the table! :-)

Good talking to you, Ron (and Boyd).

Jason

Great Googly Moogly! said...

John and Ron's post just showed up after my latest, so I haven't engaged either of those comments yet. I will do so as soon as I can.

Must run while breakfast is still hot! :-)

Great Googly Moogly! said...

John,

Your condescending tone aside, I have no idea what you're referring to by "The Exchanged Life" and can be a little more specific about what we disagree about? I've begun to realize (a little late, I suppose) that "specificity" may be too much to ask from this group, but if we are in disagreement about something it would be nice to know what that something is.

Of course, it would have been nice to have some interaction with my comments as well but that also must be too much to ask.

Jason

Great Googly Moogly! said...

"You do say that light is all inclusive in reaching humanity but not in reconciling humanity. This seems to be our discussion doesn't it?"

Ron,

This is a facet of our discussion, yes.

You and Boyd have said that neither of you and nor is Baxter a "Universalist". Yet when I bring out biblical passages and contexts that clearly state that only those individuals who have been "born again" by the Spirit(use whatever biblical terminology you'd like here--"joined to Christ", "buried with Christ in death, raised to newness of life", "saved", "redeemed", "justified" etc.), who are called Children of God, you both (and others, apparently) chaff at that idea. You continue to bring in unbiblical language that suggests that every individual human being has had Christ's atoning work applied to him/her (or will after death, according to Boyd). This is simply not biblical--it's not the Gospel. Only those who have been given the Spirit are those who've been redeemed by Christ and it is these alone who are experiencing the transforming work of the Spirit.

I've repeatedly (and in my latest post as well) used the Scripture as my foundation for what I'm saying--either by alluding to passages and contexts or quoting Scripture outright--yet no one here seems the least bit interested in interacting with the Scripture.

It's been suggested that I need to "go deeper" (or some such language as that), yet when I bring the Scripture to bear in my comments no one wants to engage. Now I'm beginning to think that agnosticism is the foundation for this group instead of the Bible. How can we dig "deeper" without going to the Scripture for knowledge?

You all seem like a nice bunch of people, but until someone seriously and meaningfully interacts with my commments from a Scriptural basis (as I've been doing with all of you), then I'm just wasting mine and everyone else's time here.

If someone wants to actually dialogue with me through the Scripture, I'm eager to be encouraged...but I'm not holding my breath.

Jason

Anonymous said...

Hi Jason, Ron and All,
I've been really appreciating the dialogue you all are sharing together. I would love to see it continue through this seeming crucible if at all possible.

Jason, I don't know why the discussion isn't getting back to the specifics you so desire... and I'm certainly no help on the matter I'm afraid! (You might want to stop reading now!!) :)

May I tentatively add to the whole thing that the Father-Son-Spirit has a basis of personhood and relationship, made manifest even in such conversations. ... I wonder if a lot of people's hesitation to essentially 'name' their belief is coming from a deep un-certainty within? As though reaching for their responses becomes like looking into F-S-Sp's eyes and talking via your presence alone... Seeing the F-S-Sp, and becoming thoroughly engrossed...

Maybe that's the distraction and subsequent 'stammering' that seems to be arising here. Jason, you push for specific answers and keep getting a, 'Wha...?! What was I saying?' kind-of response!!! What if you were witnessing an on-going process of re-referencing in these particular person's soul. Something as frustrating and embarrassing as puppy love! Know what I mean?

I know, I am far too romantic for my own good. But if the F-S-Sp is truely a real and present Presence, then maybe this is conceivable??

I've noticed this in myself as I've grown...An un-certainty about WHO this person is and how it relates to me (cos IT'S THERE and hasn't moved... who is it? what does it want from me? And why do I have to be so aware that I am REAL all of a sudden? How come IT won't acknowledge my own beliefs ABOUT IT?!?!) It's terrifying! EVERYTHING is put in limbo.

It seems many people are coming to this point in themselves where their theology is becoming pretty much beside the point in terms of relationship with Father Son Spirit. For me, I'm gradually learning to simply not run from a deep place of interaction within me, a stance which in itself causes my mind no end of excruciating PAIN. How can a person talk of the F-S-Sp from that place? What the hell do I know? It feels like a cosmic set-up, and I cannot possibly dare to open my mouth about it. My heart knows its truths, but it is almost impossible to express. This is made all the more confusing by having to shake off the many structures of truely rotten theologies. The only thing I can seem to express is what I don't want!!

But ultimately, I understand I appear distracted and evasive... More than that: I know full well that people see I have no structured answers, ESPECIALLY when it comes to scripture, etc. Having grown up in a christian environment, I know I am now classed as borderline 'mad'.

But I'm not. And for the first time in my life, I'm not living via a process of evasion. May I offer this final thought?

My change in Self (uncomplete, yes), is like the difference between describing a recipe and actually making it -- I now seem engrossed in something 'over there, in the land of irrelevance'. But in actual fact, I'm just thoroughly and deeply learning to be involved in MAKING and DOING of the recipe -- tasting, testing, exploring, FINDING, ENDULGING!!! I can't answer cos I've gotta mouthfull, and it's just tooooo good and strange to think about what made it so!

My deep inner Person is for the first time glimpsing the greater reality that my mind and heart have been chewing over for some time, and in this way I have become inaccessible to many of my 'Christian' friends who aren't interested in mess and process. (Yet!!)
Anyhow, I really hope this hasn't come across as condescending. I was stunned by the way my life suddenly filled out in personhood, and am still learning how it relates to other people and reality as a whole. I truely believe I'm not a fluzy.. For me it's a way of doing Soul work. ...
Deepest respect to each one of you,
Amy

Anonymous said...

You speak wise but mostly loving words anonymous. Had to read them twice to get the full benefit. Thanks. Ron

C. Baxter Kruger, Ph.D. said...

I am not and never have been a universalist. Put your big boy britches on and deal with it. Read on.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Baxter,

Nice to see you dealing with the actual content of my comments (and/or the Scripture)...but this seems to be the "modus operandi" around here.

"Big boy britches..."

>yawn<

I'm glad to see your "Theological" training hasn't gone to waste.

Your "disciples" are more encouraging than you...and as anyone not under your spell can see, they have nary a coherent thought between them.

Why asking for biblical clarification is met with such gobbledegook is beyond me. But as your own response so eloquently demonstrates, the Bible is the last place we should go for answers around these parts.

In Christ (unlike "big boy britches", this is Biblical terminology in case you were wondering),

Jason

Anonymous said...

Yeah, what a terrible thing!....to be a universalist!....He should get used to it...He'll be getting that question for the rest of his life without doubt.

Anonymous said...

Baxter said "Put your big boy britches on and deal with it. This is what has happened. The Father’s Son himself has come. And he has established a real relationship with us in our darkness, so that we could share in, taste and feel, and experience, all that he is and has in his life with his Father.

Everything in John’s gospel is calculated to help us, who live in the great darkness, to come to ‘know’ Jesus for ourselves, so that believing in him, we may begin to experience his own life, rather than our own. So John’s gospel is both the announcement of the coming of the Father’s Son in person, and the news that summons us to believe in him, rather than in ourselves, so that we can know what he knows—the Father, and experience life in his embrace."


My question is can anyone reject this work and continue to live to himself - and if he does reject this truth what is his final disposition.

I think I understand what "greatgooglymoogly" was asking - but I don't want to see the conversation degenerate to such levels trying to answer his original question or my unanswered questions after reading through these posts. Is it possible to get some clarity on the possibility of rejection and if there is a possibility of rejection what s the eternal disposition of those who do reject?

Thanks

Alan

Boyd Merriman said...

Alan asked "Is it possible to get some clarity on the possibility of rejection and if there is a possibility of rejection what s the eternal disposition of those who do reject?"

Yes.

In the reality of who and what you are, you can reject it. In order to reject acceptance, you first have to be accepted.

Hell is living in Chicago thinking you are in England.

Or as some of us would say to someone who seems to be out of touch, "Are you on the moon? Come back to earth!" They are on the earth, but act like they are somewhere else.

God's kingdom is universal. God's kingdom is the whole universe and beyond. Hell is somewhere inside that kingdom filled with people who think they are not in God's kingdom. Its sort of like being in a nut house so to speak. You are still a citizen of that kingdom, you are still subjected to Christ (if not, then how can you be imprisoned by the King) but you are living in another reality of your own making. In other words, hell.

So our question is, you are here, why not live it and enjoy it? Accept that reality! That is what repentance truly is: changing your mind about God and your reality of who and what you are in the Kingdom of God. You are included whether you think you are or not.

If you want to eat over cooked broccoli in an ice cream shop, you can if you want to. But everyone would think you are nuts.

Boyd

Jerome Ellard said...

Great comment, Boyd. This is what C.S. Lewis wrote about in his little book "The Great Divorce."

Anonymous said...

And C.S Lewis's version of hell is brilliantly refuted in the great free online book "Damned Nonsense" by Ravi Holy.

Boyd Merriman said...

What is "born again" anyway?

Remember the axiom here, said over and over again through out many posts and blogs. "Whatever happens to Jesus, happens to humanity".

When Jesus died, we died with him, when he rose,we rose with him.

Keep that in mind. We cannot do ANYTHING without Christ! Once we comprehend this, it will be a whole lot easier to understand.

WE cannot....CANNOT be born again without Christ! We have to already be affect by Christs life, death, resurrection, and ascension before the concept of being "born again" even counts to humanity.

There is only ONE who can truly be "born again" and that is Christ! When he was born again, we were born again IN his shared resurrection!

Jesus was the one who was truly born again, we are born with him. Therefore, humanity DOES belong to him BECAUSE we are born again IN and Through Jesus Christ who shared the Triune relationship with humanity.

Our baptism into the body of Christ is not a magical thing we do that "gets us saved" or be "born again". It is only and acknowledgment of what has already been do to and for us by Christ!

We are surrendering our lives to the reality of what God has done already! That is a type of born again, yes, but the true "born again" or "born from above" is Jesus Christ himself! Remember, he said "I am the way, the truth and the life" and "I am the resurrection and the life". He is our salvation, our perfected humanity, our grace, our gospel, our "born again".

Here is my take on how much we are IN Christ without our own doing. Round and Round we go"

Boyd

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Boyd,

I appreciate you asking (and then attempting to explain?) the biblical concept of "born again". I'm assuming that you agree with Jesus that unless one is "born again" he cannot see the Kingdom of God? Now, the question is, as you suggest, "What does this being 'born again' really mean"?

I only skimmed through your comment, so I will refrain from my own comments until I can look at your answer more closely. I will also want to read your link before I respond in full. I do agree with you that our being "in Christ" is not our own doing; but the question remains: who are the "our" and "we" that you are talking about?

I'm really interested in more fully developing my understanding of the Trinity and the implication of this in my life as a Christian, so please don't think that I'm here trying to start a fight. But when my plea for clarity and Scriptural foundation seemingly falls on deaf ears it can be very frustrating.

But until I spend some time on your latest comment and link, I must confess that your previous comments continues to look like "universalism" to me; especially given anon's positive response to the link of Ravi Holy's defense of "Universalism".

Anyway, until I can read your comment and link uninterrupted, can you answer me this (intimated earlier in my comment): Who are the "we" that you speak of when you say, "When Jesus died, we died with him, when he rose,we rose with him."

Jason

Boyd Merriman said...

Jason,
I appreciate your willingness to go through the posts thoroughly instead of what some have done and just nitpicked it to death and not read the whole thing.

I do want ask about this "Universal Witch hunt" thats been going on. I have been accused of Universalism as if it is the worse thing since the discovery of witches in Salem! It's as if we are saying that Jesus came to save humanity is a bad thing!

Maybe what we need to ask is "What is Universalism" in mans eyes and what is it in God's eyes?" As long as we are looking at Universalism as the broken religion of mans making, then NO, we are NOT Universalists. But if we look at it in God's eyes, then what is so evil about it that it rates a witch hunt mentality?

Here are the extremes. The hunters believe that everyone is going to hell because God is angry and if you don't repent of your drinking, then you are going to burn in hell for all eternity! Now think about that a minute. For all eternity? Suffering for millions and billions of years for a physical problem you have trouble over coming? Because someone didn't give you the gospel of a loving God? We ask, "Why does God let little Johnny die, yet we send little Johnny to eternal damnation if he didn't know about Christ! We say that our prison system is unjust punishment, torture is illegal, slavery is illegal, yet have no problem sending a drunk to eternal damnation. Now that just does not make sense.

Yet here we are saying that God is much more loving and forgiving than that, and we are being condemned to hell for that!

Universalism? What is it really? If you are talking about a broken religion that uses the name Universalism without understanding, then no, but if we see Universalism for the Truth about who and what we are in Christ, then yes, we are universalists, in God's definition, not mans'.

So lets set aside the witch hunt a moment and lets see what we really are about.

Boyd

Jerome Ellard said...

OK,let's consider some Cosmic scriptures: The first chapter of John states that the Word (Jesus) created the universe - without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life - He is the source of life. Colossians 1 reiterates that Jesus is the creator of all things and reveals that in Him all things hold together or consist. Hebrews 1 seconds that by saying that Jesus sustains all things by His powerful word. Without Jesus constant sustaining of creation, including all of us, the cosmos and ourselves would pass away into oblivion or non-being. We exist because He created us, and we continue to exist because He sustains our universe and ourselves. We are all inexorably connected to Jesus by the fact that He created us and sustains our very existence, moment to moment. THEN, this Jesus, who created us and sustains our existence, BECAME HUMAN forever, by the incarnation! Jesus is now even more linked to us in that He has joined humanity to God in His own person - a glorified human being sits at the right hand of the Father this very minute! Humanity has been taken into the circle of the Triune God forever! Just as Aaron entered the Holy of Holies with the names of the tribes of Israel over his heart on his breastplate once a year (Ex 28:29), Jesus has carried us once for all into the presence of the Majesty on high in His own human body!

I like the way Ted Johnston relates this mind-bending connection we permanently share with our forever incarnate creator and sustainer: "To speak of Jesus' "vicarious humanity" is NOT to say that Jesus is anything less than fully human. Scripture declares that the eternal Son of God became human through his incarnation, and remains human forever (see 1Tim. 2:5). The resurrected, ascended Jesus is fully God and fully human (now glorified in his humanity). And the one who will return in glory will be fully God and fully human.

Jesus is the permanent union of God and humanity in his own person: one person with two natures. Thus to say that Jesus is the "vicarious human" is not to suggest that he is anything less than fully human. Rather it is a statement concerning the meaning of his humanity for the benefit of all humanity. Because Jesus in his divinity, is humankind's Creator and Sustainer, his humanity has profound import for all people everywhere in all times. In his humanity he is the unique representative of and substitute ("stand in") for all humanity. This is what we mean by referring to Jesus as the "vicarious human."

Here's what this means: what happened to Jesus in his humanity, happened to all of us. When Jesus (who became sin for us) died to sin, we all died to sin. When he rose victorious from the grave, we all experienced in him victory over death and sin. When the man (resurrected and glorified) Jesus ascended to heaven, we all ascended with and in him (Eph. 2:5-6).

Paul says that the lives of all humans are "hidden" in the life of Jesus (Col. 3:3) - we don't now fully see who we are in him, but one day we shall. And forever our lives will remain in him, because forever he remains human - the vicarious human - God with us and for us, as one of us - the one for the many, the many in the one."

OBJECTIVELY, how more permanently connected to Jesus could we possibly be? The struggle in our world is to come to terms with this SUBJECTIVELY.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Boyd,

I’m still in the process of preparing for our service this Sunday, so my time to read and research is limited this week. I have read your previous comment and link a little more in detail, but I want to give them both (and the Ravi Holy paper) some more attention. I’ve also almost finished Baxter’s second lecture of six on…hang on, I’ve got it right here…oh yeah, on, “You Are the Child the Father Always Wanted” from his podcast where he deals with the parable of the Prodigal Son.

Again, as I’ve said before, from a certain perspective I am in agreement with Baxter here, (though I believe he completely misuses and misrepresents Edwards in trying to make his point.) And this, I think, is the fundamental issue—perspective. I agree with his stance against “religion” or the religious establishment. But again, I think I have a different perspective as you (and probably Baxter). As a Christian I believe that we as Christians have missed the point of this transformation that has come upon us in Christ by the Spirit. I agree with Baxter that as Christians our lives are to be directed by the indicative of who we are as God’s Children in Christ. We aren’t called to follow a bunch of rules (as if this will make our Father happy) but to be who we are! As God’s Children (and only those who have come to saving faith in Christ are called His Children according to the Scripture, as I understand it), we’re called not to live by rules but to live by faith, which is to say to live our lives according to the truth of who we are as His Children in the power of the Spirit. We don’t “follow rules”; we, pardon the grammar, be who we are!

But, according to the Scripture (as I understand it), it is only those who are called Christians (those who make up the Church, the Body of Christ, the “living stones” built upon Christ the Cornerstone, the Temple of the Spirit, the House of God, etc.); it is only those who are Christians that have been given the Spirit and are called the “sons of God”. We as Christians are those who have been given the Spirit and are thus already transformed in truth and are being transformed in practice into the likeness of Christ by this same Spirit. Those who have not “come to faith in Christ” (insert various “salvific language” here) have not been given the Spirit and are thus not considered Children of God according to the Scripture, as I understand it.

This seems to me to be the fundamental perspectival difference between us and is why, as I see it, Universalism is unbiblical. I’m not on a “witch hunt” at all. I want to be faithful my Lord and His Gospel. I want to be faithful with the Scripture. Obviously I wish Universalism were true; but I can’t get around the Scriptural language that argues so strongly against it.

...oops, ran out of space...to be continued...

Great Googly Moogly! said...

...continued

The NT, in my mind, is clear: there are two kinds of humanity—in Adam and in Christ. When Jesus came as the True Man, He established a new humanity. Now in one sense it wasn’t completely new because every individual since Adam continues to exist as “image-bearer”. But in another sense it is a new humanity because of the indwelling of the Spirit. The promise of God throughout the Scripture (OT) is the promise of the new creation in Christ (the promised Son to come who crushes the serpent’s head, overthrows the curse and recovers Sacred Space). In connection with this promise of God in the OT is the coming of the Spirit to administer this new creation in Christ; but He administers it on the basis of the atoning work of Christ. And only those who “come to Christ by faith” (insert various “salvific language” here) are those who’ve been given the Spirit and are therefore joined to Christ as “sons” of God in the Son of God. Adam’s “humanity” wasn’t intended to be ultimate—he was a type of the Second Adam to come. It is the humanity that has been established by the Second Adam that is ultimate and this what God had purposed from the beginning. I can truthfully say that Christ is the destiny of humanity (and all creation); but this destiny for individual human beings, according to the Scripture, is contingent on being joined to Him by the Spirit. Scripturally speaking, it is only these that have been recreated as new creations in Him by the Spirit; only these are those who have been transformed in truth (and are being transformed in practice) by the Spirit into this new humanity (the image and likeness of Christ).

“In Adam”, according to the Apostle Paul (and the whole NT), speaks of those in their unregenerate state. He’s not saying that Adam himself was necessarily “lost” (or however you want to put it), but that he represents those who belong to the “old creation”. “In Christ”, according to Paul (and the whole NT), speaks of those who have been regenerated by the Spirit—this is the “new creation”. There are two paradigms at work here—Old Creation vs. New Creation; “In Adam” vs. “In Christ”; “old man” vs. “new man”, etc. And it is the presence of the Spirit that qualifies a person to be a part of the New Creation.

Jesus was the preeminent Man of the Spirit and we become the people of the Spirit (“new creations”) only in union with Christ by the Spirit. And this “union with Christ” by the Spirit is not, according to the Scripture, universal but individual—not everyone will be indwelt by the Spirit because not everyone will “come to Christ by faith” (insert various “salvific language” here).

Whew! I wasn’t planning on writing a book here but, hey…what the heck! This is the perspective that I’m coming from and, of course, I think it’s faithful to the Scripture (as I’m sure you believe your perspective is faithful to the Scripture). Are we at an impasse? I understand that I may be wrong here…but I don’t think so. I understand that Christ’s redemption is cosmic in scope, renewing all of creation so that “all things are summed up in Him”. I just don’t think the Bible teaches that every individual human being shares in this redemption, as I mentioned above. I’m not on a “witch hunt”; I just want to be faithful to the Scripture.

I’ll continue to reading and listening to make sure that I understand yours and Baxter’s position accurately. Again, as a Christian I find much to be encouraged by here….

Jason

Great Googly Moogly! said...

I just noticed Jerome's response, so I haven't interacted with him yet. And it may be awhile as I continue to prepare for Sunday.

Thanks,

Jason

Boyd Merriman said...

Jason wrote: “The NT, in my mind, is clear: there are two kinds of humanity—in Adam and in Christ.”

I agree that we subjectively see ourselves in two camps, Adam and Christ. Since Christ became the Second Adam, the old has passed away, the new has come. Even though we are still broken because of the old Adam does not mean we are not recreated in the second Adam. You wrote correctly, “He established a new humanity”, not a second humanity in addition to the old. He replaced it by becoming humanity so all of humanity has been recreated in His Humanity. He is the second and fulfillment of humanity.

We forget the original Adam was created in Gods image. Was not Jesus there to be the image that Adam was made from? So it would not be any surprise then that Jesus did a “second sitting” for the model to be recreated!

What you are accustomed to is a transaction. If then approach to life. If we believe, then he will save us. What we do not see is that we are already saved, but not coming to Christ by faith. Faith is not something we inherently have outside of Christ. We have to have Christs faith in order to come to him by faith. And we cannot go to him without the Father first calling us to him. “No one can come unto the Father except through me” and “No man can come unto me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (See Round and Round We Go) We cannot buy our way in. All we can do is believe. What is there to believe if we are not included? What I and the apostle Paul meant by “we” was humanity. When he spoke to his audience, he included them in his “we”. In Athens for instance, when he said “in whom we move and have our being”. The “we” was all of humanity, so they can understand they were included in his death and resurrection!

There is no way humanity outside of Christ can go to Christ without God already accepting that person. You would not allow someone to come to your dinner party without invitation and advanced acceptance of that person.

We are joined to Christ by the spirit, which is the third part of the trinity. Without all three, we don’t stand a chance, no matter how good we are! So the spirit has to be with them in order to understand their reality!

Now for those who are "of Christ" and those who are "of this world" (Adam), we see this subjectively, not objectively. I can claim you as mine and it may be true, but if you deny that fact, you subjectively live your life outside of the reality that you belong. And as long as you resist this reality, you will not be a part of what I am doing here. You will be outside, gnashing your teeth with the goats. That is the problem of the second son (the older, good one) when he refused to join the party of his brothers’ return.

When it comes to the reality of hell, and the stories of hell Jesus told, it appears that more religious will be in hell than the average person he was talking to on the skid rows of Jerusalem. That’s because the religious leaders refused to believe Jesus amazing grace of acceptance and forgiveness. They refuse to believe that Jesus has done it all.

Objectively, we are the new man, subjectively we live the old mans’ life.
Objectively, the Holy Spirit is among us and working with us, subjectively, we do not see the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.
Objectively, we are saved, subjectively, we are lost.

What humanity refuses to share in does not mean that Jesus refused to share with humanity. It is true that individually, we need to accept that reality, but there is a reality at work here we do not seem to see. If I refused this reality, God will let me go my own way. But eventually, I’m going to get mighty lonely and miserable. I can only exercise my faith in Christ (which is really Jesus’ faith) once I began to realize that Jesus was walking with me the whole time while my eyes were still blind. Just like those two men who talked to Jesus after the resurrection, not knowing he was walking with them the whole time.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Hmm...interesting.

I'm on my way to class, so I was only able to skim your responses. We are obviously reading passages from a different perspective and your answers are bringing many questions to mind about (off the top of my head):

Justification
Penal Substitution
Sanctification
"Israel"
the role of the Law
the meaning of the OT sacrifices
the role of Jesus as our Great High Priest
the role of Jesus as the Lamb of God
etc.

As a hint, I believe, as Jesus says, the entire Scripture (the OT at that point) is about Him. It speaks of His coming and His work in types (of which was "Israel" and the Law, to name just two of many, many examples) and shadows. Everything that was written has reference to Him--His Person and His work.

Anyway, I'll read your responses closer as I have time.

Is this an ok venue for continuing this conversation? Or should we take it elsewhere? I don't want to continue to clog up Baxter's original post with dialogue that is not tightly relevant to what he has written. If so, let me know where to go.

Thanks,

Jason

BTW--I finished Baxter's Lecture Two on my way home from work. I still have much hesitation about many things (which he may answer as I continue with it), but i do like what I hear. I think his answer to the question about universalism that was raised in the Q&A section could have been answered more directly, but I think I see where he was going with it. I'll keep on keeping on.

I want to make sure I understand him (and you all) correctly before I burn you at the stake! :-) Oh yeah, that's right...I'm not on a "witch hunt"! :-)

Anonymous said...

Yes, Googly Moogly, it is a different way of looking at all those things. The differences hit me a few years ago when I was considering Genesis 3.

The typical evangelical view of Genesis 3 is that, because of the fall, God hates us and His judgment is that we now deserve to die. For some inexplicable reason, He decided that the death of a substitute that He punishes will somehow turn Him around. The emphasis is on how Adam and Eve were "kicked out" of the garden as punishment.

However, that's not how the passage read to me. What I saw was a God who was heartbroken ( as it were - like the apostle Paul in Romans, I'm forced to use human analogical terms.) A God who realised that his man and woman had been deceived by the satan and were therefore mistaken about Him, causing them to 'die' because they'd cut themselves off from the source of their very life. But a God who wasn't prepared to leave it at that, and so as a mercy to them He took them out of the garden so that they weren't eternally lost in their sinful state, and who clothed them to cover their shame and nakedness. (It was they who had the problem being naked, not God.) And who set in motion a chain of events that would show all humanity (a) how desperate things had become and (b) how desperate He was to remedy them. The end result of this process is the incarnation of the Son as a Man, to meet us in our fallen state and bring us back to the God who has always loved and cherished us.
It's a very, very different message isn't it?

Warren, from Sydney

Anonymous said...

Jason,

I have a question.

The Almighty, All Powerful, All Knowing. The One who can see the beginning to the end. The Alpha & Omega. The One who can do whatever He pleases whenever He pleases. Why is He creating so many mistakes? I mean look at how quickly "hell" is filling up. Most people dying do not know Jesus, Some have not even heard the gospel or His name. But off they go into the trash can called hell to suffer eternally.

How could a God who is consumed in love. Created out of his passion to share that love. How could someone like that even conceive such a plan with so much eternal waste & suffering?

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Anon,

Those are questions that I'm struggling with; but our conclusions (whatever they are) should be biblically based, not based on sentiment. There is a lot of biblical language and concepts that speak to the judgement of God against individuals for not believing/coming to/accepting (insert various salvific language here) Jesus Christ. Even in the OT we see God judging people and nations for refusing Him and not living by faith.

I continue to read and listen to Baxter's and Torrance's material, but I will not throw out biblical language and concepts simply because I may not like it. I need to be convinced from the Scripture. And that is why I'm investigating these things.

I really, really like what Baxter and Torrance are saying (so far as I understand them), but the Scripture is the ultimate authority and source of truth (as I'm sure they would both agree).

I'll keep "keeping on" as they say.

Jason

Anonymous said...

There is also the example of Thomas who would not believe until he saw first hand. Jesus understood his lack of faith and it seems he purposely appeared when Thomas was there, as if He came just for him. Thomas was with Jesus for over 3 years and still had doubt. It seems by Thomas' statement that his doubt was fairly strong.
"Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe"

All that time spent with Jesus and Thomas was still able to say "Except ,,, I will not believe."

Rather than condemning and rebuking him for his lack of faith, I see a God who is patient, gentle and willing to appear to help Thomas is his time of faithlessness.

"Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing."

Thomas was a prime candidate for judgment and condemnation. How could a man who witnessed numerous miracles (even raising the dead), numerous healings, numerous casting out demons, numerous intimate times with the Lord. How on earth could Thomas still doubt. Like I said a prime candidate to be cursed and sent directly to hell (do not pass go) for such treacherous behavior.

Yet I see Jesus stepping into this man's darkness and walking him through his time of doubt. I don't see judgment. I see patient love.

Now imagine if you will that God's love is so total, so vast, so perfect and complete that the way He loved Thomas, He also loves the rest of the cosmos.

"For God so loved the world... (the cosmos - the orderly arrangement - His creation). In other words the good, the bad and the ugly are all His. Everything belongs to Him.

Was the incarnation such that He came to save only those who on their own would understand the gospel. Or, is His passion for His creation such that there is no power on earth to stop Him from saving all his sheep.

I find many believing that once you die your fate is sealed. No faith - go straight to hell - and stay there forever.

Yet Jesus says forgive seven times seventy. Is this principle just for humans to follow on this earth in this life? Or perhaps these same words would continue to resonate for eternity.

Perhaps, like Thomas, many with doubt, unbelief, faithlessness will one day stand before Jesus saying "Except I shall see..." And Jesus will say, "Reach hither thy finger...and be not faithless, but believing.

I know it doesn't seem fair. We the true believers, the faithful, the enduring. The ones who suffered for the sake of the Gospel. It just isn't fair that we will have to share the Kingdom with those "last minute repenters"

Well I say think about that long and hard. Then read Matt 20:1-15
especially v 15
"Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?"

I think there will be judgment but the judgment will be there to save not to lose.