Recently I hinted at the work of apostolic writers who teach in the spirit of wisdom and revelation. About three years ago I began reading Trinitarian theology through the work of J Baxter Kruger, William Paul Young and Grace Communion International. I’m glad I did because I believe these teachers were a means of widening my ideas about God, myself and who we are as the church.
I was raised in a fundamentalist denomination. Cultures of this variety major in certainty – of a kind. They have compartmentalised beliefs about many things, tend to locked and concrete mindsets and can believe they speak for God. It would be a mistake to think God separates Himself from these folks or us in such mindsets. He works with us where we happen to be. Nevertheless Jesus came to offer freedom over bondage and life in place of death. Like the death in the pot of the old testament there can be death in the words and life-denying doctrines that rise to impede the Kingdom and cripple the people. Every thought and idea that dims the unlimited life of who Jesus is for us originates in the spirit of anti-christ.
‘The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out, "Man of God, there is death in the pot!" And they could not eat it’ 2 Kings 4.40 NIV.
I once described the culture of legalism as a ‘body of death’ to a friend. She queried me on this as she had seen a vision of an angel at one such gathering. God does not ignore us if we are wrong and have not yet cottoned on to the radical nature of Christ our life. He surrounds us with His Spirit and sends angels of light to dispel the grey and the dark. But angels and the Spirit are never there to perpetuate bondage or death in any form.
‘In him was life, and the life was the light of men’ John 1.4 ESV.
Fundamentalism belongs to the old covenant. It is a higher order form of legalism specialising in positions and rules. Both of which are wrongly assumed to recommend us to God. Fundamentalism is derived from a Christian version of the knowledge of good and evil that would reduce the presence and life of God to positions and behaviours. More sophisticated minds can find themselves living from a ‘belief system,’ where one lives in a matrix of beliefs and assumptions. But new covenant life is spirit and life. It is what Paul calls Christ our life. He is personal, He is Spirit, He lives in our bodies and impacts our reality in concrete ways – namely with healing and supernatural signs and the more subtle effect of Christ in you shaping you into your glory as a son/daughter of God.
There are of course some fundamentals we need to live by. One being that Christ is our life. Another being that we now live in the new covenant as expressed in Galatians 2.20. Yet another being that Christ expressed in us is the law of the spirit of life at work as the new creation. Our life in God does affect our behaviour but it does so by enlarging our spirit and putting love in our souls.
THIS BODY OF DEATH
It is fundamentally true that if we remain attached to the law, an element of the law or live from a human construct such as religion, we drag about with us a body of death of the kind from which Paul declared we have been set free.
When Paul talked of this ‘body of death’ from which we have been delivered by Jesus he cited his riven personality and the contradictions striving in his soul. Paul was describing the compartments and dichotomies inherent in a life in the knowledge of good and evil. Here one can live in binaries and still not be alive. Jesus delivers us from a compartmentalised life by drawing us into His life.
‘What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!’ Romans 7.24,25 NIV.
Due to the grace of God, God does not speak at us. He lives in and with us and imparts His life to us. God shares the fellowship that is theirs as the trinity, the individuality that is theirs as distinct persons and the Oneness He is as God. One can never become a clone of any lesser order observance when Christ is our life. This is because by being hidden and absorbed into the Family of God we are revealed as who we are in spirit and in truth. We do well to regard the words SPIRIT AND TRUTH as referring to genuine reality as compared to pieties and motions that are clouds without rain. In union with God we will reflect God and be our real selves.
God in us and with us should fill anyone with light-heartedness and confidence. Firstly because we belong, secondly because we are not orphans and thirdly because we are more than significant. As sons and daughters of God we are instrumental in enriching the earth with our individual sonship and daughtership. We release rivers of life.
So God is in us. He has come in our flesh which is to say God lives in our spirit, soul and body. At this point I need to say that this does not define away the anointing of Holy Spirit and the adventure of deploying His gifts. The gifts flow from our union with Father. They are the effect of the Spirit of Sonship and a product of our uniqueness as persons in Jesus.
Union with God is the ground or our being. This is ours forever and can never be lost. Life in the Spirit is the effect of the trinity incarnated in us as ourselves and the church. Gifts of the Spirit are the preserve of Holy Spirit and the result of our life in Father that is limitless and eternal. So it’s not one or the other. It never is with God and ourselves. We do not live in compartments and dichotomies. We live wholly in God through Jesus Christ and participate in the wholeness that God is – because we are daughters and sons!