To All Believers…It’s As Simple As This
While I was having lunch with a pastor of a large denomination, he mentioned that their main differences "are between theology and anthropology." "We all have some agreements on our understanding of God," he said, "but many disagreements on our understanding of man." At his request I have written what follows. I have no trained theological background and only give what is my understanding of the Scriptures, as made plain to me by the Spirit, and helped by various writers who have influenced me through the years. I have written on this in more detail in my previous hook entitled Yes, I Am.
God All in All
I have to start, however, with theology, for I have no understanding of man except in his relationship to God. I understand that God is the One Person in the universe. Besides Him there is no other. He is Power, Peace, Joy. Christ is the Way, Truth, Life. He is made unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification. His name is I am, not I have. Finally He is declared as "All in all" (1 Cor. 15:28). So He can only manifest Himself in all these and a hundred other characteristics by being Himself expressed in an infinite variety of forms, not a Giver, but an Is-er.
God created man in His own image that He might have a visible means of expressing and manifesting Himself, The Invisible in visible form. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world," and then He also said, "Ye are the light of the world" (Matt. 5.’14). On the material level, light is invisible electricity which can only manifest in visible form by a lamp. In doing so, the light so possesses the lamp that we don’t say, "Turn on the lamp," but, "Turn on the light." Thus we humans express Him in a union relationship.
Jesus, the Second Man
Jesus, as God manifest in the flesh, is called "The Second Man" (1 Col. 15:47), thus the perfect form of redeemed man. As such, He was His Father in manifestation. The Spirit of God in the visible form of a dove was seen by John to descend upon Him. From that time onward, it was the Spirit speaking and acting by Him (Luke 4:14-21). It was the Spirit who took Him to Calvary (Heb. 9:14), and by the Spirit He rose again (1 Pet. 3:18). At the supper table when about to leave His disciples, He said the purpose of His leaving them was that the same Spirit should possess them. This was fulfilled at Pentecost, and the Spirit is spoken of by Paul in Romans 8:11 as dwelling in us.
Thus, if Jesus spoke of Himself as only seeing and speaking and doing what the Father was doing by Him, and doing nothing of Himself, and finally saying that "If you see Me, you see the Father," then it is now the same of us. Those who see us, see Him! So Paul says, "We have the mind of Christ" (1 Col.. 2:16); "God works in you to will and do of His good pleasure" (Phil 2:13); Christ "our life" (Col. 3:4); and John, in his first epistle, caps it all by saying, "As He is, so are we in this world" (1 John 4:17). Thus we are "in the light as He is in the light," we "walk as He walked," we "know as He knows," we are "righteous as He is righteous," we "love as He loves," we "believe as He believes." Our humanity is expressing His deity in all the forms of His nature.
We Humans Have No Nature
We humans are symbolized in the Scriptures as being containers, expressers, developers, but not originators. We have our "being"in Him (Acts 17:28)-the quantity, the potential (much like a computer). But then also, the quality of what is expressed by our being is not we, but He in His nature (like the programmer of the computer). Thus He is named "All in all" not just the One being invisible, but having derived created beings by whom He can express His Allness. Not just the "All," but also "in all," which is why the coming of His Son taking flesh, and now, in the resurrection, still being "the man Christ Jesus," confirms the eternal truth as being the Person in the persons, and not some vague dissolution of essence into essence as in a religion without an incarnate Christ.
These symbols used to describe us humans are all those which express no nature of their own but the nature of that to which they are attached. Vessels contain the liquid, but are not the liquid; the cup is not the coffee. We don’t speak of a cup and coffee. So we are branches, but the branch is not the nature. Rather the nature is that of the vine which reproduces itself in leaf and fruit form on the branch. Thus in Romans 6:20-22, we were bearing fruit of which we are now ashamed, but now the same branch (no difference in that) is bearing "fruit unto holiness"-solely vine-nature expressed by the branch, which has no separate nature of its own.
We are called temples. In the Old Covenant days that could have been the tabernacle by which God manifested Himself in Shekinah Glory, or alternatively a temple of Ban]. The emphasis is not the nature of the temple, but of the deity who manifests himself by it. And now in the New Covenant, our bodies are the temple of the Spirit, and God is spoken of as "dwelling in us and walking in us"(2 Cor. 6:16). We are the body of Christ, but the nature is that of the Head, Christ, not the body. Only in the sense of the whole body and its actions (the Head included) is the "body" called "Christ" (1 Cor. 12:12). We are called "slaves" (mistranslated in the King James Version as "servants"). But a slave has no operating nature of his own in relation to his owner, and solely reproduces the activities of his owner, whether of Satan (sin) or Christ (righteousness) (Rom. 6:16). We are the wives reproducing the nature (seed) of the husband, and in that sense with only the husband’s nature (Rom.7:4,5).
Pairs of Opposites:The Operating Law of the Universe
All the universe, from God Himself down through all His manifestations, only operates as pairs of opposites. The one expresses itself by utilizing the other for its manifestation (see 2 Cor. 5:4), and there is no consciousness except by opposites. Light can only be seen by its "swallowing up" dark; sweet by bitter; heat by cold; yes by no; hard by soft, and so on ad infinitum. In an armchair, the soft cushion must utilize the hard framework to make a comfortable chair. So too in a bed. A cook can only make a dish sweet by the sweetness overcoming the non-sweetness. Our decisive "yes" only has its strength by swallowing up the alternative "no." Electricity only functions by the interaction of positive and negative; the atom by the combination of proton and electron. So it is with our personal consciousness. We don’t let an infant go near a hot stove or he will burn himself, or near a pool of water when he doesn’t yet know the difference between water and dry ground.
But as this is so on every level of our material world, it is equally and fundamentally true of our inner selves. We are only conscious of ourselves when we have discovered we are either expressers of a self-getting nature (Satan) or a self-giving nature (Christ). Our human "being," with all its potential, can only express in its quantity the quality of the spirit-nature which indwells it, either that of "the spirit of error" or alternatively "the Spirit of Truth" (1 John 4:6). Blake, the poet, describes a tiger and lamb as having the same essential physical make-up but with different natures manifested by them. We have already mentioned a modern illustration of this: a computer with untold potential but only operating and expanding the nature of the subject the programmer has put into it. And we humans only become consciously functioning humans when we have been confronted by the two trees in the Garden, and made our fateful choice.
Behind that fact about us as created persons, Paul states that God Himself has a limitation: "…God that cannot lie…" (Titus 1:2). In other words, He has from eternity been the Trinity, in His Father-Son relationship of love, each for the other, and the Spirit being the Reproducer of Him (Them) in His nature in the universe. If God had remained just a "One" in all His Almightiness, as a Loner He would have been a Self-for-Self, compared in Scriptures to a self-consuming fire. But by a "death" to Himself as a Loner, He brought His beloved Son into being. To use a human expression (the spoken word which proceeds from a thought thus through to a manifestation) the Son was His "express image" (Heb. 1:3), and thus He moved into an otherlove relationship, just as fire becomes light. Fire consumes, light blesses. We now know that that outer "fire," the sun, consists of hydrogen atoms which fuse into helium atoms, and the energy released in the fusing is the light we live by.
So, if the Eternal One is only the Love Person by virtue of a "death" to one alternative of being by Himself as a consuming fire, and a "life" in an eternal love interchange with His Son, so surely all those created in His image as persons can only be conscious selves by being confronted with the possibility of expressing a self-for-self false spirit nature, or the self-for-others GodSpirit nature. That is why the Scripture says God "created evil" (Is. 45:7). Evil is only a person expressing self-for-self and good is a person expressing selffor-others. If God Himself had to have that settled for Himself (when it says He "cannot lie" and thus express a selffor-self), so every created person must confront and have those opposites fixed in the one potential "swallowing up" the other. Therefore, when God created persons, He could only do so by persons having their freedom in those alternative choices. Thus, He "created evil" as the other necessary alternative which was "swallowed up"in Him, and He cannot create persons as persons without their having their freedom of choice as persons.
Lucifer was the first person revealed by the Scriptures as made perfectly in God’s image (as we all are). By being so entranced by his own perfections (Ezek. 28:11-17) that he chose to be a self-for-self, even to appropriating the throne of God (Is. 14:12-15), he became the exposer of the necessary opposite swallowed up in God. Thus, he was named "the spirit of error," and in his nature as the opposite of God, was "cast out of heaven."
No Such Thing as an Independent Self
Now we see this great fundamental truth that there is no such thing as an independent self for there is only One Self in the Universe; for Lucifer, now called Satan, was self-deceived into imagining he was independent. In actual fact, he forever remains God’s convenient agent, fixed in his negativeness. Cast out of heaven, God uses him in His vitally necessary preparation of what He had planned from before the world’s foundation-to have a vast company of sons, created persons like Himself, by whom He would manage and develop by inheritance the universe, together with His Son (Heb. 1:2; Rom. 8:14).
These sons must come to their consciousness of being persons by being confronted with these same necessary opposites. So, while given all God’s riches of goodness in the Garden, there was one tree they must not touch or they would die to their created privileges as His sons. God intended and purposed, by the fact of the presence of this cast-out devil in the form of a wily serpent, to entice these first two, Adam and Eve, to choose Satan’s self-for-self way and take what Eve was deceived into thinking would be beneficial to herself, though against the word of her Creator. By this means, the human family would learn to its depths the opposite nature, not ours, but the nature of the "god of this world." This happened to them by receiving and eating of that false fruit, just as it was said that to partake of the other tree, the Tree of Life, and eat its fruit would mean receiving eternal life (Gen. 3:22), showing that fruit to be symbolic of receiving Christ, our eternal life. Eating the false fruit meant receiving this opposite form of life which is really death, the nature of self-for-self.
Paul describes in Ephesians 2:1-3 how that becomes a fact of us fallen humans, expressing, not a nature of our own (of which there is no such thing) but the nature of our false father, expressing his lusts. And Jesus turned the spotlight on that fact when He told the self-righteous Pharisees (of whom we all were in our Satan-indwelt days), "Ye are of your father the devil and the lusts of your father ye will do" (John 8:44). Thus, Jesus exposed once for all that we humans by our faculties and appetites never have had a nature of our own, but either "take their nature from God and are His children," or "take their nature from the devil and are his children…" (1 John 3:10, Amp.). Therefore we were expressing Satan’s lust nature in all its forms (the works of the flesh), which were not ours but his. In our fallen days we readily cooperated ("the lusts of your father ye will do"). He, Satan, was the sinner, but we were wholly accessory to the fact and were headed for a like destiny.
But here we see the subtle deceit of the devil, which is our vital spot in our coming to a final understanding of who we really are. Satan deceived us into thinking that we are independent selves, even as he deceivedly thinks he himself is. Revelation 12:9 is a key Scripture on this, showing that Satan’s chief operation is "deceiving the whole world"-making us think we are who we are not. We think we are committing those sins, being possessed by those lusts and negative responses, and we are deceived. They are his expressed by us. He imparts that deceit into us as if it is us, but it is he masquerading as us.
And God’s sole purpose is to expose this lie of independent self. Because we are God’s sons and His means of expressing Himself in the universe, we have to learn and drink to its bitter depths that great lie of the independent self-that lie of the Author of Lies with which he himself is self-deceived. The fact is we can always transmit what we are or think we are, and so Satan did that transmitting to us, his fellow creatures, and we all normally think we just run ourselves, do our own things (Is. 53.6), make up our own minds and "naturally" operate as self-relying. The Lie! We have to learn and experience it as The Lie, so that once really seen as The Lie and the remedy in Christ, we shan’t be fooled again. We may slip by temptation (we speak later of this), but we know our slip and how to return. We thus become not only saved, but safe sons. Once bit, twice shy!
The Fallacy of Having Two Natures
In our first "little children" stage (1 John 2:12, 13), we only have our eyes opened by the law and Spirit to our outer sinfulness, made plain by our committed sins. Therefore, our only understanding of Christ’s atoning sacrifice is of Him being "evidently set forth crucified among you" (Gal. 3:1; Rom. 3:25), and being seen by us sinners as a person separate from us, dying on the cross. His death was evidenced by the shedding of the blood, going to hell for us (Acts 2:23-24, 27) and being "raised from the dead by the glory of the Father" (Rom. 6:4). As we receive Him and confess Him by faith (John 1:12; Rom. 10:9), the Spirit bears witness to us (Rom. 8:16) that we are "justified by faith," and thus have peace with God.
But much more important than this, God immediately begins to bring into being His eternal purpose by and as us by the Spirit beginning to express His other-love nature in our form. In our ignorance and our deceived ideas that we have a nature of our own, we think it is we loving Him, which is an impossibility because we humans only have a love faculty. The other-love nature is that of the Spirit-Deity now indwelling us and manifesting His nature through our faculty. What we think of in Romans 5:5 as our new birth experience is us loving Him. When our eyes are open to that Scripture, we see it is His Spiritgiven love by which we are loving Him. He has begun to be Himself in our form, "The love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us. We are "new creations" (2 Cor. 5.16, 17), and by His operating nature in and as us, we no longer live self-for-self, but self-forHim. By His Spirit we see all men, even Jesus Himself, as spirit (not flesh) people and, indeed, all things are seen in a new light as material manifestations of the Invisible One (2 Cor. 5:1517).
However, now begins our real problem. Sins are put out of sight forever, but what about the self that appears to keep sinning? Sins, the product, are no longer our problem. The sinner-producer is – which appears to be our sinful self. We who are desperate for the fullness of God in our lives start a second and deeper misery. The misery of the convicted sinner is his sins. The deeper misery of the born-again saint is his apparently inconsistent self! A radical discrepancy increasingly distresses him. He thankfully recognizes goodness (righteousness) proceeding from him in new love, joy, peace and self-control, etc., and he is quick to say they are not from him but are the fruit of the Spirit now being manifested in his newborn life (Gal. 5:22, 23). Good things proceed from him which are the fruit of the good Spirit, but then bad things are also evident which must mean he has some bad nature expressing them. So then he says that he is twofold. That is where the fallacy, which has so taken over the evangelical church, is believed and accepted by the believer. If the good is from the Spirit, where does the bad come from? The answer supposedly is a bad nature still in me. But there is the fallacy and deceit.
We humans never had a nature of our own but were created to contain and manifest God in His divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). Temporarily, unless we choose to remain so, we manifest, through the Fall, our badness which we falsely attribute to our human selves. But our question should be, if we don’t attribute our goodness to ourselves but to the Spirit of Righteousness, why then don’t we attribute our badness to the spirit of badness? Why put our human selves in? We have been bemused and muddle-headed. So here is our agony, and we see the perfect purpose of God. Unless we see and experience the sin of sins, the He of the independent self, and have come to a disillusionment and hatred of it (as Paul in Rom. 7:14-24: "0 wretched man that I am…") as deep and thorough as our disgust and hatred of our old life of sins, we might revert to it again. Once we know the total truth of ourselves, we shall not revert to the falsity of independent self any more than a saved sinner reverts to his sinful condition (1 John 3:9). (We can be caught up again in a particular sin, but never again into occupation by that sin nature of Satan – the difference between sins and sin. We must get this clear.)
Therefore, it has been of necessity that we humans, if we are for eternity to be spontaneous expressers of the God of selfgiving love in His nature, must first have tasted to its roots the deceiving nature of the god of self-getting love, that god of deceived independent self (Is. 53:6 "…every man turned to his own way…") and, at all cost, have sought deliverance from it – that "hunger and thirst after righteousness" of Matthew 5:6. Even the perfect human, Jesus, the Son of God, called the "Second Man" as the ideal of humanity, was confronted for forty days with the spirit of error, being "driven" to that confrontation by the Spirit of Truth just entered Him (Mark 1:12). And it took Him that long time, of such intensity that He didn’t even miss food (only "afterward was He an hungered" – Mt. 4:2) to be confronted and finished with these temptations to be selfsufficient and self-acting. Even He had to "taste" that deceitfulness of sin, which we humans swallowed.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 10 No 2
- Questions & Answers
- To All Believers…It’s As Simple As This
- Editor’s Note
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- No Grey For God
- The Nature of Faith
- Moments with Meryl
- A Look at a Book
- Word of Faith
- Just Say the Word
- A Life with a Purpose
- Reflections on the Twelve Steps
- The Mailbox
- Words to Live By
- Christianity’s Lost Chord