God's mystery unfolding on earth

The following is from Paul Smith.

1 Cor. 2:9 “However, as the scripture says, ‘What no one ever saw or heard, what no one ever thought could happen, is the very thing God prepared for those who love him’.” (TEV)

What is this mystery God is unfolding?

God is love. (1 Jn. 4) Love always implies communion and fellowship among persons.

The Father loves the Son in communion with the Spirit, and the Son loves the Father in communion with the Spirit! And God – the Father, Son and Spirit -- loves humanity! (Rom. 8:9) (1 Jn. 4:9-10) (NLT)

When did God start loving us? And when was it decided that the Son would enter the physical creation and become flesh? 1 Cor. 2:7-13 “The wisdom I proclaim is God’s secret wisdom … which he had already chosen for our glory even before the world was made.” It was before time began that the decision for creating humanity and for healing and preserving them was made – made because of God’s love! All predestined – before the ages to our glory! That’s when the Lamb (Jesus) was provided as the atoning sacrifice for humanity’s sin – the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world (Jn.1:29)

In Eph. 2 Paul explains how God was, in Christ, breaking down the wall that separated the Jews and Gentiles (foreigners). Also, in loving communion with the Father and the Spirit Jesus was breaking down the wall of separation between humanity and God himself! (1 Cor. 3:16-17)

Just when did the Holy Spirit come to the earth? (Gen. 1:1-2) God created … And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (KJV) Now the mystery of God becomes deeper still, because someone else was also there! See Jn. 1:1-4 (“In the beginning was the [Logos] Word….”) The Logos came also to sweep away everything and every enemy that could keep us separated from God – even death itself! (1 Cor. 15:26) Everything was created through him and for him! And through his sacrifice, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him, without a single fault.” (See Col. 1:17-22)

Jesus has made atonement for us and is working as our Mediator. And the Holy Spirit is working IN us – so our very nature is being changed! (Eph. 4:22-24) (Gal. 5:22-25) The Spirit produces the fruit in our lives! He helps you and comforts you – forever!

Jesus prayed (Jn. 17:20-21) that all believers in him might be one – just as He was one with the Father – “so that the world will believe that you (the Father) sent me.”

What is the world’s problem? Not believing! (Jn. 3:16-17) Not believing means rejection of Jesus, and that means rejection of the Father! (Jn. 16:7-10) That’s self-willed rebellion! One must repent of the rebellion of unbelief – which amounts to rejection of Jesus!

So how are these non-believers to be dealt with? The Holy Spirit (the Advocate) will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. Also, Jesus works with the world by drawing them to himself (Jn. 12:32)!

So, Jesus provided salvation for the world by taking away their sin and opening the way for them to be adopted into the life of God, but each one must activate a relationship with Jesus by believing, which is by faith. Salvation’s purpose is to bring many sons to glory! (Heb. 2:10)

Contrary to the idea of Universalism – the idea that, eventually, everyone will be saved, the Bible speaks of both “sheep” (who will enter the kingdom of God) and “goats” (who enter eternal punishment) Matt. 25:33-46. God’s Grace doesn’t force compliance. This is why he gave humanity “free will.”

The reason for Jesus’ death is found in God’s eternal purpose for us – so that we could participate together in the life of the Father, Son and Spirit, sharing in their knowledge and laughter and fellowship – their insights and creativity and goodness. The Son became human to be the place where the life of God (the Father, Son and Spirit) intersects human existence, and human existence touches the life of God. Jesus came to be the “mediator,” the one in whom the divine and human meet and share life.

It was never intended that the fulfillment of God’s purpose would be left in Adam’s hands or in ours. It was always intended that the gift of redemption and eternal life would be given in Jesus Christ. He was always destined to step out of eternity into history and to eradicate our sin, cleanse us, and bring us home.

Humanity’s creation and purpose is all about sharing the abundant life of the Father, Son and Spirit. Sharing in the joyous fellowship of life that is the light of men – life that is abounding, rich and joyful, not sad or boring! Sharing this is what God’s plan for us is all about!

Lk. 12:32 says, “…don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”


Ted Johnston said…
More from Paul Smith on the mystery which God is unfolding:

Throughout the entire Bible, God has gradually unfolded his wonderful and mysterious plan for humanity. He revealed himself to Isaiah as “God above and mankind like grasshoppers” (Is 40:22). To Israel he was “One Lord.” But at Sinai, Israel was so frightened of him, that they asked Moses to speak to them and not God! (Exo 20:19; Deut 5::27)

So when Jesus came, they were not afraid. And he spoke freely of the Father , even saying the Father was in himself and he was in the Father (Jn 14:9-10; Jn 17). Jesus also spoke of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit who was to be with and in believers (Jn 14:15-17).

So we have “God with us” as Jesus (Jn 1:1-4) and “God in us” as the Holy Spirit. And the “Great Commission” in Matt 28:19, commands baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. One God, who is pictured twice in 1John 4 as “Love.”
The Father not only loves the Son in communion with the Spirit, and the Son loves the Father in communion with the Spirit, but God, who is Father, Son and Spirit, loves humanity!

How much is revealed in 1John 4:9-10, “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.” But when did God, who is Father, Son and Spirit, make the decision to create humanity, give them free will, and plan the time for his Son to enter the world and save them? 1Cor 2:7-10 NIV indicates, this was ordained or predestinated “before time began!”

By his incarnation, sacrifice and resurrection Jesus removed the Sinai covenant and inaugurated a New Covenant of Life in his own blood. (Heb 9:12; Heb 13:12-15 TEV) By this, Jesus broke down and removed two walls of separation. One wall separated Jews and Gentiles (Eph 2) and the other wall separated humanity from God. (1 Cor 3:16-17)

Notice Col 1:17-23, Jesus Christ “existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. 18 Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, 20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross. 21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” (NLT)

We are not implying here that there’s no repentance necessary.
We are indicating that Jesus took care of everything necessary to take away the sin of the world! (Jn:1:29; Heb 9:26)

So, “What’s left for us to repent of?” Well, the problem for the world is not believing! (Jn 16:7-10) Not believing Jesus is God’s Son and that he really did all that he said. That is the same as rejecting the Father’s offer of love and forgiveness – rejecting the grace of God! Rejecting salvation! So, contrary to Universalism’s idea, that eventually everyone will be saved, the Bible speaks of both “sheep” who will enter the Kingdom of God and “goats” who will enter eternal punishment. (Matt 25:33-46)

You see, God knew full well about our sin and rebellion and failure, before Adam and Eve were created. It was the natural result of “free will”! Jesus wasn’t the “patch” for some “over sight” or “miscalculation” on God’s part! Humanity and humanity’s redemption, both – were included in God’s purpose and plan from the beginning before the creation of Time! This takes the atoning death of Jesus Christ, out of the context of law and sin and punishment, and places it in the context of the eternal purpose, that God has always had for us - “bringing many sons to glory!" (Heb 2:10)

Humanity’s creation and purpose is all about sharing the abundant life of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Sharing this, is what God’s plan for us is all about! [Some ideas here paraphrased from C. Baxter Kruger’s books “The Great Dance” and “[GOD] IS FOR US.”
Anonymous said…

Logic is a wonderful thing, and the Bible is a precisely and overridingly logical book. As such, it presents to us two sets of logic for us to consider and to choose from.

One logic says, "Do all of the law perfectly for your entire life, and you will live forever."

The other logic says, "Believe in the NAME of Jesus Christ, and you will live forever."

But we humans, because of our "sinful" nature can't do law, let alone do the law perfectly for a lifetime. So when we try to follow law logic, we find death.

In contrast, when God touches us, we find that we can do belief in the NAME of Jesus Christ just fine. In fact, when we follow this logic, we find life,
because Jesus Christ is there getting the righteousness job done for us big time.

Yet, modern Christianity typically makes a terrible mistake in that it
often, in a convoluted and fractured way, mixes the two logics together. In so doing, Christianity fails to notice that God does not allow this mixing.
In addition, this mixing produces spiritual, intellectual, and Biblical illogic. Maybe this is why so many Christians, including most of the young people brought up in the modern church these days, eventually leave the
organized faith embittered and perplexed by their experience with that faith.

I bring this up because I at times grow tense when I note the mixing of the two logics together. This mixing can only lead to nowhere. With this in mind, let us be careful about using law logic, usually found in pre-cross events and remarks, to establish our view of adoption and of the Triune God.

For instance, the Great Commandments of Matthew 22 are part of law’s logic, and thus are not helpful to us in establishing our theology unless viewed in that law context. In contrast, the Great Commandments of 1 John 3 are part of belief’s logic and thus are very helpful to us as we find our way.


J. Richard Parker
Ted Johnston said…
I would like to comment briefly on the following statement in Paul Smith's helpful paper (which I posted on this blog on his behalf):

"Jesus provided salvation for the world by taking away their sin and opening the way for them to be adopted into the life of God, but each one must activate a relationship with Jesus by believing, which is by faith."

I would not say that Jesus opened the way for humanity to be adopted, but that he is the way and that with his incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension, the adoption of all humanity, in Jesus, as God's children is an accomplished fact. Not one that we "activate" by our belief, but one that we embrace and actively live within through belief (trust).

I think this is an important distinction because it reminds us (as Paul Smith says elsewhere in his paper) that adoption along with all the grace it brings our way, is God's gift to us in Jesus.
Anonymous said…
Thanks Ted for the clarification.

And I would like to add my two cents about the use of the words “believe” and “belief.” You see, many people “believe” in God or in Jesus. But this belief is often in terms of a remote God, who often has very little impact and influence in their lives.

But the New Covenant uses the “believe” words in a different frame. It is in the frame of believing in the NAME of Jesus. It is as John says:

John 3:16-18--For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (KJV)

This “name” belief acknowledges the very presence of Jesus within. As John further says:

I Jn 3:23-24--And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. (KJV)

In other words, “belief” allows for the idea of a far off God. In contrast, “belief in the name of Jesus Christ” inoculates us with the view of God (Jesus Christ) as being oh so close and touchable by us.


J. Richard Parker
I must "Amen" the need for clarity you pointed out on that particular paragraph, too, Ted! That was the one place in the article I saw and felt the "wet blanket" begin to fall on the Gospel again, even as other parts of it were written along a proper Gospel line.

Anything we do or have or experience that is truly in alignment with Who God is, can ONLY be the life of the Son in His humanity being shared with us! It is HIS faith being shared with us by grace! All activation and initiation toward us (and back toward God) has taken place in Jesus Christ and is shared freely with creation!

As the early church father's said "All of Jesus means all of us." That means a two-fold thing:

1.) All of Jesus means all of humanity, AND,

2.) All of Jesus means NOT less of us, personally, but more of us, personally, to experience and see the expression of his life in our distinct human lives!

Praise be to Triune God's Love and Brilliant Creative Imagination to Include Us in His Life!