JULY 22, 2006

Thousand Oaks, CA

















If the writers of the New Testament were to be likened to speakers at a convention, clearly Paul would be the one giving the keynote address with all in attendance agreeing that John’s contribution stands as a delightfully perfect complement to Paul’s, and that James, Jude, Matthew, Mark and Luke all provided undeniably necessary highlights to round out the event’s proclamation, instruction and inspiration.

Any attendant listening carefully to Brother Paul would come away challenged to ascertain what he means to convey by his repetitive use of the expressions, “in Christ,” and “Christ in.” It would be obvious to any perceptive listener that those expressions are very fundamental points of reference together providing a frame of reference for Paul’s understanding of “the mystery hidden from ages past in God.”

Feeling that I have for the past 53 years been, as it were, on the edge of my seat intent certainly on not missing the keynote speaker’s keynote, nor even the least little nuance of insight flowing out of his impassioned mind and heart, I’m once again moved to offer the following thoughts toward the goal of the fullest possible understanding and appreciation of just what is included in Paul’s two “ins.”

It must be emphasized again and again that whatever Paul means us to understand concerning “Christ in,” must be based upon an understanding of what he means to convey by “in Christ.” The theological case that he builds has “in Christ” as its foundation, and one must have one’s understanding of “Christ in” built upon the foundation of “in Christ,” for in seeking to realize the glory of His indwelling, we need to know and appreciate His majestic all-inclusiveness. Majesty begins with “in Christ,” and proceeds to “Christ in.”

According to Paul’s message in the Epistle to the Colossians, “all things were created in Him” not “by Him,” as conventional, popular translations timidly render it but, to repeat, “in Him.” This One contains all things within Himself and in particular all humanity as its head within THE HEAD. The sphere of all being and all creatureliness is Christ and the inner constitution of the same is Christ. To fully appreciate the One Who is in us, we must see His all-encompassing transcendence.

I shall limit and devote this essay to Paul’s “ins” in respect to humanity and not at this time the whole of creation. When Paul pronounces the Christian believer to be in Christ and I must add, not exclusively, but as representing all humanity his essential meaning is that the Person of Christ, His relationship to the Father, and all the accomplishments of the Father by and through His Son include the whole of humanity so that there can be no generic disparity between us and Christ. In Him, what is true of Him, is true of us. He is the sphere of our being traceable to eternity, and also of our space-time existence.

If we were to remove the prepositional phrase at the end of John’s statement, “As He is, so are we in this world,” it would not make the statement inaccurate. We are as He is period! AND we are as He is “in this world,” for we have been granted and enjoy participation in both His transcendence and immanence. I will not labor that point further, but hasten to address the question that would understandably arise in the mind of most: “If what you say is true, how do you explain the present deplorable human condition.”

Addressing that question will lead quite nicely to how “in Christ,” and “Christ in you,” complement one another in Pauline thought. Without yielding any ground as to our above affirmation regarding the allness of Christ-inclusion, we must address the fact that, in God’s wisdom, and by God’s design, this relationship became, shall we say, disturbed, but not so as to lose it’s intrinsic constitution.

God, it clearly appears, decided to quite violently shake things up when He sent His all-inclusive Being in the Person of His Son (in solidarity with Adam) out from the dimension of eternity into a dimension that, by some definition, and in some sense, was gut-wrenchingly disturbing to Himself and all that He includes in Himself. The eternal God while, of course, never losing His essential eternality became, hmmm, yeah, the timely God.

In subjecting his creation to the futility of limitation, in His immanence, He subjected Himself to the same, while still in regal splendor maintaining His eternal, unlimited and sovereign transcendence, knowing that such a decision would lead to the horror of a place called, Golgotha.

It is incontestable that the singular Seed of God’s intention to multiply Himself is the incorruptible Seed, Christ; yet Christ died. Christ died for us, for our sins. DISTURBANCE: The immortal dies, the impeccable endures blemish, holiness becomes sin. He, in Whom all things exist, now exists within the unimaginable.

So we come to how “Christ in” relates to “in Christ.” The Christ, in Whom all things exist, came into the existent, the deplorable, the unimaginable, the repugnant, the sphere of tears, so as to, from within it all, transform it all, using it all to challenge Himself to call upon Himself to draw forth from the depths of Himself depths of glory that would have remained eternally hidden within the depths of the Divine Nature, had He not done so.

In short, Christ in you, has been working, is working, and continues to work to overcome the impressively grand contrariness, the seductive attention-demanding deception that will bring out the best in God, the best in Christ, and the best in us in Christ. While, and though, we are encased in the contrariness of an aeonian imposter – persona, Christ in us shall demonstrate and confirm the Truth, the Reality, the Genuineness of who we are in Him.

What we are in Christ is coming forth, is unfolding, by Christ in us, making all contrariness instrumental to drawing forth from the spring of the Divine Nature that River that makes glad the city of God. I know that the following prophetic picture that forms in my mind will be disturbing and difficult to factor into our understanding of the economy of God, but I clearly see sin and death as providing the necessary firm foothold for humanity in Christ to reach into the depths of Christ in us.



Having virtually no understanding of what exactly is the relationship of genes, chromosomes and DNA, and how those biological components of the cellular life-form called human combine to make us biologically the unique, individual versions of animal life that each of us turns out to be, I am vaguely aware that those components are quite intrinsic to our biological development and that a living code is built into each of us that by some definition instructs our bodies at the cellular level, quite determinatively given no interruptive and disruptive anomalies as a sort of biological equivalent to theological predestination.

The parallel deserves much consideration, remembering that the Bible does not teach predestination to heaven or hell, but predestination to conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. Over a period of many months recently, I searched for an illustration that would help clarify for God’s people just how it is that we are complete in Christ since there seems to be a mountain of apparent and stubborn contradictory evidence facing us as we seek to lay hold of Paul’s complete-in-Christ thesis.

In my search, I found myself returning time and time again to the aforementioned at least to my thinking parallel. Paul is quite clear and emphatic in his thesis that, in the Person and experience of Jesus Christ, is found both the reality of human being and personhood, and the arrival at, the fulfillment of, the goal of humanness. In a word, Jesus Christ is the Origin and Destiny of Humanness as Herman C. Waetjen expounds in his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.

Paul reckons that who we are has already been determined in Christ, and the fulfillment of our God-ordained destiny has already been accomplished in Him. By revelation, he has come to understand the same to be the truth universally and individually with the inspired, confident expectation of a sovereignly-elected, sovereignly-ordered unfolding rank by rank.

Paul and John, especially, understand that all Deity and all humanity have been gathered together and summed up in Jesus Christ. As the Son of God, He is the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and in Him resides the fullness of humanity as the Son of Man. By the Holy Spirit, in communion with the virgin, Mary, all of Godness with its core-humanness – birthed Itself into a single summation of all humanity, Jesus of Nazareth.

So is humanity one or many? The answer is, both, for gathered together and summed up in the Person of Christ, the oneness of humanity appeared in its irreducible essence among the many from whom that essence was drawn.

When, in the fullness of the times, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, every descendant of Adam, whether they were then present or in the past, or in the future, every one was present in that One. He is the many as One, yet the many are still many, but one in Him. To help us understand something of this mystery, science comes to our aid in its growing understanding of what makes us who we are.

Regularly we hear of law enforcement determining identity by an individual’s DNA taken from even just a hair, from bodily fluids and the like, because, in a very real sense, the person is in the DNA as I understand it to contain our genetic code.

Imagine science extracting some DNA from a person, altering it in such a way as to repair all damage it has incurred, restoring it to its pristine wholeness, AND building into it, to the extent that science alone can, an invulnerability to abnormality, and a restorative quality making it the source of an entirely renewed, even- better-than-original individual, then injecting that DNA back into that man or woman so that in time, the extracted, altered and reintroduced DNA would overcome the former genetic code and transform that person into a new creation.

So it is with our Lord Jesus Christ. He is, as it were, in His unique Personhood, the genetic code of Deity and Humanity, who is wonderfully, both the origin of humanness from eternity. and who, in the aeon, was drawn forth out of that humanity of which He was the Source to undergo an all-inclusive divine/human experience of aeonian living with all the elements common to human experience (without sin), even to the humiliation, suffering and death by that crucifixion in which all human woe in the extreme finds its culmination and consummation.

He was entombed as One clearly dead, but death could not hold Him, and He arose victorious over that ancient and ultimate enemy going on to return to the glory which He had with the Father before the world was, and in that return, He reconciled all men in Himself even IN their enmity, so that enmity, the essence of death, itself became the enhancement of the glory of God.

The glory of God, in it all, draws forth from Itself a magnification of itself by the soul of humanness, as Love returns all things to their primal constitution, and on to the inherent glory of that constitution, the glory of the Son(s) of God’s love.

All this was accomplished in the divine/human DNA of us all. Christ, in the Spirit, is that DNA of and for us all, drawn out from humanity, now including the human experience designed by God from eternity, reintroduced sequentially into the whole body, and bodies of humanity until, in us, what we are in that altered DNA which He is—takes over and makes us by Him in us, what we are in Him.

It has become fashionable in popular Christian sermonizing to get a hook into people by asserting that we all have a wonderful, fulfilling personal destiny laid out for us in Christ from before the foundation of the world; but in all the sermons I have heard and read of this genre, they all, with theological timidity, contain a very prevalent thread of uncertainty, since it is a firmly held belief in (pseudo) orthodoxy, that, after all, there is an opposing, alternate destiny and, in the end, it is you who determines which will be yours.

It is held to be incontestable, that you must do your part in it all so that God can do His part. In short, God will be faithful according to your faithfulness. Beware of that insidious dogma that insists that the faithfulness of man, or the lack of the same, is what finally determines whether God can have His Way with us.

Brethren—brethren of the community of faith, AND brethren who are still in this world the Christ Code has been implanted in us in terms of both corporate and individual destiny, and we shall flesh it out because of “…God, which worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Phil 2 13 That implanted enChristing Code shall be activated in us by God as He deems it timely in His dealing with each individual.

All interruptive and disruptive anomalies were dealt with on the cross, and such elements were incorporated into our Christ DNA. So it is that we can really say in Truth that we are complete in Christ. If perchance, the reader has not been able to completely follow my thought throughout this humble attempt to illustrate a great mystery, I will close with my own affirmation of the Pauline thesis: What is true of us in Christ, will become true of us by Christ in us. The Reality shall become the existential actuality, and “we shall be changed…” 1 Cor. 15:21



Though it is Paul who, within the context of the New Testament, theologically frames what some have called, “the mutual abode,” i.e. that we are in Christ, and Christ is in us; that He is wonderfully both our Residence and Resident, of course, the same did not originate with Paul. Clearly he received it from His resurrected Lord via and as the Spirit of Truth.

One of the reasons I’ve spoken of John as very uniquely the complement of Paul, is because it is John who recorded the transcendentally sublime realization that informed Jesus of the nature of His Being and gave Him His true life-instructing, Personhood-identification.

If I may be so bold as to suggest a very condensed paraphrase of what is at the heart of Jesus’ affirmation directed to the Father and recorded in Jn. 17, it boils down to the equivalent of Jesus saying, “I am the One who particularly dwells in you Father, and I am the One in whom You particularly dwell. You are my home, and I am your home, yet as I dwell in You, there are many in Me, who, being in Me, have You as their abode with Me in Me. And as it is also true that I am Your abode, they too, with Me are Your abode. We are all at home in You as You are at home in us.”

“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,” have we in the reality of this mutual abode. The imperative of abiding in Christ is based upon the indicative that Christ IS our abode and the Father is His abode. We cannot make Christ our home any more than we can make Christ our Lord. God has already done that, and as the reality of this sinks in, we abide, we settle into Him, we heave a big sigh of relief and peace and we say to ourselves, “I really am home, safe at home,” and truly spiritual living becomes spontaneous.

Also as recorded in the Gospel of John, Jesus, literally in the Greek, speaks of men believing INTO Him. Does that mean that our “act of faith” gets us into Christ? No, most certainly not. “It is of God that we are in Christ Jesus…” We believers, representative of all men, are in Christ from eternity.

“Our” faith is ours in Christ and, in turn, part and parcel of God’s gift to us, His Son, in us, so our faith is really His faith, “the faith OF Christ,” but we may gratefully say that it is our faith for it has been given to us. What God gives to us by grace truly is ours but He is its content and we possess it in Him.

A good illustration and analogy might be for us to think of having been born in the private birthing-room of a great mansion. That’s where we started from, but as we mature, we become more and more aware of the vastness of our home, and we begin within the mansion to explore “into” the whole of our home so as to enjoy all that is ours there.

So, being in Christ by nature, in the process of ongoing faith, our faith His faith in us enters more fully, further and further into Christ until we come to know His breadth, length, depth and height, and to know His love.(Eph 3:18-19)

Remember Jesus spoke of “he who believES in me,” (John 14:12 etc.) not merely of a person’s act of faith. The Greek carries the idea of a continuation of faith, a believING, an ongoing “faithing” (too bad we don’t have that verb form of the noun faith in the English language.)

That we should possess the faith and “faithing” of Christ was not our decision, it was God’s. As the Holy Spirit CAUSES us to participate in the decision of God, His decision becomes our decision by the force of reality. He gives, and His giving translates into our receiving, for please understand that the life of Christ in us, the life that is our life, is a giving and receiving life.

We tend to think that giving originates with God, but receiving originates with us. Not so! Both giving and receiving reside in God. He is the source of both to His Son who becomes the source of both to us.

The conjugal love that God is, is both giving and receiving. That is at the heart of what makes the Divine Nature what I have called Perfect Relational Being. WHAT IS INITIATED IN AND BY THE DIVINE NATURE IS RECEIVED IN AND BY THE DIVINE NATURE. It is that dynamic in which we are made participants by the will and grace of God. There is no “God’s part and our part” in the administration of God. There is only the all-inclusive Divine Nature in which we are granted participation.

Has the reader considered that “Christ” is inclusive of both Bridegroom and Bride; that the Bride of Christ came forth out from the Body of Christ, so that the Bride has the same constitution as the Groom, and in that Perfect Relational Being, received from the Father, is both the pursuing, wooing quality of love, and the surrendering, receiving quality. As my dear friend, Lenny Antonsson would say, “It’s all God.”

And I would add, It’s all God in Christ.


PAUL’S TWO INS, Parts 1-3 [John Gavazzoni] 7-22-06          1


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