MA Essay – Theology – Foundations

Theology is the study of the knowledge of God. What we believe about who God is matters. Because how we live our lives is determined by our theology, by what we think about God’s nature. I wish someone had told me that years ago. Because for 25 years, I had a wrong theological foundation. I believed that God was somewhere “out there.” Believing He wasn’t all that involved in my life unless I was doing “Christian activities.” I didn’t think He ever gave me a thought until I accepted Jesus into my heart, and then He was able to look at me because I was now righteous. He was able to talk to me because I was now a sinner saved by grace. And He was able to love me because when He looked at me, He only saw Jesus. And of course, when I messed up and “fell from grace,” Jesus was my intercessor reminding the Father that He had to accept me, to forgive me, because He paid my debt. That kind of theological foundation definitely affected the quality of my life. I lived doing to be. Always in performance mode.

And then I came to understand ONENESS! The oneness of the Father, Son, and Spirit. The union of God (Elohim – Father, Son, and Spirit) and me. And the union of God and all of mankind! St. Isaac of Nineveh in the 7th century AD said, “The world has become mingled with God; creation and Creator became One.” I don’t think there is a more beautiful word than ONE! Suddenly for me, God was not “out there” but rather IN me and I IN Him. He was closer than my breath. In fact, I began to realize that He IS my breath! His Life IN me, AS me, and flowing through me to my world. For me, the word that defines foundational theology is ONE!

God’s nature is ONE. One Power, One Presence, One Mind, One Spirit, One Faith, One Father of us ALL who has made us His dwelling place. One God… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And two words began to be the lens for my Life, words that flowed out of this beautiful foundation of ONENESS… Eternal and FINISHED! The lens for reading Scripture, the lens for which I viewed circumstances, the lens through which I now understood God (Elohim – Father, Son, and Spirit). The lens through which I now saw myself and ALL humanity. God FINISHED everything from before time began…redemption was eternal; grace was eternal; salvation was eternal; forgiveness was eternal… His covenant was eternal! There wasn’t anything that wasn’t ALREADY ours, that hadn’t been ALREADY finished. We just had a faulty theology that didn’t allow for that understanding. Our wrong understanding of God’s nature keeps us always searching and waiting and asking God to do what He has already done!

Israel had the same problem; they didn’t have a proper theology. They didn’t have an accurate understanding of the nature of God. So, God speaks through Isaiah and says in chapter 40:18: To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him? Theology (or the study of the nature of God) isn’t just for theologians, or seminary students, it’s for ALL. God asks that question of all of us, just like He asked Peter, “who do YOU say that I am?”

Our answer is important. Not because it’s about getting the right answer and pleasing God but because it locates us and allows God to begin revealing to us exactly who He is. Paul said, “it PLEASED the Father to reveal His Son in me.” He gets great pleasure out of revealing Himself to us and IN us. Because it is only as we have a proper foundation of who He really is that we know who we really are. What a loving Father that He cares enough to ask us what we think He’s like. Such a good Daddy, desiring for us to walk out the life He designed for us and knowing that if we don’t have a correct theology if we don’t have an accurate image of Him, we will continue to live FAR BELOW the Life He gave us from before time began.

So, He repeats His question to Isaiah in verse 25, “To whom then will you like Me, or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One. He is asking, “Am I wrathful, judgmental, unloving? Am I a harsh taskmaster requiring unwavering absolute obedience? Am I demanding of constant repentance, requiring some sort of appeasement before I relent? Do I send sickness, disease, and lack to test your faith? Am I an angry God sending judgment upon your cities, your nations, or even your children?” Of course not! And yet, those are some of the things we have believed about Him. Some of our theology has been rooted in those wrong images of God.

He’s repeated the question to Isaiah. We have to be careful, or we read into that that He is scolding Isaiah, driving this question into Isaiah so that Isaiah (and the nation of Israel) will repent. But He is only Love and only Good! He is repeating Himself not out of frustration or harsh demanding, but out of love revealed to Isaiah that He, Elohim – Father, Son, and Spirit – is incomparable! Unequaled! Unlike anything, he’s ever known! He did the same thing to Job in chapters 38 and 39 and is even more elaborate. Spending pages self-describing His majesty and power until Job (and us!) should realize that we don’t define God, but instead, He defines us! His divine nature is our nature. We, like Him, are incomparable, unequal, and unlike anything ever known! We are image and likeness of Him… divine ones, gods (Psalm 82:6)!

But Israel and Job and sadly even the modern church today haven’t realized it. And we continue carrying around a false image of God, a molded misrepresentation of Him that robs us of the FULL benefits of our WHOLE man redemption. And we pour forth (mold), we give full expression to that false image. We are expressing our wrong perceptions of God and giving full expression to our faulty theology. So, in chapter 46, God asks the question a third time. And now He tells them that they carry this image on their shoulders. They carry around a false image of God in their minds. They cry out to it, and it cannot answer them or save them out of their distress.

Without a correct understanding of who God is, we will continue to live our lives in circumstances God never intended us to live in — crying out to God for healing, provision, deliverance, etcetera. Never sure if we’ve done enough to gain His attention and His approval so that He will answer us. We have constructed an image of God based on works. Works of righteousness and works of holiness, which Isaiah called overlays of silver and gold. The church has carried this image of God around in their minds for centuries.

And so, we’ve continued to carry around an image of a God we’ve made in our minds, one who is never quite satisfied with our performance. The One who is always testing our hearts and our faith to see if we’re loyal to Him. A God who is continually refining our hearts so that the ugly dross that is presumably in us will rise to the top, and He can skim it off. The one who allows us to go through sickness, disease, death, lack, etc. so that we will be stronger in our faith, learn obedience, trust Him more. That’s not God! And He doesn’t leave us to figure out who He is on our own. He has put eternity in our hearts. He built us with a sensitivity to the eternal dimension. With an understanding of the eternal realm. That’s how He designed us.

In Isaiah 40:21, God says, “Have you not known, have you not heard, has it not been told you from the beginning, have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? He’s giving Isaiah (and us) a point of reference. He’s sending them back to the beginning, to the foundations of the earth to discover the first principle of God-likeness. In verse 26, we’re told: “lift up your eyes on high and see who created these things.” We’re being sent back to Genesis 1, back to the “in the beginning, God!” That is where our understanding of God begins. It is where our theology begins. And who is this “in the beginning, God?” In Genesis 1, God is introduced as Elohim… Father, Son, and Spirit. And immediately after the name, Elohim is the Hebrew letters Aleph and Tav, which are the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, just like Alpha and Omega in the Greek alphabet. I believe it shows us God’s desire for us. Our inclusion IN Elohim. Our shared image and likeness… divine ones IN the Divine Ones. Our oneness with Father, Son, and Spirit.

Paul also pointed us back to creation as a beginning point. Romans 1:20 tells us that from creation, His eternal nature and Godhead has been revealed. So, our foundation, our theology, begins with an understanding of Elohim (Father, Son, and Spirit) and our intimate union IN Them. Because everything about your life has its roots in your perception of God. Your revelation of your identity has its roots in your image of God. Because we don’t define Him, He defines us. ALL that He is we are and always have been! We haven’t experienced it because we didn’t know that. How different would our lives look if we had known we have always been righteous, always been holy, always been healed, prosperous, and delivered?

But our image continues to be one of an “out there” God in heaven that someday we will finally see face to face. Eventually, we will be just like Him, holy and blameless, without spot or wrinkle. But for now, IF we “wait upon” Him THEN, He will continue to renew our strength so that we won’t grow weary and faint in the circumstances of this Life. But is that what Isaiah was saying? Israel is complaining that God is somehow limited, that He hasn’t responded to their cries, but instead has ignored them. Passed over them, overlooked them because of their sin. That He had abandoned them, was separated from them. Sounds a lot like us today.

But Isaiah is saying that’s not who God is!! At the end of chapter 40, Isaiah says, Do you not know, have you not heard, the LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. Do you not know? Do you not have INTIMATE knowledge? Have you not heard? There is something they should have understood. There is something they should’ve had intimate knowledge of. That Yahweh (LORD) is the eternal God (Elohim – Father, Son, and Spirit), the Creator of the ends of the earth (the uttermost parts of the earth; the WHOLE earth!).

The Septuagint has for Creator the word “kataskeuazo,” which means prepared or made ready. It carries a strong implication of thorough preparation. ALL that Yahweh, the Eternal Elohim (Father, Son, and Spirit) created, was made ready, thoroughly prepared, FINISHED! Hebrews 4:3 says that ALL His works were FINISHED from the foundation of the world. Isaiah is pointing them back to the “in the beginning,” God! The Eternal Father, Son, and Spirit who chose us IN Christ and blessed us IN Christ from before time began. The Eternal Elohim who saved us and called us with a holy calling not according to OUR works but according to HIS purpose and grace, which was given to us IN Christ Jesus before time began.

His purpose! He didn’t PLAN it, and then because of sin, we messed it up. NO! He PURPOSED it. Isaiah is pointing these Israelites (and us) back to the eternal dimension. He tells them later in chapter 46 to remember the former (first) things from eternity. Remember is to recall to mind, to recollect, to BEAR in mind the first things from eternity. They were bearing on their shoulders (their minds) the false image of who God was, a God separated from them, and ignoring their cries. But God says they are to bear in their minds that He is Father, Son, and Spirit (Elohim). To bear in mind that HE declared (made known) from the beginning, the end! And HIS council (His purpose) shall stand and HIS good pleasure He will do.

Isaiah is telling these Israelites (and us) that they’ve had a wrong perception of God. He could NEVER pass them by; He could NEVER ignore their cries. He’s telling them to look back, look in the eternal dimension and see who God is and who they are. And then Isaiah informs them (and us) that those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint. But we’ve read that with religious understanding. Thinking that all we need to do to get through these circumstances in Life (sickness, disease, lack, etc.) is to wait. Wait for God to deliver us, to send a miracle, to heal us. Simply WAIT and trust Him. But that’s not what Isaiah said. He used the word “qavah” for waiting, which means binding together. Intertwined. Bound TOGETHER with Father, Son, and Spirit! The Hebrew ancient root means to be confined or hedged in TOGETHER.

But we haven’t understood that. We’ve waited, and waited, and waited. When really God was saying I’m IN you and you are IN Me. We are bound together, eternally! NOTHING you could ever do or say could ever remove you from Me. I am not a far “out there” God who ignores your cries for help until you repent, beg for My forgiveness, and vow NEVER to sin again. NO! He is saying in Isaiah, “We are bound together in ONENESS!” He breathed His Life into mankind. Filling us with the FULLNESS of Himself into us and refreshed us… brought us to Life. His Life in us… intertwined and co-mingled in us. All that He has and all that He is IN us.

But we are not accustomed to the idea that all we are seeking is already embodied within us. This is the great mystery; that we embody within ourselves the FULLNESS of Elohim. Not just a portion of our Father, Creator – but the ALL-ness and the IS-ness of God. Christ’s spirit is within every cell of our bodies. Eternality and Immortality in every cell. Abba has always been trying to get His sons (all mankind) to “choose” Life… to awaken to ONE Life!

The church has been stuck in this way of thinking. We’ve carried around a false image of God for too long! The Augustinian paradigm still prevails today and has for the last 1500 years within Western Christianity – both Protestant and Catholic. And our foundational theology consists of a false image of God and humanity. Augustine gave us doctrines such as original sin and total human depravity, which he formulated because he read Paul’s epistle through the lens of his personal struggles with sexual temptation and sin. Augustine also gave us the doctrine of predestination, believing that all humanity was in a mire of sin and that God elected some to receive His saving grace. As a result of these erroneous doctrines, we have a sin conscious gospel based on works. It’s time for the church to have a paradigm shift.

We need to shift our thinking back to the “in the beginning” God, who is Father, Son, and Spirit. Karl Barth, when he redefined for himself and the church a further understanding of what Christianity is about, his point of departure was not Adam’s fall, not creation, or original sin, but rather the Trinity as revealed to us through Jesus Christ. With that as his beginning, he began to unfold what we understand to be the atonement and its significance. His particular paradigm was not a legal, external, forensic atonement but rather a relational atonement.

In this particular paradigm, the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ, as being both in Himself, God and man, becomes the controlling factor. It becomes our point of departure from which all our thinking and reasoning flows, instead of the closed system like the Augustinian paradigm, where human depravity triggers the necessity for the incarnation. This realignment of our thinking understands that from eternity past, there was an ETERNAL decree by God where God purposed to include humanity within the love and Life of a relational God… within the Trinity. Within the love shared between the Father, Son, and Spirit.

Contrary to popular opinion, judgment is not the basis of God’s dealings with us. Our inclusion has always been the basis of His dealings with man based on His eternal covenant of grace. Jesus came and revealed to us the Father, the one Father of us ALL. Not a God set in opposition against man. Not a mysterious, unknowable God. Not an absent God. But a Good Father. And Jesus came out of the heart of the Father to make Him known to us. His coming was not triggered by man’s sin and fall but was the original intent of the Father, Son, and Spirit. And out of the overflowing abundance of Elohim’s (Father, Son, and Spirit’s) love and grace, there arose a desire to express this relationship with others to include others in their circle of Life. We have often viewed grace as a commodity that is now available because of what Jesus has done for us. And this grace is available ONLY because of that and ONLY on certain conditions… a conditional grace. But Grace preceded creation.

Genesis 6:8 says that Noah FOUND grace in the eyes of God (Yahweh). It doesn’t mean that God bestowed grace on Noah because of anything he did. Verse 9 says that Noah was righteous and blameless. Not because of anything he did! Noah FOUND grace, saw into the eternal realm, and saw that he was righteous and blameless (Ephesians 1:4). And he walked with God. He walked like Jeremiah said, in those eternal paths, the good way and FOUND grace. Grace isn’t a New Covenant idea; it is an eternal reality. Noah walked with Grace Himself with the One who loved him from eternity past. Noah saw himself through the eyes of Grace Himself.

We need to get back to a stable, sure foundation that God is Love! 100% pure Love! Not love AND this that or the other. But wholly Love! He is a kind Father who reconciled us ALL, who draws us to share His eternal love and fellowship. And it is through Jesus that we may know that God is the Father, and as Martin Luther discovered, we may look into His Fatherly heart and sense how boundlessly He loves us because it was Jesus who declared to us that He was the only one that knew the Father. Jesus is the only one qualified to teach. He is God teaching things of Himself.

He is the Arche, which in the ancient world meant the absolute source. He is the Kephale, which means He is where knowledge of God begins as the spring is to the head of a river and the source of the river. Jesus and the Father know each other inside and out. They are mutually indwelling one another. There is nothing hidden. And then, Jesus said to his disciples (and all mankind) in John 14:20: In that day you will know that I am IN My Father and you IN Me and also I am IN you. Jesus was telling them they would for themselves know the reality of the truth of ONENESS!

The writer of Hebrews said that the knowledge of God Himself would be etched into our core being. God’s (Father, Son, & Spirit’s) being united with our being. And because the knowledge of God will be etched deep in our being, it is God who will teach us. And we will know firsthand the knowledge of God (Father, Son, & Spirit). It will be instinctive and intuitive rather than a rationally ordered system of belief laid down by those who claim to know. Those who teach on the nature of God, the knowledge of God, without having a strong foundation that is rooted in Trinitarian Theology. In the understanding of the ONENESS of Father, Son, & Spirit and our inclusion in that union.

Jeremiah, in chapter 6, verse 16 tells us to stand in the ways and see or perceive. See what God sees, see from His perspective. And ask for (or seek to understand) the ancient paths, the ETERNAL paths! Ask for the eternal paths, ask where the good Way, is and walk IN it. And you will find (to find what was lost) rest, or literally a resting place, for your soul, for your entire being! In Him is where we find the rest we lost. He is the Good Way!

In John 14:6, Jesus said He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man comes to the Father if not by (dia – completely, successfully through) Him. The preposition pros (translated in English as “to” in this verse) is a coming together in intimacy. It is our face to face intimate union with the Father IN Him. According to John 14:20, we already have that intimate face to face union with the Father. And He had just told them that He wouldn’t leave them, orphans, He would come to them. This verse isn’t talking about a 2nd coming. He came IN us… He is IN the Father, and we are IN Him, and He is IN us… complete ONENESS! The original purpose from eternity past!

And the eternal path was the path He tread from eternity past and FINISHED ALL for us. The writer of Hebrews said that we who believe that the works of God were ALL FINISHED from before time began, do enter into His rest! God never intended for any man to have a future tense experience in Life. And nothing about God’s dealings with us is future tense. Everything about His works is past tense, a FINISHED tense, from the foundation of the world! That’s important because it eliminates any idea of partiality or conditional behavior. Because it was ALL finished and He rested before there was anyone who could foul it up. What an extravagant expression of love and grace!

Jeremiah told these Israelites to ask for understanding regarding these eternal paths, and yet they said they would not walk in it. Jesus said something similar. In John 5, He told the Pharisees that they pore over Scripture presuming that by them, they would obtain eternal life, yet they refuse to come to Him to have life. Again, that preposition “pros” is used for our English translation “to.” They refuse to come to the understanding of their face to face union IN Him and have or embrace Life! The word “have” in this verse is “echo.” I like the picture that this word gives us. They were not willing to understand their intimate union with Him and echo Life! Rest is found only in our intimate union with God (Father, Son, and Spirit). And out of that, ONENESS flows out of us the echo of eternal Life… the echo of WHOLENESS… the echo of FINISHED from before time began!

I have friends in seminary school or who have gone to seminary and studied Theology and yet miss this vital foundational truth of ONENESS. Their theology is still one of works, of doing to BE, of doing to become more holy, more obedient, more faithful, etcetera. Always striving to please God and to be in His will. Understanding God and themselves (and all humanity) from a position of works, a position of separation, and a position of lack of “not enough.” Rather than seeing Him as Father and themselves as sons made in His image and likeness and not understanding their ONENESS with Father, Son, and Spirit.

Theology is simply God knowledge. John said, this is eternal life, that we may know (and keep knowing) You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. Know is “ginosko” and is an intimate personal knowing. The word only in this verse is “monos,” which means solely and alone. But the root of the word means to abide, to dwell! The eternal Life that we echo is a continual intimate knowledge of the Father, Son, and Spirit abiding in us, dwelling IN us. It’s the intimate ONENESS with the Trinity. God dwelling IN us, AS us, and flowing or echoing through us!

Jesus went on at the end of chapter 17 praying to His Father that the glory He was given, He has given to us that we may be ONE just as They (Father and Son) are ONE: Him IN us, and Father in Him, that we may be perfect or complete IN ONE and that the world may know that the Father sent Him, and has loved them (the world) AS the Father loved Him. How did the Father love the Son? Verse 24 in chapter 17 says He loved the Son from before the foundation of the world! Jesus is saying, “Father that they may intimately, personally know that you loved them AS You loved Me, BEFORE the foundation of the world.”

He said, “I want them with Me where I am so they may behold My glory because you loved Me from before the foundation of the world.” He wanted us with Him. Where? I used to think that meant after we die, we will be with Him in heaven. But this entire chapter is on our complete oneness IN Him NOW! So, where are we with Him that we may see His glory? Co-seated with Him in heavenly places. From this vantage point, we can understand that because He loved Jesus, He gave Him His glory from before time began, and His love for us is the SAME. He gave us His glory and loved us from BEFORE time began. Jesus went on a couple of verses later to say that He made known to them (and us) the Father’s name or His nature! So that the Father’s love (the “before time began” eternal love!) would be IN us and Jesus (I AM) IN us.

If the foundation of our theology doesn’t reflect God’s eternal purpose of ONENESS, of us IN the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and Them IN us, then we need to heed the words of Isaiah and go back to the “in the beginning” God and look at God more closely. We need to make the ONENESS of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and our inclusion in their union our point of departure for understanding the knowledge of God. Only then will we find REST. Only then will we walk in the WHOLENESS that is ours. Experiencing the newness of Life that Paul talked about, experiencing divine health, prosperity, nothing missing, nothing broken, complete wholeness in EVERY area of our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

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