MA Essay – Holistic Grace

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MA Essay – Holistic Grace

Holistic Grace was a great course! I love writing essays because it allows me to take what I’ve learned and delve deeper into Scripture. In other words, rather than parroting what I’ve learned, these essays allow me to look at Scripture that was taught in these classes and let Holy Spirit take what I’ve learned and go deeper still IN me. Malcolm Smith started this course off with this Scripture, 1 Jn 4:16 says, And we have known and believed the love that God has for (IN) us. God is love, and he who abides IN love abides IN God and God IN him. What a great verse. The love that God has IN us. In Greek, it says the agape which the Theos (Father, Son, and Spirit) echo IN us. I love that!! Love, Himself, echoes IN us! The next part of the verse says God is love. As I was looking at in Greek, what jumped off the page was – The Love that echoes God IN us. God IS Love! 

Abides is such a beautiful word that speaks of ONENESS. It is a word the Apostle John uses 34 times in his gospel, and 19 times in his letters. It is meno in Greek meaning to dwell, to be present. It denotes the permanency of something. R.A. Torrey says [Deep Bible Study: The Importance and Value of Proper Bible Study] that John uses the Greek word meno [to abide] in the same way that Paul uses oikeo [to dwell].  The root of oikeo is oikos meaning a house, tents, a dwelling place, the house of God, the tabernacle! It is the place where one has fixed his residence; one’s settled abode. The Hebrew equivalent of meno is yashab (also the equivalent for oikos in the Septuagint), which means to sit, to inhabit, to marry. The ancient root word is to press to the tent [dwelling place], to return, to return to the tent for rest, sitting. The ancient pictograph ישב (yashab – yod, shin, bet) is saying, when work (yod) is FINISHED, we return (shin) to the house (bet), to sit down (yashab) at the end of our day of labor! ALL is FINISHED! And we have returned to the house once again as sons in our awareness. And we are now SEATED with Him. ALL of our labor has ended… we rest IN Him, and He rests IN us. ONE! What a beautiful word! 

We have made verses about abiding as something we must continually do when in reality, it is about our union, our oneness. It’s about Him dwelling IN us and us echoing His life. Echoing His IS-ness and NOW-ness IN us here on earth. John was saying (1 Jn. 4:16) that we NOW intimately know and are completely persuaded of Love, Himself, echoing IN us that God is Love, and that Love is IN Us and that we eternally abide IN Him and He eternally abides in us… we are ONE. God is Love IN us and AS us, and His love echoes THROUGH us.  

We’ve made abiding conditional! Verse 15 says, “Whoever confesses (homologeo) that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides (meno) in him, and he in God.” But grace is unconditional! Abiding is unconditional! I love the Mirror Bible translation of that verse, For anyone to see and to say (homologeo) that Jesus is the Son of God is to awaken to the awareness that we are continually, seamlessly joined in oneness (meno). Abiding is a word of permanence, meaning continuing to be present! Abiding is a FINISHED word… not something we need to strive to do, or continue to do, or even remember to do! He just IS continually (eternally) present IN us, and likewise, WE are endlessly (eternally) present IN Him. And then John goes on to say in verse 17, as He is so are we in this world. 

Wow! When you take off the glasses of legalism that we have worn while reading these verses, and TRULY read what John is saying, it is easy to see the Father’s heartbeat for us. And it is easy to see that He looks and sounds JUST LIKE Jesus!! It’s easy to see His eternal passion for us! He IS the God who refused to be without us! Because God IS Love… He is Agape! Agape was not a typical literary word at the time of Christ. Agape is the essence of God’s being. It is unchanging, not a feeling, uncaused, and infinite. God loves us because of who He IS not because of who we are… He IS Agape, and therefore He loves us out of His FULLNESS. Out of His completeness, He loves us. Love springs forth from His IS-ness. 

I love John’s writings. He wrote what he heard the Spirit say IN him, echoing Love. He had gone from one of the sons of thunder to the apostle of love. Legalism had once drowned out the Voice of Love in him. But then he became aware of Love IN him, just like Jesus said he would (Jn 14:20). John, the beloved, leaned his head on Jesus’ breast. He leaned into the Voice. The Mirror Bible says he cuddled up in His love. And then the Voice became His voice, which spoke oneness. And he echoed the sound he heard describing man’s relationship with God (Father, Son, and Spirit)…. Oneness from before the foundation of the world! ETERNALLY ONE… mankind and the Godhead!

John, like Paul, had an eternal understanding of their relationship with God IN Christ. John begins his gospel with the words IN the beginning (en arche), echoing Genesis 1:1 IN the beginning (b’ reshit). Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born anothen (from above), revealing to him that Nicodemus’ genesis was from above. James tells us that from above (anothen) is where the Father of lights is. In Isaiah 40, God is talking to Isaiah about His people not knowing Him, and because of that, they are building false idols. Isaiah 40:21 says, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning (rosh in Hebrew and arche in Greek Septuagint)? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?” Jesus points Nicodemus back to the beginning (to his origin above), and God points Isaiah back to the beginning. 

Without going back to the beginning, we can’t have a proper understanding of who God is and who we are. We can’t have a full understanding of grace. So, John starts his gospel with, IN the beginning, IN the eternal place – the place not bound by time and space, was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John is not saying that Jesus and the Father were hanging out in heaven side by side, or WITH each other. IN the beginning, was the Word – en arche ēn ho Logos. IN the eternal place exists the Logos. The word exists (ēn) is imperfect verb tense. In other words, there never was a time when the Logos wasn’t IN the eternal place with God… even when He came to earth, He was still IN the eternal place with God. As ONE! 

The rest of verse 1 says, “And the Word (the Logos) was (exists – ēn) [imperfect tense again] with (pros – face to face!) God (Theos – Father, Son, and Spirit). And God was (exists – ēn) [imperfect tense again] the Word (the Logos).  John is describing ONENESS… the eternal union of Father, Son, and Spirit. This verse is literally timeless. It is the eternal, continuous existence of oneness of the Word and God. The incarnation is not the origin of Jesus (the Word, the Logos). He is I AM! ONE… IN God (Father, Son, and Spirit) IN the eternal realm (in the beginning). Honestly, that is just mind-blowing! It’s difficult to express in words what Holy Spirit is breathing into your awareness as you read those verses. English has no translation for Spirit breathed revelation at times. 

The Word WAS, IS, and WILL BE face to face WITH God! Mouth to mouth, breath to breath, such an intimate WITH-ness that is IN (a word that speaks of union, and rest!). When the Word stepped into time and space, He never left the eternal realm of IN… the eternal WITH-ness with His Father (face to face, mouth to mouth, breath to breath).  John 1:3 tells us that ALL came into being completely, successfully through (dia) the Word (the Logos, Jesus), and apart from Him, not even one thing came into being. Verses 4-5 say, “IN Him (the Logos, the Word, Jesus, God!) life (zoe) was (exists – ēn) [imperfect tense again], and the life (zoe) was (exists – ēn) [imperfect tense again] the light of men (anthropos – humanity). And the Light IN the darkness shines, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” I believe this is John’s account of Genesis 2:7 and man’s subsequent fall. 

Genesis 2:7 tells us that God breathed life into man. Here in John 1:4, we are told that IN the Logos, the Word that IS God (Father, Son, and Spirit) exists life and that life (IN the Father, Son, and Spirit) was (exists – ēn) [imperfect tense again] the light (phos – radiance; light in terms of what it manifests; In the New Testament it is the manifestation of God’s life) of humanity. Wow!! God (Father, Son, and Spirit) breathed life (Their life that was IN them) into Adam (mankind) and that life was and continues to be (imperfect tense!) the manifestation or radiance of God’s (Father, Son, and Spirit) life in mankind! The fall didn’t change that! Adam fell, and mankind after him (until the cross) walked in darkness (in their minds, in their understanding – Ephesians 4:18). Mankind ALWAYS had the life of God (Father, Son, and Spirit) IN them – His nature has always been our nature. But the darkened understanding that men walked in interfering with the manifestation of the radiance of God’s life IN them. 

But verse 5 says, AND the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness didn’t seize or overtake it (katalambano). Katalambano is an aorist indicative verb tense. Meaning it is something that absolutely, definitely happened in the past. In other words, “at one time in history.” The Mirror Bible says of Jn 1:5 that darkness was pierced and could not diminish this light.  Jesus (the Word, the Logos, God!) came to earth to show man what it looked like to reflect and manifest the life of God as sons. In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I AM the Light (the manifest radiance of God’s life) of the world, and the one following (co-walking) Me shall not walk (live life) in the darkness but will have (echo) the light of life.” 

The gospel of grace is the almost too good to be true news that will make a man jump for joy! John gives us this in his letter (his gospel). John is telling us that the Logos (the Word, Jesus) is the only place where we can trace our origin… IN the beginning. In the eternal realm of IN, the infinite realm of WITH-ness with God (Father, Son, and Spirit)… we have ALWAYS been IN an intimate WITH-ness with the Godhead… face to face, mouth to mouth, breath to breath, FILLED to fullness with the life of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, destined to walk as sons radiating or manifesting that life in the earth. Just like Jesus never left that realm when He stepped into time and space in His incarnation, we also NEVER left that realm when we stepped into time and space (being born). We just lost our awareness of it because we were taught something different! 

And I love verses 9 and 10 of John 1! Verse 9 says, “The true Light who gives light to every man was coming into the world!” There isn’t an exclamation point in this verse, but really I think there should be. Can’t you just hear the excitement in this verse… He’s coming!!! The true Light of the world is coming!!! Get ready!!! Can you hear the anticipation, the hope, the expectancy in this verse? The true Light, the King of kings, Jesus is coming into our world!!! It makes me think of an Old Testament type and shadow of the king coming into the field. 

In Jewish tradition, Elul is the month of the love song: I am my Beloveds, and my Beloved is mine. Once a year, in the month of Elul, in the Old Testament, the king would come into the field… into the everyday lives of the people. It was a prophetic picture for the Jews of The King coming into the field… into our daily lives. It was a picture of God’s unfailing love for mankind and His desire for an intimate relationship devoid of all the religious protocol. 

In Old Testament times, the king would leave his palace and go out among his people. Most of the year, the king lived in a palace protected by guards and iron gates. To have an audience, you had to be summoned, you couldn’t approach the king on your own, or you would die! And IF you were summoned, you first had to learn the proper protocol before approaching the king… you had to dress correctly, speak correctly, have proper manners, and your presentation had to be flawless! And then once you got to the capital, you were ushered to the palace through many gates, corridors, and antechambers that led to the throne room. It was an intimidating spectacle… even the Queen of Sheba passed out when she came before King Solomon. 

BUT once a month in the month of Elul, the king would come into the field. He would leave his palace and go out among his people. He would set up his royal tent in the field, and all who wanted to see him were welcome. And the announcement was made, “The king is in the field.” They were all welcome to come just as they were… no dress code, no protocol, no intimidation. The king received ALL with a smiling face and a radiant countenance, desiring to hear their concerns. 

2 Chronicles 19 is about King Jehoshaphat going out into the field among his people. Verse 4 says, “So Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem and went out again among the people from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim and brought them back to the LORD, the God of their fathers.” The king went into the field to turn the people’s hearts back to the Lord — restoration.  When Jehoshaphat went out among the people, he saw things God didn’t like…. injustice, bribery, and oppression. Jehoshaphat’s name means God has judged! When Jesus came into the field, it was also to turn the people back to God, back to the Father. There was injustice, bribery, and oppression happening in the form of religion among the people. There was oppressive protocol (such as sacrifices and offerings) in approaching God… His presence was veiled in the Holy of Holies that only a high priest could enter into once a year.  God was not allowed in the everyday, mundane life of the ordinary person. Jesus came into our world to show mankind that God is a good Daddy who had already judged them righteous, holy, blameless… judged them as sons! 

Another king who went out into the field is Melchizadek in Genesis 14.  Melchizadek gave Abram bread and wine and blessed him, saying: “Blessed is Abram by God and Blessed is God who delivered your enemies into your hand.” When Abram was weary from battle, king Melchizadek came into the field to strengthen and refresh him.  He blessed Abram. Jesus came into our field and delivered mankind from the enemy of sin and death. Delivered them from everything that hindered their wrong thinking about who God is and who they are. He came into our field and strengthened and refreshed us. 

He was the greatest King, the True King, who left His throne to come into the field was Jesus.  He lived in our field in a tent of mortal flesh.  He was God made accessible, smiling, and radiant to man in their everyday lives!!  He came to manifest the Father’s goodness, love, and righteousness… to heal and deliver ALL.  He came to draw us into every day, no protocol required, no religious trappings, unintimidating relationship with the Father. That’s what it looks like when the king is in the field.  He came and tore down the veil that religion had put up to separate man from God and God from man. 

So, John is telling us in verse 9 of chapter 1, “He is coming!!” I love the Mirror Bible translation of verse 9 – A new day for mankind had come. The authentic light of life that illuminates everyone was about to dawn in the world. Our calendars would forever from that point on divide history into before Christ and after Christ. BUT verse 10 tells us that His coming was not something new… He had ALWAYS been here in our world. Humanity just didn’t recognize Him in their lives. John 1:10 says, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him.” The word “was” is ēn or exists, and it is also in the imperfect tense. Meaning there was never a time He wasn’t in the world enlightening every man…. Sharing His life, exposing and overcoming darkness caused by the sin that Adam had introduced into the world.  He was always in our field!! But John said the world didn’t know Him, had no intimate knowledge of who He was. The Mirror Bible says it this way, Although no one took any notice of Him, He was no stranger to the world. He was always there and the Author of ALL things. 11 It was not as though He arrived on a foreign planet; He came to His own, yet His own did not recognize Him. 

So, if we can step out of our legalistic mindset and read these verses with the lens of beautiful grace that the Apostle of love writes them, we begin to see the eternal ONENESS that Jesus always had with the Father and that we have always had with the Father IN Christ. And we will see the beauty of our eternal sonship in verses 12 and 13. Instead of the way it has been taught as a do to become. Verse 12-13 in the NKJV reads, “But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” I think this Scripture has got to be one of the most blatantly legalistic, non-GRACE taught verses in the Bible!! 

We went from John’s beautiful words of grace… his beautiful words of eternal ONENESS, of the ageless, timeless WITH-ness face to face, mouth to mouth, breath to breath, of Jesus with the Father… to these two verses that begin with the word BUT! Not that John’s use of the word “but” was wrong, just our stopping at “but” and teaching it out of context of what John had been saying. Taking this BUT and made them a do to be… making it about putting OUR faith IN Jesus and THEN (and ONLY THEN) we can become children of God! THEN we become, as John Piper puts it, “a newborn sinner because the spiritual life is present but so is sin, and a whole history of sin!” I actually sat in a Bible study two years ago (it was studying Romans) and the teacher was reading Romans 8:28, we know that God works all things out together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. She was teaching that this promise, working all things out for the good, was only for “the children of God.” And not all were children of God, only those who put their faith in Christ. 

Oh, I thank God for these courses at GGS, classes that have awakened truth in me. Truth that has opened my eyes, to be able to read Scripture and here the eternal message of grace… the message of grace that was NEVER bound by time but was ageless. The news of grace, of ONENESS with God as divine sons, was not just a New Testament message but was present in the Old Testament and the gospels if you will but open your eyes and change your thinking (metanoia!). The message of sonship NOT dependent upon a prayer or an altar call!! 

I love the Mirror Bible translation of John 1:12-13. It says, “Everyone who realizes (lambano – usually translated receives) their association in Him, convinced (pisteo – faith) that He is their original life His name defines them, God gives the assurance that they are indeed His offspring, begotten of Him; He sanctions the legitimacy of their sonship. 13 “These are the ones who discovered their Genesis in God, beyond their natural conception. This is not about our blood lineage or whether we were a wanted or unwanted child; this is about our God-begotteness. We are His dream come true and not the invention of our parents. You are indeed the greatest idea that God has ever had!”

John is not saying ONLY those who put their faith in Jesus and receive Him as their personal Lord and Savior are NOW children of God and all others before that are children of the devil! He is saying that mankind’s indifference to their true origin (their true identity) is the problem. Humanity had forgotten who they were by design…divine ones, sons of God, image, and likeness of Him! Jesus came into our field to show us who we have always (eternally) been… to awaken us to our true identity! Jesus gave us the authority to become children of God. Authority is exousian in Greek. It is two words, ek meaning out from and eimi meaning to exist, to be, I AM. The word also means freedom, liberty, strength!! He came and gave us (didomi – gave what already belonged to us!) the freedom, the liberty, the strength to BE who we always were… sons ek eimi… sons out of I AM!! 

Contrary to popular opinion and false teaching, John did not say in these verses that our action triggers God’s ability to make us sons. We have ALWAYS been beloved sons!  The Message Bible translates these verses as, “He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. 13 These are the God-begotten, not blood begotten, not flesh begotten, not sex begotten.” 

Then John introduces the Incarnation in verse 14… the Word (The Logos, Jesus, God!) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as an only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. Interestingly, I have always quoted that as THE glory as THE only begotten (or the one and ONLY begotten) from the Father. But it doesn’t have the words “the” in the Greek. It says in Greek, doxan (glory) hos (as, in the manner of) monogenous (sole, only, alone + born, offspring) para (from) Patros. It says an only-begotten. Monogenous means begotten only by the Father and not by the flesh. John just said the same thing about US in verse 13. He said we are God begotten, not blood begotten, not flesh begotten, not sex begotten. The Mirror Bible says that Jesus came as the most accurate tangible exhibit of God’s eternal thought finding expression in human life. The glory we see is not a religious replica; he is the authentic begotten Son.

Jesus came and showed us God’s glory. He came revealing God’s eternal thought realized in human flesh, SONSHIP! He came and showed us what that looks like… what we look like in human form… divine sons, ONLY begotten (monogenous) of the Father… para Patros. Close beside the Father. The word para suggests union, a place of residence. And we beheld this glory FULL of grace and truth. Full is pleres, which means abounding in, complete, and completely occupied with… grace and truth. Grace and reality (as opposed to illusion). He came and showed us our true selves. Opening our eyes to the grace and reality of who we always have been… only-begotten sons of God (monogenous)! 

When John put pen to paper to write his gospel, these are the words that John chooses to show us God’s grace in verses 1-16. Sixty years after John last saw Jesus in the flesh, now in his 90’s he reflects on the mystery that was revealed, which transformed his life from an illiterate fisherman to a saint (Mirror Bible notes). John had gone from a son of thunder (seeing things in the fleshly realm) to the apostle of love (seeing  the eternal truth of mankind – that we pre-existed God’s logic, and whatever is true of Jesus is true of us.) 

John chose words that speak the eternal truth, the eternal reality, of the beautiful grace of God…. of our ONENESS with Him IN Christ. Of this shared life, we have always had with Him… never separated, never not born of Him, but always WITH – face to face, mouth to mouth, breath to breath. His life, His light, His nature IN us. We just never recognized it, and so the King came into the field… into our world… to show us who we always have been. 

The Bible, when taught correctly, isn’t about God, and it isn’t about man – it’s about God and man together – ONE! He is our very life, our very atmosphere in which we live and move, and He lives and moves IN us, AS us, and THROUGH us. His love is so boundless, so limitless, SO FULL, that He couldn’t keep it to Himself. As Malcolm Smith said, “That is the WHY of creation – that we should be IN union with the Father, through the Son IN the Holy Spirit.” This is the passion of the Father…  it is His glorious message of grace!! And the Incarnation is the ultimate revelation of His grace – the FULL revelation of grace. It was not an emergency fix to mend Adam’s sin; it was the purpose before creation – He was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. Mankind was designed to be IN union with God – even at the physical level. It’s the way God intended us to live. Our life is to be lived from the abundance of life and the zoe life we were created to enjoy. To enjoy the limitless freedom of knowing and being known by God as sons! This is His message of GRACE!

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