Saturday, March 03, 2012


(This is the final post in the series, Our Savior, the Abider)
Previous two posts:
Who's Your Daddy?
'Perichoresis' by Derrick

Perichoresis - To "dwell," to "abide," to be "with God."  It is the flow of "resources" (John 8:44) from the Father which fund the truth-promises of Jesus Christ.  In a community, perichoresis is mutual-permeation of the Father's love, strategies and interests.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus displays His perichoretic relationship to God and then invites His disciples to widen their own flow of the Vine, through Himself.  It culminates in John 17:21,
...that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us...
In the first two posts we considered the faithfulness of Jesus Christ in contrast to Satan's betrayal. "Knowing God" was meant to be an eternal affair and Jesus called this affair, "eternal life" (John 17:3).  What we have not yet examined is how perichoresis is received by community.  Limiting this post, we will examine only the first stage of response, which has no capacity for hearing the truth. *

Those Without Ears to Hear

Joseph's brothers were all sons of the same man Jacob, but Jacob and Joseph had a special connection.  Joseph was determined to see righteousness be done.  Jacob called Joseph "my son" (Gen. 45:28).  It was the source of trouble in the family, feelings of disunity.  At first it seemed easy to blame Joseph as the disturber of the peace.  Even Jacob was troubled by his proud prophecies of greatness (Gen. 37:10).  But it was the brothers who left Joseph for dead, not the other way around.  They might argue that because Joseph held the righteousness card in the one hand, he couldn't have also held the unity card in the other hand.  He held both.  In fact Joseph even named his children to represent healing over his family (Gen. 41:51-52)!

This man channeled massive power from God through his servanthood.  (For more on Joseph, read the post titled, "The Ignore-Accuse Prison".)  Pharaoh plainly observed the value in making him second in command over all Egypt.  Pharaoh gave him the name Zaphenath-Paneah which means "one who reveals secret things with ease."

In another previous post, "Learning Life," we saw Mary drinking in deeply the presence of Jesus when everyone else saw it as a moment to be busy.  Martha's rebuke on Mary doesn't amount to suffering; nevertheless in a small form that is exactly what is going on.  In a later chapter we see Mary able to read "the signs of the times."  She pours on Him a year's wage of perfume for anointing His burial.  Exclusively she foresaw He was about to die.

"Son" in the Old Testament

Does perichoretic intimacy last?  "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:26).  Those who are familiar with the New Testament are accustomed to reading the phrase "son of God."  But "son of God" is so rarely used, in the Old Testament!  I wonder.  It may be because, excluding angels (Gen. 6:2), there were so few!  Isaiah 51:18-20,
There is no one to guide her among all the sons she has brought forth; nor is there any who takes her by the hand among all the sons she has brought up.  These two things have come to you; who will be sorry for you?— desolation and destruction, famine and sword— by whom will I comfort you?  Your sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, like an antelope in a net; they are full of the fury of the Lord, the rebuke of your God.
Early in the history of Israel, she was called "my son."  Exodus 4:22-23,
Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Israel is My son, My firstborn.  So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me.
Matthew reviews the lineage of Jesus Christ calling Adam "the son of God."  Luke 3:38,
...the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
By the grace of God, God calls Adam and Israel and even born-again Christians "sons" before they have ever proven themselves to live up to the calling.  He gives us our identity anachronistically, before its time, to show His kindness to us, to show that perichoresis, the flow of God's grace, is the means by which our identity as sons becomes son-like in-deed.

Children graduate into sons through abiding belief in the promised Seed, Jesus Christ.  Galatians 4:1-7,
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.  Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.  But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
Witnesses involuntarily witness whoever they have been spiritually intimate with.  A son characterizes his father.  The Hebrew word "son" and the Aramaic word "son" are not theologically vacant words.

"Son" in the New Testament

We have the same theological arrangement in the NT as well.  Romans 8 says every believer is already adopted in the Spirit in verse 15,
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
And then speaks of the adoption as not having happened yet, conditioned upon our perseverance in verses 23-25,
Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.  For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
We are sons by gracious design.  We are sons indeed if we appropriate it into how we live [1].

Prophecies of Greatness

Being a son was rare enough in the Old Testament that when they saw it, most loved their own lives more.  It's not as if there were not "sons" in the OT.  Moses, David, Abraham, Joseph....  Israel by and large does not understand that as much as they study these prototypes of the Messiah, these were all rejected in their day because of their close association "with God."

Wherever perichoresis becomes incarnate, it incarnates as the servant not the ruler.  Sonship is not just servanthood.  It is also rulership.  This is why God's servants are accompanied with divine appointments, power, signs, miracles....  "The one who rules is the one who serves."

Dreamers Die for Community

Sons don't care about earthly status quo, at all.  They only care about serving the will of the Father.  It is the impartial way they devote their whole life.  Some people think that this makes a Christian very careless toward God's people, but the secret is, the opposite is true.  Hebrews 1:1-3,
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person
His Son, is, the image of God.  Genesis 1:26, 27,
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.... So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Man, is, the image of God.  To be the image of God, is to be a son and to be a son is to be the image.  Do you see this?  Jesus is Adam as he ought to be, as we can be, and in a portion, how we will be.  How wide the divide -- between mankind and God?  Romans 8:29,
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Setting sonship aside - this is the divide - and it eternally wide: Jesus is in essence deity, a true son; the only begotten at that.  We are not essentially deity, of course; we are adopted.

Jesus lives as a Son, and He invites man to the same. The day man gains ears to hear, man will fulfill the oneness of John 17:21.

Perichoresis Has a Price

The Pharisees wanted to do the violence of divorce.  They still do to this day.  Malachi 2:10, 16
Have we not all one Father?  Has not one God created us?  Why do we deal treacherously with one another by profaning the covenant of the fathers?  ...  For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence....
They wanted to end their relationship with Him once for all. They wanted to kill perichoresis so badly, that they wanted to kill him.  Their belief system was religion without sonship.  Religion, without adoption. Religion without transformation.  They don't believe in it.  They don't believe a man could get that intimate with God, because they have tried to obey God and have violated their consciences beyond repair.  This is notwithstanding believers, who oftentimes lose their taste for deliverance from sin.  "Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all" (Gal. 4:1).

The religious will use their religious rules, tragically interpreted from the mouth of God, to justify their departure.

God 'With Us' is the Testimony of John

The title "Son" is used 39 times in the Gospel of John, and it is the common way Jesus refers to Himself in reference to the Father.  It is the summary of His identity upon which he invites Nicodemus in chapter 3 to believe.  Nicodemus must be born literally "from above," just as the Scriptures teach in Galatians 4:6,
but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
It is what He meant when He spoke the most famous passage in the bible: "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:17).  It is why He invites the blind man to believe in "the Son of God" in John 9.  It is why Jesus taught, "Therefore if the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed" in John 8.  It is why Jesus told them to prepare for the world to hate them also.  All of the signs and miracles and power that Jesus demonstrated invited believers to become great in the Kingdom of God.  Hence the final invitation in the Gospel of John writes like so in John 20:30-31,
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
Do You Believe in the Son of God?

There is so much of the image of God reflecting in fallen man, that it makes no sense to praise God and curse people (James 3:9)!

The things that partner with God we long for in our souls; "He has put eternity in their hearts" (Ecc. 3:11).

Do you want a Father who is willing to bust His butt to prove that He is knowable through sons (John 14:11-14)?  I hope that, amidst all the trials you may have in being set free of sins, you still believe God wants to deliver you from bondage, through the intimacy of knowing God and being filled by Him and being ministered to by His amazing grace.  Nowhere does it say that we have to be perfect instantaneously.  A great life's legacy is to ongoingly receive God's forgiveness and patience.  Don't give up on righteousness as the final destination. God is looking for Christians who stay in a perichoretic relationship with God till they're taken home.  We imitate our short life's version, of Christ's "forever."   This is the design for so many NT passages conditioning perseverance.  Revelation 21:6-7,
I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.  He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

*   For a framework depicting the stages of reconciliation between Jesus and His people through the Gospel of John, keep watch for upcoming posts.

Scene from Jesus of Nazareth the Movie, in an extended interpretation of John 7:45-52 & 11:46-53

[1]  Dillow, Joseph C.  Life in the Spirit.  Reign of the Servant Kings: A Study of Eternal Security and the Final Significance of Man.  Hayesville, NC, Schoettle Publishing Co., 2006; pp. 368-371.  

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