Friday, July 26, 2019

The Freedom of Man for God

1. The Holy Spirit the Subjective Reality of Revelation
Jesus Christ objectively reveals God’s freedom to be for us. Our freedom to be for God is a reflection of this. We are free for God when we faithfully obey him. Yet according to Scripture our faith and obedience are both God’s gift to us.

God does not mouth general truths to people in general. God’s revelation in Christ has its own objective particularity and to this corresponds a subjective particularity. Part of this subjective particularity is that we may be members of the Church without being hearers of God’s revelation in Christ, but we cannot be hearers of that revelation without being drawn by it into the Church. The Church is the place where Christ gathers those he calls and where those he calls gather to praise him as their Lord.

The Church as such is the subjective reality of revelation. Jesus Christ objectively took our sinful nature into unity with his divine nature and in doing so made it holy. Because of this we may participate in his Church as people made holy despite our sinfulness. As those made holy and gathered by Christ, we live no longer for ourselves but for Christ. Living for Christ, we are united to all others similarly gathered by Christ.

Having spoken of the Church’s origin through, for, and with Christ, we may now describe the character of the Church. The Church is characterized by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. By the power of the Holy Spirit, our ears, minds, and hearts are opened to the Word of God written and proclaimed in such a way that we are able to hear it and do it. But this means that both the objective and subjective reality of revelation, both the lordship of Jesus Christ and our personal acknowledgment of it, exist for us only because God so desires. We neither deserve to have such a gracious Lord nor cooperate with God in coming to acknowledge that lordship.

2. The Holy Spirit the Subjective Possibility of Revelation
We are made holy in Christ, we are gathered by Christ into his Church, we hear his Word through Scripture and proclamation and do it. By being so, we live as his brothers and sisters and therefore as adopted children of God. But the fact that we are his adopted children is the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore we properly acknowledge the Holy Spirit as the subjective reality of revelation.

We are free for God, we faithfully obey God’s Word, only as we are taught that word by the Spirit of Truth which always accompanies it. We may be free for God, then, only through the outpouring of God’s Spirit. We may live in freedom for God, first, because the Holy Spirit frees us to hear God’s Word. Second, the Word we hear tells us we hear it only by the miracle of God’s grace and not through any possibility of our own. Third, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word becomes our ultimate and inescapable master. But, while all other authorities weigh us down with responsibilities, we may only participate in the work of Christ when he gives us the forgiveness we need and can’t earn. Our freedom for God, then, is finally our acknowledgment that Jesus is the one in charge and that whatever matters to Jesus is all that matters to us.

Copyright © 2019 by Steven Farsaci.
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