Thursday, April 6, 2017

The empowering of the Spirit

How does the Spirit empower us. He awakes our spirit by revealing to us the beauty, majesty and glory of God, which arouses in us affections for God (which increase over time as we see more and more of his glory 2Co 3:18).

Why does our beholding God in his glory arouse affections?

To say it succinctly, we are in God's image. This in large part means we are relational like God. 

But what is it about us that is like God and what does this have to do with our capacity for affections? To answer this we must first know what God is like. 

We are told God is love. But this begs the question of what exactly is love and 
why is God this way.

Let's break it down.

Love is essentially valuing something to such an extent it stirs up affections for that which is valued. We are attracted to it/them. The reason affections are stirred is because the object of our love/affections matches up with and meets in us our desire and need for being valued and loved. To be able to value something (God) we have to have the capacity to value it. There must be a corresponding quality in us that enables us to enjoy his glory/value. 

This is true of us because it is true of God first i.e. it all starts with God.

God is the most valuable, worthy, glorious, beautiful etc. being over and above all other beings/things. 

The Son who emanates from this most beautiful Father is his express (exact) image, Heb 1:3; Col 1:15; John 14:6-10. i.e. His only begotten (eternally imaged forth) Son. 

This means the Son is equally valuable, worthy, glorious and beautiful as the exact representation and perfect image of this all beautiful Father. To say it succinctly and biblically, He is God the Son. 

Now as the Father beholds this exact and ***perfect image of himself he values this image above all else (since there is no one else more beautiful, majestic and worth adoring then the majestic and glorious God), resulting in affections for this perfect image of Himself which is also (equally) most valuable, worthy, glorious, beautiful; equally God. 

God being the most valuable and worthy of adoration loves the perfect image of himself, his only begotten Son, resulting in praise, adoration, joy and happiness in the Father beholding his Son. 

His Son in turn responds back to the Father, the most valuable, worthy, glorious, beautiful source of love and life, reflecting this love back to him.  

This is referred to by many past theologians as God's beatific vision i.e. a vision of loving/valuing the most lovely/beautiful, which creates affections of joy, delight, pleasure, bliss and happiness in beholding that which is most valuable/beautiful/ glorious etc.

This beatific vision is so passionate and "solid" it is considered by some (Jonathan Edwards addresses this possibly more than other past theologians) to issue forth into the distinct separate and eternal person of the Spirit (passion/love/affection) of God. Each of these persons are one in essence (i.e. one God), you distinct in their own understanding (awareness of self as a distinct being and awareness of others) and will

The Spirit of God is the very Spirit of passion/love expressed between the Father and Son as they gaze upon the beauty of the other. The Spirit of God is the very heart of who God is. We are told that God is Spirit and he is love i.e. both. These attributes of God are inseparably connected, if not synonymous (though they are distinct and separate at the same time, as mentioned above). 

In order for us to behold and enjoy this beautiful God, we too had to be like God with the ability to behold and enjoy him in all his glory in the same way the Father and the Son behold, love and value each other. As God's created image bearers, our sense of value, worth and glory is bound up in and dependent on beholding and participating in God's value, glory, majesty etc.

Yet, we have a problem

When we turned away from God (and turn away now) and launched out in rebellious independence from God, we disconnected from him, our source of life and love. We died spiritually i.e. our beholding, receiving, participating in and responding to the God of infinite love and beauty was lost. It was not God who rejected us. We rejected him (and still do) thereby cutting ourselves off from Him and his infinite love and beauty. We no longer experience the joy and bliss of participating in the unobstructed **love and life of God. Our connection (relationship) was severed (or more correctly we pulled away and severed it [broke it...died spiritually] by acting in rebellious attempting to be our own god [our own self sustainer, if you will]). 

But the capacity for enjoying love and life was not lost. In other words, we still are designed for, desire and need infinite love. This is who we are; these desires/needs did not disappear. They still exist and are fully intact. This is evident by our constant effort to replace this missing love and fill it with something, usually anything "within our reach" other than God. 

We can not operate without a sense of value, love, relationship, meaning, purpose etc. We are made for love (i.e. God) and must have love. It is hard wired into our make up by God himself. To use a biblical description we are made in his image...we are like God who receives and gives love. So much so that when someone feels totally worthless or looses hope of experiencing a sense of value/meaning/love, they end their life. 

Absent the true and lasting source of life and love, we now seek to meet that desire in or through created things instead of the Creator of those things since we rejected the Creator and no longer directly (consciously) receive love and life from this Creator and true Source of love, life and all created things. We go for the next best thing, *his creation (Rom 1:20-23). 

We now have an infinite (insatiable) void from the absence of infinite love i.e. God himself (which explains why we are ever seeking to fill it). All our efforts are now an attempt to replace the Source of this infinite love, now absent and missing (and missed), with whatever we can "get our hands on" i.e. creation. No just creation externally but the gifts we have within us; our skills and talents as well as the capacity (our 5 senses) to experience and enjoy the external joys and beauties of the creation all around us. 

Our capacity for love is infinite because the source of that capacity designed to fill it  (and did at one time) 
was and is infinite. 

So back to the original question. How does the Spirit empower us? 

When the infinite love of God comes to dwell within us again as His Spirit, he reveals to us the beauty of God (demonstrated in and through Christ), awakening and stirring up our love (affections) for him again. The more he reveals God's beauty, the more we are stirred up and attracted to him. The more we are attracted, the more we desire him and are moved (empowered) to pursue him in faithful obedience causing us to experience Him even more in his infinite love. This increases more and more as we draw nearer in increasingly greater faithful pursuit of him i.e. in loving, trusting obedience. And this in turn fills us so we desire others to have what we have i.e. that love we all seek. We want others to know this God and his infinite love too. This too is part of being in his image...the desire to pour forth love (which we do when we are filled with love from the source i.e. God). 

In short the love of God poured out in us by the Spirit of God moves (empowers) our faithful pursuit of God who calls us to share this with his other image bearers. 


* This includes our own God given and created internal abilities to utilize the external creation all around us.

** Some argue that the life of God is the love of God i.e. That which enlivens and moves God in all he is and does is his love. God's life consists of the love between the Father and Son, expressed and bound together by the Holy Spirit (the holy passion of God). 

This is also suggested in Christs prayer in John 17 and particularly verses 1-5; glory being the manifest display of this love and life. 

***We too are in God's image. However unlike Christ, who is the perfect and eternal image of God, we are created image bearers. Nevertheless just as God values the image of himself in Christ, so too he equally values his image in us. 

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Grace to you
Jim Deal