The truth in Jesus is his relation to his father; the righteousness of Jesus is his fulfillment of that relation. Meeting this relation, loving his father with his whole being, he is not merely alive as born of God; but, giving himself with perfect will to God, choosing to die to himself and live to God, he therein creates in himself a new and higher life; and, standing upon himself, has gained the power to awake life, the divine shadow of his own, in the hearts of us his brothers and sisters, who have come from the same birth-home as himself, namely, the heart of his God and our God, his father and our father, but who, without our elder brother to do it first, would never have chosen that self-abjuration which is life, never have come alive like him. To will, not from self, but with the Eternal, is to live.
This active willing to be the Son of the Father, perfect in obedience, is that in Jesus which responds and corresponds to the self-existence of God. Jesus rose to the height of his being, set himself down on the throne of his nature, in the act of subjecting himself to the will of the Father as his only good, the only reason of his existence. When he died on the cross, he did in the torture of the body of his revelation what he had done at home in glory and gladness. From the infinite beginning he completed and held fast the eternal circle of his existence in saying, “Thy will, not mine, be done!”
Truth Is Relationship
by Dave Roney
“But ye did not so learn Christ; if so be that ye heard Him, and were taught in Him, even as truth is in Jesus: That ye put away, as concerning your former manner of life, the old man, which waxeth corrupt after the lusts of the flesh.” (Ephesians 4:20-22)
We often speak of how a man relates to a certain thing; when we do we are actually saying what relationship he has with it. We will speak of objective truth now, not as an outward but as an inner thing, as a part of man, as his portion of a relationship the other portion being located in God.
The creation in Christ is predicated on Truth, and truth is one of the Divine attributes which forms a facet on that great gemstone which is the Love of God. There can be no love except it be true, a thing which every jilted lover understands, every friend betrayed, every child whose heart has been broken by a promise not kept. There can be no such thing as trust apart from truth, no logic could exist except there be truth upon which to build it, the entire fabric of interpersonal relationships depend upon the truth. But how do men understand what truth is? Aristotle, in his “Metaphysics,” put it thusly:
“To say that that which is, is not, and that which is not, is, is a falsehood; therefore, to say that which is, is, and that which is not, is not, is true.”
He based this truity and falsity on what he described as “reality,” but that reality was what he perceived in the sensate world and left unquestioned; for he never asked the question behind all others; what is ultimate reality? For Aristotle, and therefore the Western world even down to our day, truth is understood as an external standard against which a thing is measured. This was the thinking of the Jews in Christ's day, the pagan Romans as well; it is patently insufficient to satisfy the deepest probe of a man, for every person knows if only intuitively that truth must be more than a standard to pursue; it must be a quality innate; it is behind Pilate's unanswered question “What is truth?” Did he not know truth as a standard? Were not his judgments predicated on such truth as he understood it, at least as his pagan “reality” described truth? Did he not go against his own conscience when he turned Christ over to be crucified? The conscience is the first weak albeit undependable evidence of at least some truth in a man rather than a concept lying outside him.
Think what manner of man it would be to boldly declare without reservations “I AM The Truth!” No one, before nor since Christ, ever made such a claim; but how can He, in utmost integrity, do it? There is but a single way. To other men Truth is a sterile, outward, inflexible standard against which all conduct and conversation is measured; in Christ alone is ultimate Truth personified. That is, in Him the Truth is no feature but is as visceral and indigenous within His being as is His very life, and is in fact life to Him. This Lord does not evaluate Himself according to the standard of truth, against any Aristotelian reality, but measures all things by Himself; truth is truth and reality real only as they are congruent with what is eternally replete and intrinsic in our Lord.
But if this ultimate Truth be no standard for our Lord, if it is alive within Him as He is alive, then we ask the same question as did Pilate; what is truth? And here we discover that Truth is, being a live thing, becomes its own standard, that it is measured against, and only against, its own self; and that Self is a Person—it is Christ Jesus—but Christ Who is The Truth looks only to His Father, Who is likewise Truth, and the two communicate in the same Truth. Therefore, Truth is, being Personified, described only and best as a Relationship. It is in a man the congruent communication within himself that what he is, is, what truth is; and this is a portion of what it means “In His image created He them;” for what is capable in a man is first existing in God—the man being truth to himself, and then to his neighbor, following after the image of God, Who is first Truth among His Persons and then to all which He has made and has life in it:
“The truth in Jesus is His relationship to His Father; the Righteousness of Jesus is His fulfillment of that relation.”
Does He not say to us that He shares with us His own Divine nature? And, since He is Truth and cannot lie, then it follows that if He said it He is also doing it. Therefore, after the model which is Christ, and Self-abjuring as we pursue and embody our great Example, does it not follow that for those who believe, are faithful, who are obedient, that The Truth Whom He IS not only lives the life of Truth in them, but that they also by degree are becoming that Truth themselves? Or, do we give a nod to the fact of our relationship with God through Christ, but not realize that by the very definition of the word is inherent the qualities of relationship, among which is, namely, Truth? I would not have it, because God would not have it, that there would be one manner of truth for men and another for God; in relationship there is commonality of like qualities. Else, how can two walk together except they be agreed?
We must rise above the thinking that Truth is an outside-the-body standard and turn to believe it is an internalized relationship between we who are becoming more the truth and He Who IS Truth. By becoming what God in His essence is, our lives are being transformed into that which is Divine; for in that case we putting away Self and are coming into a larger and larger share of the Divine nature. It is an alien thought, one which the world at large still cannot grasp; this God is like no other “god,” and is doing—has already done through Christ—that which is unthinkable; He is calling us in the world, the creatures He has made, His children, and by our Atoner reconciling the world to Himself. It is, for the believer, ultimate “reality,” far more than the philosopher ever conceived; and it is nowhere possible except God became a Man, the Truth in Heaven brought down to be the Truth on earth, in the person of Jesus for us; we meet the relationship with our loving Father because Christ Jesus first met the relation, doing so perfectly:
“Meeting this relation, loving His Father with His whole being, He is not merely alive as born of God; but, giving Himself with perfect will to God, choosing to die to Himself and live to God, He therein creates in Himself a new and higher life; and standing upon Himself, has gained the power to awake life, the Divine shadow of His own, in the hearts of His brothers and sisters, who have come from the same birth-home as Himself, namely the heart of His God and our God, His Father and our Father, but who, without our Elder Brother to do it first, would never have chosen the self-abjuration which is life, never have come alive like Him. To will, not from self, but with the eternal, is to live.”
In closing I must say that in this life we will never become the ideal, for unlike our Lord there remains too much of Self in us, a miserably thing we must constantly put to death. But we are able, through submission, to begin to live more of the Truth than before. To the degree we do it, and we each know it in ourselves, whether we will to do The Will of God or not, is our barometer, sponsoring and answering our question; “How much of The Truth is in me, am I so far become?”
This “active willing of the Son of the Father” must become our active willing; as He was and is “perfect in obedience,” so must we endeavor; for “in Jesus” there is found that perfectly “which responds and corresponds to the self-existence of God;” it must be our own self-sacrificing self-ideal. Let me put it another way; there is but one reason for our very existence, and that is to subject our will to The Will, to in every case brought before us to utter as did our Lord “Not my will, but Your will be done.” And to the degree we are submitted to God, forgetting Self as did Jesus, we will discover more and more that same Truth, the Truth residing in the bosom of our Savior, is in us, not merely a governor over us, but that our very essence is becoming the Truth of God. This is Life itself, and the better we do it, the more such Life becomes for us Abundant...
To Mirror Christ
by Dave Roney
"In Him was Life..." (John 1:4)
(A.)— “The truth in Jesus is His relationship with His Father;”
(B.)— “The righteousness of Jesus is His fulfillment of that relation.”
As to (A.)— When our Lord declares “I am the way, the truth, and the life” it is to say “I am the Way to the Father; I am all the Truth of the Father; and in Me is all the Life that is in the Father.” And it is upon that basis that He further states “No man comes unto the Father except through Me.” Christ is the Grand Predicate Who defines in superlative detail all concerning whom the Subject, God our Father, actually IS. All which Jesus ever does is point men to the Father; and to do this well He must be the express image and exact representation of the Father; thus, “The truth in Jesus is His relationship with the Father,” for He and the Father are “one.” And it is on that foundation He, in the 14th of the Gospel according to St. John, continues: “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.”
As to (B.)— How is the Righteousness of Christ to be measured? Only by the uncompromising Standard which is all that is found in His Father! The Father sees Him and finds Him to be Faithful and True, thus speaks of Him, saying; “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased: Hear ye Him!” And the hearing is not that of the outer ear but the inner one, of the heart; nor is the hearing some passive reception of words which please only, but by hearing is meant “Believe Him!” which is practical only as we “Obey Him!” The ears of clay, those of the Pharisee, perceive Him by their understanding, and regard Him only according to their misshapen religion; they will take no action, no steps in His direction; they are those who, hearing, do not hear. And the Pharisees are still with us.
I say He must be measured, for He is measured by God; and we must also measure Him as do all men everywhere when they learn of Him. Even Christ demanded it. To the Pharisees He asks; “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” On the way into the region of Caesarea Philippi He asks His disciples “Who do people say I am?” then became specific; “But who do you say that I am?” As far as I have been able to determine God has never once asked any man to make what is known as “a leap of blind faith.” He, in Whom there is no darkness, has always provided sufficient light by which a man may trust Him, and the unfolding revelation of that Light reaches its zenith in the indelible blaze of Incarnation. If God desires that a man fully turn his will and life over to Him, be sure that He has first provided that man with the revelation of Himself necessary for it: If God's great desire is for the unfettered and fully restored relationship with each of His children, how shall He better show and prove it than this, that “The righteousness of Jesus is His fulfillment of that relation.”
God has created us in His image, and that image runs far deeper within us than we are commonly given to understand. Think now of old Adam in his original setting; he has all things good surrounding him, and more than all else he has the direct, perfect, unbroken presence and fellowship of his Father there in the Garden. Yet, and who would think it, the man Adam is still unsatisfied, disquieted, unfulfilled; there is welling up within him a loneliness which he doesn't understand, and nothing, not even the presence of God, is able to quench it. He is incomplete: His need is for an Eve. God has given him everything he requires except this one thing, which He reserves until the last, when the man has gotten past his infatuation with the created surrounding, when his inner need has been heightened by uncharted longing; and then the Lord creates his Eve, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. Adam's need has been for relationship, quite specifically for relationship with one “after his own kind.”
And in this Adam reflects the image of Him by Whom he was made. For, God Himself created all things and had fellowship with them, but could never have the close, personal, burning relationship He desired, yea, needed. He must have a creature with whom He could share His divine nature, could call His child, could deify, upon whom He as Father could lavish all His enduring affection and upon whom He could dote. He is the great Father; He must have children to love. The Father's Son, likewise, is a child alone, without playmates, save His Father give to Him those to whom He will be Elder Brother.
This is why God created man in His image, and why He could not create Him apart from that image; He was compelled to do it for the sake of His great Love, and the need in Him to be loved in return by a creature as much like Him as a good God could create, a creature to be a son or daughter, a child with whom He could have relationship in righteousness. If any, having been taught that God is “eternally self-satisfied, in need of nothing” doubt this, let that one ask certain questions. Why, then, would God create anything at all? He is not bored, obviously, does not need toys to play with. Why would He love this creature, fallen and broken, so much that at any degradation, any cost, any humiliation, He should lovingly and willingly go to any, to every, length to reconcile, restore, and bring fallen man back into right relationship with Himself, Father and children, by the unthinkable sending His Son the Christ to die the Ransom to make good the Redemption? Why would He create a creature sentient and expose Himself to the harm and hurt made possible by the potential self-will of that creature? Why would He not wipe away the very worlds and refashion the cosmos an entirely different way? There is but a single answer: We are from all eternity the very beloved children of our Father Who loves us with an incredible, indefatigable, endless, shoreless, inexhaustible, timeless Love Divine.
“The truth in Jesus is His relation to His Father; the righteousness of Jesus is His fulfillment of that relation.” Christ Jesus had the relationship with His Father of Sonship; the righteousness of Christ Jesus is proven by His faithfulness to all the endearing demands of true relationship with the Father. By His obedience Jesus has shattered the wall of partition separating the children from their Father; He has both opened the great way to the Father's heart and is that very Way Himself.
Now, in closing, we are brought to a question concerning ourselves: If the relationship between Father and Son is secured by the Righteousness of the Son, His faithfulness, His obedience, His self-abjuration and the pouring out of Himself to do The Will of His God and ours, His Father and ours—and if we are created in the Image of God, called upon to reflect and be “like” Christ Jesus (which is for us the chief part of that “image of God”)—then we must ask ourselves: Are we obedient, righteous, doing what things are incumbent upon us to also have and maintain this great and distinguished relationship with God, the very thing for which we were created? For, in another place, we have afore learned that they are not His (i.e. not in the right relationship) who hear but them that do, are therefore obedient; and also the caveat; “How shall we say we are His disciples if we do not the things He commands?”
It is by love, by unswerving obedience, by the putting to death of all self-will and desire that Jesus has established the pathway, The Way, of Life for us, and has, in the process, for He is The Truth, Himself become to us life, The Life, apart from Whom there is only death: The Way; The Truth; The Life. By His example we know that we are “to will, not from self, but with the Eternal,” and for this right purpose God has given us a will, a will to do all the good we are able, and thereby to truly live:
“This active willing to be the Son of the Father, perfect in obedience, is that in Jesus which responds and corresponds to the self-existence of God... When He died on the cross, He did in the torture of the body of His revelation what He had done at home in glory and gladness. From the infinite beginning He completed and held fast the eternal circle of His existence in saying, 'Thy will, not Mine, be done'.” (From today's reading)
“It is no selfishness, it is giving Himself unto us: "I in them, and they in Me, that we may be one." God wants us all to be just with Him as His own kind, and less than that will not satisfy God, and cannot satisfy us.” (From MacDonald's sermon titled “Know Christ,” delivered July 24th, 1887, and published in “George MacDonald in the Pulpit")