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« Living the Relationship-Driven Life | Main | The Relationship under the Old Covenant »

The Relationship under the New Covenant

It is impossible to overstate the profound impact of the advent of Jesus Christ.  He lifted the gates of empires and tossed them aside.  Through Him, every strata of society underwent a fundamental shift. His pervasive influence ran through, seeped into and encompassed the whole of culture.  Pundits and historians all agreed that Jesus is the central sun in the human solar system.

 “Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander the Great, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, he shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of school, he spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times.” Philip Schaff.  H. G. Wells said, “I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.”

The above quotations represent a minute portion of written commentaries about Jesus.  Perhaps no one in history has occupied the attention of writers more than He.  It is no wonder, then, that believers who have invested their lives into Jesus Christ have found that this one relationship has eclipsed all others, indeed has altered all other relationships.  This now becomes our primary pursuit, because Jesus is the key to a meaningful life.  Since we have looked at our relationship with God prior to and under the Old Covenant, let’s now get a feel for this relationship under the New Covenant.  The launching pad for our pursuit is the same as the one for the Old Covenant:  who is Jesus, what did He do, and how does He change our lives?

Who Is Jesus?

First, we must deal with the prevailing opinions of Jesus Christ.  A major flaw in the conventional view of Jesus is that it is far too superficial.  We must see Him as more than the only begotten Son of God.  We must see him as more than the second person of a contrived trinity.  He is more than the Messiah or the Savior.  We most certainly need to see Him as more than a good teacher or the founder of a religion.  In order for us to truly know Him, we must understand Him as the human manifestation of the invisible God.  Admittedly, this seems strange to those who have embraced the “orthodox” doctrine of Christ.  To many, it may seem like we are “splitting hairs.”  But as we progress in our study of our relationship with Him, we will find that a shift in the identity of Jesus Christ makes a huge difference in how we interact and commune with Him. 

Several passages of Scripture form the basis of the original, Apostolic view of Jesus.

John 10:24-30 (NKJV)  Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”  Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.  But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  I and My Father are one.”

The Jewish reaction to this statement shows that they understood what Jesus was saying and they were outraged. 

John 10:31-33 (NKJV) Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.  Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”  The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”

Later, Jesus reiterated this revelation in response to the questions of his disciples. 

John 14:8-14 (NKJV)  Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”  Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.  Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.  “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.  And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

The Apostle Paul, articulates this position in an archetypal verse to the Colossians.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NKJV) As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.  Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.  For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

Many other passages or references to this plenary view of Jesus Christ may be seen throughout the Scriptures.  He is called the Creator, the Lamb, the Arm of the Lord, the Forgiver of Sins, the One and Only Potentate, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, just to name a few.  These appellations alone should serve as an introduction to the majestic personage of Jesus. 

Modern Apostolic theologians have written extensively about the divinity of Christ.  Dr. David Bernard, General Superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church, International and President of Urshan Graduate School of Theology says, “The doctrine known as Oneness can be stated in two affirmations: (1) There is one God with no distinction of persons; (2) Jesus Christ is all the fullness of the Godhead incarnate.”1  He further points out, “One of the clearest themes of Scripture is an uncompromising monotheism.  Simply stated, God is absolutely and indivisibly one.  There are no essential distinctions in His eternal nature.  All names and titles of the Deity—such as Elohim, Yahweh, Lord, Father, Word, and Holy Spirit—refer to one and the same being.  Any plurality associated with God merely relates to attributes, titles, roles, manifestations, modes of activity, relationships to humanity, or aspects of God’s self-revelation.”2

Dr. David Norris, Professor of Biblical Theology, Urshan Graduate School of Theology writes of the response of another oneness theologian to this question, “How would I be better off; what difference would it make if I believed as you do?”  This question goes to the heart of the theme of these pages: the overarching value of the God-relationship.  This was the answer given.  “If I had to reduce it down to one thing, I would have to say that what this kind of understanding of Jesus Christ means to me, as opposed to any other, is that it’s not just about ontological distinctions … making incarnational sense of the flesh and Spirit.  What it comes down to is this; I love God incredibly because He did not send another; He came Himself.  He felt my pain, He knows my grief, and He paid the ultimate price for my sin.  And when I think about that, then, well, all I can say is that I love Him for it.”3

While the flesh of Jesus Christ became our mediator to atone for our sins, our subsequent relationship with him goes beyond that act—indeed, it builds upon that redemptive act—to lead us into the purpose of God in atoning for our sins in the first place.  Calvary was God’s means to restore our original relationship with Him.  It is the same as the relationship of a wedding to a marriage.  Just as a wedding is the vestibule to marriage, so also does the remission of sins and the new birth qualify us to begin a beautiful, satisfying relationship with the Bridegroom!  The revelation of Jesus Christ’s full identity only begins at salvation.  It is so much more.

1 Bernard, David K. Th.D.; The Oneness View of Jesus Christ; Word Aflame Press, 1994

2 Bernard, David K. Th.D.; The Oneness View of Jesus Christ; Word Aflame Press, 1994

3 Norris, David S., PhD.; I Am: A Oneness Pentecostal Theology, Word Aflame Press Academic, 2009

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