John Gavazzoni
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The Gavazzonis'

A Balanced Faith
By John Gavazzoni

Let it first be understood that faith, as a quality and/or element of a believer's spiritual experience in the context of our new covenant communion with God is none other than the faith OF Christ within us. Contrary to pseudo-orthodoxy's notion that there is on one hand faith, as in trusting Christ as Lord and Savior, and on the other hand, what they call THE faith, as in a creedal body of confessed truth. The New Testament knows no such distinction of meaning.

The faith-dynamic of true spiritual life is strictly a participation in the Son of God's faith in His/our Heavenly Father. According to Paul, as per his instructions in his Epistle to the Ephesians, we grow spiritually together, as the body of Christ, unto the full stature of Christ, by sharing INTO both the faith of the Son of God, and the knowledge of the Son of God. This distinction must be maintained for an accurate understanding of the faith-dynamic of true spiritual life. This is at the heart of the truth that we are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.

True faith is most certainly a subjective experience, yet within that subjectivity, there is a complementary objectivity. The Son of God's faith is based upon His knowledge, which has at its heart an unshakable self-identification: "Before Abraham was, I AM." Yet that subjective self-identification cannot stand without the element of objectivity within the subjectivity, as the Son, in Oneness with His Father, knows the Father as objectively other than Himself. In a word, Jesus' affirmation of Oneness with His Father included the "and" factor. "I AND the Father are One."

Deal with it dear saints, you who insistently hold to what amounts to an adolescent understanding of Divine Oneness: Divine Oneness has an "and" factor. The Father is relationally Other to the Son, as the Son is relationally Other to the Father, for without that relationship of Otherness within the Oneness, the Father could not be a father, and the Son could not be a son.

A father cannot be a father without a son, and a son cannot be a son without a father. (Forgive me, but I must say, "well, duh"). The Oneness of BOTH traces to the Being out from which all relational Personhood proceeds.

The only Oneness that the New Testament knows is the Oneness inclusive of Anotherness. With subjective Reality, the Son objectively and eternally beholds, knows and communes with the Father within, and in that beholding He finds the Ground of His self-identification. To repeat: In the inward, yet objective beholding of the Father, the Son realizes the Divine Nature as the Ground of His self-identification.

I made sure above, to include "eternally," lest we erroneously think that such a communion related only to our Lord's aionion life. That eternal Reality extended into our Lord's earthly, aionion existence, BUT in the transference of the eternal Kinship into space-time creaturehood, the element of objectivity takes on an aionian character. The Word which became flesh was God, AND was WITH (toward, as in facing, or face-to-face) God. Dare I resort to laboring the point by declaring that God's Oneness includes Withness. Yeah, I know, I love to invent words.

That eternal relationship, transferred into time in the incarnation, took on a special character which included the characteristic of, in His sharing of our creaturehood, the necessity of objective reference points that were integral to Him growing "in favor with God and man." Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord, in His Divine Humanity, GREW spiritually. It is clear, is it not, that He, as the Babe in the manger, was not, at that point, fully aware of who He was?

"He was in the world," in the world that had all kinds of actual physical, objective instructive, guiding reference points that spoke to Him of His Father's love, and above all things, it was the scriptures which provided for Him, a cohesion of faith's objective factors within the aion.

Is it not clear that a knowledge of the scriptures, with the history of God exemplifying His salvific character in how He related to Abraham with His/his SEED in view, was integral to our Lord's self-identification? The scriptures were vital to, not only His ministry to a Holy Writ-oriented culture, but also to His own aionian spiritual maturation.

Consider that those Jews, with whom He conversed in the temple in that occurrence of Him being separated from Joseph and Mary, would not have been amazed at His wisdom as a child, if He, as a Jew, had not referenced the scriptures as He spoke with them, and is it not noteworthy that in one of His most instructive resurrection appearances, He explained Himself to those two disciples on the road to Damascus from all the law and the prophets?

Today, there arises again, as in days past with a certain cyclical accentuation, though in some measure, it has always been among us, a gross mishandling of the very objective scriptures by which Jesus was helped to learn of Himself, and which He called upon, along with His teaching and miracles, to authenticate Himself to others.

There is abroad again, an audacious picking and choosing among biblical texts to dishonestly claim proof for that which really stands in opposition to "the faith and knowledge of the Son of God," and that, with a very distinct spirit of snobbish superiority.

Of course, it is true that the Holy Spirit must make the Bible Spirit and Life to us, but if we lose the conviction of the Bible's centrality among those things written and spoken of God, we drift into an unbalanced subjectivity that leaves us in the land of spiritual vagueness.

It may require very painful consequences before many come finally to realize that, in what amounts really to an abandonment of scripture as integral to defining what we mean by "Christ," they will end up in a spiritual fog, having drifted from the uniquely and normatively inspired record of Him, namely, the scriptures, which lead us to an accuracy of focus on THE Person in whom only can we "know as we are known."

"We have an anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll. Fastened to the Rock which shall not move. Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love."

That "Rock," of the "Savior's love," must be a defined Rock. That which is without definition is meaningless to us existentially. We require definition; else-wise we flounder in a fog of non-defined and/or ill-defined words and concepts, without an anchor, and thus set adrift into the sea of vain (futile, worthless, useless) imaginings.

Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, those who at best, had comparatively little of the same degree of Holy Writ-orientation as his Jewish brethren, nevertheless referenced the peculiarly Jewish scriptures in His heralding of the good news in Jesus Christ, and in his follow-up instruction to Gentile converts.

"For God THUS (better translation than "so") loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son....." That's how God loved the world, in the Person of, and in the giving of His Son. There is no way to understand fully the love of God unless we yield to God's "thus," to God's Way of loving, and without the complementary objective aid of the scriptures, we have at best only a fuzzy understanding of love; of how, in what way, God loved the world.

Even if we postulate that finally, requisite true objectivity is to be found in seeing and affirming the Truth in one another, we are still dependent on the scriptures to fully explain and help us to understand ourselves, and one another in Truth. Though I "came to know the Lord," almost 56 years ago, I now realize that I actually barely came to know Him in that initial experience of His saving grace, and whatever growth there has been in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ in this child of God's life, owes to spiritual input from influences always eventually traceable to "it is written."

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