John Gavazzoni
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Faith as Appropriation?
By John Gavazzoni

When checking several online dictionaries for the definition of "appropriation," I found that they had a number of different meanings or applications within a number of fields: art, law, budgetary legislation, etc., but among them all, one definition seemed to be somewhat generic. It's most essential meaning is to take possession of, to take hold of for personal or professional use. Within the tradition of western fundamentalism's devotional literature and preaching, one often finds it used to describe what faith is intended to do in respect to what is available to the believer within the sphere of God's grace in Jesus Christ.

It is often illustrated in various forms of the following: We have an incorruptible inheritance stored up for us in heaven---a deposit of God's riches in glory by Christ Jesus, a sort of bank account that one can write spiritual checks against. It is in such a context that "appropriation" is used. All the good stuff that is ours in Jesus Christ is held in a heavenly checking account for us, and faith accesses that account by checks drawn upon the account. Without that act, or those acts of appropriation, divine provision has only potential value. By faith-appropriation we, in effect, release the potential into our lives. I remember the popularity back in the 50's of the related expression, "possess your possessions." We have spiritual possessions that we need to possess. Has a nice sound to it, doesn't it? Rhythmic. I could compose a nice little devotional chorus-ditty on the theme:

"Possess your possessions, don't let them go to waste. Possess your possessions, they're there for you to take. Without appropriation, they valueless will be, Until by your decision, you set their value free."

OK; so I'm not a great lyricist, but I think I'm on my way to exposing a subtle distortion of true Christ-centeredness. Are God's grace-provisions dependent upon an act of appropriating-faith on our part, or does God make Christ to be to us both His all-inclusive gift, AND the reception of the gift? Well, I'll answer the question right up front. In a word, yes, He is both the gift and the gift's reception. How can this be? To understand how, we have to grasp the principle that Christ, AS God's gift to us, is inclusive of all that pertains to God's giving of Him. There can be no giving without the corresponding receiving. The gift doesn't hang around awaiting our decision to receive.

When the Holy Spirit reveals the gift to us, we receive. The two---the giving and the receiving---are in the administration of God one seamless, divine act. The presence of the gift only awaits the Father's time to present it to our hearts. It does not await our decision to appropriate. Some, in a given time, are granted light to see the gift for what it is. Some await another time, but until then their darkness does not allow them to see. He came unto His own and His own received Him not, but some did. Deep within, those were the ones who were made to see that they belonged to Him, and thus they followed the One to whom they belonged.

There is no such thing as God revealing to you His gift, but you rejecting the gift. All rejection arises out of a darkened heart which cannot see the gift for what it is. Not receiving the gift means that you've not been enlightened to understand its value, but once enlightened, the light that reveals to you the nature of the gift is the same light by which you receive the gift. The light doesn't merely show us our need to receive, the light effectuates our reception. In the darkness, we reject; in the light, we receive. As a whole, those with darkened hearts could not see Him as He was and thus they received Him not; but yet within the whole were the elect of that given time. They saw, they heard, they followed.

We have to trace this back to the eternal and eonian relationship between the Father and the Son. As the Father, who has life in Himself, gives the Son to have life in Himself, He actually gifts Himself to the Son. Intrinsic to the Father's gift of the fullness of Deity to the Son, is the Son's reception of the Father. The impetus of receiving lies within the giving. One of the metaphors for receiving the gift is "to come to Christ." To come to Christ is to receive Him as God's gift to us, and Jesus explained how it works: "All that the Father gives to me shall come to me, and him who comes to me I shall in no wise cast out." The Father gives us to Christ and we come to Christ = the Father gives Christ to us and we receive Him. Any other notion of the relationship of giving and receiving is without scriptural support.

What has happened between the Father and the Son is resident in the Son as God's gift to us. He has become to us the gift and the reception of the gift, for He not only has the perfect giving and receiving relationship with the father, He has, as the Life-giving Spirit, BECOME the relationship to be shared with us. When He gives Himself to us, we have in Him both the giving and receiving of the gift. The Son has become to us that which is His relationship with the Father. We don't get spiritual "stuff" from Jesus. He's all the stuff. "For of God are ye in Christ Jesus, who is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption." He is made to us; He has become to us the whole kit and caboodle.

Is it right(eous) to receive God's gift. Of course, to receive the gift is as right as the gift itself, and Christ is that rightness---He has become righteousness to us, including the rightness of receiving all the provisions of God's love and grace. In us, Christ is all that pertains to a right relationship with God. He justifies us within, which simply means that He makes us right with God, which means that He abides in us with His consistency of receiving from the Father. Right here; right now at this point in our article, we peer into the mystery of God: Jesus only does those things that He sees the Father do. This pertains not only to acts of the Father, but to what is behind His acts. The Father is always receiving from His own infinite supply of Deity, so that by that holy reception, His Fatherhood is all-sufficient to the Son's needs. In turn, Jesus receives from that abundance within the Father to be all to all His brethren. The development of this relationship not only is in the Son, but the Son IS the relationship to us.

The occurrence of the development is the communion of the Father and the Son. That communion is the life of the Godhead, and He that hath the Son, hath (that) life. So don't worry about getting your appropriating act together. Forget the notion that the giving is up to God, and the receiving is up to you. Some rejoice that only the receiving is up to them. Not me. I know that even if only the receiving end is left up to me, I'll screw it up. When anyone says "yes" to receiving Christ, or says "yes" to any portion of what is theirs in Jesus Christ, it's not them saying yes, it's Christ in them. Pardon this illustration, but it might help you to understand what I'm talking about, if you can think of a pitcher and a catcher in a baseball game. Well, God in Christ is simultaneously the pitcher and the catcher. In us, He throws and He catches. Christ is the Beginning and the End. He finishes what He begins, which means when he sets in motion the giving of Himself to us, He completes the motion in its reception.

Gal. 2:20 encapsulates what is on my heart to share: By Paul's testimony we are led to understand that all living which is genuinely unto God is not our living, but Christ living in us. Do not allow into your thinking any separating out of any element of that living. Separate out nothing so as to make it yours to do. Turning to Jonathan Mitchell's translation of Paul's exultation, we get the full force of its message: "I was crucified together with Christ [=the Messiah], and thus it remains (or: I have been jointly put on the execution stake in [the] Anointed One, and continue in this state), yet I continue living! [It is] no longer I, but it is Christ continuously living and alive within me! (or: no longer an "I"--now Christ constantly lives in the midst of, and in union with me). Now that which I, at the present moment, continue living within flesh (=a physical body), I am constantly living within faith, trust and confidence---in and by that [faith] which is the Son of God (or: in union with the trust and confidence that is from God's Son [with other MSS: in the confidence belonging to God and Christ]), the One loving me and giving himself over to another for the sake of me (or: even transmitting Himself, over my [situation and condition]; or: also passing Himself along for me).

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