Understanding "In Christ" and "Christ in Us"

The Inaugural Essay gave an outline of the Symbiotic Thesis, which states that what is known as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer at conversion constitutes, in reality, the forming of a symbiotic relationship where the Holy Spirit (Deus) lives within the human (Homo) host, in a permanent, intimate, and potentially beneficial union.  The implications of this are so great that more scriptural support for it is necessary so that unbelief gives way to faith, and from there to action.  While writing those supporting essays, I kept running into the problem of inconsistent word usage by the Apostles (Disciples+Paul) that made it more difficult to establish the thesis and explore its consequences.  I will discuss the main problem in this essay and propose a resolution that, frankly, I did not expect myself.  If you have not read the Inaugural Essay, go do itNow.  This essay will make no sense if read apart from that one.  I mean it. 

As mentioned in the Inaugural Essay, I believe that one must take special care when it comes to handling the Scriptures.  All modernists critical of the Bible always use the Output of Science to focus on (seeming) conflicts between Science and the Bible, mostly with the intent of debunking the latter.  In short, Science is used as a microscope under which the Bible is placed.  In contrast, this website uses the Bible as Science and Engineering INPUTS to the scientific and engineering methods being employed: the Bible becomes part of the optics of the microscope under which the human condition is placed.  I take the position that the Bible, being true, has the same status as the constants in the CRC Handbook, and need to be treated as axiomatic.  Certainly some interpretation is required due to differences in vocabulary between our day and that of the first century, and we are dealing with the tax collectors, revolutionists, and fishermen of the ancient world, but such interpretation would be indistinguishable from the selection process that judges which constants and which mathematical methods to employ when attacking an engineering problem.

 Thus, if I find a passage that seems critical of the Symbiotic thesis, I have to take it seriously, analyze it more closely, and deal with the seeming discrepancy.  I have found that an honest effort yields fresh insights, as well as reconciling the verse to the thesis.  The more of these there are, the stronger the thesis becomes, especially if a simple re-interpretation, a different way of looking at the text, is all that is required. 

Consider the following text, which comes from Ephesians 3:

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now, this passage is fairly straightforward sounding: the bolded text states that it is Christ that dwells in our hearts by faith.  However, the text with the grey backgound in verse 16 that precedes it is also a straightforward statement that needs hardly any interpretation if we view it in light of Symbiosis.  The only way to evade the implication is to damn it by calling it a proof text, implying that anyone trying to take it literally is a clueless amateur unable to really extract the "nuances" of this verse that only those privileged ones who have a Theology degree are capable of doing.  The "proof" is the fact that I am interpreting the text as if it actually meant exactly what it says.  In support, the Theology degree-holding "geniuses" (of the modernist persuasion) will cite the bolded text in verse 17 and point out that that proves that this entire passage is metaphorical.  Jesus Christ is clearly "That Christ" in verse 17.  How can it be said that Jesus dwells in us when he came in the flesh (bodily and physically) and later ascended to heaven?  Thus, these geniuses tell us that verses 18 and 19 are to be understood metaphorically, not literally, and are "really" an appeal by Paul for us to participate in Christian brotherhood, and that's all there is to that verse.  Shut up and listen to your betters!

In short, when we encounter phrases that imply that we are "in Christ" or that "Christ is in us", it is being recommanded that they be interpreted metaphorically, which means only part of the passages apply.  The problem now becomes who is qualified to determine which parts of the metaphor really apply, and which are "incidental".

The Limits of Metaphor

I pointed out in the Inaugural Essay that I initially viewed the symbiosis of Deus/Homo as a metaphor for that indwelling, and sought to determine the "limits" of the metaphor, but did not find any.  By "limit", I mean that an aspect of the metaphor is contradicted by Scriptures or has no support because an alternative interpretation is taught.  When that aspect of the metaphor is uncovered, the metaphor is said to "fail".  For instance, the metaphor of the Church as the Bride of Christ fails when one asks whether the Bridegroom has sex with his Bride (real bridegrooms do), and whether they have children (many real couples attempt to do so), and whether the Bride as Mother nurses the child (many real mothers do).  These aspects of the metaphor cause it to fail because we cannot find any scriptures that can be reasonably interpreted to support that Jesus, in the role of Bridegroom in the metaphor, does any of these things to the Church, which is the bride in the metaphor.  Paul used the metaphor to emphasize the necessity of the Bride being pure when presented to the Bridegroom.  John the Baptist used it to emphasize the importance of Jesus (Bridegroom) relative to himself (Groomsman) when it came to those who believed (Bride).

Another example of a metaphor that crashes and burns in spectacular fashion is that of the Trinity, whose "members" are named Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The leader of the Moonies proclaimed that the Christian trinity was incomplete because Father and Son implies a family, and the Mother is missing.  He then proclaimed that he had come to complete the "Trinity" of Father, Mother, and Son.  He naturally named himself as the Father, his wife as the Mother, and their somewhat stout child as the Son.  The mystery of the Trinity (a word not found in the Scriptures) is something that gives me headaches when I think about it, but it was Jesus who chose the words "Father" and "Son" to describe the nature of the relationship between himself and the Deity to whom he prayed: the source of failure is due to the metaphor being woefully inadequate when trying to describe the natural history of a being like Deus.  Despite the inadequacy of the labelling, Jesus felt strongly enough about what the metaphor did imply to acknowledge being God's Son to the Sanhedrin, thus committing blasphemy in their judgment.  I think it needs an operational treatment, which is the intellectual tool that Physicists reach for when all other methods of describing reality have failed.  (If you are using operationalism to approach a subject, you have not reached the bottom of the physicist toolkit barrel.  It IS the bottom of the physicist toolkit barrel.  If it fails you, there is nothing left to bring to bear on the subject.)

This discussion of metaphor is to emphasize the fact that metaphors have limits.  A metaphor is when you mentally apply your knowledge about one independent entity to help you understand another independent entity.  The metaphor fails because the two entities are different, having some properties that are the same and some that are different.  When teaching electricity, many textbooks appeal to plumbing as a metaphor, seeking to create a mental picture where the behavior of electrons in a circuit can be understood in terms of the behavior of water in pipes.  Ironically, when teaching plumbing, the textbooks appeal to the behavior of electricity in wires as a metaphor that helps one understand the behavior of water in pipes!  Each can serve as a metaphor for the other.  However, the metaphors have limits: water in pipes do not kill you in the same way that electricity can, so it would be fatal to treat electricity as if it really was like water in all respects.  At some time, the textbooks must stop talking about plumbing to start talking about electricity because electricity is not plumbing.

Thus, if I was going to use symbiosis as a metaphor for the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, then I had to find the limits so that, if any were fatal, I could warn my hearers of where the metaphor failed, so they wouldn't have false ideas and be led into unwise actions.  However, if Symbiosis is not a metaphor, but the actual thing that the Holy Spirit is doing, then an entirely different set of problems arise if we continue to treat it as a metaphor.

To illustrate this, imagine an absent minded professor or instructor who walks into a classroom and starts teaching by using plumbing as the metaphor for electricity.  As he proceeds, the students become more and more puzzled.  The professor becomes irritated: How could these people not understand plumbing? 

Then he realizes that the class IS the plumbing class. 

What was the professor's problem?  He thought he was teaching electricity, assumed that the students needed help in understanding it, and used plumbing as a metaphor.  However, the students were not learning electricity, but plumbing.  Their reality was being taught as if it was a metaphor, and not the real thing. 

Why would there be confusion while the professor was using the metaphor?  Because good teachers use phrases like "in the same way", "like", and "is similar to", to ensure that the metaphor (plumbing) is distinguished from the thing being taught (electricity).  They are code phrases that a responsible teacher would employ to remind their students that the metaphor is not exact and is intended as an aid to understanding the real thing.  However, if the thing being used as a metaphor (plumbing) is actually that thing being taught (plumbing), then all those "code phrases" to distinguish the two are not only unnecessary, but are a distraction. 

Another point of confusion is a bit more subtle: if we're using water and plumbing as a metaphor for electricity, then there are some aspects of plumbing that do not apply to electricity, and to avoid confusion, we'd have to say that "those parts don't apply here".  That is, there are parts of the metaphor that are "incidental" when applied to the target of the metaphor.  However, if we mistakenly apply plumbing as a metaphor to itself, then all the parts apply.  The parts that we say "don't apply here" when it comes to electricity DO apply when it comes to plumbing, and saying that they don't will cause confusion and as much misapplication of the lesson as taking a metaphor too far.

Thus, we see that metaphor in scripture is a sword with two edges.  We are familiar with the edge that warns about taking a metaphor too far, and  I cited just two examples at the beginning of this page.  I would think that a lot of the "heresies" and "schisms" in the Church come from not rightly dividing the word of truth by fixing excessive attention on a specific metaphor and taking it too far into inapplicable areas.  Rightly dividing a scriptural metaphor means figuring out which parts apply and which parts are incidental.

However, there is the other edge, which is declaring a reality a metaphor:  Because it is known that some parts of a "metaphor" do not apply, declaring a reality a metaphor allows someone to say that something that is part of that reality is "incidental".  If that "incidental" is actually a critical part of the metaphor, then the whole point of using the metaphor to teach that critical point is lost, as well as the critical point needing to be taught.  If it is discovered that the teaching is not metaphorical, then all the points could be critical, including the one declared to be "incidental". 

If I was using Symbiosis as a metaphor, then where the thesis conflicts with scripture, it can be passed off as incidental if I have problems reconciling it.  However, if Symbiosis is no longer a metaphor, but regarded as real, then the conflicting scriptures need to be addressed with more effort.  They may require the thesis to be rejected, returning it to being a good metaphor.  They may require a new way of looking or dividing the scriptures, which may be good or bad, depending on how it is done.  It may require tweaking how to apply Symbiosis, which is a good way of improving how we teach it.

Thus, you see why I hesitated when it came to transitioning from "Symbiosis is a metaphor of ..." to "Symbiosis is ...": There is potential for heresy that must be guarded against.  But there was a potential for seeing truths that had been hidden because they had been ignored because they were dimly understood in those days, and thus are considered "metaphorical incidentals" today.

And once you see a truth, you have to follow it, no matter where it goes.

Is it Real, or is it Metaphor?

The modernist "geniuses" that declare that most of the cited passage from Ephesians 3 are metaphorical forget that the Apostles knew that Jesus had taken great pains to outline the arrangements he was making concerning his departure from earth to heaven, of which the following passage from John 16:4-15 is one of many cited in John's account of the Last Supper.  It contains details that I think will help us with this problem:

4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? 6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.  7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

The span of the passage from verse 7 to 15 has to do with the Holy Spirit and how it interacts with the believers.  Let's take each verse in turn:

12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

"Bastazo", the greek word translated "bear" here, means to carry something, and also embraces the logically preceeding act of taking the object up.  If we didn't realize something that was said, or did not understand the implications of what was said, we might say "I didn't pick that up" or "I didn't pick up on that".  The usage of the word here does not imply that the knowledge Jesus would have imparted would have mentally harmed or crushed them.  Rather, they simply would not be able to understand what was being told to them.  It would not fit into any mental categories that they possessed.  A good example of this was Jesus trying to tell them of his crucifixion in advance.  They understood the concept of crucifixion, but to really be mentally prepared for that event required that they accept the concept of the Messiah dying for sins.  Their mental category for Messiah made him out to be a victorious conqueror and restorer of the Davidic Throne and Kingdom, not a suffering servant dying for the sins of the world. 

Another way to look at this is to liken a mental category to a role in a familiar play, with the character's words and actions mapped out in everyone's mind.  The behavior of the character is mapped out in "a script" to the point that there is a mental image of what the character "should be like".  There is a certain amount of leeway in the way an actor can play the character, and the really great actors extend the boundaries of an established character (Hamlet, Shylock, Falstaff) within the parameters of the script that make people say, "Isn't he a a great Hamlet.  I didn't expect the way he delivered his lines in the second act, but it made so much sense!" 

However, even a great actor has limits on how much they can push the script: straying too far from the script or the common perception of the part being played will earn catcalls and rotten fruit, not kudos and roses.  "That's not in the script!" when said of an actor is a statement that the actor went too far.  That's what happened with the disciples: the warnings were meant to mentally prepare them for the event, but when it happened, they had not "picked up" on the implications, leading them to cry "That wasn't in the Messiah script!"  Jesus understood that the required mental categories required to understand what he wanted to tell them either were deficient or non-existent, so he did not waste time or breath to tell them what they could not "pick up" at that time.

This concept of the mental categories of men not permitting them to understand what is told them or comprehend what they experience is one that I will bring up in other essays, because it is this very thing that has caused many problems that will require some cleaning up if we are to proceed forward.  For instance, if something is not completely understood, one is unable to communicate it accurately or act upon it fully.  Such a one would create confusion, not comprehension.  By not even trying to convey the ideas, Jesus avoided the future creation of a confused record of what he said, making matters worse.  Even then, there are problems: the New Testament writers speak of the mystery of the Gospel, meaning that there were aspects of the Gospel that did not fit into the mental categories of their hearers.  These hearers would call the Gospel a "mystery", while we would call it "a failure to fit within their mental categories".  If Jesus had gone ahead and told the disciples those "many things", then the disciples would have called it a mystery, and doubtless would have bungled the transmission of those "many things" to others.  Calling something a Mystery is a signal that "the idea did not get across" from the speaker/writer to their hearers/readers.  True education, and the goal of the Apostles, was to get the Gospel across so that there was no mystery.

3 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:

Jesus says the same thing in John 14:26.  In 1 John 2:26, John likened the Holy Spirit to a teacher, who conducted his teaching so competently and thoroughly that no human intervention or education was necessary.  

These verses pack so much, it would take a separate essay to do them justice.  For the present purpose, I will restrict myself to noting that there are at least five things implied in this verse.  Firstly, it confirms the belief that the "many things" are truths that are comprehendable, not emotionally unbearable. Secondly, it teaches that the Spirit of truth will communicate those truths.  Thirdly, it fixes Pentecost as the time when the transmission of those "many things" starts.  Fourthly, it implies that the mental categories held by the disciples will not prevent them from "picking up" on those truths at that time, since this is a promise that they can reach the goal of getting "all truth", provided they follow the guidance of the Spirit of truth.  Fifthly, it states that the process of the disciples coming to understand those "many things" is simliar to being guided on a path to some destination, not a process of revelation in which the truth is deposited in the seeker.

Although the last two points will be dealt with in a separate essay, I will comment briefly on the fourth point: the overcoming of mental categories that restricted the view of the world held by scientists and engineers is the key factor that leads to alternative insights that become the foundations of scientific and technological revolutions.   A shift in perspective placed the sun in the center of the solar system, starting the modern era of astronomy.  Newton overcame the mental category that the attraction of objects to the earth was of limited range, peformed a back-of-the-envelope calculation involving the moon, and got an answer close enough to make him pursue the matter further.  Max Planck figured out an equation that accurately modeled the frequency distribution of black body radiation that had stumped others for decades, probed the equation for an overarching concept, realized it implied that light frequency came in fixed units, thus overcoming the mental category of the frequency of light being continuous that paved the way to Quantum Theory.  Einstein overcame the mental concept of the speed of light behaving like moving objects when viewed from different frames that were in motion and came up with the Theory of Special Relativity.  Science historians speak of such overcomings of the standard prevailing view to see a new vision of reality by these individuals in terms of them gaining a "sudden insight", an "inspiration", or "a sudden vision".  The implication of point four is that the Holy Spirit will do this for "all truth", implying that it includes scientific truths and truths about reality.  The questions and doubts that arise in opposition to those implications are understandable, since the entire process seems haphazard and seemingly dependent on the good luck of intelligent and insightful people being born at the right time.  To pose the thesis that Christians have the potential to intentionally drive the process forward seems presumptuous and hubristic.  Before a false modesty bull-rushes you into the belief that the phrase "all truth" only means all spiritual truth consider these questions: Is this reluctance to believe due to a mental category blocking acceptance?  Is not the proposition  "the phrase 'all truth' in verse 13 refers to all spiritual truth" itself a spiritual truth, thus making it decidable?  And with a reminder that mathematics and computer science have developed mathematical machinery to deal with such questions, I return to the present discussion.

13 (continued) for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

This second half of verse 13 goes into details that help us understand the "what" of Symbiosis, and gives some information on what to expect.  The first thing we learn is that Symbiosis manifests as a form of "port forwarding".  Port forwarding is a computer software technology that is part of the Internet.  All computers have "ports" through which computer internet software communicates.  The computer from which this web page came from (the web server) has software listening on port 80.  Your computer located the server computer and sent a message to port 80, giving the information in the address bar or the link you clicked to identify this page.  The web server used the same port to return this page in a form that your browser could use to display this page. 

In port forwarding, two ports on the same computer are tied together by a software program.  What goes into the left port goes out on the right.  What goes into the right port goes out the left.  The program itself does nothing to the data unless doing so ensures that the data gets to its destination in an understandable form. 

This analogy assures us that every bit of information that the Deus symbiote within us hears in heaven will be spoken to us.  The transmission is so complete, and the bandwidth is so wide, that there's not enough room in the data stream for the Holy Spirit to communicate any bit of information about himself.  Theologians speculate that God's view of time and space is such that he can "see from the beginning to the end", so the information transmitted from God to Homo actually includes being able to see the future ("shew you things to come").  Whether it is understandable by the Homo host is another matter, doubtless accounting for the patchy nature of current day Charismatic and Pentecostal prophecy.  In First Corinthians 14, Paul urges those seeking spiritual gifts to pray for the gift of prophecy.  The prophecies themselves are considered by Paul of little import, since he himself ignored numerous prophecies concerning his future arrest.  What seems to count is that, to handle the bigger data stream, understand its content, and use that understanding to edify the Church, requires that the Homo host undergo some improvement and expansion.  Anybody can speak in tounges: prophecy requires a host of a higher calibre.  Praying consciously for it is a form of cooperation in improving the symbiotic pairing, and Paul's promise is that praying for improvement in that area is to be encouraged.  Perhaps research and spiritual exercises conceived along Symbiotic lines can improve the success rate of such prayers.

The communications channel is not perfect both ways, which is a good thing: Paul assures us that, when it comes to our prayers, the Spirit edits them before presenting them to God the Father.  Whew!

14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Here is the key that will unlock the puzzle of the phrase "in Christ": the other end of the Deus connection ends at Jesus Christ himself.  Everything that is being forwarded to the Homo host comes from Jesus Christ.  We know that only God the Father knowsthe day and hour of the Second Coming and that Jesus doesn't know it.  If everything your boy hears is potentially broadcastable to one and a half billion believers bare microseconds after it is uttered, then prudence recommends implementing some form of operational security that involves not saying anything to that son that shouldn't be heard by those believers.

I think we have enough information to deduce the true meaning of "in Christ".


It appears to me that the phrase "in Christ" originates from the side effects of verses 13 and 14 creating a virtual "presence" of Jesus Christ within the believer.  In short, the data stream coming from Jesus Christ to every believer via the data pipe of the Holy Spirit going into the disciples was big enough to make it appear to them that Jesus Christ was "in" them.  Or them in Jesus Christ, depending on the point of view of the data entry point in heaven.  I think this is the "many things" that Jesus decided not to tell the disciples because, quite frankly, how would you explain to first century fishermen that a parallel second personality almost indistinguishable from Jesus would appear within their own consciousness?  Multiple personalities are sequential, coming one after the other, perhaps in rapid sequence, but only one is present at a time.  This is not the case here: the Holy Spirit had such a presence within the Apostles that the fidelity and quality of the representation of Jesus generated within themselves was high enough for them to think he was actually and physically in them.  Because of what Jesus had told them about the connection, there would be no mystical and distracting interpretations of the experience, and there would be no shock when it did happen:  "Is that YOU, Lord??" "Yup." "Oh wow!  Is THIS what you were talking about?" "Yup." "My goodness, you even sound like yourself!" "Yup".   [Edit 07/31/08: see note at bottom of this page]

What does it involve, and how does it feel?  It certainly included the ability for them to remember what Jesus said.  John 14:26 says:

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

This may seem an incidental, but in our day and age, it is very pertinent.  The current tack of hostile Bible criticism is to avoid the archaeological approach in favor of attacking the integrity of the transmission process.  Unable to shake the hold that Jesus Christ continues to hold over people, they insinuate that the words of Jesus that we have were actually corrupted, edited, or amended by the apostles and ensuing copyists as a means of controlling the people.  "The DaVinci Code" is merely one of many attacks that turn upon a post-modernist world view that insists that ulterior motives existed within church leaders that inevitibly compromises the text that we are reading.  We therefore need "experts" with the "proper and politically correct" world view to weed through the mess and extract the jewels of wisdom that "actually" fell from the lips of the revolutionist and activist Jesus.

This, of course, is pure tripe.  The post-modernists want you to believe that there was a conspiracy to control the interpretation of the Bible, and propose, as a solution, that they be given control of interpreting the Bible.  Simply consider John 14:26John 16:13, and 1 John 2:26, and ask yourself if these would have survived an editing campaign whose intent was to control the belief systems of the people.  These verses are radically liberating, stating "If you have the Holy Spirit, both of you can figure it all out together."  Our fears of stumbling into heresies if we let the Holy Spirit teach us and lead us is indeed a product, and evidence, of a campaign to control what we think and believe about the Bible, but the post-modernists use that phobia like they use guilt: powerful tools to be diverted into the service of their cause, not impediments to be eliminated that would result in true freedom and liberty in Jesus Christ of those they seek to control.

I admit that I am taking the New Testament passages quoted here literally, as if they were faithful reproductions.  John 14:26, combined with the Symbiotic thesis, assures me that they are: The literal presence of the Holy Spirit provides, as part and parcel of the symbiotic relationship between itself and the Homo host, an enhancement of one's memory so that recall will be enhanced.  In the case of the Disciples, this helped them produce an effective and faithful reproduction of what Jesus said and taught so that we could have confidence in everything we can logically conclude from the records their testimony generated.

And there is this incredible passage from Luke 21:12-15:

12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. 13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony. 14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: 15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

Remember, this is a promise made in advance, so Jesus is in heaven.  How could he give the believer a mouth and wisdom that his adversaries would not be able to gainsay nor resist?  But if the Holy Spirit "port maps" or "mirrors" Jesus Christ in the believer to a high degree of fidelity, the mouth and wisdom Jesus gives would actually be that of Jesus Himself.  A popular acronym being put on wristbands is  "WWJD?": What Would Jesus Do?  You have to ask?  The implication of the Luke 21 passage is that a believer does not have to ask what Jesus would say and think about a situation: they would get what to say and think from Jesus Himself.  From the horse's mouth, so to speak.

 Part of the Man's very mystique and attractiveness is that he crushed the arguments of the pompous and pretentious eggheads of his day.  They kept lobbing questions at him in that game of intellectual oneupmanship called 'Lemmie-stump-you-with-this-one-to-show-everyone-here-how-ignorant-you-are'.  He knocked the question out of the ballpark and smashed "intellectual" windows in the parking lot beyond every time.  When it was his turn to pitch the questions, he posed one question which, if pursued, would have overturned everything they thought they knew about the Messiah.  They couldn't handle it.  They couldn't 'bear' the implications.  They watched that 'ball' whiz over the plate, dropped the bat, and walked away to the catcalls of the peanut gallery.  They shut up and conceded the game on one question because they rightly, and very quickly, realised that there's more where that came from. 

The Bible teaches that the current duty of Jesus Christ is to serve as an advocate for us before God the Father, speaking to Him on our behalf.  How about the job of serving as his own advocate to those to whom you are witnessing?  How would you approach the "hard cases" knowing that Jesus Christ was at one end of a virtual data pipe and you were at the other end?  While I was attending the University of Arizona to earn my Master's degrees, I was approached by Dr. Oma Hamara, a church member who was the assistant chairman of the Mathematics Department, to participate in a debate on evolution.  At the time, debates between Creationists and Evolutionists were common, so I tried to back out, pointing out that there were Ph.Ds available who would be more than happy to debate the Creationist side.  However, at his insistence, I agreed to do so.  I never debated: the Ph.D.s in the Biology department he asked to debate me, a lowly master's degree candidate, never accepted the challenge.  Dr. Hamara told me, when I inquired of his progress in getting the debate together, that he got the distinct impression that they were scared to do so.  The "intellectuals"of our day lack humility, which gives the resilience one needs to question one's own premises and handle humiliations of this magnitude with grace.  Without it, one's ego becomes too brittle to withstand these kinds of shocks.  The mind employs various intellectual defenses, such as projection, denial, fantasizing, and irrationality among others. 

So we have available to us Jesus' wisdom and brains.  And since we are science geeks, we should recall the consequences of the Krell mind machine from the movie "Forbidden Planet" which not only granted mental wishes, but emotional ones as well.  So the logical question arises "Does this pipe include Jesus' emotions as well?" Glad you asked:

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Well, YES.  So now the questions are: do you really want to know how much Christ loves you, in that deep and direct way of knowing that surpasses knowledge?  That comes "from the inside out"?  Can you handle the data stream when the Jordan overflows its banks?

There were 120 in the upper room when the fire fell, but the record shows that only the disciples went on to demonstrate the powers of the Spirit in signs and miracles.  Shades of "Were not ten cleansed, but where are the nine"!  The work of those disciples produced exactly two others, Stephen and Philip, who evidenced that power in signs and miracles.  Philip was strictly second string, unable to lay hands on converts to give them the Holy Spirit, leading the Jerusalem church to "send in the heavies", Peter and John, to finish the job.  Yet, without their help and on his own, Philip positively blew away Simon Magus, Samaria's spiritual star player.  The wizard has-been was so desperate to one-up Philip that he offered the disciples money to get the gift that Philip didn't have.  (Philip probably learned how to pull it off later, since the record states he had four daughters who prophesied.  Imagine how life in that house was like!)

Although there may be more important reasons for the loss of 90% of the potential "power output" of the church, one reason could very well be this very one: the unnerving effect of the Holy Spirit within manifesting itself as the reproduction of "Christ in them".  They were not warned, and Jesus had good reason to believe that the Disciples couldn't handle the truth unless it dropped down out of heaven and landed on their heads (which is exactly what happened at Pentecost).  This experience was so vivid and real appearing that the disciples would typically flip between expressions, alternating between expressions like "the spirit within you" and "Christ in you".  In their preaching and writing, they mentally "flipped" between statements of causation ("His Spirit in you") and of consequence ("You are in Christ"/"Christ in you, the hope of glory"), the latter indirectly referencing the cause by citing the effect.  If one Apostle tended to one form of expression over another, it was due to their mental makeup, reflecting their way of describing the "mental elephant" that had crashed down through the roof on Pentecost.

[Edit 07/31/08:  The phenomenon I describe in the first paragraph was, at the time it was written, strictly speculative.  I do stand by those paragraphs where I cite scripture, and I apologize for giving the impression that my description of the phenomenon was biblically based.  Neither the apostles nor anyone else in the Upper Room at the time gave a detailed description of their feelings at this time that is in the Bible.   On July 5, 2008, I had a personal spiritual experience that has lead me to doubt that the phenomenon they felt of "Christ in them" or "those who are in Christ" is as I described it.  To put it briefly, I was presented with an alternative way that they could have felt, so that the phrase "in Christ" was an even more appropriately descriptive expression than I imagined.  I am leaving the text as it is to provide an example of how personal spiritual revelations are progressive, and to remind me to better destinguish between deduction and speculation in future essays.  The last paragraph is general enough that it can stand on its own apart from any version of the experience: It seems plain enough from the text that there WAS an experience of Christ in them/Them being in Christ, but describing it in detail was going beyond what the scriptures say.  Thus, I will not describe the experience because it has not been duplicated since.  However, it was definitely from God, since it directly illuminated a formerly puzzling passage of Scripture which, upon accepting it into my heart, improved my relationships with other Christians.  In the meantime, I shall follow the counsel that  Paul gave to those Corinthians who spoke in tounges but could not interpret, which is to keep it to myself and praise God, so as to keep order in the Church.]

Implications and Future Directions

It is safe to conclude that some of the expressions of "in Christ" or "Christ in You" are synonyms for the action of the Holy Spirit within the believer when in "data pipe" mode, and I will do so in future essays, referring to this one as a reference if I feel there is a need for clarification. There are, of course, instances where the "In Christ" is meant in a vicarious way.  One good identifier of the latter is to determine the time of you "being in Christ".  If the time is before Pentecost, such as the crucifixion, then the reference is to us being legally imputed (credited) with Christ so that when Christ died, we died as well.  If the time is after Pentecost, and when referring to some aspect of Christian living, then the reference is probably to the one cited here. 

And if I concluded this essay on that pedagogical note, I will have Christ all over me, and there will be hell to pay.

Reconsider the bolded portions in this quote of Ephesians 3:

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

The part in grey is therefore a reference to an increase in the "power level" of the Spirit, the result of which is an increase in the capacity of the "data pipe" beween the host and Jesus, resulting in the appearance that Jesus Christ is actually within you.  If so, then verses 18 and 19 are not metaphorical, but literal, especially the text in yellow. The possiblity exists for the power flow to reach god-like levels.   Paul and Silas were mistaken for Mercury and JupiterMoses became as God before Pharaoh, and Aaron became as his prophet. It appears that capability is tied to power level or data stream bandwidth: more functions "come on-line" as the power levels go up.  At low levels, the functions that are on-line appear minimal, requiring some faith to believe that there is a data pipe between you and Christ so that it appears that he lives in you.

With statements like this, the problem is twofold, the first being whether we believe it, the second being how to upgrade the data stream/power level.  Of the two, the first is harder, for the second will be easy once the first is out of the way.  The greatest theological truth communicated via the Star Wars films was the exchange between Luke and Yoda: "I-I don't believe it!"  "That is why you fail."  I can't help you with the first problem: that is something you have to settle in your heart.

So how do we pull it off? And how can I say that doing so will be easy if we believe?  Simple.  This is a variant of the bootstrap problem that engineers encounter and solve all the time.  How do you do initial start-up of a Nuclear Reactor?  How do you bring up a power grid after a massive power outage that took out multiple generation stations that need a power grid to start up?  How did the computer you're reading this on start from nothing in its active memory to the browser you're using?  How do you start with a few axioms and develop an entire branch of mathematics?  How do you start with a Holy Spirit connection that is equivalent to running a modem over a connection that's party-line grade and bootstrap it into a OC-768 monster?   We know how to pull this stuff off, people, and we do it all the time!  Of all the people in the Church, with all the kinds of personalities, careers, educational levels, and points of view that are in it, we engineers are the only ones with the knowledge base, skill, and experience that has a chance of succeeding. 

Is it possible?  Well, let me ask you the following questions: when you read that last paragraph, how did you feel?  Did you feel disgust that someone would be so naive enough to believe this stuff and that you wasted a Sunday afternoon reading it?  Amusement that someone is crazy enough to believe this nonsense?  If you did, then you're off the team.  You don't qualify.  You either don't have the Spirit, or your belief system won't let you believe this is possible.

Or did you feel a thrill inside?  Did you think, "WOW!  What a great time to be an engineer or scientist!"?  Did you say, "Yeah!  Let's GO for it!"   If you did, then let me fill you in: that wasn't you.  That was the Holy Spirit inside, banging on the bars in the Jail it has been stuck in since you believed, yelling "Hey!  Believe it!  It's True!  Let's get started!"  You've already got the modem running, and you're getting the modem scream telling you you're connected.  Yeah, that's all you've got for now.  For now, that's enough.  Trust me, we know how to pull this stuff off, and we pull it off all the time.

There was a time when no bridge crossed over the river upstream from Niagra falls.  The contractor hired to build the bridge figured he had to get a steel cable across to start the process of getting the bridge cables across.  He advertised $1000, an exhorbitant sum in those days, to anyone who could get a cable across the river.  Many tried and failed, including swimmers and balloonists.  Finally, to much laughter, a young boy with a kite took up the challenge.  He got a huge ball of thick twine to use for the kitestring and tossed the kite up in the air.  The wind carried it up and across the river until the weight of the heavy twine made the kite sink until it got caught in a tree on the other side.  There was some laughter at the crash of the kite: the crashing of a kite is normally a sign of failure.  This mental conception quickly evaporated when the boy turned to the contractor, held his end of the line up to him and said, "You can start with this.  Where's my money?"

All our limits lie within us.  We are bound by our imaginations. 

But once we see, and believe?

Piece 'o cake.

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