July-August 1981 – Union Life Magazine
By Norman Grubb
Q. I have known of living in union life with Christ for several years now, but only recently did I come in contact with Union Life magazine. In the December 1980 issue, I read this from Christopher Bernard’s article, “Life is Fun”: “I know that I am one with Him, and that I am He, Christ expressed in the flesh—man, yet God, even as Christ Jesus.” In another place, he says: “We are always trying to become something when we are simply to be the ‘I AM’ within us. We live as ‘gods’ because He is God in and through us, not because we are independent godlets.”
These two statements are disturbing in that the author seems to be saying with Genesis 3:5, “ . . . and ye shall be as God,” and with Isaiah 14:12-14, “I will be like the Most High.”
My intent here is not to find fault. My question is sincere and I am doing what the Scripture admonishes us to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:21. Am I to understand that the editors of Union Life teach we are as God?
Pat, Burkburnett, Texas
A. The article you quote from was born out of a letter which Christopher Bernard wrote me after he received new light on Christ in him. Actually I did not know Union Life was publishing his letter, or I would have asked him to let me see what they were putting in print. Christopher has had a great and glowing new revelation of Galatians 2:20, 1 Corinthians 6:17, 1 John 4:17 etc., and when it is first revealed to us in our own inner seeing that it is Christ living our lives, we do tend to describe our experience in terms such as he has. I found the same when that light shone into me about 55 years ago. It seemed to me that it was Christ thinking, Christ speaking, Christ acting as me. I kind of forgot in the glow of it all that He was expressing Himself by my human self, as Paul says in the last phrase of Galatians 2:20. So I don’t take much notice when folks use such strong terms as Christopher. Most of the great mystics did the same. St. Catherine of Siena called out, “I am God”!
If I had edited Christopher’s letter before it went to print, I would have considered cutting out some of the overstatements. I must admit that he gives a wrong impression when he says “man yet God, even as Christ Jesus,” since he does not make clear that Christ is unique deity whereas we are adopted sons (which is of course what he really means). On the other hand, when Christopher states, “We live as gods,” he actually is seeking to say that Jesus Himself said about us, that we are gods, and “the scripture cannot be broken.” I would have put it a little differently. Satan said we would be “as gods” (Gen. 3:5). Jesus and the Scripture says we “are gods” when His word has come to us! (Ps. 82:6 and John 10:34, 35).
Thank you for your legitimate concern. I ask you to bear with us as we seek to present truth which has been veiled from so many of God’s redeemed people, who live so very much under their privileges, and don’t “possess their possessions.”
Q. Explain the term “fixed inner consciousness.” Doesn’t this have to be experienced on the soul (mind and emotion) level? Is this an experience common only to union-lifers, or was this the basic experience of many deeper-life exponents?
A. Fixed inner consciousness is a condition of spirit, not of soul (reason or emotion). Consciousness is knowing something. “Knowing” in Bible terms means “being mixed with the thing we know.” (That is why the word “know” is used when speaking of sexual intercourse in Genesis 4:1, etc.)
Such “knowing’ is possible for the human spirit on a human or temporal level. Thus, a competent professional man “knows” his profession and can operate at ease in it. He has a “fixed inner consciousness” of his profession.
But the true knowing (fixed inner consciousness) is a Holy Spirit’s knowing, in the same way in which the Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—know each other in a fixed consciousness. We, the redeemed, enter into this in seed form when “the Spirit bears witness with out spirit that we are the children of God.”
Then when we come into an inner knowing of our union with Him “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit”), confirmed by His inner knowing in us, we come to a more mature form of eternal fixed consciousness. In time we learn to discern between soul and spirit, and no longer confuse emotional disturbances or rational questionings for the stillness of the fixed spirit-knowing (which is really “being”). For “we know” that “we know” that “we know”—which was John’s final emphasis in his great first epistle (1 Jn. 5:18-20).
From there we move on to inner knowing in the outer confrontations of life. As we see through to Him in all things, we enter into those knowings of faith that he is certainly doing this or that against all outer appearances. We “call the things that be not as though they are” (Rom. 4:17). This is the “father” form of fixed inner consciousness.
Such “knowing”, which is the inner fixed fact of our spirit-being, is called by Jesus, “eternal life” (see John 17:3). This is on another dimension than rational thinking; and is (whether in seed or full-growth form) the realized fact in everyone born of the spirit.
Q. I recently received a copy of the Union Life magazine, and I noted articles in there by well-known Christian leaders. The magazine seemed attractive and well produced, but one thing baffles me and since I am being asked about your group, I really feel I need to know the answer.
What do you mean in your statement of faith by saying “there is only one Person in the universe”? Does this mean that you are rejecting the Doctrine of the Trinity, or that you do not recognize the personhood of human beings, angels, etc.? Does it mean that you are teaching a kind of pantheism into which all is to be absorbed into the “One”? I cannot believe that this is what you mean, but I do think some explanation is in order, because Christian leaders are going to be curious about your position and I would like an interpretation.
Rev. D. Bennett, Seattle, WA
A. As to your straightforward inquiries, yes, indeed we seek to accept the whole Bible and totally believe in God in Three Persons, for by no other way could He manifest Himself except by the Son and through the Spirit. But we see the Triune God as the only one “in the beginning”: and He “all in all” at the end (1 Cor. 15:28). And the “in all” of that statement means that all people and all things are created and thus derivative forms of Him. Thus even Jesus the Son on earth said He could do and say nothing except what He saw and heard the Father doing and saying, and He finally summed it up to His disciples at the Last Supper preparing them for His coming as the Spirit into them, by saying “If you see me, you see the Father”! Jesus further explained Himself in John 14:10. John doesn’t mince words but says right out in his epistle, “as He is, so are we in this world.”
It is clear we are God-containers, God-expressors. He actually says we are the light of the world, but that can only mean He in my form as the lamp. The only meaning and function of a human in the image of God is as the vessel, temple, branch, body-member—containers of God. You see, we never have had a human nature, but we express another. As a result of the Fall, Satan expressed his independent self-nature by us (John 8:44). Now, through the death of Jesus, His blood removed our sins, guilt, and condemnation, while His body removed our sin nature. When we link II Corinthians 5:14 with verse 21, we see that just as our bodies naturally contain the sin-spirit of error (1 John 4:6) and thus express sin-Satan, so His body on the cross representing all our bodies was “made sin” in the sense of expressing the Satan-sin who indwells us. When he died, out went that sin-spirit (Rom. 6:10—dead to sin), and into that same body representing all of us came His own Spirit of truth!
Thus Paul at last discovered in Romans 7 that his self-loving tendencies such as covetousness were not and never had been his human self, but that indwelling Liar expressing his self-lusts by us. “That is it, says Paul—not my human I (which has no nature of its own), but the sin-spirit dwelling in me” (7:20). Then Paul sees that through Christ’s body-death, sin in its self-loving drive is out of us and Christ in His Self-giving nature is in us (Rom. 8:2-4, 10). So the gospel is really a change of Gods! (Of course the god of this world was only a created being masquerading as god, and so always remains God’s agent. And the human doesn’t change, but only the “deity” expressing himself in the human.)
It is in this sense that we mean God is “the Only Person,” for we are derivative, created containers, yet in the great paradox of Galatians 2:20 we arise in our new union totally self-accepting when we know that He is the inner Operator! He does the keeping (Phil. 2:13, both the willing and the doing), so I’m free to just be. Great fun!
Yes, we are often accused of pantheism. Not being a trained theologian I don’t even know the actual definition of the word. We speak what we know and have experienced, that all things and people are forms of Him. In that sense, in every situation and with every person we are see-throughers instead of see-aters. John 7:24 is a key Scripture on this point.
So I thank you, D_____, for your love and fairness in writing to inquire.
Q. Please give me some ideas of meditation—how it differs from prayer, how to achieve it, and how it can contribute to spiritual progress.
Eloise L., Massachusetts
A. You ask a mighty big question in one sentence! The simplest answer is to say that what your mind is set on, that you meditate upon. So meditation is not some difficult-looking thing to be attained by great saints. Indeed it is not an “attainment,” which would imply laborious self-effort, at all. It is an inevitability once the inner light is lit in you that (according to Paul’s teaching all through his letter to the Romans, and as highlighted succinctly in Galatians 2:20) by coming into union with Christ you “died” to your old life, which was Satan expressing himself in his independent quality of life in you (Eph. 2:1-3), and in Christ’s resurrection you became instead the permanent expressor of Christ, for He is now in you and lives as you.
You are no longer in your former self-effort union with Satan (sin dwelling in you), but are now in a spontaneous new union with Christ, with Him as the real life in you. Get that settled by a faith recognition of what God says is a fact—meditate on that. Move into awareness of it by the once-for-all word of faith which affirms it is true despite the feelings and appearances described in Romans 7, which suggest that you are still indwelt by sin. Experience the inner witness of the Spirit (1 Jn. 5:10) to that faith which says that you are living in Romans 8. When you get this fact of your fixed union with Christ settled, you won’t be able to stop meditating.
So don’t “try” to meditate. Be yourself in your total faith relationship with Him, and you just will meditate as the Spirit does His thinking by you. Meditation will be your inner habit of thought as He operates in you, as you, in your daily life. Often it will be a subconscious realization that constitutes meditation. Sometimes there will be periods when your “mind is stayed on Him.” And at other times the written Scripture will light up sentence by sentence. Meditating is entirely natural for you when you have a settled awareness of your oneness with Christ.