Recently, we have been asked several questions about the
Spiritual Intimacy Paradigm. Two questions have been
1.)"What is the Spiritual Intimacy Paradigm? and …
2.)"Is this paradigm biblical ? "
Since the Crossroads Ministry is built upon this paradigm, we will
address both of these questions early-on in this area of the web site.
Please forward questions or comments to us that arise when you
read this article. We want to make this explanation as simple and
understandable as possible.
The "Christ in us" Paradigm
This article is written with a two-fold purpose in mind: To provide a …
1.) Simple explanation of the "Christ in you" paradigm.
2.) Biblical framework for this intimacy paradigm.
The Christ in us paradigm explained.
The "Christ in us" paradigm is a biblical supernatural lifestyle
which is referred to throughout the New Testament (NT). Although
there are several scripture passages that use phrases like "Christ
in you", there are many passages that explain this profound truth
in considerable detail without specifically mentioning the "Christ
in you" phrase.
As we entered the 21st century, the Christian community was
blessed: all most overnight there came forth a plethora of deeply
respected authors and spokesmen who have taken up the mantle
and are writing and speaking about this life-transforming truth.
Most of us are well aware that the phrase "in Christ" appears
numerous times in the New Testament, but we are not as aware
of the several times the phrase "Christ in you" appears. The
reason for this can be easily explained. The following quote
from the article listed on the sidebar by James Fowler speaks
to this fact.
"The history of Christian theology reveals
that there has been far more written about
the believer’s being "in Christ" than has
been written about Christ being present and
active in, as, and through the Christian.
This is to be expected, in part, because there
are far more references in the New Testa-
ment to our being "in Christ" than there
are to Christ being "in us." But the paucity
of emphasis and literature on Christ’s internal
action in the Christian individual can also be
attributed to prevailing emphases within the
two major subdivisions of the Western Church.
(The sidebar article by Fowler discusses in more detail
what he has briefly mentioning here.)
In order to explain the phrase, "Christ in you", it helps to think about the words metaphorically, using the picture of a coin and utilizing the fact that a coin has two sides. Now! Let us label both sides of the coin – one side "in Christ and the other side "Christ in you".
Just as a coin has two inseparable sides or parts, so the
supernatural work that our Heavenly Father does in us when
we are saved, has two parts.
A supernatural work
Now consider this fact: When we are asked to explain to un-
believers what it means to be "in Christ", most of us are at a loss
for words. To even begin such a discussion, we need to resort to
words or phrases like spiritual or "work in our hearts" or "work
of the Holy Spirit". This is not an easy concept to explain to an
Even a moment of reflection on a discussion like this … i.e.
trying to explain what we mean when we use the biblical
phrase "Christ in us" makes it clear that we are delving into
the realm of the Spirit.
A new, three-volume Inter-Varsity Press biblical dictionary
devotes a number of pages to the discussion of these two
unique phrases. I will condense much of this discussion and
make a summary statement that will set the stage as we
continue our study of the"Christ in us" and the "in Christ"
"In discussing the Divine-Human relationship en-
compassed in the meaning of these phrases, we
are probing an inner work of God in Man that
involves both the elements of union and inter-
dependence. To summarize we can say this:
When one becomes a believer in Jesus Christ,
he or she is transformed into a new creation
who lives in UNION with Jesus Christ. The
apostle Paul describes this union as a
"mystery". The New Testament unfolds
this two-part mystery by using the two phrases
"IN CHRIST" and "CHRIST IN YOU" to describe
In the remainder of this paper, we will probe the biblical teaching
concerning the "mystery"of this two-part work of the Holy Spirit.
The biblical framework of the paradigm
As we open the Word .. bear in mind that we are on familiar
ground for most of us; yet, in probing the passages we will
look at, we will undoubtedely discover, that many of us have
missed a tremendous truth that is somewhat hidden in what
Jesus is teaching His disciples.
Our interest, here, pertains to what Jesus says to the disciples
about His intimate relationship with His Father. Recall, as
you read, that The Plan for the Incarnation .. as conceived
in eternity past .. was that Jesus would come to earth and
live in precisely the same way that every other human lives:
that He would make use of none of His Divine attributes.
Said another way, Jesus would choose to constrain Himself
and make no use of His rightful latent supernatural abilities.
We will begin in John's gospel. And remember! We are interested in
dis covering what Jesus says in this passage about Himself and His
relationship with His Father. In the interest of brevity, we will only
examine a couple passages; but these two verses reveal clearly the
truth that we are probing. See John 5:19 and 5:30. Listen prayerfully:
Jesus explains His absolute dependence
upon His Father in John 5
Although Jesus doesn’t speak directly to the Union that unites
Him with His Father, the inference in the text is unmistakable.
He is at this point emphasizing His absolute dependence
upon His Father.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, the SON CAN DO
NOTHING OF HIS OWN ACCORD, BUT ONLY
WHAT HE SEES THE FATHER DOING. FOR
WHATEVER THE FATHER DOES, THAT THE
SON DOES LIKEWISE." John 5:19
BY MYSELF I CAN DO NOTHING; I judge
only as I hear, and my judgment is just,
for I seek not to please myself but him
who sent me. John 5:31
To fully appreciate the gravity of what Jesus is saying, it
is necessary to look at all of John 5. But for our purposes,
a simple examination of these two verses will suffice:
in these brief state ments Jesus makes it clear that He
lives with absolute and total dependence upon His Father.
But wait! There is more; we need to continue.
Now we let's go on to the Upper Room Discourse (URD) passage:
more specifically to John 14:8-10. Undoubtedly, most of us have
read and heard teaching on the message of these chapters,
John 13-15, many times.
Listen again to this brief 3 verse account as Jesus' responds to a
specific question Philip asks. But notice carefully! Jesus never
directly answers Philip's question but shifts the discussion.
In this part of the dialogue, Jesus speaks very directly to
the issue of His relationship with His Father. Hear the
paradigm – union we are studying is blatantly explained.
Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father,
and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him,
"Have I been with you so long, and you still
do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen
me has seen the Father. How can you say,
'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe
that I am in the Father and the Father is
in me? The words that I say to you I do
not speak on my own authority, but the
Father who dwells in me does his works.
The words that I say to you . (John 14:8-10)
Jesus explains the Union He enjoys with the
Father Clearly, Jesus is registering a bit of frust-
ration; but remember what we said above: Jesus is
teaching – if we can say it this way – as the Man-part
of the God-Man. There is NO HOLY SPIRIT at work
at this time. In fact, the Holy Spirit had not even
been revealed to the disciples at this point. But, let’s
move on to the next chapter, John 15.
Later on that infamous night, Jesus
applies the Union paradigm to
believers There is no text in all of scripture more
often referenced than this passage in John 15. But,
this time … we come to it with a specific purpose
in mind. We are viewing Jesus' words through a
grid to discover what Jesus is saying about the
union paradigm as it applies to us. (I am using the
NKJV because of its translation of the Greek word,
that is here rendered as abiding.)
"I am the true vine, and My Father
is the vinedresser. Every branch
in Me that does not bear fruit He
takes away; and every branch that
bears fruit He prunes, that it may
bear more fruit. You are already clean
because of the word which I have
spoken to you.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the
branch cannot bear you, unless
you abide in Me.
"I am the vine, you are the branches.
He who abides in Me, and I in him
bears much fruit; for WITHOUT
ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING.
Note what I have bolded. It could not be more
clear: HERE IS THE JESUS AND
BELIEVER UNION DESCRIBED IN AN
ABSOLUTE MINIMUM OF WORDS. The
union explained in these verses is the
intimate relationship that we are called to
enjoy with Jesus. Jesus wants to be sure that
His audience doesn't miss what He is saying.
SO! Within two verses, He repeats Himself.
It's impossible to miss what He is teaching
here. This ABIDING UNION that Jesus so
forcefully instructs His hearers to embrace
in this passage is the knife-edge truth that is
the very basis of the "Christ in you" paradigm
that we are called to enjoy as believers. BUT!
We need to underscore and paint in red one
more additional truth that this passage reveals.
Recall! Jesus made known, and even emphasized,
in John 5 and John 14 that He lived in total,
absolute dependence upon His Father. Now He
states that we are just as dependent upon Him
as He was on His Father. It is all here. The
parallelism is unmistakeable.
Just as Jesus lived a life of dependence by
living in UNION WITH HIS FATHER. In like
manner we are to live a life of dependence
by living IN UNION WITH JESUS.
In developing the construct above, we have observed the intimacy paradigm
being lived by Jesus. And, we've seen how the familiar-passage of John 15
wonderfully reveals a similar paradigm that we are re-created to enjoy.
Having hurriedly skimmed through these few verses, we have seen Jesus’
teaching on the paradigm and we can sumarize all that we've said thus far.
1. Jesus taught that He lived in a state of Union with His Father.
2. He taught that the faith-relationship with His Father was one of absolute,
3. THEN !!! He taught that we believers are to live in Union with Him.
4. He taught that our faith-relationship with Him is to be one of absolute
dependence upon Him. And !! He made it clear that we are helpless
Jesus as the very Source of our life
We can expand the Truth that we have been examining and state it in
another way. The Source of Jesus’ Life was His Father. And in a
similar manner the Source of our life is to be Jesus.
When the disciples saw Jesus walking, talking, and teaching …
what they were witnessing was the Father’s Life in Him. In like
manner, what others should see in us is Jesus' Life manifest in
Now! Let us return to the teaching of John 14:6 and expand what we
have been learning about this magnificent experiential paradigm truth.
Recall John 14:6.
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth
and the life. No one comes to the Father except
through me. John 14:6
Dying to Self is our means to "the life"
Repeating what we've said above … Just as the Father was the Source of
Life for Jesus during His Incarnate state, so Jesus is to be the Source of
Life for us as believers. Suddenly, we see John 14:6 in an entirely new
light; AND, Paul's words to the Galatians make total sense.
Galatians 2:20 is a wonderfully succinct statement that brings the
"Christ in you" paradigm into unmistakably clear focus. Meditate on
this verse until it floods your mind.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer
live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the
body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved
me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
By acknowledging the paramount importance of the union paradigm, we
can derive a related overarching observation: Jesus came to earth to fulfill
many different purposes and His salvific was not the only purpose of His
coming. Indeed! He came to die, BUT He also came to live, … to live
in front of many eyes … many eyes of men who would later document
what they witnessed of His Life, Death, Resurrection, and TEACHING !
Because the gospels are the inspired, historical accounts of Jesus earthly
sojourn, we can now begin to see evidence of these paradigm truths
everywhere. Jesus not only taught the paradigm but lived it perfectly
Once conscious of this glorious paradigm, we discover that all of the New
Testament epistles contain added truths that – at the root – reveal this same
set of union truths.
We need to begin to bring these thoughts to a close but in doing so we
will look at just two more verses. These verses tie together several of the
truths we have considered. First, see Colossians 1:27
To whom God would make known what is the riches of
the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is
Christ in you, the hope of glory:
See how Paul provides us with a crystal clear definition of the
paradigm. He tells us it is a mystery that it was hidden.
(Read Col 1:26.) And the mystery is "Christ in you", the hope of
In closing we will return again to that familiar verse we quoted above.
Thus we will close this artcile with one more observation that makes
this well-known verse come alive as never before. NOW !! We can
hear Jesus' words recorded in John 14:6 as a powerful statement that
we can embrace with immeasurable joy.
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth
and the life. No one comes to the Father except through
me. John 14:6
At that so very unique point in space and time 2000 years ago, and
while meeting with His beloved disciples on that famous last night
in the Upper Room, Jesus says in effect …
"I AM THE LIFE YOU ARE LOOKING FOR." It is my
Life that My Father designed for you to enjoy during
your time here on earth.
Imagine the excitement that the disciples must have shared following
Pentecost. At last … these 12 simple men could now begin to hear
with new ears. They must have been estatic as Holy Spirit began to
unfold the wonder of all that Jesus had been teaching and demon-
strating to them during those 3 1/2 years.
I believe that it was at the apex of that HOLY SPIRIT-Revelation
that the Spirit began to unfold the "mystery hid from the ages" to
Fast forward once again. NOW we too can be blessed as we meditate
with deep gratitude on the faithfulness of these 12 men who initiated
the spread of the life-transforming "Christ in us" paradigm.