From the Renovaré Newsletter Archive

The selection below is from a March 2005 Renovaré newsletter. Download a PDF of the original newsletter.
Introductory Note:

Where I live in the South, these summer days have been scorching. Sometimes I’ve been less aware than I should’ve been about how thirsty I am. In this article, Richard Foster talks about life in a way that makes me very thirsty. He shares about entering into a way of living life with God that will satiate us, consume us, and enable us to live “the life to which we are suited.” Life with God enables me to enter the richness of my particular life. As you read, may you hear the invitation of God urging into this zoë kind of living. Thirsty as we are, may we, individually and corporately, be made into reservoirs that just can’t help but overflow onto others.

Susan Green

The life we have been cre­at­ed to live is the dynam­ic, pul­sat­ing with-God life.” And Jesus (in his life, death, and res­ur­rec­tion) has made avail­able to you and to me this life that is life indeed” (1 Tim. 6:19). St. Paul writes, There is there­fore now no con­dem­na­tion for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spir­it of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Rom 8:1 – 2). Paul is here using a very spe­cif­ic word to iden­ti­fy the secret of our life which is hid­den with Christ in God” (Col 3:3): zoë, the eter­nal, uncre­at­ed life that orig­i­nates in God alone.

Two Types of Life

Scrip­ture iden­ti­fies two types of life: bios, the phys­i­cal, cre­at­ed life; and zoë, the spir­i­tu­al, eter­nal life. Like­wise, there are two types of death: teleute, phys­i­cal death; and thanatos, spir­i­tu­al death. Thus, it is entire­ly pos­si­ble for a per­son to be phys­i­cal­ly alive (bios) while spir­i­tu­al­ly dead (thanatos). But the sal­va­tion that is in Jesus Christ immers­es us into the hid­den reser­voir of divine love and pow­er, bring­ing into our lives God’s life (zoë) and form­ing us into com­mu­ni­ties of Jesus’ dis­ci­ples who are enabled to express his life and love through our own life, indi­vid­u­al­ly and corporately.

Jesus declares, I am come that they might have life (zoë), and that they might have it more abun­dant­ly” (Jn 10:10 KJV). In his first Epis­tle John writes, God gave us eter­nal life (zoë), and this life (zoë) is in his Son”(1 Jn 5:11). And Paul writes, For if while we were ene­mies, we were rec­on­ciled to God through the death of his Son, much more sure­ly, hav­ing been rec­on­ciled, will we be saved by his life (zoë)” (Rom 5:10). Life. Life. Life. It is lit­tle won­der that Dal­las Willard in The Spir­it of the Dis­ci­plines observes that, the sim­ple and whol­ly ade­quate word for sal­va­tion in the New Tes­ta­ment is life.’”

We are being saved by his life” declare the Apos­tles, and Jesus’ res­ur­rec­tion con­vinced them that this life, this zoë, was inde­struc­tible. The glo­ri­ous words, He is risen” proved to the dis­ci­ples that the new life that had been ever-present to them in the per­son and teach­ing of Jesus could not be destroyed by killing the body. That life, that zoë, con­tin­ues on. It can­not be destroyed: the gates of Hades will not pre­vail against it” (Matt 16:18). And it is this unquench­able, inde­struc­tible zoë that Jesus offers to all who trust in him — life” here and now, and on into eternity.

A New Order of Life

Jesus’ res­ur­rec­tion was for those dis­ci­ples (and is for us) the great escha­to­log­i­cal fact of all time. His life, his zoë, is avail­able to every­one. All who trust in him can expe­ri­ence his life in them; Christ in you, the hope of glo­ry”, as Paul puts it (Col 2:27). Like­wise, all who trust in him are in Christ” (2 Cor 1:21 and many oth­ers). Christ in us” and us in Christ” — a new order of life from above” (Jn 3:3). Colos­sians 3:4 states it ever so suc­cinct­ly, Christ who is your life (zoë)” — that is the sal­va­tion that is in Jesus Christ.

This life, this zoë, is only for par­tic­i­pants, not con­sumers nor observers. The con­sumer approach says that it is my life and I will uti­lize this with-God life” to suit my needs and my pur­pos­es. But, frankly, this life doesn’t work that way. To enter this zoë—this eter­nal, uncre­at­ed life that orig­i­nates in God alone — I must sur­ren­der my life. In enter­ing the with-God life” it is not my life any more; it is Christ’s life and I am priv­i­leged to be a par­tic­i­pant in that life.

And what a life it is! It is more vir­u­lent than AIDS! But instead of infect­ing us with death it con­sumes us with the life to which we are suit­ed. Because it is zoë life it has a prin­ci­ple of its own. We, for exam­ple, don’t have to give an instruc­tion book to a baby to teach it to walk. No, the prin­ci­ple of life in the child will, when the time is right, cause that lit­tle one to walk. In much the same way the zoë life we receive from God will accom­plish its work in us; sus­tain­ing us and mov­ing us for­ward into Christ­like­ness. We don’t have to get re-start­ed every Sun­day and then sput­ter along for a day or two and die out again. No, this is life — pow­er­ful, self-sus­tain­ing life — a with-God life.”

But we must seek this life out, pur­sue it, turn into it because there is also a prin­ci­ple of death with­in us which stems from the fall. There­fore, we must be con­stant­ly say­ing yes to life and no to death. We must always be dis­cern­ing life-giv­ing actions and atti­tudes from those that are death-giv­ing. This is why the Bible is such a help to us; it is reg­u­lar­ly flesh­ing these things out in the rough and tum­ble of real life sit­u­a­tions. Scrip­ture makes clear to us pre­cise­ly how this with-God life” works in all the cir­cum­stances of human exis­tence, both for indi­vid­u­als and for groups, both in spe­cif­ic his­tor­i­cal peri­ods and through­out all times. Oh, may I urge you to turn into this zoë life that flows from God through the Scrip­ture and into the thirsty waste­land of the human soul.

Peace and Joy,

Richard J. Foster

Text First Published March 2005 · Last Featured on May 2022

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