BEING THANKFUL FOR OUR BONAFIDE FREEDOM-THE GENESIS OF PERSONHOOD THROUGH THE PRINCIPLE OF ATTRIBUTION, BY KIANG PLEE

“Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other Person (Jesus) obeyed God, many will be made righteous” (Rom.5:18-19).

Greetings again Friends everywhere! On this Thanksgiving season, I would like us to pause and be grateful for something we frequently take for granted as believers and nominal believers. It is the bonafide freedom we have in Jesus. We often overlook the fact that a life of peace, joy, and confidence (grace), is founded upon the freedom as unique persons we have in Christ. The freedom to live true to the personality we were created to be. with distinct gifts. The essential message of Thanksgiving season is the celebration of our freedoms.

Thanksgiving Day falls on Thursday, November 23, 2017.

I will begin by echoing a story by Keith Krell, pastor and author from Spokane, Washington: “One of the most famous chimpanzees of all time is one by the name of Washoe. Some soldiers picked up Washoe in West Africa. In 1966 she was adopted by two doctors who raised her almost like a child. In 1970, however, she was turned over to another pair of doctors and taken to the University of Oklahoma. Here she went through rigorous training to become the first non-human to learn American Sign Language. She learned over 140 signs! It was discovered, however, that she was just mimicking all that she had been taught. After several years the staff decided that she was able to try to conceptualize. “She is going to say what is on her heart!” the staff declared. In her safe and secure cage, well taken care of, Washoe said the first three words of her own initiative: “LET ME OUT!!!” She signed the words several times.”

Statue of Liberty, New York, Icon of Freedom and Liberty (Wiki Commons)

So, even animals seek to be free. If given the ‘choice’ between a safe and secure life in captivity  verses freedom, animals ‘choose’ freedom. Some of my readers will remember the song “Born Free” and the movie by the same title. The inspiring motion picture recounts a story about freedom in the wild portraying a real-life couple who raised Elsa the Lioness, an orphaned lion cub, to adulthood, and released her into the wilderness of Kenya. God created all life forms with their instinctive freedoms ‘hardwired’ in them. God will always create life to replicate Himself for He is free in His Tri-Personal Being.

Humans long for freedom too. The reason ought to be plain to see – man was made in God’s likeness. (Gen.1:26-27) Many view and seek freedom in various ways, but the most powerful and satisfying form of freedom God wants humans to have is where a person is living a life that is significant and self-fulfilling in every way, with a distinct gift which identifies him/her as a personality, and a destiny to be a child of the living God. God has created us for freedom, as Paul told the Galatians, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal.5:1). God is free, and desires nothing less for His human children. The flipside of His nature is Love. You cannot have one without the other. Freedom has no meaning without Love, and Love is incomplete without freedom. It gives a glimpse into the nature of God so that to experience true freedom is to be singularly motivated by His Love. Thus, we are given the freedom to Love – we Love for the purpose of remaining free. Hence, Love constrains us so our freedom is not used for selfish purpose through fear (sin/bondage). Paul said, “Owe nothing to anyone–except for your obligation to Love one another. If you Love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law” (Rom.13:8; also 1 Cor.13).

Yet the Bible informs us that mankind has been held in bondage, quite apart from the freedom man was created to have by his Maker. But like Washoe the chimpanzee, we probably have a sense of “security and independence,” only we miss the part that we have been held in spiritual captivity since Adam’s fall. Most are blinded to and unaware of our human incarceration. This imprisonment was entrenched in the human condition when our first parents succumbed to the temptations of Satan the devil and ate the forbidden fruit they were instructed not to touch, much less eat. (Gen.2:16-17; Gen.3) Mankind was expelled from Eden and from the presence of God into the spiritual wilderness of the great tempter, the devil. The prison is called the sin-condition. Sin is the antithesis of Love. Bondage is the opposite of freedom. God is free because He is holy (sinless) in His Love. But man has chosen the way of rebellion and sin and is now held in bondage to the devil. Paul says this, “Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone (bondage).” But we are not left to our doom in the sin-condition. The Father’s Love is infinitely greater and cannot be constrained or stifled and sets out to give up His Son for us. (John 3:16-17) Paul goes on, “Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone (freedom). Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person (Jesus) obeyed God, many will be made righteous” (Rom.5:18-19, also John 3:16, emphasis added).

Liberty Head, Liberty Island, New York, and Coin (Wiki Commons)

Yes, Satan has created this sin-condition where mankind is held bondage to his wicked ways. The Bible speaks of the sin-condition in which we are held prisoners, “I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me” (Rom.7:23). Note the words, “law of sin” or what I characterize as the “sin-condition.” The Bible describes this condition as if we are held and tied in chords like prisoners, “The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast” (Pov.5:22). Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34).

Man will attain true freedom by living according to the image in which he was created by  his Creator – Love and freedom. Humans may not realize this, but God’s eternal likeness has been hard-wired in man, only that Satan has deceived and blinded mankind with his lies (sin) as he did to Adam and Eve. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luk.17:21, KJV). Any other way of life which opposes His divine purpose is a form of bondage and a life vexed in perplexity and disquiet. From the passage of Scripture in Romans 5 above, we see an important principle at work exclusively within the Tri-Personal Being of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s a principle that can easily be passed over and overlooked. It is the principle of attribution and substitution, of transference and collaborative oneness and loyalty, of the constancy of God’s Love in creation and mankind, upon which the Tri-Personal Being of God (Trinity) has eternally subsists. It teaches us the utter relevance of the Trinitarian Being of God (Trinity) in God’s interaction with humans, and man’s relationship with fellow humans. This principle works only with persons in relationship, and it finds its source within the divine life of the three Persons of the Trinity. And man was created to live according to God’s Triune likeness. (Gen.1:26-27)

Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity (Wiki Commons)

Paul informs us about the principle’s relational response and outcome in Christ, the second Person of the Triune Godhead: “Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.” Through this eternal principle, life within the Triune Being of God is such that the act of one is always the act of three, and the act of three is the act of one, thus, making this attributive principle relational in every respect. Paul affirms this principle, saying, “For certainly God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them and having placed in us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor.5:19). Even David spoke of this principle of God’s infinite Love,”

The passage also show the principle works in reverse, as we see in Adam’s fall: “Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone.” You can say the principle functions like gravity which cannot be nullified nor disproved. If we defy gravity it will hurt us, just as sure as violating the principle of ascription has its spiritual gravitational effect. The basis and foundation for this ascribing principle is God’s infinite Love, for “God is Love” (1 John 4:8).

Note what is said of Jesus in the passage, to “…bring a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.” A right relationship with God can only be made possible by a “new life.” It is not possible to relate with God in man’s fallen life he inherited from Adam. Only through a new birth in the glorified new humanity of Jesus will the ‘new life’ of man can enter into Loving relationship with our heavenly Father and God. Let’s see how this unfolds for each of us. (John 3:3, 5-8)

This imputive principle was and continues to dominate creation including mankind, for good or evil, because man is made in God’s triune likeness, and thereby governed by this eternal principle of attribution and transference. The truth of divine freedom is presented to humans with the freedom to choose – between good and evil. Yes, but unlike the mindless physical law of gravity, we are affected by this imputive principle through the mind by way of thoughts and decisions evoked by human desires and actions. Although we intuitively adapt to physical gravity, we are not as responsive in our thoughts and decisions when it comes to this far-reaching principle. Hence we are admonished to “bring our thoughts into subjection to Christ” (2 Cor.10:5). That is how we interact with the principle of ascription. But regardless of our determination and even discrimination, the spiritual principle will follow our actions nonetheless. This substitutive principle of God is still in force today as we see it alive and at work all around us in human relationships through the choices we make. The sin-condition we inherited from Adam’s rebellion is clearly observable in the evil and destructive way of life we witness in the world around us.

But here is the reverse effect of this principle, through God’s incalculable and boundless Love He removes the attributive punishment of the sin-condition (death), and rescues us and gives us life and personhood in His Son, Jesus. So we read these immortal words from John, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”  (John 3:16-17; also John 11:25-26). The principle of attribution cannot be more unmistakable.

If there is a “law of sin” (sin-condition) under which mankind is held prisoner, then prior to its existence, there was of necessity the “law of righteousness” (holy-condition) under which man stands free as God first created him. Adam and Eve were in such holy-condition until the day they believed the devil’s lies and rebelled. Paul said, “For Christ is the end of the “law for righteousness” to everyone who believes” (Rom.10:4). Many seek freedom in various ways, some ideas purport to bring freedom but are actually incarcerating. As Peter says, “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage” (2 Pet.2:19). Humans have sought freedom in political governance. Others believe in trade unionism; women seek it in women’s rights and liberation. Nations seek freedom through associations like the United Nations and through trade compacts. Some imagine the answer to everything lies in advancing the world technologically.  People have established secretive movements and societies with bizarre theories for attaining freedoms, and so on it goes. But the most significant form of freedom God wants His children to have is where a person is living a life true to his/her divine destiny as persons with unique gifts and fulfilling in every way, shape, and form. This is the place of freedom man was created by God to have as his/her ultimate destiny.

Cross in sunset.jpg

“Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person (Jesus) obeyed God, many will be made righteous” (Rom.5:18-19) Adam and Eve Expelled from Eden; Jesus Christ first Human Raised to Immortality (Pics: Wiki Commons)

How do we get there? By the very same principle which brought us under the sin-condition in the first place: through the principle of attribution and substitution through the vital instrument of faith. Let us again turn to Paul, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Rom.4:5). Repeating the earlier verse, “Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone” (Rom.8:19). Again Paul reiterates, “For Christ is the end of the “law for righteousness” to everyone who believes” (Rom.10:4). Do we see that? All it takes is faith (trust)  – to believe in our Father’s provision of a Savior in His Son who rescues us from bondage! Faith is more powerful than we realize, for without it God cannot reach out and give us the freedom of personhood we richly deserve as humans made in His likeness. (Heb.11:6) Adam would not have incarcerated mankind in prison if he did not trust (have faith) in the devil’s lies. Our first parents acted upon what they heard and believed, albeit by deceit. Adam’s faith (trust) in Satan’s lies which enslaved mankind in the sin-condition, now works in reverse so our faith in the Savior Jesus rescues and give us back our freedoms, the dignity of personhood, of being true persons formed in the image of the Triune God as we were created to become. Read more on saving faith at: http://bulamanriver.net/8382

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Then He pointedly ask his listeners, “Do you believe this?” (John 11:25). Faith is the silver bullet, a magical weapon, so to speak. The principle of transcription operates upon faith. Without it nothing happens. Getting back to our theme, many think of His statement about the resurrection is futuristic. Truthfully, it is dualistic: present and future. In the present sense, it speaks of another of Jesus’ classic statement of being ‘born again in the Spirit.’ (John 3:5-8; 1 Cor.6:19) Its futuristic manifestation is about our resurrection to immortality at Jesus’ second coming. To be “resurrected” in the human sense means to be raised in our spiritual lives out of the sin-condition and given gifts to identify us as persons and personalities, in God’s likeness in His Tri-Personality Being. To be given “life” in our human form means for the first time we are given a personality conformed in Jesus’ image – He is the first human to enter and exist in the presence of the Triune God. (Rom.8:29) You see, Jesus is the only human who has ever been resurrected to immortality by God and we follow Jesus’ footsteps to be conferred immortality through this principle of attribution and substitution. There is no other way to Love, freedom, immortality, and salvation.

The outcome speaks of human personhood as the Creator had planned from the start. What does personhood mean? It means we have become true “persons” with unique gifts living life that is significant and self-fulfilling in every way as God’s own people in His divine presence or “Triune Life.”* Up to this point, you and I were dead in the sin-condition and non-persons – no human had a individual existence before God apart from Jesus in His glorified human form. Only Jesus gave true life back to our dead humanity. Paul says this of Jesus’ attributive life, “When He ascended on high (heaven), He took many captives and gave gifts to His people” (Eph.4:8). The Message translation renders this in paraphrase as follows, “He climbed the high mountain, He captured the enemy and seized the booty, He handed it all out in gifts to the people.” An insightful metaphor speaking of Jesus destroying Satan’s prison (sin-condition) and led the captives (mankind) out, and gave them back their rightful heritage (Spirit/gifts/’booty’) as persons which the devil stole since Adam. At last, humanity is given back their stolen personhood, with gifts and destinies in the Spirit. Paul says, “Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift” (Eph.4:7). The first and primary gift is the gift of the Spirit.

It’s worth repeating to consider how Jesus rescued mankind and gave human beings back their identity and dignity as persons in the divine triune likeness, with unique gifts before the Almighty God. Through Adam’s rebellion we had zero existence, we were non-persons dead in our sins. (Eph.2:1) We had no life to speak about. Consider what Jesus said just in case we’re trying to equate this physical body and life with true “existence”: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing,” (John 6:63) When Jesus took our humanity and glorified it in Himself, for the very first time ever a human being was given the freedom to stand before the Father as divine/human person uniquely gifted. Paul affirmed this, saying, “He (Jesus) is the beginning and firstborn from among the dead, so that in all things He may have preeminence” (Col.1:18). Jesus restored our true humanity and distinct personhood in Himself, and through the principle of attribution God ascribed Jesus glorified humanity upon us so we may attain our freedoms as personalities in God’s eternal fellowship. At last, by conferring Jesus’ new glorified humanity upon us, we have true freedom as persons before God. God gives us the gift of the Spirit to miraculously restore our unique personalities, and personify Jesus’ eternal destiny in us. (1 Cor.3:16; 6:19)

Dove, Symbol of the Holy Spirit – The Primary Gift (Wiki Commons)

Our sinful self has been nailed to the cross of Jesus and dead and gone forever. Paul repeats this ascribing principle, “For Christ’s Love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died” (2 Cor.5:14). Just as Christ was resurrected we are given new birth in our free-standing true self with unique gifts. (Gal.2:20; Rom.6:4) Paul said, “In Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority” (Col.2:10). By speaking of Jesus’ divine/human sovereignty (“head over all rule and authority”) Paul affirms that Jesus is the eternal ‘repository’ of huma gifts, saying, “In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (gifts and destinies)” (Col.2:3). That is what the golden Lampstand with seven lights in the temple stood for – Jesus is the central light who illuminates whole Lampstand. (Exo.25:31) Light symbolize gift. (You may read about Christ’s new humanity at: http://bulamanriver.net/9718 and Cross: http://bulamanriver.net/9688

If we believe, then Jesus’ destiny becomes ours by attribution. (Rom.8:29) This speaks of our personhood. We have become “persons” with true life in the presence of God. Up to this point, you and I were dead and had no individual existence before God. God is “life” and nothing dead can co-exist with Him. (John 14:6; Eph.2:1) But now at last we have true life and given to “exist” in God’s own likeness, having been brought out from the dead (resurrection) and given a personality with gifts and have a relationship with God in His Tri-Personal Being. Paul tells us to not compare ourselves when someone is successful and we are not because we are all uniquely gifted and have different pathways in life to relate with and commune with God. (Gal.6:4) We wait on the Lord. Our time will come and takes place only in the condition of righteousness and holiness which Christ has charted for us and ascribed to all who believe. Note how Jesus brings this ascribing principle in His prayer to the Father before He was crucified, “I have made You (Father) known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the Love You (Father) have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them.” (John 17:26, emphasis added). What an awesome privilege! All it takes to make this happen is faith. Faith and trust in Jesus’ finished work brings this born-again personality into a person who now lives a purposeful life in God’s temple, in God’s Loving presence.

The old adage, “Give me freedom or give me death,” is the war cry from the heart of our human experience craving liberty and freedom over all forms of bondage and tyranny. The original pilgrims had come to a new world we call America today to escape persecution and oppression, risking all for freedom. It was their spirited and undying pursuit to seek freedom that the holiday of Thanksgiving is remembered today. Today, our pilgrimage is no different, whether it is on a personal level and/or community and national level. Freedom must be fought for and defended against all forms of bondage and totalitarianism. Yet, our Creator understands this cry for freedom more than we can and ever will.

Jesus has defeated the enemy and secured and continues to maintain our freedom into the future for all eternity. The Father gives us this awesome privilege to attain true freedom through His Son. He wants us to recognize that without our foundational spiritual freedom we have in Jesus any other forms of freedom we seek will be temporary much less meaningful and enduring. The Bible says that our divine destiny is complete in Christ, and gives us a promising future, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who Love Him” (1 Cor.2:9). And let us not overlook how this ascribing principle makes it all possible, “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that by His poverty He could make you rich” (2 Cor.8:9). What an awesome favor, honor, and privilege Jesus has given believers to live free as persons true to his/her divine destiny and forever live in the Father’s presence and be recipients of His grace, both now on earth and for eternity in His spiritual Kingdom.

Be Truly Thankful this Thanksgiving Season (WikiCommons)

I hope we can stop to reflect upon the awesome grace we have been afforded and take the time this Thanksgiving season to give thanks to our heavenly Father for the wonderful gift of a life of true freedom we have in His Son through His Spirit.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to write me in the space provided below, or you may email me on bulamanriver@gmail.com. Please continue to pray and help in whatever you can those affected by natural disasters. Thank you for visiting.

Blessing:
Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessings of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the “Triune Life”* in the person of Jesus’ “Immanuel humanity.” Be strong in the Lord’s joy.

Kiang,
(Your Servant In Christ)

* “Triune Life” means to inherit human personhood identifying us as true persons with gifts in Christ and living according to the image and likeness of God. (Gen.1:26-27; Rom.8:29) It means a believer who lives the 3-dimensional life with the Triune God, as opposed to the ‘solitary’ 1-dimensional life in himself (“Adamic humanity”). It means to live in relationship with God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who lives and walks in you (“Immanuel humanity”). Man’s union with the Triune God, or “Triune Living,” is made possible by Jesus, who Himself, is one in substance and reality with the Triune God, who took our humanity into the very Being of the Triune Godhead. To live the “Triune Life” is the miraculous expression of the Spirit in us. The miraculous life is the promise of the New Covenant, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My ordinances, and do them” (Ezek.36:27) You can read more at: http://bulamanriver.net/?p=8036

**Bulamanriver: To read the different facets of the life of the Bulamanriver, go to my website, www.bulamanriver.com, where you can order a copy of my book, “Bulamanriver – The Miracle of Triune Living” Or, you may go to the directory banner at top and click “Mission” where you will find more information.

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All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.

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