Greetings from Dallas, Texas!
The most basic and pivotal knowledge man can have is to understand God is Trinitarian. For the Christian, the mention of the name of God, must always convey His Trinitarian Being of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. From the Trinitarian worldview, the human mind opens vistas of perspectives he would not otherwise comprehend in his “solitary” human worldview. Christ came to open the consciousness of man to a realm unknown to man. Jesus can be seen and lived from a “solitary” human realm and focus. When that happens, we deny His heritage, we put Him in a box of our making, and we deny ourselves a glorious world that’s beyond our knowing, which only He, in His Trinitarian Being can take us.
God is Triune In His Being as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
The second is to translate that Triune worldview so it undergirds the believer’s life, and how it can be made to manifests itself into a practical way of life. Whenever we hear the expression that God is with a person, it means God’s “Triune Life” undergirds the person’s life, for God has eternally been a Trinity. And third, we answer the question, is it humanly possible to live this “Triune Life” of God, and the answer of course is ‘no.’ Only Jesus Christ can bring it to man, for He is Triune as much as He is indivisibly part of the Trinitarian Godhead.
The Trinitarian Life we have in Christ, is not just a doctrine or belief we keep locked up in our heads, but it’s a hands-on, concrete, down-to-earth, way of life. Many believe in the Trinity in the intellectual and theological sense, but haven’t a notion how to live it. Athanasius said this, “The revelation of Christ” (again, when the name of Jesus Christ is mentioned, we understand Him in His basic heritage as part of the Triune God), Athanasius said, “The revelation of Christ is addressed primarily to the will (God’s Love) not to the intellect; it’s appeal is to Faith (Christ’s Faith) not to theology.” That’s to say, the “Triune Life” is to be lived through Jesus’ Faith by the sowing of God’s Love in the field of human relations- it’s not just an academic matter.
Light is Seen in Human Interaction
Jesus asked, “do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt.5:15-16). Light is not something to be hidden but to give illumination. Light by its nature is not something merely to be grasped intellectually or theologically, because its character is to manifest how it affects people in how life is lived in a practical hands-on way. Man can have wonderful ideas about many things, but if they is not sown or tested in the field of human interactions and relationships, it is still “light hidden under a bowl or bushel.”
A Shared Mutual Life
Note that the light is not beaming on man alone, but on the Father ultimately. It’s quite easy to take the glory that rightfully belongs to God, and make it ours by basking in our own self-approval. Once we turn anything that glorifies God into a human “solitary” self-focus we disempower God in lives. Unfortunately, we do that all the time as humans under the influence of the devil. By saying “let your light shine, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father,” Jesus is affirming man’s union in the Triune Being of God. It’s a life that’s lived mutually in the Triune Being of God. It’s a glory God shares with man because through Christ man is brought to have communion with the Triune God.
Devils’ Sin – to Usurp
The sin of the devil from the beginning was his attempt to usurp for himself the glory that rightfully belongs to God. God desires to share His glory with man, that’s His ultimate purpose for making man in His image. Satan continues to try to usurp God’s glory today in deceived mankind. That life leads to the “solitary life.” We live the “Triune Life” in mutual Love and sharing with the Father, Son, and Spirit. When we live the “solitary life” we live powerless lives.
“Works” Determines God’s “Triune Life”
Jesus encountered many people who did not believe He was the Messiah or the Son of God as He proclaimed Himself. By Pentecost there were only 120 out of the thousands upon thousands He taught and manifested supernatural miraculous healing acts never before witnessed in Israel. It is not uncommon to form perceptions of a person where false information is bandied about. And their perception becomes reality. Jesus knew this and told the people (I’m paraphrasing here), “If you don’t believe Me, that’s fine by Me, but believe the works, for no man can do this unless God is with Him” (John 10:38). By saying “unless God is with him,” Nicodemus validates Jesus’ “Triune Life” with the Father and the Spirit. Even though the whole Jewish religious establishment denounced Jesus and called Him a charlatan and false Messiah, Nicodemus, as much as he liked to side with his fellow rulers of the synagogue, looked to the works of Jesus, and told Jesus no one could do what he did unless God was with Him. (John 3:2) Through the works of God in Him, Jesus’ Triune Being He is corroborated.
Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” It’s a new life which comes from the death of the “solitary life” to the new birth in the “Triune Life.” Jesus was living the “Triune Life.” Jesus, as our example, was showing us how a human being is suppose to live as God was showing through His Son. Jesus tells Nicodemus, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit” (John 3:5-6). Paul tells us how this death takes place and new birth come about, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal.2:20). If “Christ lives in me” then the “Triune Life” is alive in me. The “Triune Life” is mutually lived so we reflect the God who lives in us. It’s the Triune Life that produces the work of God. The “solitary” human life is powerless to do the work of God.
What “Triune” Means
To be “Triune” simply means a life that’s mutually cooperative, it is interconnected, interrelated, unified, and ONE! Triune means, to use a modern idiom, “ONE for all, and all for ONE.” That’s to say, the act of any One is the act of all Three in the Godhead. It’s a shared life. That’s how God IS in His Triunity! The “Triune Life” is anchored in eternity. It’s the opposite of being “solitary,” self-sufficient, independent, private, self-willed, narcissistic – the end-result of which is disunity and discord. The “solitary life” is anchored in emptiness and extinction. A group of people can be united, like a club of some kind, but still be “solitary” because it is self-serving in its objectives. So, Triune means to be ONE with God, not with other humans. We become one with other humans by first being ONE with the Triune God. So life and relationships are linked to eternity with Love (God) at its core, instead of existing in an abyss of fear and self-love.
Jesus Brings the “Triune Life” to Man
So when Jesus joined man to God as the prophesied Immanuel (Isa.7:14; Matt.1:23), man is given the ability to live the “Triune Life” through a Personage within the Triune Godhead – the Son, Jesus Christ who took our humanity in Himself and unified man to God. Jesus glorified our humanity when He became human, and in His life, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension joined us eternally to the Triune God. Jesus did not just glorify Himself. He was the prophesied Immanuel, “God with us – God with mankind.” He glorified all of mankind in Himself. He said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to Myself” (John 12:32).
Principle of Imputation/Substitution
This is a vital Trinitarian principle. The principle of imputation, of substitution, of implied consequence. God imputes the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of His Son, for and on behalf of all mankind. Hence, John tells us “God so loved the world, (ie all mankind) He gave His Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall have everlasting life” (John 3:16). All that’s required is faith. This principle of imputation is an act of substitution for another – God’s Son is representing all mankind. You cannot just attribute His death, resurrection, and ascension, and not His life as well. He was baptized for us, therefore, God accepted his repentance for us. He defeated the devil, therefore God accepted His victory for us, (just as Adam’s failure did.) He lived a life of supreme good through His miraculous Life by healing man from all kinds of sickness and disease, deformity, broken-heartedness, and even raised the dead back to life – for us. He healed all who came to Him. Then He died, resurrected, and ascended for us, and joined us the Triune God forever in Himself.
Living In The Vicarious Life of Jesus
In Jesus, who took our humanity with Him into the Godhead, we can repent and be baptized; now, we can overcome the devil and his wiles; now, we can do good and be “my brother’s keeper,” – not because we have the wherewithal in our humanity to do it, but because Jesus has already done it and God the Father imputes His righteous life upon us. (2 Cor.5:21; Rom.3:24) This born again miraculous “Triune Life” is one we live vicariously in Him. And He comes and does it all over again in us in the power of the Holy Spirit who brings the “Triune Life” to us. Do we believe that? It’s a life of Faith, it’s not about intellect. In my Book, “Bula man-river – The Miracle of Triune Living,” I use the metaphor of the river, calling it “Bula man-river”* to portray this miraculous life we live and have in the “Triune LIfe” of Jesus.
Adam & Abraham
This principle of substitution is a Trinitarian principle. It is the principle of imputing one’s life for another. Life is ONE and unified as He is in the Father, Son, and Spirit. Nothing is “solitary” and exists or subsists by itself. And it does not just apply to Jesus’ work, it has always been there because God’s Triune nature has always undergirded all of life. Think of Adam – one man’s disobedience was imputed upon all mankind. The effect of Adam’s disobedience was a imputing act which alienated all mankind from God. But God promised to send a second Adam in His Son, when He reprimanded the devil saying: “I will put enmity between you and the woman,” or as the Message Tr. Says, “I am declaring war between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers (referring to the Son of Man, Jesus). He’ll wound your head, you’ll wound his heel” (Gen.3:14-15; 1 Cor.15:22). God sealed the redemption of mankind by declaring His Son would come for and on behalf of mankind. In order to do that, He himself had to take on the form of man, and do battle in the wilderness with the devil, and defeat the devil once for all – for you and I.
Consider Abraham, because of his faith God blessed his family through Isaac and Jacob, and all Israel. You’ll notice that each time God stepped in and rescued Israel from their self-inflicting ways, He always fell back to Israel’s default position – what was that? The faith of one man and His promise to him – Abraham, by which Israel was made a chosen people. Long before God chose Israel, He chose Abraham. So, if the Israelites were implied recipients of Abraham’s faithfulness, there was an obvious implicit sense of duty to follow the patriarchal example, and likewise, be faithful. But history tells us otherwise. Their own self-will acts – which is attributive remember – nullified their place in the covenant. What’s our default position? It’s Jesus substitutionary “Triune Life” in place of the “solitary life” of self. It’s Jesus’ Triune heritage as part of the Triune Being of God, which is all the reason He is Savior of mankind. Eventually Israel and Judah went into captivity. But the promise to Abraham still stands – He is bringing many faithful today through a new covenant in Christ. Israel was reenacting this coming reality through their sacrificial system.
Man’s Free Will to Choose
Of course, this principle of imputation does not mean all peoples are locked-in and unable to be rescued from Adam’s ill-fated choice. We still have the freewill to investigate our traditions and norms, and if they are unsound and erroneous (as they are), we acknowledge our error and God is faithful to forgive us through His Son. Notice what God told the Israelites, 14 “But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things… He will not die for his father’s sin; he will surely live.18 But his father will die for his own sin, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people.19 “Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all My decrees, he will surely live” (Ezek.18:14-19). So the Israelites understood this principle of substitution and implied consequence, asking, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ although not in a Triune sense, but the principle was applicable for God eternally existed in His Triunity. It was explained to them through Abraham’s faithfulness by the priesthood who taught the people.
Jesus’ Own “Triune Life”
On a human level Jesus, who had always existed from eternity within the Triune Being of God with the Father and the Spirit, tells us how our human response to the Trinitarian life this way, “By Myself I can do nothing;” – of course He can’t. How can He when He is indivisibly, inseparably, unified to the Father and the Spirit, as ONE Triune Being. Jesus told the people this about His teachings, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent Me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on My own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about Him” (John 7:16-18). Further He said, “I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (John 5:30). He is showing us, as our example, how the “Triune Life” is lived. He said further, “The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority” – of course, it’s impossible for Jesus to speak “solitarily” in His Triune ONE-NESS with the Father and the Spirit. He goes on, “Rather, it is the Father, living in Me, who is doing His work. Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me?” (John 14:10). How can man live the “Triune Life” unless he is unified to Christ in a spiritual rebirth? Paul said we are seated with Christ in our spiritual resurrected state as He was when he resurrected and ascended to the Father in heaven, making possible the “Triune Life” in man. (Eph.2;6)
Jesus Raising the Dead, He Said, “I Am the Resurrection” (Wiki Commons)
So, even the words were not spoken out of a human “solitary” focus – they were measured and undergirded in the “TriuneLlife” He always had from eternity with the Father and the Spirit. He did not speak out of a self-centered, egotistical, conceited, self? He was human undoubtedly, and had all the pulls of our human nature to live the “solitary life.” Heb.4:15 tells us, “For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet He did not sin.” But His words were measured, spoken out of a life that’s interconnected with the Spirit who gave Him inspiration with the blessing of the Father.
Applies to You and Me – Paul’s Support of The Triune Principle
Here’s what we fail to realize, this principle of attribution and implied consequence, continues to undergird man’s relationship with other humans today. Man was not made to exist privately and in isolation in himself. Man was made with the potential to have God’s Triune likeness so he can live in Loving communion with his fellow humans, as God does in His Triunity. Yet, sadly, man turns this relationship into something he can utilize for his own “solitary,” narcissistic, and evil interests under the influence of the devil. He let’s his self-will take over, and greed, covetousness, extortion, and corruption, takes over and dominate his life. All his actions carries this imputative consequence. Notice how Paul supports this Triune implied/attributive/substitutionary consequence upon us individually as believers, “For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife (believing), and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy” (1Cor.7:14, emphasis added). Only through the “Triune Life” you have in Christ, is this made possible.
I like the way Paul states this Triune principle in the family context. It starts with your family where your “Triune Life” in Christ covers those around you, so they also are in good standing with God because of you. Though they may not be in direct union with God, you are that connection which brings grace to them. That’s what implied consequence means. That’s how the whole world is saved through Christ, though many may not know it yet.
Holy Spirit makes “Triune Life” Possible
We don’t often realize this, but the Holy Spirit is given to bring and make the “Triune Life” possible in man. This “Triune Life” cannot be lived with human effort and strength alone, though we have the potential to live it because man was made in God’s likeness. When left to ourselves, when we try to use human strength to follow God’s ways, we will always revert back to a “solitary” human focus to something that really requires the Spirit to do in us. Jesus made very plain that the Spirit is given to make the “Triune Life” possible in man: “But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. (Notice) He will not speak on His own; (He does not behave or act “solitarily”) He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify Me because it is from Me that He will receive what He will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from Me what He will make known to you” (John 16:13-15, emphasis added).
Dove Symbol of the Holy Spirit & God’s Love (Wiki Commons)
This is where the “Triune Life” in Christ gives birth in a believer – the Holy Spirit enters and flows like a full-flowing river which flows unabated day and night and never dries up. Jesus said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” (John 7:37-39). Twenty four hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks in a year, He flows day and night never ceasing to supply the Love of God to make the “TRIUNE LIFE” possible in you and me. Where is the source of this river? From the mountain – the mountain represents the throne of God. The Spirit is given to man as a gift flowing perpetually through his life, and as He dwells in man, He is at the same time indivisibly and inseparably connected to the Triune God for He is God. So, as long as He lives in us, He brings the “Triune Life” of Jesus to us, and He takes us to the Father through the Son in heaven. That unity with the Triune Being of God which the Spirit makes possible in man, is the essence of the glorious “Triune Life” we have in Christ.
Knowing Christ Through the “Triune Life”
It’s not possible to live the Triune Life, as did Jesus when He walked a human, without the Holy Spirit’s personal presence in a believer. What did Jesus say that will make people recognize we are His disciples? He prayed the Father, 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, 21 that all of them may be One, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.” Notice, in His final prayer before He was taken to be crucified, His prayer was about the “Triune Life” – that man will be ONE with the Father through Christ, through the Spirit He will send on Pentecost. Then Jesus utters a very important proviso what the Triune Life will do to you and me, He said, “May they also be in Us (the Triune God) so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.” How would the world come to know the real Jesus? By each and every believer living the “Triune Life.”
Reaching Christ with a “Solitary” Focus?
We can try to reach people for Christ with a “solitary” focus, but in the end it will not amount to anything. It is impossible to know Christ except through the “Triune Life” man can have only in Christ, who is Himself Triune within the Godhead with the Father and the Spirit. This is God’s work, making known to mankind who He IS. He does it the only way He IS – living the “Triune Life,” through the Spirit who brings it to us. Jesus prayed, “22 I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be One as We are One— 23 I in them and You in Me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” What is the glory Christ received from the Father and gave the disciples? Yes, the “Triune Life” – “that they may be ONE as We are ONE.” That is the Trinitarian Life. Jesus here calls the “Triune Life,” a Life of Glory. Why, because that is where the source of glory originates – from the Triune Being of God! The “Triune Life” was unknown to man until Christ came and revealed the Father and the Holy Spirit to mankind.
Live The “Triune Life”
So, my question to us in this post is, do we believe as did Paul, that by becoming Christ’s, we are thereby obligated to live the “Triune Life?” There is no other way, for Jesus Himself is Triune. The life of Israel as a people taught us that faithfulness cannot be realized through human effort. Jesus brought the Spirit to empower us to make Abrahamic faith possible through the “Triune Life.” Before we say a word, before we act, do we stop and think, my words and my acts have implied consequence. We live the “Triune Life” in Christ so all we say and do have consequential implication, first within the “Triune Life” of God as it affects the Father, Son, and Spirit, and second with our fellow humans? (LUK.10;27) The Triune God is ONE because in their nature of LOVE they act as ONE, as we are likewise eternally joined to them through Christ. We can accept Jesus with a “solitary” focus, and we put Him in a box of our own making – but it won’t be the true Jesus because He is “Triune” with His Father and Spirit. Let our words be measured, and our acts be tampered in the Triune Love of God in Christ, in the power of the Spirit.
Do you believe in your heart that it is humanly impossible to live this “Triune Life” in Christ without the Holy Spirit? In this life and the hereafter, He is the only gift we will ever need from our Father. For from the Spirit who connects us to the Father through the Son, everything else concerning you and me as a person in His plans for us, flows into your life and mine. Make the Spirit personal to your own life, your true Friend, for He was given to be your Advocate and Helper in whatever situation in life.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to write me in the space provided below, or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessing of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you today and give you strength for authentic Triune Living as a Bula man-river.*
Kiang (Your Servant in Christ)
* The “Bula man-river” is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life” – the source of the miraculous life in man. To read the many facets of life of the Bula man-river, go to my website www.bulamanriver.com where you can order a copy of my Book. Thank you for your support.
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise