Greetings Friends Everywhere,
Thank you for taking the time to share my posts through this Blog site. I hope it has given you encouragement for living, as it did mine in writing it. Life is a joy to live when we follow our Creator’s calling and purpose for life.
In my last post, I have tried to articulate the Triune Life* we have in Jesus through the imagery of the river as articulated in John 7:37-39. In this post, I will continue to draw attention to living the Triune Life we have (exist) in God through Christ in the power of the Spirit. This post is presented in three parts, and explains how Jesus mediates our life and all life’s responses, good and bad, and presents us perfect in Himself as our sacrifice before the Father. This is the essence and heart of what it means to have life, and live it as the Bulamanriver** (Triune Life/Love).
Human Will & Divine Will
The purpose of the Triune life we have in Christ is to harmonize the human life, with all its responses, with the divine will. When Christ came, He made the divine will possible in man, for He was fully God originating from the Triune Godhead, and fully man. It could not have been done before Christ’s coming. So man, by accepting Jesus as Savior becomes like Him, living a unified, two-pronged existence. One is the divine existence which Christ brings to him, and the other is his mortal, physical existence. Man’s divine being exists in heaven, made possible because Christ took our humanity into heaven, having glorified it through His perfect life, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. Man was never able to be joined to this divine Triune Life of God until Christ came – and until man expressed faith in Christ’s work. This is the essential meaning of the name Immanuel ascribed to Jesus to reflect His role of unifying “God with us” (Matt.1:22-23; Isa.7:14).
Jesus at Emmaus. Jesus mediates for Man in His High Priestly Role in Heaven (Pic: Matthias Stom, Wiki Commons)
In that moment of faith, he is given a new birth, or a new life. Jesus explained this to Nicodemus by saying man must be “born again” to have this new divine life from God. Nicodemus assumed man would be given another physical birth with a self-centered “solitary” existence. One is enough to cope with, let alone another “solitary” life to further complicate man’s existence. No, he was mistaken, Jesus was talking of a new birth, a new life from and in heaven. (John 3:1-15) Up until that moment of faith in Jesus, man has always been a “solitary” being, and lives a narcissistic “solitary” life. Now with this new birth, he is no longer a “solitary” being, rather, he takes his place in the life of the Trinitarian God, and becomes a “Triune being” – in place of his “solitary” existence.
Karl Barth, regarded as the greatest Protestant theologian of the twentieth century, writes about this aspect of God’s act in his book, “The Humanity of God.” It did not dismantle the Trinity, God did not become four by adding man in Himself, no, man became part of the Trinity through the second Person of the Triune Godhead – Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Son of Man, took our humanity and glorified it in the very Being of God. The Holy Spirit, because He is One with the Father and Jesus, inherently and automatically became part of us when Jesus glorified our humanity in Himself. Indeed, for God created man for the purpose of joining him to His Triune image and likeness. (Gen.1:26-27)
This difference between the “unbeliever” who has not received Christ, and the “believer” who has Christ, is this new life in Christ which comes to him by a new birth in the power of the Spirit. The guarantee God gives man that his faith in His Son is real – that this new divine birth is reality – is the testimony of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Jesus said the Holy Spirit will live in the life of the believer “forever.” “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you FOREVER” (John 14:16). We see how God cannot deviate from His Trinitarian expression in saving man because that’s who He is by nature – Triune. The Father gives His Son to save man, and through the Spirit, power to live Godly lives. The Spirit’s power to work miracles is the testimony and proof that only believers have this new divine life in Christ in heaven. Paul said if we do not have the Spirit we are none of His. (Rom.8:9b) People believe they go to heaven when they die, no they don’t, man’s already in heaven through the new birth and life in Christ – now! We are waiting for His return with all who dwell with and in Him in heaven. (Mark 8:38; Jude 14-15)
Are Unbelievers Condemned?
Are unbelievers condemned? No, they are all saved. Recall, we were at one time, all unbelievers. The famed passage from John tells us, “For God so loved the world,” – that means not just Christians, the whole world, all peoples of all nations and all race and color – “that he gave His One and only Son.” But the passage goes on to say, “…and whosoever believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” All have been saved and waiting for faith to step into their lives and be given the “born again” divine life in Christ. So, all humans live this unbelieving “solitary” life, until in Jesus they are given the believing “Triune Life.” To live this Triune Life in Christ, you are living in heaven, because that is where the Triune God lives. It is in heaven that the “Triune Life” is lived, and made to exist on earth through the believer. God does not live on earth, we do, and He comes and lives His Triune reality in man by and through the Spirit.
The Spirit is what gives us this guarantee of immortality for He constantly takes us into the Triune Life of God in heaven. (2 Cor.5:5) Why did Jesus say of believers, even if they die, they still live – they never die? (John 11:25-26) They never die because their new reborn life in the Spirit they have already taken up residence in heaven – in Christ. Jesus said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing” (John 6:63). This mortal life is a tent or temple. Paul affirms this for us, “For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2Cor.5:4-5).
This new life we have in Christ is inaugurated in the believer through the ritual of “baptism.” Why is baptism with its inherent meaning so vitally relevant to the believer? Because it expresses a person’s faith in what God is doing through His Son. Through baptism the believer is inducted into this new “born again” life that makes the believer a “Triune being.” Jesus charged the disciples saying, “Baptize them, (or join them) into the life (name) of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (Matt.28:19-20). When a person is immersed in water, like a river, it signifies his burial and death with Christ on the cross. When he rises from the watery grave, he is raised up with Christ in His resurrection. And when hands are laid on the believer for the gift of the Spirit, it is then that he ascends to be with Christ heaven by the Spirit’s power. You are dead, and your life is now hid in Christ in heaven. (Col.3:3) This is the birthplace of the Bula man-river,** who takes his or her stand in the finished work of Christ. (My Book explains this in greater detail, refer my website, www.bulamanriver.com)
Baptism Site in the Jordan River, Believers following in the Footsteps of Jesus (Pic: Wiki Commons)
Paul affirms our spiritual death and resurrection in the baptismal act, saying, “…having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life in now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Co.2:12; 3:1-3).
Paul confirms our death in Christ telling the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, (alright, I’m dead) but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal.2:20).
Again in another passage, reinforcing the believer’s ascension with Christ, Paul said, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Eph.2:6-7).
Christ’s Mediation: Death, Resurrection, & Ascension
This is the substance of man’s faith in Jesus, and God’s faith in man – that we believe God imputes and rubberstamps the mediatory life and work of His Son upon the believer – “I am crucified (died) with Christ.” “You have been raised (resurrected) with Christ.” “God raised me up (ascended) with Christ and seated us with Him in heaven.” As we’ll see, the High Priest is the go-between man and God. This is the reality God the Father sees in every human who believes in His Son. The problematic question to answer seems to be – do I see the same reality the Father sees in me in His Son? Your faith in Christ is no trivial matter. It gives you a new life that exists in another dimension – God’s Trinitarian dimension. Hebrews tells us, “Without faith (in Christ) it is impossible to please God” (Heb.11:6, emphasis added). And this is the question we seek to answer – harmonizing the human life with the divine will. Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and they who worship Him, must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.” The unbelievers with their “solitary” existence cannot exist in this “Trinitarian” dimension.
Looking for “Sacrifice” in All the Wrong Places
Now what happens to this physical mortal body we still have, which Paul calls a “tent?” Elsewhere, he calls it a “temple.” If we exist in heaven in a new life in Christ, then the role of the Spirit is to bring this Triune Life and unify it with our mortal life. (John 16:13-15) That’s how man is “forever” taken to live this Triune life in Christ, in the power of the Spirit. Let’s see how this plays out. Paul said, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship” (Rom.12:1). Peter said that when we face trials and called upon to live sacrificially, we should not think of it as something strange, it happens to us all. He said, “rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings (or ‘sacrifice’) of Christ.” (1 Pet.4:12-13)
Here is another problem: we have wrong ideas about ‘sacrifice.’ We think ‘sacrifice’ is something to be avoided at all costs. Generally, our attitude is, “I’ll live a life against my will – it does not fit-in with the vocabulary of my life. It does not register with me.” The trials and strife of life come at us regardless. We think ‘sacrifice’ happens exclusively to Christians, but not unbelievers – they have it good. We fail to understand, that sacrificial living, though it may not be labeled as such, happens across the spectrum of human experience. Whether we are seeking God’s will for us or not, ‘sacrifice’ is normal and personal. We all live sacrificially, though involuntarily, through the trials and tests of life. No one is immune from this sacrificial life. ‘Sacrifice,’ in one form or another, in every shape and size, is the personal challenge we are called upon to face regardless of race, social status, religion, economic class, nationality, or any wall of division we may want to erect for ourselves. It is the level playing field which defines our humanity.
Dove, Symbol of Holy Spirit (Wiki Commons)
But here is the difference – what matters is the way we choose to respond to the trials and tests of life, and the meaning we assign them in relation to our frame of reference. The greatest teachers in life are wisdom and consequence. Logically, if you have your newborn life in heaven, you will face them differently from those who don’t believe in Christ, who live entirely “solitary” lives. Christ mediates all our human responses. ‘Sacrifice’ now finds meaning and purpose in the believer’s life, for it has become part of the Triune life of God – it’s not something to avoid or regret. It is something to embrace with joy, with your personal calling and life-gift in the Spirit as the attractant and point of reference. (Jam.1:2) So, the sacrificial life we find in the strife of life teaches us to face them with purpose, faith, and Love. In God’s Triune essence of living, He would not ask us to do something He is not prepared to do Himself. He sacrificed His one and only Son because of His enormous Love for us. By doing so, He expounds the essential sacrificial love which must embody all our sacrificial living and giving. That’s Triune living.
He Who Waters Others…
Anything you give for love’s sake, always comes back and makes you grow and become all the better for it. Proverbs tell us, “He who waters others, will himself be watered” (Pro.11:25, KJV). Loving sacrifice is watering others, and we are watered when it is done in the Love of God, as a true Bula man-river. It is as if God is speaking to humanity through the strife of life of human experience, calling upon man, “Come to Me, come to My Son, and you will find rest to your souls.” Man will fight and struggle and turn all his life’s strife and tribulations into a burden too heavy to carry. It has brought on all kinds of stress, sickness, and diseases. But if a man is objective about life in his search for answers, over time he’ll discover he’s backed himself into a corner from which he cannot turn away. He may not like what he sees. He may want to escape it, rather than facing up to its reality. But the answer is obvious and undeniable, and he knows it. Yes, it is Jesus Christ. God offers us a life of sacrifice that’s lived in His Triune Love, not in man’s “solitary” mode or genre. God’s “sacrificial Love” is Trnitarian and divine, whereas, “self-centered sacrifice” is “solitary” and human.
In Part 2 of my installment, we will continue on this subject and cover the principle of imputation, of assignment, of attributing, Paul mentioned in the passages we saw in this installment.
I’ll see you then, meanwhile, realize God’s Love in His Triune expression for you, is far too great for our limited human mind to comprehend fully and completely yet. So we’re living far short of what He has already done and is doing for us because our “solitary” disposition always gets the better of us. Only when we enter the Triune Being of God in Christ, will we see the full expression of His Love toward us in all its magnanimous expression. This is the place of miracles. (Eph. 3:17-21)
* Triune Life means a believer who lives in the Triune Being of God. God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, lives and walks in the “Bula” man-river, and he lives in God’s presence. Man’s union with the Triune God is made possible through Jesus, Himself God who took our humanity into the Triune Godhead.
** 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