Greetings again, friends everywhere! 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.
In Part 1 of this post, I explained that the purpose of the Bulamanriver* in the Triune Life** is to harmonize the human life, with all his responses, with the divine will of God. We saw this can happen only through a new life humanity is given in Christ by a new birth in the power of the Spirit. Through this miraculous act, we are “born again,” given a new life, in Christ in heaven. Thus, we live a two-pronged life – the reborn true life in heaven, and the physical life on earth. We saw this new life is inaugurated in the life of the believer through the ritual of “baptism.” Baptism signifies the death and burial of the old self, and the birth of humanity’s new identity in Christ’s own death, resurrection, and ascension. He now lives in heaven in Christ. In the parable of the Bulamanriver*, a person now the riverbed and the Spirit of “living waters” forever flows in him/her. We ended on the matter of ‘sacrifice’ where we saw that it is something that can’t be avoided because humanity face the strife of life universally. ‘Sacrifice’ is not bad but good, for our heavenly Father led the way by ‘sacrificing’ His one and only Son for mankind. “Sacrificial Love” is Trinitarian and divine, whereas “self-centered sacrifice” is “solitary” and human. The “Trinitarian Life” is motivated by God’s Love, while the “solitary life” is motivated by human fear. Let’s continue…
Principle of Imputing
Consider the principle of imputing, of assigning, of superimposing the life of Jesus upon believers. In part one, we saw Paul talks about this in his letters to the Galatians, the Ephesians, and the Colossians. This theme shapes and props the New Testament message all through, and reveals the Love and activity of the Trinitarian God in man. Paul tells the Romans, “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people” (Rom.5:17-18).
If Adam’s disobedience in Eden was and continues to be imputed upon all of humanity resulting in human death and alienation from God, then Jesus’ obedience and faithfulness is likewise attributed to the believer and reconciles humanity to God and brings salvation and true life in the Spirit. We can offer our lives as a ‘sacrifice’ only because Jesus has gone before and offered Himself for mankind. We can love God with all our heart, mind and strength, because as a human, Jesus has already loved God perfectly in our place. In of the fallen state of human beings, inhered from Adam, a person cannot Love God as expected of him/her through human effort. Just as God imputes Adam’s fallen state of existence upon earthly humans, so He imputes Jesus’ perfect and risen heavenly life upon believing mankind, thus becoming humanity’s Mediator.
Jesus Mediates for the Disciples and Believers at the Last Supper (Philippe de Champaigne, Wiki Commons)
Jesus Had No Sin to Repent
Therefore, the baptism we undergo as believers is to personify the reality of the reborn life we now have in Christ in heaven. It is the participation of His baptism of repentance in the Jordan, which we vicariously assume in Him. Jesus did not have to undergo the baptism of repentance of John the Baptist – he had no sin to repent. John himself said this when Jesus approached him to be baptized, “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you, so why are you coming to me?” (Matt.3:14) But what Jesus told John further expounds this principle, he said, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt.3:15). And John knew what Jesus meant. He was sent to prepare the way for this momentous event Jesus was about to do for mankind by going into the Jordan, repenting for all humanity.
This overarching principle of transference, substitution, and collaborative responsibility is the essence of the Triune Love of God. It explains the inestimable value of God’s Love for mankind. However, the “solitary” existence of humanity is influenced by his fears under the sway and control of the devil. Though humanity choose to live his “solitary” life, nothing exists in isolation or in “solitary” existence apart from God in all His creation and ongoing creative works. He does not depend on creation, but creation depends upon Him for its interconnected and interrelated (Triune) mode of survival. Therefore, this Triune image of the Creator undergirds all His creative handiwork, especially so with humans, and man’s interaction with the Creator, other humans and with all creation – whether we recognize it or not. We ignore it at our own detriment and peril. Everything in the created universe spontaneously harmonizes with God’s interconnected Triune nature and character. It’s an unspoken truth that fills our universe, our earth, and speaks to us in silence for it undergirds all of creation. (Ps.19:1-6)
The challenge that humanity can’t seem to get a handle on, springs from his insistence to relate with God on his own “solitary” terms and fearful mindset, instead of God’s unified “Trinitarian” terms of Loving interdependent relationship. “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship (relate) in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24, emphasis added). We’re misguided when we imagine what we “do” is what earns us His favor. What we are capable of doing for Him in our “solitary” and fearful frame of mind, will never move the dial of His grace in our favor a single notch. Grace is dispensed through Jesus, and Christ alone. Christ has done it all – He is mankind’s complete Savior. The spirit of loving the “self” is at the root of the “solitary” life in humanity. Mankind, who alone possesses a God-like mind, has to make a deliberate choice to recognize and align himself/herself in this Triune environment. In a previous post, I wrote that true life begins where our concept of God takes root. When we think Trinitarianly in the Spirit, our minds take a totally new perspective in life – we’ll see that everything in creation is interconnected, interrelated, and unified and is meant to be that way, for God is interdependently Trinitarian. More so in His relationship with man, and man’s relationship with his fellow humans. We experience His Trinitarian expression of His outgoing Love in all of life. Nothing in creation has a “solitary” life, or lives in isolation.
Repented for Humanity
So, in true Trinitarian expression of His Love, we see Jesus, though He had no sin to repent of, assumed the “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” of John the Baptist, and repented in the place of humanity (Luke 3:3; Matt.3:13-17; Rom.6:3-4). A person repents because Jesus has already done it for him/her, not because he/she is capable of doing it “solitarily” of himself/herself. Or, a person is able to repent of his/her sins when he/she believes God superimposes Jesus own act of repentance upon the believer in the Spirit’s power. The Spirit is given to inspire and convict humans to participate in the assignable repentance of Jesus. (John 16:7-11; 2 Cor.5:21; 1 John 2:2)
The heart to repent comes not from the human will and effort, but from the Spirit’s move and activity in the person. This is the Spirit’s dance of Love with the believer. (Rom.5:5) This is the essence of the divine Triune activity in mankind. Jesus has already mediated for our repentance in Himself when He was baptized in the Jordan, and upon Calvary’s cross. This principle of imputing or crediting Christ’s life and death upon humanity is how we are made right with God.
When we begin to think Trinitarianly, we will realize there’s nothing in the salvation God offers humanity that can be done “solitarily” – it has to be the Triune activity of the divine will all through. And the Trinitarian activity is one of attributing and imputing Jesus’ life upon mankind. That’s the purpose of Jesus taking up His humanity – the “Immanuel,” to join mankind to the Triune God (“God with us”) (Matt.1:23; Isa.7:14).
Modern day baptism of believers in the Jordan River. Jesus inaugurated Man’s Baptism of Forgiveness of Sins (Pic: Wiki Commons)
Died for Mankind
Though Jesus was without sin and did not deserve death, (for the Bible states, “the wages of sin is death” – Rom.6:23) He was crucified by taking humanity’s sin upon Himself, so we can be forgiven and redeemed. (John 19:16-18; Rom. 6:6-8; 2 Cor. 5:21) This is the principle of attribution inherent in the Triune Being and Life of God, in whose image man was made to replicate. Repentance stands alone if there is no sacrifice to offer for it. Conversely, a sacrifice is relevant only when genuine repentance accompanies it. The two form one movement in Jesus, who mediates both man’s repentance (Jordan) and forgiveness (Golgotha/Cross).
And, equally importantly, Jesus mediates all of our human responses. The first of which was to defeat the devil which Adam failed to do in Eden and brought destruction and death upon man. After His baptism, Jesus was led by the Spirit to face and defeat Satan once and for all in the most important battle fought for mankind’s deliverance. So, by the same attributing principle humanity can defeat the devil’s temptations because Jesus has already done it for us. Jesus tells us, “But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, ESV). The ‘world’ corresponds to the ‘wilderness’ where Jesus faced and defeated Satan. (Eph.6:12; Rev.12:9) Peter warns us, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are” (1 Pet.5:8-9).
Lived for Humanity – Between Jordan and Golgotha
Three momentous events: Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, the defeat of the devil in the Judean wilderness and perfect life of service of Love to all, and His death on the cross, resurrection, and ascension, represents all our human responses to life He took upon Himself and now Mediates as our High Priest, today and forever before the Father in heaven. Peter’s account of Jesus’ life speaks of Jesus mediation for man’s human responses, “You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached – how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him” (Acts 10:37-38; also see Isaiah 61:1-3). In other words, in between these three pillar events, He lived a perfect life. When He took the pain and heartaches of all the people who came to him, and healed all their sicknesses and alleviated their sufferings, He was mediating all our human condition and responses in Himself.
Hence, we are given this Triune statement and blessing, “Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:4-6, read the remainder of the chapter). Do we sense the essential meaning of Trinitarian expression of God’s Love? Paul says, “So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority” (Col.2:10 NLT). Our wholeness and completeness as a person comes from our union with and in Jesus. This principle of attributing and assigning is at the heart of the Trinitarian life.
Jesus death on Cross was Ultimate act of Mediation for Fallen Humanity (Wiki Commons)
“More than Conquerors” in Christ
God, by vicariously superimposing the life of Jesus upon believers, is given the ability to overcome the devil and his schemes because He has already defeated Satan in the wilderness. (Matt.4) He said, “Take heart (be of good cheer), I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, emphasis added) That is a statement of attributing Jesus’ victory over the devil and the world as embodying our own victory.
Paul affirms this victory, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered” (or, the sacrificial life). No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom.8:31-39, emphasis added).
Israel & The Sacrificial System
Now, think about ‘sacrifice’ in the Trinitarian meaning of its application. For the essential meaning of repentance (Jordan), defeating the devil’s temptations, and human forgiveness through His death (Golgotha/Cross), springs from God’s own ‘sacrifice’ of giving His Son upon the cross for man’s repentance and forgiveness. Ancient Israel offered ‘sacrifices’ to their God. It was part of the national life of Israel. Recall what the sacrifices meant – they were offered because of transgressions and offences. The Levitical priesthood was part of the sacrificial system of Israel. The sacrifice was offered in the temple where God dwelt. The sacrifice was intended to create awareness for the need for reconciliation and reparation for the wrongs done in the community of Israel. Sacrifice is therefore an act of Love reflecting God Himself. Its intention is to replace acts of selfishness with acts of selflessness and generosity. By doing this, over time the nation would become God’s own people reflecting Him. When we look at sacrifice in that light, it is not as undesirable as it seems.
For the sacrifice is an act of God’s Love – that’s the essence of sacrifice from the Trinitarian perspective. Nevertheless, sacrifice can be self-centered – that’s how the “solitary” mind of the Bulumanriver*** experiences the strife and trials of life. The spirit of loving the “solitary” self is at the center of the person’s motivation and action. It’s the 1-dimensional “solitary” life of fear and love for self, as opposed to the 3-dimensional “Triune” Love of God, where man’s activity is outgoing and considers the welfare of others. (Refer my Book, Pg.56, 96, 109) It’s unfortunate, but this is still the case in the lives of many who call themselves ‘Christians.’ They have yet to anchor their lives in the Trinitarian values reflecting the Triune mind of God. They are still living “solitary” lives and trying to impose this fearful mindset upon the Triune God. It’s untenable and unsustainable. It disengages the Spirit and limits His influence in man.
New Covenant Sacrifice
With the Old Covenant done away, the New Covenant presents a different set of answers to the matter of ‘sacrifice.’ (Hebrews, chapters 9 & 10) It has now taken a more all-embracing acceptance of life, with the animal sacrifices removed. We read this in Romans. In the Message Bible we read, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life, and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you as the best thing you can do for Him” (Rom.12:1, MSG).
God is not asking you to do something for Him that you conjure up in your “solitary self.” The Christian faith is about what God has done for man, not what man can do for God. He’s asking you to embrace what He has done for you – that’s what God, in His Loving Trinitarian Being, has done in giving His one and only Son. Then, once you recognize that, in turn, you embrace it as the only best thing you can do for Him. The best thing the Father has done for us is Lovingly offer His Son as our repentance, sacrifice, and High Priest. Accepting that in faith wholeheartedly, is what God expects of us – nothing more, nothing less. God has chosen to join Himself to mankind through Immanuel, His Son. This is a picture of Jesus marriage to the Church, His bride.
You, the Temple
The abolition of sacrifices under the Old Covenant does not necessarily mean the end of sacrifices altogether. It is presented in its New Covenant context in Christ’s sacrificial Love. For the sacrificial system of Israel was all pointing to the reality of the ultimate Loving sacrifice fulfilled in Christ’s sacrificial death. Here’s the New Covenant application – under the New Covenant, you are the temple. The temple built by Solomon in all its glorious splendor, was a picture of one superlative truth to God – the truth of humanity as God’s living temple!
When God gave instruction how the tabernacle was to be built down to the finest detail, He was depicting the human life as the temple in whom He would live, walk, and propagate a Triune relationship in His Love. (Exo.chaps. 25-30) Paul affirms this, saying, “We are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people’” (2 Cor.2:16; 1 Cor.3:16).
God does not live in a structure made by human hands. If that were true, Solomon’s temple would never have been destroyed. (Acts 7:47-49; Isa. 66:1-2) The old covenant sacrificial system stood for the legalistic life that has been don away, and replaced with the sacrificial Love of Jesus within the new covenant. (Heb.8:7-13)
The physical temple in Jesus’ day, in its spiritual divine/human depiction under the Old Covenant, was destroyed – we know what happened. The moment Jesus breathed His last on the cross, a great earthquake shook the temple and tore the heavy curtain of the inner sanctuary from top to bottom. This was to signify that the temple, given to Israel to illustrate God’s heavenly abode on earth, ceased to exist from that time forward. (Matt.27:50-53)
The temple had translated from a building made with hands, to the living, physical, human believer under the New Covenant. The physical material temple was no longer necessary nor needed, for its reality in Jesus, has come. Jesus takes our humanity in Himself and as mankind’s High Priest into the true inner sanctuary of God’s presence in heaven, once and for eternity. Because of that, all of humanity, from every corner of the globe, now have access to enter the most holy place in heaven through Christ. Our reborn life in Jesus in heaven is replicated in man, God’s very temple on earth. This is the essence of the Triune Life and how it is lived. As to the physical temple in Jerusalem, it was destroyed in A.D. 70, just as Jesus predicted.
In Part 3 of my final installment, I will continue on this subject and see how this principle of attribution and covering affects us personally as Christians and believers. In the mean time, live in the energy of the Lord’s joy in the Bulamanriver.*
Kiang (Your Servant In Christ)
** 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.
*** Bulumanriver means the person who lives a life in his “solitary” existence in himself without God, but influenced by the devil. (For detailed exposition read my Book: “Bula” man-river – The Miracle of Triune Living.”)
* The “Bulamanriver” 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