Greetings, friends everywhere. We celebrate our Independence in the United States of America. Yet, the endurance of our liberties relies more than ever on our Interdependence, if we are to survive in any meaningful and lasting way in the world today.
In this third and final installment, we will see how this abiding Triune principle of interdependence, of attributing the baptism, life, and death of Jesus, constitutes and defines the personal faith and life of the believer, and those of his loved ones. The “Trinitarian Life” is motivated by God’s Love for man, while the “solitary life” is motivated by man’s fear of man. Let’s continue…
Day of Atonement – Living the Sacrificial Life
Once a year, on the day known as the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur to the Jews, all the wrongs and offenses of the nation was taken by the high priest into the inner sanctuary of the temple, known as the holiest place. There, in the most sacred place of the temple where God was present, the nation’s wrongs were confessed and absolved through a predetermined ritual played out by the high priest. (Lev.16) The sacrificial system given to Israel was mediated by the Levitical priesthood. It was centered on the high priest appointed by God. An Israelite could not offer a sacrifice for himself. It was the role of the priest who was God’s intermediary with man. The priest was the go-between man and God. Note also, the sacrificial system of Israel was highly regulated as to what sacrificial offering an Israelite can bring for various offenses. (Read Book of Leviticus)
An Israelite may choose to sacrifice as many burnt offerings as he likes upon a mountain of his choice. He thinks God will be impressed with his giving. But it amounts to nothing, if he does not follow the laid-down regulations to the letter. There is nothing man can offer, no matter how big or how valuable, which, by his human estimation, may acquit him of his offences – nothing. There’s no amount of good you and I can do, in our “solitary” expression of self, that we can say is a form of sacrifice, which can be credited against my offences – nothing. This is what religion has imposed upon man – telling people their “obedience” will save them, among many other legalistic demands. It cannot save anyone. We don’t “obey,” we Love God. Love is a ‘willing obedience’ and sacrifice, not a forced ‘legalistic obedience.’ (refer to my earlier post titled, “Bula man-river’s Answer to Obedience,” dated May 11th, 2013).
Not only in religion, but this independent “solitary” mindset, based upon fear, is pervasive in all of life, in societies, in human relationships and interactions. We have been swept into the world’s “performance/reward” based approach to life, which has defined relationships as something to be traded, and we have called it “good.” It’s a behavior cloaked in man’s “solitary” expression of himself. The enemy has made this “performance/reward” spirit so invasive and seemingly inescapable, it flows menacingly in the deathly waters of the Bulu man-river.* (Jer. 17:9) We must find cause to extract ourselves from the grips of this self-centered mindset. This deathly waters, flowing in man, has to be “flushed out”** if the Triune Life is to become man’s reality. (see Chapter 1 of my Book which explains this term, and Mission Statement above) It’s a life driven by fear. There’s performance on one hand, and reward on the other. It’s a form of ‘payback,’ if you like. It stems from the independent “solitary” mindset with the ‘self’ at the center of its gravitational influence. This is diametrically opposite from the interdependent Trinitarian mindset of God’s Love given without conditions which is at the center of His activity in man. It runs contrary to the principle of imputing, of attributing, and substitution that’s the essence of God’s Love when He gave us His Son for our absolute and eternal redemption.
There’s nothing wrong with getting paid for a job done: “The worker deserves his wages” (1Tim.5:18b). However, if we presume to make reparation for wrongs with something “good” through this “performance/reward” payback mindset, that is another matter. Man, in his relationship with God, transposes this graceless conduct onto Him, thinking he can “repay” and work his way into His favor. Subconsciously, man wears this “solitary” mantle and applies his fears in all he does. We are to wear and “put on” the cloak of Jesus’ and put on His Triune Love in what we do, in the Spirit. Love is about giving without consideration for reward. “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh (“solitary” fearful mindset)” (Rom.13:14, emphasis added).
Israel’s Exodus and the Death of the Messiah are Identical Motifs of the Passover God has Chosen as Substitutionary Acts of Grace to Save Man (John 3:16; Act.2:38) (Pics: Wiki Commons)
It is true God will “reward” His people for their works. But our works does not earn our redemption and salvation. Jesus tells John, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” (Rev.22:12). The “reward” is only guaranteed if we get there first. Our works can become self-righteous and in vain. Let’s not be caught in the “cart before the horse” syndrome – let’s keep our heads in the right frame of mind. I’ll place lesser emphasis on the “reward” aspect because it is a given, but not so the Work of Christ’s mediation which our works can easily overshadow. Works has to do with our gifts, which comes through Christ’s mediation, in any case. (Eph.4:8) These are not separate entities, they both originate from one Source – Jesus! Jesus does both – He plants and waters. When we understand that, we’ll understand Peter’s admonition, “Make every effort to supplement your faith…” (2 Pet.1:9-11) The human effort and faith are joined and become one life in the power of the Spirit. What I’m expressing in layman’s language here are the doctrinal expressions of justification and sanctification which I have purposefully avoided for the benefit of our secular audience. (Read my Book for an indepth look on the subject of gifts (sanctification))
New Covenant Context – Man is The Temple
So, what does this mean to believers today? What is the temple, and where is the temple’s most sacred place where sacrifices are offered in the New Covenant context? Why was the sacrificial system so highly regulated that it had to be followed to the letter? An Israelite could not bring an offering of his choice, nor offer it in his own stead. God has decided for him on both counts – what he is to bring for various offences, for thanksgiving, and who makes the offering. This is to convey to man there is no other sacrifice prescribed for man apart from the one prearranged by God to save him – to the letter. He is Jesus, the one and only Messiah given for man’s redemption, and there’s no other. (Acts 4:12) Jesus himself said He came to fulfill the law, not abolish it. In other words, the law, including the sacrifices, all pointed to Jesus who would fulfill all its requirements in our place. (Matt.5:17-19) He is the offering we take into the sanctuary for our reconciliation. He is the High Priest who offers our sacrifice of Himself before God.
It conveys the message of the “Triune” expression of God’s Love which is our covering, and makes and keeps us right with the Father. It replaces our fallen “solitary” nature expressed in man’s “performance/reward” life-style which was buried in the watery grave of baptism. Christ has done it all – He is the one and complete sacrificial Lamb and Savior. There’s nothing that you can bring to the table that can and will redeem you – that is why the sacrificial system of Israel was rigid and unchanging. You either accept what God provides on one hand, or, you come empty-handed on the other, choose. He encourages us to choose His Son. (Deut. 30:19; John 3:16-17) Make no mistake – this “solitary self,” driven by his fears, is powerful, and cunningly deceptive, so much so that each day, he will be trouble enough to try to put us off-track from the Trinitarian center we have in Christ. (Matt. 6:34; Jer. 17:9)
Man is the Temple, The Heart is the Inner Sanctuary
The sacred place of the temple in Israel is the archetype of the sacred sanctuary in heaven where God dwells. In the New Covenant context, the physical counterpart is mankind. Humanity is the temple, and the inner sanctuary is the heart of man. The most sacred place in heaven constitutes God’s Being and heart. But on earth, God’s presence is localized in the human heart. God’s dwelling is in heaven, not on earth. If He comes to earth, He dwells in His temple that’s not made with hands – the human person. On earth, He dwells in the sanctuary of the human heart. Man is the human temple made with God’s own hands. (Gen.1:26-27) Though all of mankind is saved (John 3:16a), only those who receive and trust Jesus as Savior is made a temple, for the Spirit’s presence is what makes a person God’s temple. (John 3:16b; Rom.8:9) The heart is the seat of human intellect and passion. It is in the sanctuary of God’s own heart that He Loves mankind, and likewise it is in the human’s heart that man Loves God, in Christ. (Jer. 31:3; Luk.10:27) We speak to God from our hearts. So, man is the spiritual temple, the heart is the sacred and holy place where man permits God to dwell through Christ by the power of the Spirit – this is the essence of the collaborative Triune Life. It is here that God helps you to harmonize your life with His. In a more expanded analogy, the earth can be said to be the temple of the whole universe, for mankind dwells in it, and Jerusalem is the center and heart of the earth. It is the eternal city where God will gather and dwell with His people forever. (Rev.21:1-7) The heart is where humans asks God for daily forgiveness – “forgive us as we forgive others” – where the sacrifice of atonement is forever made in Christ so man can be made at ONE (Triune) with God.
The High Priest – Essence of Trinitarian Love by Substitution
The believer has to find a Mediator, the God-appointed “go-between,” for he cannot mediate in his own stead. In Israel, the Levitical priesthood performed that mediatory role. Without the mediator, the sacrifice stands alone, for an Israelite can’t offer the sacrifice for himself. In the New Covenant context, Jesus Christ is the Mediator. He is all three – our High Priest, who mediates our Repentance and our Forgiveness (sacrifice) in Himself. He takes all our human responses and makes us right with God forever. He is the “Go-Between,” appointed by God for man’s redemption and salvation. That is the heart of the Trinitarian Life we have in Jesus.
This act of “substituting,” of “transference,” and “superimposing” one’s existence for another – is at the heart of the interdependent Triune activity of God in His relationship with man. In it, we see the length God would go to save man. Jesus Christ mediates for us by being our repentance (Jordan), our sacrificial Lamb (Golgotha), and our High Priest (Melchizedek). He is the High Priest who takes man into the holiest place in heaven – into the very abode of God with the only acceptable sacrifice of Himself, and eternally vindicates man. So we see how we are complete in Him – repentance and all our human responses requires a sacrifice, and sacrifice becomes complete only when the High Priest offers it in our place. Jesus becomes all three responses for man, and completes man. (Col.2:10) The heart (sanctuary) is not the place for ‘trash,’ but the place for the High Priest to do His mediatory work. The heart (sanctuary) is the place for ongoing self-evaluation (change by repentance), sacrifice (forgiveness), and mediation (High Priest), resulting in the miraculous life and joyous living which the Spirit brings us. Paul said, “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” (Col.2:12, emphasis added).
Dove, Symbol of the Holy Spirit Who Enters Humans as Temples
Man’s Heart, the Inner Sanctuary
Recall, we repent because Jesus has already repented for us in the Jordan, just as He has absolved us from sin on Calvary, so we don’t have to pay for our sins with our own lives, but instead be given eternal life as a gift from and in Him. (John 3:15-16, 36; 4:14; 6:40; 10:27-30) In the Psalms we read, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart You, God, will not despise” (Ps.51:16-17; Isa.66:1-2). In the heart, the Spirit is present to help man live the sacrificial life, just as the high priest of Israel went into the inner sanctuary, the heart of the temple, to offer the sacrifice for the sins of the nation on the Day of Atonement.
Man’s Two-Pronged Life Becomes ONE in The Triune Being
Here is the connection of this two-pronged life of your heavenly temple (reborn life) and the earthly temple (mortal life): Your mortal life is the cast replaying your new reborn immortal life in Christ in heaven. (John 3:15, 36) Christ, in His High Priestly role is forever imputing His mediatory work upon your mortal life on earth. Your mortal body and human heart is the mold and copy of the heavenly temple and inner sanctuary where you live in your new reborn life in Christ with God the Father. It is not the reverse. Do you go through times in life when it feels like God is not in your life; or worse that He has abandoned you? Do you go through time when your’re discouraged, depressed and guilty about your failings and mess-ups? The reason is because we have reversed God’s principle of imputation. We see our circumstances through the eyes of our “solitary” fearful mindset and impute our failings upon ourselves. In a true self-centered perspective to life, we have credited all our actions to ourselves, and wonder, regrettably, why they continue to haunt us? The “Trinitarian Life” and mindset imputes Christ mediatory work upon all our circumstances. God stands ready to impart His grace for living by imputing the mediation of His Son for our peace and joy.
If we have confidence in Jesus’ mediatory role, the Father’s grace will help us grow through every situation we encounter – even our failings. But when our failings transmit its staying power in our lives, meaning there’s no real and permanent absolution and resolution for them, then they become a scourge upon us. (Prov.14:34; Col.2:13-15) So if you are feeling guilty, depressed, and rejected, rather than having the Spirit’s joy, peace, and confidence, then most likely, your “solitary” mindset has come back to dominate your life as a believer (Bula man-river). The “Trinitarian” mindset has become ineffective, even non-existent. It’s like a river (Bula man-river) whose “living waters” (Holy Spirit) has subsided to dangerously low level, and dehydration has set in. We are quenching the Spirit’s work in us, which we are clearly admonished to watch and not allow from happening. (1 Thess. 5:19)
Our reborn life in Christ will always remain true to the principle of substitution God has ordained for man in His Son. When the “living waters” (Spirit) in the Bula man-river subsides to a critically low, we can lose touch with, and fail to grasp (unbelief), the enormity of God’s Love which imputes His Son’s perfect and glorious human life upon us for our eternal reconciliation. It is all a matter of God’s Love being manifested in all its sublimity and excellence in us by the power of the Spirit. (Eph. 3:14-19) The Bible states if we believe in Jesus as our Mediator, we are already made right with God – ” …that we might receive God’s approval through Him” (2 Cor.5:21b; Rom.3:22, 24-26). Where is guilt and rejection, who is there to condemn, Paul asks? (Rom.8:31-39) We look at our lives through the loving eyes of the Father who has given His Son to create and manifest a relationship with us that’s authentic as the one He has with Jesus. (Rom. 8:29)
Jesus said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing” (John 6:63). The spiritual realm is infinitely more real than our physical, material world. Your new life in Christ is what’s reproducing true life in your human body. Through the glorified humanity of our High Priest in heaven, He presents your sacrificial life on earth, on the altar of sacrifice of His own life, before the Father. Your mortal body and human heart is the copy of the heavenly temple and inner sanctuary where your new reborn life in Christ with God the Father now reside. The imputing activity of Jesus mediation is relived in you each time the Spirit helps you offer your life in sacrificial Love from your heart. The two temples (abodes of God) are merged and become one harmonious expression of the Triune Life in Christ. They cannot exist as entities at odds with each other.
Prayer – Man’s Sacrificial Pathway Into the Sanctuary
This connection between our heavenly Triune Life, and the earthly mortal life, is made one (Triune/interdependent) through one of the principal Triune activities – the sacrificial prayers and thanksgiving we offer to God, in the Spirit. For relationships can’t exist without loving Triune communication (prayer). There’s also the study of His Word, meditation, and so on. This is what personal and corporate prayer is all about, and why they are important. The sacrificial system of Israel is a picture of what’s happening behind the scenes today, each time we offer prayers as our sacrifice. In prayer we are vocalizing our relationship in the Trinitarian experience in the power of the Spirit through Christ before the Father. In the New Covenant context, prayer is sacrifice offered to God, as is our praise, and all of life itself – “I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you. May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice” (Ps.141:1-2). And, “Therefore by Him [Christ] let us continually offer the sacrifices of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb.13:15). Praise can exist only in a heart that is filled with the joy of the Spirit who brings us the Triune Life of the Bula man-river.
Praying Hands by Albert Duere. Prayer Takes Us into the Presence of God. (Pic: Wiki Commons)
Role of The Spirit
In prayer and praise, we lay our lives bare on the altar of sacrifice before God. Prayer is a unified Trinitarian activity – the Spirit takes our prayers to Jesus, and in our union with Him, presents them perfect before the Father. (Heb.7:25-26; Rom.8:26-27) The admonition that we remain constant in prayer is for the explicit purpose of remaining in the inner sanctuary in heaven so grace can be dispensed incessantly for authentic Triune living in His earthly temple. (1 Thess. 5:17; Luk.18:1-7; 1 Tim.6:19; 4:8) The Spirit, who is given as a gift to be with us “forever,” is at the same time, present in the Triune Being of God in heaven. (John 14:16) God is omnipresent. So Herald*** is the conductor between this two-pronged, heavenly/earthly, life (temples). He renders the heavenly life in Christ real to us on earth in our mortal bodily temple. For it is in prayer that we are taken into the most Holy place in God’s presence in heaven, where grace is dispensed for Triune Living, transmitted in the power of the Spirit in the earthly temple (human life) and sanctuary ( human heart). This is the reality the Father sees in you, and wants you to see in His Son, by the power of the Spirit. This is Triune Living!
Mistakes – A Springboard for Good, Not Evil
Listen to what Paul says about harmonizing this two-pronged life in Christ, “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile” (Rom.3:22). Faith is at the heart of the Triune Life. Jesus is God’s righteousness in man, and man’s righteousness in God. It is from this most sacred place that the grace of God flows abundantly to the believer. We may make mistakes in our mortal bodies as we surely would because we live in this fallen world. But God’s provision for man overpowers any and all wickedness and evil. The heart (sanctuary) is the place where the High Priest does His mediatory work before God, where self-examination, sacrifice and healing takes place, which brings about joyful living and praises. We become better people when we learn from our mistakes. Mistakes should not discourage us, for we have a Mediator who is always taking care of our present by freeing us from our past. Mistakes and failings become a scourge to those who live the “solitary life” where their past never goes away, but follows them wherever they go.
InterDependence not Independence
The reborn Triune existence is about a life of interdependence, not “solitary” independence. In our life in Christ in heaven, we participate in His High Priestly mediation which provides the overpowering means for the eternal reconciliation, forgiveness, and liberty for man. If Jesus mediation is not eternally sustainable and viable, then mankind is doomed. God overpowers any and all sins in His Son. Where there is God’s light, darkness flees. We pray for daily forgiveness because we are in our complete saved condition in Jesus. Paul said, “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ and walk according to the Spirit (saved condition). For the law of the Spirit of life (Love), has made me free from the law of sin and death (sin condition)” (Rom. 8:1-2 emphasis added). The body is the temple for the real reborn life in heaven, which will one day be joined to it, and glorified in the resurrection like Jesus own body. (1 John 3:2-3)
Purpose of Earthly Temple – Using Gifts for Others
How is this earthly temple in our mortal life lived out? God endows us with gifts with which to reach out to those who have not heard or believed this breathtaking and awe-inspiring Gospel of living and existing in the Triune Life of God. (You may read Chapter 8 of my Book, titled, “Destiny and Dreams” for further explanation on the subject of gifts. Check my web site for details about ordering my Book). The Spirit’s work in us is prescribed in Matthew 28:18-20 – go into the world and make believers out of unbelievers – how? – by employing our gifts. God is not asking you to do something for Him that you can conjure up in your fearful “solitary” mindset. We are not living in the old “performance/reward” mindset which we have washed in the blood of the sacrifice. We erroneously think that our gifts and abilities are ‘ours’ which we give to God – as if to say, they exists independently from Him. Yet, we saw that God, in His Triune nature of Love, made all things interconnected and interrelated – nothing exist in isolation. In our vain “solitary” and fearful inclination we like to imagine we have something we can give God, while God invites us into His Triune Life so we recognize that we give back only what He has Loving endowed us with in His Love.
So, our gifts are God’s abilities given us in His Spirit. From the essence of God’s Love springs all gifts and all goodness. The magnanimity of God’s Love is seen in the expression of the incalculable gifts and abilities demonstrated in mankind for the good of all. The Christian faith is about what God has done for man, not what man can do for God. Through Jesus, we live a new reborn life and are given gifts through His Spirit. (Eph. 4:7-8) He’s asking you to embrace what He has done for you – the best thing the Father has done for us is lovingly offer His Son as our repentance, sacrifice, and High Priest. Accepting Jesus in wholehearted faith, is what God expects of us – nothing more, nothing less. All our talents and dreams come from our union with Christ, for Paul says, “that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col.1:9; 2:2-3).
Human Mind – Where Dreams & Destinies is Birthed
Through our union with Jesus, we are given the wisdom to understand who we are in our God-given destinies. Think about gifts and abilities from the perspective of the decision-making ability of the human mind. Without the mind and its decision making process, gifts and abilities would be non-existent. We would be mere beast, mere animals limited to inflexible instincts. It’s with the mind, knowledge, wisdom, and inspiration of the Spirit, that the miracle of gifts and abilities come to life through the inspired choices we make. God has chosen to join Himself to us, which is why we have minds, reflecting Him. (Gen.1:26-27) We are not beasts. Jesus specifically said what we are to do with our gifts – to unify those who believe the Gospel to the Triune Life of God – He said, “baptize them (give them this new reborn life) into the Life (Name) of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” That is the beginning of man’s life as a “Triune being” in Christ – the Bula man-river.**** (Matt.28:18-20)
Personal Imputation Blessing
Finally, I have left the best for last. I thought if I had this piece inserted somewhere in the middle of this 3-Part installment, you may miss it altogether. It concerns God’s profound Love for you – individually as a person. This principle of imputing Jesus’ Life upon you for your redemption, both spiritual and physical, is something so precious that is passed on to your family because of you – because of your unified reborn life with and in Christ. Listen to what the Bible tells us, “For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, 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).
Paul confers this encouraging and awesome blessing from the Lord within the context of marriage and family life. I encourage you to always take your marriage and your family, including those who may not be in the faith (yet), into the hallowed sanctuary of heaven in prayer, so your loved ones may also receive the grace for living in the Spirit. My hope is, I have somehow been able to open your eyes to see the awesome Love of God our Father, Who reserves His unfathomable Love just for you in His Son. There’s much to give thanks for, let’s continually praise Him from the depths of our hearts.
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. Until the next time, live freely and joyfully in Jesus who constantly mediates all our human responses before our Loving Father. This is the essence of the life of the “Bula man-river.”
Kiang (Your Servant in Christ)
* Bulu man-river is the metaphor of the “deathly waters” flowing in the person, instead of the “living waters” of the Spirit.
** “Flush-out” is essentially the point when a man-river (person), believing Christ as Savior and Mediator, activates the life-blood of Jesus and flushes out the “deathly waters,” and replaces it with the “living waters” of the Spirit.
*** ‘Herald’ is the name I affectionately call the Holy Spirit.
**** 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