“No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the Vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me” John 15:6
Greetings Friends! What does the “Triune Life” or “Triune Love” mean in practical, livable terms? I hope my participation with you in this blog will enlighten you to the Christian life as it ought to be lived according to Scripture.
The most basic and pivotal knowledge a person can have is to understand God is Trinitarian. For the Christian, the mention of the name of God, must always convey His Tri-Personal Being in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is not “solitary” as some religions espouse, no, He is a Trinitarian God. If a person’s concept of God is inaccurate and untrue, then there will always be something lacking and amiss in his relationship with God. No matter how much knowledge a person may claim to have of God, his dedication is misplaced and it does take its toll in the appeal and subtlety of Love’s nuances which will make all the difference. Even a person’s prayer can be amiss because his concept of God is flawed.
Rublev’s Famous Icon of the Trinity (Wiki Commons)
In this blog site I have always advocated living the “Triune Life,” or “Triune Love.” The “Triune Life” as a life lived according to the image and likeness of God. (Gen.1:26-27) It means a believer who lives the 3-dimensional Love-life with the Triune God, as opposed to the ‘solitary’ 1-dimensional life man lives in himself. It means God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, lives and walks in the believer. Man’s union with the Triune God, or “Triune Living” (“Triune Loving”), 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; Heb.8:10-12). Only a blessed life can result from such an obedient life made possible by the Spirit.” (Unquote)
But how does man, how does the believer, live the “Triune Life” (“Triune Love”) on a day-to-day practical sense? I will share a passage from Scripture showing how the “Triune Life” is lived in the real-world sense. This is taken from John 15 in Jesus’ explanation of the vine and branches. Jesus, the second Person of the Triune Godhead said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. You are the branches. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples” (John 15:1, 4-8). What a beautiful metaphor of the “Triune Life” we have in the Tri-Personal Being of God that’s depicted here. And Jesus warns us the Gardner (Father) will “cut off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (V.2).
In this metaphor we see the Father and the Son mentioned clearly. The Father is the Gardener, and the Son is the Vine or Tree. But how about the Holy Spirit, since this is the “Triune Life” involving all three Persons of the Trinity. In fact, the role of the Spirit takes the major portion of the passage, from John verses 9 to 17. Jesus made the Spirit’s involvement plain in Verse 26, “When the Advocate (Holy Spirit) comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—He will testify about Me.” Jesus continues to attest to this in Chapter 16, where He further vouch for the Spirit and promises, “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you,” and “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (V.7 & V.13).In Verses 9 through 17, Jesus speaks of the Spirit’s work in the believer, “As the Father has Loved Me, so have I Loved you. Now, remain in My Love” (v.9). The work of Loving entails the work of the Spirit. (Rom.5:5)
How does a believer remain in Jesus’ Love? Jesus said “If you keep My commands, you will remain in My Love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His Love.” (V.10) We read the covenant promise earlier where the Spirit empowers us to obey God’s commands. (Ezek.36:27; Heb.8:10-12) Is Loving God and keeping His commands something we can do with our own human power and effort? Of course not! We were not born with this kind of divine Love in us to Love God in return as Jesus does the Father. This is where the Spirit enters the scene for He is the embodiment of God’s Love in man. Paul makes this clear, saying, “God’s Love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rom.5:5). That is the only way to Love God back and be true to His calling (command). There is no other way but through the Spirit’s presence and power (Love). The fruits produced and seen hanging off the branch (man) are the fruits of Love which reveal the Holy Spirit’s presence and work in the believer.
Paul explained to the Corinthians what these fruits are in detail, revealing the distinctive shades of God’s Love (1 Cor.13): the fruit of patience, the fruit of kindness, the fruit of contentedness, the fruit of being modest and unboastful, the fruit of humility, the fruit of honor, the fruit of unselfishness, the fruit of calmness and dignity, the fruit of forgiveness and compassion, the fruit of delighting in good and shunning evil, the fruit of tolerance, the fruit of responsibility, the fruit of enduring hope, the fruit of steadfast perseverance, the fruit of joy, the fruit of peace, the fruit of goodness, the fruit of faith, the fruit of gentleness, the fruit of self-control, the fruit of zeal and spiritual fervor, the fruit of friendship, the fruit of sharing and generosity, the fruit of prayerfulness, the fruit of hospitality, etc. The Bible’s claim of God’s nature is made abundantly clear by John, “God is Love” (1 John 4:8, 16). He is not made of Love, He IS Love!
The fruits of Love amplified above tells us how the three Persons of the Trinity conduct Themselves towards each other from eternity. And now man (branch) is grafted into Jesus (vine) making the Love relationship with the Triune God and with his neighbors (other branches) possible.
Of course, it has to start with man receiving Jesus as personal Savior through repentance and forgiveness. On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up in the Spirit’s anointing and said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Act.2:38).
Jesus Role in the “Triune Life”
Let us see Jesus’ role in the “Triune Life.” Jesus said, “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the Vine, you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). To remain in the Son means to never stop believing in Him as our permanent and ongoing Mediator. It means to experience the Love of the Father for the Son which has been from eternity. (John 17:24). It means to be showered with the Father’s Love through the Son and become a blessing. This is how the “Triune Life” is lived out with the Son’s participation in the life of the believer. Paul affirms, “In Christ you are made complete” (Col.2:10).
Jesus is the Vine with Branch offshoots extending (Man) where Fruits Hang off (Pic: Wiki Commons)
Father’s Role in the “Triune Life”
Let us see the Father’s role in the “Triune Life.” Jesus said, “My Father is the Gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples” (V.1-2, 8). This is how the “Triune Life” is lived with the Father’s commitment in the believer’s life. The Bible says, “we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness” (Heb.12:9-10). All blessings comes ultimately from the Father of lights, James tells us. (Jam.1:17).
The Gardener Pruning The Branches to Make it more Fruitful (Pic: Wiki Commons)
Spirit’s Role in the “Triune Life”
What about the Spirit’s role? As we have seen, although it is not explicit in this passage, it is implicit through the fruits hanging from the branches. The Spirit supplies the sap (Love) which flows like a river from the good soil the Gardner (Father) tends through the Vine (Son) and into the branch (man) which bears the Spirit’s fruits of Love. Jesus said, “Anyone who believes in Me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’ (When He said “living water,” He was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in Him.)” (John 7:38-39). So, this is the “Triune Life” where we see the Spirit supplying the flow of God’s Love in the believer. Paul further enlightens us about the Spirit’s work, saying, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor.3:16 NASB, also 6:19).
Jesus said you can see the presence of the Spirit, or conversely His absence, by the fruits of people’s actions, “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions” (Matt.7:16-20). You can say that if a believer is bearing the fruits of the Spirit then he can be likened to the “Tree of Life” that sustained Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, for it represented the Holy Spirit.
Fruits, Evidence of the Work of the Spirit in the Believer (Pic: Wiki Commons)
There was another tree in Eden which our first parents were forbidden to go near: the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” (Gen.2:17) This tree bore fruits that were of exact reverse to the Tree of Life. Here we see two trees, one representing the “solitary life” (the Tree of Good and Evil), and the other represents the “Triune Life” (the Tree of Life). The “solitary life” is the life of self-determination where one does what seems right in his own eyes without the guidance or participation of the Tri-Personal God. It is the life of a person who is cut-off (branch) from the “Tree of Life.” The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil represent Satan and the fruits of this worldly way of life which leads people ultimately to their own demise.
We must now ask this relevant question, what is the purpose of producing much fruit, for this is how the Father is glorified through man. (John 15:8) In my book, “Bulamanriver, The Miracle of Triune Living,” I said on page 111, “Think about the fruit trees lining the riverbanks. Do we see the trees feasting upon their own fruits? That would make the trees self-destructive. In his fallen self, man thinks inwardly like that. He thinks what he has received from God is for his own “cannibalistic” appetite. No, the fruits are the imaginative life of God’s Love, sown as seeds that take root in the lives of others. We give, not clasp onto the Spirit’s fruits, so the “creative life” is always ready to regenerate new life through giving. The fruits are for the valley people (where the river flows), for their sustenance, and for others who come and “see and taste the goodness of the Lord,” the Creator flowing in you (Ps. 34:8 emphasis added). (End of quote) Love is always outgoing, it is never inward and self-indulgent.
Dove, Symbol of the Holy Spirit (Wiki Commons)
Many see the Christian life like a fully paid never-ending vacation cruise where they will indulge in the blessed life of plenty. The Bible says no such thing, although the blessed life comes to man through a route that’s altogether different from what he imagines. The Spirit’s fruits is not for man’s selfish appetite, fruits are for the benefit of others so people are drawn to the Father by them. This is how we glorify God in our lives – by bearing more and more fruits for others to experience God. Jesus said, “My Father is the Gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:1-2). Yes, the believer lives a disciplined life in order to produce more fruits for the sustenance of the people God wants to show and give His Love.
The disciplined life brings its own blessing. The Bible states, “The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, without painful toil for it.” (Prov.10:22) In other words, God’s blessing comes without the harmful stress of our human solitary efforts without His input and favor. The Lord’s blessing comes as the outgrowth of His and our calling, not because we are seeking to be blessed selfishly through greed and/or covetousness.
We live in an overtly self-indulgent world, which is diametrically opposite to the type of mindset needed to bear much spiritual fruit. The church at Corinth taught us that the mere presence of the Spirit does not equate to bearing much fruit in the believer. Paul said to the believers in Corinth, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Eph.5:18). Man’s free will (freedom) is a divine prerogative originating from God’s nature of Love. Humans can only be trained to Love through freedom, not coercion. In all facets of the Christian life, fruit-bearing is the aim and purpose of life which requires deliberate (free) and conscious reliance on the Holy Spirit. This is what Jesus’ metaphor of the vine and branches teaches and depicts the authentic Christian life. It is regrettable that the reason many Christians do not live fulfilled lives is because they have lost the true concept of God and His triune activity in man, and how to have a Loving relationship is cultivated through the “Triune Life.”
What else does the fruits of the Spirit represent besides the different shades of God’s Love which demonstrates to us how to live the “Triune Life?” The fruits are also metaphor for each of our gifts, talents, skills, abilities, and virtuous flair we are called to manifest God’s Love for and to others. Paul testifies to the end result of what Jesus did as our Savior after dying for human sins, “When He (Jesus) ascended on high, He took many captives and gave gifts to His people” (Eph.4:8). What Paul says here about gifts answers to Jesus’ promise of the Spirit, “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you” (John 16:13). So, first and foremost, the primary gift is the gift of the Holy Spirit who comes and dwells in the believer as His temple. (1 Cor.3:16) God’s concept of a temple in which He dwells is not some brick and mortar edifice which can be destroyed by hands, but it has always been the heart and soul of man, as we read, “For 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.6:16). After a sinful life is washed clean by Jesus’ blood, the human life becomes the temple where God and man meet and communicate.
From this vantage point where man becomes God’s temple, the Spirit distributes various material gifts (art) that is needed to feed people with God’s Love (fruits). So we read the work of the Spirit in believers, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as He determines” (1 Cor.12:7-11). Paul further says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph.2:10).
But gifts are not necessarily ecclesiastical or religious in nature. For the majority of Christians the gifts they have are of a ‘secular’ nature, but it is the same Spirit working in all to bring glory to the Father. Paul said, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to each of us…in proportion to our faith, let us use them” (Rom. 12:6, ESV). Paul again said, “[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. (Phil.2:13, AMP)
We are given the freedom to be whoever we want to become in our hearts. A person can be a plumber, or engineer, a doctor or gardener, an architect or builder, a marine biologist or fisherman, a basketball player or botanist, an entrepreneur or employee, or whatever the gift may be. Gifts may evolve as the Spirit supplies the faith according to a need. None of us is a superhuman who possesses all gifts. God has distributed gifts in every single human so that all of humanity reflect God’s image through the myriads of talents we see in people. It’s obvious that we all need each other because we all lack something in our lives which somebody else may have the gift to fill our needs and wants. That is how God made humans to need and help one another and show His Love to all mankind.
We use our gifts primarily for the sake of the gospel to glorify God. We desist from using our gifts for self-centered objectives just as nature teaches us that a tree cannot feed “cannibalistically” of its own fruits. Too many trade their gifts for motives of selfish mercenary gain instead of glorifying God. We can use our gifts for our own self-centered ends, or we can use them to serve others for God’s glory. The fruits of our gifts are given to others out of Love to fulfill a need as we willingly follow the direction of the Spirit. Whatever we do, Paul say we do “as if you are serving the Lord (first), not people” (Eph.6:7, my emphasis).
I hope this answers the meaning of the “Triune Life” as revealed in Scripture. It means to remain in Christ so we can experience firsthand the Love of the Father for the Son, and vice versa the Son for the Father. Remaining in the Son’s Love will afford us the Father’s Love and we become more blessed and fruitful in the process. And the Spirit carries out the Love activity of the Father and Son as He sanctifies us. (John 16:13; 2 Thess.2:13)
The underpinning of the “Triune Life” is living a miraculous life, for to be in the hands of the living Triune God is nothing short of miraculous. And we see this openly displayed and experienced by the people who lived in Jesus’ day when He walked this earth. Yes, lepers were made whole again, the blind see, the lame walk, even the dead raised to life, and all manner of disease of the body, mind, and soul. (Act.10:38) The miraculous life is really the essence of the “Triune Life.” The final miracle is our resurrection into immortality where we will live the “Triune Life” forever.
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to write to me in the space provided below, or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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” as a Bulamanriver.* Be strong in the Lord’s joy.
* Bulamanriver” is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life.” To read the different facets of the life of the Bulamanriver, you may obtain a copy from Amazon.com; xulonpress.com, barnesandnoble.com, and other online book outlets. All proceeds will go towards furthering the work of Gospel around the world.
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.
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