Greetings Friends! I greet you with a promising and hopeful New Year 2021. The reason for optimism must already be obvious to many now that the vaccine to fight the Covid-19 virus is being rolled out as we speak.
The title of my post speaks of a ‘forgotten reason’ not because the reason is fundamentally unknown, but more out of the fact that it is not generally emphasized compared to other more common aspects of Jesus Christ’s role as Messiah. So, my post in no way minimizes Christ’s various attributes as humanity’s Savior and Mediator. I simply highlight and bring to the fore a vital role Jesus plays that helps us realize a hopeful future as we place our faith in Jesus’ implicative function and responsibility as humanity’s High Priest in heaven today.
The ‘forgotten reason’ I am inspired and ecstatic to share with you for the New Year is God’s ‘principle of imputing’ Christ’s role of Messiah upon humanity to save us from pain, misfortune, misery, and ultimate death, regardless of our backgrounds and many differences. What do I mean by the ‘principle of imputation.’ It is the same if I used the term, ‘attribution.’ It basically means to substitute for another.
The Scriptures express this all-important ‘principle of imputation’ as follows, “If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God’s gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift” (Rom.5:16, MSG). By saying “one man’s sin,” Paul refers to Adam’s fall to sin at the hands of the evil one in Eden . (Gen.3:1-6)
So, Paul tells us that if Adam’s sin can and has consigned humanity to the sin-condition of the devil and thus separation from God, how much more will God’s grace save us by giving His Son Jesus as the Messiah to save and unite us once more to His Love. (John 3:16) The Bible is emphatic, “So, if death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, imagine the breathtaking triumphant life the one man Jesus Christ provides?” (Rom.5:17).
What is God doing here? Through His unfathomable Love and grace, He is imputing His Son’s now glorious life through His imputative role and function of Messiah and High Priest upon all of humanity so we can be forever reconciled to our perfect and holy God. So, all the words of these verses in Romans 5 essentially speaks of the ‘principle of imputation and substitution.’ They tell us how God attributes the work of His Son as Messiah upon humanity to pluck us out of the devil’s jaws of death, and give us true life in His Son.
In a nutshell: the ‘principle of imputation’ means just as one person (Adam) did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person (Jesus, the Second Adam) did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, Jesus got us into life! That is the essence of the ‘principle of imputation.’ God gave His Son to ‘substitute’ for humanity and save us. (Rom.5:18-21; 1 Cor.15:45; Rom.5:14)
But how does God do it all and make this ‘principle of imputation’ work for all humanity? If we go back a few verses in Romans 5, we will see Paul explains the first step, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did” (Rom.5:12-14, italics mine/added; Gen.3:1-6, 11).
So, all of humanity have the death penalty passed upon them through the trespass of the one man (Adam). (Rom.5:17) No one has been spared from this Adamic death penalty. The Bible states further, “There is no one righteous, not even one…there is no one who seeks God” (Rom.3:10-11)
God pronounced the death penalty upon Adam only after he sinned, saying, “For dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (Gen.3:19). Then God continued to say, “The man (Adam) has become like one of Us… Lest he reach out his hand and take also from the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever…” (Gen.3:22).
The above passage of Scripture appears to convey that Adam was created with a form of human immortality so he could commune with the divine in Eden, hence, he was created in God’s eternal image. (Gen1:26-27) One of God’s prime and basic makeup and likeness is He occupies everlasting life in Himself. (Isa.40:28; John 10:28; Psa.90:2) Everlasting life is a gift only the perfect God can confer upon humans. Human immortality and the divine holiness are mutually inclusive and goes hand in hand. One cannot do without the other.
So, our first parents would have lived and communed with God in timeless and faithful existence. No one knows how long our first parents remained faithful to God’s Love, since eternity is not measured by time as we know it. They lived for a very long while within the confines of God’s divine Love energy up until the moment of their change resulting from their disobedience and fall into sin. (Gen.3:1-6)
It was not possible for God to create Adam and contrive the curse of death as part of his destiny. Even Satan, humanity’s arch enemy, was created perfect as “Morning Star” until he chose to rebelled against God, and became the devil, the father of evil in the world. (Isa.14:12-14; John8:44; 1 John 3:8) So, Adam was destined to live forever in God’s divine realm and kingdom. (John 3:16; Rev.21:3; Ezek.37:27) Jesus said this about the future of redeemed humanity, “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt.25:34).
Death is anathema to God, and represents everything that is totally foreign, offensive, and reprehensible to Him. God is life, and embodies life in all its eternal beauty, splendor, and glory. Therefore, it was impossible for God to incriminate Himself by framing the death penalty upon Adam and his descendants, not by any stretch of the imagination. (2 Cor.5:1; Rom.6:9; Heb.2:14)
By virtue of His divine nature, God can give Adam only that which He embodies – life and Love. Death through sin was not an option for God. (Rom.6:23) For death is non-existent in His divine realm. He created Adam in His likeness to reflect immortal life in His divine kingdom. (Gen.1:26-27) Be that as it may, God tested Adam and warned him of the consequences of his actions. (Gen.2:16-17; Rom.6:16)
Adam had brought death upon himself and humanity because of His sin. (Gen.3:1-6; 2:16-17) Paul tells us where death originate from, and what keeps death alive and going, he said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom.6:23).
Consider, if you remove the sin-condition that has gripped humanity since the fall of Adam, then you stop the death-march humanity has undergone and is undergoing. It was for this very purpose that God gave up His Son for us, so by imputing Christ’s perfect sacrifice upon humanity, we are thereby declared sinless and death has no power over us. Sin’s death-power is forever broken in Jesus Christ. (Rom.6:4, 9) Instead, we receive God’s grace with the gift of immortality. (John 3:16; 1 Cor.1:30; Rom.8:11; Rom.6:23)
Paul said this about Jesus and His imputative role of Messiah and High Priest over our lives, “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from sin” (1 Cor.1:30). Yes, through God’s unfathomable Love, He stands ready to give humanity the gift of immortality and break the power of death over us as He stated from the beginning and promises through His Covenant. (John 3:16; Rom.6:4, 9, NKJV; John 11:25-26; 1 Cor.15:55-57)
Ponder for a moment, how else could Adam and Eve commune with the divine life in Eden, for the Bible states that God told Moses, “For no one (fallen humans) can see Me and live.” (Exo.33:20). Except that Adam and Eve existed in a form of human immortality prior to their sin of disobeying God. The Tree of Life, which represented the Holy Spirit, most likely had sustained our first parents in their celestial life and Love relationship they were privileged to enjoy with the divine God in Eden.
Death entered the human story and became part of the human experience primarily and solely through Adam’s sin, granted that he was influenced and tempted by the evil one. (Gen.3:1-6; Rom.5:12; 6:23) After sin entered Adam’s life, his life changed structurally to a physical form of chemical existence which inevitably meant that he was subject to bodily corruption and untimely and ultimate death. This is the spiritual reality of sin and its consequence – “when sin has run its course, it gives birth to death” (Jam.1:15, AMP).
That explains why God declared to Adam and Eve after they sinned, “You are (now) dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen.3:19). Adam and Eve could no longer appear before God for they were spiritually ‘naked,’ meaning, they stood condemned and deprived of life and were clothed in death due to sin. (Gen.3:11; Exo.33:20)
Think about how Jesus was able to restore the many sick people who came to Him for healing – the blind, the deaf, the leper, the lame and disabled, even the dead. (Matt.15:30-31; Luk.7:11-17; John 11:43-44) It was done because He was the ‘light of life’ who personified immortality who placed a temporary halt on the ‘march of death’ that was and is gripping humanity as validated by the physical afflictions and many health issues of the people Jesus had restored. Matthew spoke about Jesus’ eternal heritage as prophesied by Isaiah, “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Matt.4:16; Isa.9:2).
Life and death are forces from two diametrically opposing worlds, the same as, Love and sin, good and evil. They both can never be harmonized, much less coexist, but rather they spurn and repel each other. Hence, unequivocally our fallen sin-conditioned humanity cannot appear before God or we’ll be vaporized on account of sin and death, just as Moses was warned plainly. (Exo.33:20) God is the very fountain and sole expression of life in all its eternal glory and mystery. (Isa.40:28; 57:15) Through Jesus mankind is recued from death and restored to God and life for eternity. (John 3:16; 1 Cor.3:16; Rom.8:11; 1 Cor.15:54-58)
In essence, it was not until sin first entered and changed Adam into his purely fleshly existence, that time as we understand it begun. The countdown to death was underway for our first parents and by extension all humanity. (Gen.3:19; Rom.5:12, 17) We are now approximately six thousand years removed from the point when sin and death first entered Adam’s life since the dawn of his purely fleshly existence. It was the end result of Adam’s disobedience, but God created humans to reflect His own divine likeness to manifest Love and life, not death. (Gen.1:26-27; Deut.30:19: Gen.2:17; John 3:16)
The Three Steps/Ascents: There are three steps or ascents a human has to navigate and straddle to depict the Love relationship of the Tri-Personal God of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, so humans can be restored to God. As Jesus instructed His disciples, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt.28:18-20)
Later Paul uttered this benediction to Christians this way, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God (Father), and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor.13:14). This depicts what I call the Triune Life* (see appendix below).
Essentially, humans are inducted (baptized) into the life of the Triune God in the Father, Son, and Spirit. (Matt.28:18-20) This three-step process guides humanity into the fourth step (ascent) of entering into the New Covenant with the Triune God. The Covenant is a promise from God to save humanity from the sin-mantle humanity has been garbed in since Adam’s fall through His Son, as John states, “For God so Loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This is the New Covenant as specified in the Book of Hebrews. (Heb.8:7-13) There are three steps in order to enter into the New Covenant of God with humanity.
I will call this 3-step process the ‘covenant triad.’ The three steps which I call ascents, depicts the relationship of Love humans enter with the Tri-Personal Being of God in the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. (1 Pet.:12, NLT; 2 Thess.2:13) Here are the three steps or ascents which begins with God giving His Holy Spirit to humans to guide us to His Son, and Jesus in turn presents us to the Father as redeemed humanity. I have identified the three steps as it relates to the ‘principle of imputation,’ as: *Departure, *the Blood of Ratification, *Offspring. There’s the fourth ascent which relates to human participation and manifestation, I call, *the Covenant with humanity. Let’s begin…
Ascent 1: God the Holy Spirit – Departure. Let us start with the Spirit depicting God’s Love relationship in the area of departure. What does this ascent mean, what does departure mean? It means in order for a human to enter into a covenant with the holy God, he/she needs the Holy Spirit. Human beings must leave behind his/her former self that was fathered in sin through and from Adam’s fall in Eden. (Gen.3:1-6)
Humanity inherited the rebellious spirit to sin from Adam’s fall, and consequently the ensuing punishment of death. Paul tell us this, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned” (Rom.5:12, NLB).
The Spirit gives humans the power of God’s Love to guide them in a life of Love, as Paul told the Romans, “For we know how dearly God Loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His Love” (Rom.5:5; also 1 Cor.13:2). The Bible says, “If I do not have Love, I am nothing” (1 Cor.13:2).
If the Spirit is the manifestation of God’s holy Love in humans, then sin is the corruptive spirit of rebellion we inherited from Adam, and passed to humanity from the devil. God exists in all the mystery of His holy Love we will never ever know or comprehend for mankind still exists in his fallen state of alienation from Him.
But the two spirits, Love and rebellion (life and death), cannot co-exist for they are contrarian and repel each other – one has to replace the other. God deposits His divine Love and life in humans through the presence of the Spirit to replace the evil spirit of rebellion, sin, and death that comes from the devil himself.
The prophet Amos asked this poignant but consequential question, “Can two walk together without agreeing to meet?” (Amos 3:3) No, two people cannot walk hand in hand if they aren’t going to the same place. Joshua famously said, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord,” when he told the tribes of Israel and their elders to choose between serving God or serving the false gods of the nations around them. (Josh.24:15)
The Spirit is the power of God’s Love that help humans choose to walk together with God in His Loving Covenant, and forsake the rebellious spirit which gives birth to sin in human life. This is what departure mean – it is replicated after ancient Israel’s departure from Egypt for the Promise Land by the power of God, and depicts a life of departing from and leaving behind the life of slavery and bondage to sin of this fallen world, and partnering with God in the life of Love and uprightness. (2 Cor.6:17)
But let us not get ahead of ourselves. We must ask the one all-important question relevant to this first ascent, how can the Spirit be made to come and enter our sin-conditioned human life and unveil and demonstrate God’s power in His Love when we exist in diametrically opposing spirit (state) of existence?
As humans we are clothed in sin, rebellion, and death since Adam’s fall, and God is the absolute expression of life, and magnificently holy in His celestial Love from eternity. (Rom.5:19) Our answer must take us to the primordial and mandatory 2nd ascent in Jesus Christ.
(Remember the mode of activity of God’s Love in His Tri-Personal Being: the act of One is the act of Three, and the act of Three is the act of One. A solitary act does not exist within the Tri-Personal Being of God. Jesus said, “I can do nothing on My own but say only what the Father taught Me…Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me? The words I say to you I do not speak on My own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in Me, who is doing His work” (John 8:28; 14:10)).
Ascent 2: God the Son, Jesus Christ – The Blood of Ratification. The Scriptures tell us that the New Covenant from God was ratified in Jesus’ blood. (Heb.9:14-15) What does that mean? If you read God’s own words of the Covenant in the Book of Hebrews, it quotes God as saying, “But this is the New Covenant I will make… I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins” (Heb.8:10, 12). In other words, to rescue humanity from death, and give us life – eternal life. (John 3:16) You may read the full text of the Covenant in Hebrews 8:7-13.
So, God’s Covenant promise to mankind is He will establish a way to bring mankind that was separated from Him as a result of sin and our ongoing death march, by forgiving human rebellion and death and erase it forever. (1 Cor.15:53-56)
To do this, God the Father carries out His Covenant promise by giving His only Son Jesus to become human like us, and die as the only perfect sacrifice to atone for us by taking our place, so that we may escape the death penalty and be made right and unified with God’s holy Love for all eternity. (John 3:16)
God’s very divine nature exudes life in the truest sense because He has eternally existed with no beginning, and those who walk with Him must have the identical immortal life too, hence, humanity must be rescued from the penalty of everlasting death and given immortal life through Christ’s mediatory and implicative role of Savior. (John 3:16; also Psa.90:2; Heb.7:3)
Thereby, the Covenant is ratified in Jesus’ blood (life) when He was crucified as Savior to redeem humanity. (Heb.9:14-15; read 9:11-22; also, Lev.17:11). Paul said, “Everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Heb.9:22; Lev.17:11). Through eternal forgiveness in Christ, humanity is saved from everlasting death.
Hence, we read Paul’s words to the Corinthians where he said, “God made Him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor.5:21; also read Gal.3:13; Rom.8:3). Here, we read the ‘principle of imputation and substitution’ clearly mentioned: God made His Son to be sin for us, that in Him we can be made right with God.
Consequently, since the nature of the Spirit is one of holiness (Holy Spirit), so He cannot enter human life while the condition of sin through the rebellious spirit persists in the human heart and mind. In other words, Love and rebellion cannot coexist for they oppose and repudiate each other. The rebellious spirit which breeds sin and brings death must first be removed and replaced with the Holy Spirit of Love before human life can be made right with God. (Rom.5:5)
John the Baptist was sent by God to prepare and introduce Jesus to the world. John said this about Jesus, “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes One who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt.3:11; John 1:22-23).
Yes, Jesus is the anointed One who was crucified for our cleansing and sanctification, and thereby give passage for the Holy Spirit to enter and empower human life with God’s Love and divine life, we saw in the 1st Ascent. (John 16:7; Rom.5:5) Scripture tells us, “God is Love, and whoever abides in Love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16).
Afterwards, we read Jesus’ own words concerning the gift of the Spirit, “But I tell you I am going to do what is best for you. This is why I am going away. The Holy Spirit cannot come to help you until I leave. But after I am gone, I will send the Spirit to you” (John 16:7, CEV). Jesus’ words were uttered shortly before His death.
What Jesus had just said follows logically in that sin and the rebellious spirit must first be taken away and removed from the human heart and mind by His atoning sacrifice, and only then can the Holy Spirit enter human life whereby humans can be united with God on ‘holy ground,’ so to speak. Paul tell us about our human journey, past, present, and future, “You were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor.6:11).
We see how the Spirit is made to come and enter the heart of humanity, and reside in the heart of mankind as the Spirit’s very temple for the purpose of sanctifying (make holy) the human life (temple) for God’s dwelling. (2 Thess.2:13; 1 Pet.1:2) Paul told the Corinthians, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1 Cor.3:16; 1 Pet.2:5).
After Jesus lived a perfect life by defeating the devil’s devious temptations, He went about doing good through the miraculous life He lived. (Matt.4:1-11; Act.10:38) Then He was falsely accused and put to death upon His cross for human redemption. (Matt.26:59; Eph.1:7) But God raised His Son from the dead. Death has no power to hold down a person who is perfect and without sin. (Act.2:24) Therefore, God raised Him and through His resurrection He gave our humanity immortality – He led the way as the first human to be given human immortality for all humanity to follow. (Rom.8:29; also, 1 Cor.15:49; Phi.3:21; 1 John 3:2)
And similarly, it is by the imputation of Jesus’ glorious life that humanity now takes refuge in His glorious perfection in heaven, and thereby God assents to raising mankind to immortality as He did with Jesus’ humanity. (Eph.2:6; Col.3:1; Rom.6:5) As to the human resurrection to immortality, Paul said this, “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you” (Rom.8:11; also 1 Cor.15:53-54). Yes, Christ imputed human immortality upon mankind through His own resurrection.
This is the essence and pinnacle of the ‘principle of imputation and substitution’ where humanity exists vicariously in the life of the glorified life of Christ in heaven, as Paul said, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph.2:6; Rom.6:5).
After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples and, “On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Act.1:4-5).
Then on the Day of Pentecost, the Book of Acts records the following, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Act.2:1-4). The Spirit came and gave them supernatural power which Jesus had and performed His miracles. (John 14:12)
So, we see that Ascent 1 (Spirit) goes hand in hand with Ascent 2 (Jesus). We must remember the intrinsic symmetry of God’s Love in His Tri-Personal Being where they exist and work interdependently, and never independently. That is, their mode of operation will always be: the act of One is the act of all Three, and the act of Three is the act of One God.
Now, what does the role of Jesus and the Spirit do? Peter tells us this, “God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and His Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace” (1 Pet.1:2). That brings us the third ascent…
Ascent 3: God the Father – Offspring. Having received the gifts of His Son as our Savior, and His Spirit (Love) as our Friend manifesting God’s power in us, humanity is presented to God the Father where He invokes His Fatherly blessing of declaring humanity His offspring for eternity. (Gal.3:26; 1 John 3:1; 1 Pet.1:2)
Remember, Jesus having ascended to heaven, He is made humanity’s High Priest and was seated at the Father’s right hand. (Heb.2:17-18; 4:14-16; 8:1-2) The Son is now presiding over humanity’s salvation in His role as humanity’s High Priest, mediating for all our human responses and presents us holy in the Spirit’s Love and keep us in right standing with the Father as children of God.
The Scriptures tell us this about Jesus’ role of High Priest in heaven today, “So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With His own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—He entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered Himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins” (Heb.9:11-12, 14-15).
So, in the Love relationship with the Triune God, the Spirit’s role is to sanctify humans by taking us to Jesus, humanity’s High Priest, who in turn has been eternally elected and ordained to stand in our place as mankind’s Savior and Mediator, who arbitrates for all our human responses, and reconciles us to the Father and made everlasting children. This is the Triune process by which humans are made to participate in the Covenant promise of God.
Whenever we pray the daily prayer Jesus taught His disciples, the so-called Lord’s Prayer, we are in fact reliving this ‘3-Ascent Triune Love relationship’ and thereby always stand as reborn and redeemed offspring and Loved by the Father. (Luk.11:1-4)
This is the eternal manifestation of God’s Triune Love that is ongoing and never ceases. That is why this Lord’s Prayer is prayed daily where we come before God in worship, desiring His Loving Trinitarian will in our lives, imploring His blessing for spiritual and physical sustenance, and petitioning forgiveness in Jesus, and invoking divine protection from the evil one and his cohorts. (Matt.6:9-13) Now, we are brought to the 4th Ascent…
Ascent 4, Humanity – Manifestation of the Covenant, Humanity Made Children of God. What does the 4th Ascent mean? It simply means that after undergoing the process of the Triune Love relationship with Jesus in the Spirit’s power and brought before the Father, as shown in the preceding 3 Ascents, the provisions of the New Covenant is now being manifested in human life.
Above all, the 4th Ascent show that to bring the Covenant promise to reality in mankind, there is a part that we as humans must play in it (individually and collectively). A Covenant is a promise or undertaking between two parties that’s ratified and sealed in Jesus’ blood. (Heb.9:14-15, 22) A Covenant is reciprocal by nature because it is an agreement based upon a promise made between two parties. God gave humans the gift of freedom so we may choose to enter into His Covenant of Love, as opposed to rebellion and sin. (Deut.30:19; 11:26-28)
In effect, the Covenant is not a one-way street, but works in a two-way street. There is the Promiser (One who gives the promise), and the promisee (one who receives the promise). God is the Promiser, and mankind is the promisee.
So now, let’s look at the 3 ascents where we have seen the Love of the Triune God, and ask what is each of our part in it:
1) Consider our Love participation with the Spirit in the 1st Ascent. After the Spirit was given on Pentecost, the Apostle Peter informs us of our role in this Love relationship with God through His Spirit, “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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Act.2:38-39).
Recall that one of the provisions of the New Covenant is stated as follows, “I will imprint My Love (laws) upon their minds [even upon their innermost thoughts and understanding], and engrave My Love upon the tablets of their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Heb.8:10).
Yes, our part is stated in the meaning of this 1st day and ascent – where departure means we surrender to the Love-force of the Spirit who dwells in us as His temple and tabernacle. (1 Cor.3:16) There is the ‘greater and more perfect tabernacle’ of God in heaven, and on earth God’s tabernacle is the human heart, individually and collectively. (Heb.9:11; 1 Cor.3:16; 1 Pet.2:5)
Paul further declares our part who make up God’s temple on earth when he quotes God, saying, “Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you” (2 Cor.6:17). We do this with the help, and under the inspiration of, the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit gives humans the power to make this act of departure possible from the rebellious spirit and world, and turn to God and receive His Spirit of Love to live a life of harmony and symmetry with His Loving divine will instead.
2) Now, let’s consider our Love participation with Jesus in the 2nd Ascent. I quote the immortal passage from John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son…Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. Whoever rejects the Son will not see life. Instead, the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:16-18, 36).
Yes, the 2nd Ascent calls upon us to simply believe – that is, to trust in God’s Love in the provision of His Son to save us and make us His everlasting children. (John 3:16; Gal.3:26; Rom.8:14) This will take the powerful living faith of Jesus. (Gal.2:20, KJV) As Mark’s Gospel says clearly, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Paul further affirms the necessity of faith, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Heb.11:6).
Notice, this faith is powerful because it convicts the human heart and mind of the reality of God’s existence, and thereby the reality of His Covenant promise. It provides the assurance in God’s word of crossing over from our mortal realm into the divine realm. But humans were not born with this powerful faith, it must to be given as a gift. Paul makes this abundantly clear, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph.2:8). Since the saving faith is a gift, then it must be Jesus’ Personal faith as other passages support. (Gal.2:20, KJV; Rom.3:22, KJV)
We turn to Paul once more who informs us about this gift of faith, and whose faith it is, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal.2:20, KJV, italics for emphasis). Note the words, “I live by the faith of the Son of God.” So, this speaks precisely of the living, powerful, Personal faith of Jesus. In other words, by imputing the very Personal faith of Jesus upon humanity, this is not speaking of our inadequate human faith, but Jesus’ own faith that is living and powerful and can move mountains. (Matt.17:20)
Make no mistake, we have our human faith. The human faith is purely physical and is activated by the five human senses of sight, smell, touch, hear, and taste. We may have heard people say – ‘I will not believe it until I see it with my own eyes,’ – is a classic example of human faith that’s activated by the human senses. Such a faith is inadequate and incapable of taking us into the divine realm of God, much less experience the reality of God’s Love in His Covenant promise.
Jesus’ faith is spiritual and powerful for it is out of the physical world of our human senses. Without Jesus’ own living faith humans can never experience the certainty of God’s reality in their lives. (You may read my post on this topic, titled, “The Saving Living Faith of Jesus,” at: http://bulamanriver.net/21946)
Again, Paul distinguishes the two faiths, which he makes clear in this passage to the Romans – “The righteousness of God which comes by the faith of Jesus to all and on all that believe (with their human faith).” (Rom.3:22, AKJV, italicized for emphasis). As Jesus’ Personal faith grows in our hearts and minds, we’ll see our human faith more distinctly with its shortcomings.
We’ll find the ‘faith-scale’ between the two faiths begin to tip in favor of the faith of Jesus – our limited human faith will have less and less of a role and impact in matters of both the mortal and the divine realms. As John said succinctly, “He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30). Yes, we’ll see Jesus’ faith take more center stage in life, and the human faith have a lesser role and importance, but nonetheless necessary.
When the Scripture says, “The spiritual faith is explained this way, “For we live by faith, not by sight,” it is referencing the living Personal faith of Jesus, not our incompetent human faith which trust in the human senses. (2 Cor.5:7). However incompetent and unsuited in the spiritual realm the human faith may be, it is still very necessary and much needed because God’s work requires our human participation.
Humans utilize the human faith to believe in the faith of Jesus. Our human faith must walk hand-in-hand and in participation with Jesus’ living faith, whereby human faith now looks to the living faith of Jesus for empowerment and execution of God’s Love as it takes on a more central role in our lives.
Human faith alone stand solitary, powerless, and incomplete without the gift of Jesus’ Personal faith. The two faiths now becomes complimentary and harmonious rather than contrarian and conflictful. And this is what we are discussing in the 4th Ascent – our human participation through the merging of the two faiths to make real God’s Covenant promise. (Read more on this topic of faith at: http://bulamanriver.net/21946).
All we are called to do, and can do, is keep confessing our shortcomings as humans, and accepting in faith Jesus’ implicatory and mediatory role to stand in on our behalf whenever we fall short by showing disdain for and disrespect for God’s perfect holy Love.
3) Finally, let us see our participation of Love with the Father in the 3rd Ascent. The Father anoints humanity and make us His offspring through the Loving acts of the Son and the Spirit in the two prior ascents (steps). Consequently, in the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, He said we are to begin by addressing God as, “Our Father in heaven” – it means through Jesus we have been made His children in the Spirit’s presence and power. (Matt.6:9-13).
Scriptures show that both Jesus and the Spirit are prayerfully mediating for humanity before the Father unceasingly – this is their act of Love for each and every human which results in our being anointed divine children of God. (Rom.8:34; Rom.8:26-27)
Paul wrote to the Roman Christians, and said, “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are Heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering” (Rom.8:15-17). Yes friends you have been made God’s eternal children. Be deeply and joyously thankful!
In closing, let’s recap: since God is totally holy in His Love, and humans fall short with the required holiness to appear before God, therefore, there is the absolute necessity for an Intermediary to step into our place to bridge this impassable holiness chasm which exist between fallen mortal humans and the holy God. (1 Tim.2:5; Act.4:12)
This is the essence of the ‘principle of attribution and substitution’ we have covered today in this post. Paul stated, “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from sin” (1 Cor.1:30).
What a place for humanity to take their stand at the very threshold of eternity…before the Father, with Jesus by our side as our Mediator, and the Spirit (Love) as our constant Friend and Helper, anointed as Loving children of God forever. The essence of the 4th Ascent depicting human input with God’s Covenant promise is our participation in believing and receiving the Father’s grace through the imputation of His Son and in the Spirit’s power make divine children out of all humanity. (Rom.8:11) Yes, human immortality is made possible only through Jesus’ own resurrection.
Let’s together pray for all mankind in this most auspices destiny outlined in His Covenant and the Gospels. Let us be eternally thankful to Jesus for taking responsibility for our future in God’s spiritual Kingdom.
Petition: Friends, as I have closed my post in the past, I customarily give our readers the opportunity to give their lives to our Maker. I thank you for investing your precious time with me in the sharing of the good news of Jesus who has enabled us to live the Triune Life* through the 3 Ascents. Jesus is alive today as our High Priest in heaven seated at His Father’s side, and ceaselessly mediating for us.
I hope that in your heart of heart you will receive Him as your personal Savior, receive God’s Spirit, and be part of living this glorious humanity made divine children forever reconciled to our perfect and holy God. (1 Sam.16:7; Jer.17:10) You can privately and quietly pray the prayer below in your heart. I am asking you to pray this prayer as a human being Christ died for, regardless of your background. All are inducted into the one mankind Jesus saved, not into any religion, religious sect or denomination – but into the glorious humanity that Christ is preparing as the holy temple for God’s dwelling:
Prayer: “Almighty God, Father of all humanity, forgive me of all my sins for I receive Your Son, Jesus, as my personal Savior. In Your incalculable grace, thank you for recuing me and my loved ones, and all humanity, from the enemy’s fearful and destructive waters, and bringing us home into the life-giving waters of your Ocean of Love. Grant Your promised celestial life in Your Son through Your Holy Spirit, and open my eyes to the wondrous gifts you have conferred upon us all so we may serve one another in your Love. May Your Love guide and protect me and my Loved ones always, and bring us all into Your beloved and divine Kingdom. I praise and thank You, Amen.”
Welcome to the celestial life of Love in God’s holy, eternal Family. (1 Tim.6:19) Then keep in touch with God’s Word for you by reading and studying your Bible, and visiting this blog and website and look at various subjects that may be relevant for your situation – go to: http://bulamanriver.net. You can email me with your questions at – email@example.com.
Blessing: 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 and your loved ones always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the “Triune Life”*. In closing, pray for God’s intervention with regard to the pandemic that is sweeping this world. Finally, find strength in the Lord’s Joy.
Farewell for now!
Kiang, (Your Servant and Friend in Christ)
*Triune Life: “Triune Life” speaks of the process of theosis or deification of humanity. What is theosis or deification? “It refers to apotheosis, meaning “making divine.” Theosis or deification is a transformative process whose aim is likeness to or union with God (as taught by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Church).” (Wikipedia.org) The belief in the process of ‘deification’ is understood in accordance with Jesus’ teaching, when He said, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods” ’? If He called them ‘gods,’ to whom the Word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside (cannot be broken)” (John 10:34-35; Psa.82:6). (You can read about the Triune Life at: http://bulamanriver.net/9199, and other posts)
I have written about this subject of ‘deification’ in my blogs under the theme ‘substitution’ and ‘attribution’ (see, http://bulamanriver.net/564), where I showed how Jesus came as God incarnate (Immanuel) to assume our sinful humanity in order to save mankind from sin and death for the express purpose of human deification. (Matt.1:23; Rom.3:10-12, 18, 23; John 3:16; 1 Cor.15:50-55; Rom.8:29) Further, we read the following, “As a process of transformation, theosis is brought about by the effects of catharsis (purification of mind and body) and theoria (‘illumination’ with the ‘vision’ of God). According to Eastern Christian teaching, theosis is very much the purpose of human life. It is considered achievable only through a synergy (or cooperation) between human activity and God’s uncreated energies.” (Wikipedia.org)
So, the “Triune Life” reveals the intersection of human life and activity and the uncreated divine energy flowing from the Tri-Personal Being of God of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is a way of life which explains that process of theosis whereby humans are transformed in body, mind, and spirit by the Love of God. God’s uncreated energy is His Love. So, the foundational tenet of the “Triune Life” is based upon the Love of God, for “God is Love” (1 John 4:8, 16). Thereby, it can also be called aptly, the “Triune Love.”
I had coined the term “Triune Love” and “Triune Life,” to refer to a person who lives the three-dimensional life within the Tri-Personal Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Matt.28:19) This is opposed to the one-dimensional human way of life influenced by the devil. We see God’s Tri-Personal Love move in an inward, outward, and upward trajectory, in this process of theosis which I have called the ‘three ascents.’ The three ascents are three steps which dovetails into one another showing how all three Persons of the Godhead are in the relationship of Love with humanity – where God reveals the fullness of Himself to humanity, both individually and collectively. (2 Cor.13:14; 1 Pet.1:1-2) That’s to say, the act of one is the act of all three, and the act of three is the act of one, making them unified with in Love. (Mar.12:29; Deut.6:4)
Every aspect of human living follows this three-step format revealing the three-dimensional aspect of how the Tri-Personal Being of God in the Father, Son, and Spirit, directly and collectively involved in the life of human believers, individually and collectively to bring humanity to salvation. These three steps move in an ascending order, so I will call them ‘ascents.’ Each ‘ascent’ dovetails into the next and finally reveals the ‘manifestation’ of the topic, which we will call the fourth step, in this case, Love!
Hence, all my articles are framed within this three-step format, or ascents. The subject of the article dovetails into each ascent and spontaneously lead to the manifestation of the divine Love and reveals how humanity is enlightened by God, and cleansed in mind, body, and spirit. The ascents reveal three doors one must enter to attain the manifestation of God’s Love relationship with humanity. The ascents are not to be misconstrued as some ‘secret knowledge’ or mystical activity. Rather, each ascent represents the relationship of Love a human enjoys with the Triune God in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, throughout a person’s life.
In fact, the ascents are actually three Love relationships the believer encounters with the Tri-Personal God. This three-way relationship is what I have called by the term, “Triune Life” or “Triune Love.” These ascents represent the movement of God’s Love in an inward, outward, and upward, trajectory to bring God’s enlightenment in a person. The fourth step reveals how the article is made to manifest in the life of the person, both individually and then collectively in humanity.
Man’s union with the Triune God, or “Triune Living/Loving,” is made possible by Jesus, who Himself, is one in substance and reality with the Triune Godhead. (John 1:1-2) He took our humanity into the very Being of the Triune Godhead by cleansing it of all sin and rebellion. To live the “Triune Love (Life)” is the miraculous expression of the Spirit (Love) in humans. (Rom.5:5) 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).
The Bible states, “He (God) does great things that we cannot understand and miracles that we cannot count” (Job 5:9; 37:5). If God acts in ways that cannot be fathomed and is beyond human comprehension, then the miraculous life where humans are privileged recipients, cannot be deciphered by the human mind to its grandest manifestation. But we understand its meaning through divine revelation in that God reveals Himself as Love, and His miraculous activities are enveloped in His Love. (Jer.29:11)
The three-dimensional Triune Life/Love is opposed to living the one-dimensional solitary life of the fallen humanity inherited from Satan through Adam’s rebellion. For additional information about the Triune Life: http://bulamanriver.net/?p=8036. Also at: http://bulamanriver.net/9092.
**Bulamanriver: To read the different facets of the life of the Bulamanriver, you may obtain a copy of my book, “Bula” Man-River, from Amazon.com; xulonpress.com, barnesandnoble.com, and other online book stores. All proceeds will go towards furthering the work of Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world.
*Mission Statement: Read the Triune Love Mission, Vision, and Value statements at: http://bulamanriver.net/8664
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.
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