Four Faces in the Mirror (#thecorporatechrist)

[Listen to post here.]

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In this current collection of posts (#thecorporatechrist), we are focusing on the corporate Christ in relation to the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the four-fold manifestation (“faces”) of the anointing: priestly, prophetic, kingly, and sonship.   The corporate Christ, though a single entity in God’s sight, is made up of a multitude of individuals.  If there is ever to be a collective expression of these “four faces” of the anointing, then, there must first be a multitude of individual expressions of them throughout His many-membered body.  So it really comes down to you and I…the man/the woman in the mirror.

Reflecting God’s Image

As the children of God, you and I have been created in His Divine image and likeness.  Because He is trinitarian in nature, He has created us with three distinct yet unified parts.  Every individual is comprised of spirit, soul, and body (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23.)  Our spirit is that part of us that is of a nature most similar to God’s, for “God is spirit.” (John 4:24)  Our spirit gives us consciousness of the spiritual realm.  Our soul is primarily comprised of our mind, will, and emotions and gives us consciousness and comprehension of the psychological/volitional/emotional aspects of ourself and of our world.  Our body is the physical part of our being, which houses and interfaces with the other two.  It connects us by nature and through the physical senses with the natural world.  These three aspects are inherent to who we are as those made in the image and likeness of God.

As we look into the lens of the “four faces” concerning the corporate Christ, we see that this lens also becomes a mirror reflecting back our own personal image with a unified, yet multifaceted, picture of who we are in our tripartite nature and four-fold spiritual calling.   Let’s consider the specific aspects of the unique reflection that this lens/mirror yields…

The Body – The Face of the Ox

Spiritually speaking, the ox represents strength, service, and sacrifice.  Our physical body is created with strength for labor and is what we employ to carry out the work and service of the Lord in this natural world.  It is also the part of us that God specifically calls us to offer up to Him as a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:2.)

The ox also biblically represents priestly ministry.  Inherent in this ministry is the necessity of the priest to possess human bodily presence on the earth over which he/she has been given delegated authority as a child of God. (Genesis 1:26, Psalm 115:16)  Priestly ministry is the “boots on the ground” (or shall we say, “hooves on the ground”) aspect of God’s image-bearers, and therefore, is rightly represented by the face of the ox, especially in relation to the physical body.

The Soul – The Face of the Eagle

The eagle represents heavenly perspective, freedom of movement, and swiftness of judgment.  Our soul, comprised of mind, will, and emotion, when renewed by the Holy Spirit, begins to reflect these same characteristics.  When under the control of the anointing, our mind begins to perceive reality from God’s heavenly perspective, lifted above all earthly mindsets.  Similarly, our will is free to respond and move according to the “wind” of the Holy Spirit unencumbered by the constraints of the flesh and of the world.  Lastly, our emotions are quickened to swiftly align with God’s feelings, passions, and judgments concerning all things.

The eagle further represents the prophetic dimension of the anointing.  Simply put, the prophetic dimension involves the perception of, alignment with, and expression of the mind, will, and emotions of God.  Thus God’s desire for the earthly soul of man is that it would mount up to fully, and prophetically, express the heavenly soul of God.  In these fundamental ways, we can see how the eagle is a fitting “face” to represent the soul of man.

The Spirit – The Face of the Lion

The lion represents power and royalty.  The part of our being that God has ordained to rule over the rest of our nature, soul and body, is our spirit.  It is our spirit that has become one with the Spirit of the Lord in resurrection power (see 1 Cor. 6:17) and it is our spirit that is united with Christ in His ascension authority and kingship at the Father’s right hand (see Ephesians 2:6.)

The lion further represents the kingly calling/manifestation of the anointing.  It is through our spirit that our whole being comes into subjection to and alignment with God’s will, authority, and power.  It is through the indwelling of the King of kings within our spirit that the kingdom of God becomes established within us and ultimately finds expression out through us. Hence, our spirit is the lion/kingly part of our being according to the Divine order.

“Sonship” – The Face of the Man

Mankind, being created spirit, soul, and body in the image and likeness of God, is the consummate representation of the triune Being.  “The face of the man”, representing “sonship”, therefore, is the consummate “face”, embodying and expressing the other three callings/manifestations in one integrated and Divinely ordered whole:

spirit (lion/kingly)

soul (eagle/prophetic)

body (ox/priestly)

As we individually bring each part of our being into alignment with God’s divine order and ordained function through the power of the Holy Spirit, these “four faces” begin to grow and develop in balanced unity and harmony unto full maturity.  This is the process of spiritual growth unto full “sonship.”

We will explore this progressive development within our individual lives in the next post.

Audio Reboot (#thecorporatechrist)

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Audio Reboot (#thecorporatechrist)

It’s been a few months since I’ve added to the collection of my latest series of posts, The Corporate Christ [i.e. (#thecorporatechrist.)]  There are yet a few posts to be added in the weeks ahead, so as a means to review and to reboot the series, I’ve recorded a serialized playlist of the posts that are published to date.  (These average just under 6 minutes apiece with the entire collection lasting approximately 40 minutes, about the average length of a podcast.)

For those who are unfamiliar with this series or who need a quick refresher, we are considering the matter of “the corporate Christ” with a special emphasis on the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  The title “Christ” means “the Anointed One” and so we see how central and essential the anointing of the Holy Spirit is to the calling and ministry of Jesus, the Son of God.

Likewise, if we are to fulfill our calling and ministry as “the Body of Christ” (i.e. the Body of the Anointed One), we must, likewise, see how central and essential the anointing of the Holy Spirit is to our lives, both individually and collectively.

As we look into Scripture, we further understand that in the Old Testament there was a three-fold purpose of the anointing oil, with a fourth purpose intricately intertwined with this three-fold cord.  The anointing oil, symbolic of the anointing of the Holy Spirit, was used to consecrate three groups of people: priests, prophets, and kings.  The matter of sonship was intricately bound up with each of these callings and is where all three find their consummation and highest expression in the wisdom and purpose of God.

In conjunction with these four callings we considered four specific “faces” that are found clustered together in the Scriptures in various places.  By looking closely at Ezekiel’s vision of the “four living creatures” (Ezekiel 1) and also how these symbols were incorporated into the banners of the tribes of Israel as they encamped around the tabernacle, I made a case for these four “faces” representing the four primary callings of God’s people that are specifically related to the anointing of the Holy Spirit: ox = priestly, eagle = prophetic, lion = kingly, and man = sonship.

The seven posts that have been published thus far lay the foundation of what I would consider to be a biblically-well-rounded understanding of the calling of “the corporate Christ.”  In the posts that will follow, we will explore some of the practical applications of these four “faces”/callings to our lives, both individually and corporately.

As preparation for those posts, then, I would ask and encourage you to (re)visit this foundation by either listening or reading through these initial posts together as a unified whole.  (Considering them together in close succession I believe will be very helpful in grasping their collective truth and significance.)  I truly believe there is very little that is more significant for us to lay hold of and press into together as His people than that which these posts are touching on!  May you be edified and encouraged in our high calling in Christ, the Anointed One!

If you prefer to read these posts rather than listen to them, links to the original posts are here:

The Anointed One
Four Faces of the Anointed One
Four Faces in the Wilderness
The Face of the Ox – Priestly Calling
The Face of the Eagle – Prophetic Calling
The Face of the Lion – Kingly Calling
The Face of the Man – Sonship Calling

May God bless and enrich you spiritually as you meditate on these foundational truths!

More to come soon! 🙂

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Tenth Anniversary Post

Ten years ago this month I began blogging here at Christ-Centered Christianity.  It’s hard to believe an entire decade has gone by, but it certainly seems a good time to pause, to reflect back a bit, and to also look forward to what may lie ahead!

In the Beginning…

For me, blogging all but snuck in the back door.  In August of 2011, I took a fall off of a ladder and ended up with a compression fracture in my spine that left me laid up for approximately eight months.  During that time, I felt a burden to begin working on a manuscript for a book.  As I explored the writing/publishing process, I kept running into authors who touted the benefits of simultaneously blogging as a way of honing writing skills, getting original material out on the web, and beginning to build exposure and an audience.  It sounded like a worthwhile “secondary” venture to begin to pursue and thus the blog was born.  It was officially launched on January 1, 2012.  Eventually, as my back began to heal and I returned to work, all of my available writing time ended up being directed towards the blog.  (And, yes, I’m still sitting on an unfinished manuscript! 😦 )

When I initially began the blog, I thought it might be seen by just a handful of family and friends and possibly a few random people who might stumble across it.  As things developed, however, it began to take on a much wider and more substantial reach.  As of the writing of this post, it has found its way into some 190 different countries/territories, including some of the most restricted nations on earth.  It has also had consistent, daily traffic ever since its first few months. I never could have anticipated early on just how far and wide its exposure and influence might ultimately reach.

Philosophy and Approach

From the beginning, my philosophy and approach has been to focus on quality rather than quantity.  All of us are bombarded with way too many frivolous, time-wasting distractions and divergences online, so I haven’t wanted to add to anybody’s virtual clutter with more fluff, foolishness, or over-hashed subjects.  Instead, I’ve sought to steward those teachings, revelations, and burdens that have been given to me by the Holy Spirit as I’ve been taught and led by Him.  My goal has been to post quality content throughout all areas of the blog so that no matter where anyone may land, they will find something that will be spiritually enriching and potentially transformative in their walk with the Lord.  In my opinion, to aim for anything less would simply be a waste of time!  After ten years of blogging and having received considerable feedback from numerous people around the world, I feel satisfied that by God’s grace I’ve been able to hold to these principles and objectives.

Created and Curated Content

My initial intention was to post every other week so as to focus on quality of content and not to overwhelm anybody’s inbox with notifications.  Although at times I had to scale back on blogging due to family responsibilities, I am grateful that during these ten years there has also been a significant quantity of content, both created and curated, that has accrued.  This is now the 170th post that I’ve published, and I’ve also added 140 permanent pages to the blog.

I’ve also sought to populate this space with a varied fare of content including longer and shorter posts, collaborative posts, series teachings, collections of short sayings, original and non-original poems and songs, parable-based teachings, interactive exchanges, free written resources, free classic audio books, author excerpts, previously written original pieces, audio blog posts, PDFs, and re-blogged content from other bloggers.  All of this has centered in and complimented the primary theme of the blog: the centrality and preeminence of Christ in all things!

“Fun Facts”

No review of the ten-year content of a blog would be complete without at least a few “fun facts” thrown in.  So here we go:

Most popular single post

“The Word Became Flesh” – A Collaboration of Poetic Reflection

Most popular permanent page

PRINCIPLES Book (Complete – PDF, mp3 and more)

Most popular series (posts/pages)

“Christ the Center” series revisited

Most popular original writing

Pragmatism and the Truth*

Most commented-on post

Important Blog Update – Please read!

Most commented-on page
(beside About )

The Headship of Christ In the Gathering of the Church

*Pragmatism and the Truth is not only the most viewed piece of original writing but also the oldest writing on the blog.  It was originally written in 2003, nine years before the blog was launched.  I edited it slightly and posted it as a permanent page under the Other Writings tab in 2012, and it has seen very significant traffic ever since.

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Between the Lines

I’m thankful for the rich and varied content that has filled these pages.  Beyond the specific postings, however, I hope that I’ve also been able to impart a number of “intangibles” that may be just as valuable, if not more so, than the specific content of any published piece.  My hope is that these have included the following:

• Christ-centeredness (surprise, surprise! 😉 ) – It’s been said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!”  Jesus Christ is eternally the Father’s Main Thing (Ephesians 1:10; Colossians 1:18) and, so, He must also be ours!  If the followers and readers of this blog have taken away anything from their engagement with these pages, my hope is that it will have been this truth above all others!

• Positive heavenly vision – There is much in the Church and Christianity that we could be judgmental of and reactive to in this day, but if the negative becomes our primary emphasis, we will only become pendulum-swinging malcontents, creating more error and imbalance in the process.  To be “plumb line prophets” we must draw our deepest convictions and greatest burdens from a positive response to Truth, not a negative reaction to error.  Only when our vision is clear in this way can we navigate forward with the wisdom, grace, and truth that comes from above.  I’ve sought throughout this blog to always keep the focus on God’s positive, heavenly vision and seek for light to define darkness and not the other way around.

• Creativity and Originality – God is infinitely creative and original in all that He does, and so we should, likewise, reflect these same characteristics as those made in His image and likeness.  In the development of this blog, I have sought to be true to the prophetic originality of His voice in the expression of the various teachings and to cultivate Spirit-led creativity as to the various means of its expression.  My hope is that this has brought a certain freshness to what has been published and has cultivated an ongoing expectation of what may be next!

• Collaboration – There is a principle of “two or three” found in Scripture when it comes to the communication and confirmation of God’s truth. (Matt. 18:16, 20; 1 Cor. 14:27, 29; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1Tim. 5:19)  I’ve sought to integrate this principle into this blog in a number of ways, including establishing a collaborative blogging initiative called The WORD in 3D.  For this I invited/enlisted two other like-minded bloggers to join me in each writing a short (approximately 500-word) meditation on a selected portion of Scripture, which were combined together in one post to give a three-point perspective on God’s Word.  (See here for the complete list of “3D” projects.)  I also participated in two “chain blogs” (here and here), re-blogged other confirming voices (here and here), posted an in-depth, “iron-sharpening-iron” email exchange that I had with another brother as a series of posts (first in series here), posted confirming voices from the past (main page here), and hosted supporting free resources (main page here.)  I am also deeply grateful for the collaboration that Sándor Abonyi of Hungary initiated and engaged in with me, namely his translation of 30+ of my posts/pages into the Hungarian language and posting of them on his Hungarian/English blog keskeny út – narrow way.  Thank you Sándor for your friendship and collaboration over the years!

• Profoundly simple; simply profound – God’s deepest truths are characterized by two seemingly contrary, yet complimentary characteristics: profoundly simple and simply profound.  I’ve sought in my writings to embrace both of these characteristics so that the truths being explored may be easily grasped in their simple essence on one hand, while their profound outworkings might substantially challenge our present concepts and capacities on the other.  I believe this is the best way for us to grow in the grace and knowledge of God.

•Breaking new ground (over age-old foundations) – God’s truths are established from of old, and yet He is ever a God of freshness and progressive revelation in relationship with His people.  We must never build on anything other than the age-old foundations laid down in Scripture, and yet, God wants to bring forth fresh revelation of His ancient truth so that our relationship with Him remains vital and relevant.  Through this blog, I’ve sought to steward those “ground breaking” revelations that He has birthed in my heart by His Spirit in order to enrich the Body of Christ with “living bread” through this blog.  Some posts/series that especially come to mind as those that have broken fresh ground are: The Cross – The Eternal Passion of God, The Cross – The Unlevel Playing Field of Satan’s Defeat, Tradition, Scripture, and the Church (full series) , Centrality and Eccentricity, Rebels, Refugees, and a Returning Remnant (full series), The Headship of Christ In the Gathering of the Church, The “Love”-“Hate” Relationship (full series), and Affirmations (full series) to name a few.  I hope that you will take advantage of these posts/pages most of which are also available now in the PDF,s section of the blog.  These are some of the greatest treasures I’ve sought to steward for the enrichment and edification of the body of Christ.

If these “intangibles” have seeped through the cracks and oozed through the pores of this blog, I will be satisfied that I have somehow done my “job” well!  That is my hope at least!

Looking Forward

So as this mile marker is passed, the question naturally arises, “What do I see for the road ahead?”  We are certainly living in rapidly changing, unpredictable times, and so it is, admittedly, difficult to see much beyond the next bend.  My intention, however, is to keep pressing on and be a faithful steward of the revelation and burden that has undergirded this blog for the past ten years, namely, the centrality, supremacy, and all-sufficiency of our Lord Jesus Christ in all things!  My hope is to be able to revisit some of the wellsprings and headwaters of that revelation as well as to continue to trace it out to some of its more diverse reaches and ramifications.  There is also a strong sense of the urgency of the hour and the shortness of time that we have left to fulfill our purpose and calling in this world.  The words of Paul seem more fitting than ever:  Therefore watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil” Ephesians 5:15-16 HNV

In a practical sense, my hope going forward is that I will not only be able to continue publishing additional written posts, but also to diversify and amplify some of the forms of content to (possibly) include: downloadable ebooks, print books/booklets, online course(s), group study materials, additional recorded original songs, audio posts, and video teachings.  All of these I have been seriously considering and holding before the Lord as to His leading and timing.  The future of the blog is ultimately in His hands and I will seek to simply walk step by step with Him in its further growth and development!

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In closing, I want to thank all of you who have participated in this blog in some way or another over these past ten years.  Your time invested reading, liking, commenting, following, and sharing has contributed to the overall value, visibility, reach, and fruitfulness of this venture.  For those who have contributed to the writing of blog posts, translating/reposting, re-blogging, and external linking I am especially grateful!  Only God knows the eternal fruit that will come from the multiplication of these simple offerings given into His hands!

I’m also very thankful for the connections and friendships that I’ve made with brothers and sisters in Christ around the world as a result of this venture.  I’m humbled by the godliness of the saints I’ve been privileged to connect with and, at times, co-labor with.  It has been a great source of fellowship, encouragement, and edification.  Although, due to life’s natural demands, I haven’t always been as able or faithful to maintain some of those connections as I would have liked, please know that my life has been enriched by connecting with each and every one of you!

In addition to and above all this, I am grateful to our Lord for leading me into and carrying me on in this endeavor for these past ten years.  It has been by His grace and goodness that I have been able to keep my hand on the plow through these many, varied seasons, and by His grace and goodness I will continue to do so!

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9 KJV

And so, my dear brothers and sisters, it’s onto the next ten years! 😉

With love and blessings,

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The Face of the Man – Sonship Calling (#thecorporatechrist)

The fourth primary banner that flew in the encampment of the Israelites around the tabernacle was that of a man.  This banner belonged to the tribe of Reuben, which was the primary tribe of the southern encampment.  The tribes of Simeon and Gad completed this division.  We will now consider the aspect of sonship as it is represented by the symbol of a man and further illuminated by the meaning of the names of the tribes of this southern division.

The image of a man represents sonship for God made mankind in His own image and likeness as His sons and daughters.  Sonship, which transcends gender, is God’s highest purpose and calling for mankind and represents the highest vocation of all created beings in both the seen and unseen realms.  It is also the consummate calling which incorporates the three other primary callings of priestly, prophetic, and kingly into one.  In the vision of the four living creatures that Ezekiel saw (Ezekiel 1), the primary face and form was that of a man and additionally, each had the face of an ox, an eagle, and a lion.

Reuben – The tribe of Reuben was the primary tribe of the southern encampment and was known by its banner of a man.  The name Reuben means “behold a son.”  Reuben was the firstborn son of Jacob.  The image on Reuben’s standard along with the meaning of his name clearly establishes the connection between the face of the man and sonship.

Simeon – The second tribe of the southern division was Simeon whose name means “hearing.”  This name is derived from the Hebrew primitive root, “shama` which means “to hear, heed, obey. “  When it comes to sonship, the single most important means by which young, immature children grow up unto maturity is through hearing, heeding, and obeying.

In Deuteronomy 6:4, the Lord spoke to the nation of Israel, His “firstborn son” (Deuteronomy. 4:22) and said,Hear (Hebrew=”shama`”), O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.”  He then goes on to command His people to make sure that their children, likewise, daily hear His commandments:  “Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)  The parental imperative is to daily instruct their children in the words, wisdom, and ways of God and the child’s responsibility is to hear, heed, and obey what they are taught.  This is the key to growth unto full maturity.

Solomon further emphasizes these generational imperatives in the book of Proverbs:

“Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.  I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.  For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother.  Then he taught me, and he said to me, “Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live.  Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them.” Proverbs 4:1-5

The Messiah, the Son of God, similarly had an instruction/hearing relationship with His Father.  Isaiah records concerning the “servant of the Lord”:  He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away.” (Isaiah 50:4b-5 NIV) 

So we see the primary significance of hearing in the raising up of son’s and daughters unto full maturity.  The name Simeon (“hearing”), therefore, is a most fitting name to be associated with this calling of sonship.

Gad – The third tribe of the southern encampment was Gad.  The name Gad is an interesting one meaning “fortune” and is also sometimes translated as “troop.”  It comes from the Hebrew verb transliterated, gadad, meaning “to penetrate, cut, attack, invade.”   The name points to the fortunes procured by an invading band/troop.

The mission of the Son of God was very much akin to this (though initially only as “an army of one.”)  It was an heavenly invasion that procured for Himself and His people unspeakable, spiritual fortunes.  As a reaping of these spoils of battle, we are now blessed “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:3) and have become “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.”  (Romans 8:17)  Is it possible to be more richly blessed with greater spiritual fortunes than that?!?

Furthermore, as the Father sent His Son into the world, so now Christ is sending us (see John 20:21.)   The “sons of God” are now being raised up as a world-wide army (“troop”) to join in the ongoing mission of the Son of God until He has fully reaped the reward of His sufferings.  All of this culminates in the bringing of “many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10) unto an “inheritance that can never perish, spoil of fade.” (1 Peter 1:4)  These are the unspeakable fortunes of “the Son of God” and of “the sons of God.”  The name of Gad (“fortune”, “troop”), therefore, is a most fitting name to consummate this matter of sonship.

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As we’ve considered these four faces of the ox, the eagle, the lion, and the man in relation to the tribes of Israel as they encamped around the tabernacle in the wilderness, we’ve seen how all of God’s people were connected in some way to one of these four primary “faces”/callings.  This gives a rudimentary picture of the significance of the four aspects of the priestly, prophetic, kingly, and sonship callings in regards to God’s people in general.  In the full thought of God, however, all four faces/callings are integral to the constitution and calling of all of God’s people, both individually and corporately.  We will explore the individual aspect of that reality in the next post.  See you then! 🙂

Previous #thecorporatechrist posts:
The Anointed One
Four Faces of the Anointed One
Four Faces in the Wilderness
The Face of the Ox – Priestly Calling
The Face of the Eagle – Prophetic Calling
The Face of the Lion – Kingly Calling

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