Theology Thursday- Love

Theology-Thursday

Today we consider the blessing Christians experience of being welcomed into the love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father. The love of the Trinity is not the love of concepts or modes, the love of the Trinity is the love of persons.

John 15 is gloriously Trinitarian. John 15:1 opens with the statement that Jesus’ Father is the vine dresser and Jesus is the true vine. The idea of modalism completely falls apart on this point. God does not exist in one moment as a vine dresser and then the next moment as a vine. Either there are (at least) two persons as the one God or John 15:1 is void of meaning. But we are looking to understand more of God’s love so we can experience more of God’s love. For that we turn to John 15:9-11.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:9-11 ESV).

Jesus is speaking about the joy of being in loving and joyful harmony with the Father. As mentioned before on Theology Thursday, our relationship with Christ is a mirror of the relationship with the Father and the Son. If the Father and Son are actually one person then there is no genuine relationship. How can one person be in a meaningful obedient and joyful relationship with himself? A person can be true to himself but it is meaningless to say he is in a relationship with himself. The denial of the Trinity attempts to radically reshape Christianity. Here’s the truth to consider today: The distinctions of persons between the Father and Son, along with the unity of persons between the Father and Son, are imaged (all though imperfectly) between the Christian and Christ.

So, what does Jesus want us to understand and enjoy? There is an infinite and loving Father who has an infinite and loving Son. They are united in joy from eternity and they are united in purpose in creation. The Son loves the Father, obeys the Father, and enjoys unity with the Father. Jesus wants that for you. Jesus loves you, obey him, and enjoy unity with him. Jesus is the means by which you and I are welcomed into relationship with the infinite God. Obeying Jesus is the means by which we experience ever increasing joy. You are loved! Go and obey for joy.

Theology Thursday

Theology-Thursday

As we continue to think about the Trinity (click the Theology Thursday category to catch up), we look at Ephesians 3:14-19.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God.

Here we see the glory and good of the Trinity. If God is not three persons simultaneously and as one God, what exactly is going on here? Since God is simultaneously three persons existing in perfect unity as one God this passage makes soul satisfying sense.

God who is the giver and sustainer of all life is full of glory. Therefore, the Father gives his children the Holy Spirit, His Holy Spirit. The Father’s purpose in giving the Holy Spirit is to strengthen the Christian so that the Christian is able to handle the infinite blessing of the Son. This means you need the Holy Spirit acting on you so that Christ can dwell in you. The presence of the Triune God and the experience of the Trinity’s love calls for each person to act upon you. The Father is giving, the Spirit is strengthening, and the Son is dwelling. Three persons are acting in perfect unity.

Sure, someone could argue that one person shows up as a Father and then changes in order to show up as the Spirit and then changes again to show up as the Son. But this is no where close to what we see revealed here. What we see is splendid diversity in glorious unity. God in three persons blessed Trinity!

Theology Thursday, Part 5

Theology-Thursday

We have been looking at the book of Revelation and the wonderful truth that the one God is three persons. Today concludes our look at the Book of Revelation.

Revelation 22:16-21

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Re 22:16–21). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Here we find a good example of the persons of the Trinity talking with one another affirming the reality of their distinct person hood. The Spirit speaks to Jesus and says, “Come.” Jesus then responds to the Spirit, “Surely I am coming soon.” Let us remember that the Spirit is the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:11), the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9; Philippians 1:19). The Spirit desires the return of the Son. The Spirit does not desire to become the Son, who will return, as if the Spirit and the Son are the same person. The Trinity is simultaneously perfect unity, perfectly one, in three persons.

The Athanasian Creed is helpful at this point. Take a moment to click here and read it.

The Trinity in Revelation, Part 2

Theology-Thursday

Our current emphasis on Theology Thursdays is the Trinity in the book of Revelation.

Revelation 3:20-22

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

We again see explicit reference to the three persons of the Godhead, just as we saw in Revelation 1:4-5. It is the Son who is now knocking and inviting us to commune with him and rule with him. It is the Son who is now ruling with the Father. It is the Spirit who is speaking these words of the Son to the church.

It is an awesome invitation that Jesus wants to be with us as we go through each day. Jesus is available to you so that you can conquer temptation and overcome evil with good. It is Jesus who will confess your name before his Father (Rev 3:5). The Jesus who is for you now will be for you forever. Depend on him. Pray now and confess your weakness (Rev 3:17). Ask Jesus to give you strength.

In response to the distinction of persons in Revelation 3:21, modalism claims that it is foolish to think the Son and the Father will sit together on one throne. Therefore, there can only be one person who manifests himself at different times in different ways. Modalism claims there is only one person who is God and modalism denies there are three persons in the Godhead. Is the idea of the Father and Son sitting together on one throne foolish and therefore worthy of our rejection?

If you reject the unity of the Father and Son on the throne as foolishness then you must also reject your unity with the Son on his throne as foolishness. Read Revelation 3:21 again.

The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Instead of repudiating the Trinity, this verse wonderfully teaches the unity of persons. Our unity with the Son (see Romans 6) is a picture in miniature of the unity of the Father and Son. To demand that Revelation 3:21 says Jesus is sitting on the Father’s lap is to demand that Revelation 3:21 says Christians will sit on the Son’s lap. That is not the point! The point is shared rule in perfect unity. John is not describing the seating chart of heaven but the unity of rule over all creation. United to Christ, we are invited into the splendor of the Trinity.

The Trinity in Revelation Part 1

Theology-Thursday

This begins my Theology Thursday emphasis on the Trinity. My goal here is to affirm sound doctrine and help you apply it to your life. Check back in each Thursday, or subscribe, for a strengthening dose of doctrine each week.

Revelation 1:4-5

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

Here we find an explicit reference to the Trinity: the eternal Father, the perfect Spirit, and the resurrected Son. In the triune God we find an infinite fountain of grace. The God who rules over all time and all people and situations is ready to give you grace. The seven churches need to hear this because they were enduring persecution and were called to put sin to death. Maybe today you need to be reminded that the Father, Son, and Spirit are for you in your difficulty and have grace for you.