Throwback Thursday is a series of posts, wherein I will on (some) Thursdays post a piece of writing from back in the day. Generally not from this blog. I will edit lightly for readability, but my intention is to allow each piece to stand basically as written. Over the years my mind has shifted on many things, as my knowledge of life, the Scriptures, and myself has grown. I'm not in the business of hiding this fact, so these will probably (at least on occasion) contain some things which even I think are crazy.
So it's been a while since I wrote a note...one month in fact. This will be interesting. I will start out by apologizing to anyone who listened to me flub through this at Fuel last night, my brain was not with me (I didn't even have my Bible with me), and I think I really failed as far as articulating and getting across what I should have, I guess that's where trusting in God to get His message across in spite of my inability comes in.
My focus was on the Trinity, I plan in the following weeks to go over the Father, Son, and Spirit individually, but last night I wanted to focus on the God-head as a whole.
First point-what is the Trinity? Put simply, Trinity is the word used to describe the unity of God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. Three persons, one God. Totally distinct, yet wholly one. I'm not going into depth on the Biblical basis we have of the Trinity because of the fact that it is an accepted Christian doctrine that I feel no need to defend, but the study of it is quite interesting and beneficial, there a lot of good sources to read from on the internet, and in Mark Driscoll and Gary Breshears new book "Doctrine", they lay out in the first chapter an excellent and thorough explanation on the doctrine of the Trinity…and hey, you can even read about it in your handy dandy Bible, available at any local book store or truck stop. I will give you a few examples of the Trinity in Scripture, while my main focus is how the reality of the Trinity ought to affect our lives.
Genesis 1:1-2 (New International Version)
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
John 1:1-3 (New International Version)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
Example two-Jesus' Baptism
Matthew 3:16-17 (New International Version)
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
Here we see the Father, Son, and Spirit all present in two major events in Scripture, Creation, and Jesus’ baptism. (Other references and illusions to the Trinity can be found in Luke 1:35, Matthew 28:19, 1 Peter 3:18, among others.) But as I said, I don’t really want to dwell on the defense of the actual idea of the Trinity, but instead focus on what we can learn from it and how that applies to our lives. And before I even do that, perhaps it would be prudent to give a little back story on where I’m coming from, and some things in this area that God has been teaching me.
I have, for quite some time, been frustrated by what some people call “self-help” Christianity. The Joel Osteens of the world telling us how to live better lives based on what the Bible (or psychology, or Dr. Phil, or Oprah, or the crazy lady down the street) has to say. And it’s all around us, not just in big time, mainline Christianity, but also in the mindsets of everyone around us. Pastors, elders, deacons, pew warmers, all of us…we’re constantly looking for what the Bible has to say about my life, how does it apply to my circumstances. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks…it’s not about me! Even “my” life is not about me. What is life about? Well the Westminster Shorter Catechism tells us that the chief end of man is to “glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.” (1 Corinthians 6:20; Philippians 4:4). Now sit and ponder that for just a moment. My chief end as a human being, the reason I am here, is not to find the perfect pair of shoes, or live a happy life, or find that perfect someone, or look like I’m 20 when I’m 50...no. My chief end, my very purpose in life, is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Now logically the first step in glorifying and enjoying God would be to find out what sort of God He is. What glorifies Him, and how best can I enjoy Him based on His character? And He tells us these things in His word. BUT…and this is a big but (thank you Wayne for laughing, if you are reading)…we have to quit looking to Scripture as a self help book. Because that is not what God gave us. He gave us a road map for how to live our lives, in accordance with His will, on the basis of His character and power. We have to quit looking for help from God in our lives, and start looking to God as our source of life. We will not live joyful lives until we start living lives that glorify God, and that cannot be done unless we are continually trying to understand more thoroughly the character of the One who made us. Don’t read your Bible for help in life, read your Bible to find God. Del Tackett, a teacher with Focus on the Family who developed and teaches a course on Biblical worldview, often uses a phrase with I am constantly thinking about, and really puts things in perspective for me, that being, “gaze upon the face of God.” Gaze upon the face of God. What a marvelous thought, and an opportunity that He has given us in His word. By looking to it merely as a self help book we rob God of the glory He deserves, and rob ourselves of the pleasure of understanding Him more fully. That being said, let's dive back in.
Now we have established as our premise that God is by His very nature, Triune. But what does that entail, what intricacies of God’s nature can be gleaned from this? First off we see that a Triune God, a God who is three and yet one, is a God of perfect love.
1 John 4:8 (New King James Version)
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
God is love. I was listening to Mark Driscoll one day and he said that “to declare that God is love is to declare that God is Triune”. And I struggled with this for a while, I mean it sounds rather condemning to people who on the one hand say God is love (ha, most of our culture will agree with that), but on the other hand deny the Trinity. But then I came to realize that in God’s very nature of being three in one, He has given a perfect example of love. Here in the God head we have three distinct persons who fully co-operate in love and humility towards one another in an absolutely perfect fashion. True love is Trinitarian love as displayed in the God head. And here is the kicker, the truly mind blowing part. This God who is perfectly loving towards Himself, also loves us. Now you might think, but God made us, of course He loves us. But stop and think. Here is a God, who enjoys perfect love and community within Himself, has no need for love outside of that. He chooses to create us, and yet we turn our backs on Him and sin, not just on one occasion, but as a constant habit throughout our lives. It would be really simple, at least from a human perspective, to look at us, let us go our own way, and let us burn in Hell like we deserve. But God doesn’t do that. He created us in full knowledge that we would sin. And so He planned out not just our creation, but our redemption. Because of the will of the Father we can be washed clean and walk with God by the power of the Spirit, because of the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. Christ became one of us, walked a perfect and sinless life for 33 years, went to a cross, suffered and died, taking on not just immense physical pain, but while still being God had to face the unbearable pain of God the Father turning His face away, a separation we cannot even comprehend. And then in three days- rising, conquering sin and death, and giving us a way to the Father. God who has no reason to love you, because outside of that value that He places on you, you are nothing-chooses to love you. That is mind blowing. You want some self help? You want to live a better life? Ponder what Jesus did, not just through His life, but through His death on a cross. Ponder the Father. Think about His amazing love, grace, and mercy. Ponder the Spirit who indwells every believer, walking with us every moment of every day. When you realize what He did and does, and when you realize how undeserving you are, it ought to break you. And when it does, you will realize you can do nothing less than surrender you life to this all powerful, and yet all loving King of Kings. This God who displays such great love towards us offers us the opportunity to follow in His example of perfect love, and to follow Him. That my friends…that is amazing.