Prov 8:1-4 KJV | Prov 22:1 – 31:31 KJV | Ps 8:1-9 KJV | Eph 4:1-6 KJV | John 16:12-15 KJV
INTRODUCTIONDespite popular opinion, the revelation that there is one God in three Persons is the most foundational and practical of all Christian beliefs. For instance, contemporary society’s commitment to “equal” i.e. same-sex, marriage and the fluid nature of gender identity can be traced back to a rejection of the Trinity. Political correctness continues to infiltrate even the Church, which is called to be a place of holy communion with the one true God.
A Catholic friend recently sent me material about church schools using gender-neutral language in prayer so “Godself” replaces God himself.
This same crusade against patriarchy reaches up to an episcopal level were from time to time, instead of, “In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, you will hear, “In the name of God, Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier”.
But what God does isn’t equivalent to who he is and Jesus himself gave us the name in which we should be baptised (Matt 28:19 KJV).
The Trinity isn’t an intellectual puzzle to be solved but the revelation of a God who is love, who loves to be loved and who wants to share every element of his being with us.
Jesus prayed, “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” ” (John 17:26 KJV).
For many years I struggled to feel loved by God, but those days are over and with the help of the Spirit (Rom 5:5 KJV) those still stuck in that place can receive a revelation of the scriptural truth, “God is love” (1 John 4:8 KJV), today.
We shouldn’t hear this, as our idolatrous culture does, as equivalent to “love is God”.
The answer question, “I want to know what love is”, doesn’t come from a quest for “love”, but from insight into in the way that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit love each other and us. Especially in the cross.
LOVE IN GOD
Father, Son and Spirit are not named for three “individuals” who choose to love one another, in God loving and being are one. God exists-in-love.
The Father has always loved the Son with the whole of his substance, and the Son has always loved the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit in the totality of who he is.
The absolute primacy of love in God has massive implications. To say, for example, “God is wrath”, is completely false because the Father has never had a reason to be angry with his Son. Scripture unveils a history shaped by the other-centred love of the Persons of the Trinity.
The Bible testifies that creation comes from the Father1)See Biblical References 1 Cor 8:6 KJV; Rev 4:11 KJV; Rev 10:6 KJV through the mediation of the Son2)See Biblical References John 1:3 KJV; 1 Cor 8:6 KJV; Col 1:15-17 KJV; Heb 1:10-12 KJV and by the power of the Spirit3)See Biblical References Gen 1:2 KJV; Job 26:13 KJV; Job 33:4 KJV; Ps 104:30 KJV; Isa 40:12-13 KJV. Digging deeper we find a level of intimacy that reveals the Persons of the Godhead live for one another.
In Colossians 1:16 KJV we read about Jesus, “for through him God created everything… Everything was created through him and for him”. In other words, the Father created all things for his Son. Christ himself said, vs.22 “the Father…has given all judgment to the Son, vs.23that all may honour the Son, just as they honour the Father.” (John 5:22-23 KJV). Since there is total sharing in the Godhead what is done by the Father for the Son comes back to him.
God the Father will be glorified through the glorification of his beloved Son (1 Cor 15:24, 28 KJV). As a return for his sacrifice, the Father has “highly exalted” Jesus with “the name that is above every name” ” so that “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:1-0-11 KJV)…
At the close of the book of Revelation, we hear of “the throne of God and the Lamb” (Rev 22:1, 3 KJV).
There are not two thrones in heaven, Father and Son reign forever in the power of the Spirit on a single throne4)See Biblical References Rev 22:1 KJV cf. John 7:37-39 KJV. The Father loves nothing more than for us to love the Son, the Son loves us to love the Father and all this love is in the Spirit (2 Cor 13:14 KJV).
To forget that the glory of every Person in the Trinity is to glorify the others always leads to confusion. When I was a young Christian there were popular T-shirts around with John 14:6 KJV printed on them, “Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”; but none of them included the rest of what Jesus’ said, “no one comes to the Father except through me.”
No wonder that generation struggled with the Fatherhood of God. “Love” is perhaps the most corrupted word in the English language, to understand what “love” means in the eyes of God we must have a revelation of the death and resurrection of Jesus whose life meaning was defined by these events. “ “For this reason” ”, he said, “ “the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.” ” (John 10:16 KJV)
LOVE AS SACRIFICE
With the coming of Jesus a new form of knowing God entered the world, one defined by self-giving rather than self-seeking, selflessness rather than selfishness, a manifestation of all-embracing unconditional forgiving love. God’s love is defined by his sacrifice of himself for those who don’t love him.
What’s the most famous verse in the Bible? “For God so loved…the world” i.e. those opposed to him “that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him might not perish but have everlasting life.”5)See Biblical References John 3:16 KJV cf. 1 John 4:10 KJV.
Sometimes grieving people say, “I feel as though a part of me has died.” This is a metaphorical way of speaking about our human experiences, but it really happened when the Father was separated from the Son on the cross as he cried out, “ “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” ”(Mark 15:34 KJV).
When Jesus took all the lovelessness of the world upon himself6)See Biblical References Rom 8:3 KJV; 2 Cor 5:21 KJV; 1 Pet 2:24 KJV death entered into the life of God.
The Persons of the Trinity never stopped loving one another, but the infinite agony of the cross marks a suspension in the circle of loving experience in the Godhead. Suffering, sin and death were taken into God so that in Christ we might eternally and uninterruptedly be immersed in his love.
In the death and resurrection of Jesus for us, human nature has been beautified and by grace made worthy of love. “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has passed away; behold, everything has become new.” (2 Cor 5:17 KJV).
Raised up with Christ and hidden with him in God7)See Biblical References ph 2:6 KJV; Col 3:3 KJV our humanity has been so radically renewed that love is now at the essence of our being. This love has no limits in its powerful working.
In a Japanese P.O.W. camp holding men building the Burma Railway, the prisoners were behaving like brute beasts. The officers refused to share their rations, theft was common, and no-one cared for others’ needs. Then one day a work party returned, and a shovel was missing from the count.
Infuriated, the guard in charge threatened to kill everyone unless the thief stepped forward and confessed. No one moved. Then finally a man stood up and said, “I did it.” He was mercilessly bludgeoned to death in front of all the inmates. Soon after this the work detail did a recount of tools and found they’d made a mistake, nothing was missing.
A Bible verse came into the mind of one of the prisoners, who later became a pastor, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 KJV). From that time on life in the camp began to change, men were still suffering and dying, but now they were caring for each other without selfishness.
They began to feel they were called to a fellowship of love and started doing art, founded a “university”, planted a garden, built a chapel. The miraculous power at work transforming the rabble into a community was the love of the man who gave his life for his friends, and enemies, on the cross, which is also the limitless love of Almighty God.
Christ’s sacrifice is the fulness of an extraordinary love that has grown to infinity through being given away. We are all called into this fellowship of love.
Mother Teresa said, “I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts then there is no hurt but only more love. As I held and fed the morsel of life that was an aborted baby, I held the hand of our man dying from cancer and felt his trust and gratitude, I can see, feel and touch God’s love which has existed from the beginning.”
Experiences like this, not clever intellectual arguments, testify to our hearts of the reason why God created the world.
KNOWING THE TRINITY
In the age of fake news and endless exposure of hypocrisy cynicism and suspicion of people’s motives abounds. But the gospel of the death-and-resurrection of Jesus reveals an all-powerful love that’s never manipulative or self-seeking.
The deepest mystery of the universe is not accessible to science, psychology or philosophy, but unveiled in the Trinitarian love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit poured out for us in Jesus.
Loved without limit, the call to follow Christ is a call to follow without limit, to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Matt 22:37 KJV).
A call to love totally and unconditionally. In this life, nobody can love God like that, but Jesus has promised, “‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23 KJV).
Jesus has shown us a Spirit-led way to the Father.
As he gave up everything for us, we must give up everything to him. That’s what love means, that’s how love works. The more we are united with the sacrifice of Christ, the more we have a revelation that God is infinitely loveworthy and the more we are freed from a selfish need to love ourselves before we love God and others.
The problem with the wider Church today is that it is choked up by an immature love. Mature love doesn’t love God for his benefits, real and wonderful as they are, but loves God for his sake. It is being bathed in this love that drives out all fear of being unloved (1 John 4:18 KJV).
In heaven, we will fully love God as God loves himself. Who Jesus is and what he has done for us is that powerful.
I was out praying the other day and my heart was simultaneously filled with two sensations, I sensed this deep desire to share all things with the Lord, and far more deeply his desire to share all things with me.
This will be my life forever. Will it be yours?
Today, God’s love, the love of the Father, Son and Spirit calls us all to give our lives to Jesus, this is the loving thing to do. And if we do this, not only as individuals but as a church, we will find flowing through our lives Spirit-inspired actions manifesting the life of Christ to the glory of God the Father. Actions of extreme generosity, mission, evangelism, prophetic community, social concern… such love is what it’s all about.
MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 15th Month 2019 Location: St Marks
Author: Dr. John Yates
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References [ + ]
|1.||↑||See Biblical References 1 Cor 8:6 KJV; Rev 4:11 KJV; Rev 10:6 KJV|
|2.||↑||See Biblical References John 1:3 KJV; 1 Cor 8:6 KJV; Col 1:15-17 KJV; Heb 1:10-12 KJV|
|3.||↑||See Biblical References Gen 1:2 KJV; Job 26:13 KJV; Job 33:4 KJV; Ps 104:30 KJV; Isa 40:12-13 KJV|
|4.||↑||See Biblical References Rev 22:1 KJV cf. John 7:37-39 KJV|
|5.||↑||See Biblical References John 3:16 KJV cf. 1 John 4:10 KJV|
|6.||↑||See Biblical References Rom 8:3 KJV; 2 Cor 5:21 KJV; 1 Pet 2:24 KJV|
|7.||↑||See Biblical References ph 2:6 KJV; Col 3:3 KJV|