Trinity. Easy to Understand? No!
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt 3:17a Holman And there came a voice from Heaven:
Through an open portal, the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, and a voice came down. The Father was so thrilled with what was happening at Jesus’ baptism that He could not contain Himself. Proud of His Son, and wanting to show Him off, the Father spoke out of Heaven with an audible voice, breaking His silence after 400 years. He was speaking again, revealing Himself to His people.
God still graciously speaks down to us through another open portal, His Holy Scriptures. God’s audible voice at the Jordan is no more authoritative than the written Word we possess. Let’s respond by speaking up toward Him in prayer. The heavens opened in order to let communications flow both ways, down and up.
Matt 3:17b “This is My beloved Son.”
The Father was testifying to the deity of Jesus. All other sons of God are adopted. Only Jesus was begotten (John 3:16), of the same essence as the Father.
This was the Son the Father loved (Colossians 1:13), the One who had dwelt in His bosom forever (John 1:18), the One He watched us crucify. This adds deeper pathos to our much loved song phrase, “The darling of Heaven crucified”.
Matt. 3:17c “I take delight in Him!”
This obviously refers to Jesus’ sinless life. Jesus never said or did anything that displeased the Father. The Father delighted in Jesus. Can we say the same?
Do we love Him? A new members committee once told a lady she could not join their church because she was too frightened to stand before the people and tell her testimony. When she said, “But I could die for Jesus,” they accepted her.
The Father wants His Son to be loved by us. He wants us to demonstrate this love by glorifying Jesus; this means honoring Him in the presence of others. Dr. Ray Robbins, my favorite seminary professor, said God is glorified when the God we know is the God we show. Our best way of doing this is to be like Jesus.
The baptism of Jesus was Matthew’s first introduction of the Trinity. All three members of the triune Godhead were obviously present here. This is why the early Church Fathers often said, to see the Trinity, go to the Jordan.
It is no coincidence the Trinity first appeared to us in an extremely tender moment. Affection always characterized their relationship. The love amongst the Trinity is the purest, highest love ever known. They look on one another with unequaled love: one heart, one person, one purpose. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–all three have delighted in each other every moment of every day for eternity.
This means the living God, since He is a Trinity, has always lived in an interactive loving relationship. A triune God is by definition relational, others-centered, and always has been. This compelling truth is depicted in the 1700-year-old artistic rendering entitled “Perichoresis”, which means “the dance around”.
For each member of the Trinity, focus has never been centered on self, but on interaction with the other Two. This has huge implications for us. If God had ever been only one, He would have seen a time when He did not need relationship.
Having lived alone once, He could do so again, if He wanted to. Also, had He lived alone, He could not by nature be love, for love requires someone else.
Francis Schaeffer said he renounced agnosticism to become a Christian due to the Trinity. He said it convinced him that all the wonderful things Christians claimed about God’s love truly were inherent in His nature, and not fabricated by humans. Schaeffer became convinced, due to the Trinity, that the God who exists is personal. He thinks, acts, and feels, three distinguishing marks of personality. He is neither an impersonal force, nor an all-inclusive everything. He is personal.
C. S. Lewis also reached the same conclusion. “God is not a static thing–not even a person–but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance. The union between the Father and Son is such a live concrete thing that this union itself is also a Person.”
A God alone to His own self would have at some time been self-centered, self-absorbed, self-contained, obviously not feeling personal interaction vital. But fortunately for us, God has never lived in isolation, but always in relationship.
Now prepare your heart to be amazed!! The triune God desires to bring us humans into the divine dance-around. The Godhead members love interaction not only with each other, but also with us. We are not a burden to Him. We are wanted.
Father, Son, and Spirit have forever enjoyed each other, and all three equally want to enjoy us. Neither loves us more than the other Two do. Father gave us the Son; The Son gave the Spirit, the Spirit enabled the Son, and makes Him famous.
The blood of Jesus cannot save us unless the Father calls us and the Spirit convicts us. The Father prepares the feast, Jesus is the feast, and the Holy Spirit invites us to the feast. The Father is the fountain of blessing, Jesus is the channel, and the Holy Spirit is the cup that enables us to drink (Spurgeon).
The Trinity’s love for us merely reflects their love for each other. The desire for a personal relationship with us is why God created us in the first place. God came to visit Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. The members of the Trinity made us in order that we might each share in Their sharing, and celebrate with Them this everlasting loving relationship.
In eternity past, the members of the Trinity were so infinitely happy that they decided to “rejoice” the creation into being (Job 38:7), as if saying, “This is too good to keep to ourselves. We have to share it.” God wanted us to enjoy His joy, and wanted us to spread it to others.
As a result, we see all around us the explosion, the Big Bang if you will, of God’s love. Why is nature beautiful to human eyes? Why is the world perfectly suited for us to inhabit it? Why does the natural order seem to have been made with us in mind? Because it was. God’s love for us inspired the architecture of the Universe.
The Trinity wants relationship with us, interaction without sin in the mix. The only disappointments in creation are ones caused by our rejecting God and refusing to share the close personal relationship, the perichoresis, with Him. The Creator of course knew in advance we would fail Him, but made us anyway because it gave Him more opportunity to show how much He really does love us.
Since they live in unending relationship, we are to follow their lead into relationships. To be like God, don’t let self dominate our center. Instead, hold God and others there. We were made to receive God’s love and pass it on to others.
Do you want to help the homeless? Take one under wing. Do you wish fewer high school students dropped out of church when they go to college? Adopt one. Do you want to help single moms, prisoners coming out of jail, recovering alcoholics and drug addicts? Invest your life in one. Focus on relationships. Be like God.
The early church succeeded in large part because Christian homes were always open for people to come. They were relationship beehives. We lost much of this when we built our church buildings. They were meant to be our common house, but we too often made them instutitional dwellings.