“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Trinity: Joining the Dance of God

It is out of this life and love of God that human beings, created in God’s image to know and love God, came to be. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, “God is not a static thing – not even a person – but a dynamic pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama…[T]he mysterious something which is behind all things must be more than a person…something superpersonal…The whole purpose for which we exist is to be taken into the life of God.” It is into this “dance” that we, created beings in the image of God, are invited. Tim Keller makes this the theme of the last chapter of his book The Reason for God; he writes, “if God is triune, then loving relationships in community are ‘the great fountain…at the center of reality’” (The Reason for God p. 216). The end goal of redemptive history is “that [Christ] and his Father, his people, should be as one society one family; that the church should be as it were admitted into the society of the blessed Trinity” (Edwards, The Excellency of Christ). And not only are we invited to take part in the love that comes from God, but also his joy. The whole of Scripture is perfectly clear on this point. We are commanded again and again to be happy:

  • “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” – Philippians 4:4
  • “Rejoice always.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16
  • “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace.” – Romans 15:13
  • “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.” – Revelation 19:7
  • Paul’s joy in Christ and desire to see others share that joy overflows constantly in his letters (Romans 5:2-3, 11; Colossians 1:24, Philippians 3:1, and countless other places).
  • The theme of joy in God – in his presence and salvation – cannot be missed in the Old Testament either, and in particular the Psalms (Psalm 20:5, 43:4, 68:3, Ezra 6:16, Deuteronomy 6:16, Habakkuk 3:18, and countless other places).
One can hardly miss the point – God wants us to be joyful in him, and he lets us know again and again! God is a God of joy, taking pleasure in the joy of his creatures! The beauty of it all is that our joy is also God’s glory, as Jonathan Edwards describes so eloquently in The End for Which God Created the World, and John Piper in every one of his books. The only real joy is joy in God, in his beauty and power and goodness and the fullness of all that he is – the joy of knowing him and entering into the community that is centered on the Trinity. This joy both satisfies our deepest desires and brings honor and glory to his name, and it is rooted in God’s nature. And it was this joy that was purchased for us on the cross in a paradoxically beautiful way – through the deepest suffering of God himself. The purpose of the cross, and of all evil and suffering, is nothing more or less than joy – a greater joy for God’s people than could otherwise have been accomplished – the joy of seeing and embracing “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

A knowledge of the Trinity can greatly enrich our understanding of the big picture of what reality is all about. From the ontological foundation of the Triune God of love flows a creation filled with beings in the image of that God, who are teleologically drawn into the community and love of God that was there from the beginning. The persons of the Trinity work in redemptive history in unique ways in order that God’s people may more fully see the beauty and majesty of the Trinity. He is the Author of this great story that is reality itself, and the Composer of the music of creation, and the Orderer of all things. And all that he writes or composes or designs, all that he brings into being, is imbued with his beauty and ordained so that his creatures may know him – the One who lives as three.

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