Our eyes fail before Thy light Cannot see through Thee so bright Holy One, Radiant Three But by Thee we adore Thee Father, Son, and Spirit blest Sov’reign reign o’er all the rest All of them dark fading things Under Thine eternal wings
The goal of the Christian life, salvation itself, is, apparently, a participation in the life of the Trinity. This may well be the greatest mystery in Christianity; perhaps it is, for in it is bound up the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation. But, what can it possibly mean that human beings, mere creatures, are called and given to share in the very life of the Triune Godhead? How can this even be? “Or do you not know that those of us who were baptized, were baptized into His death? For we died with Christ through baptism into death in order that by the power of God the Father, who raised Christ from the dead, we too might walk in newness of life… For, if we have become partakers of His death, we will also be partakers of His resurrection.” “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me. The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” “For we are the members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.”
We tread on very holy ground here. How sacred and unfathomable are the mysteries of the Trinity and the union of the Persons of our Triune God! Let us approach with care in reverence and awe, and take warning that if we think that we have grasped Him with our minds, it is not God upon whom we gaze. This mystery of the relationships of the Persons of YHWH is far deeper, higher, and wider than is the truth that God is One. It is hidden under His train, veiled by the unapproachable light and the rainbow like an emerald that is round the throne. Let us take care that we do not seek to delve into the hidden things the knowledge of which God has reserved to Himself alone, but approach in worship to receive that which He would disclose to all His children, to whom His gift is Himself. All we see is but a sliver of the Infinite One, and words are so poor; I can only point, and hope that someone might see that which I have seen or greater yet, or at least realize that that which they think they have seen they have not seen, for they have not seen rightly. [Read more…] We know that the Father delights in the Son and glories in glorifying Him. We have only to read the answer of the Father in the thunder to Jesus’ prayer to glorify His name in the Temple in Jerusalem, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” Or Jesus’ words at the end of John 13. “Now is the Father glorified in the Son. Now that God is glorified in the Son of Man He will glorify Him and will glorify Him at once.” Or again, in John 17, in Jesus’ high priestly prayer, offered the night before He died, “Father, I will that they be with Me where I am and see My glory, the glory that You gave Me because You loved Me before the creation of the world.” Or again, much earlier in His ministry, after His baptism, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased,” or after His transfiguration, “This is My beloved Son; listen to Him.” Then, there are passages like this one in John chapter 10. “For this reason the Father loves me, that I lay down My life for the sheep. It is not taken from Me; I lay it down freely and I take it up again. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father.” Of course, the Cross is the greatest and most complete demonstration of Who God is. I believe that the Cross (and Resurrection and Ascension, for they are all, in fact, one thing) actually completely and adequately expresses Who God is; the incompleteness and inadequacy is all in our finiteness (and, while we live on earth, sin). Jesus is the complete and perfect image of the Father. He is as the Father is. And since Who God is is entirely One, Holy, there can be no diminishing of it; were it to be diminished it would not even be a mangled or poor representation or image of the Perfection, it would be something of a different kind entirely. All that the Father is, Jesus is. Jesus is like the Father as no created being is like another being. He is perfectly like the Father, completely like the Father. So, one may very well say that what Jesus does the Father does (of course, Jesus alone is the incarnate God). “I am in My Father and He is in Me.” “The Father living in Me does the works that I do.” The Son and the Father are different Persons, but by love They perfectly live through and in each other. It is mystery unspeakable. So, when Jesus lays down His life for the sheep and takes it up again, He perfectly represents Who the Father is. What is more, God is eternal. He acts and He works, but all His works are the expression of His eternal nature; one may say that they are the form His eternal character takes when He enters into time or through the lens of time. (Let no one think that I am denying that God is the Living God or that He is free to do as He pleases. God alone is truly free. He does exactly as He pleases and He is under no constraint; that is, He acts in perfect accord with Himself and His actions are not in any way limited or defined by anything or anyone except His own will. Moreover, He has seen and planned all of time from eternity, so all His actions in time are the expression of His eternal will, which is grounded in Himself, in the Blessed Trinity.) So, Jesus’ laying down of His life and taking up of it again is the Persons is, in very fact, where we find Their relational or Personal distinctions. Oh, how Jesus says to the Father, “Glorify the Son so that the Son may glorify You, just as You have given Him authority over all peoples so that He might give eternal life to all those You have given Him. For I have glorified You on earth by doing the work which You gave Me to do.” Essentially, Jesus is saying, “Glorify Me because I am Your Son,” or even, “Glorify Me because You are My Father,” that is, “Glorify Me because You are Yourself,” for, unlike in poor human beings or even perhaps in angels, there is no distinction, no separation, between deed and person, and Jesus is the very likeness of the Father. Or again, the Father says to the Son, “Ask of Me and I will give the nations as Your inheritance, the very ends of the earth as Your possession,” and the Son says, “I chose you,” but they are “those whom You have given to Me. All I have is Yours and all You have is mine, and glory has come to Me through them.” How can the Father and the Son both choose? Because They are one. The Father is all-goodness, infinite and eternal. That is His nature, His essence. The Son is the Son, Word, and Image of the Father. As such, He must have the same nature as the Father, be like to the Father. Only all-goodness, infinitude, and eternity are like all-goodness, infinitude, and eternity. There is only one all-goodness, infinitude, or eternity, by very definition, by intrinsic reality. Knowing the same, loving the same, willing the same, not by any arbitrary constraint of sameness but by natural spontaneity or spontaneous nature, by love, the Son can freely choose without constraining the free choice of the Father and vice versa. Herein is the perfect, free, and Divinely dignified obedience and submission of the Son! “He did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself empty, taking the form of a servant, and being found in appearance as a man He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted Him...” His deepest obedience and humiliation is as free and Divine an act – maybe more so, if we can use such words when speaking of God – as the creation of the world, for He was with the Father there. Love! There is nothing more beautiful or wondrous to me than the perfect oneness in love of the Father and the Son. Love! What a word, and how little we know of it as yet, or ever shall know, for the Love of God, the Love which is God (for all that God is, all of God is), is infinite! There is no question whether the Divine Persons are One because They love one another or love one another because They are One. Their Oneness is Their love and Their love is Their Oneness. Their love is Their relational distinctions and Their relational distinctions Their love. So also, Their Oneness and Their relational distinctions are one and the same. And then, there is the Spirit of God. Doubtless, no less Personal than are the other Two. He is spoken of as the Spirit of God who alone knows the things of God and as the Mind of Christ which is given to us who believe. How can God’s Spirit or Mind be less personal than He Himself is? In John chapter 14, Jesus says, “I will ask of My Father and He will give you another Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, whom the world has not known… but you will know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you.” No impersonal force could ever be a Comforter like the Lord Jesus. “When He comes, the Spirit of Truth whom I will send to you from the Father, He will testify about Me.” Only a person testifies. “The Spirit of Truth, when He comes, will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” Again, only a person can do that. Nor may the Spirit ever be confused with either the Father or the Son. The same Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son, and, thus, neither the Father nor the Son. He is the Spirit of the Father and the Son, of God, and God Himself. “You are no longer controlled by the flesh, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ He does not belong to Christ. But if you have the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead then He who raised Jesus will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who lives in you.” Likewise, the Spirit is called the Spirit of God or the Father innumerable times, but He is also known as the Spirit of Truth – notably, in that very same passage where Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.” I don’t know what to say about the Spirit and His relationship to the Father and the Son. These verses more or less say it all. Perhaps this: “the Spirit, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” It is the Spirit who lives the life of the Son of God in us, crying “Abba! Father!” in our hearts and testifying with our spirit that we are the children of God. It is the Spirit who shows us Jesus – “He will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment” – and makes living waters to flow from us. Yet, it is the Father who draws us and the Son who draws us, and also it is the Father who sanctifies us and the Son who sanctifies us. Just as the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father, so also with the Spirit. In the Spirit, the Father lives in us and in the Spirit the Son lives in us; see John chapter 14, “We will come to him and make our home with him.” And the Spirit lives and works in the Father and the Son. It is perhaps this verse in Hebrews, “He, through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God,” that lifted the corner of the veil on the glories of the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Spirit Divine! Father, Son, and Spirit of Love! God dwells in unapproachable light and Him no man – or angel – can ever see, for we are told in John that it was Christ whom Isaiah saw, whose train filled the temple and in whose presence Seraphim hid their faces and their feet. In the Son we – and all creation – see and know the Father: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” “This is eternal life: to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” It is the Spirit who shows us Christ and lives in us, who “takes of what is [His] and makes it known to [us].” The Son lives in us. The Father lives in us. The Spirit lives in us. It is the Spirit who is the guarantee of our salvation, but “No one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them out of His hand.” O, Blessed and Sacred Trinity, God Most Holy and Most High! Blessed be Your name through all the ages, glory forever and forever, world without end. O, to have the Blessed Trinity dwelling in our hearts! To gaze forever upon and live forever with this God of love! Copyright 2017 Raina Nightingale
God is One. There are three distinct Divine Persons. These two truths have been held by Christians throughout the ages. They form the basis for our understanding of the faith. With the doctrines of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ and the Incarnation they stand at the very center of the Christian faith. Indeed, without a right understanding of the Nature of God and the Trinity the mystery of the Incarnation is nonsense, and without the Incarnation the Cross and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ are equally nonsense.