Something Better Than the Gospel

  Fred Sanders: The Good News of God There is something even better than the good news, and that something is God. The good news of the gospel is that God has opened up the dynamics of his triune life and given us a share in that fellowship. But all of that good news only makes sense against the background of something even better than the good news: the goodness that is the perfection of God himself. The doctrine of the Trinity is first and foremost a teaching about who God is, and God the Trinity would have been God the Trinity whether he had revealed himself to us or not, whether he had redeemed us or not, whether he had created us or not. Obviously, these “whether or not” statements are counterfactual: they are about situations that are not the case. God has in fact made himself known, has redeemed his people, and, to say the most obvious thing,

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Trinity – God Is One and Three

J.I. Packer: “This is what the LORD says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6). The Old Testament constantly insists that there is only one God, the self-revealed Creator, who must be worshipped and loved exclusively (Deut. 6:4-5; Isa. 44:6– 45:25). The New Testament agrees (Mark 12:29-30; 1 Cor. 8:4; Eph. 4:6; 1 Tim. 2:5) but speaks of three personal agents, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, working together in the manner of a team to bring about salvation (Rom. 8; Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 1 Pet. 1:2). The historic formulation of the Trinity (derived from the Latin word trinitas, meaning “threeness”) seeks to circumscribe and safeguard this mystery (not explain it; that is beyond us), and it confronts us with perhaps the most difficult thought that the human mind has ever been asked to handle. It is not easy; but it is

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Why Does the Trinity Matter?

Silverio Gonzalez: Why does the Trinity matter? This is a fair question, especially since the Trinity isn’t easy to understand. Simply put, the Trinity is God in three persons and one essence. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but there are not three gods. There is only one God who is three persons. This is complex. Christians want to move on from talking or thinking about God to knowing God. I understand that, but I want you to see that understanding the Trinity actually changes your life. As you come to know God, you come to know the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As Christians, you and I have a personal relationship with each person of the Trinity. This kind of knowledge is more than just what you need to know to pass a doctrine exam. This kind of knowledge matters for your life. It makes life worth living. Here are three ways understanding the Trinity will

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Our union with Christ is Trinitarian

To say that our union with Christ is Trinitarian means that by virtue of being incorporated into the life of Jesus Christ, we participate in the life, love, and fellowship of the Trinity. Because the Son is is one with the Father, our being joined to the Son means we are joined to the Father. And because the Spirit exists as the bond of communion between the Father and the Son, he brings us into that communion by uniting us to Christ. This staggering biblical revelation forms the personal foundation for all the benefits that constitute our salvation. Marcus Peter Johnson, One with Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation, (Weaton, Ill: Crossway, 2013), p. 42

The Joy Behind All Joy

  Tony Reinke: The power of a great book to awaken your soul to the majesty of God is on full display in Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves. If you get this — or if it “gets” you — your life will never be the same. Next time you look up at the sun, moon and stars and wonder, remember: they are there because God loves, because the Father’s love for the Son burst out that it might be enjoyed by many. And they remain there only because God does not stop loving. He is an attentive Father who numbers every hair on our heads, for whom the fall of every sparrow matters; and out of love he upholds all things through his Son, and breathes out natural life on all through his Spirit. And not only is God’s joyful, abundant, spreading goodness the very reason for creation; the love and goodness of the triune God is the

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United in Redeeming Love

  Mankind, spiritually bankrupt, has nothing to offer, but God, prompted by pure grace, and drawing on his eternal wisdom, prepares a counsel of salvation in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are united in redeeming love and pity for the human race. The triune God resolves to save the world, and to accept the good offices of a Mediator who shall act for mankind as their representative and suffer for them as their substitute: so accommodating is the divine will, and so predisposed to forgive our transgressions. But the Three-in-One, acting to save the world, go further: they resolve that the salvation shall be free to the human race. It will cost them nothing. For them, it will be an act of pure love and mercy. From sinners as such no satisfaction will be required. Instead, everything will flow from the loving-kindness of God. He will bear the whole cost. He will provide the one who

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There is a blessed God at the core of the glorious gospel

  God’s eternal life as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a thing of infinite blessedness and perfection. There is a blessed God at the core of the glorious gospel. God in himself is perfect, and perfectly happy. Being perfect, he cannot essentially improve. He can make happiness and blessedness available to his creatures because he always already has it. This vision of a God with no unmet needs is a glimpse of the depths of the living God and the fund out of which he spends himself so freely in the economy of salvation. — Fred Sanders The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 94 (HT: Of First Importance)

Debtors to the Triune God

  Octavius Winslow: “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.” Romans 8:12 THAT around a subject so momentous as this no obscurity might gather, tending to misguide the judgment, the apostle most distinctly and emphatically affirms, that the flesh has no valid claim whatever upon the believer; and that, consequently, he is under no obligation to yield compliance with its feigned exactions. We are debtors, but the flesh in not our creditor. What are its demands with which it is incumbent upon us to comply? Do we owe anything to sin, the parent of all our woe? Nothing. To Satan, who plotted our temptation, and accomplished our downfall? Nothing. To the world—ensnaring, deceitful, and ruinous? Nothing. No; to these, the auxiliaries of allies of the flesh, we owe nothing but the deepest hatred and the most determined opposition. Debtors to the Father And yet the saints of God are “debtors.” To whom? What

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Deeper grace from before the dawn of time

  Before all time; prior to all worlds; when there was nothing ‘outside of’ God Himself; when the Father, Son, and Spirit found eternal, absolute, and unimaginable blessing, pleasure, and joy in Their holy triunity — it was Their agreed purpose to create a world. That world would fall. But in unison — and at infinitely great cost — this glorious triune God planned to bring you (if you are a believer) grace and salvation. This is deeper grace from before the dawn of time. It was pictured in the rituals, the leaders, and the experiences of the Old Testament saints, all of whom longed to see what we see. All this is now ours. Our salvation depends on God’s covenant, rooted in eternity, foreshadowed in the Mosaic liturgy, fulfilled in Christ, enduring forever. No wonder Hebrews calls it ‘so great a salvation’ (Heb. 2:3). — Sinclair B. Ferguson In Christ Alone (Orlando, Fl.: Reformation Trust, 2007), 136 (HT: Of

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Deeper into the gospel

  Our great need is to be led further in to what we already have. The gospel is so deep that it not only meets our deepest needs but comes from God’s deepest self. The salvation proclaimed in the gospel is not some mechanical operation that God took on as a side project. It is a ‘mystery that was kept secret for long ages’ (Rom. 16:25), a mystery of salvation that goes back into the heart of God, decreed ‘before the foundation of the world’ (Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:20). When God undertook our salvation, he did it in a way that put divine resources into play, resources which involve him personally in the task.… The deeper we dig into the gospel, the deeper we go into the mystery of the Trinity. — Fred Sanders The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything (HT: Of First Importance)

Bethlehem Wasn’t the Beginning

By David Burnette: As you reflect on the significance of Christ’s coming this Christmas, allow me to make one suggestion that may actually add to your holiday cheer: Don’t begin in Bethlehem. That may sound scrooge-like, but hear me out. Bethlehem looms large in our minds during Christmas, and rightfully so. The prophet Micah had predicted centuries earlier that a ruler would hail from this obscure town (Mic 5:2). As King David’s birthplace, Bethlehem would also be the scene of the Messiah’s birth. In that sense, it’s difficult not to think of Bethlehem this time of year.  That’s fine, but don’t forget that the Christmas story was set in motion long before the nativity scene. Bethlehem wasn’t the beginning. Jesus spoke of the glory he had with the Father “before the world existed” (Jn 17:5). As the Second Person of the Trinity, He was in communion with the Father and the Spirit from all eternity. We’re even told that the world was

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Trinitarian worship

There are good reasons for worshiping in one act of adoration the three in their distinct persons and relations with one another. A living relationship with God requires that each of the persons be honored and adored in the context of their revealed relations with each other. The nature of our response in worship is to be shaped by the reality of the one we worship. We worship the Father, who chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, who planned our salvation from eternity, who sent his Son into the world and gave him up for us. We worship the Son, in filial relation to the Father, who willingly ‘for us and our salvation’ was made flesh, who submitted himself to life in a fallen world, who trod a path of lowliness, temptation, and suffering, leading to the cruel death of the cross. We worship him for his glorious resurrection, for his ascension to the right hand of the Father, for

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The Trinity Is Foreign to Us, Until…

Eric Costa: Thinking about the Trinity is hard, because this conception of God is so foreign to us. We have no categories for thinking this way about God. This is true, not just because we’re intellectually limited, but because of sin. The Triune God is holy, that is to say, he is utterly distinct from us, particularly in his being love. God is love, because God is Persons who love One Another with Divine Love. This makes God entirely self-giving, ultimately Other-oriented within himself. God created us in his image, to be in relationships of love with him and each other. That’s the way things are supposed to be. But instead we chose self-love, and broke the world. Now we are individualistic, self-centered beings who cannot imagine true community or divine other-orientation (love). Michael Reeves says, “When I ask atheists to describe the God that they don’t believe in, they describe Satan rather than the Trinity.” We can only imagine God to

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Yahweh Is the Sweetest Name I Know

John Piper: You are not wrong to sing “Jesus is the sweetest name I know,” even though Yahweh is. Here’s why. God gave himself the name Yahweh. No man gave him this name. It is God’s chosen personal name. He loves to be known by this name. It is used 5,321 times in the Old Testament (according to TWOT). It is almost always translated by Lᴏʀᴅ (small caps). But it is not a title. It is a personal name, like James or Elizabeth. You know the name Yahweh best from its shortened form Yah at the end of Hallelujah, which means “praise Yahweh.” I love to think about this when I sing. When I sing, “Hallelujah,” I love to really mean: No! I don’t praise you Bel, or Nebo, or Molech, orRimmon, or Dagon, or Chemosh. I turn from you with disdain to Yah! I praise Yah. HalleluYah! God announced his name to Moses in Exodus 3:15. God said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘Yahweh, the God of your

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How the Doxology Shapes Us

Zac Hicks: One drop of water on a rock has little effect, but a steady dripping will eventually wear a hole into a seemingly impenetrable stone. Singing the Doxology every week is like getting a steady drip of life-giving Trinitarian water over hardened hearts. James K. A. Smith, in Desiring the Kingdom, reminds us that the very form and rituals of worship have a shaping effect on us.  We don’t just become more godly by learning the theology of the songs and imbibing the propositional content of the sermon.  Our desires and habits, as we move along the path of the liturgy, are shaped to more subconsciously and instinctively move along the direction of that path.   For instance, I have been in a context where I have experienced the same weekly liturgy of Confession, Assurance, and Repentance for over ten years now.  I now find that I have new instincts and desires when I slip into sin.  With nearly Pavlovian certainty, my

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Does Gethsemane Separate the Trinity?

Question: When Jesus says to his Father in the garden of Gethsemane, “not as I will, but as you will” (Mt.26:39), how should we think of this relationships within the Trinity? Did the Son have a different desire or will from the Father? Answer: John McKinley, associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, and author of Tempted for Us: Theological Models and the Practical Relevance of Christ’s Impeccability and Temptation: The theological term that Jesus possesses two wills, one divine and one human, is Dyothelitism. God the Father and God the Son are distinct persons, but they share the same divine will. The difference of Jesus’ will from his Father’s will in Gethsemane is his human will. By incarnation, God the Son took up a second way of living as a man. He now possesses two natures. Each nature is complete, including a will for each. I define “will” as the spiritual capacity for

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Jesus’ non-grasping attitude

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7 ESV) Bruce Ware:  …he cannot mean that Christ gave up equality with God or that he ceased being fully God. Since he is fully God he cannot cease to be fully God. God is eternal, self-existent, immortal, and immutable, and thus he cannot cease to exist as God, nor can he fail to be fully God. Surely what Paul means is this: Christ being fully God, possessing the very nature of God and being fully equal to God in every respect, did not thereby insist on holding onto all the privileges and benefits of his position of equality with God (the Father) and thereby refuse to accept coming as a man.

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What does it mean to ‘glorify’ God?

How do you explain “glorify” to a small child (anyone really!)? Biblical concepts like this pose a particular problem for parents, and author Sally Lloyd-Jones provides us with some help in her wonderful book Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing. One story from her book is titled “Glorify!” GLORIFY! God tells us to glorify him. “Glorify” means “to make a big deal of.” When someone makes a big deal of you, it fills up your heart with joy. But why does God need us to make a big deal of him? Why does he need us to get joy? He doesn’t. In the beginning God the Father and Jesus, his Son, together with the Holy Spirit, were already there — a loving family, glorifying each other in this wonderful Dance of Joy. No. God didn’t create us so he could get joy — he already had it. He created us so he could share it. He knows it’s the thing your heart

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Christmas and the Trinity

Guy Davies: If it is true that all three divine persons are involved any act of God, then the incarnation of the Son involved the whole Trinity. That does not mean that the Father and the Holy Spirit as well as the Son became incarnate. It was fitting that the Son as the image of the invisible God became man, created in the image of God according to his human nature. But the Son did not become incarnate apart from the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Father sent the Son into the world as man and sustained, taught, guided and empowered him by the presence of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of the incarnation was that Christ might redeem us from sin by offering himself without blemish to God through the eternal Spirit. The Father raised his Son from the dead by the Spirit of holiness and by that same Spirit exalted Christ to his right hand in glory. The

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