To Be God Is to Be Happy

Fred Sanders: Enjoying Divine Blessedness When Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us,” he uses the same word twice: blessed (Ephesians 1:3). A moment’s thought, however, shows that God blesses us altogether differently than how we bless God. When God blesses us, he takes the initiative, doing the kind of mighty acts that Paul recites in the next dozen verses: electing, redeeming, forgiving, adopting, sealing, and lavishing grace on us. When we bless God, we praise him in response. It’s a beautifully appropriate response, but just because it’s the same verb doesn’t make it the same act. The deep reason that we can never bless God the way he blesses us is that God is already blessed. God is blessed with perfect, plenary, personal blessedness. The blessedness of God is a classic Christian doctrine, and one that we could stand to hear more about in our time. It gives us big thoughts

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Delighting in the Trinity

Mike Reeves: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Those three words could hardly be more bouncy. They seem lively, lovely, and as warming as a crackling fire. But “God is Trinity”? No, hardly the same effect: that just sounds cold and stodgy. All quite understandable, but Christians must see the reality behind what can be off-putting language. Yes, the Trinity can be presented as a fusty and irrelevant dogma, but the truth is that God is love because God is a Trinity. To dive into the Trinity is a chance to taste and see that the Lord is good, to have your heart won and your self refreshed. For it is only when you grasp what it means for God to be a Trinity that you really sense the beauty, the overflowing kindness, the heart-grabbing loveliness of God. If the Trinity were something we could shave off of God, we would not be relieving Him of some irksome weight; we would

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Who Is God?

John Piper: When I turn from myself to Jesus and his teachings; and to the writings of his followers that he himself vouched for, guaranteed; and to the Jewish Scriptures that Jesus himself endorsed; and to the world of nature; and to the witness of my own conscience — when I turn from myself to these places where God has revealed himself — here’s what I see in answer to the question, Who is God? And I would appeal to everyone who’s listening not to take my word for it, but to search out those five sources as if your life depended on it, because it does. 1. God is spirit. Here’s the first thing I believe I see in those revelations from God of who he is. First, Jesus says that God is spirit. John 4:24, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” In other words, he’s not physical. He’s not material. He

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Fellowship with the Triune God

  Herman Bavink: “ Fellowship with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14), and secondarily with each other (1 John 1:7; 1 Cor. 12:12-31; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:16). The purpose of human life is fellowship with God; to live in Him is life’s goal. The spiritual life is to live in fellowship with the Triune God—that is, in the Holy Spirit, through Christ, with the Father. This fellowship is one—that is, divine—and yet different with respect to the three Persons. First there is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment; then, that of Christ adopting us and granting us His benefits; thereafter that of the Father adopting us as His children in and because of Christ. The spiritual life always moves among those three Persons and is therefore a genuinely rich life, rich in diversity, without monotony. The believer experiences the life of God Himself: from the Father through the Son in the Spirit and, conversely, in

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The Trinity in the New Testament

Sinclair Ferguson: The classical doctrine of the Trinity teaches us that there is one God who exists in three distinct persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Typically this is stated as God having his existence in one substance and three persons. There is mystery here. But it is the mystery in the light of which clarity is brought to all of our thinking about God, creation, providence, and redemption. Like the light of the sun we cannot gaze into it without danger; and yet it is the light in which we are able to see everything else more clearly. As Augustine wrote: ‘In no other subject is error more dangerous, or inquiry more laborious, or the discovery of truth more profitable.’[i] The purpose of this appendix is not to provide an exposition or defence of the classical doctrine of the Trinity but the more modest one of underlining the extent to which the joint work of the Father,

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Can you be a Christian and Deny the Trinity?

John MacArthur: A Mormon asked me this question a number of years ago, and through the years, I’ve asked a number of people this question, and I wanted to get your opinion. Can you become a Christian if you deny the Trinity? Answer: I would answer, “No.” If you don’t believe in the Trinity, then you don’t understand who God is. You may say the word “God” but you don’t understand His nature. Second, you couldn’t possibly understand who Christ is — that He is God in human flesh. The Incarnation of Christ is an essential component of the biblical gospel, as John 1:1-14 and many other biblical passages make clear. To deny the Trinity is to deny the Incarnation. And to deny the Incarnation is to wrongly understand the true gospel. In saying that, I realize that such an answer is going to not only impact people that you may have witnessed to (like Mormons), but it also applies to some

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5 Myths about the Trinity

  Fred Sanders: Myth #1: It’s only for theology experts. The doctrine of the Trinity is for everybody who is saved by Jesus. Or, to say that just a little more elaborately, it’s for everybody who has been drawn to the Father through faith in the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit (see 2 Cor. 13:14). Or, to say it again, it’s for everyone who has been adopted by the Father who sent the Son to redeem us, and sent the Holy Spirit of adoption into our hearts to make us cry out to God, “Abba, Father” (see Gal. 4:4–6). Or, to say it another way, it’s for everyone who is in communion with other believers through our common access to the Father in Christ by the Spirit (see Eph. 2:18). Or, to be more precise, it’s for everybody who wants to understand how any of this deep salvation works, and what the gospel reveals about the God who stands behind

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Two Reasons the Trinity Matters

Justin Dillehay: How much does the Trinity matter to you? If you found out tomorrow that God is actually only one person instead of three, would your relationship with God feel any different? Would it require a drastic overhaul in the way you think or witness or pray? How much does the Trinity matter to you personally? How much does the Trinity matter to your church? If you found out tomorrow that your beloved youth pastor had become a staunch modalist—he now insists the Father, Son, and Spirit are actually one person in three manifestations instead of three distinct persons—would your church excommunicate him? Or would that seem like splitting hairs? Is the Athanasian Creed really right to say, “Whoever wishes to be saved must think thus of the Trinity. And whoever rejects this faith will perish everlastingly”? Or is that the overstatement of the millennium? Judging by the church’s historic creeds, Christians used to think the Trinity is really important. Judging

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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

Tom Schreiner on Authorial Intent and Canonical Reading

  Justin Taylor: Here is an interesting answer to the question of whether the “Let us” of Genesis 1:26 is referring to the Trinity. In The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (Baker, 2013), New Testament scholar Tom Schreiner (Southern Seminary) argues that (1) it is doubtful that the author of Genesis was specifically thinking about the Trinity when he used this expression, (2) it is doubtful that the earliest Israelites read it this way, but (3) it should still be understood as a reference to the Trinity when it is read as part of the whole canon of Scripture. Here is his explanation: Recent developments in hermeneutics, however, have rightly corrected an overemphasis on authorial intent. Interpreters of sacred Scripture must also consider the canonical shape of the Scriptures as whole, which is to say that we must also take into account the divine author of Scripture. Nor does appeal to a divine

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