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THE TRINITY IN ITS LIGHT AND PERFECTION
The second light and perfection
to which we look in this volume is this: the Trinity.
So far from being an encumbrance, or additional feature, like a flying buttress to increase stability, the Trinity is one of the glorious aspects of the Being who is God; it explains much in man, gives to it both background and basis, and more illumination in the ways of the Lord Himself.
If anyone wants to be reasonable, here is par excellence a place to discover.
If God were merely a singular Being, one Person only, with no scope for communion, comradeship, interchange, inter-personal love, delectation except in an adulation of self, whole domains would be missing which even man has been given.
Now, even without creation, there is repleteness, such as belongs to the One on whom all depends, who needs nothing - for who would appoint the conditions for need? whose is everything desired (Psalm 115), whose is a good pleasure, in whom is goodness unfathomable and profound. It is all in Himself, the all-sufficient One, who being the base and basis for every living thing and all creation, without whom it is a cause-free and irrationally conceived collection of magnificent designs, intricacies, thoughts and thought-producers called man, is above needs. So is the Trinity equipped indeed with sufficiency, needing no origination for completion.
But He is not above love. Called love in I John 4:7ff., He is that indeed. Where else could the infinite intimacy towards, as his lowly level, man loves to tend to move, in his own loves, where else could the delight in persons, be found in the reaches of infinity ? This too God has within Himself, through the Trinity. Conversation, contemplation shared, wisdom accorded and word sent, it is all there from infinity in a perfection which draws as it delights mankind.
In making man, with what divine solicitude then the Lord acted, that right at the start there was a provision not only for precisely this entente and relationship between the male and female exemplifications of being in the image of God: there was even more than this, for with this, came the provisions for yet more opportunities, in the form of children.
In making liberty, that scene of wonder above all programming, where persons in God's own image may in rebellion relieve themselves of the beauty of holiness, the wonder and the nearness of the glory of God, and leave for obscuration and disease, if they so desire, God created the background and basis for love. Without such an element could not be, love would be grounded and the plans of love confounded. To be CAUSED to love is not love... not unless it is an EXPRESSION of who you are as a person in God's image, able to respond in reality and not in mere appearance.
In John 7:24, we see one element of this: "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." Christ loves people to go beyond what seems to be and to look into what really is.
Certainly, in that context of John 7, there is a law of rest on the day appointed; for this is necessity for the well-being, spiritually, morally and personally of man. It is good and scheduled from heaven, this rest. But does this imply that one ceases, for example to care for one's animal with kindness, also laid down in the word of God, so that it is not brought out of a pit into which it may stumble, on a day of rest ? Is not circumcision, an 8th day thing, done on a day of rest ? Is therefore Christ when He does works of mercy on the day of rest, such as may come to His notice, to be condemned for doing with extra beneficence, when lesser things are already done with scarcely a thought!
It is with ALL the heart that the Lord is to be sought that He may be found (Jeremiah 29:13-14). Is this then to be construed, this liberty in earnest and heart-deep love, which He makes essential, a flippancy, an extra-curricular additive ? WHY ALL of the heart if the heart does not really matter, and response is all that is sought, however it may be gained! And why should man be lamented over with divinely expressed tears as in Matthew 23:37 and Luke 19:42ff., if action not tears was the point, and what was required! It is because love is like that: it neither presses into deformation nor pushes into abuse of power so that its results are a matter of force and not favour;. Instead, it acts in its own domain with its own superb and eminent quality. Better nothing than fraud; better no relationship than a false one. As a man thinks in his heart, so he is; and this is not a provisional hypothesis but the fact.
Liberty is a work for love (as a pre-condition), a work of love (as an expression of it) and a work from God for those in His image, so that what He is (unmanipulable, unmanoeuvrable, pure and holy, loving righteousness), may be loved by those whose liberty makes love not a name for nothing with format, but for persons with discretion, and discretionary powers. As shown in an earlier chapter, man's fall led to a vast payment on the part of God, in mercy and love and truth combined; but it does nothing in the foreknowledge of God Himself, to remove the essence of liberty. God has His own way to do that as there shown.
God made liberty, and with it, the nature in man which may love.
In the Trinity is the cause, basis and original of this: God is not, in man, making what He Himself lacks, let alone when He calls Himself by that very name in I John 4:7, and indicates this in terms of the source and basis for the whole action of salvation of man! In this, He took extreme actions, involving Himself through an actual human birth in manhood, that in it and through it, He might both exhibit His mercy and the nature of kindness and power. This He did in a way so intimate as to share the very format and vulnerabilities of man, the tests and the temptations, and put paid to man's sin - but only as far as love reaches. He does not underwrite a nation regardless, in love; He underwrites what receives His policy, His gift, from the heart, as determined in foreknowledge, before the times of the ages (the cronwn twn aiwniwn), when God who is utterly contrary in nature and act, to the whole concept of lie, promised eternal life (Titus 1:2).
The next light in His trinitarian perfections concerns a covenantal love. In this, love is still the dominant feature, but it is expressed in a certified declaration. With Israel, this involved faith, obedience, trust, direction, positioning in a land for a purpose, with results of sustained disobedience, especially in shiftlessly shifting the feet to the service of gods who are not God (Deuteronomy 32), vanities, things of no import, word designations lacking objectivity, frivolous misuses of confidence where no ground for it lies, lies of the heart (Ezekiel 14). Thus God is not interested in fraud, hypocrisy and pretence (Isaiah 29:13-14), in alien oddities romancing their way into the pure and devoted reliance on one's Maker according to His stated provision. Instead, He calls for an inalienable, a pure, a hearty and reliable love, lest man be ensnared with delusion leading to confusion and contusion, the old triad of heart to life decline and desolation.
So is it to be seen in His manufacturer's handbook, the Bible as it now is, and His written word as it was in the Old Testament, before its consummation in the New, which explains the Old, fulfils it and complete the picture of salvation for man, till the Redeemer returns, whose truth never changes, and whose word IS truth and who by it will judge (John 5:21-23, 12:47-50, Acts 17:31).
In this case of a national covenantal love, God who foreknows all, has outlined what is to be the case, the wandering and woeful spiritual witlessness of His people, in this case Israel, apportioned and appointed to be a base for the proclamation of salvation and the worship of the God who is there (Isaiah 43:21, Deuteronomy 1-7). With this, His fore-addressed love, which delights in mercy (Micah 7:19ff.), will reach this straying nation, despite the deicide, as far as His chosen format as man is concerned, BY that very same act. The murder of man becomes the salvation of God, in this: His becoming a sacrifice for sin in His own person, using their hatred to display His love and to deliver their souls, AS MANY AS COME (John 1:12-14).
As to that, many came with the apostles, Jews at the first in the creation of the specific body known as the Christian Church, and a vast tract of those to be relieved of sin's guilt and have condemnation rescinded, are to come in Israel when he time is ripe (Romans 11:25ff.). It was provided, in attestation of His faithfulness (Ezekiel 36:22), that they would be brought back before the great time of a significant degree of national conversion to the Messiah once pierced (Zechariah 12:10--13:1), after being shown a giant favour in being brought back to their land, as foretold, one which they had lost for a time for their use because of sin. In the midst of wars, at last they would be delivered in spirit by finding Him whom they pierced, and in land, by His specific attention to the efforts to abolish, enslave or destroy them, which (long before Ahmadinejad, by some 2500 years) would be made in that time. These are to be most considerable (Micah 7), and to be of the nature of an epic, the more so, in view of all that has happened in the past!
In that case, then, a national covenantal love has been in view, so brilliantly and decisively shown in Hosea, where the prophet marries a fallen woman, depicting God's bringing Israel, though sinful, to Himself; and when she falls again, he has to buy her back, that is, REDEEM her, and enable her restoration. SO after many days, we read, God would bring back Israel; and in Ezekiel 37, you find that the ultimate in restoration is to occur with the postlude, the resultant, CHRIST RULING ON THIS ENTIRE EARTH AS KING (as in Psalm 72), in a day when He alone will be exalted (Isaiah 2:17-21).
How great is the deliverance to come for them (Deuteronomy 32:43ff., Micah 7), and how clearly depicted is the nature of love, not getting wonders for nothing, but rather giving them; but it is not nothing that it COSTS IN ORDER TO GIVE (cf. Luke 22:39ff., Matthew 27:46, Hebrews 12:2, Isaiah 50, 52-53), and it is God who pays (Matthew 20:28). It also shows how near to stupefaction it brings one when its scope and address is considered, with the eternal gift of Isaiah 54 and its utterly free character as in Isaiah 55, requiring no contribution of funds whatsoever, but rather the drinking of the pure waters given, in place of the stale water of a cracked well (Jeremiah 2:13).
Their fault ? "For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewn them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water."
Yet is the final deliverance shown in a wonder of tender mercies, at last throwing back what had attempted their ruin, as if man's discipline would be added to that of the Lord (Isaiah 51:21ff.), in a might reminiscent of that shown in the Exodus (Micah 7). God will both deliver and rebuke, not just Israel as for so long, but its multiply maddened oppressors. Is being stricken then an invitation to others, to strike ? On what basis is this!
Thus the Lord in love, through foreknowledge, appoints such a covenantal love; and in another form of it, in the New Covenant, to which as shown in Zechariah 12, Israel in large measure is to come in its time and day, the Gentiles are seen to have also. Indeed, it is their remnant, their contribution to the massif of those redeemed for eternity which swell it mightily, in a mass seemingly innumerable (Revelation 7). Many will be killed of those among them who believe (John 16:2, Matthew 24:9, II Peter 2, Revelation 6, 13, 14, Hebrews 11-12, Acts 20), in their opportunity to show by faith the love of God in delighting in Him more than fearing death, and showing His will and way in the midst of fraud and falsification. But the covenantal love of God, as shown in the New Testament, in its summit and scope for all peoples, will endure just as it did for Israel as a particular component of its impact and information from long back in history.
God does not change; His love is not fitful. The love amid the Persons of the Trinity has an expression in the covenantal love of God for man, individually (Daniel 10) and on a broader scale (Titus 2-3). It is love and compassion and endurance and diligence and imagination and comprehension and foreknowledge and costly provision and waiting till the time comes, not forcing, which are some of the characteristics of love, and what God is and has in Himself, is able as it were, to be exported to man in this way.
It is also shown in what man is to show to man: loving his neighbour as himself, while loving the Lord more, so that particularities will not wreak havoc with principles, and purity will not be lost in foolishness.
The Trinity, for all this, is the source and base, and from what, indeed the One who is there, this is here.
Moreover man can think, and express, and do; he can research both himself and his world, and consider the research results and act. He has mind and spirit and life. This too is from the trinity, of which man gives in his being in the image of God, much indication within.
Thus God as Father is imaged in us, one might say, as the thought, the understanding, the idea, the background in all; God the Son is the Expression of it; and the Spirit is in some ways like what in man is done by his own spirit: that is, thus he searches, researches, overviews, applies perspective, supervises and investigates. In this way, man can supervise, apprise, search and research. In one way, it may be put: the spirit composes, the word disposes.
Man may investigate his own self with his spirit. God, we learn in I Corinthians 2:9-13, in giving to man inspired words for revelation of the will of God, acts like this:
"But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things,
yes, the deep things of God.
"For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him ?
Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.
Now we have received not the spirit of the world , but the Spirit who is from God,
that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God."
Again, in the Trinity is that sense of depth and mutuality, so that actions do not partake so much of the appearance of sudden explosion, as with some people, but of carefully composed interview: for He with whom we have to deal is indeed a Counsellor (Isaiah 9), and in Him is counsel.
Thus singularity (as one Being) and multiplicity (as three persons) are alike in God, before all the exhibits of such a thing in a different mode are to be found on this earth, as in one leaf, a thing so beautiful in Autumn, and with such individuality, and the leaves as one whole in a tree.
Moreover, the extreme empathy of which love is capable is shown in the Father sending the Son of His love, God sending the Expression of His Person, to earth, yet Himself remaining in heaven, so that the intense desire to be one with man, to the point of even dying for sin for all who would take the exculpation from the cross, could be formulated, formed and made functional. In THIS love is the kernel of the Gospel; and in man is the susceptibility to such love, both to receive it and to do it, as first made. It is because God is a Trinity that this could be done at such a level, and with love, the level is basic and singular; for many can show a love of sorts in situations of sorts; but who shows it to the uttermost!
Here it was so shown, the Trinity who made man, showing to man of His own discretionary creation, the nature of love by virtue of WHO GOD I, and the reality of His trinitarian Being. Thus as man was to be, so God who always is as He is, showed to a fittingly made creation, from Himself. Thus is seen what is to be if man is to become what he was made to be, though fallen, and elevated to the kingdom of heaven, though he was far from it.
So lights and perfections in God, become like the ephod, the garment of the high priest, with its multiple jewels and shining purities, a delight and a desire for man.In Him, the Lord of glory who came and died and rose and went and is to return when this His Gospel has adequately penetrated the earth (Matthew 24:14) who is "the desire of the nations" (Haggai 2:6-7) is the focus for both faith and love, and in God the Trinity is the basis for all that we find in the Gospel.