Monday, 28 May 2012

Exploring God's Trinity-Community Life

I started this teaching at our recent Community Focus weekend.  It took three weeks to complete, so I've split it into two postings.  We also do a webcast for folks who like to listen after the event.

Summary.  Everything that makes our faith possible, or moves it forward, comes from God.  Therefore it can’t be divided from His nature.  It’s the life of Father, Son and Holy Spirit being pumped into us.  What are its qualities?
  1. The life of God is a trinity community, experiencing mutual interdependence with no loss of unique identity or sufficiency.  It is also mutual affection in self-giving love, and mutual honour and glory that establishes, not disturbs, equality and oneness.  Each functions both autonomously and collaboratively. 
  2. God created humanity as objects of His inclusive desire.  He invested Adam with enough similarity to Himself that we can consciously value this relationship.  The fall and sin brought many possibilities to an end. 
  3. The romance of redemption shows a little of what our corporate experience of Trinity life may have been like.  There is God's faithful covenant, epiphanies of the Son and the action of the Holy Spirit. 
  4. Some say body, soul and spirit represent our trinity constitution.  However, we fell into sin and can’t rely on any innocence in our state.  Jesus, God the Son made man, properly lived the life of humanity.  (See 2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15, 3:10).  We can trust Him. 
  5. Through His incarnation and ascension, humanity can again enter Spirit-birthed relationship with the Trinity.  There’s a parallel with the original creation’s in-breathing that gave Adam life.  
  6. What can we say of the societal aspect of this?  That is, man’s relationship with fellow believers, and redeemed society’s (i.e. the church’s) corporate relationship with God?  Our earthly spiritual pilgrimage is to discover this community life within us, in its transforming power.  The final glorified state in the new earth and new heaven will see God and man fully enjoying each other. 

What’s this about?  Most believers of moral conscience recognise the need to separate from sin.  However our inwardly-destructive God-shunning people-distancing Adamic self-life is much less often condemned.  God’s full destiny for humanity involves a new creation; like our first breath, we must be filled with God’s life.

2 PETER 1:3  His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

JAMES 1:17  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.  21 Therefore…  humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.


1.  Personal integration means aligning our personality traits, character capacities, imagination and choices, priorities and interests, time and energies, fears and hopes, relationships and commitments all into God’s call upon our lives, so the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, love, power, God-glorifying and Body-uniting life works through us.

COLOSSIANS 1:21  Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation -- 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.

1 THESSALONIANS 5:23  May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.


2.  Exploring conversion.  In Ephesians chapter 2, Paul defines several obstacles that God overcomes in Christ:  our transgression and sin (v1), our following of the world and its ruler (v2); gratifying our sinful nature and it intentions and thoughts, leading to wrath (v3); basic death, that required the power of resurrection (v5) because of His love, mercy, grace and kindness (v4-7); transfer from personal works to the gift of faith (v8,9).

EPHESIANS 2:1  As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.  Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.  4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved.  6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 


3.  Exploring community.  The problem isn’t only personal: we’re in the wrong people group.  Beyond sinful reaction to God, we live in hostility to our fellows.  God also overcomes this, brings us to the foot of the cross together (v16), founding one new citizenship (v17,18), and building us up jointly as holy shrine (v19-22).

EPHESIANS 2:13  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.  His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.  19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.


4.  Trinity fellowship.  Starting from our baptism, every full expression of the church involves Father, Son and Spirit.  We have terms for the condition where the life of God has drained away: “churchianity”, “communitarianism”, etc.  We may appreciate consecrated talents and group dynamics, but they aren’t Trinity life.

MATTHEW 28:19  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  "

2 CORINTHIANS 13:14  May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

EPHESIANS 4:1  As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  4 There is one body and one Spirit -- just as you were called to one hope when you were called -- 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

2 THESSALONIANS 2:13  But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.  14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

HEBREWS 10:29  How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?  30 For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people."  31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

1 PETER 1:1  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,  To God's elect, strangers in the world,    2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:  Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

1 JOHN 1:2  The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.  3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.  And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  4 We write this to make our joy complete.

REVELATION 1:4  Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.  To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father -- to him be glory and power for ever and ever!  Amen.

(All quotations from the New International Version)


No comments: