Monday, 28 May 2012

Transformed by God's Trinity-Community Life

This is the second part of the story.  The full audio is on

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. Through the Son’s 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.  
  4. Our earthly spiritual pilgrimage is to discover this community life within us, in its transforming power.  The old Adamic life, sentenced to death in the Cross, is exchanged for the divine life of new creation.  The final glorified state in the new earth and new heaven will see God and man fully enjoying each other. 
  5. Jesus’s announced and established Kingdom takes root in love, righteousness, justice and peace. Authentic church-community life is grounded into inward realities, even though it needs some solid and concrete supportive wineskin
What’s this about?  God’s full destiny for humanity involves a new creation; like our first breath, we must be filled with God’s life.  Peter describes it as a process of aligning our desires (see v4) with God’s.  James points to the growth involving ground preparation, seed sowing, blossom, fruit and harvest, calling for patience in the seasons of life.

2 PETER 1:5  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

JAMES 5:7  Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming.  See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.  8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.


1.  Transformation doesn’t come without a struggle.  What does it look like?  At Spurn Point on the east coast, the Humber Estuary flows out to the North Sea.  Here’s there’s a turbulent meeting of waters.  We experience conflict as the ocean of God’s life seeks to overpower our silted old life. 

a)  God weans us off the love of earthly things and redirects our affections towards loving eternal realities.  This may seem just optional, and even hair-splitting, but in fact it saves us from idolatry. 

ROMANS 1:25  They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.

COLOSSIANS 3:1  Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 

b)  Overthrowing the tyranny of self-centredness, to stretch our hearts and shape the priority to take in others.

PHILIPPIANS 2:3  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:    19  I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.  20 I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.  21 For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

c)  Submission.  When we pray “in the name of Jesus” we’re asking God to submit: what hypocrites if we, in our turn, won’t!

ROMANS 8:6  The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.  8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

1 CORINTHIANS 16:14  Do everything in love.  15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints.  I urge you, brothers, 16 to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it.

d)  Suffering.  Redemption won against the deception, violence, hatred and systems of the devil: we take a share.

1 PETER 2:19  For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.  20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it?  But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.  21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

HEBREWS 13:3  Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

e)  Creativity.  The Trinity is recorded cooperating in original and new creation; so we’re invited to leave our mark.

TITUS 3:4  He [God] saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.  8 This is a trustworthy saying.  And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.  These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

f)  Unity  must be worked at (built) and safeguarded (maintained and protected); there are gifts that equip us all. 

ACTS 20:28  Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.  29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.  30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.  31 So be on your guard!

1 CORINTHIANS 12:4  There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.


2.  Application  God’s word is described as seed that grows in our hearts (James 1:21, 1 Peter 1:23, etc).
·       How do you deal with the obstacles to the deeper growth of God’s life, personally and in your nearest group? 
·       How do you stimulate vitality into spiritual life when it’s diseased, starved, choked, neglected or slow-growing?
·       Many plants need supporting stakes: what solid prescriptive things are helpful in church and community life?

(All quotations from the New International Version)

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