The Trinity is the origin of human relationships. This is the essence of our being made in God’s image. ‘God is love’ because He has always had someone to love – the Persons of the Godhead. He did not need us, but He wanted a bigger family to share His happiness with. The loving inter-action and inter-dependence of Father, Son and Spirit from all eternity, means that society and fellowship began before angels or men existed. We reflect the perfect matrix of the Trinity in our relating well together . . . At the root of all present-day oppressive dictatorships, divided or monochrome societies, devaluation of certain individuals and the inability to cultivate loving community, is a denial of the Trinity. The Trinity models an image of mutuality, reciprocity and a totally shared life.
Father, Son, and Spirit . . . [are engaged in a] dance which is their life together, a dance without beginning and without end, a dance which is joy beyond all telling.
. . . The music of this eternal dance echoes in the vast reaches between the stars, and pulses in worlds inside of atoms, and travels on every breeze across the earth, and surges with the blood through our veins. From time to time, we hear the music of this eternal dance. During the silences when everything makes sense; during the celebrations when we taste a bit of heaven . . . When we are thankful for what we’ve been given, proud of what we’ve done, hopeful about what the future holds. It is on these great and good occasions that we hear the music of the eternal dance, the rhythm of the Trinity . . .
The Trinity is unending, joyous dance, yet the miracle is that the circle breaks open, and the Son and Spirit, still holding hands with the Father, extend their other hands to us, inviting us into the circle, drawing us into the dance, that we may become their partners, participants in their life.
As human beings, we relate to one another in the “dance of life” on this planet. The relationships between the three Persons of the Trinity—”dynamic, interactive, loving, serving”—form the model for our human dance steps. Unfortunately, through sinfulness we corrupt the dance into a choreography of conflict.
However, now through the Gospel, Christians have been brought into a special relationship with the triune God. Through Christ’s incarnation, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension, and by the regenerating action of the Spirit, we prodigals have been brought home and embraced by our Father. Gathered into the household of faith, we now enjoy the feast of the fatted calf, and participate in the dance party that is taking place in the Father’s house. In this way we exemplify the reality and nature of God and bring his Good News to a world that has forgotten how to dance.
Christians say God is who you know when you know Jesus.
Jesus introduces us to the Triune God.
Only the Son knows the Father, and anyone to whom the Son makes him known.
Start somewhere else and you end up somewhere else.
If the Father did not send his Son in the power of the Spirit to bring us home into the life of God then we have no gospel, we have no Christianity. No other god is worth knowing or telling about.
“Without the gospel everything is useless and vain”, as John Calvin put it. “Seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.”
Trinity is gospel.
Or in the immortal words of Athanasius’ creed: the saved are those who hold to Trinity.
Strong stuff, but what is salvation if not entering into the life of the Triune God?
What else is a Christian but someone who knows this God?
Christianity isn’t a ticket to heaven.
Christianity is what happens when you’re joined with Jesus and step inside his life.
Do you need to be able to articulate that fully? No – but it’s not exactly complicated, it’s beautiful.
Just look at Jesus.
“Show me your gods and I will show you your people.” This adage holds true. If our concept of God is that of a Solitary Divine Dictator, it follows that we will be suspicious, critical, harsh, cold and condemning. Strong on “truth” and short on love. Joyless members of the righteous remnant. We unconsciously reflect the character of the Divine Being we believe in.
Not exactly inviting when your God is like Caesar.
If, on the other hand, we have been caught up in the self-giving love of the Triune God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit; if we have tasted and seen the unspeakable goodness and grace of the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, how can we not be humble, grateful, and generous?
We will reflect the overflowing kindness and magnanimity of our God.
Forgiven people forgive; welcomed people welcome others; the recipients of grace bestow grace. Their failures have been overwhelmed by mercy—and they can now act accordingly. Those who have been drawn into the abounding life of the Triune God find themselves spreading kindness and goodness and joy.
They have been blessed and can afford to bless others—even the ones who are not very agreeable, or doctrinally correct. They don’t need to zero in on other’s errors, because their heavenly Father doesn’t. They can be generous with words, attitudes and resources, because they have come to know a God of unstoppable goodness. They can value relationships, because that is what the Three-in-One God is all about. They can love the lost in all their lostness, because that’s the kind of love heaven lavishes on sinners.
And if that is the case, you will want to make sure you’ve got the right God—the Triune God who lives in the Eternal Dance of glory, goodness and grace. The God of Calvary love. The God Christ came to reveal.
There is one way of knowing what He is really like—look at Jesus. Look at the cross. Only the Son knows the Father, and those to whom the Son makes Him known.
He is a God who lays down his life for others. That is what actually goes on inside the Trinity! Self-sacrificing love. One author described Him as a Supreme Being of “fathomless unselfishness.” The cross was not an accident. It is what this Triune Community is all about. It is what the Bible means when it says, “God is love.” What an amazing Deity He turns out to be!
And to believe in Him is to become like Him.
A belief in the Divine Dictator tends to produce mean-spirited people. And there’s no reason to become a part of that crowd—because that god doesn’t exist.
Moreover, it is highly desirable to pattern one’s life after the true God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He looks exactly like Jesus—and we have never ever seen anyone as wonderful as Him!
God created us so that the joy He has in Himself might be ours. God doesn’t simply think about Himself or talk to Himself. He enjoys Himself! He celebrates with infinite and eternal intensity the beauty of who He is as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And we’ve been created to join the party!
The theologians in the early church tried to describe this wonderful reality that we call Trinity. If any of you have ever been to a Greek wedding, you may have seen their distinctive way of dancing . . . It’s called perichoresis. There are not two dancers, but at least three. They start to go in circles, weaving in and out in this very beautiful pattern of motion. They start to go faster and faster and faster, all the while staying in perfect rhythm and in sync with each other. Eventually, they are dancing so quickly (yet so effortlessly) that as you look at them, it just becomes a blur. Their individual identities are part of a larger dance.
The early church fathers and mothers looked at that dance (perichoresis) and said, “That’s what the Trinity is like.” It’s a harmonious set of relationship in which there is mutual giving and receiving. This relationship is called love, and it’s what the Trinity is all about. The perichoresis is the dance of love.
Did you ever stop to ask why I made everything; why My Spirit, My Son, and I created the stars, moon, planets; and why We made paradise on earth? The three of Us were making preparations to throw a party, to invite others to a dance, to the dance We’ve been enjoying since before time began. But there were no ‘others’ to invite.
So at a family council, We decided to create people, human beings just like you whom We could enjoy as they enjoyed Us and all the beauty We had made. That’s why We created Adam and Eve with desires that only We could satisfy. Plans for the party were under way.
But the story got off track. We knew, of course, that it would. Adam and Eve foolishly decided they could be happier looking out for themselves than trusting Us. They did exactly what you would have done had you been there. They chose to throw their own party, without Us. That’s as foolish as trying to breathe in a room without air or trying to sing when you have no vocal cords. It can’t be done. There is no party without Us, only the prison of loneliness.
[T]he shared life of Father, Son, and Spirit – the home-life of the Trinity – is the place where we truly belong. It offers us the fullest experience of the love, joy, and peace we all desire. It is our true home.
Perhaps the thing that keeps us from experiencing the love, joy, and peace of our true home is our constant attempt to find these things in a “home away from home.” Do we really believe that our heart’s deepest longings are fulfilled in God? Do we truly believe that our longings for home are ultimately satisfied in God? . . .
We must realize that we are not homeless. The truth is that we all have a home. We have been created out of the overflow of love between Father, Son, and Spirit. Home is not a place, but a relationship to which we belong.
– Richard J. Vincent
Genuine acceptance removes fear and hiding, and creates freedom to know and be known. In this freedom arises a fellowship and sharing so honest and open and real that the persons involved dwell in one another. There is union without the loss of individual identity. When one weeps, the other tastes salt. It is only in the Triune relationship of Father, Son and Spirit that personal relationship of this order exists, and the early Church used the word “perichoresis” to describe it. The good news is that Jesus Christ has drawn us within this relationship, and its fullness and life are to be played out in each of us and in all creation.
What is the essence of heaven?… [It is the] beatific vision, love, and enjoyment of the triune God. For the three divine persons have an infinitely perfect vision and love and enjoyment of the divine essence and of one another. And in this infinite knowing loving and enjoying lies the very life of the triune God, the very essence of their endless and infinite happiness. If the blessed are to be endlessly and supremely happy, then, they must share in the very life of the triune God, in the divine life that makes Them endlessly and infinitely happy.
–E. J. Fortman
From the beginning, God is Father, Son and Spirit, and from the beginning, this God has determined not to live without us. Before the blueprints for creation were drawn up, the Father, Son and Spirit set their abounding love upon us and determined that we would be adopted, that we would be given a place inside their circle of life, and made participants in the very fellowship and joy and glory of the Triune God. There and then, before creation, it was decided that the Son would cross every chasm between God and humanity and establish a real and abiding relationship—union. He was predestined to be the mediator, the one in and through whom the very life of the Triune God would enter human existence and human existence would be lifted up to share in the Trinitarian life. The gospel is the good news that this stunning plan of the Triune God has now become eternal fact in Jesus Christ. In his incarnate life, death, resurrection and ascension, he laid hold of the human race, took us down in his death, recreated us in his resurrection, and lifted us up into the embrace of the Father in his ascension.
Travel back in your mind before the beginning of time, before creation, and imagine a God who is NOT a Trinity. A solitary, all-powerful, self-sufficient Supreme Being. He relates to no one, answers to no one, speaks to no one. He is independent and alone. His thoughts do not go beyond himself, because he is all there is. He knows nothing of relationships, dialogue, togetherness, fellowship, love, friendship, serving or giving. Never does he have to practice consideration, patience, respect, generosity, self sacrifice, compassion, or kindness. He takes no one else into account, because no one else is there. His existence revolves entirely around himself.
If such a God where to create a universe, why would he do so? And what would it be like? What would he expect from us, his creatures?
Would he make a world of people where it’s all about family, community, and relationships? Would he come up with the idea of creating something called marriage where two lives merge and live together in love? Highly improbable. Would he give us the capacity for humor and enjoyment and laughter? Would he establish love as the supreme virtue? Not likely. Would it ever occur to him to become human and to share his glory with us? It probably wouldn’t cross his mind.
If the Solitary Deity should create us it would be to obtain service and worship. He is king and we are the servants; he is great and we are small. Our duty is to carry out his orders. It’s all about his supremacy and our subservience. When he shows up, we bow down. When he commands, we act accordingly. Such a God is to be feared, revered and obeyed. That’s the kind of universe we would expect from the Unaccompanied Monarch who reigns on high.
But, what if this God were actually a Trinity? A community of love and goodness and creativity and joy? What if he were a Triune God—a Father and Son who love each other with eternal passion in the abounding fellowship of the Spirit? We would then expect his creative activity to be entirely different. We would then envisage a world where people experience the joys of marriage and family and friendship, and where love is valued as supreme. A realm where there is joy and goodness and beauty and wonder. A planet of sunsets, butterflies, waterfalls, roses and hummingbirds.
Such a God would create people in his image in order to lavish upon them his love and goodness. And it would not be surprising that, if things went awry, he would respond in mercy and compassion, and, if necessary, act sacrificially to rescue his creation. We could also imagine this Divine Community of love to go even a step further, and invite humans to be part of his family as sons and daughters.
A very different scenario develops when we have a God who is a Trinity instead of a Celestial Caesar. The universe would be diametrically different if we had the one instead of the other. The Trinity turns out to be more than just another item in the creed. It radically transforms absolutely everything.
The Solitary Deity ends up looking a whole lot like the Allah, who rewards killers and terrorists with heaven. The Triune God ends up looking like Jesus giving his life for his enemies on a cross.
The Triune God lives in an incomparable celebration of eternal joy. The Father, Son and Spirit have a rich and overflowing life with or without us. They did not decide to create us for their benefit, but for ours—because that is how God lives. That is how God LOVES!
The Father lives for the Son and the Son lives for the Father, and they share all things together in the Spirit. Not self centered, but other centered. Totally other centered—because that is the essential meaning of “God is love.” And this is what “Trinity” is all about. The Three-in-One God is a fountain of blessing and joy and goodness that spills over, that gives and gives and gives. This is who our Creator is, and this is why he creates.
C. S. Lewis pointed out: “We were made, not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too), but that God may love us.”
In so doing, He brings glory to His Name, which means—displaying the wonders of his grace. This is God’s highest glory—his goodness, love and grace. What an awesome and astounding God he is! This overflowing love is what prompted him to create—and to redeem. He is intent upon bringing others into the Triune celebration of eternal joy.
Within God wells up an outgoing, boundless tsunami of goodness. There is an unstoppable expansiveness about it. Father, Son and Holy Spirit shared and rejoiced in it together before time began. Their delight in extending and pouring out goodness moved them to create a world that would be flooded in its fullness as the waters covers the sea.
The sending of the incarnate Son of God gives even greater testimony to its abounding reality. His ghastly death on a cross is the ultimate display of this irrepressible, overflowing goodness that overcomes all obstacles. Its generous magnanimity is relentless and inexhaustible.
“God delights to communicate
and spread his goodness,”
stated 17th century
We have been created and redeemed to be overwhelmed by this torrent of divine beneficence, and it will be the cause of unending, ever growing celebration.
Our enjoyment of this deluge of goodness is never going to stop or diminish. We are destined to be eternally engulfed—so hang on to your hat.
Please scrap your images of a lonely God hovering over a dark silent abyss, bored and looking for something to do. The universe did not spring into existence in order to give God something to do; rather, the universe was created to give further expression to the rich, vibrant, society of love and creativity that already existed within the trinitarian community of the Godhead . . .
The irresistible Dance of the Trinity, full of life and joy, overflowing with love and goodness, could not contain itself and it was only a matter of time before God expanded the scope of the dance and extended the guest list.
No society on earth even comes close to the vitality of spirit that arises from the love the Father and the Son have for each other. When we consider that the Son, like the Father, is the perfection of beauty, that both have the omniscience to appreciate fully the perfection of the other’s glory, and that both are able to summon the energy of omnipotence to render proper adoration to each other with appropiate zeal, we can glimpse why the Scriptures speak of such a society as having a most vital spirit. In fact the “spirit” of this community is so strong that a separate center of consciousness called the Holy Spirit proceeds both from the Father and the Son in such a way that a third person exists, who himself is a center of consciousness and has all the divine attributes of the Father and the Son…
Consequently, since the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son because of the love each has for the other, it is not surprising that he is spoken of in Scripture as the embodiment of the love of God: “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Rom. 5:5). This love of God is the love between the Father and the Son, for significantly, while we have seen passages in which the Father loves the Son and vice versa, nowhere does one read of the Father or the Son loving the Holy Spirit, or vice versa. Thus when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the heart of the believer, the very delight that the Father and the Son have for each other, the supreme delight of God himself . . . becomes ours to enjoy as well.
It is no wonder, then, that in Scripture the Holy Spirit is spoken of as the great promise or gift that God gives people (Luke 11:13; Acts 1:4-5; 2:33; Gal. 3:14). By giving believers the Holy Spirit, God has done nothing less that give them the very delight that he has in himself. Just as the gift of the Holy Spirit in John 7:38 is likened to “streams of living water,” so the psalmist, speaking to God, says, You give [people] drink from your river of delights” (Ps. 36:8).
–Daniel P. Fuller
Within the divine life there abides an eternal relationship of self-giving, mutual, and shared love. Father, Son, and Spirit deeply and intimately know one another. There is no fear, shame, or insecurity in their knowledge of one another. Father and Son dwell in a face-to-face relationship with the Spirit as the bond of love that unites them. This relationship is so profoundly complete and pure that there is no other way to describe it than that they are in one another [perichoresis]. This free, full, and overflowing love is the central quality of the home-life of God. This is the love we are called to share in the gospel…
The staggering truth of our relationship with God is that the love we experience is no less than the eternal love shared between Father, Son, and Spirit. Through union with Christ in the Spirit we enter into this divine love. We participate in the home-life of the Triune God. We are home!
Is not relationship the essence of the Trinity? We do not sing “God in three thesis points, blessed Trinity” but “God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.” The Trinity does not deal with time, space, matter, doctrine, or reason, but relationships. God is “Communion” and invites us into that same communion. At the core of who we are as humans is an inner drive for relationship with God and with one another.
The world has a caricature of the Christian. For many a secular observer, the believer is a human disaster. To become a Christian is to abnegate life. No more laughter, no more days of raucous shouting around a football game at a tavern with a good beer. The gusto is gone. The Christian convert has died. Too often, we must admit, this caricature is true. Many Christians have died, not just to sin — which is right — but somehow they have also died to their own humanity, which is wrong. Some have been bound by guilt and legalism, owing to religious inhibitions of every kind. As believers we can become forced, defensive, angry, afraid, isolated, morose, mechanical or spiritually artificial.
Yet if our God is truly three persons in infinitely meaningful relationship, then those who are redeemed and brought into relationship with this God have every reason be the most fulfilled and authentic of all the human race. When inhabited by the Holy Spirit, as we walk with the Son, as we take our place as sons and daughters of the Father, our humanness should come alive. Indeed, the Christian’s humanity should luster and glow. Our personhood should radiate because we are in loving relationship with the fount of all personal life. Christians should be the most powerful, sensitive, transparent and truly human of all the people on earth.
–J. Scott Horrell
All sorts of people are fond of repeating the Christian statement that ‘God is love.’ But they seem not to notice that the words ‘God is love’ have no real meaning unless God contains at least two Persons. Love is something that one person has for another person. If God was a single person, then before the world was made, He was not love. Of course, what these people mean when they say that God is love is often something quite different: they really mean ‘Love is God.’ They really mean that our feelings of love, however and wherever they arise, and whatever results they produce, are to be treated with great respect. Perhaps they are: but that is something quite different from what Christians mean by the statement ‘God is love.’ They believe that the living, dynamic activity of love has been going on in God forever and has created everything else.
–C. S. Lewis
God is not some isolated cosmic bean counter “out there” keeping tabs on us in preparation for Judgment Day, nor is he three Gods with very different ideas about how to deal with humanity. The God of the Bible is one God who is three divine Persons, in perfect unity and accord, who love each other in perfect love and dwell in indescribable joy, and who created us for the express purpose of sharing that life with them through our adoption into Christ, who is eternally the beloved of his Father.
That’s why the doctrine of the Trinity matters. If we don’t understand God the way he reveals himself in the Bible, then we wind up with all kinds of messed up, funky and scary ideas about who God is and what he might be cooking up to do to us some day.
Here we have a window into the deep inner truth of Christianity. The life of the Holy Trinity—the relationship and beauty and passion, the creative and joyous and abounding fellowship of the Father, Son and Spirit, the love of the Triune God—is given to us in Jesus Christ, shared with our innermost beings . . . Such is the kingdom of God and the very meaning of salvation.
The most important difference between Christianity and all other religions (is) that in Christianity God is not a static thing—not even a person—but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance… (The) pattern of this three-personal life is . . . the great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality.
–C. S. Lewis
Each of the divine persons centers upon the others. None demands that the others revolve around him. Each voluntarily circles the other two, pouring love, delight, and adoration into them. Each person of the Trinity loves, adores, defers to, and rejoices in the others. That creates a dynamic, pulsating dance of joy and love.