The Gladdest News of All

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Christianity tells us we are part of a story that has an Author. It tells us He is good—indisputably, overwhelmingly, irresistibly good— and He is the source of everything that is beautiful and worthwhile and true. He created us to play a role in His story and placed within our hearts a deep longing to know Him. Christianity warns us there is a villain and dangers and distortions and perversions of the truth. It declares that tragedy, evil, and chaos have been defeated in Jesus Christ. It calls us to believe that the gospel is not only the greatest truth—but the most wonderful one of all. It invites us to become the beloved sons and daughters of the Writer of the story.

Could there be anything more astounding than that?

–J. O. Schulz
What Jesus Wished People Knew About God

God’s eternal thought

The Beauty of Mount Bromo Sunset in Java Island

Our sonship rests on a love that never began as well as a love that will never end. In eternity before the beginning of time and obviously before the beginning of us, God chose to make us His children. The gospel was not God’s afterthought or even His forethought; it was His eternal thought.

–Michael P. V. Barrett,
Complete in Him

His Eternal Thought

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Our sonship rests on a love that never began as well as a love that will never end. In eternity before the beginning of time and obviously before the beginning of us, God chose to make us His children. The gospel was not God’s afterthought or even His forethought; it was His eternal thought.

–Michael P. V. Barrett
Complete in Him

Sons or servants?

Prod son 3We forget the gospel when we neglect our adoption and think that we’re still just a hired servant. The Father doesn’t let us come to him on those terms.

We will either
come as sons
or we will stay
with the pigs.

He won’t let us earn anything from him because there will be no boasting in his sight. It will either be that Jesus and his glorious gospel has the preeminence or we will go it on our own.

–Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

Image: Bartolomé E. Murillo

It is about relationship

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The . . . larger purpose of the Father, Son and Spirit for humanity is not merely the deliverance from sin and corruption (though this is critical), but our exaltation into the very trinitarian life of God.

Real relationship—shared life,
communion of the most personal
and profound order, union—
stands as the driving purpose of God
in creation and redemption.

Logically speaking, when the great apostle stated that the Father predestined us to adoption before the foundation of the world, he is setting forward the ultimate framework within which we are to understand the coming of Jesus. It is about relationship, about communion, about union with the very life of the Father, Son and Spirit.

–C. Baxter Kruger

Calling forth joy

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To know that God is your Father and that he loves you, his adopted child, no less than he loves his only begotten Son and to know that enjoyment of God’s love and glory for all eternity are pledged to you brings inward delight that is sometimes over-whelming; and this also is the Spirit’s doing. For the “joy in the Holy Spirit,” in terms of which Paul defines the kingdom of God in Romans 14:17, is the “rejoicing in God” spoken of in Romans 5:2,11, and it is the Spirit’s witness to God’s love for us that calls forth this joy.

-James I. Packer
Keep in Step with the Spirit

Not just Father

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Our highest relationship 
with God is the relationship 
God had with God. 
What did incarnate God 
call unincarnate God? 
Not just “Father 
but “Abba.”

–Peter Kreeft
The Angel and the Ants

The Stunning News

The one thing the early church knew for sure, that they were prepared to die for (and did) was, whatever else we say, the man Jesus Christ is God. They knew He was the Lord.

Furthermore, they realized that Jesus prayed to the one He called Father and they realized He was anointed in the Holy Spirit – that there is a relationship going on between the Father, Son and Spirit. They were not trying to develop a doctrine of the Trinity, and they took an enormous amount of flak from the Greeks and the Jews, being accused of polytheism and tri-theism. But the early church developed its understanding of the deity and humanity of Christ, of his relation with the Father and the Spirit – and they worked out the doctrine of the Trinity.

The early church came to realize that the deepest truth about God is the relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And it’s not sad, it’s not boring, it’s not religious, it’s not dead – it’s alive, it’s creative, it’s other-centered. It’s about acceptance, and light, and life and love—and it’s beautiful! And that is what is fundamental about the being of God. If you peel back the onion of divine being, so to speak, and you come to the core of God-ness – you find the relationship of the Father, Son, and Spirit.

Augustine knew that, and he wrote his beautiful treatise on the Trinity, but he was also steeped in Neo-Platonism. The premise of Neo-Platonism is: whatever else you say of God – or The One – it’s indivisible. And if it is indivisible, it can’t be relational. Augustine tried to develop a Christian vision, and at the same time maintain his Neo-Platonism – and what he offered to the Western Tradition is really two Gods. You have the Father, Son, and Spirit, and then you have “the deeper truth” about the being of God. And what is the essence, the deepest truth about God? For Augustine, it became, not relationship, but absolute, total sovereignty. And for the rest of the Western tradition, steeped as it was in Roman law and jurisprudence, it became a legal view of holiness.

I believe holiness is the deepest truth about God – but “holiness” within a Trinitarian vision. Holiness is the utter uniqueness and beauty and goodness and rightness of the divine relationship – that is the essence – the wholeness of the relationship, their love, mutual passion and delight.

You could call it the “great dance.” This is an ancient phrase that you find in the church. C.S. Lewis uses it a couple of times in some of his books. It describes, in a snapshot, the life of God. It’s a great dance. It’s not boring and sad – it’s not self-centered, it’s not narcissistic . . . it’s about fellowship, and communion, and love.

The apostle Paul said we are predestined to adoption – as sons and daughters. It makes perfect sense. If God is like this, then adoption is the main point. Paul said that the Father’s eternal purpose is to include us in this relationship. But we don’t have 1500 years of discussion about this. Why not? Because we have held to this other idea that the deepest truth of God is holiness – not Trinitarian holiness, not relational holiness—but holiness conceived in terms of moral law and jurisprudence.

Our “family conversation” for about 1500 years has been about the Holy God (which is true, God is holy) but not “holy” in a relational way. When Jesus says, “Be ye holy as God is holy,” he’s not talking about a stainless steel, antiseptic, squeaky clean, boring kind of holy. He is saying, be whole, be relationally together, be in fellowship and communion, be unique in this.

But the church embraced this other view holiness of God: stainless steel, moral rectitude, perfection – this God who calls the shots for the entire discussion. And we’ve found Bible verses to support it. And that’s why it’s so hard for us to understand the stunning news.

How stunning is it, that the only reason the human race exists is to be included in the Trinitarian life of God!

I would like to see a conversation about that. Give me 1500 years to talk about “adoption.” About the vision of God who is Father, Son, and Spirit, as opposed to the stainless steel, holy God who’s not interested in relationship at all.

–adapted from Baxter Kruger

Stunning grace

The gospel is not the news that we can accept an absent Jesus into our lives. The gospel is the news that the Father’s Son has received us into his. We don’t make Jesus part of our world; he has made us part of his. In bearing our scorn, Jesus has made room for the real us in his divine, trinitarian life. Adoption is not a theory or a theoretical doctrine; it is reality in Jesus Christ, for in him the Father himself has met, accepted and embraced us as we are forever. In a variation on Paul’s great statement, ‘For you know the stunning grace of the Father’s Son that though he was rich in the shared life of the blessed Trinity, yet for our sake he became poor, suffering our wrath to meet us, and now through his suffering we who were so poor have been included in Jesus’ own rich relationship with his Father.

–Baxter Kruger

Published in: on 08/31/2010 at 2:00  Leave a Comment  
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