Categories
Theology

Why Must God be a Trinity?

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. 

– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Yesterday I did my best to briefly summarize why Jesus must be God. Today, I want to do the same with the question, Why must God be a Trinity? 

If we are honest, the Trinity seems, at best, a math problem or a religious puzzle to solve. At worst, it is a man-made construction not supported in the Scriptures, as many in history, and still today, have proposed. But before trying to figure out how God is one-yet-three and three-yet-one (and you won’t figure that out!), I suggest we ask why God must be a Trinity.

The easiest way to summarize the answer is this: God must be a Trinity if he is to be a God who is love. This means the Trinity is good news! God does not just love (a verb), though he does do that! But he is more than doing. His very essence is love (a noun). God can love because he is love. God is Father, Son, and Spirit. The three persons of the Trinity exist in perfect loving relationship with each other. This loving community of persons are united in their being and purpose, yet diverse in their roles, responsibilities, and functions.

If God is merely one–individual, solitary, and alone, in relationship with no one–he can be or create many things. But he cannot be love. To be love, by very definition, requires relationship with someone other than yourself. The alternative is called vanity.

Allah, the god of Islam, for example, can be many things. He may even have the capacity to love. Yet, he cannot be love. Love can’t be his very essence. If love is not a god’s essence, it can be created and, therefore, destroyed. If love is not a god’s essence, then something else must and will be. This is not good news.

If we reflect further on God as Trinity, there are numerous applications. Here’s two:

  • Human beings are made in God’s image. Thus to be human means we are communal beings designed to live in loving relationship with each other.
  • The church is to be a diverse unity of persons, who together have a common faith, identity, and mission, yet individually have differing gifts, roles, functions, and activities.

Ultimately, because God is a Trinity—because he is love—the Father can, out of his great love for us, send his Son to atone for our sin and appease his holy wrath. The Father pours out his wrath on his own Son on the cross. The Son completely satisfies God’s wrath, paying the debt we owe with his blood. And in his resurrection, he conquers death so that all who repent of their sin and trust in the Son, are welcomed by the Father into this loving, harmonious, diversity unity of three through his giving us his Spirit. Do you see what this is? It is a Family working in unity, with complementary roles, to rescue lost, rebel orphans and bring them into the Family.

And this is good news. For you, for me, and for the world.

Scriptures to consider: Genesis 1:1, 26-27; Psalm 110; Matthew 3:17-18; Matthew 28:19-20; John 15-17 (esp. John 17); 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; Ephesians 4:1-7; 1 John 4:7-21

Advertisement
Categories
Life

Should we rejoice over Osama bin Laden’s death?

Osama bin Laden is dead.  Nearly ten years of searching is over. 

Perhaps the most startling aspect of Osama bin Laden’s death was the reaction it garnered from people around the States.  I found it interesting, first of all, that most people probably haven’t given a thought to bin Laden on a daily basis.  But now that he’s gone, people celebrate like Mardi Gras.

Secondly, it was bizarre to see college students celebrating in the streets of D.C.  Some of these students were eight years old when the search for bin Laden first began.  Eight. That’s a sobering thought. Finally, I was immediately torn when I saw the reaction of Christians online. Some couldn’t sleep because of the excitement.  Others were immediately critical of those same sleepless people around the country.  Which side should I be on?

I think as Christians, we need to walk a fine line here. During my personal time of worship this morning, I spent some time meditating on Scriptures that were challenging and helpful to me with this particular issue. I pray this helps you, too.

First of all, we cannot condemn a country or government for pursuing a violent man who harms and makes threats toward others. Romans 13:1-4 teaches us that the only government that exists is one that God has put in place.  Some are good, and some are bad. Still, one purpose of government is to punish evil. That is what happened last night when bin Laden was killed.

Therefore we rejoice that justice was done, and thus hope that this will bring relief to those who have suffered because of bin Laden’s leadership. We rejoice that God, in his divine wisdom, used human means as an instrument of wrath. 

Nevertheless, we mourn the fact that a life was wasted on desires to harm people and gain money, power, and control.  We mourn the fact that a man made in the image of God lived his life in opposition to Jesus and rejected him as the only hope of salvation.  Even Jesus wept over the lost people around him (Matt. 23:37; Luke 19:4123:34). 

God does not smile over the fact that Osama bin Laden has been killed and now faces judgment. God does not delight in the death of any wicked man (Ezek. 18:23; 33:11). However, God ordains everything, including death (Deut. 32:39), so does God ever delight that a wicked man is rightly punished? Deuteronomy 28:63 and Psalm 5:4-6 tell us plainly that God does delight in punishing wicked, unrepentant people. Is this a contradiction? No. As Denny Burk points out, Ezekiel 18:23 and 33:11 mean “that God prefers for sinners to repent rather than to perish.”  Furthermore, Burk writes, “If they refuse to repent, however, God delights in His own justice to punish them appropriately.” 

Therefore we rejoice, as God does, in his justice and glory, not in the fact that bin Laden ceases to live on earth.

This morning 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 was particularly helpful for me as I wrestled with this and I pray it is helpful for you as well.  The context is marriage, but in these few verses, Paul speaks to all of life. I won’t comment on these verses. I pray that the weight of Paul’s words crush your spirit and cause you to have a Christ-centered, eternal perspective on every circumstance in this world (my emphasis in italics):

This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.


Read this post by Christopher Morgan at The Gospel Coalition blog for more on this.

Categories
Life

The Koran-burning Guy

Terry Jones, a “pastor” in Florida, is going to host International Burn a Koran Day this Saturday, September 11. You can read more on their Facebook page.

I don’t want to take up space writing about what I think. What I can say is what my wife said this morning: “It’s because of people like this that people hate Christians.”  This is true.  This guy is a fool.  Is that unloving? No. Anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus and mocks, belittles, and disrespects other people to the degree he is qualifies as such.

I believe that Islam is wrong and that it is a barrier to people seeing Jesus Christ for who he really is. But that doesn’t mean we burn their Korans. It doesn’t mean we hate them. No, we love them. We invite them to talk about their book, and we also ask them to talk about ours.

I want to point you to a great post by Abraham Piper about this.  In my opinion, this is Abraham’s most thoughtful post ever, and he’s had some good ones.  Thanks Abraham for your clear, thoughtful communication.

Categories
Life Theology

Sermon 2: Is Jesus the Only Way to God?

Is Jesus the Only Way to God?
Series: Debated: Answering Hard Questions About Christianity
Pastor Steve Moltumyr

John 14:6; 1 John 4:1-10

  • There are three ways to deal with this most important question:
  1. You can outlaw religion  (such as China and the former Soviet Union).
  2. You can condemn religion through education.
  3. You can keep religion a private matter.
  • What we see so rampant in the world today is what we call postmodernism.  Postmodernism is the belief that everything is relative and there can be no objective reality in the universe.
  • Christianity is not unique in it’s claim to truth.  When it comes to deciphering through all the worldviews, we must sift through three important questions.
  1. Decide which religion is true.
  2. Decide that atheism is true.
  3. Decide that postmodernism is true.
  • When it comes to the first of these options, you need to answer these questions when trying to get to the bottom of whether a religion is true or not:
  1. How did life begin?
  2. What is the meaning of life?
  3. What is the moral code to live by?
  4. What is the primary spiritual need?
  5. How will life end?
  • A postmodernist will usually argue along these lines.
  1. Each person has the right to determine the meaning of what they read.  This means that if I write an email that says, “It’s cold outside,” someone can actually interpret it as, “Steve said it’s warm today!”
  2. Moral and ethical behavior is not a result of any final reality such as God.
  3. All religions are man made and none have a corner on the truth.
  4. “I can create my own faith.  My own generic religion.”  (This “religion” does not confront people with the brokenness of humanity and the need for a Savior.)
  • 1 John 4:1-10.  Jesus has “come in the flesh” (v. 2).  What has Jesus “come” from?  God.  How can Jesus be the only way to God?  He is God.  He was God in the flesh who came to give what no other so-called “deity” ever gave.
Categories
Life

“The Truth”

Artist Michael D’Antuono’s painting “The Truth” about Barack Obama.  Here’s an excerpt from the story:

“More than a presidential portrait,” writes D’Antuono on a website touting the painting, “‘The Truth’ is a politically, religiously and socially-charged statement on our nation’s current political climate and deep partisan divide that is sure to create a dialogue.”

Like others in the news who have depicted Obama in Christ-like imagery, D’Antuono insists he isn’t claiming the man is Messiah, but only inviting “individual interpretations.”

“‘The Truth,’ like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder,” claims the exhibit’s press release.

Read the whole thing.

D’Antuono has encouraged viewers to email him and respond to the question, “What is your truth.”  I plan to work on my response sometime this weekend and then post it here on the blog.