Get to know A Loving God

God is Trinity. That is a mystery, but the Scripture reveals enough for us to say that there is but One God, and that God is Three Persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is the core of the historic Christian faith.

The doctrine of the Trinity teaches us that community is not simply a contruct invented by men for convenience. Community is eternal, for God is a community.

This is a community of love. That much is already implied in the fact that God is One. If there were three “divine” persons who were not characterized by love, God could not possibly be One. The three persons would be in rivalry with one another, and no unity, much less genuine oneness, would be possible.

It is thus no surprise that the Bible says that God is love. Love is supremely defined by the eternal relationships between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We get hints and insights into those relationships in various ways throughout Scripture, particularly in the Gospel of John. “The Father loves the Son” (John 5:20; 15:9) and gives all judgment into his hand (John 5:22), so that all will honour the Son as the Father is honoured (5:23).

The Son for his part also loves the Father (John 14:31). He “exegetes” or declares the Father (John 1:18) — that is, he makes the Father known in all that he is and does.

The Spirit comes down from the Father, marks out the Son and bears witness to him (John 1:32; 15:26).

Each Person of the Trinity glorifies the Others and speaks of the Others (e.g. John 17:1, 4–8).

This is perfect love, and it is the eternal life of God.

Mysteriously, God shares this eternal life with creatures. In his high priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus speaks not only of the Father loving the Son — he speaks of the Father loving the disciples just as he has loved the Son (17:23), praying further that the very love which the Father has for the Son “may be in them, and I in them” (17:26).

This love is costly. Human beings cannot share in that eternal life of God simply on account of being creatures. Human sin and rebellion against God have brought alienation and dis-communion. But as Jesus puts it so famously in this same Gospel, God so loved the world that he sent his Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

That sending has a purpose. The rescue does not take place simply by means of the Son’s arrival, by the Incarnation. From the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, we are told that he has come as the sacrificial Lamb (John 1:36). Jesus’ purpose entails a costly mission. It is by means of his death that he will effect reconciliation (“re-friending”) between God and sinful human beings. That death turns God’s wrath away and brings communion, partnership.

Once again, this is not a case of God the Father hating us and God the Son intervening. God is One. It is God the Father who sent the Son (John 3:16), and God the Son who gave himself of his own accord: he had power to lay down his life as well as to take it up again (John 10:18).

How great is God’s love toward us? Well, the eternal life of God is perfect love — and God the Father spared not his own beloved Son (Romans 8:32), and God the Son spared not himself … for us.

There is no love greater than that. Perfect love sent the Son to earth, and to the cross — for us.

And the perfect love by which God the Father through the Spirit raised the Son up from the death of that cross is the same love that raises us up with Christ, and promises a like share in his resurrection (Romans 8:11).

This is our God, and he is love.