Written by Scott Leong

5/17/2017

Eternity, The Trinity, And God’s Love For Me


I imagine I’m the first to start a Reality Stockton blog post with a quote from the Qur’an, but here it goes:

“O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God.”
Sura 4:171, Sahih International Translation

My Muslim roommate once offhandedly asserted over lunch that we worship the same God. He believes, like many today, that because the Abrahamic religions begin with the Old Testament as its reference point, the Allah of Islam is the same as the God of Christianity.

But that idea isn’t just false, it’s also dangerous. Here’s why: as seen by the above excerpt from the Qur’an, Islam denies the Trinity, an essential doctrine in the Christian faith. The Trinity is not just a peripheral issue in Christianity. The triune nature of God is absolutely necessary to understand who He is and why He does what He does. It reveals to us the depths of the love that God—Father, Son, and Spirit—has for His people. To miss the glorious truths of the Trinity is to miss the love of God.

We Christians can uniquely claim that our God is love. Love is in His nature—it’s a fundamental attribute of His character. Unlike other monotheistic religions whose god was alone from the beginning of time, our God was Three. Unlike other solitary gods who were eternally doing god-knows-what, what our God was doing is not a mystery.

Ours is a Father that enjoys fellowship. Picture a single-person god sitting by himself for eternity. It seems unlikely that this god would know what fellowship was, let alone enjoy it. But our God is a Father who has “loved [the Son] before the foundation of the world (John 17:24b).” From eternity past, the eternal Father was loving the eternal Son. His love is an outward love that flows between each member of the Trinity. Ours is a God that loves to give.

In the Gospel of John, we learn that the love of the Father to the Son is a generous, giving love. I will mention three gifts from the Father to the Son: Creation, revelation, and the Church. First, he lovingly gives Christ rule over all of Creation. “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand (John 3:35).” Christ was appointed before time began as the “heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2).” All of creation is under His feet as a gift from the Father, and He reigns supreme over all.

Second, the love of the Father for the Son is a love that reveals the mind of the Father. We are told by Jesus that “the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing (John 5:20).” The Father’s generous love for the Son is shown is through revelation of His purpose. This is true intimacy.

Finally, the Father loves the Son by giving Him the Church. In Jesus’ high priestly prayer, He calls us “the people whom you gave me out of the world (John 17:6).” We are Christ’s treasured bride from the Father.

But Christ is not the only beneficiary of the Father’s gifts to Him. In fact, because intra-trinitarian love overflowed, all of creation may now enjoy the infinitely loving Creator of the universe. Dr. Michael Reeves explains:

“Creation is about the spreading, the diffusion, the outward explosion of that love. This God is the very opposite of greedy, hungry, selfish emptiness; in his self-giving he naturally pours forth life and goodness. He is, then, the source of all that is good…. Goodness and ultimate happiness are to be found with him, not apart from him.”

And even better, those who trust in Christ have experienced an even deeper love than the rest of Creation. In salvation, Christ shares the Father’s love with believers. Jesus tells His disciples that He loves us “as the Father has loved [Him] (John 15:9).” We who have received the Spirit of adoption are “fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).” gaining an inheritance “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading (1 Peter 1:3).”

The gifts of the Father to the Son are now ours through our union with Him by the Spirit. God has put all of Creation under Christ’s feet, and we will reign with him (2 Timothy 2:12). As the Father revealed His will to the Son, so all that the Son heard from the Father He made known to us (John 15:15). And we, the Church, treasure Christ as the Bridegroom, just as He loved us and gave Himself for us.

Through our new birth in the Spirit, we can be assured of God’s love for us. It’s a love not based on anything inherent within us. Rather, it’s a love whose roots reach back to eternity past. Because we are loved with the same love that the Father has had for the Son since before time began, we can confidently sing of His love from now on into eternity.

Further Reading
Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1991.

Reeves, Michael. Delighting in the Trinity. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2012.

ScottScott serves in our music ministry as well as our media team. He is also finishing Pharmacy school at the University of the Pacific.