Saturday, June 12, 2021

Triplets of Unity: Triune God, One Will – Creation and Pre-Incarnation




Our God is a Triune God – three distinct Persons, Each equally divine, All acting together in one perfect will. All are self-existent (Exodus 3:14), everlasting (present since before time began and throughout eternity; John 1:1; Revelation 1:8,11;21:6;22:13), and all-powerful (omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent).

Jesus Christ is the Creator, the Word Who made all things and Who spoke the universe into existence (John 1:1; Hebrews 1:10). Yet He was not alone in this mission, for it was that Hebrew Name Elohim, that plurality of divinity (Genesis 1:1) responsible for creation, with the Spirit moving upon the waters (Genesis 1:2) to empower the Father’s plan (Hebrews 1:2).

When it came to man, the crowning achievement of creation, God (Elohim –Three in One) said “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). This threefold emphasis on the Trinity serves to remind us that all three aspects of the Triune God were intimately involved in all of creation. Not surprisingly, man has a mind, body, and spirit, reflecting God’s Triune Nature after Which he was designed.

In the Old Testament, we see preincarnate appearances of Jesus Christ in human form, often referred to as “the Angel of the Lord,” (Genesis 16:7-11; Numbers 22:22-35; Judges 2:4; 6:12, etc). One such example is when He came with two angels to Abraham. He announced that Sarah would conceive a child through whom Abraham would become the father of a great nation (Genesis 18). Limited human understanding could easily miss that the Word and two angels were visiting from Heaven, for they appeared as travelers and even ate a meal with their host.

Yet when God the Father spoke with Moses (as the Angel of the Lord in a burning bush; Exodus 3:6) and with Elijah, His glory was so great that they could not look directly at Him. The Angel of the Lord touched Elijah and even fed him in his weakness and despair (1 Kings 19:7), but when God appeared to Him in all the fury of nature, Elijah hid his face (1 Kings 19:11-13),

We are told in the Gospels that the Holy Spirit was visible as if in the form of a dove as He alighted on Jesus after His baptism, while the Father praised the Son (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; John 1:32; Luke 3:22). Generally, however, the Spirit is not visible any more than we can see the wind (John 3:8), yet we see His power and learn of Him through the words He spoke to David (Acts 1:16) and to all the authors of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16).

So on those rare occasions when one or more Persons of the Trinity appears to man, human perception of the Father, Son and Spirit varies greatly. The Father speaks from the midst of powerful manifestations of nature (1 Kings 19; Job 37), the Son can be seen, touched and felt as a loving and compassionate Friend (Proverbs 18:24; Hebrews 4:15), and the Spirit is experienced indirectly, by seeing what He has done or hearing others speak His Word.  

Although the Three Persons of the Trinity may differ in their physical manifestations to mankind, they act together with a single-mindedness of will – not only in creation, but also in salvation and in the incarnation. God the Father poured out His Spirit on prophets who told of the coming of the Lord Jesus Who alone can save (Acts 2:1-4). The Triune God knew from the beginning that man would fall and would therefore need a Redeemer.

Through Their “determinate counsel and foreknowledge,” or awareness and agreement (Acts 2:23), the Trinity decided together on the plan of salvation. They allowed the Word to come in the flesh and to be crucified to pay all of our sin debt, that all who trust in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15: 1-4) would be delivered from sin and death into eternal life.

The Messianic prophecy in Psalms 2:2-3 uses plural pronouns when referring to the Lord and His Anointed Who was rejected by Israel. “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” again emphasizes the role of all Three Persons in this sacrifice.

Perhaps the clearest indication of the distinct yet unified Nature of the Trinity is Their role in the incarnation. Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son (Hebrews 1:5-6), of and given by God the Father (John 3:16), conceived through the Holy Ghost (Luke 1:35) Through His taking on human flesh, man would see the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:13-15), hear His words, and experience His healing touch, as we shall see next week!


© 2013 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives

 

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Beware of Scenic Overlooks

 


Photo Gary Halvorson Oregon State Archives 2006


Many young people and their families are now celebrating their graduation, a praiseworthy milestone in itself, and even more so in recent times because of challenges in schooling related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  A victory, for sure, yet one that can become a trap if we rest on laurels so long that we fail to commit to the next leg of the journey.

A dream reminding me of this dilemma inspired me to write the blog post below, which I now dedicate to recent graduates and their families. Congratulations to all, best wishes for the journey ahead, and praise God for allowing this achievement and all its accompanying blessings!

In this dream I had to reach holy ground where I would collect priceless treasure. The path to the prize was a maze with the holy place in the center, and each leg of the maze was a narrow corridor hewn into an underground cave.

The design of the maze was deceptively simple – it was just three sides of a square. At each corner was a brightly lit torch, but the sides of the square were long enough so that the light became progressively dim as I left the corner and traveled toward the middle of each side. Then my path became increasingly illuminated as I approached the next corner.

Also at each corner was a smaller, winding, rocky path leading along the diagonal of the square toward the center. After a long, arduous hike to the first corner, I approached the first of these byways. I cautiously ventured out along it and was thrilled by the view – I could see straight down to gleaming piles of gold and jewels heaped up in the center of the cave. At last I had the prize clearly in my sights, which gave me second wind for the rest of the journey.

I was so excited that I nearly lost my balance, which would have been disastrous as I would have tumbled down the rocks into the precipice and plunged to my death. Once I regained my footing and came to my senses, I stumbled back along the crooked path to the corner of the maze, only to find myself confused and dazed.

Which way should I go? The design of the maze could not be easier – just follow the three sides of the square, and then I assumed there would be a path leading directly to the treasure. But the torch light now blinded me; I was unsure of how much time had passed during my detour down the rocky path; and even worse, I did not know which direction to proceed along the maze.

I chose one path, only to discover a long time later that I had gone the wrong way, and was now back to where I had entered the maze. Tired and discouraged, I turned around and plodded again to the first corner, where at least now I was wise enough not to journey down to the scenic overlook.

After that I used the torch lights at each corner as my guideposts, helping me to measure how many sides of the square I had traveled. I resisted the temptation to check out the view below by taking the winding paths to the center. But each time as I left the reassuring glow of the torch to start the next leg of the journey, my spirits fell as the light grew dim, and I wished I could once more have a glimpse of the prize.

Finally the torch from the last corner came into view, and I found that once again I faced a difficult choice. There was an easy, wide path leading down, which presumably would take me to the gold and jewels that had motivated me along the journey. And there was a steep, circular, stone staircase leading up, with no visible reward in sight.

Suddenly I realized that the gold and jewels were merely a distraction keeping me from the true reward, which was the high, holy ground where I would meet my Saviour face to face! The worldly prize was visible and tantalizing, misdirecting me from my true destination. I could not see Him, but by keeping the eyes of my heart fixed on Him, I had the faith to follow Him as He led me in the right direction and to my promised reward.

As I awoke, I remembered that once we are born again by placing our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We walk.in Him (Colossians 2:6), and in His Spirit (Galatians 5:16,25) Who enters our heart at the moment of salvation (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13).

The path to Him is narrow but straight (Matthew 7:13) and simple, not convoluted, for He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:5-6). There are three steps along the path to entering His holy ground: realize we are sinners (Romans 3:23), turn away from our sins (Matthew 9:13; 2 Corinthians 7:10), and trust Him as our Lord and Saviour (2 Corinthians 3:4; Acts 15:11; 16:31; Ephesians 1:12-13; Philippians 3:20).

Yet even the disciples who walked with Jesus during His earthly ministry sometimes faltered in their faith (Luke 22:31,34; John 20:25), and our journey is in many ways more difficult because we have not directly seen, heard or touched Him.

But we are more blessed because we believe and follow without seeing (John 20:29). When we feel lost in the darkness, we should not despair, give up, or turn back, because we have the light of His Word illuminating our path (Job 29:3; Psalm 18:28; 119:105). He is the Light of the world (John 8:12), and as His light shines through us, we are also the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

Of course, Satan takes advantage of our inability to see Jesus Christ directly by tempting us with highly visible, spiritually empty rewards that appeal to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). But these are just scenic overlooks that can waste our time, create spiritual roadblocks, and even endanger us physically.

Sometimes Satan even uses these scenic overlooks to take away physical life before someone can be saved or complete God’s plan for their life. He has plucked away the lives of teenagers who fell to their death as they tried to take a “selfie” by a dangerous waterfall or precipice. The pleasures of sin only last a short while (Hebrews 11:25) before they bring forth disastrous physical as well as spiritual consequences (Romans 6:23).  

It is natural when we have experienced a great victory, spiritual or otherwise, to want to bask in the glow of the mountaintop experience. When Peter saw Christ’s glory in His transfiguration, he wanted to prolong the moment by building tabernacles for Jesus, Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-6). It is good to enjoy God’s blessings (Psalm 34:8), to thank and praise Him for what He has done through us (1 Chronicles 16:34; Psalm 30:4; 92:1), and to seek His direction for the future (Proverbs 3:6; 16:9).

Doing that prevents intense rebound distress after great victory, like that experienced by Elijah, whom God used to defeat the prophets of Baal in a powerful display of His glory (1 Kings 18). But then Elijah succumbed to fear and depression, thinking that Jezebel would destroy him and that no one would be left to worship God (1 Kings 19:4-16).

Rest in God after spiritual victory is good, but if we spend too much time with our head in the clouds, we may fail to complete the earthly mission God has planned for us.  Even faithful, productive believers such as King David can be diverted from their true purpose by scenic overlooks.

After his triumph in battle, David should have continued the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7) by leading his troops and setting a good example. Instead, he took time off, went home, got bored, wandered out on the roof on a hot summer night, and fell in lust with the beautiful view of Bathsheba bathing (2 Samuel 11:1-3).

Lust led to adultery, deceit, murder (2 Samuel 11:4-17), and then the consequences of his sin – the death of his firstborn by Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12: 18), and family strife for many years to come. If David had the luxury of a do-over, he may well have decided to forego the scenic overlook and to get back to God’s business.

May we keep or eyes fixed on the Prize – our true reward of eternity with Jesus Christ! May our journey shape us into His image, reflecting His perfect light, without wandering into worldly detours that can become deep ditches or even an early grave!


© 2015 Laurie Collett
Edited and reposted from the archives
children's ministry blogs