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WHEN I SAW THE CROSS, I SAW THE TRINITY

In Apologetics, Trinity on March 31, 2013 at 7:20 pm

WHEN I SAW THE CROSS, I SAW THE TRINITY

Oneness for the single-person God would mean sameness. Alone for eternity without any beside him, why would he value others and their differences? Oneness for the triune God means unity. As the Father is absolutely one with his Son, and yet is not his Son, so Jesus prays that believers might be one, but not that they might all be the same. Created male and female, in the image of this God, and with many other good differences between us, we come together valuing the way the triune God has made us each unique.

The wonder is that it is the Son who hangs on the cross. The Father, in his great love, sends the Son; and the Son, delighting to do the will of the Father, and sharing his Father’s love, goes. Indeed, that love and delight make the Son unstoppable: he resolutely sets his face to go to Jerusalem where he will die; he rebukes Peter for even suggesting other wise; he trembles at the thought of it, but lays his life down entirely of his own accord (Jn 10:18). For he, the Son, desires to be both the high priest and the sacrifice for sin, offering himself up to his Father through the Spirit (Heb 9:14). It means that this God makes no third party suffer to achieve atonement. The one who dies is the lamb of God, the Son. And it means that nobody but God contributes to the work of salvation: the Father, Son and Spirit accomplish it all. Now if God were not triune, if there was no Son, no lamb of God to die in our place, then we would have to atone for our sin ourselves. We would have to provide, for God could not. But—hallelujah!—God has a Son, and in his infinite kindness he dies, paying the wages of sin, for us. It is because God is triune that the cross is such good news.

“My prayer is not for them [the apostles] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message” (Jn 17:20). In other words, as Israel’s high priest would symbolically bring the people of God before the Lord by that plate over his heart, so Christ would bring us, in him, before his Father. God the Son came from his Father, became one of us, died our death—and all to bring us back with him to be before his Father like the jewels on the heart of the high priest.

If, for example, the Son was a creature and had not eternally been “in the bosom of the Father,” knowing him and being loved by him, what sort of relationship with the Father could he share with us? If the Son himself had never been close to the Father, how could he bring us close? If God was a single person, salvation would look entirely different. He might allow us to live under his rule and protection, but at an infinite distance, approached, perhaps, through intermediaries. He might even offer forgiveness, but he would not offer closeness. And, since by definition he would not be eternally loving, would he deal with the price of sin himself and offer that forgiveness for free? Most unlikely. Distant hirelings we would remain, never to hear the Son’s golden words to his Father: “You have loved them even as you have loved me.” But this God comes to us himself, the Father rejoicing to share his love for his Son, sending him that in him we might be brought back into the Father’s bosom, there by the Spirit to call him “Abba.”

Excerpts from Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves

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