Saturday, June 28, 2008

Personal Applications of the Trinity, Part 3

In this final installment, we'll take a look at the Holy Spirit. Ware remarks about the Holy Spirit: "Amazingly, even though the Spirit has identically the same nature as the Father and the Son, even though he is fully and equally God, yet he willingly accepts this behind-the-scenes position in nearly everything that the Triune God does. In creation, redemption, and consummation, he willingly accepts the role of supporter, helper, sustainer, and equipper, and in all these respects he forsakes the spotlight.

Ware also offers this in regard to the Spirit's roll in the inspiration of Scripture: "It is because the Spirit moved the hearts and minds of the writers of Scripture so that when they wrote what they wanted to write--that is, they wrote the truths that were on their hearts, with the words, grammar, and syntax that they chose to use--the Spirit was working in them so that what they wrote was simultaneously their word and God's Word."

Ware also points out that no matter what, the Spirit always points the attention to the Son.

Personal Applications of the Trinity:

  1. Ware says, "There is something in all of us that wants to be seen and to receive the credit for what we've done. To accept the behind-the-scenes position where no one may know and notice the service we have rendered is difficult indeed. To work sacrificially, all for the purpose of pointing constantly to another, and for the honor he might receive, can be extremely hard to accept. But this is the way of the Spirit, and this is the power that is at work in us, to help us to serve to the honor of Christ, that he may receive all the glory." I can see that this type of sacrificial anonymity is extremely difficult in a work environment, especially in our success-driven society. Some may ask, "If no one notices our accomplishments, how can we move up the ladder of success?" Whose praise are we looking for?
  2. The Spirit's humility is a "beautiful example of willingness to accept the behind-the-scenes place for the sake of advancing the common mission, unified purpose, all for the glory of another.
  3. In the Spirit's role as "third-fiddle," notice that he joyfully and willingly embraces it. There is no resentment. As we assume this type of mentality, let us be wary of attitudes of resentment or getting a martyr complex.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Personal Applications of the Trinity, Part 2

Continuing the series on personal applications we can draw from the doctrine of the Trinity, today we turn our eyes to the Son, Jesus.

While eternally identical in nature with the Father and Spirit, the Son is also eternally submissive to the authority of the Father. He seeks to do the will of the Father and glorify the Father. He humbled himself, even to death on the cross, in order to demonstrate his love for the Father through costly obedience.

Understanding the coexistence of full divinity and full humanity within Jesus is difficult. For example, if Jesus is God, why did he say that only the Father knew the hour of the second coming? Ware explains it this way: "It seems that the answer must be that Jesus Christ, as a man, accepted the limitations of his human existence, including the limited knowledge that goes with living life as a finite human being. In his divine nature, he retained omniscience, but in the consciousness of Jesus, the God-man, he accepted a restricted knowledge so that he would have to trust his heavenly Father."

Said another way, Jesus humbled himself by "pocketing" some of his divine attributes in the incarnation. He did not get rid of them; he willingly suppressed his freedom and right to use them. It seems odd to me that people who have trouble with Jesus not displaying omniscience do not have a problem with him not displaying omnipresence while here on earth.

In his incarnation and earthly mission, the Son submitted himself to the Spirit to fulfill his role as the Spirit-anointed Messiah. Some might offer the rebuttal to the above paragraph that Jesus knew what the Pharisees were thinking and details about the life of the woman at the well. It was through the Holy Spirit, and Christ's dependence on him, that Jesus knew these things. Just as the Spirit revealed unknown things to others in the Bible, such as Nathan (2 Samuel 12) and Peter (Acts 5:1-11), the Spirit revealed these things to Jesus. While the incarnate Son submitted to the authority of the Spirit, the eternal Son holds authority over the Spirit.

So, how can we apply Jesus' example of costly obedience and humble submission. Ware offers these tidbits:
  1. In reference to Jesus' submission to the authority of the Father: "Rather than despising authority, or even rather than yielding to authority with a grumbling and begrudging spirit, we learn from Jesus what true submission looks like."
  2. In reference to Jesus' submission to the authority of the Spirit during the incarnation: "Marvel at the submission of the incarnate Son to the Spirit over whom he, in his eternal existence as God, had rights of authority."
  3. In reference to the amazing harmony of authority and submission within the Trinity: "Relations of authority and submission, lived out in unity and harmony--this is the model set for us by the Trinity, as expressed so beautifully in the life and ministry of Jesus." We should live out our relationships of authority/submission (i.e. husband/wife; employer/employee; father/child; pastor/congregation) in unity and harmony. The Trinity never displays resentment or selfish ambition in their roles and relationship with one another.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Personal Applications of the Trinity, Part 1

For my Systematic Theology class, I've been reading "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" by Bruce Ware. It's a book about the relationships, roles, and relevance of the Persons of the Trinity. Most people see understanding the Trinity as impossible, so they choose to avoid thinking about it. If God thought it important to present Himself in Scripture as one God in 3 persons, it stands to reason that it should be important for us to understand it the best we can. We'll never wrap our minds completely around the concept, but there are valuable applications for our own relationships when we begin to study the relationships between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. One overarching premise to keep in mind: "Each Person is equal in essence as each possesses fully the identically same, eternal divine nature, yet each is also an eternal and distinct personal expression of the one undivided divine nature."

Over the next few posts, I'd like to point out some of the applications Ware talks about in his book. I realize it will be difficult to compress all of what Ware says in a couple of blog entries, but I'll do my best. I apologize in advance for any confusion.

Personal applications from the relationship of the Father to his Son and Holy Spirit:
  1. The Father has authority over the Son and the Spirit, and he exercises this authority by doing much of His work through the Son and the Spirit. To exercise authority with wisdom, goodness, care, and thoroughness, and not in self-serving ways, is to be like our heavenly Father.
  2. We learn from the Father what true fatherhood is really like. Like the Father, earthly fathers should cultivate an atmosphere of respect for their authority while also being lavish, generous, and even extravagant in their care, love, provision and protection for their children. Additionally, men and women who have been affected by abuse can learn afresh from our heavenly Father just what true fatherhood is.
  3. It's amazing how God chooses to delegate his work to the Son, the Spirit, and even humans to accomplish His purposes, and he rejoices over them when it's done. "The Father shares his work, and with the Son, he shares his glory (e.g. John 17:5). It is as if the Father says, 'Shine the spotlight on my Son, and praise and honor his name.'" In light of this, those who are in authority over others should seek to find ways to spotlight those under them. "May God grant us hearts, like our Father's, that seek ways to share the 'best' of the work so that others may have the joy of such a rich participation in things that truly matter."
  4. "While the Father shines the spotlight on the Son, surely also the Son longs with every breath and in every deed to give honor and glory to His Father. In like fashion, those of us who are "put in the spotlight by another in authority over (us), should, like Jesus, reflect back (our) honor on the one(s) who have granted (us) the privilege and the training for (our) particular ministry."

In summary, Ware offers this: "While those in authority need to be more like the Father, who lavishes favor on others by calling them to participate in his work, often putting the spotlight on them for their labors of love, those under authority need to be more like the Son, who gratefully and obediently embraces the work given him by his Father, and gives highest honor to the Father for all that is accomplished. What a revolution would take place in our homes and churches if such reciprocal honoring of one another took place, all the while maintaining clearly the lines of authority that exist, by God's good purpose and wise design."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Summer is here!

Okay...I know it's been a while since I last wrote, but I have been traveling (out of state twice), working (cranking out another magazine) and doing school (finishing the semester, doing a 2-week I-term, and taking a summer school class), so it's been pretty busy. Here' s a recap of what I've been up to:

Amy and the kids and I went to Colorado to see friends and family as well as make continued church planting connections. We're not going to be out of school for another year and a half or so, but we wanted to keep the relationships we've built going.

Being in Colorado was like being home again. The weather was beautiful and we had an incredible time with the people there. I was going to take the boys up into the mountains on Memorial Day, but the rain kept us from going. I gathered some info about the area we're looking at planting in. I met a couple of church planters in the area. I have to say that I feel completely inadequate to take on this task. God reminded me that Gideon felt the same way. There's a lot of areas I still need to let God work on in my life before we start, so pray for me as we prepare.

I went to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Indianapolis last week. People ask me how it was, and I guess you could say it was as good as a giant business meeting can be with some additional highlights mixed in. There were no knock-down-drag-out fights, and there seemed to be a constant theme of seeking reconciliation and revival. Now comes the time where we see if anyone was listening and will be obedient.

While there, I got to see a pre-screening of the upcoming movie "Fireproof," which is made by the same people who made "Facing the Giants." The acting was a thousand times better than "Facing the Giants" and the story line was incredible. It's about a fire-fighter (played by Kirk Cameron, but in a role like you've never seen him before) whose marriage is spiraling towards divorce. Along the way, he takes a challenge from his father to try to salvage the marriage and becomes a Christian in the process. There is a clear presentation of the Gospel, and I would highly recommend this to anyone. It comes out in September, but you can check out a trailer at

What's Next
As for the rest of the summer, we'll be going to New Mexico in July to visit Amy's mom's side of the family. Will, Blake, and I have birthdays in July, so we'll do birthday parties and everything. In August, I'll be going to Sturgis, South Dakota with the seminary to do some evangelism & ministry at the biker rally...I'm taking motorcycle classes before I go so I will have my license and be able to ride while I'm there. I know what you're thinking...Keith and Harleys don't mix well...who knows, I may come back with tatoos and lots of leather.