Life in the Trinity
This, in fact, is the heartbeat of what it means to be godly, to be like this God. It is why Jesus says ‘If God were your Father, you would love me’ (John 8:42). The Father’s very identity consists in his love for the Son, and so when we love the Son we reflect what is most characteristic about the Father. It is the prime reason the Spirit is given. The Puritan theologian John Owen wrote that ‘therein consists the principal part of our renovation into his image. Nothing renders us so like unto God as our love unto Jesus Christ’.1
But the Spirit not only enables us to know and love Christ; he also gives us the mind of Christ, making us like him. Now before anything else, what is most characteristic of the Son is his relationship with his Father, that he knows and enjoys receiving the love and life of the Father, ‘that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me’ (John 14:31). At the heart of our transformation into the likeness of the Son, then, is our sharing of his deep delight in the Father. In our love and enjoyment of the Son we are like the Father; in our love and enjoyment of the Father we are like the Son. That is the happy life the Spirit calls us to.
It is the Spirit who unites us to Christ, like the oil flowing down onto the body of High Priest, he imparts the blessings of Christ the Head to his Body, the church. He takes what is Christ’s and makes it ours (John 16:14) so that in the beloved Son we might be the beloved children of God. How great and lovely, then, is the work of the Spirit! He unites us to the Son so that the Father’s love for the Son also encompasses us; he draws us to share the Father’s own enjoyment of the Son; and he causes us to share the Son’s delight in the Father. What could be more delicious than to keep in step with a Spirit whose purpose is that?
Jonathan Edwards wrote that:
the divine principle in the saints is of the nature of the Spirit: for as the nature of the Spirit of God is divine love, so divine love is the nature and essence of that holy principle in the hearts of the saints.2
It is by the Spirit that the Father has eternally loved his Son. And so, by sharing their Spirit with us, the Father and the Son share with us their own life, love and fellowship. By the Spirit uniting me to Christ, the Father knows and loves me as his son; by the Spirit I begin to know and love him as my Father. By the Spirit I begin to love aright – unbending me from my self-love, he wins me to share the Father’s pleasure in the Son and the Son’s in the Father. By the Spirit I (slowly!) begin to love as God loves, with his own generous, overflowing, self-giving love for others.
This article is the fourth in a series of extracts from Mike’s forthcoming book, The Good God: Enjoying Father, Son and Spirit.
1 Works, 1.146
2 Works of Jonathan Edwards, 21.191