LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE, PUSH BACK DARKNESS
GOD THE TRINITY
FRONTLINE’S MISSION: THE 3
Our mission as a church is to multiply gospel communities that love God, love people, and push back darkness. Last session, we talked about what it means to multiply gospel communities. Today, we are going to look at what it means to love God, love people, and push back darkness.
“In no other subject is error more dangerous, or inquiry more laborious, or the discovery of truth more profitable.” – Augustine on the Trinity
When we look at Scripture, we see that there is only one God. And yet, we see that the Father is God, Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And furthermore, we see that the Father, Son, and Spirit interact with each other and are not just different names for the same person. This points us to the life-changing truth that God is Trinity. We believe in one God who is one in essence, yet three in person. All three members of the Trinity are eternally God, all of whom are equal.
“I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God” – Isaiah 45:5
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1
“But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit… You have not lied to me but to God.” – Acts 5:3-4
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:16-17
The Trinity is not just some theological construct that means nothing for our lives. Rather, the Trinity is foundational to all Christianity, and it shapes the way we view God and others. Because of the Trinity, we see that God has always been a Father who loves a Son by the life-giving Holy Spirit. It is only because of the Trinity that we see God as eternally loving and eternally self-giving.
LOVE GOD AND LOVE PEOPLE
HOW THE TRINITY DRIVES US TO WORSHIP
God created us out of the overflow of his love to share this loving relationship he had within himself. Each one of us were designed to experience intense delight and pleasure in God as our Father. Jesus tells us that the highest virtue is to love God with all of our being. As we see God the Trinity’s overflowing love for us, we are called to respond by returning love to him.
“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.’” – Matthew 22:37-38
But our problem is that we don’t. We have turned to worship, delight in, and love other things besides God. We have all scorned our ultimate purpose by worshipping things other than God.
God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. – C.S. Lewis
So how can we be made right with this God? We could try to make it up to God by being really good. But because God is Trinity, heartless obedience is not the goal; truly loving God in relationship is the goal. So despite our turning away from him, God still loves us and sends his Son to die in our place for our sins so that we could come back to him.
So we come to see that our love for God is a response to his great love for us. It is not his sentimentality towards us, but his overflowing, life-giving, sacrificial love that we see most clearly in the gospel. God shows the depths of his love by sending Jesus to reconcile us back to him. The only reasonable response to God’s love for us in the gospel is to love him in return. The gospel brings us back into our ultimate purpose, to enjoy God as our Father and enter into this loving communion.
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins… We love because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:10, 19
What are the artifacts of gospel communities that love God? They are communities that have a real relationship with God and enjoy spending time with him. They obey him and submit to him. They express their love for him in words and songs. They see God as their Father.
HOW THE TRINITY DRIVES US TO LOVE
When we see the love that God the Trinity has for us, we not only respond with love towards God, but we imitate his love towards each other. Jesus tells us that next to loving God, this is the most important commandment. As the Trinity has from eternity been loving each other, so we are to love and share this Trinitarian love with other people. And this ultimately happens within gospel community. When we respond to God’s love with gospel community, people can see and know that we worship God the Trinity.
“And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:39-40
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
Christian community means community through Jesus Christ. There is no Christian community that is more than this, and none that is less than this. Whether it be a brief, single encounter or the daily community of many years, Christian community is solely this. We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
What are the artifacts of gospel communities that love people? Gospel communities that love people live life together and point each other to Jesus. They serve one another and meet each other’s needs. They love and forgive one another as God the Trinity has loved and forgiven us.
PUSH BACK DARKNESS
HOW THE TRINITY DRIVES US TO PUSH BACK DARKNESS
In response to the gospel, we not only love God the Trinity and love other people, but we care about the people who live in darkness without God. When we see God’s love, we have no choice but to go forward and push back darkness in response. We will care about what God cares about. We can’t see what God has done for us in the gospel and not care about others receiving that grace. We push back darkness in two ways:
We push back darkness by proclaiming the message of the gospel to others. The gospel is meant to be proclaimed. This means we should engage unbelievers, telling them about the one who rescued us in the gospel and is inviting them into this Trinitarian love.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” – 1 Peter 2:9-10
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” – Matthew 5:13-15
We push back darkness by demonstrating the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. This means that we care about the spiritual and physical needs of those in darkness around us. We seek to right injustices and serve our city with the light of Christ. Jesus did not just come to proclaim the gospel, but he came healing and serving those who were in darkness.
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” – 1 Peter 2:11-12
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16