011 - Implications of the Trinity [b]
Implications of the Trinity
Ephesians Lesson #011
December 9, 2018
“Our Father, we come now to that point in the service where we focus upon what You have revealed to us, what You have had written down for our knowledge, for our information that we may come to learn who You are and how we are to respond to You and how we are to live as those who have been set apart to Your service in Christ.
“Father, as we continue our study on Your existence as a Trinity, we pray that You might expand our understanding and that we may realize that there is so much more to this than we ever imagined in its significance and its implications.
“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
In Ephesians 1:3, there is a reference to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It has brought us to understand this by looking at and examining this doctrine—that is explicitly in the New Testament, implicitly in the Old Testament—of the Trinity: the tri-unity of God, the triune existence of God. We have looked at this in terms of its development in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Today I want to look at the implications of the Trinity for us.
Looking at Ephesians, one of the things that has impressed itself upon me as I have been studying through the Trinity and thinking specifically about what Paul says in Ephesians, that he starts off in this tremendous opening praise from Ephesians 1:3–14 by dividing it into three sections:
- A praise for the Father in Ephesians 1:3–6
- A praise for the Son and His work of redemption in Ephesians 1:7–12
- A praise for the Holy Spirit and His sealing us in Christ and for eternity in Ephesians 1:13–14.
This is not the limits of the implications of the Trinity as we get into Ephesians. We’re going to see that it underlies almost every major section as we work our way through the epistle. One of the ways it does is in this doctrine I will touch on today, the implications of this.
In the Trinity we have this understanding and answer to a problem posed by philosophy, the idea of “the one and the many.” Sometimes it’s called “the problem of unity and diversity,” “the problem of universals” and “the problem of particulars,” and how all that is brought together and how the Trinity answers that.
That seems really abstract to a lot of people, and it is, but it has implications that are important because when you get down to understanding the realities of life, there’s always some sort of abstraction behind it in terms of understanding its basic underlying principles. That will become clearer as I work our way through this.
But as we do so, we will see that when Paul talks about the unity that we have in the body of Christ and the diversity that we have in terms of each member of the body of Christ, it flows out from this understanding of the Trinity.
He will talk later about submission and authority in various relationships, and it is at the core of this issue of unity and diversity that we see that there is authority in the Godhead eternally, where there is no sin and there is no self-centeredness among the Members or hostility towards another being in authority.
At the very core of this idea of the unity of “the one and the many” is this idea of authority. We touched on that last time when I went to the doctrine of the Son’s submission to the Father. This is important.
In the New Testament, there’s a couple of different places where we see the Trinity explicitly, but it’s never defined as a Trinity. We just see the operation of these three distinct Persons in the Trinity.
For example, at the baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3:16, “When He had been baptized, Jesus …”— “He” and “Jesus” refer to the same Person, so we have the God–Man on the earth in His human body. “Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.”
Now we have two Persons: the Spirit of God and Jesus.
Matthew 3:17, “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying—and this voice is the Father because He says—‘This is my beloved Son’ …” Calling Him the Son implies the Father.
We talked about this relationship last week that it is not just a way of talking about the relationship of two Persons in the Trinity, but it is something that is an eternal designation: that He is eternally designated the Son; and the First Person of the Trinity eternally, the Father. We are looking at what the Bible teaches about the Trinity.
- Old Testament teaching that there is a plurality of God and the deity of the Messiah.
That’s important because often what you will hear if you go to theology classes, take a course in theology proper at the seminary or Bible College, they will even go so far as to say the Trinity’s not in the Old Testament. I’ve heard some people make that statement; it’s just hinted at. I think it’s much more overt than that, and we went through a number of passages that demonstrate that and in a number of different ways where you do see a plurality.
If God exists as a Trinity, that triune relationship of God for all eternity is the ultimate reality of the universe. So that is going to have implications for everything within His creation because creation will reflect that reality in its makeup.
- In the New Testament it becomes more overt, more explicit, and there are passages that talk about the plurality of God, such as the one I just mentioned in Matthew 3:16–17.
We also have the episode where Jesus appears in His transfigured glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, and we hear the voice of God the Father there, as well as the baptismal statement that we are to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
- The Son’s submission to the Father, and that this is eternal. It has to do with their eternal relationship.
But in modern times we have this problem with authority and submission, and I don’t want to go into an extended discourse on that, but this has to do with the fact, especially in Western civilization, we have rejected a Trinitarian understanding of all existence, a Trinitarian view of ultimate existence.
Man, in his culture always swings back and forth on either the polarities of emphasizing the individual particulars, that is the diversity, what we would say terms of the Trinity, just the individual Members, or it swings to the other end and it just emphasizes the unity.
It’s very difficult for our finite corrupt minds to understand that God exists eternally as a unity and eternally as three distinct Persons, and that’s not a contradiction at all. It just seems that way to our finite mind. But that becomes the foundation to actually understand everything in creation.
Diagram: God existing as One Person, indicated by the light in the middle. The Three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three modes of existence, but they are three distinct Persons. The Son is not the Father, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Father is not the Holy Spirit. They are three distinct Persons, but there’s one essence, so each is equally God.
We have this unity in the Godhead, this unity of being or essence, so that everything that is said about one can be said about the other. In another sense whenever you say something about the one being involved in something, the other two are also involved.
That is a doctrine called PERICHORESIS, a Greek term that was used by ancient theologians to explain this. When the Father does something, the Son is doing it, and the same in reverse. We have unity, this oneness that is there.
The opening phrase in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ …” it is specifically focusing on the First Person of the Trinity. He’s identified as God, and He’s identified as Father. This is predicated on a statement Jesus made in John, where He talks about God as His God and His Father. So it is not a statement that Jesus is a creature or anything less than God, because that has to be compared with other passages of Scripture.
In the unity of the Godhead, we see that each Person in the Trinity shares equally in all of the attributes of God. Therefore, each is equally righteous. No member of the Trinity is more righteous or less righteous than any of the others.
It also applies to all of His “omni–” characteristics. In His knowledge each Member of the Trinity is equally omniscient; neither learns. This is important; I’m laying groundwork here. As we get into the next section, Ephesians 1:4, “… just as He chose us …” then in Ephesians 1:5 talking about predestination, the other word that is not used in this passage is foreknowledge. We have to understand all of these things within a Trinitarian framework, and that will become clear as we get into those topics.
I’m setting the stage for you a little bit, that They’re all equally omniscient. That means They all equally know all that there is to know, and that that knowledge implies not only the knowledge of what will happen. They have the knowledge of what could have happened under other circumstances and if there were other choices made, and the knowledge of what might have happened. Therefore, Jesus could make statements regarding, as He condemns Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum for their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah, He says, “If Sodom and Gomorrah had seen what you saw, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”
See, what that means is He knows that under some other circumstances other results would have come, so His knowledge is not restricted to just what happens.
Now the reason that’s important is as we get into the next few verses, we’ll have to talk about this in relation to the historic arguments: between Augustine and Pelagius, which had to do with free will and sovereignty; or as it’s played out in the Reformation and post-Reformation period as the issue between Calvinists and Armenians.
In Calvinism, God doesn’t know something unless He has already predetermined it, so in Calvinism God’s determination of what will happen is prior to His knowledge, so His knowledge is restricted only by that which is predetermined.
That flies in the face of Scripture, and in two passages, in Romans 8:29 and 1 Peter 1:2, we see that foreknowledge precedes everything else, so that God’s omniscience must include more than just what He has decreed.
Each Member equally is omniscient, equally omnipresent, and equally omnipotent. Each of these come together in a distinct way in the understanding of who God is. And if that is your starting point for understanding creation and revelation, then it’s going to have profound implications.
Let’s remind ourselves about God’s attributes here. In this chart we have 10 attributes: That God is sovereign, He’s righteous, He’s just, and He’s love. He is eternal life, He’s omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. He is veracity or truth and He is immutable.
In each of these we see attributes that are equal to each Person in the Trinity.
I’m going to shift us over to this chart, where you have the essence of God located within the triangle, which represents the Person of God, and it equally belongs to Father, to Son, and to God the Holy Spirit. We cannot emphasize what They have in union at the expense of their individual personalities.
One of the things we have to understand is the word “personality.” It has become common in many circles today to reduce this—I’m not sure where this came from—to reduce this to mind, will, and emotion. However, I got this—I’m not sure who I got this from either—but it was an older 19th century commentary that’s quoted in a number of places, referencing this definition of personality:
“Personality exists where there is mind, intelligence, reason, free will, self-consciousness, self-determination, and individuality.”
This is a much better definition of what defines a person. A person exists where there is—and these first three all relate to mentality. He has mind, he has the ability to think, and therefore he has intelligence related to knowledge and to reason —to think from one end to the other.
All of that exists differently in God’s thinking than it does in our thinking because God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither His ways our ways, because He’s much higher than us. So there’s that aspect of intelligence or mentality, then there’s also the idea of volition.
Volition means will, the exercise of will, so He has free will in the fullest sense of the term. Fullest sense of the term means that He has complete autonomy, that He is not determined by anything else. His plans, His purposes, His decisions are not shaped by anything else.
We often will hear the term “free will” used of human beings, but we don’t quite have free will. You couldn’t decide when you were born, you can’t decide when you die, even if you try to commit suicide, often God in miraculous ways prevents people from dying outside of His timetable.
I know of a pastor, a friend of mine, who met a lady in his church who for various reasons decided that she wanted to commit suicide. So she went out to the car, she got in the garage, she turned the car on, she took some sleeping pills, and she shot herself.
Her husband left work early that day, got home early, heard the car in the garage, went out, opened the garage door, and realized what had happened, called an ambulance. Because of the angle of the weapon, the bullet glanced off of her skull, and he was able to get her to the ER to pump her stomach, and she did not die from the sleeping pills.
God had a plan for her life. I’ve known of other situations where people have tried to commit suicide multiple times, and it just hasn’t worked. And sometimes God finally brings them to a point of saying, “Okay, now in God’s permissive will, it’s going to work.”
We don’t have complete autonomy in our will. So it is not complete and total free will, not in the sense of God’s free will. It is self-conscious. Only a sentient being can have self-consciousness in the full sense of the word. God has self-consciousness, we have self-consciousness because we’re created in God’s image.
When you look in the mirror, you know that it’s you. When your dog looks in the mirror he barks because he thinks it’s another dog. When a bird flies toward a plate glass window and sees his reflection, he’ll start to attack the bird because there’s no sense of self-consciousness in those animals.
God has self-consciousness. He has complete self-determination, and that goes with His volition. He exists as individuality, so that there is significance to each individual Person.
When we talk about the Trinity, each Person has distinct identity. So each Person is of ultimate importance; each is equally eternal. There was never a beginning or end; and that is what it means to be God.
That’s important because we will see that that is essential for understanding who Jesus is. The Son did not begin with the virgin birth. He did not begin as a creature in some time in eternity past. He is eternal. Otherwise He would not be God, and as a creature He would not be able to pay for sin.
Then we have the Holy Spirit who is also equally eternal.
We talked about this a little bit last time; Jesus talks about His submission to the Father’s will in John 5:19, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”
Notice the similarity there. That’s the unity. What the Father does, the Son does. That brings us to this idea of PERICHORESIS. That’s emphasizing the unity.
John 6:38, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
He does have His own will. He is a distinct Person, but He is submissive to the will of the Father. In eternity, authority is at the core of the triune relationship.
John 7:16, “Jesus answered them and said, ‘My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.’ ”
We see again the emphasis of His subordination to the Father. But it’s not a subordination of essence, it’s a subordination of Person.
This became critical at a time in the early church, by the early 3rd century. There had been attempts for the previous 150 years, or a little more, to try to explain what the Bible taught in terms of this relationship of the Trinity.
Two questions came out of this:
- Who was Jesus before He came?
- Who was Jesus when He came?
The second question had to do with understanding the union of deity and humanity in one Person in Jesus Christ. That gets resolved later.
First, they had to understand this question of who was Jesus before He came. This is one of the most interesting episodes for me in church history, is how they understood this, so I’m just going to cover briefly under these five points:
- The background.
- What did Arius teach?
- What did Athanasius understand?
- The consequences.
- Evaluate the creed itself.
The background: in the early church, they were trying to figure out who God was, and in what way do the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit relate to each other.
One of the things I like about teaching this is usually you smoke out a lot of people who have one or two heretical ideas in their mind, just because of the finite way in which we think.
Modalism was the idea that the Son was not distinct from the Father: That one God initially appeared, for example in the Old Testament, as a Father; then He appears later as the Son, then now He appears as the Holy Spirit.
One of the most obvious problems of this is He’s not all Three at the same time. He is either the Father, He puts on the Father mask, and then He’ll take off the Father mask and put on the Son mask, and then He’ll take off the Son mask and put on the Holy Spirit mask.
One of the problems of this is that if in that scenario, when Jesus prays to the Father, He’s basically talking to Himself, as opposed to talking to another Person. That was one way that that was refuted.
Another aspect of this was that this would mean that the Father was also on the Cross, so that the Father suffered, not the Son suffering. That was called Patripassianism: Patri meaning Father, passian meaning suffering; and that’s how that heresy was described in the early church.
That was their first stab at it, and it’s called Modalism. Often, I find that’s how a lot of Christians think about the Trinity. They’re really emphasizing the unity of God so much that they don’t have a full-bore sense of three distinct Persons.
For those who swung in the other direction and started emphasizing the distinction of the Persons, they had trouble understanding the unity. This is a problem we have swinging from one end of the spectrum to the other. So they came up with the view that has been called Adoptionism. This is the idea that in eternity past, you have God existing as a unitarian type of God—a unitarian monotheism—there’s just one God.
Then at some time in human history, He is going to elevate this human Jesus to deity, so that He is adopted as a Son. This underlies a lot of theological liberalism that Jesus becomes the Son at His baptism. A lot of theological liberalism argues from that. Ultimately what do you have? You have an emphasis on a unitarian idea.
In American history, Unitarianism came in during the colonial period, and it begins to really have more of an impact later in the early 19th century. And that has political implications, because when you’re overemphasizing “the one over against the many,” then that leads to wanting to emphasize statism and over emphasize government over the importance of the individuals.
There’s a whole lot on that that I’m not going to get into, but if you’re interested in delving into this, there is a book called The One and the Many by Rousas John Rushdoony. He’s post-mill and he’s a Reconstructionist, but he has quite thoughtful things to say about this particular issue, and it has an important influence on how the Trinity influences political thought down through the ages.
This is subordinationism. Jesus is adopted at some point in His life. That was condemned as a heresy.
The next attempt (Arianism) was by a guy named Arias who was a deacon in the church in Alexandria in Egypt, and his stab at it was that while Christ was not created at some point in time, He was created in eternity past at some time, and so he had the idea, and this is a direct phrase of his, “the un-begun made the Son.”
The problem with this is that it makes the Son a creature. His opponent initially was Alexander the Bishop of Alexandria at the Council of Nicaea. Alexander died shortly thereafter, and his number two guy was Athanasius, who succeeded him.
Athanasius saw this very clearly, that if the savior’s a creature, a creature can’t die for sin. So this is the first and most important implication of the Trinity; without the Trinity you really don’t have a Savior on the Cross. That’s one of the major theological problems.
Arias taught this and he taught that there was a time when Christ was not.
The Council of Nicaea was called by the Emperor Constantine because like any good Emperor, you don’t want to have division in your empire: you want to have peace. Now the major institution that’s come along is Christianity. It’s really grown by the early 4th century, so when Constantine, who is considered the first Christian Emperor, became a Christian—and that all can be debated.
He had a final battle to secure his position as Emperor at Milvian Bridge. It is said that he had a vision of the cross in the air, and he heard God say, “By this sign you will conquer,” and because of that he became a Christian.
His mother, Helena was a Christian. She is very important for a lot of things going on in the Middle East because she went there and wanted to discover where all of the significant sites were.
Right after he became the Emperor, he issued an edict of toleration in about AD 315, 314 that legalized Christianity and now Christianity becomes the religion. There’s this emphasis from the state that’s elevated; politics is definitely involved.
That’s why you’ll often hear from critics that this was just Constantine sticking his fingers into the religious pie, and it all has to do with separation of church and state, and this is all wrong. And there is an element of truth to the fact that it’s political, but that’s not the end of it.
He wants this thing resolved because he wants peace in his kingdom.
Nicaea is located just outside of where Istanbul is today. Philip Schaff, in his description of Nicaea, basically calls it a nasty, dirty, little place. Well, that’s how it was in the 19th century; it’s probably different now. But this was a major location just outside the capital for what became the eastern part of the Roman Empire.
Three hundred and eighteen bishops and church leaders came together to debate this issue. What we see in a lot of issues, and even today in politics, is that you had about 10 or 15 who were on the side of Arias, and they described the relationship of Jesus to the Father, that He was different; He was of different substance.
What they meant by substance is being or essence. And so it was different. It was HETEROS. You know that word because we talk about heterosexuals. It’s a different kind, so Jesus isn’t the same being as the Father. He’s a different being. He’s HETEROS.
On the other side there were about 10 or 15 who understood the issue from Alexander’s and Athanasius’ perspectives, and they said that He has the same essence, HOMOOUSIAS, He’s equally and totally God.
Then there’s going to be those who want to compromise, and so they want to call it similar essence, HOMOIOUSIAS.
You have about 10 or 15 on one side, 10 or 15 on the other side, and the rest of them just really don’t have a clue. They can’t think very critically or perceptively. You can put that on almost any political issue of the day: you’ve got about 10% that know something on one side, 10% on the other; and the rest are just going to be manipulated by whoever is in control, and usually don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.
That’s what happened at Nicaea. At the end, they went with Alexander and Athanasius, and they wrote this creed. I’m going to walk you through it because this creed is often recited. We did not recite it this morning; I wanted to wait until we went through this.
It’s often recited in liturgical churches on communion. They will recite the Apostles’ Creed maybe every other Sunday, but they recite this creed on communion because it emphasizes the Person of Christ.
“I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.”
That runs counter to modern science. It is a clear statement, if you understand them, of creation. God is the Creator God. Everything else is created by Him and is different from Him.
Then they began to describe—this is the first clear statement we get on the Person of Christ in the early church:
“And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God.”
He’s not created. He is begotten. They use that term in a special sense to describe this relationship of Son to the Father.
“One Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds.”
He’s not created or born. He’s begotten. He is
“God of God.”
That means He’s full deity. All these phrases here describe the fact that He is of one essence.
“God of God, Light of Light,”
And then what you read in the antiquated English, and I’ve updated the translation:
“very God of very God.”
What that means is “true God of true God”. He is complete undiminished deity. He is
“begotten, not made.”
That’s where they define that. “Made” is how humans procreate and make a child. He is not made. They distinguish “begotten” so that it describes an eternal relationship where the Son is eternal and the Father is eternal, and the Son is eternally begotten.
“… being of one essence” (OUSIAS)
When we use the term HOMOOUSIAS, OUSIAS is “being” or “essence.” HOMO is “the same;” He is of the same essence. Therefore, He has to be eternal because He has to be God. He has to be able to pay for sin.
“… being of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made.”
“Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit.”
They have the pre-incarnate Christ who is in Heaven.
He “came down from heaven” during the incarnation of
“the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried, and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory to judge the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.”
All of that goes directly to the Nicene Creed.
There’s a battle that occurred after this; Constantine died a couple years later. His son ascended the throne, but he was under the influence of the Arians. Because he was under the influence of the Arians, he excommunicated or kicked out Athanasius. Athanasius went on the first of five exiles.
You will hear from people like Shirley McClain and many others who have made these statements about Nicaea, that they just imposed this stuff on the church, that’s not true. That’s historically wrong.
What happens was that as politics got involved, they sought to overturn what happened at Nicaea, so you have these battles that are all messed up because the politicians are wanting to secure some kind of unity in the state.
By about AD 375 to 380, most of that in-between crowd, the 80% that didn’t really understand the issues at Nicaea, had seen the outworking of the consequences of Arian theology, and they rejected it.
When they came together at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381, they got it right, but they added more to the statement on the Holy Spirit, and reaffirmed it. This came from the church, from the theologians. It didn’t come from some sort of political imposition on it because that finally got taken care of. So they concluded the statement:
“And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets. And I believe in one holy—often this is “Catholic;” that’s the old English word for universal, so I’ve updated this so we avoid confusion there—I believe one holy universal and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism because the forgiveness of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”
In the early church these basic creeds were recited over and over again; a lot of people were illiterate. I know we’re supposed to have everybody who becomes a member of the church read our doctrinal statement, but sometimes people don’t understand all the implications and nuances of the doctrinal statement. Historically, it has been an important part of worship to recite the creeds in order to remind people the basics of what they believe.
The problem is, when you have ritual without education, it becomes meaningless, and I’ve been to many churches like this. Probably some of you grew up in churches like this, where you just recite the creeds and nobody tells you what they mean, so it becomes meaningless. I’m trying to avoid that, as we do this on occasion, like when we have the Lord’s Table to recite this, because this is what Paul talks about in Ephesians 4, the unity of the faith.
That’s another implication that we will see of the Trinity. In Ephesians 4, Paul talks about the fact that there is one faith, one Lord, one baptism, and one body. That’s the unity concept, and then he immediately transitions from that to talk about “to each one,” in Ephesians 4:7, “Grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” That’s the diversity.
We’re going to come back and look at this unity and diversity as it’s manifested in the body of Christ. But it doesn’t stop there because in Ephesians 5, he talks about personal relationships. And in personal relationships, there is also this understanding of unity and diversity; and in any society, because in the Trinity you have a social group made of Three Persons eternally. There’s an eternal society there. And there’s authority.
When Paul talks about social issues at the court’s authority, and he says, First of all, submit to one another. What’s that? That’s unity. Then he says, Husbands, love your wives; wives, submit to your husbands; children, honor your parents; slaves, obey your masters. That’s the diversity.
Underlying so much of Ephesians is this understanding of unity and diversity.
But one of the important things to understand is what I tried to demonstrate here: the love of God.
In order to talk about love or to make a statement about love with the phrase, “I love you:” the subject of that sentence is “I,” the object is “you.” That means that to have love, there has to be a minimum of two persons: the subject and the object.
Look at various religions: they either overload on the diversity side and have many, many gods; or they overload on the oneness idea and have only one God. You have unitarianism in Islam, one and only one God. Modern Judaism has a unitarian monotheism, and unitarian Christianity has a unitarian monotheism.
But there’s a problem with that: if you want to claim that God is love, you can’t have a unitarian God, because there’s only a subject; there’s no object. If God is love in that scenario, then He must create, He is determined to create, it is necessary for Him to create so He has an object of love, which makes Him dependent on His creation.
You have one of two problems: either He becomes totally dependent on His creation so that He can be love, if He is love, which means He’s less than God because He is dependent on His creatures; or He’s really not love.
That’s what you have in Islam, because in Islam, it never talks about Allah being a god of love. It’ll talk here and there about merciful, and it’ll talk here and there about he forgives, but there’s no eternal love in Allah, which is why you only have tyranny.
When you break down “the one and the many” so that you emphasize the one over against the many, you end up with some kind of a tyranny. That’s played out in marriage, it’s played out in government, and it’s played out in everything they do.
If you over-emphasize the many instead of the one, you end up in some kind of anarchy because each individual becomes self-governing, and that goes to antinomianism. We’re seeing that play out in Western civilization today: as they reject that there’s any real unity, they’re overemphasizing all the particulars. There are a lot of implications here. I’m just giving you sort of the thumbnail perspective on this.
It plays out in marriage. The marriage union: the two shall become one flesh. They’re not just two individuals. There is a unity there, but when you over emphasize the unity, and you don’t have a respect for the individuals, then you end up with some sort of totalitarianism within the marriage, which often happens. It has happened and it’s wrong, and that’s when a husband says, “I’m totally in charge, and you’re not.” And it reduces the wife to some 2nd, 3rd, or 4th class individual. And that happens in Islam.
What has happened today in America with the rise of feminism is that women are over-asserting their individuality within the marriage, and the result is there’s no union. What you see happen is that you have people who come together in a marriage, and the best illustration is you have two people in two cars, and they seem to be doing great because both cars are headed down the same highway at 100 miles an hour.
But they’re not both in the same car. There’s no unity; and this makes it real easy to come up with rationales for divorce down the way, because the two have never become one flesh. There’s no unity. It’s just an artificially appearing unity, but you have two individuals that are so assertive of their own individuality that they never come together in this one unity.
All of these social problems that we have are problems related to authority and submission. And it’s because we lost the integration of it and a self-conscious development of the doctrine of the Trinity. We will develop this as we go through Ephesians.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to come together to think some deep thoughts. Sometimes we never quite slow down enough to really reflect upon the profundities of Your existence as a God who is One yet exists in Three Persons, One in essence and the implications of that for our daily life and our daily thinking in our respect for individuals and our desire to be a one in marriage. All of these are involved by just thinking and developing out what it means to have a triune God, and how that eternal reality should affect our individual existence.
“Father, above all things. We are thankful for our salvation—that we are saved by faith alone in Christ alone. If there’s anyone listening today, it’s not about the abstract doctrines or other doctrines of Scripture.
“This is foundational: God loved us in such a way that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for us, to pay our penalty, to be our substitute, and that we appropriate that when we trust in Him. His work is then applied to us, and we are set free from sin, we are forgiven, we’re justified, and we are made new creatures, we’re made spiritually alive in Him.
“Father, we pray that anyone listening will come to understand that, and that this will be made very clear to them by God the Holy Spirit. Jesus died for you. The issue is faith alone in Christ alone.
“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”