There are two principles that have underlined this study – the principle of three and one, and the principle of union and communion. These principles are very simple and yet have the capacity to transform our relationship with God.
The principle of three and one
Christian theology has always said God’s essence or nature is unknowable – we can’t comprehend the nature of God. However, we can know God in and through the Persons of God. So while we can’t have a relationship with the essence of God, we do have a relationship with the Father, with the Son, and with the Spirit.
The nearest models we have for relating with the triune God is as a child relates to his Father, a sister to her brother, a wife to her husband, a friend to his friend. If we don’t think of it as these relationships then the word “God” doesn’t really have context for us. We could use the word, but the only meaning we could give it would come from our own imagination. It would never bear any relation to the true essence of God. But in the Persons of God, we have an encounter with the true God.
By relating to the three, we have communion with each Person in a distinct way. It’s a simple idea that, as we have seen each week, is actually quite easy to apply. So take time to relate to each member of the Trinity distinctly and think about how you might respond to each. You can pray to the Father, through the Son, with the help of the Spirit. Or read the Bible and think about how the Father is revealing himself in his Son by the Holy Spirit or think of the Son communicating his love to you through the Holy Spirit. Then think about how to respond to each Person.
We also need to remember that God is one Being. The work of one is the work of all three and to experience one is to experience all three. Jesus spoke about this in John 14 v 2-10. Jesus was a man that allows us to encounter God because he is God. This idea has become so familiar that we’ve lost the wonder. The Spirit, too, doesn’t enable us to experience the presence of some other being. He’s not a substitute for the real thing, he is the real thing.
This means that we always have communion with God – not just one part of God. So if you think of the Son as loving and kind, and the Father as distant and harsh. Well that can’t be true because the Son is a direct representation of the Father – they are the same.
The principle of union and communion
We have a two-way relationship with God. God gives us life, hope, freedom, and forgiveness, and we respond by giving God our faith, love, and worship. Salvation is not just about having our sins forgiven and escaping God’s judgement. It’s also about gaining joy in our relationship with God.
There are dangers in pursuing experiences for their own sake rather than pursuing God. Or mistaking emotions generated by other things, say by large congregations and excellent music, for a true experience of God. Building your faith on experiences will prove to be a shaky foundation. But it is important to have and feel a genuine relationship with God. Another danger is having a narrow view of what an experience with God involves. Each week we’ve been experiencing different ways that God can interact with us.
We must also remember that our communion with God flows from our union with God through Christ: our unity with God in Christ is the basis of our community with God in experience. Our communion is two-way but our union is one-way and dependent on God’s grace. Nothing we do can alter our union with God, it is a gift from God. And because union is needed for communion, communion with God is also not something that we achieve, it’s also a gift. We can neglect that gift and therefore not enjoy the relationship. This ability to reject/neglect our communion with God can therefore affect our experience of God.
Remember that experience and feelings are not the same. We can always experience our earthly father’s love no matter how we are feeling. It’s the same with our Godly Father. Growing in faith is learning to discern the Trinity’s involvement in our lives even when we don’t “feel” that involvement. Even if we wake up and feel Spiritually dry or full of anxiety and worry, we can still experience his love. Sometimes the victory of faith is a victory over our feelings. The aim of this book has been to equip you for the fight of faith: the fight to recognise the reality of the triune God’s involvement in the life of his people.
The apostle John was always amazed by the fact that he had seen the glory of God in the person of Christ. Jesus was a man who he had touched and eaten with. And yet he was life itself! He was God.
Jesus allows us to have fellowship or communion with God. Together we participate in the life of the Trinity. We’re family with God as our Father, Jesus as our brother, and one another as brothers and sisters. The result is a community in which joy is made complete. The Father delights in his Son, and he delights to share that delight with us. We delight in the Son, and we delight to share that delight with others. Complete joy!