Foundations for a Christian Worldview: God (2)
“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.” Exodus 20.11
The doctrine of the Trinity
The Christian worldview drives toward God, aspires to God, orients itself by God, and derives its substance and support from God. The many believers who pursue the one Christian world – many held together as one people – are, as the image-bearers of God, created and redeemed to enact and declare His beauty, goodness, and truth in all aspects of their lives throughout the whole of creation.
The great mystery of God is that He is both One and Three. There exists in God an infinite, glorious, and eternal diversity-within-unity; and this provides a template for the people of God created on earth. The three Persons of the one God share continuously in a loving fellowship of being, communion, collaboration, and complementarity. Their fellowship serves as the blueprint for Christian living and for seeking the Kingdom and righteousness of God within the worldview outlined in the Word of God (1 Jn. 1.3).
The doctrine of the Trinity provides the starting-point, energy, and destination for Christian life, just as it does for all of Scripture. All Scripture begins in God the Father, is carried along and empowered by God the Holy Spirit, and directs our souls and lives to God through the Word of God, Jesus Christ. The doctrine of God, and of the Trinity, charts the course, supplies the power, and defines the objective for constructing and living a consistently Christian worldview. Any worldview which falls short of discovering, declaring, and demonstrating the glory of the one triune God will be something less than a Christian worldview.
In the beginning
We begin to receive glimpses of this divine Trinity as early as the opening verses of the Bible, which are also the opening verses of God’s Law. That God is One and Three was only dimly understood by the ancient Hebrews who received His Law, but the intimation of the Threeness of the one God is clear, especially in the account of His work of creation.
“In the beginning, God…” Thus begins the first book of the Law. When everything else began to be, God already was. The One God is without beginning and without end. He exists apart from, over, and throughout everything else, but without need of anything apart from Himself. He is sufficient unto Himself. Nothing hinders Him; nothing can alter or impede Him; nothing is beyond or above Him; He defines everything that is.
The Hebrew word for God is Elohim, a word which alludes to the exalted uniqueness and mystery of the One God, but a word which, at the same time, ends in a plural morpheme, -im, which is the Hebrew equivalent to the English “s” or “-es”. The one God is a plurality. From the beginning, the Law points to the plurality that exists in God.
Shortly after we are introduced to the pre-existing, world-creating God, we read, “And God said…” The one God includes a Word, a Word which is the expression and power of the eternal Wisdom of God, a Word which issues from and is separate from God, but acts as God upon the world. That Word brought everything that exists into being. That Word spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, and called him to his mission as the redeemer of Israel.
The Word issues from God, is separate from God, and carries the authority and power of God to accomplish the will of God. God (the One) spoke (the Word). The Word is of God and therefore is God Himself (Jn. 1.1). God is God and Word, Father and Word, and that Word is the Wisdom of God (Prov. 8.12-31) and thus God Himself.
We also read, prior to the mention of God’s Word, that “the Spirit of God” hovered over the creation, brooding, as it were, like a hen on her eggs, protecting and urging the creation to life.
The Spirit of God is not the Father and is other than the Word. Yet the Spirit is of God – He partakes of God and is the same as God – and He has life-giving power (Jn. 6.63). The Spirit also has power to enliven the Word of God (1 Cor. 2.12, 13), thus revealing the Wisdom of God to His chosen creatures (cf. Num. 11.25; Ps. 147.19, 20). The Spirit of God, working with the Word of God, gave through Moses the Law of God (Deut. 9.10; cf. Lk. 11.20, Matt. 12.28), which expresses the life of God (Lev. 18.1-5) and thus provides the footprint for the Christian worldview.
The Threeness of God – one God in three Persons – is already evident at the beginning of Scripture, the beginning of God’s Law; therefore, it must be the beginning and end of the worldview of those who receive the Scriptures and Jesus Christ Whom they reveal (Jn. 5.39).
God and the world
The Three-in-One God exerts Himself with intention on the creation that He has made, and He does so not only by His direct and sovereign Word (cf. Heb. 1.3), but through the beings He has ordained to bring His rule to bear on the creation (Ps. 8.5-8; Heb. 2.5-9).
In the account of the creation of Adam and Eve, we glimpse again the Threeness of the One God expressing and accomplishing His eternal will. In Genesis 1.26-28, God takes counsel within Himself and says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (emphasis added). God cannot be talking to any other beings, for example, angels, or men – male and female – who are made in the image of God alone, and not in the image of God and angels (Gen. 1.27).
The Three-in-One God made people in His likeness – one-image-but-diverse-expressions – and appointed them to administer His rule over the creation, that all God had made might continue to be “very good” (Gen. 1.31).
Because the Law of God says so little about the three Persons of the Godhead, but because it makes clear that such a Triune God exists, the Law points us beyond itself to subsequent revelation, for which it is a kind of cornerstone; and which will be essential in helping us to fully understand and benefit from the worldview it begins to outline.
1. Why do we say that the doctrine of the Triune God is the beginning, power, and end of Christian worldview? What are the implications of this for your daily life?
2. Why is it important that we understand ourselves as having been made in the image and likeness of God? Meditate on 2 Corinthians 3.12-18. God is working to restore us to that image. What is our part in this process?
3. The doctrine of God is the north star of Christian worldview. Explain.
Next steps – Preparation: How much of your time in the Word is spent meditating on God (Ps. 27.4)? How can you give more time to meditating on Him?
The Christian worldview focuses on Jesus. Do you know Him? Our book, To Know Him, can help you answer that question confidently, and equip you to tell others about Jesus as well. Order your copy by clicking here. For a handy compendium of the laws, statutes, and precepts contained in the Law of God, grouped according to the Ten Commandments, order our book, The Law of God, by clicking here.
At The Ailbe Seminary, all our courses are designed to help you grow in your Christian worldview. Watch this brief video (click here) to get an overview of our curriculum, and to see again the place of Jesus in the Christian worldview.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.