Paul says those who worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator have “exchanged the truth about God for a lie.” That is how we all were before Jesus came to us. Now, in union with him, we live in the truth and that truth is Jesus himself.
However, we might still exchange the truth about God our Father for a lie. The lie is this: The Father doesn’t really love you. We may even see him as the enemy of our freedom and joy. So our hearts are closed to our Father because we think his heart is closed to us. This warped view of our Father may constantly disturb our anxious hearts.
Where do we find the truth concerning our Father? Jesus is the TRUTH of the Father’s heart towards us. For to see Jesus is to see his Father. Jesus is the new and living WAY into communion with his Father as our Father. Through him, we draw near with confidence sharing in Jesus own communion with his Father. Jesus is the LIFE and our life hidden with him in God. So with him we share in the life of his Father as dearly loved children. Yes, Jesus is the way and the truth and the life and we come to the Father through him.
So if the lies concerning the Father remain within us it is simply because we have taken our eyes off Jesus and lost connection with him. So let us always abide in Jesus. Then we see the love of our Father and rest in the high privilege of being his dearly loved children in union with The Son.
The Father of Jesus always relates to his unique Son in joyful love. And he relates to us in the same way. Jesus said his Father loves us just as he loves his unique Son. In union with the Son, we are now dearly loved children drawing near to Abba. In the Spirit, we enjoy the Father’s nearness to us and our dearness to him.
Unfortunately, many Christians often have a distorted view of our Father. While they imagine Jesus as the one who loves us, they may see the Father as hesitant towards them. Indeed, they may see the Father as distant at best and furious at worst. It is as if Jesus pleads with the Father to put up with them perhaps even against the Father’s desire. They fear that behind Jesus, the Father is actually distant and dark, even sinister.
Jesus told us that when we see him we see his Father. All the love the Son has for us is actually the Father’s love for us. The two are one in everything including love for us. The streams of love that come to us through Jesus flow from a fountain of love in the Father’s heart. And the Father has poured his own love into our hearts by the Spirit he has given us.
With Jesus and his Father in full view, we need to see that the greatest sorrow we can bring to our Father’s heart is not to believe that he loves us. And the greatest joy we can bring to Jesus’ heart is to rest assured in his Father’s love.
When Jesus first appears for baptism, the Father declares his love for him. A voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” All through the rest of the story we see that Jesus really is the joy of the Father’s heart as dearly loved Son. Towards the end, Jesus says to his Father, “I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23). We are united to Jesus so whatever is true of him is now true of us. So, the Father loves you “even as” he loves his own son. And we now experience his love because “God’s love [i.e. the Father’s love] has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). The streams of love flow to us from the fountain of love in the Father’s heart.
We need to linger long over the Father’s love to appreciate its wonder. Consider, the Father’s love that stretches backwards into his eternal decision to adopt us as children in his dearly loved Son. Contemplate, the Father’s love that reaches downwards into time through his Son and in his Spirit. Mull over the Father’s love that cost him dearly, as he did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us in order to fulfil his purposes of love for us. Ponder the Father’s love that adopted us as his own children so that we now say “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God…” (1 John 3:1). Yes, we do need to linger long over the Father’s love so that we actually live in his love.
Through Jesus, the triune God has actually opened himself to us. So as we fix our eyes on Jesus, we may know what God is like within his inner relations. All through the Jesus story, we see the three persons loving each other as the One living God. We see the dynamic interplay of Father with Son, Son with Spirit, Spirit with Father, Father and Son with Spirit, Spirit and Son with Father, Father and Spirit with Son. The God revealed through Jesus really is the living God who loves within himself.
However, we do not simply see all this as detached spectators; we actually share in the Triune communion. For through his Spirit, God brings us into union with Jesus so that his life and ours are inseparably entwined. Within this union, we share in Jesus’ communion with the Father by the Spirit. So, as T. F, Torrance says,” God has established an intimate two-way relation between himself and us and us and himself, making himself accessible to us and giving us entry into the inner fellowship of God’s life by allowing us to share in God’s own eternal Spirit”.
So, in union with Jesus, we are drawn into fellowship with a deeply personal, indeed three-personal God. Each of the undivided three relating to us in special and distinct ways. This is at the heart of what it means to know God and to enjoy communion with Him.
One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple (Psalm 27: 4).
David was a man after God’s own heart who loved to gaze on the beauty of the Lord. But did he enjoy the close communion now opened to us in Jesus? Jesus is the true king who now serves as priest in the heavenly sanctuary. There he beholds the beauty of his Father. And in union with him, we too behold the beauty of his Father as our Father. For in the Spirit, he takes us with him into the Most Holy place. There, with him we share in his communion with the Father in the Spirit.
Men and women of God in Old Testament times were not familiar with this. Even when drawing near to God there was always a distance from him. But now we draw near through the new and living way that Jesus has opened for us. ”Through him we have access by one Spirit to the Father”, (Eph. 2:18). In union with Jesus we draw near with freedom, boldness and confidence in the Spirit crying, Abba! Father! That is truly astonishing! We who were once far off and alienated from God are now admitted into communion with the Holy One in the Most Holy Place.
The Father’s Son united himself to us when he became one of us as Jesus. The Spirit of God unites us to Jesus so that we live with him in God. Nothing can affect or change this union with God. Our lives are hidden with Christ in God. That is an unchanging reality. Nothing we do will make us more united to God; and nothing we do will ever make us less united to God
Within this union we enjoy communion. However, while union with God in Christ does not ebb and flow, our enjoyment of communion with God does change. On a good day we may feel close to God. On a bad day we may feel distant. Then the accusations come (both from Satan and self) which can make us worry that there is something wrong with us. We may even begin to question our union with God.
But should we be so focused on our own faltering enjoyment of communion with God? Doesn’t the Spirit long to put the spotlight on our sharing in Jesus’ communion with the Father. The indwelling Spirit always wants to turn us upward and outward toward Jesus in whom our life is hidden. We are taken away from anxious self-striving to be “enough,” in our communion to resting in Jesus’ communion as always enough for us in the Father’s presence. Only then may we draw near to the Father with freedom, boldness and confidence. For our access into the holy place is always through Jesus in the Spirit, to the Father.
The Puritan theologian John Owen (1616 –1683) wrote in a letter, “I pray God with all my heart that I may be weary of everything else but converse and communion with him” We need to join Owen in this prayer because we so easily find ourselves growing weary of seeking communion with God while rarely growing weary of seeking every other pleasure.
Owen expressed his intense desire for communion with God as a response to God’s desire for communion with him. And that’s the right way around. For the gospel is the good news that in Christ God has established union with us and now eagerly desires communion with us. He wants to enjoy close love relationship with us and gives both his Son and Spirit with that in mind.
We must be fully attentive to God’s strong desire for fellowship with us. Only then are we responsive drawing near to the Father in freedom and confidence. It is vital that we see this! We so easily switch attention to our own desires for communion with God or lack of desire. We may even believe that God will only desire fellowship with us if we truly desire fellowship with him. That is a big mistake! We keep all our attention on the Father’s constant desire to draw close to us through Jesus and his Spirit. And as we do so, desires for communion with God arise within us. So we must always see that our desire for communion with God is a response to God’s desire for communion with us.
Before God even created he had a purpose and plan for the whole cosmos. This plan emerged within the communication of the Triune Communion. And the Father sent both his Son and Spirit on mission to make it all happen. So the actions of God’s Son and Spirit in the drama of redemption are the space-time expression of all that God freely decided in eternity.
In this drama of redemption, God rescues us from the rule of Sin, Death and Satan so that we are no longer under these powers. He rescues us in order to bring us under the rule of Jesus, his dearly loved Son. As Paul says, “God has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col 1:13). God accomplished this dramatic liberation in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus dies to the realm of sin and death and we died with him. Jesus rose into new creation as king over all and we rise with him. Jesus is exalted to his Father’s side as the Royal Man and we are seated with him in heavenly places.
As King Jesus encounters us personally by his Spirit we pass from the reign of sin and death into his reign of life, light and love. The old is gone; the new has come. We now live under King Jesus as his kin.
Before anything existed, Father and Son decided in the unity of the Spirit to share their own life with us. They wanted to create a new family unit, thereby enlarging the scope of their own familial relations. This is the deep background of the Triune drama unfolding before us in the Jesus’ story.
The Son’s lowly appearance in history wasn’t a surprise. Nor was it a Plan B following Israel’s failure. The Son came as Jesus because of a joint plan conceived in eternity between the Father and Son in the Spirit. In love, the Father decided to send his Son and in love the Son consented to being sent. The Son who always existed in the “form of God” wanted to serve his Father in the “form of a servant” among us. And so the Son’s identity as lowly servant-son among us is identical with his identity in eternity. For the Son’s way of being God is to be the one sent as lowly servant. And to be sent as the dearly loved Son who does all things joyfully in response to his Father’s love.
Hence it should come as no surprise that the Son’s mission on earth is “to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4.34; cf. John 5:30; 6:38). This is who he always wants to be in response to his Father’s love for our sake. And let us remember that this mission is what Father and Son decided on together because they want a large family of son’s and daughters in union with the Son.
John often records personal communications between Father and Son in the Spirit. These communications open to us God’s inner life. One of the most significant conversational topics is the mutual glorification of Father and Son in the Spirit. Jesus is the dearly loved Son who lives in his Father’s love and responds by loving his Father and doing all things to glory his Father. All through his ministry, Jesus wants his Father to be truly honoured. And he wants this to happen in and through all his actions as the Father’s Servant-Son.
When Jesus realises that his hour has come he says, “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again” (John 12.27, 28). Even in deep distress, Jesus expresses more intensely his desire for the glorification of his Father. And he wants this to happen in himself as dearly loved suffering servant so that the Father will be glorified in the Son. As the hour moves even closer, Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (John 17:1).
Father and Son love each other so deeply in the Spirit that each one desires the glory of the other. And soon their mutual glorification happens in Jesus’ humiliation on the cross followed by his exaltation with the name above every name to the glory of God the Father.