Within the communion of three persons, there is a single purpose. This single purpose is born out of the self-giving love of the three. And the three persons are always together in achieving this single purpose.
What is this One purpose shared by the three? We can state this purpose in a few sentences.
The purpose is to extend the communion of love to include us. The three say this communion of love is too good to keep to ourselves we want to open it up to include others. The one purpose of Triune communion is inclusion. The three want to draw us within the circle of their shared life and love.
We can also say what the single purpose is in a word-Adoption. The purpose of Triune Communion is to adopt us into the Son’s love relationship with the Father in the Spirit. We sometimes speak about receiving Christ into our lives. But God’s purpose is that the Father’s Son might receive us into his life. In his life, we are adopted sons and daughters sharing in his love relationship with the Father.
We can look at the One purpose in communion as adoption before time, within time and beyond time.
The Purpose of Adoption BEFORE TIME
Paul tells us that before the world was made,
“In love God destined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will… (Ephesians1.5)
Before time, God destined us to adoption.He destined us to adoption in love. He destined us to adoption in his son. He did this so that as adopted sons and daughters we would share in his love relationship with the Beloved Son.
If we want to understand who we are and why we are here, then we must begin with the communion of the Father and Son in the Spirit. This relationship holds the answer to the “why” of creation, the “why” of your life and mine. When we start with the Triune communion the purpose of creation emerges. The Father, Son and Spirit created the human race to share what they have together with us. They brought us into existence so that we might share in the Son’ love relationship with the Father in the Spirit. The One purpose arising out of the triune communion, before time, is our adoption into the Son’s relationship with the Father.
The purpose of Adoption WITHIN TIME
God’s purpose before time was that we might be adopted in to the Son’s relationship with the Father so that we might participate in the triune communion. But humanity chose to reject this and go the way of independence. We wanted to live our own way apart from God. But the Triune communion did not give up on their purpose. Together they said we love them so much that we refuse to exist without them. We will go after them and bring them back into the communion.
According to Galatians 4.4-6, The Triune God moved into action the in “The fullness of time” or “When the time was fully come”. At this time God moved in two ways.
God sent his Son (v4, 5)
4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
The Father and Son enjoy love relationship with one another. Out of this love relationship, the Father sent the Son to become human. He sent him with the purpose that we might be adopted as sons (the term sons includes daughters).
Seeing the incarnation this way has great meaning for us. Irenaeus, of the church Father’s, used to say, He became what we are that we might become what he is. He became what we are- human. That we might become what he is-sons. He is the Father’s Son, the unique son. We become what he is, son’s and daughters of the Father. We become sons and daughters because of our union with The Son
In what sense are we now sons in union with the Son?
Some point to our legal status. Adopted sons have a legal status. So we have the full legal rights to be sons and daughters of God. The NIV highlights this in the way it translates Galatians 4:4
4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.
The western side of the church has always stressed the legal aspects of salvation. That’s why so much is said about the need for a change in status. We major on justification by faith as right status before God. Adoption follows this right status as the full legal rights of adopted sons.
We must ask two questions at this point?
Is it true that adoption refers to our legal status as Sons and daughters of God?
Is our adoption as sons and daughters more than legal status?
The full truth is God’s Son became what we are so that we might become what he is. He is the Son of God in love relationship with the Father. He doesn’t just have a legal status as son, he is in love relationship with his Father. We are now in union with the Son so that we become what he is. We share in his love relationship with the Father.
But in church as we have known it, has this relational side been under emphasised and the legal side over emphasised?
God sent his Spirit v6
6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
Note that the Spirit is identified here as the Spirit of God’s Son. The Son was sent into the world to make us sons. Now the Spirit of that same Son is sent into our hearts.
The Spirit of God’s Son cries Abba Father within us. Abba is the Aramaic word for Father. It means something like Papa. While God’s Son was on earth, he addressed God as abba. In the garden we hear him pray,
‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want’ (Mark 14:36).
The Spirit of God’s Son now cries the same abba within our hearts.
As the Spirit cries abba within us are we mere spectators of the Son’s love relationship with abba?We may observe this love relationship as mere spectators. We ponder passages of scripture. We read books to help us ponder better. We stand back and see the sheer beauty of this love relationship between Father and Son. It may be moving to do so. Yet we are mere spectators.
Father and Son want us to move from spectators to participators. They want to include us. They don’t want to keep the love relationship to themselves. They want to open the circle and bring us in so that we actually participate in the love relationship.
The Spirit of God’s Son is the one who enables us to participate. Through the Spirit of God’s Son within us, the son’s own abba before the Father cries out within us as we share in the Son’s relationship with abba.In heaven, Jesus speaks his own abba before the Father and his abba is echoed in us through the Spirit of the Son within us. This is sharing in the Son’s abba relationship in the Spirit.
Because of our individualist mindset, you may view this participation as an individual in isolation. The Spirit cries abba within my heart. And so I, as an individual, participate in the Son’s love relationship with the Father.
But Paul is speaking here about participating communally in the Son’s love relationship with the Father. All the pronouns are plural.
This is the Purpose of adoption within time. It is the purpose that flows from the heart of the Triune Communion
The Purpose of Adoption BEYOND TIME Roman 8.18-23
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
In this passage, Paul personifies Creation . It is like a person longing for something big in the future. What is creation eagerly longing for? It waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. In God’s new world to come the sons of God will be revealed in full freedom and glory. Then the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
For all this, the creation groans with longing.
Paul goes on to say,
“And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons”.
In these words we hear the tension of the already and not yet. God’s Sons and daughters already have the firstfruits of the Spirit. We already have the Spirit as the Spirit of God’s Son, the Spirit of adoption. In the Spirit, we enjoy the already of our adoption. Paul speaks of this earlier in the passage
15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, Romans 8:15-16
Nevertheless, the fullness of our adoption is not yet. And so we groan within us as we wait for the fullness of our adoption.
- In that fullness, our bodies will be resurrected so that we share the resurrection body of God’s Incarnate Son.
- In that fullness, we will enjoy the freedom and glory of the sons and daughters of God.
- In that fullness, we will participate fully in the Triune Communion.
In, freedom, and glory we will share in the Son’s relationship with the Father in the Spirit. This is the finale of the One purpose of Triune communion.