Our God is a happy family: the loving, mysterious union of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Jesus Knew The Answer To The Question, “Who’s Your Daddy [Abba]?”
When Jesus came among us, especially once he began his public ministry—although if you remember, it started when he was a 12-year-old—he turned the status quo on its head by speaking of God as his own, actual father. It was the explanation he gave to his parents when he missed the trip home from an annual Passover pilgrimage and ended up hanging out with the teachers at the temple asking questions. (Luke 2:41-51) It was this declaration of family relationship that sent the ire and offense of the Pharisees over the top and led to cries of “Blasphemy, blasphemy!” and eventually to the conclusion that there was just no way around it, Jesus was going to have to die. Interestingly, when this all came about, they were asking what was clearly the most important question in Israel, “Tell us plainly, are you the Christ?” but Jesus’ assertion that not only was God his Father but that they were “one” eclipsed the centrality of that Messianic question and turned the religious establishment against him in their hearts. (John 10:24-39) Jesus was crystal clear. He was the son of his Father in heaven.
Papa [Abba] Made It Clear Who He Knew Jesus To Be
From the other side of the relationship, The Father confirmed the reality of His and Jesus’ familial bond, not only in what He did through Jesus every day as he spoke, healed, taught, performed miracles, and responded to his every request, but twice with His own undeniable, audible testimony to any who would or could listen.
In the first case, Jesus’ baptism was punctuated emphatically by the voice of God. Keep in mind that God’s voice had not been heard in Israel -either with natural ears as it had to Adam, Enoch, Noah, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David and others – or prophetically for some four centuries. Of all that God could have said as broke His 400-year silence, He chose to declare one truth, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) In the second instance, Jesus had a confab on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah about all that was to come and about his impending death. Caught up in the moment, Peter was stumbling with a jumbled excess of words to try to make sense of all he was seeing. God, the Father, interrupted and declared, “This is my beloved Son, my chosen one, listen to Him!” (Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35) I think it is both safe and wise to take our heavenly Father’s word for the reality and nature of His and Jesus” relationship as Father and Son.
The Holy Spirit Is In, With, And From Both Father And Son
The Father’s spirit is the Holy Spirit. When asked what to do to do the work of God, Jesus replied, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:28-29) Obviously, the sent one Jesus was calling on the questioner to believe in was Himself. Jesus was sent by His Father…literally out from His Father. (John 3:16-18)
Jesus was not the only one sent out from the Father. When Jesus was preparing his followers for his coming death and for the life-empowering, authority-giving, resurrection and ascension to follow, he spoke of another sent One—the Holy Spirit.
Here is what he told his disciples—and through them, us—about this other sent one, our helper the Holy Spirit. First, Jesus promised to ask the Father and assured us that Papa would give us another Helper just like Jesus—not different but distinct; another who is the same [the Greek word is allon.] This One he identified as the Spirit of Truth (a title he had just moments before attributed to himself in the famous ‘I am’ declaration, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”) Now it was the Holy Spirit, given and sent as our Helper, to whom Jesus gave the title of Truth. He continues to go on about the Holy Spirit as one sent—both by his Father and by Jesus. Then he wraps up his promises about his Spirit, the Holy Spirit with the promise that when Jesus goes to be with his Father, the Holy Spirit will come to us, sent by the Father, sent by Jesus. When He, the Helper, Holy Spirit comes He will lead us into all truth. How will He do it? Simply by taking all of Jesus’ stuff and declaring over and disclosing it all to us. He then finishes with a smile in his eyes as he says something like, Oh, yes, “everything the Father has is mine.” You can check all this out in John’s Gospel. (John 14:16-27, 15:26, and 16:5-15)
There is a lot more in Scripture that confirms that Holy Spirit is God and is part of the fellowship and family that is our God: Jesus openly revealed that he was the Messiah—the sent one, and in the same breath, taught the woman at the well in Samaria that his Father God, “…is Spirit.” (John 4:21-26) In the early church in Acts deathly serious consequences befell a husband and wife who chose to lie about a supposed gift before the church and to the Holy Spirit. Peter revealed that they had not just lied to men, but to God. (Acts 5:1-4) Holy Spirit is identified as the “Promise of the Father” sent by Jesus when he encouraged his disciples to wait in Jerusalem after he ascended. (Luke 24:49)
Theologically, this three-person-oneness that is the very essence and life of our God is called the doctrine of the Trinity (Three distinct Persons all of one Being). It took about three centuries for the early Church to find the words to declare it, but everyone from the first Apostles and earliest believers to us today enjoys the blessing of being included in the rich, dynamic, eternal, and active love that is our God and that our God is.
What makes this big idea worth believing and knowing?
For one, it means that our God is not, and has never been a lonely, solitary, isolated being. And that means God can afford to be…well, happy. It also means that beautiful things like love, family, communication, giving, honor, celebration, taking delight in another, and simply being able to relate to others—all qualities that we so cherish in our lives—are actually and forever built into the heart, mind, and personality of our God. His essence and nature are loving and relational at His core. Because of this—and that central and beautiful loving nature—God has chosen to include us in His eternal family life.
I encourage you to think about this big idea a lot. Our God really is a happy family. Because of this wonderful truth, the central story of eternity past, creation, redemption, and our future is that our Father, through Jesus, in the fellowship of Holy Spirit has eagerly included you and me in that eternal family affair.
Let’s learn to live in His love.