Essentials of Wesleyan Theology - Lesson 6

Trinity (Part 2/2)

John says in his gospel that at Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit descended on Jesus and remained on him. This paves the way for the relationship we can have with the Spirit. The Trinity is actualized by self-denial, not self assertion because self-surrender is at the very heart of God. The Trinity tells me that mystery, relationship, self-giving love and mission is at the heart of reality. (Ppt 2)

Steve Seamands
Essentials of Wesleyan Theology
Lesson 6
Watching Now
Trinity (Part 2/2)

I. The Trinity (Part 2)

A. Definition

B. Biblical Basis

II. Historical Development of the Trinity

A. Early Church

B. Councils and Creeds

III. Implications of the Trinity

A. Relationship within the Godhead

B. God's Love and Unity

C. Significance in Christian Life and Worship

IV. Wesleyan Perspectives on the Trinity

A. Emphasis on Love and Relationship

B. Practical Applications

  • By studying the Essentials of Wesleyan theology, you learn about its historical roots, key principles, and the importance of grace, holiness, and Christian perfection in this theological perspective.
  • Through this lesson, you gain a thorough understanding of Wesleyan theology, its tasks, key theological perspectives, and distinctives, providing you with a solid foundation for further exploration of the Wesleyan tradition.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into Wesleyan theology's goal of pursuing holiness through sanctification, understanding the three stages and the practical implications for discipleship, spiritual growth, and the church's role.
  • In this lesson, you explore the doctrine of God in Wesleyan theology, learning about His attributes, the Trinity, and His relationship with creation.
  • Through this lesson, you gain a deep understanding of the Trinity from a Wesleyan perspective, exploring its scriptural basis, historical development, and practical implications for Christian living.
  • This lesson deepens your understanding of the Trinity from a Wesleyan perspective, emphasizing its historical development, implications for Christian faith, and the significance of love and relationship within the Godhead.
  • Gain insight into Wesleyan theology's Doctrine of Creation, its biblical basis, and the practical implications it has on understanding God's sovereignty, human responsibility, and stewardship of creation.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into Wesleyan theology's understanding of Christ's person and work, exploring key concepts like the Incarnation, Atonement, and Second Coming.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into the incarnation of Jesus Christ, its dual nature, and its implications in revealing God's nature, redemption, atonement, and modeling holiness.
  • In this lesson, you gain a comprehensive understanding of the Cross of Christ in Wesleyan theology, exploring atonement theories, the scope and application of atonement, and its impact on the believer's life.
  • By studying the Cross of Christ Part 2, you gain insights into the theological concepts of the cross and the unique features of Wesleyan theology, ultimately learning how to apply these principles in your daily Christian life.
  • By examining the significance of the resurrection in Wesleyan theology, you gain insight into its foundational role in Christian faith, its connection to justification and sanctification, and its far-reaching theological implications for believers.

In this class on the Essentials of Wesleyan Theology, you explore the historical background and development of Methodism, its key doctrines, and the unique approach to Scripture that John Wesley promoted. You gain a deeper understanding of prevenient grace, justification, assurance, sanctification, and the concept of Christian perfection. Furthermore, you learn about Wesley's quadrilateral of authority, his emphasis on holiness, and the impact of Wesleyan theology on social reform, evangelism, and contemporary Christian thought and practice.

Dr. Steve Seamands
Essentials of Wesleyan Theology
Trinity (Part 2)
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:21] But we're going to move on to think a little bit about that phrase. And the Apostles Creed, maker of heaven and earth. The doctrine of creation, of course, has always had an important place in Christian theology. It's there in the creed, isn't it? Would you have put that in the Creed? You know, if you were trying to sort of sum up the Christian faith, it seemed really important enough to put right there at the beginning of the Apostles Creed. And obviously the doctrine of creation has profound implications for a lot of the environmental issues that we are engaged in today, of Christian understanding of creation and and how we should relate to creation and so forth. And we could go there and talk about some of those kinds of things. What I'm going to do, though, is actually just kind of focus with you on how and why God creates in terms of how Christians understand creation. And I want to basically unpack, you might say, four different affirmations that we make when we think about creation. The first of these is that when God creates, God creates out of nothing. Out of nothing. And the Latin phrase is ex nihilo. There is no verse of scripture that just explicitly says this. In the beginning, God created the heavens on the earth and the Earth was without form and void. That can be interpreted by some to suggest that actually when God creates, he takes sort of preexisting. Matter. Or something that's out there and begins to form it and shape it. But there are some verses that it seemed to me indicate that when God creates, who creates out of nothing? Hebrews 11 three, for example, says by faith, We understand that the world was created by the Word of God, so that what is seen.

[00:02:26] Was made out of things which do not appear. That seems to indicate. Creation out of nothing. But even there, if someone wanted to, they could say, Well, yeah, it says it was made out of things. Which do not appear. Maybe those were just sort of spiritual things that maybe that was a sort of a formless thing that God used. You see, that's not what Christians want to say. Likewise. Romans 417 God calls into existence the things that exist. All that being said. Christians for 2000 years have felt like it was important that we use that phrase x ni hello to make it very clear what we mean when we read these various texts about God's creation. So let's talk a little bit about the nothing out of which God creates. Have you ever thought about nothingness? I suspect not. You know. What is the. Nothing? Out of which God creates. Well, first of all, the nothing is not a primordial stuff you might say that's already there out of nothing means that God alone is the source of all that exists. In Plato's account of creation in his work. Thomas Tomas God is sort of like a craftsman who imposes form and order on preexisting matter. Much like you might take some Play-Doh or your kid might take some Play-Doh and shape and form it. God is sort of like that. So the nothing there is a kind of a primordial stuff. It's formless, it's shapeless, it's chaotic. But it is it is something you might say that's already there. No, that's not what we mean when we say God creates out of nothing. Neither is the emanation creation to be understood as an emanation from within God. Something that comes out of God, you might say, that's birthed out of God.

[00:04:46] And therefore something that would be partially divine. God is not a part of the world, and the world is not partly or secretly God. So creation that is not an extension of God, but a direct act bringing into being something that is not God. Tertullian back in the second century. Sort of already was saying this and kind of had the logic of it worked out. When he says God did not create out of the divine self, otherwise everything is divine. God did not create out of preexisting matter. Otherwise there are two eternal divine beings. So God must have created out of nothing. This particular idea of creation out of nothing is important, first of all, because it guards against a couple of errors and he's actually telling us what those are. It guards against pantheism. Pantheism makes the world necessary to God. Creation is a part of God. It comes out of God. It was always there. Matter is eternal. Creation. Ixnay. Hello. Says no. By the way, that's the way it's understood in much New York New Age thinking, isn't it? So when someone like Shirley MacLaine years ago said, you know, I am divine, you're divine, The divine is in us all. Have you heard that kind of thinking and talk? That's this notion of creation. Next Nihilo is is specifically there to protect us against that, that idea. It's interesting. In the Old Testament, in the creation account in Psalms, which is kind of a reflection of the Genesis one passage, the Psalm assessed by the Word of the Lord. The heavens were made. By the word of the Lord. The heavens were made for He spoke and it came to be he commanded, and it stood forth. And, you know, yesterday in our discussion about the Genesis debate, Bryan, you were talking about the literary context of Genesis and the literary theory that that that sees it that way.

[00:07:10] One of the things that I learned. About that literary context was that there's really a polemic going on in the Genesis one account, because if you put the Genesis one account up against the Babylonian account of creation and the different creation accounts that were out there, what do you find? How does creation usually happen? Here's the thing. A lot of times in the ancient Near Eastern context, you get creation accounts where basically two gods come together and have sex. Or creation is understood. Kind of like a mother giving birth to a child. It comes out of God. There's no idea here of God sort of giving birth to creation. How does God create? He speaks his word right by the word of the Lord. The heavens were made. God said, Let there be light. And there was light. And that speaking and coming to be helps to accentuate that. This is not just something that comes out of God. That's sort of an extension of God. Which is the way pantheism would want us to think of creation, which then ends up making us partially divine. Of course, Christians do believe that we're created in the image of God, so we reflect God. But we're don't we're not partially divine. The other. Error that. Is being stood against when we say creation ex nihilo and Tertullian statement also captures this one is dualism. The world here is the result of a conflict between two eternal principles. And Bryant This is kind of, I think, this war that's going on. So light and darkness and good and evil, mind and matter, soul and body, just depending on how you how you frame it. They're engaged in this eternal struggle. So what creation involves is that God is the good principle.

[00:09:12] And he creates the world by by taking formless matter, which is the chaos out there and the primal darkness that's already there. It's out there. It's independent of God. It's hostile to God. And what God does is he imposes. His will on formless matter, on the chaos and shapes it and molds it into the world. So God, you might say, is the principle of form warring against formless chaos, spirit warring against matter. And what happens in this particular way of understanding things is that then part of creation is understood to be. Partially divine and part of creationists understood to be partially evil. So if you if you take that down to who you are now, if you are partially good and partially evil, and you were created that way. Is that the Christian understanding? That we were created. Essentially partially good and partially evil. If that's the way you understand it, then salvation becomes, how do you get rid of this, get out of this bad part of yourself and escape this bad part of yourself so that you can. Just, you know, sort of be all good. The Christian understanding is that we're created essentially good in Genesis. God saw what he had made. And it was good. It was very good. That keeps showing up, doesn't it? We're created essentially good. But because of free will and the misuse of free will, we've become radically fallen. We've fallen away. There's nothing in us that was essentially evil. It's become evil as a result of free will and the misuse of free will. So even with Adam and Eve, you've got naked and unashamed. Prior to the fall, Right. An ability to kind of be in the presence of God and even in the presence of one another.

[00:11:21] And no need to hide yourself. What happens after the fall. It's then you get the emergence of if you've want it, if you want to put it in those terms, the emergence of a false self. Now I got to get my figleaves on because I'm I'm sort of intimidated by you and I'm afraid of you, and I'm not sure if I can trust you and I'm suspicious of you. And so I project a self out there that I. Think is. One that you might accept or that that protects me from you. And right away you start. You start to see Adam and Eve. Blaming each other, blaming the serpent, you know, even blaming God a little bit. The woman that you gave me, you know, she made me do it. You made me do it because you gave her to me. You see the emergence of a false of a kind of a false self there. But that was not God's original intention. And that's not what you see in the first two chapters of Genesis, is it? And of course, no testament wise effusions for talks about putting off the old self and putting on the new self. You know, in a sense it's recovering that that true self that you were meant to be. Now, I don't know if I'm answering your question here at all, but it's not a dualism in the sense that you weren't created. Do you see this this vision here is that you were created partially good and partially evil. These two errors. I think we've kind of laid out here that Neal are really guards against, and they're both significant because they have practical implications, you know? It's interesting. Another part of the Old Testament polemic against the dualism, I formed The Light and Create Darkness.

[00:13:09] In the ancient near East, the darkness was understood to be, you know, a part of the evil, the chaos, the. That's not saying that God created evil. God doesn't create evil. He creates the capacity for it, and in that he creates us with free will for them. Just to say. Just to think of darkness was to think of. Something that was evil. You know, I am the Lord. There is no other. He's saying, I'm the Lord of everything. You know, So I'm not out there wrestling with this core eternal evil principle in the world that I have to contend with. And even Satan. Satan is understood in the Christian tradition as a fallen angel. Satan was created. The highest of the angels in the Christian tradition is understood as was created essentially good. But radically fallen. Right? So we have this understanding of human nature and we have to walk a line there between the doctrine of what we say about humans by creation and then what we say about them after the fall. And you don't want to fall off of either extreme because the extreme I think you're contending against is where you just don't take evil seriously enough. On the other hand, we don't want to make people so bad. But we deny that the image of God is still there. Well, here's Tom Oden, sort of some summarizing this on page 126. The created order was made out of nothing without preexisting materials. This counteracts the pantheistic implication that matter is eternal. It also rejects the dualistic implication of another kind of equally eternal power standing contrary to God. It guards against this, but it also has profound consequences of this, this notion of creation. X Neal, or just let me mention a couple of this.

[00:15:13] A great gulf of difference exists between God and all created beings. Including angels. Sometimes people will well will kind of draw. You kind of have this sort of hierarchy of being, you know, here's God up here, and then here are angels maybe, and then here is their here is humanity. And here is animals. And then plants and, you know, kind of just, let's just say inert matter. In some ways it's okay to do that. But actually that's it's really wrong to put God. In the same category. With any of these things, isn't it? You know, you're kind of going from top to bottom, from greatest to least. But actually the problem with this is it's two dimensional. It seemed like to get this right. What you need to do is. To kind of see if you could see three dimensional. Put God out here. So he's above all these things. Now, there may be a there might be a hierarchy of being within created order. But to put God up here tends to imply that he's in the same category. He's not. God is should be out here. A.W. Tozer says God is as high above an archangel as above a caterpillar. Now see, in this picture, you tend to think of, well, the the angels are closer to God. Then let's put the caterpillars down here. But. No, no. God is out here. You might say it. Let's try to be three dimensional. Then you see God being really is as high above an angel as He is above a caterpillar. There's this line drawn. And creation X Neil, you know draws this line really, really clearly for us. Soren Kierkegaard, one of the Danish philosopher and theologians, says there's an infinite qualitative difference between God and creation.

[00:17:41] We human beings want to bring God down to our level, don't we? We want to make God in our own image. And we do it. This is guarding helping us to guard against that. And LeBron says something similar when he says the borderline, which separates the nature of God from all other forms of existence, is not only a frontier line, it is a closed frontier. This has implications. It also says that every. Basically means that everything depends on God for its existence. Everything depends on God. Well, say perhaps a little bit more about this later on. The Scripture says that Jesus is opposed to the universe by the word of his power. By his breath. We are sustained. So if God stopped breathing right now, we would cease to be. We are sustained, aren't we? And lastly, knowledge of God depends upon God taking the initiative to reveal himself to us. There's no way unless God's. Crosses that and comes to us that we're going to know. Who God is. And this is why Christianity claims to be a revealed religion. And one of the reasons we make claims to being the only way. It's because we were not just another religion where human beings have kind of tried to figure out who God is. We believe that God has spoken and he showed himself to us. But unless God takes the initiative to reveal himself to us, we're in big trouble. So all these things kind of flow out of creation. Next. Hello. Just one other thing. Actually. Hello? Underscores God's freedom and creation. Was God under. An internal or external compulsion to create. Did God create? In order to fill up some something that was lacking in himself. Was God. Lonely. So he made himself.

[00:20:05] A man. No. God is not under any internal, external compulsion to create revelation says by thy will. They were created. So God was not incomplete without the world. In the sense that he had to have a world to be complete. God exists and the Fellowship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a plenitude of love. And so why does God create well X ixnay hello basically underscores the fact that that the act of creation is actually an act of of sheer generosity. It's something that he does freely. It's an act of grace and freedom. In other words, God wanted to do it. He didn't have to do it. So God creates X and hello. That's the in a sense, the first affirmation that we want to focus on. The second is that God creates through Christ. It's interesting. We don't find this out until we get to the New Testament. But the New Testament writers make it clear all things were made through him. The word. The second person of the Trinity, and without him was not anything made that was made says. The Prolog to the Gospel of John Colossians 116 four and hymn. All things were created in Christ. All things were created. Hebrews one two. You know, in former times, God spoke through the prophets. In these last days, He has spoken through a son. Through whom also God created the world. So if God the father is the ultimate author of creation, you might say that the son is the agent of creation who creates through the son. Creation then. Has its foundation and the relationship of the father and the son. What we're saying here is that in this father son relationship. Creation has its foundation here. Listen to what Carl barks, how he puts it.

[00:22:32] Creation is the temporal analog taking place outside of God of that event, in God Himself, by which God is the father of the Son. It is a reflection, a shadowing forth of this inner divine relationship between God, the Father and God the Son. Somehow. What BART is saying there is that creation is a reflection of this relationship between father and son. You got to think to yourself, Bart, what does this have to do with anything, really? You know. But this is important. What we're doing here is we're stressing the Christo centric nature of creation. The Christo centric nature of creation. We as Christians read Genesis one in the light of John one. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis one one John says, In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. All things were made through him. Okay. That we read Genesis one in the light of John one. Why is it important to do that? Because what this does is it underscores for us. The bottom line. What is the final cause? Okay, We said God didn't have to do it. He creates freely ex nihilo underscores the fact that he's not under compulsion to do it. So why does he do it? Why does he create? Emil Brunner says the love of God. Is the final cause, the cause of finality of the creation. In Jesus Christ, this ideal reason for the creation is revealed. What we're saying here then is that creation. Ultimately, why does God create? Because he's love. It flows out of out of the love relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. By saying that he creates through Christ, it gets us at that relationship in God.

[00:24:57] That means that God is love. Here's what Juergen Maltman says and how he puts it. Creation is a part of the eternal love affair. Between the father and the son. It springs from the father's love for the son and is redeemed by the answering love of the son. For the father. Oden similarly puts it like this the primary purpose of creation. Is the God wishes to bestow love and teach love. So that creatures can share in the blessedness of divine life, of loving and being loved. No other purpose of creation transcends this one. Well, okay, so God creates out of love. But you say, I don't understand. What is the relationship between creating and love? Why is there some connection here? We said this the other day. I guess it was yesterday. It's the nature of love to go out of itself, right? Isn't it the nature of love to go out of itself, to be other centered rather than self-centered? Dionysius. Back in about the fifth century, early Middle Ages put it like this Love does not permit the lover to rest in himself. It draws him out of himself so that he may be entirely in the beloved. Thomas Merton puts it like this Infinite sharing is the law of God's inner life. Earlier this morning, we were talking about this missional impulse, the sending impulse. It's the nature of love. To go out of itself. The ultimate reason. The reason for creation is the love of God. It flows out of God's love. God seeks to go out of himself. You know, it's kind of interesting. A number of years ago, I was talking to one of our graduates who was actually pastoring a church, I think, up in northeast Ohio, or he was on staff of a pretty large church up there.

[00:27:17] And I was saying to him, What's your job description? What are you doing there? You're on staff. This was probably 20 years ago. He said, Well, one of the things they want me to do is to to to create ministries for the the dinks in the congregation. You know what a is. Do you think? Dual income. No kids. This was a word, actually, that sort of arose a few actually a few years back, basically to just to describe mostly baby boomers who some of them started out kind of as hippies, you know. They sort of bought into the American dream and started acquiring material things and the two incomes that were needed to have their house or houses and their BMW and their five cars or just whatever, you know, in other words. So folks were saying, we're not going to have children because we can't keep this kind of lifestyle that we have. And so we will you know, we will trade that out for we're not going to have kids. So this this was this weird dual income, no kids. There's also a movement. More recently. This is a cover story of Christianity Today. This is about four years old, I think, or so, in August of 2006. I don't know if you see it, if you can see the cover, but it's the case for kids. In this particular article, the author writes about the childfree movement. Have any of you come across the Childfree movement? Both movements are on the rise. Another movement called the One Child Only Movement. Basically some of this has emerged out of the attempt of some women to not get burdened down by childbearing. And, you know, let me quote here from the childfree movement. The emergence of childlessness means that women are seizing the opportunity to be fully realized, self-determined individuals.

[00:29:31] One of its greatest benefits is, quote, the spiritual growth that takes place thanks to the availability of unfettered time. Quote, smart, ambitious, fully realized 21st century woman chooses career. The ambition list. Woman has children. Let me say this. I think there's a lot of reasons why married couples choose not to have children. You know, I have seminar students who are waiting to have kids until they get out of school and, you know, they get out of some debt and they get incomes. And, you know, there's times when you need to wait and other times maybe the quiver is full and you choose to say, well, you know what? We have enough children, you know, and you make a decision not to have more children. Other people can't have kids that would like to because of infertility issues and other kinds of problems. And, you know, and I've dealt with people, students who have who have struggled with infertility as well as miscarriage carriages and all those kinds of things. So I don't want to make a blanket statement about. Having kids or not having kids. But, you know, I think there's something wrong with. Dual income. No kids. I think there's there's something about this childfree movement that bothers me. What I'm simply saying is it is the nature of love to go out of itself. And so I think that somehow, ultimately that desire to procreate that's even in us is something about that, that when two people come together and they love one another, there's something about wanting to even go beyond this love that we have for one another in expressing it to another, and that somehow that completes that love. What do you think? Am I out in left field on this? Colin Gunton says for there to be love, it must be directed towards another.

[00:31:39] But the love of two for each other is inadequate, likely on its own, simply to be swallowed up in itself. Like we might say, the love of Ron Ski and Anna Karenina and Tolstoy's novel. If it's truly to be love, the two will seek a third in order to be able to share their love. It was interesting. A number of years ago, a book came out by Sheldon Varner called A Severe Mercy, probably 20 years or so ago. He and his wife. Davey was her name went over to England. He became an English an English professor who taught, I believe, at the University of Virginia. But he had studied under C.S. Lewis because, you know, C.S. Lewis was. A professor of medieval English English literature. So he was over there studying in England with Louis. He was a Christian. They were Christians of a sort at the time. But he said to Dr. Lewis one day, You know, my wife and I have decided that we don't want to have children because we just want to focus our love on each other. We don't want anything to get in the way of just. You know, sort of being able to just gaze at each other and focus on our on each other in our love relationship. And Lewis said to him, the love that you are describing, there is not a Christian love. That's a pagan love. And I think in saying that to him. Actually, this is the story. She kind of has a tragic side to it that she eventually died of cancer. They never were able to have children. It's all about that. It's a fascinating book. I commend it to you. I think there's something about a Christian love here that's rooted in our doctrine of creation, that God goes out of himself to create the world.

[00:33:39] And that's because of his, because he is love. And so love seeks to go out. Looking back to our most immediate experience when I'm seeing the word must. Implies is an action. It has to be. Uh huh. Right. Can't be forced to do anything. Right. God is not forced in the sense that actually hello says he creates freely. Right. And yet there's a sense in which this may be a little confusing when we say God creates because he's love. There's a sense in which there's a kind of a necessity about that. He must, right? Because love must. But in God. Necessity and freedom. Ah one. You see what I mean? In other words, it's the nature of love to do it. So you can say, well, he doesn't have any other choice than he must do it, although it's, it's just being who he is. So he kind of says, well, he doesn't have any other choice, but he does it freely. That's the height. The greatest freedom is when you no longer have to choose. The person who has to choose to be patient. With his spouse. Every day. It's not at the level of the person who just is patients. And so doesn't have to even choose to do it because they just are. You see what I'm saying? So the must. In relationship to God is kind of like that. God creates. Out of nothing. Secondly, God creates through Christ. Thirdly. God creates through self limitation. God creates through self limitation. I suspect this is something you may not have thought of or reflected on much before. But here's the question. And we we kind of thought about this a little bit earlier in the class. How could God, who is infinite and omnipotent and omnipresent, create a world outside himself without ceasing to be infinite and omnipotent and omnipresent? What we're simply saying here is the answer is that God must have made room for a finitude in himself.

[00:36:10] He must have chosen to restrict his power and withdraw his presence. What we're saying is he makes room for us. He gives us space to be. I quoted, I think. This passage from Diogenes Allen. Before that, when God creates, it means something. He He allows something to exist, which is not himself. This involves an act of profound renunciation. He pulls himself back, so to speak, in order to give his creation room to exist for its own sake. And this underscores. God's self giving and self humiliation in creation. He's not all there is now. There are other wills. Now, how free are we? I mean, if God held his breath. We would cease to be. But he does keep breathing and he he gives you the chance to shake your fist in his face if you want to. He's making room for that, isn't he? He's making room for that. We had Terrance Freight home on our cap on our campus actually just a few months ago, and he's an Old Testament scholar. He says in one of his books, God does not create with strings attached. God does not keep the creatures on a leash. God lets them be creatures that are genuinely other than God. He was talking about this to us in March when he was on campus, and he made the statement that God in creating, chooses to share power in relationship. What does he say to Adam? Oh, I want you to name all the animals. And then he says, What's the creation mandate? Take dominion. And he lets them do it, doesn't he? Now we can sure screw it up. And we have. But he isn't this amazing that God just sort of. It's okay with that. He doesn't have to have all the power.

[00:38:36] He's willing to let Adam name the animals. And let Adam be his vice regent, you might say, in charge of Earth, Planet Earth. I want you to. Take dominion. Be fruitful and multiply. This is power in relationship, isn't it? And he even says, you know, Adam, it's not good for you to be alone. The only not good in the first two chapters of Genesis, everything is God saw what he had made. And behold, it was very good. The only title, the only not good, is when. When it's not good for you to be alone. That's God's idea, too, isn't it? That he wants us to be in relationship with others? My point here is that. That's taken a huge risk here, don't you think? Of getting hurt. Of setting himself up to get hurt. Big time. Sharing power and relationship, you know. We parents do that with children, don't we? Sometimes even in congregations, it's like pastors stand in the way of the Ministry of the lady because we want it done our way or no way. God. Somehow I say man must be a pretty secure guy, huh? He shares power in relationship. This is a self humiliating love. It's a humble love. And Maltman says, even in order to create heaven and earth, God emptied himself of his all punishing omnipotence. And as creator took upon himself the form of a servant. C.S. Lewis. Puts it like this God who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that he may love and perfect them. But he creates the universe already foreseeing the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross. God setting himself up to get hurt here, isn't he? And you say, does it did he have to do it? Well, no, but yes, he did, because he's love and love.

[00:40:57] Does that. Love does that. So Creation is a song. Yes, we think of Cat Stevens song Mourning has broken like the first morning, you know, the song of creation. But you know what? For God, it must have been a sigh as well as a song. Because in creating he. Makes room. And and he takes risks. And I think he knows where this is going to go. It's going to mean Calvary's cross, isn't it? And of course, Christians have pondered and thought deeply about the whole problem of evil in relation to this. And Augustine says, But God takes this risk because he knows he can bring great he can bring good out of evil, and he knows he can bring a greater good out of all this somehow. And God doesn't seem to be afraid to let suffering happen because he can redeem it. You know, we want to avoid it. We'd say avoid it, fix it. But the Christian answer is not to avoid it. But actually, somebody said not to seek a supernatural remedy for suffering. So, you know, you don't have the problem anymore at all. But to seek a supernatural use for it. And this has profound implications for us and suffering in our own lives. And the American message is a void suffering and pursue happiness. But I think the Christian message is embrace suffering. And seek its redemption. Well, this point that we're making about how creation, in a sense, involves God making room for us and taking risk and putting himself at a place where suffering underscores, I think, one thing the relationship between creativity and suffering. Just ask a pregnant woman. You know. Somebody suffered to get you and me into this world. Right. Somebody hurt. There is a relationship that to create things usually involves some kind of a stuff of suffering.

[00:43:21] I remember reading an interview with this guy, Gardner Taylor, who's a famous African-American preacher from Brooklyn, New York. He's retired now. Powerful preacher. Somebody asked him about sermon preparation. And he is he he called, he said, sermon preparation, a sweet torture. Maybe, Alan, You could say that about writing an article. It's hard work. It's there's suffering. There's you know, something is taken out of you, as it were. And yet there's a sweetness about that, too. You know, there's that price to be paid, isn't there? You know, there's that there's this relationship, I think, in between creativity and suffering. And I remember actually, you all know who that guy is on the left side there. That's Leonard Ravenhill. He was a man who was a a great prayer warrior. Back in the mid part of the 20th century. He came over here from England, but he spent his life hanging around different renewal movements. And you know where where he was. The last time I heard him, he was probably around 90. He was at the Anaheim Vineyard. The first time I went to the Anaheim Vineyard thinking that Jon Weber might be preaching. I was out there for a vineyard conference that was starting the next day, and this was Sunday night. So I went to the conference to, you know, the vineyard, the vineyard in Anaheim. And this was before they were in their current building. They were still in a kind of a warehouse sitting out there, you know. And so I walked in with about 2500 people on a Sunday night. And and they mentioned that. Leonard Raven Hill is going to preach. And he had been hanging out with Windber for a while because he sensed that this was a place where God was working, you know.

[00:45:19] He had been earlier than that. Earlier, he had hung out with Keith Green. In Texas. But he was a great prayer warrior and it was amazing to hear him preach that night. He forget scriptures and he had somebody I think Jack Dyer was sitting on the platform and he'd say, Now, Jack, what? Where's that passage? And Jack would remind him, But I'll tell you what, when he after he preached the power of God fell on that place, it was amazing. But he says this about revival. But when it comes to the price of revival, he says there are no sale days. The price is always the same. Travail. The things get created when folks are willing to lay their lives down and suffer. That's Dennis Kinlaw. He's one of my spiritual mentors, someone who was president of Ashbury College when I was a student there years ago. And, uh, and I heard him say one time he was saying that no one has changed until someone suffers, until someone hurts. Think about your own life. I suspect before you became a believer, somebody. Started caring about you, wanting you to become a believer. Somebody prayed. Somebody suffered. Dr. Kinlaw says that he believes that there is a kind of a media to Israel principle. And salvation and redemption that we need a mediator, someone who stands in the gap. You know, Jesus, of course, is is the main is our main chief mediator. But we're called upon, aren't we, to be mediators? To stand in the gap for others. That's just God's way of doing things that someone else. And so he says, No one, nobody has changed until somebody suffers. Until somebody hurts. Oh. This link between creativity and suffering and then the link between love and suffering.

[00:47:38] C.S. Lewis again has this great statement in the four loves that he says that to love at all is to be vulnerable, love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrong and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Even a dog or a cat can break your heart right when they die or something happens to them. So he says wrap it carefully around. With hobbies and little luxuries avoid all entanglements. Lock your heart up safe in the casket or coffin of your own selfishness. He says, but in that casket. Safe, dark, motionless, airless. It will change. It will not be broken. It will become unbreakable. Impenetrable. Irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is hell. Don't have children, right? Because if you do, they'll grow up and break your heart. But how can we not love? Does you know this connection between love and suffering and. Creativity and suffering. Well, one more point here and. God creates that His glory may increase. What happens when his creatures, when when human beings actually do what we were supposed to do? That is to say when we receive his love. And when we rise up and be the persons that we were supposed to do to be, then you might say. Creation acts like a kind of a a prism, not a prison. You know what a prism does to light breaking out all of the colors of the light and the glory and the beauty increases, doesn't it? And Calvin has this great statement that creation is supposed to serve as a theater of God's glory.

[00:50:05] You know. This is why he creates that the whole world might act as a theater of his glory. Irenaeus. Well, the early church fathers says the glory of God is a human being, fully alive. The image of God in us when we are being what we were created to be. Wow. That gives glory to God and God's glory increases. Odin says God is glorified in an extraordinary way by the creation of intelligent beings capable of praising and thereby of reflecting God's own glory in temporal, historical, physical and moral acts. That does not tarnish God's goodness but enhances and enlarges it. God then wants to be recognized by his creation. He wants his love to be received by his creatures. And one day, of course, one day, of course, this is going to happen in a full and final way. The prophets look forward to that day when the earth will be filled. With a knowledge of the glory of the Lord. Just like that, the waters cover the sea. Yeah, It's going to happen, isn't it? The whole Earth is full of his glory. Isaiah says that's going to happen. In a full and final way. Emil Brunner says that the purpose and therefore the fundamental meaning of the creation is the kingdom of God. Think about what you see in the first couple chapters of of Genesis there in the Garden, and then what you see in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation when God himself is going to come down. And heaven and earth, Heaven and earth are some are going to that is going to almost it seems like they're going to merge or, you know, they're going to come together. Maker of heaven and earth, in a sense, points us to.

[00:52:24] New heavens, a new earth. You know, the beginning of the Christian story creation actually makes us kind of anticipate that the end, the final end. And that's good news, isn't it?