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Topic: Marriage

The Cascade of Trinitarian Love Fills Our Homes

April 25, 2014

Cascade_du_hérisson_jura_France2 By Mathew Sims

I have been reading Mike Reeves Delighting in the Trinity. If you have not read it yet you should immediately stop what you’re doing, purchase it, and invest some time digging into it. It is chock-full of truth about who God is. It stirs the affections and drives the heart toward Jesus Christ. All doctrine should be taught this way. These truths sink to the bottom of your heart. As I started reading through it, I started seeing this thread. This theme through out many chapters that made me ask the question, “How does the trinity transform my marriage?”

Does it matter at all? Should it? Do I lead differently because of these trinitarian truths?  I’d like to offer a biblical theology of sorts. I’d like to draw that thread taut so you can follow it all the way from eternity past and into your homes.

The trinity is a fellowship of eternal love. Paul says, “In love [the Father] predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. . . . In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:4-6, 13-14). This passage overflows with eternal, Trinitarian love. In eternity past, the Father predestines us in Christ and secures our inheritances as his children by the Spirit. “In Christ” is union and communion language. We have been blessed with all spiritual blessing because we have been included in the communion of God’s eternal, overflowing love. All of this love, goodness, and blessing in eternity past.

God did not create because he was compelled to. He did not need us. He is not dependent on us. The fellowship among the trinity was perfect. He created “in love.” John Owen calls the Father’s love of his Son, “‘the fountain and prototype of all love . . . And all life in the creation was introduced from this fountain, to give a shadow and resemblance of it’” (Delighting in the Trinity 62). When God says, “‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’ . . . So God created man [and woman] in his own image” (Gen. 1:26, 27) the image is soaked in love. He creates man first then says, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit [ezer] for him’” (2:18). But he does not create woman out of the dust of the ground like man (v. 19). He causes Adam to fall asleep and removes a rib from his side. He takes an integral part of Adam’s flesh and creates his ezer. Adam goes all poetic when he sees Eve and says,

“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called Woman,  because she was taken out of Man.” (v. 23)

God’s special creation of Eve is connected to the substance of who God is as Trinity. God was never alone or needy. He always was. He always was perfect in love as Father, Son, and Spirit. He creates Adam and sees loneliness and so he creates woman out of Adam’s own flesh. He creates fellowship, community, and love. Eve is an outworking of Trinitarian love. Adam and Eve compliment each other. Mike Reeves says,

“The Father, Son and Spirit have always been in delicious harmony, and thus they create a world where harmonies–distinct beings, persons or note working in unity–are good mirroring the very being of the triune God” (Delighting in the Trinity, 59)

Paul understands this. He sees this truth clearly telling the Corinthians, “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3). Again, Reeves names this verse “a gracious cascade, like a waterfall of love” (28). This verse has huge implications for how a husband cares, teaches, protects, and disciples his family, especially his wife. God is the head of Christ. The primary way God works as Christ’s head is by loving him (Jn. 5:20, 10:17, 15:9, 17:24). He is regularly called the Beloved (Matt. 3:17, 17:5, Mk 1:11, 9:7, Lk. 3:22, Lk. 20:13, Col. 1:13, 2 Pt. 1:17, Eph. 1:6). This is covenantal love. God’s love for his people cannot be broken. It is a love that’s abundant and everlasting. It’s an aged wine that never runs dry and always delights the soul.

That’s the love that washed the Son when he was baptized (Matt. 3:17). The Father calls out from Heaven, “This my beloved Son.” The Son calls the church his beloved (Jn. 15:9, 10, Eph. 5:25-27). He washes her (Eph. 5:26) with his blood. He loves her to the point of death to bring her life. “The body of sin” no longer has claim on us because we died with Jesus (Rom. 6:6). Jesus ensures that there can be no dispute under the law that we are his now.

The cascade continues. God is the head of Christ. Christ is the head of every man. And husbands are the head of their wives (1 Cor. 11:3, Eph. 5:22-24). The overflowing love of the trinity from eternity past has just flooded our homes. It has filled every room. Men, we are to pour out this same love we have received from Christ onto our wives. The primary way we lead our wives as their head is by loving them. Discipleship in our home boils down to love. Mike Reeves says, “Like the church, then, wives are not left to earn the love of their husbands; they can enjoy it as something lavished on them freely, unconditionally and maximally” (28). The Church is the body of Christ, just as Eve was from the body of Adam. Paul says, “Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies” (Eph. 5:28). Full circle.  Men we must look at our wives and say, “Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”

All of this may seem a bit overwhelming. There’s a weight at the bottom of the fountain–just as if you were sitting at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. However, do you recall Paul’s words in Ephesians? He repeats a certain phrase ten times (1:1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13). It’s some form of “in Christ.” We are united in Christ so we are united to the fellowship of the trinity. We are united to a love that’s been around since before time. It’s a love that laid hold of us while we were sinners (Rom. 5:8-10). It’s a love that’s ours in spades. It’s not a work we do. It’s something we’ve received and overflows out of us. We have been made alive by the Spirit to love our wives. He works in us. So learn more about God. Study the love of God in the trinity. Let that truth wash over you then wring it out over your wife. Lead her through unconditional, gracious trinitarian love.

For eternity, the Father so loves the Son that he excites the Son’s eternal love in response; Christ so loves the church that he excites our love in response; the husband so loves his wife that he excites her to love him back. Such is the spreading goodness that rolls out of the very being of this God ” (Delighting in the Trinity, 28)

Mathew Sims is a husband and father of three residing in Simpsonville, South Carolina. He attends Downtown Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Greenville, South Carolina. He is the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship. You can follow Mathew Sims on Twitter @Graceforsinners or visit his blog Grace For Sinners.

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