Through the years I’ve been grateful for the many books God has used outside of Scripture to expand and deepen my relationship with him.
In the late 70s my wife, Julie, gave me Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Studies in the Sermon on the Mount for my birthday. As I read through it, my eyes were opened to the necessity of humility in the Christian life and the profound effect of expository preaching.
In the mid-90s I read Desiring God by John Piper for the first time. It rocked my world. In fact, as a recovering legalist, the book didn’t make sense to me. I thought that my actions only pleased God as they were displeasing to me. I couldn’t believe that what satisfied me best and glorified God most could be the same thing. It was only as I read Desiring God through a second time that I began to understand Christ died on the cross not only to endure God’s wrath in my place but to give me endless joy in him. What a delightful discovery!
There have been many other books that have helped shape and inform my relationship with God. But recently I was surprised at the effect a very short book (135 pages!) could have on me. As you could guess from this post’s title, that book was Delighting in the Trinity by my friend, Mike Reeves.
I “happened” to meet Mike at the New Word Alive conference in Wales in 2011. Within a few minutes I was affected by his love for the Savior, the gospel, the church, and the people around him. His joy was contagious, his conversation engaging, and his enthusiasm relentless. When his book Delighting in the Trinity came out in 2012, I downloaded a copy and expected it to be encouraging. It was much more than that. It affected the way I think about and relate to God.
I’ve been a Christian for 42 years and am always growing in my understanding of and love for the God I worship. What Mike’s book helped me see is why the Triune God, i.e., the true God, is so superior to any other conception of God we might have. For many Christians, and I would include myself among them, God being Triune can at different times seem irrelevant, confusing, intimidating, boring, theologically stimulating, or unnecessary. One word that rarely comes to mind is “delightful.” And yet, it should be obvious that the better we understand how God has revealed himself to us, the more amazed, in awe, undone, and delighted we will be.
Here are a few quotes that helped me understand better why God as he truly is can’t be improved upon:
If the Trinity were something we could shave off God, we would not be relieving him of some irksome weight; we would be shearing him of precisely what is so delightful about him. For God is triune, and it is as triune that he is so good and desirable.
Pressing into the Trinity we are doing what in Psalm 27 David said he could do all the days of his life: we are gazing upon the beauty of the Lord.
Neither a problem nor a technicality, the triune being of God is the vital oxygen of Christian life and joy.
Jesus tells us explicitly in John 17:24. “Father,” he says, “you loved me before the creation of the world.” And that is the God revealed by Jesus Christ. Before he ever created, before he ever ruled the world, before anything else, this God was a Father loving his Son.
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.
The triune God is an ecstatic God: he is not a God who hoards his life, but one who gives it away, as he would show in that supreme moment of his self-revelation on the cross. The Father finds his very identity in giving his life and being to the Son; and the Son images his Father in sharing his life with us through the Spirit.
Ultimately, the Father sent the Son because the Father so loved the Son—and wanted to share that love and fellowship. His love for the world is the overflow of his almighty love for his Son.
As a result of reading Delighting in the Trinity I’ve been finding that my experience of God’s love for me is deeper, my prayers are richer, and my desires to see God’s purposes for my life unfold are stronger. All because I’m more aware that the Father, Son, and Spirit are involved in and behind everything I do.
The Trinity may not seem like the most immediately relevant topic for those who plan and lead corporate worship in the church. But nothing could be more important. We can’t lead people to worship a God we don’t know that well. That’s why I chose WorshipGod: TRIUNE as the theme of this year’s WorshipGod conference in Louisville, KY. Although Mike won’t be with us for the conference, his influence will surely be felt. And I’m pretty excited about the speaker line up we have that includes C.J. Mahaney, Ray Ortlund, Jr., H.B. Charles, Jr., Jeff Purswell, Bruce Ware, and Don Whitney. And if you happen to live in or near the UK, Mike will be a part of WorshipGod UK: Gathering Around the Gospel, taking place 7-9 May in Bath.
Whether or not you can make it to a WorshipGod conference, I pray you’ll continue to grow in your appreciation for the fact that God has revealed himself to us as Father, Son, and Spirit not to confuse us, but to engage our minds and hearts with his unending beauty and glory.