How God is Simple, and Why That is Good News (Divine Simplicity and the Cross)

So I had this thought while I was taking a walk yesterday. I had been thinking about the term “holy love” which is occasionally used in theology. This brought me to the doctrine of divine simplicity. A few of you here probably already know that that means, but for those of you who don’t, divine simplicity takes “God is one” down to a very deep level. According to divine simplicity, God is not separately love, and holiness, and justice, and kindness. Instead, all of these so-called attributes are in fact analogies of a single reality, so that God simply is who He is. God has no parts, so to speak, but all His attributes are unified. He is not complex like a machine, but simple like a single ray of light.

With this in mind, I was thinking of how what we see as God’s attributes all appear to move in different directions. But, I thought, all lines which are not parallel intersect at some point. Sooner or later any two lines at different angles will converge. In application to God’s simplicity, I thought that if we had the capacity to trace all of God’s dealing with people back, all the apparent attributes would intersect at a single point.

Of course, when I realized there could be a single point at which every apparent attribute of God converged and became one, I quickly saw two implications:

  1. If these lines all connect in any single historical point, that point would have to be the Cross. There every different line we can trace out of God’s differing ways all seem to come together in one event. Justice, mercy, sovereignty, human accountability, love, wrath, grace, and condemnation all became one actual event at Calvary.
  2. Yet if divine simplicity is actually right about God, and all of His attributes are only one real thing in this way, then where these lines converge would also have to be where you find who God truly is. Where all these apparent attributes meet as one is where you find God as the I AM.

So confronted with these two implications, I saw the beautiful truth, not a new truth which I had never known, but one which came from the beginning: God is seen for who He really is at the Cross. When Jesus suffered and died, all the lines of all God’s apparent attributes converge and shine as the one glorious reality of the I AM. If we want to know who and what God really is, the Cross is the historical moment where He shows us. To Moses on Sinai’s mountain God revealed merely His back, but to us all on Calvary’s mountain God revealed all that He is.

Isn’t this wonderful to know? The Cross is where we see God for who God is, and of course that means Jesus Himself is the One in whom we see God for who God is! All this seems to me very exciting, and I hope it will also lead you to devotion. Amen.

How God is Simple, and Why That is Good News (Divine Simplicity and the Cross)

Happy Resurrection Day! (Or, Why Easter Rocks)

Happy Easter, everyone! Today is that marvelous day when we all sing of one reality: He is risen! The Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, rose from the dead on this day around 2000 years ago. As it is written, “God raised Him from the dead.”

Today, I do not feel the need to correct any errors, at least directly, because the Resurrection is a reality of what is right and good. Easter is for happy celebration, so correction feels out of place. I do, however, want to simply highlight some of the great truths about the Resurrection, so that we can rejoice in and meditate on them for this Easter day. Without further ado, let’s remember what the Resurrection means for us:

The Resurrection means that our physical bodies will be resurrected. If anything is clear from Jesus rising, we can know that His rising is the cause and the guarantee of ours (John 14:19, Rom. 6:5, 8, 1 Cor. 15:20-23, 2 Cor. 4:14). Our salvation can never be complete without our bodily resurrection, because God made us to have bodies, and in fact if we don’t physically rise from the dead through Christ then we are still lost in our sins (cf. 1 Cor. 15)! But praise be to God that He has raised our Lord from the dead, so that all us of who die in Him will be resurrected just like He was (Rom. 6:8). And when we are resurrected, we will receive the eternal life of knowing God, and His Son whom He has sent (John 17:3, 1 John 5:20).

The Resurrection means that we are forever united to God in intimate fellowship through Jesus. Jesus was and is the God-man, the one person who holds together in Himself both divine (Col. 2:9) and human nature (1 Jn. 4:2). He is completely God and completely human united together in His very being. So because He carried that closeness through His entire human life and death, in the end to come out victorious risen, God and humanity are forever reconciled! Jesus Himself is the one Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), the person with one foot in God’s life (John 1:1) and the other in our human life (Heb. 2). By the power of an unending life (Heb. 7:6) He forever keeps us in the Father’s presence. For we are in Christ (Rom. 8:1, 12:5, 1 Cor. 1:30) the Son, and the Son is in the Father (John 17:21), and the Father is in the Son (John 17:23).

The Resurrection means we are justified, brought into a right standing before God. The Bible tells us that Jesus was raised for our justification (Rom. 4:25). Even though we were sinners before God, condemned in His sight, Jesus took on our sin (2 Cor. 5:21), died, and then rose. This was the final act needed to make us right in God’s sight, for by coming back from the dead Jesus gave us a new life not under law and its condemning powers. For whoever has died is free from the law (Rom. 7:1, 4), and in coming back to life Jesus brought us a new life apart from the law (7:6). This means there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). By raising Jesus from the dead, the Father stamped His approval on Christ’s entire life and work of salvation (Acts 5:3-32, 17:31), meaning we are certainly now righteous in His sight.

The Resurrection means that all creation will be redeemed and made new. Jesus did not rise just to give us new life, but in fact He did this to restore the whole universe! As we see in Romans 8:19-23, creation itself is eagerly waiting for the Spirit to restore the world to glorious freedom (and at this point Paul’s already established the connection between the Spirit’s regenerating work and Christ’s resurrection). Jesus reconciles all things in heaven and earth to God (Col. 1:20), even the broken creation, which will be put through the fire (2 Pet. 3:10-13) to become a new creation (Rev. 21:1). All this is accomplished by the Resurrection of the Son of God.

How can I even conclude reflecting on such a wonderful truth? I’ll let Paul do it for me. Since Jesus rose from the dead:

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Romans 8:31-39

Happy Resurrection Day! (Or, Why Easter Rocks)