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Lent Course – Session 5: The Outgoing God


There's Q&A at the end that includes the excellent questions:

"Why does Paul call us sons but also slaves?",
"Is there any place for self-offering to God?",
"You dislike the "Omnibeing", do you mean to say that Jesus is not all-powerful, all knowing, etc?"





RECAP:  The Trinity is not a maths problem, it’s the good news that God is love

The Trinity is the THREE-UNITY of God – God is Three Persons United in Love


How is God Three? –  Eternally distinct Persons.


How is God One?  (Deuteronomy 6:4)

Eternally united in love.  “Perichoresis” – the round dance of the Three


Use of “one” in the Bible:  Genesis 2:24; 11:6; 34:16; Exodus 24:3; 26:6; Deuteronomy 6:4; Joshua 9:2; 10:42; 2 Samuel 2:25; 2 Chronicles 5:12; 30:12; Ezra 6:24; John 17:11,20-21

God is one the way a married couple or a united church is one.


When Trinity Goes Wrong  (Heresies)...

Arianism:  Jesus is not as God as God is God!  (JWs)

Modalism: There’s one Person wearing 3 masks (Oneness Pentecostalism)

Tritheism: There are three Gods doings their own thing.  (Mormons)

Fourth Thing: Having a “God” beneath or beyond the Persons.  (Shamrock)


Our biggest problem:

We try to reconcile the omnibeing with the Trinity.

We need to replace the omnibeing with the Trinity.


The Roles of the Persons

2 Corinthians 13:14
Isaiah 11:1-5; Is 42:1-4; Is 48:12-16; Is 61:1-3


The Father is the Loving Sender / Initiator

John 3:16, 35; 1 John 4:8-9


The Son is the Beloved and Obedient Sent-One / Executor

Psalm 40:7-8: John 5:30


The Spirit is the Personal Empowerer / Perfector / Applier

Acts 10:38; Romans 8:14-16

All things are FROM the Father, THROUGH the Son, BY THE POWER OF the Spirit.


What does it mean that the Son is “eternally begotten”?

By the Spirit and through the Son, God is eternally outgoing

Life-giving, Communicating, Shining, Loving


Richard Sibbes: “God’s goodness is a communicative, spreading goodness. . . . If God had not a communicative, spreading goodness, he would never have created the world.  The Father, Son and Holy Ghost were happy in themselves and enjoyed one another before the world was.  But that God delights to communicate and spread his goodness, there had never been a creation nor a redemption.  God useth his creatures not for defect of power, that he can do nothing without them, but for the spreading of his goodness.”


If God is eternally outgoing, what is “godliness”, “faith”, “sin”, the Christian life?

“The Christian lives far above themselves in Christ through faith and far beneath themselves in their neighbour through love.”  (Martin Luther)

“God does not need our good works, our neighbour does.”  (Martin Luther)

Philippians 2:1-18
:  An outgoing God makes for an outgoing people

CONCLUSION:  Look again to Christ.  Be filled by His Spirit.  Know the Life-Giving Father.  And overflow to the world.  This is our participation in the divine nature!


5 thoughts on “Lent Course – Session 5: The Outgoing God

  1. John B

    This is very good, and I can understand it all right up until the very last sentence, which seems like a real leap to me. "Participation in the divine nature" is a clear reference to 2 Peter 1:4, the theosis verse. Reading the verse in context, there doesn't seem to be anything here about escaping "the corruption that is in the world through" introversion! God is outgoing, and he calls his people in the church militant to be outgoing. But when Peter speaks in this way, his thoughts align with Paul's when he speaks of transformation, "into the same image from glory to glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18). "Outgoing" is a perfection of God. Eternal glory is "the divine nature"!

  2. Glen

    Hi John, there's an interesting ambiguity in 2 Cor 3:18. Is it "reflecting" (upon) the Lord's glory or "reflecting" (outwards) the Lord's glory. I think a good argument can be made for the latter:

    And I think it's significant that Christ, the eternal glory of the Father, is also eternally radiant (light and glory linked so often in Scripture - e.g. 2 Cor 4:4-6). So I'm not sure how much of a distinction I want to make between God's glory and His outgoing-ness. What distinction are you making between divine perfection and divine nature?

  3. John B

    Hi Glen,

    Your post on 2 Cor. 3:18 helps to correct the tendency toward a pietistic imbalance. "Reflecting" has to be first incoming, and then, outgoing. If it is only contemplative, it is an illuminative experience, but it isn't "as in a glass", as Paul says here.

    But, I mentioned this verse more to pick up on the idea there of transformation. The idea in Peter's phrase, "partakers of the divine nature", though stated in different terms, appears in several places in the Apostolic writings. The 2 Cor. 3:18 verse is one example. Peter spoke of the escape from corruption; Paul frames this in terms of a change to Christ-likeness.

    In the Sibbes quote that you cited, he describes "God's goodness" as "communicative" and "spreading". Essentially, he's speaking of God's attributes!

    Outgoing-ness is an attribute of God. Add it to the list with all of the "omnis"! "Attributes" seems like a rather clinical term when speaking of divinity, so I'd rather speak of God's "perfections". But even with the Sibbes quote, it's the term "goodness" that he uses to describe God's nature.

    Elsewhere in the Epistles, Paul describes "partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light"; and "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places". And Peter in his first letter writes of "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." Because of promises like these, I have very big hopes for glory, that go beyond either pietistic or missional experiences. Piety and proclamation through the mediation of Christ are indeed now a participation in the divine nature. But both experiences are transitory, while the creation groans, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God. Then there will be that perfect partaking of the divine nature, when Christ is seen face to face and known as he knows.

    In a nutshell, I want to avoid seeing salvation in either piety or proclamation. Both are means, and there is a sense in which believers are transformed by them, but they are transitory and not ultimate. While pietism may be the more frequent problem, proclamation and mission often, too, become paths to achieving personal righteousness.

    Paul writes: For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself. (Philippians 3:20, 21) This citizenship is the fulness of participation in the divine nature, even the eternal glory of Christ.

  4. Glen

    Thanks John, I see what you mean more clearly now. Yes our participation is not in piety or proclamation - well said. Our participation overflows in those experiences (just as indeed God's own life overflows).

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