Posted by: Grover Gunn | August 3, 2007

The Trinity, Truth and Love

A challenge of the Christian life is to live simultaneously in terms of truth and love. This is a challenge because truth and love appear to contradict each other and to work against each other. Truth divides and love unites. Truth values principles and love values relationships. Truth draws lines and love erases lines. Yet the reality is that truth and love are equally ultimate and equally important because they are equally rooted in the very nature of God.

Truth is rooted in the sovereign oneness of God. If there were many gods with limited, competing sovereignties, then there would be many competing versions of truth and many competing definitions of the moral and the good and the logical and the beautiful. We would be living in a pluralistic, relativistic world. There is, however, only one God, and He is sovereign over all. Therefore God’s thoughts are true truth, God’s reasonings are true logic, God’s values are true justice, God’s kindnesses are true goodness, God’s tastes are true beauty. Qualities such as these are not impersonal abstractions with an independent existence more basic than God’s. They are personal expressions of the very nature of God. As such, they function as absolute definitions and ultimate standards to which all are accountable.

Love is rooted in the personal threeness of God. Within the oneness of God’s being, there are personal distinctions between the Father, the Son and the Spirit. Because they are personally distinct, they can have genuine personal relationships with each other. The Father loves the Son and the Spirit, the Son loves the Father and the Spirit, and the Spirit loves the Father and the Son. Love, especially love for one’s peers, is thus an essential attribute of God. A solitary deity would be either an impersonal sovereign deity with no need for fellowship or a limited personal deity dependent upon his creatures for fellowship. The living and true God is one but not solitary and sovereign but not impersonal. Therefore we can say with the Apostle John, “God is love” (1 John 4:8,16).

Truth and love are rooted in the very nature of God. The clearest revelation of the divine nature is Jesus Christ. The closest possible union between the divine and the human is the incarnation of Jesus. Thus Jesus simultaneously lived out the truth rooted in the oneness of God and the love rooted in the threeness of God.

In salvation, we are progressively conformed to the image of Christ and thus progressively enabled to live in terms of truth and love. As we are sanctified, we come to realize that truth and love complement each other rather than contradict each other. They work together rather than against each other. Loving truth is the only true truth, and truthful love is the only loving love. We are to speak the truth in love, and we are to love with a love that is grounded in truth and not in fantasy.

Love without truth is a sentimentality more concerned with good feelings than with the true welfare of others. There is nothing loving about accepting another’s errors as if they were true and tolerating another’s immoralities as if they were right. There is nothing loving about actions toward others which contradict God’s truth and thus are merely invitations to sin. Doing unto others as I would have them do unto me makes sense only in a world where what is truth for me is also truth for all others.

Truth without love is an intellectualism which does not understand the nature and demands of truth. The moment we treat truth as merely a detached specimen to examine and analyze, we have missed it. Truth is from God and thus involves a personal element. Apart from a love relationship with God, we cannot truly know ourselves or the world in which we live. God, who is not only true but truth, demands our love and has created a world where relationships are more important than things.

Only in Christ can we know and live both truth and love.

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