Sharing the Fellowship of God
Reformed Free Publishing Association
What follows is an extract from Trinity and Covenant God As Holy Family, by David J Engelsma, pages 105-107, published by the RFPA.
The God who, as triune, seeks the other and gives himself to the other as Father and Son in the Holy Spirit, gives himself to his human family in such a way that they participate in his own divine fellowship.
The communion of the church and of each believer with God is the Holy Spirit. He who is the personal fellowship of the Father and the Son personally indwells the church and the believer as the Spirit of the exalted Christ (John 14:16, 17, 23; Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 1 Cor. 6:19). He by whom the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father, in the trinitarian perichoresis [indwelling], is in the church and in each believer. In this indwelling Spirit, God himself is in the church and in each believer, and the church and believer are in God. In this way, church and believer are one with God. They are not one with God essentially, as the Father and the Son are one. They are not one with God personally, as though the personal distinction between God and the believer is obliterated, or even blurred. But they are one with God spiritually, just as the Father and the Son are one in their indwelling each other (John 17:20-23). The Spirit realizes the oneness of love, of knowledge, and of devotion, that is, fellowship.
The Holy Spirit realizes the oneness of church and believer with God only as he unites them with Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. For it is Jesus Christ, the eternal Son in human nature, who is the fellowship of the triune God with humanity.
Jesus Christ is the see the vestigium Trinitatis. Whatever evidence there is of God’s trinitarian fellowship in creation and redemption is either preliminary to or produced by Jesus Christ. In him—his person and natures—God is the friend of man; the triune God is the friend of the man, Jesus. Jesus is Immanuel, “God with us,” that is, “God’s friendship” (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23). This friendship is the family friendship of the holy, heavenly Father with his holy, human son Jesus, the one conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
Elect believers are united with Jesus Christ, who is head of his church, by the Spirit. So intimately are they joined to Christ that he is in them and they are in him. Christ and his church are no longer two but one. Thus the people of God are taken into the family fellowship of God (1 Cor. 12:12; Eph. 1:22, 23; Eph. 3:14-19).
God’s fatherly embrace in Jesus Christ extends beyond the large family of the church to the creation itself. The creation of earth, plants, and animals, now groaning in “the bondage of corruption,” is loved by the Father, has been redeemed by the Son, and shall share in the renewal by the Holy Spirit (John 3:16; Rom. 8:19-22). God’s one purpose with the creation from the beginning was that all things be reconciled to him through the blood of the cross of Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:9-10; Col. 1:13-20).
This is the future in the day of Jesus Christ: the friendship of God with his world, and the world’s friendship with its God.
All unbelievers, God’s enemies, will be excluded. Outside the family circle, they will be banished from the presence of the Father and barred from the fellowship and festivities of the family.
The truth of the vestigium Trinitatis is practical. Those who see the vestigium mourn the strife between brothers and sisters, the schisms in the church, and their own strayings from God.
The vestigium safeguards and highly honors the institution of marriage and family. It calls the church to defend the family from the attacks upon it in our day. The earthly family is rooted in the triune being of God.
Knowledge of the vestigium by faith works a longing and striving for closer fellowship with God and with his church. This longing and striving take form in the fervent prayer for the indwelling Spirit of Christ, the Fellowship of God.
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