Friday, June 2, 2017

The essence of God's life (and therefore ours)

The below thoughts are inspired by Kyle Strobel's comments from an interview with Tony Reinke as Kyle reflects on insights from Jonathan Edwards. Direct quotes by Kyle Strobel are enclosed by " "

For the full interview click here  


Gods self-knowledge is beatific. It is not a sterile, unattached, impersonal knowing of facts or simple information about Himself, it is personal, affectionate and relational knowledge. It is a knowing that causes the one who knows to desire/long for (it is affectionate) the one beheld/known. This is all due to the beauty of God. In short, God's life consists of beatific vision i.e. beholding and enjoying that which is infinitely beautiful.  

Christ is God's perfect self understanding. An understanding so exact and complete it manifests/generates (eternally begets) a completely distinct and separate person (also with his own distinct understanding and will) as the only (eternally) begotten Son. 
The Father delights in the beauty of the Son (the Fathers exact and perfect self understanding [Logos] and perfect image of himself) 


The Son enjoys the Father's delight. 

The Spirit

God's life (Spirit/Love) springs forth from (out of) beatific vision i.e. the beholding of the infinite beauty of the Son (the perfect self understanding/Logos of the Father) and the Son's response of mutual delight/love (Spirit) of his Father flows (overflows) out (as the Spirit) to his creatures/creation (particularly his image bearers [us] who are most able to participate in and enjoy this mutual delight in the beauty of God). 

The Father generates (eternally i.e. without beginning) the only begotten Son. The Son and Father gazing upon one another in love generates (eternally) the Spirit as love.

Perfect and infinite knowledge of the beauty of God produces perfect and infinite love/affections as (in the form of) the Spirit.

God's life is religious affection (inward; generated from within between the Father and the Son) and pure act (outward; flowing out to others).

The Son is the perfect (exact) image of God and the Spirit is the illumination of that image.

God's life consists of (is) 

Perfect and infinite knowledge (understanding/Logos) 


Perfect and infinite love/affections (will/Spirit) 

We are like God

All knowledge of God is affectionate knowledge i.e. A kind of knowledge that always produces affections, desires, longings. It is true of God and therefore, as his image bearers, must also be true of us.

"The knowledge he has in his own life governs how we know him as well."

"Religious affection is seeing God in his true beauty and thereby knowing God and having your affections inclined towards him."

"The only way for us to know God is through God's self revealing."

"You can't have true knowledge of God without having your heart inclined towards him because all knowledge of God is affectionate."

"Because this is true in God's life it has to be true in our life."

Partakers of God's very own nature

"The sight of the Father Christ has by nature, we are given by grace."

2Pe 1:3-4  His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of *sinful desire. 

...His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness..

How? ...through the knowledge of him. i.e. God has given (it is by grace) us everything we need to participate in and experience life and godliness.

...he has granted to us his precious and very great promises... 

How? By his own glory and excellence i.e. By his infinite worth and perfect action/conduct

Why? So that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature.
Beholding God by faith is a darkened (dim...because it is not direct but indirect [i.e. by faith] and therefore not perfectly clear) version of the beatific vision. I Cor 13:12, I John 3:2

Beholding God now and in the future

We behold God now by faith (i.e. not directly, face to face) and will behold him in eternity by sight but in both instances the common denominator is beholding him i.e. being caught up and participating in the beatific vision (the eternal delight of the Father gazing upon his Son and his Sons response of joy/delight). 

In both cases (now by faith and in eternity by sight) this beholding is progression. As we see God now by faith we are changed as our faith increases. As we see God in eternity by direct sight we will also be changed as our understanding/view/experience of him in all his glory, majesty and beauty grows fuller/clearer. It grows not because we don't have direct sight but because God is infinite and seeing all that he is will never come to an end but is always increasing/expanding. 

The process of change in eternity has nothing to do with sinfulness, for Christ himself increased in faithfulness (learned obedience through the things he suffered), yet his learning also had nothing to do with being sinful but with being incarnated as a finite man i.e. as a perfect yet finite man, his relationship with (faith toward) his Father progressed/grew. Sin wasn't the reason for change, his being finite (during his incarnation) was.  He was always obedient (i.e. without sin) but he went from untested to tested obedience. 

As finite creatures, we too will constantly be growing in our relationship and understanding (and joy) of the infinite i.e. God. The reason is because there is no end to the infinite i.e. God. Therefore we will never reach the "end", "bottom" or "top" of God.

God has created us like himself with the capacity to participate in the Infinite. Our beholding him will increase by virtue of him being infinite and our being finite i.e. We will always be expanding since we will never arrive i.e. we will never be infinite in our knowing and seeing since only God is infinite (though we are eternal).


Primary beauty is God's love life i.e. The life of love that transpires between the Father and Son in and by the Spirit. 

All knowledge of God is first visual so all knowledge of God is beholding his beauty. Not a physical but a spiritual beauty and beholding. 

Why is it when we see something beautiful it "takes our breath away?" Because beholding God (the most beautiful/glorious) is an affectionate knowledge. All other beholding of beauty (or any other beauty) is a faint reflection. 

We are draw to (we move toward/take action toward) and have affections for that which is beautiful. Why?  Because we were ultimately made for God who is infinite and primary beauty, the cause of everything else which is beautiful. Everything else is secondary beauty and a glimmer/manifestation of God, who is the Creator of all things (i.e. secondary beauty) which it meant to point to him who is primary beauty. 

Spiritual vs physical beauty

Since God is not physical, per se, the beauty of God is also not physical but relational (he took on human form in Christ but he is not "human form." It is not the essence of his being (i.e. human form is not part of his essential nature). The beauty of God is not something we physically behold but something we see displayed in relationship i.e. relationally vs physically. 

Harmony is a quality of relationship that characterizes beauty within God.
What is relational beauty? It is harmony within **diversity (e.g. Christ is equally God and man. God reveals himself to us most fully as a #man. The diversity of the finite and infinite unite [harmonize] in one being, the God/Man). It is when things which are very different from each other work in harmony (driven by and due to love). Such as the love/harmony between and man and women, who are wired differently, both emotionally and physically. It is also how God exists/relates as the triune God; to himself as Father, Son and Spirit, as well as to us his image bearers. 

#He does so, because we are human and he values "humanness" i.e. humanity. When he finished creating he proclaimed over his physical creation "it is very good." 

Things you would normally consider not working together, work because of love. This is the essence of beauty and what makes something beautiful.   

Physical beauty is secondary beauty. Relational beauty is primary beauty. 
Primary beauty is God's own life. 

God is beauty, because God is love and life. All of this makes God glorious. 

The way problems are solved is by God being present. Since God is life and all problems are a manifestation of the absence of life, Gods presence is the solution. And this is because the essence of life is love/value/glory. Because we were made for love/value/glory we are most complete when we participate in these i.e. When we participate in God himself and his life...when he is most present with us and we with him.  

A thorough discussion of the ideas that inspired the above comments is discussed extensively in Kyle Strobel's book "Jonathan Edward's Theology:A Reinterpretation"
For related thoughts to the above, starting with the basic and progressing to the more technical...

click here 

here and 


For a thorough discussion by Kyle Strobel of the beatific vision click here


*How are we freed from sinful desire? By finding a superior desire that is more satisfying then the one we wish to be freed from. If you wish to lose your appetite for cold fast food (which is better then nothing if you are starving and nothing else is available), eat freshly prepared gourmet cooking...or better yet, find a gourmet cook that delights in feeding you. 

**Though God is one in essence he is distinct in persons. Each person (Father, Son and Spirit) having their own self understanding and will. Edwards roots this definition of person in the Father who characterizes the Son as the perfect self understanding of God and the Spirit as the perfect willing/affections/choosing/passion of God.

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Grace to you
Jim Deal