Updated: May 31
I have heard people say, "The Bible is a love letter God has written to you", and this is true to an extent, but we shouldn't get so caught up on this idea that we start to think we are the star in a Hollywood romance. To regain some perspective, let's zoom out and consider how the Bible portrays the Gospel at the ultimate level as a love story starting with God.
God the Father loves the Son and bequeaths a people to the Son
In John 3:35, we read, "The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand." In John 6:37, Jesus says, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out." From these verses, we see that the Father gives to the Son as an expression of his love. And what he gives is explicitly referred to as "whoever", so it must be a people. And those people are elected for salvation, and they will never be cast out. From the time of Adam and Eve; Abraham and the nation of Israel; and now people of all nations tribes and tongues are becoming part of the Church universal. So the Father has been bequeathing a people to the Son. No wonder the book of Revelation includes among other illustrations of fulfilment the "wedding of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:7).
God the Son responds in love by dying to redeem the people the Father has given him
In John 14:31, Jesus says, "so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me." And what did the Father command him? In John 10:17-18, Jesus says, "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." The Son does the will of the Father by laying down his life to redeem the people the Father has given him. He does it not begrudgingly, but of his own accord as an expression of love responding to love.
God the Spirit applies redemption to all those for whom Christ died
In John 16:12-15, Jesus says, "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you." In this passage, the Spirit responds to the love between the Father and Son by glorifying the Son. The Spirit then declares the things of God to the people of God. The Holy Spirit will guide the people of God "into all truth". Elsewhere in the Bible, we see what this looks like more specifically. The Spirit will teach, remind us (John 14:26), seal us (Ephesians 1:13) and intercede for us (Romans 8:26). He also sanctifies us by producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control in us (Galatians 5:22-23), as well as filling us with hope (Romans 15:13) among many other things!
I hope you have gained some perspective on the fact that our salvation is an expression of the love God has for God. Of course, we shouldn't ignore the fact that "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. "(John 3:16). But we mustn't then become conceited and think as though God had no object for his love without us, as though we are the main love interest in this love story. John saw it clearly that first and foremost, the love story isn't between God and us. Instead, our ultimate joy comes amid this love story involving God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit. It is all grace, not that we first loved God, not that we were lovable, not that we even had the capability to love God, but that God in his Trinitarian love caught us up into a cosmic love story... to the praise of his glorious grace! Amen!
Postscript: Thanks to the Apostle John for being our tour guide. This article was inspired by the documentary American Gospel: Christ Crucified. For the free preview of this documentary which is also the section that inspired me click here. For a helpful resource about the three in one nature of the Trinity (and a funny video on “St Patrick’s Bad Analogies”) check out The Trinity: Explain It to Me Like I’m a 2-Year-Old Edition.