Tag Archives: God

Ontological and Economic Trinities

Again, as I did yesterday, I borrow from John M. Frame’s concise introductory work to systematic theology.  Here he explains the difference subject difference between ontological and economic Trinities.

These are not two Trinities but the same Trinity viewed in different aspects.  Of course, since there is only one God, there is only one Trinity.  Ontological Trinity is the Trinity in itself, as he exists apart from the creation, as he would have existed if he had never created anything.  In the ontological Trinity there is no subordination among the persons, Father, Son and Spirit are equal; that is to say, they are equally God, equally divine.

The economic Trinity, however, is the Trinity in relation to the creation.  As we saw earlier, the three persons of the Trinity take on a sort of division of labor with regard to creation and redemption: The Father plans, the Son executes, The Spirit applies.  In this great drama the Son voluntarily becomes subordinate to the Father.  Jesus says he can do nothing of himself but what he sees the Father do (John 5:19).  In John 5:30 he says, “I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”  The Father has commanded, the Son obeys.  Similarly, the Holy Spirit, when Jesus and the Father send him into the world, “will not speak of his own authority, but whatever he hears, he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13).  See the order?  The Father sends; Jesus and the Spirit are sent.  The Father speaks of himself; the Son and the Spirit speak the words the Father has given them to speak.

The three persons are equal (ontological), but they take on different jobs (economical) in creation and redemption.

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Why We Need Grace

Are we able to pray these puritanical words today,

Lord, it is my chief design to bring my heart back to thee.  Convince me that I cannot be my own God, or make myself happy, nor my own Christ to restore my joy, nor my own Spirit to teach, guide, rule me.  Help me to see that grace does this by providential affliction, for when my credit is good thou dost cast me lower, when riches are my idol thou dost wing them away, when pleasure is my all thou dost turn it into bitterness.  Take away my roving eye, curious ear, greedy appetite, lustful heart; show me that none of these things can heal a wounded conscience, or support a tottering frame, or uphold a departing spirit.  Then take me to the cross and leave me there.

We need grace!  Grace to see our condition apart from Christ that we might even have a desire to pray this way!  Grace to pray this way!  Grace to pray this way every day!

 

Infinite Obligation

Excerpt from a prayer in The Valley of Vision:

Let me never forget that I have an eternal duty to love, honour, and obey thee [God], that thou art infinitely worthy of such; that if I fail to glorify thee I am guilty of infinite evil that merits infinite punishment, for sin is the violation of an infinite obligation.

John Frame says,

To glorify God is to reflect that light wherever we are, so that we image God more perfectly, so that people everywhere can see Jesus in us.

The Lord Jesus says,

Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.

The Apostle Paul says,

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Living for the glory of God, yes, it is that important; an infinite obligation.

Praying Encouragment

Here is a sample from the great prayer book The Valley of the Vision.

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Holy Lord,

How little repentance there is in the world, and how many sins I have to repent of!  I am troubled for my sin of passion (anger), for the shame and horror of it as an evil; I purpose to give way to it no more, and come to thee for strength to that end.  Most men give vent to anger frequently and are overcome but it, bringing many excuses and extenuations for it, as that it occurs suddenly, that they delight not in it, that they are sorry afterwards, that godly men commit it.  They thus seek peace after outbursts of passion by entire forgetfulness of it, or, by skinning over their wound, they hope for healing without peace in Christ’s blood.  Lord God, I know that my sudden anger arises when things cross me, and I desire to please only myself, not Christ; There is in all wrongs and crosses a double cross – that which crosses me, and that which crosses thee; In all good things there is somewhat that pleases me, somewhat that pleases thee; My sin is that my heart is pleased or troubled as things please or trouble me, without my having a regard to Christ; Thus, I am like Eli, the subject of punishment for not rebuking sin; whereas I should humbly confess my sin and fly to the bloom of Christ for pardon and peace.  Give me, then, repentance, true brokenness, lasting contrition, for these things thou wilt not despise in spite of my sin.

I know when I’m struggling with a lack of prayer in my life, this little prayer book often encourages my soul back before the throne of grace where it belongs!  It is there that I am reminded…

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there the risen Lamb
My perfect spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I am
The King of glory and of grace
One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God!
With Christ my Savior and my God!

One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God!
With Christ my Savior and my God!

Our Great God says in Jeremiah 33:3 and Psalm 62:8,

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.