Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
I just finished all my work for a class I took this summer from Bruce Ware. It was entitled The Universal Reign of the Triune God. Pretty weighty title right? We discussed two main aspects the Trinity and the Providence of God (I guess you could have figured that out from the title). This class was very eye opening to me about how much I do not know about God. I thought I knew a lot about God but it turns out I knew more about Christ and the Holy Spirit than my Heavenly Father. This class developed in me a more deep and loving knowledge and understanding of my Heavenly Father. In this class Bruce Ware had us read two of his books entitled, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance and God’s Greater Glory. I would highly recommend these books if only for their applicational aspects. Throughout both of the books Ware does an amazing job of revealing how aspects of the Trinity (such as authority and submission within the Trinity and God’s providence) can be applied to our lives and ministries.
One thing that Bruce Ware emphasized throughout the entire class and something I am still wrestling with (this view is also expounded upon in his first book mentioned above) is the idea of the functional relationship within the Trinity (I am still wrestling with this in in the sense that this was the first time I have ever heard about the Trinity being discussed in functional ways). Ware sees the basis of the functional relationship in the supreme authority of God the Father. He emphasizes that this distinction does not involve divinity. All members of the Trinity are fully divine but the distinction does impact the differing roles and relationships. So Ware sees God as the Supreme Authority, Jesus he gives three titles to in relationship to the Father, Eternal Son of the Father (eternity past), Incarnate Son (eternity present), and Exalted Son (eternity future). Thus, according to Ware the Son is under the headship and authority of the Father. But this authority and submission between the Father and Son is based on a love relationship. Then Ware explained his understanding of the Son’s authority over the Spirit as the Son of the Father. (This is a very quick overview of Ware’s understanding of the Trinity so if there are holes I apologize but I tried to keep it short)
One other thing that Bruce Ware began the class with was a challenge to read Scripture through Trinitarian lenses. This really impacted me in the way I read Scripture. He gave us an example taken from Ephesians 1:1-14. There is a richness to be seen and to understand to see God in a fresh way, especially through the relationships of the Trinity. He asked us a question that was very simple but also very thought provoking, “Have I noticed and been attentive to the Trinitarian Persons as I read the Bible?” This question really awoke in me how I have not really read the Bible with the awe that I should have. Instead, I was taking for granted the things the Father was doing in the Bible and the things the Father was doing through the Son and the Spirit. I would focus on the characteristics of God in general but did not notice the characteristics of the Trinity.