Bock

Cape Town Commitment, Part 1 Sections 3-5 Our Love for the Father, Son and Spirit

 

In Sections 3-5, the Commitment presents the Trinity. I have placed them together so that the relationships can be seen.

 

In Sections 3-5, the Commitment presents the Trinity. I have placed them together so that the relationships can be seen.

The Father is loved for his role as Father to His people, as the one who gave the Son, and as the one whose character we are to reflect and who cares for us. The Son is loved as the promised One, as the one to be obeyed in faithful discipleship, and as the one who is to be proclaimed. The Spirit is loved as the one whose power enables God’s people and who gifts the church. The church is to be directed by the power of the Spirit, but is to exercise care and discernment in how it makes claims about the Spirit.

 

3. We love God the Father

Through Jesus Christ, God’s Son, – and through him alone as the way, the truth and the life – we come to know and love God as Father. As the Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children, so we cry the words Jesus prayed, ‘Abba, Father’, and we pray the prayer Jesus taught, ‘Our Father’. Our love for Jesus, proved by obeying him, is met by the Father’s love for us as the Father and the Son make their home in us, in mutual giving and receiving of love.[10]This intimate relationship has deep biblical foundations.

A)    We love God as the Father of his people. Old Testament Israel knew God as Father, as the one who brought them into existence, carried them and disciplined them, called for their obedience, longed for their love, and exercised compassionate forgiveness and patient enduring love.[11]All these remain true for us as God’s people in Christ in our relationship with our Father God.

B)    We love God as the Father, who so loved the world that he gave his only Son for our salvation. How great the Father’s love for us that we should be called the children of God. How immeasurable the love of the Father who did not spare his only Son, but gave him up for us all. This love of the Father in giving the Son was mirrored by the self-giving love of the Son. There was complete harmony of will in the work of atonement that the Father and the Son accomplished at the cross, through the eternal Spirit. The Father loved the world and gave his Son; ‘the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me.’ This unity of Father and Son, affirmed by Jesus himself, is echoed in Paul’s most repeated greeting of ‘grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins…according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.’[12]

C)   We love God as the Father whose character we reflect and whose care we trust. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus repeatedly points to our heavenly Father as the model or focus for our action. We are to be peacemakers, as sons of God. We are to do good deeds, so that our Father receives the praise. We are to love our enemies in reflection of God’s Fatherly love. We are to practise our giving, praying and fasting for our Father’s eyes only. We are to forgive others as our Father forgives us. We are to have no anxiety but trust in our Father’s provision. With such behaviour flowing from Christian character, we do the will of our Father in heaven, within the kingdom of God.[13]


We confess that we have often neglected the truth of the Fatherhood of God and deprived ourselves of the riches of our relationship with him. We commit ourselves afresh to come to the Father through Jesus the Son: to receive and respond to his Fatherly love; to live in obedience under his Fatherly discipline; to reflect his Fatherly character in all our behaviour and attitudes; and to trust in his Fatherly provision in whatever circumstances he leads us.

4. We love God the Son

God commanded Israel to love the LORD God with exclusive loyalty. Likewise for us, loving the Lord Jesus Christ means that we steadfastly affirm that he alone is Saviour, Lord and God. The Bible teaches that Jesus performs the same sovereign actions as God alone. Christ is Creator of the universe, Ruler of history, Judge of all nations and Saviour of all who turn to God.[14]He shares the identity of God in the divine equality and unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Just as God called Israel to love him in covenantal faith, obedience and servant-witness, we affirm our love for Jesus Christ by trusting in him, obeying him, and making him known.

A)    We trust in Christ. We believe the testimony of the Gospels that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the one appointed and sent by God to fulfil the unique mission of Old Testament Israel, that is to bring the blessing of God’s salvation to all nations, as God promised to Abraham.

  • In Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, God took our human flesh and lived among us, fully God and fully human.
  • In his life Jesus walked in perfect faithfulness and obedience to God. He announced and taught the kingdom of God, and modelled the way his disciples must live under God’s reign.
  • In his ministry and miracles, Jesus announced and demonstrated the victory of the kingdom of God over evil and evil powers.
  • In his death on the cross, Jesus took our sin upon himself in our place, bearing its full cost, penalty and shame, defeated death and the powers of evil, and accomplished the reconciliation and redemption of all creation.
  • In his bodily resurrection, Jesus was vindicated and exalted by God, completed and demonstrated the full victory of the cross, and became the forerunner of redeemed humanity and restored creation.
  • Since his ascension, Jesus is reigning as Lord over all history and creation.
  • At his return, Jesus will execute God’s judgment, destroy Satan, evil and death, and establish the universal reign of God.

B)    We obey Christ. Jesus calls us to discipleship, to take up our cross and follow him in the path of self-denial, servanthood and obedience. ‘If you love me, keep my commandments,’ he said. ‘Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do the things I say?’ We are called to live as Christ lived and to love as Christ loved. To profess Christ while ignoring his commands is dangerous folly. Jesus warns us that many who claim his name with spectacular and miraculous ministries will find themselves disowned by him as evildoers. [15]We take heed to Christ’s warning, for none of us is immune to such fearful danger.

C)    We proclaim Christ. In Christ alone God has fully and finally revealed himself, and through Christ alone God has achieved salvation for the world. We therefore kneel as disciples at the feet of Jesus of Nazareth and say to him with Peter, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,’ and with Thomas, ‘My Lord and my God.’  Though we have not seen him, we love him. And we rejoice with hope as we long for the day of his return when we shall see him as he is. Until that day we join Peter and John in proclaiming that ‘there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.’ [16]


We commit ourselves afresh to bear witness to Jesus Christ and all his teaching, in all the world, knowing that we can bear such witness only if we are living in obedience to his teaching ourselves.

5. We love God the Holy Spirit

We love the Holy Spirit within the unity of the Trinity, along with God the Father and God the Son. He is the missionary Spirit sent by the missionary Father and the missionary Son, breathing life and power into God’s missionary Church.We love and pray for the presence of the Holy Spirit because without the witness of the Spirit to Christ, our own witness is futile. Without the convicting work of the Spirit, our preaching is in vain. Without the gifts, guidance and power of the Spirit, our mission is mere human effort. And without the fruit of the Spirit, our unattractive lives cannot reflect the beauty of the gospel.

A)    In the Old Testament we see the Spirit of God active in creation, in works of liberation and justice, and in filling and empowering people for every kind of service. Spirit-filled prophets looked forward to the coming King and Servant, whose Person and work would be endowed with God’s Spirit. Prophets also looked to the coming age that would be marked by the outpouring of God’s Spirit, bringing new life, fresh obedience, and prophetic gifting to all the people of God, young and old, men and women.[17]

B)    At Pentecost God poured out his Holy Spirit as promised by the prophets and by Jesus. The sanctifying Spirit produces his fruit in the lives of believers, and the first fruit is always love. The Spirit fills the Church with his gifts, which we ‘eagerly desire’ as the indispensable equipment for Christian service. The Spirit gives us power for mission and for the great variety of works of service. The Spirit enables us to proclaim and demonstrate the gospel, to discern the truth, to pray effectively and to prevail over the forces of darkness. The Spirit inspires and accompanies our worship. The Spirit strengthens and comforts disciples who are persecuted or on trial for their witness to Christ.[18]

C)    Our engagement in mission, then, is pointless and fruitless without the presence, guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. This is true of mission in all its dimensions: evangelism, bearing witness to the truth, discipling, peace-making, social engagement, ethical transformation, caring for creation, overcoming evil powers, casting out demonic spirits, healing the sick, suffering and enduring under persecution. All we do in the name of Christ must be led and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The New Testament makes this clear in the life of the early Church and the teaching of the apostles. It is being demonstrated today in the fruitfulness and growth of Churches where Jesus’ followers act confidently in the power of the Holy Spirit, with dependence and expectation. 


There is no true or whole gospel, and no authentic biblical mission, without the Person, work and power of the Holy Spirit. We pray for a greater awakening to this biblical truth, and for its experience to be reality in all parts of the worldwide body of Christ. However, we are aware of the many abuses that masquerade under the name of the Holy Spirit, the many ways in which all kinds of phenomena are practised and praised which are not the gifts of the Holy Spirit as clearly taught in the New Testament. There is great need for more profound discernment, for clear warnings against delusion, for the exposure of fraudulent and self-serving manipulators who abuse spiritual power for their own ungodly enrichment. Above all there is a great need for sustained biblical teaching and preaching, soaked in humble prayer, that will equip ordinary believers to understand and rejoice in the true gospel and to recognize and reject false gospels. 

[10]John 14:6; Romans 8:14-15; Matthew 6:9; John 14:21-23

[11]Deuteronomy 32:6, 18; 1:31; 8:5; Isaiah 1:2; Malachi 1:6; Jeremiah 3:4, 19; 31:9; Hosea 11:2; Psalm 103:13; Isaiah 63:16; 64:8-9

[12]John 3:16; 1 John 3:1; Romans 8:32; Hebrews 9:14; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 1:4-5

[13]Matthew 5:9, 16, 43-48; 6:4, 6, 14-15, 18, 25-32; 7:21-23

[14]John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Hebrews 1:2; Colossians 1:15-17; Psalm 110:1; Mark 14:61-64; Ephesians 1:20-23; Revelation 1:5; 3:14; 5:9-10; Romans 2:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:9-12; Matthew 1:21; Luke 2:30; Acts 4:12; 15:11; Romans 10:9; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 2:10; 5:9; 7:25; Revelation 7:10

[15]Luke 6:46; 1 John 2:3-6; Matthew 7:21-23

[16]Matthew 16:16; John 20:28; 1 Peter 1:8; 1 John 3:1-3; Acts 4:12

[17]Genesis 1:1-2; Psalm 104:27-30; Job 33:4; Exodus 35:30-36:1; Judges 3:10; 6:34; 13:25; Numbers 11:16-17, 29; Isaiah 63:11-14; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Micah 3:8; Nehemiah 9:20, 30; Zechariah 7:7-12; Isaiah 11:1-5; 42:1-7; 61:1-3; 32:15-18; Ezekiel 36:25-27; 37:1-14; Joel 2:28-32

[18]Acts 2; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Peter 1:2; Ephesians 4:3-6; 11-12; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 1 Corinthians 14:1; John 20:21-22; 14:16-17, 25-26; 16:12-15; Romans 8:26-27; Ephesians 6:10-18; John 4:23-24; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 14:13-17; Matthew 10:17-20; Luke 21:15