In this story God—the Father, Son, and Spirit God—is the protagonist. And the Son’s captivating qualities set the scene: to know him is to love him. The Father delights in the Son and wants him to have a Bride who can love and enjoy him as the Father does. The Spirit’s mission is to arrange the marriage: he sets up introductions.
God’s motive in this is love—a giving heart—and marriage is his venue for sharing. The story began before the foundation of the world as the Father, Son, and Spirit communed in a shared glory. It was in this period that the Bride was anticipated: “chosen” even before creation.
Of course this marriage transcends human marriage: it is neither physical nor temporal. Instead the Bride is the collective body of men and women who respond to the Spirit’s wooing. So the Bride is spiritual in the sense that she is “one” not in any tangible sense but in the reality of the shared Spirit.
How the divine Son can take a bride from the creation is central to the plot. First, humans were made in God’s “likeness” to be suitable candidates. But another step was needed. The Son had to join humanity: to share the tangible life of the Bride. And as such he became a bridge for the Bride to join the Father’s family. The Son was already united to the Father in his divinity and then by a physical birth he joined humanity to take his Bride. And all—Father, Son, and Bride—share the one Spirit. By this bond the Bride has eternal life.
This epic story explains both our creation and, for the Bride, salvation. Yet to many of us it sounds odd and unfamiliar. Why?
Because an antagonist muddles this true story with false accounts.
This is the Liar: an angel gone bad. In his beauty and free self-expression this figure became an arch-narcissist: loving himself in place of God. And with that he sought to take over the creation by forming a counter-kingdom: a realm of moral opposition.
He was, of course, only a creature himself and unable to form his own creation. Instead he plotted to take over humanity and through seduction to rule the creation through humans. His ploy has been to replace good with evil in every aspect of reality. This is the moral equivalent of making old-style film negatives: he converts light to darkness and vice versa.
In his plan he presumed God, as pure goodness, would lose access to all who were part of this morally-reversed realm. And when the Holy Spirit’s bonding love was quenched in Adam—and the Spirit now stood outside human souls—humanity as a whole turned instead to the reversed narratives offered by the Unholy spirit.
And this spirit—Satan—reconceived each element of God’s goodness by overt reversals. His new realm treats God as a disaffected singularity rather than a God who is love; it offered animated death in place of Life. It replaced love for others with a love of self; a devotion to light with a fascination for darkness; the power of love with the love of power; a proper form of marriage with improper forms; and much, much more.
So the Bible calls him the Serpent, the Devil, the Accuser, and more. The Son called him the Liar and the Father of lies. No truth will ever be found in him or offered by him.
His ultimate Lie is that we can “be like God.” As if humanity, apart from God, can do just fine. God may still be useful since he sustains the creation but he seems to be impotent.
The Bride in God’s story is gathered from those who accepted the Lie and were then devoured by Satan’s living death. But, in an amazing turn, the Son devours death for those who love him. He entered death to rescue us and to reverse our moral polarities. Satan didn’t anticipate this.
How did the blameless Son die? In the great exchange of marital properties he took on our evil; and we received his life. He, as God, swallowed our death and was raised from death on the basis of his unquenchable life. And so we now live in him by faith.
So the true Epic ends with the Bride returning to the Living Truth and sharing his glory—the glory of the Father—with the new life of the Spirit making it all work. The Unholy spirit, on the other hand, still has death—along with all who spurned the Son’s Life—forever.
It’s an epic reality that brings us to the one True Love worth living for.