Reimar A. C. Schultze
Today, let us talk about triads. What is a triad? Have you ever seen the formation of three geese cutting efficiently through the air? That is a triad. Have you ever seen a three-legged milk stool? That is a triad. Have you ever seen three godly men uniting in prayer and breaking through enemy lines to the throne of God? That is a triad. A triad is a group or union of three. It can also be called a threesome, a trinity. The number “3” is special in its simplicity and beauty. God first reveals Himself to us as a triune God, as one God in three persons—and everything we see created in Genesis 1 also has three components. That is no coincidence.
In the beginning God… In English we only have one word for God, but in Hebrew, there are several words for God, such as Yahweh, El, Elohim and Shaddai. In Genesis 1:1, the word used for God is Elohim, a plural word meaning Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In verse 2, the Spirit is mentioned, and Jesus, although yet veiled, appears in verse 26 of the same chapter. There you have the triad of the Creator.
Then Elohim created the universe, consisting of water, earth and air—a triad. All atoms are made of three parts: protons, neutrons and electrons—a triad. All cells are made of three parts: a cell wall, cytoplasm and a nucleus—a triad. The heavenly bodies have three parts: the sun, the moon and stars—a triad. Man has three parts: body, soul and spirit—a triad. Do you sense an amazing trinitarian harmony here between the creator and the created? I do. All of these triads come out of God and operate under the shadow of the triune Almighty. But beloved, there is one triad which is not operating under the shadow of the Almighty, it is the triad of the kingdom of God; it is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; it is a reflection, an image, a personification of God Himself—God in man and man in God, the mystery hidden throughout the ages but finally revealed with the advent of Christ’s Incarnation (Col. 1:26-27). It is the second creation of God eclipsing the first one in that it is imperishable, forever.
As a fish needs to live in water, so you need to live in the kingdom of God. The new man in Christ cannot live in anything else. This is why Jesus was born. This is why we are born: to be born again and to enter into His kingdom (John 3:3,5). This is why at the start of His ministry, Jesus went about all Galilee … preaching the gospel of the kingdom... (Matt. 4:23). This is why He made His kingdom the cornerstone of the Sermon on the Mount: ...seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matt. 6:33). This is why He gave us the kingdom parables. This is why we find 162 references to the kingdom in the New Testament. This is why the first petition of the Lord’s prayer is: Thy kingdom come. This is why He commissioned His disciples to go into all the world preaching the kingdom. This is why the Apostle Paul lived it, preached it, and died preaching it (Acts 28:31).
Oh, if the world would only get into this, it would solve all our problems! It would stop all crimes, put all counselors out of business, end all depression, adultery and strife, and put a song into every soul. If people would live in the kingdom of God, they would have righteousness, peace and a joy in their lives which will not be influenced by circumstances but rather by God’s presence within. This makes them shine as bright as the morning star in this life, and as the noonday sun in the life to come.
Let us now examine the content of the kingdom of God that makes up the triad: righteousness, peace and joy. Draw a triangle on a sheet of paper and name the base: “righteousness.” Righteousness is the very foundation, the very condition that makes everything happen in the kingdom. Peace and joy are the other two sides of the triangle. They are attachments to righteousness, like wings on a bird or fins on a fish, making people strong and setting them ablaze with the fire of God. You do not have to work to get peace and joy, but to live righteously in the Spirit, you have to work and fight to resist the forbidden fruits the devil puts before you every day (Phil. 2:12).
And you may ask: “What is righteousness?” Righteousness is moral integrity. Righteousness is saying “no” to the forbidden fruits in your life and “yes” to the perfect will of God. In short, righteousness is walking with God. Righteousness is holiness and it is the most prominent characteristic of God. Therefore, God said: ...Be holy, for I am holy (1 Peter 1:16). But although God is righteous by virtue of His nature, righteousness for us begins with a choice before it becomes a reality. God wanted Adam to be holy and righteous, so He set a tree before him to give him a choice to be holy. He did not want a world of robots, a people who automatically would say “yes” to Him. God wants to be chosen by His children. But Adam, by eating of the forbidden fruit, said “no” to Him. So, righteousness does not fall out of the sky, but you must seek after it.
Again, Adam failed the test, but Abel, his second son, although being born in sin, by obeying, chose to be holy making him righteous. So, in this first example in the Bible of man getting right with God, we have a pattern that is being laid down for all time: that faith must be accompanied by obedience. And with that, Abel not only believed in the virtue of the blood sacrifice, but he made himself a living sacrifice by obeying what God required. You can believe in the virtue of Christ’s sacrifice on the tree, but if you do not become a living sacrifice through an obedient life, the blood of the Lamb will do nothing for you.
But you say the Bible says that all of our righteousness is as filthy rags. That is so before we offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God. Once we do that, our righteousness is most precious. Therefore, Abel’s righteousness was most precious, so was Abraham’s, so was Job’s, so was Zechariah’s and Elizabeth’s of whom it says: And they were both righteous before God...and...blameless (Luke 1:6). All of these people were deemed righteous because they followed Abel’s pattern of obeying, believing and becoming living sacrifices to God. And praise God, now the New Testament Christian has this illuminating Scripture: But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). The blood sacrifice forever accompanies those who walk in the light and always keeps them in perfect fellowship with their Lover, Jesus Christ. It removes any dust of the world that might settle upon them on a daily basis and forever covers the sins of ignorance.
Now consider the words of John, who warned the church 60 years after Pentecost, saying: Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous... You have to practice righteousness. For, he who sins is of the devil... For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God... (1 John 3:7-10).
Notice the repetitive mention of doing and practicing righteousness. The practicing is up to you; the enabling and bestowing is up to God. That is Christianity. That is what God had in mind when He sent Jesus to earth to create the kingdom of God to have a righteousness people, full of peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. That is the triad that God created for us to live by. You take away righteousness and the triad collapses, the kingdom of God is no more. It is like you taking the electrons out of the atom which leads to the disintegration of the planet. A new triad, “love, grace and mercy” has come into the church and crowded out the triad that God wants us to live by. Righteousness is missing from this new triad and therefore, this new triad is adulterous. It winks at sin rather than confronting it as an enemy. Jesus wants nothing to do with it and condemned this mentality by saying: Not every one who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness! (Matt. 7:21-23). We can make a lot of noise with our songs of praise accompanied by drums, guitars and trumpets, but without practicing righteousness, our music is like sounding brass and tinkling cymbals, or as wood, hay and stubble, and it will be burned up on Judgment Day.
God created everything in triads, even His kingdom. Do not meddle with His design for you or it will cost you everything. In the Old Testament, God had “Holiness to the Lord” fastened upon the high priest’s forehead so no one in the camp would ever forget the importance of being holy (Ex. 28:36-38) and in the New Testament we have seraphim saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty... in perpetual praise (Rev. 4:8). Let us join these seraphim today.