The Holy Trinity – One God

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Today is Trinity Sunday which celebrates the mystical being of God, the Almighty in the three persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most difficult Christian concepts for people to understand. This is mainly because we see oneness and uniqueness in pretty much everything living thing we experience in our lives and yet, if there is a God, how is it that He is three? Where does it say that in the Bible?

Well, it doesn’t say it at all. And that is what we need to think about today.

Biblical scholars over the years have pieced together evidence from Holy Scripture that infers the essence of God as three individuals, three personalities, if you will, and yet one in being. The Father was addressed by Jesus on many occasions – usually prior to a miracle; and in the Lord’s Prayer which we are all familiar with. The advocate, or Holy Ghost, or Spirit of God was also addressed by Jesus in today’s gospel story to Nicodemus; and when he told the Apostles that the Spirit would come to them only if he, Jesus had left them. Jesus, the Messiah or Son of God, was expected by the prophets throughout the Old Testament and is specifically described in Isaiah as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief who would come one day to save his people and to be our King.

From these few examples of the many verses in scripture, the church as stitched together a picture of God, as three in one and as one in three. Though God is totally unknowable by any of us, we have come to the conclusion that this picture is the most accurate way of describing the essence of God’s being.

Unlike other doctrines of the church, like the assumption of Mary or the existence of Purgatory or the teaching of the Rapture, the doctrine of the Trinity is widely accepted as scriptural truth by the whole church . . . both east and west, both catholic and protestant. It is one of the only things in which there is wide scale agreement . . . but unfortunately, only to a point.

At the council of Nicea in 325, the church called an assembly of the leading theologians and bishops of the day. They wanted to put on paper just what the belief in the Trinity was, and it is this very same document that we recite each week – called the Nicene Creed. But some folks in the eastern church did not accept one clause in this document – called the filioque clause . . . and for this reason, the church split in two over this issue, One half of the church became the Holy Roman Catholic Church and the other half became the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The filioque clause in our creed states that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Eastern Orthodox Church creed states the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father (period). Now you might not think that few words could make a worldwide church split in two especially when you consider that God is unknowable anyway, and how could this be proven one way or another? . . . but such was the argument of the day and one which separated the church in two camps, two churches even up until this very day.

But words do matter, and when we take them out of context from scripture, sometimes their meaning can be eschewed or even lost especially by the man in the street who knows little about religion or of God and his ways. For example . . . you often hear people of nominal faith explaining their self-righteous vengeance on one another with the Biblical phrase “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”. With this phrase in hand people of all religions and no religion have slaughtered each other for years thinking this is God’s way of justifying vengeance. But they are in error . . . for the actual meaning of this phrase has only to do with bearing false witness against ones neighbor. It is actually the Levitical penalty for lying under oath . . . so if the accused is found guilty and condemned because of false testimony . . . then the one who bore false witness would receive the penalty (an eye for an eye . . . a tooth for a tooth . . .) should the truth ever come to light. In this way people would be subject to the law and if they lied under oath to God, then would they would bring God’s righteous vengeance down upon themselves. Needless to say, the truth was upheld most of the time.

Now you might think this has little to with God the Holy Trinity but I can assure you it does. For the commandments of God are pure and the righteousness of God is Holy . . . and though God’s is slow to anger, there comes a point where justice must prevail and judgement must be given. We know that God is a Holy being far removed from us in every way and yet at the same time he is also Emmanuel . . . God with us . . . and so we wonder how can God be both our high and lofty Judge and also be our friend and our Savior and the source of our Life . . . all at the same time?

Jesus Christ is the answer to this question, for it is Jesus Christ who came to save us all (every single one of us) from the Final Judgement of a Holy God, a God who cannot bear the sight of the corruption of our sin. And that is why we call him Lord.

The Lord Jesus Christ is God’s last word to the Planet Earth . . . and the Gospel of Christ is man’s last and greatest hope. . . for he is mankind’s only hope.

You might remember when Jesus spoke of a landowner who leased out a property to some renters who refused to be accountable. When his servants arrived to collect his rents, the unscrupulous tenants “beat one, killed one, and stoned another.” Showing more patience than perhaps he ought, the owner “sent other servants, more than the first.” These were given the same treatment as the first. Then our Lord said, “Last of all, he sent his son.” (Matthew 21:33ff.).

Jesus Christ was the fulfilment of the promises and types and stories of the Old Testament. He was the culmination of the Eden story, the Abraham story, the Moses saga, the chronicles of David and of Solomon.

It’s really all about Jesus Christ. This is the consistent teaching of the New Testament. And the implications for all of mankind are enormous.

–There is no other Savior.

–There is no other salvation.

–God has no other plan.

–Humanity has no other hope.

Other religions may possess admirable traits and some may even be helpful to a point. But only one “Way” is revealed from Heaven, and that is the way of Christ.

Philosophers have often had brilliant insights, but only One Person has possessed the wisdom of Heaven and been wisdom incarnate.

Jesus Christ was unique. He was one of a kind, a one-time act of a Heavenly Father for mankind’s salvation and the record of that–the only record–is the New Testament.

There is only Jesus. Only the Holy Bible. Only salvation by grace through faith. Scripture cannot admit any variations on the Truth given from Heaven . . . and we cannot either.

And if you find this offensive in our modern politically correct mindset, then I guess that’s your problem . . . because Jesus Christ is unique and nearly every one living today has pretty much missed this one point . . . that Jesus Christ is the only one who can save us from our sins.

We all know people who believe God has other plans of salvation and that there are other saviors. They might even speak of “Other Christs.” They find light, they might say, in other scriptures from different religions . . . and today there are many who will accuse Christian Bible believers of narrow-mindedness and egotism. They will attack church doctrine and dismiss our evangelism because it is in complete defiance of the world and completely opposite to the secular direction in which the world is heading.

But Jesus is unique and I suspect that one reason–perhaps the main reason–many rush to deny the uniqueness of Jesus and the once-and-for-allness of His salvation (Hebrews 9:26) is that if they believed it, they would have to completely reorder their lives and “get religion”.

But Jesus did not die for the sake of religion, he died for you. Jesus came so that those who would believe might choose to join Him and his Father and the Spirit in the heavenly kingdom. Though we are separated from him in sin, the sacrifice of his blood cleanses us and sets us free; enabling us to enter into the presence of God when we eventually are called home . . . and whether you believe that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son or proceeds from the Father only is really of no consequence in the grand scheme of things for the message of the New Testament clear:

Jesus Christ is coming.

Judgment of the world is coming with him.

We shall give account.

Every eye shall see. Every knee shall bend. Every tongue shall confess that . . . Jesus is Lord. Amen.