This weekend we celebrate the mystery of the Trinity… how the infinite, almighty Lord of all Creation reveals Himself to us as “Three in One and One in Three.” This doctrine (teaching) of the Christian faith is difficult for us to grasp, yet essential for us to believe in order for us to be saved. For the Church to remain “true to the teachings of Scripture,” three Ecumenical Creeds have been formulated throughout history. The Apostles’ Creed (c. 100AD), the Nicene Creed (325 AD) and the Athanasian Creed (c. 900 AD) all synthesize the Christian faith in such a way to teach the truth of God’s Word, while at the same time guarding us from false teaching and heresy.
In the gospel reading Jesus gives us a glimpse of at least two of the three persons of the Trinity. Jesus was, once again, teaching in the temple area (v. 20) and the Pharisees were challenging Him. (v. 13) They claimed to be children of Abraham (v. 33), but Jesus called them children of their father, the devil (v. 44). For these reasons, they thought of Him as a hated foreigner who was “out of His mind!” They said, “Aren’t we right in saying that You are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” (John 8: 48) In response, Jesus said that He was not seeking His own glory, but the glory of His Father in Heaven. He and the Father are One; that is, Father and Son, two of the persons in the One Godhead!
He promised eternal life to those who would follow Him when He said, “I tell you the truth, if a man keeps My word, he will never see death.” (John 8: 51) and He claimed equality with God when He said, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was, I am!” (John 8: 58) His enemies understood what He was saying, and they hated Him for it! That’s why “they picked up stones to stone Him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.” (John 8: 59)
No matter how hard you search, you’ll never find the word “Trinity” in the pages of Scripture. You will, however, find the evidence of the Trinity clearly taught throughout the whole Bible, from beginning to end! For example, in the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis, we read that God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26) God refers to Himself using plural pronouns – Us/Our – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Likewise, in the first book of the New Testament, we see evidence of the Trinity at the baptism of Jesus. “As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he [John] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him [Jesus]. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.’” (Matthew 3: 16-17)
We imperfectly attempt to use earthly examples in order to illustrate and better understand the mystery of the Trinity – an apple made up of three parts… skin, flesh and core, three parts yet one apple; water (H2O) – one essence yet three forms – liquid, steam (vapor) and solid (ice). Try as hard as we might, any example we use is but a poor reflection of our magnificent God who is Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. Our finite minds will never fully comprehend the infinite Trinity!
Jesus was asked, “Who do You think You are?” (John 8: 53) He knew exactly who He was, and so do we! By the power of the Holy Spirit who brings us to and keeps us in the one true faith, we know that He is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) He is our Savior, the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for our forgiveness, life and eternal salvation!
So, as we celebrate The Holy Trinity, we do not attempt to define or explain God but rather confess what He has revealed to us in Scripture. He is one God in three persons. His self-disclosure reveals Himself as the God who saves. His delight is in us even though the cost of loving us means offering up His Son on the altar of the cross. This is the heart of God’s self-revelation—the Father’s saving will and purpose is fulfilled by the Son even to death, and the Spirit reveals this to us so that we might know and believe in Him and be saved. While we do not fully understand this great mystery, we joyfully thank and praise, serve and obey Him!
See you in church this next weekend!
Blessings in Christ, Pastor Snow