Summary: God is Father, Son and Spirit, co-equals united in mutual love and divine essence. When we remember this, we can understand what Jesus meant when he said that he and the Father and the Spirit are one.
The minister gave his Sunday morning service, as usual, but this particular Sunday, it was considerably longer than normal. Later, at the door, shaking hands with parishioners as they moved out, one man said, "Your sermon, Pastor, was simply wonderful - so invigorating and inspiring and refreshing." The minister of course, broke out in a big smile, only to hear the man say, "Why I felt like a new man when I woke up!"
Actually, I can understand if you do happen to fall asleep during my sermon this morning (and hopefully you won’t!!!!!!!) because the topic is very “dry” and hard to understand. We’re doing something a little different today. Instead of talking about Jesus and his parables or teachings, we’re talking about one of the key doctrines or teachings of the Christian church. Why talk about doctrine? Simply put, the doctrine of the Christian church is the substance of our faith. If we do not show any interest in biblical doctrine, then we do not show any interest in our roots.
The Trinity is a difficult concept to understand let alone preach about, and part of the reason is because the Trinity is not specifically mentioned anywhere in the Scriptures, even though the concept of the Trinity is mentioned throughout the Bible. There is always a danger when a man-made concept is introduced into something God has created. The early church introduced the concept of the Trinity to explain how God works in our lives to restore our relationship with him.
In essence, the Trinity is the belief that God is one in essence, but distinct in person. In other words, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are somehow distinct from one another, yet at the same time they are completely united in essence, will and tasks. God has a life in which all three members of the Trinity relate to each other, give to each other, and love each other.
This is the concept behind the Nicene Creed and the Apostle’s Creed. The intention of the creeds was to affirm these three core beliefs:
1. The essential unity of God
2. The complete humanity and essential divinity of Jesus
3. The essential divinity of the Spirit.
Christians affirm the unity of all three members of the Godhead. We worship and glorify the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The three members of the Trinity-God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit-are three unique “individuals” (for lack of a better word), but they are one in that they are part of God’s master plan to restore our relationship with him. God is dynamic and unpredictable, just like the wind, and just like the wind comes from all directions, sometimes God convicts us of our sin, sometimes God denounces us and our sinful nature, and other times God opens Christ to us, yet at all times God still loves us.
God created the plan of salvation, Jesus put the plan in place, and the Holy Spirit implements it in our daily lives. The Holy Spirit is the invisible force that allows us to accept Christ and what he did for us. The Holy Spirit allows us to walk with God along the straight and narrow path in our new relationship with God.
The Holy Spirit reminds us of what Jesus did on earth. It tells us what God is thinking. The Holy Spirit is infinite and indefinite. It can be everywhere and with everyone all of the time. In contrast, Jesus could only be with a few people in one place and at only one time because of his finite, human form. Only through his death on the cross does he disclose what it means for him to have been the mind and will of God in human form.
Like Christ, we have to suffer a form of death and resurrection when we allow God to enter our lives. When we do, we die to our own sinful nature and rise again into a new life that is energized by the Holy Spirit. To be born again means that we see things in a new and different light and in a way that is broader and deeper than we can understand now, and to be energized by God’s power-a power that is greater than ours. The only way we can gain this new insight into God’s kingdom is to be born again with the Holy Spirit through God’s grace and truth. We receive the Holy Spirit through baptism and acceptance of Christ in our lives. The water of baptism washes away our sinful nature and allows the Holy Spirit to enter and teach us all about what Jesus said about himself and God the Father.
The transition to our new relationship with God can be painful and full of conflict. It involves letting go of our sinful earthly life, which can be difficult. After all, change can be uncomfortable. The status quo is like our favourite pair of shoes-it just feels so darn good! Change is sometimes necessary. We need to be shaken up if we want to walk with God. Just like we trade cars when they wear out, we have to trade in our old, sinful life for a new one modeled on the life of Christ. Faith heals our sinful nature when the Holy Spirit is born in us. It also heals the conflict that results from our change to our new life. It also heals our relationship with God, and relationships are the foundation of our lives.