Summary: How Can God Be One and Yet Three?

The Holy Trinity

This is Trinity Sunday. On this Sunday we confess the Athanasian Creed which says in part: And the catholic faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost.

As soon as we start talking like this we are under attack. Whether it be from a pseudo-Christian group like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or another major world religion like Islam, they berate us with these words:

• How can you call Christianity a monotheistic religion and believe in three gods – Father Son and Holy Spirit?

• How can you worship the all-powerful, eternal God when you say he died on a cross?

• How can you use the term trinity when it isn’t even found in the Holy Bible?

On this Trinity Sunday, I want us to discover anew the glorious truth of the Holy Trinity; I want us to exam some of the attacks on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and finally I want us to rejoice in our One God: Father Son and Holy Spirit. Let’s worship God with all of our minds.

The Discovery of the Holy Trinity

Let’s begin with our three lectionary texts this morning. Psalm 93 is obviously taking about Almighty God. He is clothed in majesty; His throne is from everlasting. His power is mightier than many waters. This is how most people think of God.

Our Gospel reading records the conversation between Jesus Christ and a powerful Jewish leader called Nicodemus. Here were two men - both Jews - who had quoted Deuteronomy 6:4 every day since they were children: Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is One. This is the most important verse in Judaism.

And now Jesus turns to this Jewish Supreme Court Judge and says Whoever believes in me will not perish but will have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whosever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. It is possible that God Almighty has a Son? Is it possible that there are two gods or two expressions of God? Or one God in two persons? But wait there is more…

In our third reading from Romans 8 we are introduced to a person who acts like God. Who talks like God? Who guides us like God? He is called the Holy Spirit. We are told that the sons of God are led by the Spirit of God. We are informed that the Spirit Himself bears witness to our spirit that we are the children of God. So now we have three persons that are God.

All the way through the Bible there are hints of this One God in Three Persons. For example, in the very first verse of the Bible “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”.

In the Hebrew text the first word is God. It is the word Elohim. It is the plural form of El – The Strong One. But Moses uses the plural form, Elohim. It literally means three gods. The odd thing is the verb create is singular. So, we have a plural noun and a singular verb. Something very strange and special is going on here.

Coming over to the New Testament at the very end of Matthew 28 Jesus is giving his disciples the Great Commission. He commands them to baptize people in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The word Name is singular and then three names are given. How can there be one name and three persons? Something very strange and special is going on here.

The early Christians were just like us. They believed in One God. Most of them were Jews. And yet they knew Jesus Christ was very special. So much so that they called him ‘My Lord and My God.” And then the day of Pentecost came, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. They never referred to the Holy Spirit as an influence or an ‘it’. He was always a person.

So now they had three persons that they worshipped and called God. By the time one generation of Christian had lived they were all blessing each other with this benediction. Now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all now and forever more. Amen.

The Attacks Upon the Holy Trinity

What you believe about God is the most important thing about you. And the devil wants to distort or dilute the truth about God. So there have been many attacks on the Holy Trinity over the centuries. We don’t have time to deal with all of the attacks on the Holy Trinity but let me name three or four.

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