Summary: We worship One God, Who is manifest in three distinct Persons.
“The Tri-unity of God” I Peter 1:1-2 Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
“To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His blood.”
The basis for our salvation is identified in this one sentence, the most condensed outline of the process of salvation in Scripture. Peter also reveals here the complex, multi-faceted nature of God.
Peter writes to scattered followers of Christ, believers who’ve been dispersed due to persecution under the Roman Emperor Nero. He writes to encourage the afflicted. Peter begins by announcing that all three Persons of the Godhead are responding to their suffering. Father, Son, and Spirit are involved in the reasons behind their hardship, and stand ready to provide relief and an everlasting inheritance.
Even today believers face misunderstanding, ridicule and harassment by unbelieving friends, employers, teachers, and family members. In some countries, converting to Christ is punishable by death. Peter shows us the attitude we should have when facing affliction. When people oppose us, we are reminded that we belong to the Triune God and not to this world. Our hope is found in our thrice-holy God. We may be reviled and looked down upon in the eyes of secular society, but our true status is that we’ve been chosen as God’s elect. God has initiated our calling, which means our real home, our true citizenship is in heaven. This makes us strangers in a hostile, foreign land.
According to Peter, all three members of the Trinity work to bring us new life and provide us assurance of our salvation. All Three are involved in our daily lives. Yet we do not worship three Gods. We are not polytheists. The Trinity is a complicated yet essential Christian teaching.
“Trinity” defined-- The doctrine of the Trinity is as follows: We worship One God, Who is manifest in three distinct Persons. In the Tri-unity of the Godhead there are Three-in-One, of the same substance: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are equally God in their being, power, holiness and eternality. God is one in essence and three in Person. Scripture affirms both the oneness of God and the deity of the Father, Son and Spirit. The Father is our Creator, the Son our Redeemer, and the Spirit our Sanctifier. The word “Trinity” comes from the Latin word "Tri-unitos", which means "three in the unity of one." They are distinct, yet not solitary. And while the word Trinity is not found in the Bible, it is a Biblical concept: One-in-Three; Three-in-One.
The Trinity is somewhat of a mystery—this teaching is difficult to grasp, because it is so unique. Theologians have tried to explain the nature of God, but God is beyond human comprehension. We understand part of Who God is, but not the whole.
He is Father>> Our loving Father chose us before we chose Him (Eph 1:4). From eternity past, the Father planned our salvation, so there is no room to doubt our future in heaven. Nothing that happens can change the Father’s sovereign promises to us. We are His elect, chosen people, adopted into His family.
He is Son>> Jesus, the Son died for us while we were sinners, purchasing our salvation through the shedding of His blood (Rom 5:6-10). The “sprinkling by His blood” refers back to the sacrifices in the Jewish Temple, where the blood of the animal sacrifice would be sprinkled on the altar and on the mercy seat atop the Ark of the Covenant, to cover/atone for sin. Jesus has always been God and He became a man without ceasing to be God. He is 100% God and 100% man at the same time.
He is Spirit>> The Spirit seals and applies Christ’s sacrifice to our lives, bringing us the benefits of salvation. The Spirit cleanses and prepares us for God’s use (II Thes 2:13). Peter says that the Spirit “sanctifies” us. This means He makes us holy and sets us apart. The Spirit begins a gradual process of growth within us. Our old way of life is passing away, and all things are being made new (II Cor 5:17). The Spirit also enables us to discern Scripture. Paul writes that without enlightenment from the Spirit, the Bible appears to be foolishness. The Spirit inspired the writers of Scripture and for us makes understandable the word of God.
Roles--The Father is the Originator, the Son is the Agent, and the Holy Spirit is the Administrator. Jonathan Edwards described the Trinity as “sharing in divine love.” Self-giving love is our Triune God’s signature. God is not self-contained or self-absorbed; He reaches out to His Creation, revealing Himself to us. Gregory (of Zazianzus, a 4th Century Bishop), an early church leader said: “I cannot think of the One without immediately being surrounded by the radiance of the Three; nor can I discern the Three without being carried back to the One.”