Summary: Why the Trinity is so important to us today.
Iliff & Saltillo UM Churches
June 6, 2004
INTRODUCTION: Today is Trinity Sunday, however, the word “trinity” is not mentioned in the Bible. We say, “I believe in the “Trinity” but what does that mean? Have you ever thought about it?
The “Trinity” is a description of the unique relationship of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. There are many references to the Trinity in scripture such as today’s scripture in John. Jesus is talking to his disciples, and He refers to the Holy Spirit as well as to the Father. He says, “unless I go away, the Counselor [Comforter] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” Many times people refer to the Holy Spirit as “it”--but Jesus goes on to say, “when he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment...” Then he refers to the Father when he says...”I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer.”
One of the better known scriptures referring to the Trinity is Mark 1:10. “As Jesus was coming up out of the water [at his baptism], he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Again you see evidence of all three persons in the Godhead.
You might say, “this is hard to understand how there is One God and Three Persons.
ILLUSTRATIONS: There are several ways to visually explain it. One is with an egg--you have the egg shell, the egg yolk, and the egg white. They are three distinct parts--but they are all EGG.
We have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit--they are three distinct persons but are all GOD.
Another way to explain the Trinity is by referring to water--a glass of water, an ice cube, or steam--it is different but all WATER.
It is said that St. Patrick explained the Trinity with a shamrock. The three parts of the shamrock represented the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--but at the same time they were all SHAMROCK.
In today’s scripture Jesus emphasized the importance of the Holy Spirit. To the fearful and worried disciples he gave them the assurance that he was not going to abandon them. The King James version says, “It is expedient for me to go away.” He is saying, “actually it will be BETTER for you--to your ADVANTAGE if I go away because then I will send the Counselor or Comforter and he will guide you into all truth.” Christ’s departure at the ascension was absolutely necessary to the Holy Spirit’s coming. The disciples had been used to seeing Jesus every day and they needed to get weaned away from his physical presence now that he would ascend into heaven. As long as he was here on earth, he was limited to one place at a time, but the Holy Spirit’s presence can be everywhere at the same time.
Let’s see what we can get out of today’s scripture that will help us to understand the third person of the Trinity a little better.
1. The Holy Spirit before the day of Pentecost: The concept of the Holy Spirit was not new at Jesus’ time. The Spirit of God was on the scene at the beginning of Genesis. Genesis 1:2 says, “...the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” at the creation. In Genesis 6:3 at the time of the flood the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever...” In Judges 3:10 “the Spirit of the Lord came UPON Othniel, Caleb’s younger brother, so that he became Israel’s judge.” In Old Testament times the Spirit of the Lord CAME UPON certain people to fulfill leadership responsibilities. (See Judges 13:24-25; 15:14; 14:6, 19; Zech. 7:12).
Jesus was telling the disciples that on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was going to be operating in a different way--not just available to certain people for certain leadership roles once in awhile but for ALL people.
He said there are a lot of things you don’t understand right now but when “he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth” (v. 13).
Story: Several American nurses were training at a hospital in Liverpool, England. They had little money for meals so they ate the awful food provided at the hospital. Sometimes visitors would give them some of the treats they had brought for patients who had not wanted to eat them.
One night a woman brought an apple pie to the kitchen and said to one of the nurses, “Would you eat this up, love?” So she and another American student nurse devoured every delicious crumb!