Summary: This sermon is the first of three that explores the amazing truth of God being one and yet three
2 CORINTHIANS CH 13 V 14
‘While our friends from India travelled around California on business, they left their 11 year-old daughter with us. Curious about my going to church one Sunday morning, she decided to come along. When we returned home, my husband asked her what she thought of the service. "I don’t understand why the West Coast isn’t included too," she said. When we inquired what she meant, she added, "You know, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the whole East Coast.”’
In 2 COR 13:14 ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.’ is a powerful declaration that God is one and yet three; that in the one Godhead there exists three persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is what has theologically and historically been known as the Trinity. The little Indian girl got confused about what she heard - with rather humorous results, but so many people get confused over the Trinity in more serious ways, even true believers!
2 COR 13:14 fittingly closes Paul’s second letter to the Church in Corinth. It demonstrates that, though he’d had to say strong things to the Church, his overarching desire was that the believers would enjoy more and more of God’s great riches – that the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit - might be with each and everyone. By wording like this, Paul shows that the Trinity is at the very heart of the Gospel and the Christian’s prayer life. This morning we’ll explore Trinity itself. Then, DV, over the next two Sundays we’ll go into the Trinity’s link to salvation and prayer.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY
The Limits of Human Knowledge
The story goes that St. Augustine was struggling to understand the teaching of the Trinity so he decided to go for a walk on the beach. There he saw a little boy digging a hole in the sand with a seashell. The boy ran off to the ocean, filled the shell, and rushed back to pour it into the hole he had made. ‘What are you doing?’ St. Augustine asked. The boy replied: ‘I’m trying to put the ocean into this hole.’ Augustine realised that this was precisely was he was trying to do…to fit the great mysteries of God into his mind.
The fact is we can never fully understand God our Maker, that is, have total exhaustive knowledge of Him. That shouldn’t surprise us at all. There are two reasons for this:
Firstly, God is the Creator - we are His creatures; He is infinite - we are limited. To know anything about God exhaustively we’d have to know it as He knows it – and that’s impossible! That He is immeasurably exalted above us is part of His unique glory and majesty. Look at PSALM 145:3: ‘Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.’
Anon: ‘If the reality of God were small enough to be grasped, it would not be great enough to be adored.’
The second reason, is the negative impact of sin on our minds and understanding. When Adam disobeyed God in Eden the whole of His being was spiritually and morally corrupted – not only his body and desires but also his mind and intellect. Bruce Milne: ‘The fall has affected every aspect of our being, not least our perception of moral and spiritual reality.’
EPH 4:18 ‘They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.’ Here we have a chain reaction: It starts with the hardened (insensible and unresponsive) heart that produces ignorance which causes a darkened understanding and separation from God’s life. We are all spiritually blind and ignorant without God.
This shows us is that no human being can ever achieve a right knowledge of the true God through his or her own wisdom and understanding. There’s a natural inability – the creator/creature relationship – but there’s also the blameworthy spiritual ignorance we have that has come about because of disobedience to God.
God who Reveals Himself
On the news recently was the story of a great sandstorm blowing over Arizona in the US and the city of Phoenix was put under warning. A TV camera in a helicopter high above showed an immense wall of dust and sand rolling across the Phoenix valley smothering everything. It reduced road visibility to just 30 metres. A choking blinding blanket. That’s like the sinful spiritual sandstorm that blinds us to God’s truth and power. It affects us all!