Sunday I had the privilege of introducing our new series on The Trinity at Gateway, Why Our God is Unique among the gods, and once again I was inspired, awed, and excited by the doctrine of the Trinity, or more particularly, knowing God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
One church member remarked beforehand that he couldn’t remember ever hearing any teaching on the Trinity, and he’s been around evangelical churches all his life. The sad fact is that we may acknowledge, confess in creeds and songs that we believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but in reality are practicing unitarians – the belief that God is solely and singularly One, with no dynamic of loving persons.
Such a belief impoverishes our worship, cripples our life and undermines our witness.
To make God known we need to know him as he is.
Yes the Trinity takes some thought, some hard brain work, but it’s worth every ounce of effort, as this big, vast, vision of God dawns on our souls.
The reality is that every true Christian already knows something of this Trinitarian God through his work in their lives, 1, as the Holy Spirit convicts of sin and 2, points them to Jesus Christ as their Saviour and then having confessed their faith in him, 3, the awareness that they are now sons and daughters of the living God and able to call him Father.
Sadly for many that’s where it stalls.
What about you?
Yes, the word ‘trinity’ is not in the Bible, but the Reality is.
Yes, it doesn’t immediately step out at us, but there are hints and movements that indicate that God who is time and again confessed as One God is in fact a trinity of persons. In contrast to a world that was full of gods – gods to cover every sphere of life – Israel confessed that God was One and he sovereignly ruled over all, yet over and over in it’s story there are hints that the God they confessed and saw and encountered in action was somehow more.
When you get to the New Testament, suddenly it hits you, this Jesus, whom the gospels are all about, is none other than God’s Son living in flesh just like ours, yet he says ‘before Abraham was I am’! And John introducing his gospel reaches back beyond time and says, ‘The Word was with God and the word was God’- always. God face to face with himself. The same but distinct from. He is God here, but he prays to God who is there! As John unpacks the gospel he recounts Jesus talking in very personal and intimate ways about his relationship to the Father, that people who have seen him have seen the Father, that the Father is in him and he is in the Father! He says, ‘Believe in God, believe also in me.’
It’s not Two, but Three! Jesus says that when he goes away he is going to send One just like Himself, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit with whom and through whom both he and the Father enjoy fellowship. Wow! Suddenly we are getting little insights into the interior relationship of God. God is One, but he’s Three. There are three distinct personalities in the One God.
Suddenly our picture of God dramatically changes, ‘there is’ as the previous pope said, ‘a ‘We’ in God.’
God was not and is not some solitary, self absorbed, power consumed individual doing his ‘own’ arbitrary thing, but rather a community of distinct loving Persons, delighting in and serving one another from all eternity.
God was not and is not some benign policeman, protecting you on the one hand but looking out for your misdemeanours and penalising you on the other. Neither is he some Hitler, consumed with power and authority, making rash judgement calls all in the name of the advancement of his purposes.
No, in the Trinity we discover as the Godfrey Birthill song puts it, a “wonderful, wonderful God….”
Do you know Him?