Essentials, God (audio file for download)
We continue our study of the essentials of the Christian faith. Last week we looked that the authority and trustworthiness of scripture.
This week we are looking at who God is. Primarily we will talk about the trinity. As described in this text. Now if you have been around church for any part of your life, you have heard of this essential belief. Now, as I said last week these are not meant to be full in depth study of the essentials, with all the differing beliefs outlined and explained.
I want to define and explain the essential, and also bring it in to our day, hopefully explaining why it matters to our relationship with God. I do not promise to have it all sealed up for you this morning, the fact of the matter is that it is a mystery, and much like many mysteries of our faith, sometimes, the more you understand, the more mysterious it is. I have read a couple short books on the Trinity this week and one quote by Jonathan Edwards says it well,
“I am far from pretending to explaining the Trinity so as to render it no longer a mystery. I think it to be the highest and deepest of all Divine mysteries still, notwithstanding anything that I have said or conceived about it. I don’t intend to explain the Trinity.”
Excerpt From: Johnathan Edwards & Wyatt North. “An Unpublished Essay on the Trinity.”
So for our purposes today what I hope to do is to give you a basic explanation of the explanation of the trinity, then explain how it works itself out in this verse, and then try and explain what it means for us today.
The basic orthodox view of the Trinity is this: There is one God, eternally existing in three distinct and coeternal persons; The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Many people have tried over time to explain this, and all fall short, the most famous is St. Patrick, the evangelist of Ireland who used a three leaf clover to describe the trinity, Some people say it is like an Egg, with a shell, a white and a yolk, it has been described as an apple with a skin, the meat and seeds, in the essay I read by Jonathan Edwards He gave an illustration of the Sun.“The Son is as the brightness and glory of the disk of the Sun or that bright and glorious form under which it appears to our eyes. The Holy Ghost is the action of the Sun which is within the Sun in its intestine heat, and, being diffusive, enlightens, warms, enlivens and comforts the world. The Spirit as it is God’s Infinite love to Himself and happiness in Himself, is as the internal heat of the Sun, but as it is that by which God communicates Himself, it is as the emanation of the sun’s action, or the emitted beams of the sun.” All of those examples are trying to explain this: God is one in essence, and three in person. Clear enough right?
A couple quick examples of what the trinity is not. It is not one God who appears in different forms, that is called modalism, and it is also not one god who takes on different roles. those beliefs about the trinity do not line up with scripture. for instance, the Passage we read in Matthew this morning illustrate Jesus the son being Baptized, then the Holy Spirit descends on Him and the Father speaks from heaven. there you see all three members of the trinity on display, not three modes of the same person.
So lets move on from there to looking at how this plays out in our affirmation of faith. Here we have in this one verse, all three persons of the trinity mentioned. Also we have three distinct roles mentioned as well that will help us to understand how each person of the trinity functions.
the Father is the source of the blessing. “who has blessed us…” The Father is the sender here, he is the source of what we have, He is the primary initiator of what is going to happen.
Christ is the means. “…in Christ…” Christ is the means by which the Father has blessed us. It was Christ who came and purchased us back form the dead, it was Christ who put on flesh and dwelt among us. He was the one who went to the cross and atoned for our sins. Our blessing that He speaks of here only comes “IN Christ”
The Spirit is the substance of the blessing. “…with every Spiritual blessing…” When Jesus met with His disciples before He ascended into Heaven He said that it is better that He go because He was sending the Holy Spirit. In may ways the Spirit is the blessing that The Father gives in the Son. The Holy Spirit is the comforter, teacher, Paraclete, the one who opens our eyes to the truth about Jesus and what He has done or you and me.
So, now that you are totally clear on what the Trinity means, and how it is worked out in this text, let me close with this.
The thing that gets me about the trinity and our walk today is this. The Trinity is a relational being. there is something about the relationship of the Father to the Son and the Son to the spirit that speaks to me about the way that God created us. You see, we are made for relationships. We are made to coexist, and to be in relationships with others. We see that all throughout scripture. God said it wasn’t right for man to be alone, because in a certain sense, the Father was not alone, so He created marriage and said that the two become one flesh. In a similar way, God didn’t want us to be on our own as believers, so He gave us the church and said that there are many members but one body. There is something about relationships that is tied very deeply to our existence. I believe that the reason for this is because it is the very nature of God put on display for us. That when we understand the nature of true relationships, we begin to understand more about the nature of the triune God.