Trinity Sunday | June 16, 2019
12 “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. 14 He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’
John 16:12-15 New Living Translation (NLT)
Following on the heels of Pentecost Sunday, we come upon Trinity Sunday. The concept of the Trinity is as old as the church and yet, that doesn’t mean that we don’t struggle with it. We try to come up with human analogies for it and most of them – while they can give us an idea of what the Trinity is – they don’t completely describe the Trinity. Most of them fall apart at some point. The Trinity means that God is three-in-one. There are three distinct persons in the Trinity and yet they are one. All three persons in the Trinity are co-equal and co-eternal. As finite human beings it is difficult to imagine this relationship. The three persons of the Trinity are God, the Father; Jesus the Son; and the Holy Spirit. There are not three parts of God, but one God – not three modes, but one.
Here in our passage this week, we get a peek into the Trinity. We see how God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit work together and communicate with each other – as one – and yet each has a distinct role in the life of the believer. God, the Father is our creator – we know that Jesus and the Holy Spirit were at creation because of Genesis (Genesis 1:26), “Let us make humans in our image.”
Jesus is the Word of God. He is God in the flesh. It is Jesus who came to earth to dwell, as Peterson puts it in The Message. “
The Word became flesh and blood,John 1:14 (The Message)
and moved into the neighborhood.
Jesus came to die – to make a way for those who are caught in sin (which is all of us.) Jesus shed His blood on the cross to pay for our sin. Three days later, through the power of the Holy Spirit, he rose again, freeing us forever from the power of sin.
The Holy Spirit – as we celebrated last week, came to dwell in the hearts of those who believe on Pentecost. The work of the Holy Spirit continues to this day – dwelling in the hearts of the believers.
The concept of the Trinity was important enough that the early church fathers met and put together key creeds: The Nicene Creed and later developed the Athanasian Creed. It is named after after Athanasius (A.D. 293-373), the champion of orthodoxy against Arian attacks on the doctrine of the trinity. Apart from the opening and closing sentences, this creed consists of two parts, the first setting forth the orthodox doctrine of the trinity, and the second dealing chiefly with the incarnation and the two-natures doctrine.
Today we remember that God is God – a Triune God – Three and yet one!
The Athanasian Creed
Whoever desires to be saved should above all hold to the catholic faith.
Anyone who does not keep it whole and unbroken will doubtless perish eternally.
Now this is the catholic faith:
That we worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity,
neither blending their persons
nor dividing their essence.
For the person of the Father is a distinct person,
the person of the Son is another,
and that of the Holy Spirit still another.
But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one,
their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.
What quality the Father has, the Son has, and the Holy Spirit has.
The Father is uncreated,
the Son is uncreated,
the Holy Spirit is uncreated.
The Father is immeasurable,
the Son is immeasurable,
the Holy Spirit is immeasurable.
The Father is eternal,
the Son is eternal,
the Holy Spirit is eternal.
And yet there are not three eternal beings;
there is but one eternal being.
So too there are not three uncreated or immeasurable beings;
there is but one uncreated and immeasurable being.
Similarly, the Father is almighty,
the Son is almighty,
the Holy Spirit is almighty.
Yet there are not three almighty beings;
there is but one almighty being.
Thus the Father is God,
the Son is God,
the Holy Spirit is God.
Yet there are not three gods;
there is but one God.
Thus the Father is Lord,
the Son is Lord,
the Holy Spirit is Lord.
Yet there are not three lords;
there is but one Lord.
Just as Christian truth compels us
to confess each person individually
as both God and Lord,
so catholic religion forbids us
to say that there are three gods or lords.
The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten from anyone.
The Son was neither made nor created;
he was begotten from the Father alone.
The Holy Spirit was neither made nor created nor begotten;
he proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Accordingly there is one Father, not three fathers;
there is one Son, not three sons;
there is one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits.
Nothing in this trinity is before or after,
nothing is greater or smaller;
in their entirety the three persons
are coeternal and coequal with each other.
So in everything, as was said earlier,
we must worship their trinity in their unity
and their unity in their trinity.
Anyone then who desires to be saved
should think thus about the trinity.
But it is necessary for eternal salvation
that one also believe in the incarnation
of our Lord Jesus Christ faithfully.
Now this is the true faith:
That we believe and confess
that our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son,
is both God and human, equally.
He is God from the essence of the Father,
begotten before time;
and he is human from the essence of his mother,
born in time;
completely God, completely human,
with a rational soul and human flesh;
equal to the Father as regards divinity,
less than the Father as regards humanity.
Although he is God and human,
yet Christ is not two, but one.
He is one, however,
not by his divinity being turned into flesh,
but by God’s taking humanity to himself.
He is one,
certainly not by the blending of his essence,
but by the unity of his person.
For just as one human is both rational soul and flesh,
so too the one Christ is both God and human.
He suffered for our salvation;
he descended to hell;
he arose from the dead;
he ascended to heaven;
he is seated at the Father’s right hand;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
At his coming all people will arise bodily
and give an accounting of their own deeds.
Those who have done good will enter eternal life,
and those who have done evil will enter eternal fire.
This is the catholic faith:
one cannot be saved without believing it firmly and faithfully.