What the Trinity Says about God, and UsSaturday, December 14, 2013
I once heard someone say that the most popular time for pastors to leave town is Trinity Sunday. How true that is, I don’t know. What I do know is that, in 50-plus years in the pews I have never heard a sermon on the subject, in whole or part. I suspect my experience is not unique.
Few would deny that the Trinity is one of the most (if not the most) important of all the doctrines of the Christian faith, and also one of the most misunderstood. Whether or not homiletical avoidance is to blame, it is regrettable, because no other doctrine tells us more about God and ourselves.
The nature of God
Were it not for the Trinity, St. John’s claim “God is love” would be little more than glassy-eyed sentiment. Love without an object is frustrated, unfulfilled, and incomplete. Thus, a loving but solitary God is a God who is contingent, a God who must create to satisfy Hs yearning, a God who is less than perfect.
On the other hand, a God who exists in a community of uncreated “One Anothers,” is a God who is complete in and of Himself from eternity to eternity. For him, creation is not a divine necessity, but an extension—an extravagant extension—of who He is.
Although Scripture lays out no explicit doctrine on the Trinity, it contains numerous references to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit working in concert. For example:
In the Annunciation, Gabriel tells Mary how the Spirit will come in the power of the Father to produce the Wordmade flesh in her.
At the last supper, Jesus promises the disciples that the Father will send the Spirit to remind them of his teachings.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul reveals that spiritual gifts come from the Spirit, in service to the Son, according to the sovereign purposes of the Father.
Then there’s Jesus’ rebuke of the Jews ("No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him”) that, when combined with his response to Thomas (“No one comes to the Father except through Me”) and Paul’s message to the Corinthians (“No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit”), reveals that personal salvation is the synergistic result of the Father’s initiative, the Son’s atonement, and the Holy Spirit’s promptings.
Scripture bears witness to a Godhead of three Persons united in will and purpose. One of those purposes is the creation of beings designed for union in the divine Community. For instance, notice how man’s tripartite nature of mind, body, and spirit relates to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the following verses... Continue reading here.