On this Trinity Sunday, our service would have opened with the hymn:
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty, God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!
This great hymn of praise is addressed to God, who has revealed Himself to us in the Bible as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!
If you have been baptised, then you will have been baptised in the name of the Triune God; the Holy Trinity. But why? Why not just say, “God!” Why all this fuss about something called the Trinity?
Well, because the Trinity reveals to us truths about God. We see, in the three persons of the Trinity, unity in diversity. Three different persons loving and serving one another, and working together for good, in creation and in reconciliation. Let’s look at the unity and diversity in Trinity.
Firstly, God is One
The first thing we must say is that Christians believe, as the Jews do, that God is one. As a boy, Jesus would have grown up reciting the Shema every day, the Jewish prayer found in the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4, NIV)
And just like Jesus, Peter and Paul and the others apostles would have grown up reciting this prayer. They were Jews. They believed in the God of Israel, the one true God! Like the Jews, we Christians are also monotheists, that is, we believe there is only one true God.
The Greeks and Romans of old were polytheists. Like the Hindus of today, they had many gods. But Christians believe there is but one true God.
Secondly, God is Three
From an early age, Jesus described God as Father. As a boy, he referred to the temple in Jerusalem as “my Father’s house”. And in later life, Jesus addresses God as “Abba, Father!”
The more you study the New Testament, … the more it becomes clear that the relationship between Jesus and his Father is far, far deeper and richer than any human relationship.
As the apostles grew in their understanding of what Jesus had accomplished, it became increasingly clear to them that Jesus was fully divine. No being who was less than God could take upon Himself the punishment for the sin of the world. In short, Jesus is Lord.
And it is Jesus, the God-man, who most clearly teaches the nature of the Holy Spirit. Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as “another helper” like Himself, … and as “the Spirit of Truth”. In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is also accredited with attributes of God, like omnipresence.
Thirdly, the Trinity tells us about the life and mission of God
The Trinity tells us that God is self-sufficient. Perfect unity in diversity already exists within the God-head and therefore God doesn’t need anything or anyone else. He has always enjoyed perfect love which is everlasting. God creates because He chooses to, and because it brings Him glory.
Trinity simply means “threeness”. These three persons is how God has revealed Himself to us in the Bible. God in three persons working together to create and sustain life as we know it. God in three persons working together to seek and save lost souls.
In his Great Commission, at the end of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus instructs his followers to make disciples of all nations and to baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
It is the Holy Spirit who opens hearts and minds for people to “come to the Father through Jesus the Son”. And Christian baptism is in the name of the God who saves us; that is, the Holy Trinity.
When the reformers of the Church of England finalised the 39 Articles of Religion, Article 1 was “Of Faith in the Holy Trinity”. They knew the vital importance of the Trinity to Christianity.
A basic understanding of the Trinity helps us add to our faith, and want to share with others the God who reveals to a broken world perfect unity in diversity:
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty, God in three persons, blessed Trinity!
Let us pray.
Almighty and eternal God,
you have revealed yourself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
and live and reign in the perfect unity of love:
hold us firm in this faith,
that we may know you in all your ways
and evermore rejoice in your eternal glory,
who are three Persons yet one God,
now and for ever.
I hope this reflection has helped you grow in your understanding of the Trinity.
If so, please share this short reflection with someone else.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, evermore. Amen.
Revd Stephen Robertson
7th June 2020