Trinity Sunday 2019
In todays gospel readings we read:
Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19)
A young man was traveling along a road when he came upon a small, fuzzy object lying in the road. He stopped to look more closely and discovered a sparrow lying on its back with its scrawny legs thrust skyward. At first he thought it was dead; but, upon closer examination he discovered it was very much alive. He asked the sparrow, “Are you all right?” The sparrow answered, “Yes.” The young man was puzzled and asked, “What are you doing on your back with your legs pointed up to the sky?” The sparrow answered that he heard the sky was falling so he was holding his legs up to support it. The young man said, “Surely you don’t think you are going to hold up the sky with those 2 scrawny legs?” After a few moments and a very solemn look the sparrow replied, “One does the best he can!”
Today the Church Celebrates God as Trinity.
And as I preach on the trinity today I feel like that scrawny little sparrow, trying in these next few moments, to hold up the doctrine of the Trinity to you. In my own feeble way, I desire to present to you a doctrine that the Catechism of the council of Trent says, "Nowhere is a Too Curious Inquiry more Dangerous, or Error more Fatal, than in the Knowledge and Exposition of this, the most Profound and Difficult of Mysteries."
The doctrine of the Trinity is foundational to the Christian faith. It is crucial for properly understanding what God is like, how he relates to us, and how we should relate to Him.
The Word Trinity is the word used to signify the central doctrine of the Christianity—the truth that in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, these Three Persons being truly distinct one from another. So in the words of the Athanasian Creed: “the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God.”
To many, this explanation for God makes no sense. But understand this-
A god that could be explained and understood by our human reason would only be another man just like ourselves.
The very fact that the God of Christianity transcends our reason is the clearest evidence that this is indeed the truth.
The truth of the Trinity is clear from the first verse of the Bible, where the word for `God' is plural in the Hebrew - `Elohim'. “In the beginning God.” We also see it in the use of the words `Us' and `Our' in Genesis 1:26. “Let US make man to OUR image and likeness” In what way are we made in their likeness. Understand that US and OUR are referring to the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
We see an illustration of the Trinity in I Thessalonians 5:23 were we read that man is a trinity. Spirit (likeness of the Holy Spirit), soul (likeness of the Father,) and body (likeness of Jesus). “I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The light on the subject is focused more clearly at the baptism of Jesus, where the Father (the voice from heaven), the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit (in the form of a dove) are all present (Matthew 3:16-17). “And Jesus being baptized, forthwith came out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened to him: and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him. And behold a voice from heaven, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
We see in the Gospel readings for today that Jesus commanded us specifically that we were to baptize in the threefold Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), the Son being identified in Acts 2:38 as the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Scriptures teach that Jesus Christ, from the beginning, “was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John.1:1) and that when He came to earth as a Man, He voluntarily chose NOT to exercise some of those powers that He had as God. This is what is meant by the expression in Philippians 2:6-7, "emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.".
Consider a few examples that prove this: “God cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13). But Jesus allowed Himself to be tempted in the wilderness as well as other times. (Matthew 4:1-10). God knows everything. But Jesus said when He was on earth that He did not know the “day and hour” of His own second coming. “know one knoweth... but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36). He also had to go near a fig tree in order to see if it had any fruit in (Matthew 21:19). If He had used His power as God He would have known that the tree had no fruit from afar! God's wisdom is unchanging and eternal. Yet, it is recorded twice about our Lord Jesus that he was "full of wisdom" he “advanced” or increased in wisdom (Luke 2:40,52).
All these verses indicate that Jesus had "emptied Himself" of many of the powers of God, when He came to earth.
But even though Jesus emptied Himself of these powers when He came to earth, yet in His Person He was still God. Obviously it is impossible for God to ever cease being God, even if He wanted to do so.
The clearest proof of Jesus' Deity when He was on earth, is seen in the 7 recorded instances where He accepted worship from others (Matthew 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; Mark 5:6; John 9:38). Angels and God-fearing men do not accept worship (Acts 10:25,26; Revelation 22:8,9). But Jesus accepted it - because He was the Son of God. At one time Jesus told Peter, “because flesh and blood hath not revealed that I am the Christ, the Son of the living Go to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16,17).
Concerning Jesus' humanity, Hebrews 2:17 is very exact when it states that Jesus "in all things was to be made like unto his brethren". He was NOT made like the children of Adam, for like the rest of humanity was, for Jesus did NOT have a sinful nature. Why? because He did not have a human father. Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit, and was holy from conception (Luke 1:35).
Jesus' spiritual brothers are those who do the will of God (Matthew 12:49,50) - who are born of the Spirit (John. 3:5) and who have put off the old man and put on the new (Ephesians 4:22,24). But we, the brothers and sisters of Jesus, do have a will of our own and Jesus was made like us "in all things". He had a will of His own too, which He denied (John.6:38).
Jesus was tempted in all points as we are, and overcame (Hebrews 4:15). However He did not come in "sinful flesh" but only "in the likeness of sinful flesh" (Romans 8:3).
Jesus never sinned and He did not have any unconscious sin in His life either.
If He had sinned even once unconsciously, He would have had to offer a sacrifice for that sin according to Leviticus 4:27-28. Then He could not have been a perfect sacrifice for our sins. He never sinned - consciously or unconsciously.
Jesus coming to earth as a Man is a mystery. It is foolish for us to try and analyze this truth, beyond what we are told in the Church and given to us in the scriptures.
Jesus said that He had come to earth in order to deny His own will and do His Father's will (John.6:38). This shows that Jesus had a human will that was opposed to His Father's, (Matthew 26:39). Otherwise He would not have had to deny that will.
Jesus too was tempted in all points exactly like us (Hebrews 4:15). But because He never consented in His mind to any of those temptations, He never sinned (James 1:15). Every temptation that we can ever face, was faced and overcome by our Lord Jesus during His earthly life.
He resisted sin unto death, and He received grace from the Father from His birth (Luke 2:40) until His death (Hebrews 2:9), because He sought for it with loud crying and tears (Hebrews 5:7 and 12:3-4).
The Holy Spirit inspires us to make two confessions concerning Jesus Christ - one, that He is Lord, and the other, that He came in the flesh (1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 John. 4:2,3). Both confessions are equally important, but the latter even more so, because we are told that the identifying mark of the spirit of the Antichrist is that he does not confess that Jesus came in the flesh. Listen to theses words. “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” (2 John. 7).
Today, the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5) is the "first born among many brothers" (our Elder Brother), and His Father is our Father too (Romans 8:29; John. 20:17; Ephesians 1:3; Hebrews 2:11).
Jesus did not cease to be God when He came to earth.
“The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we [the Jews] stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” (John 10:33). He did not cease to be Man when He went back to heaven. “For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
Before we conclude. I would like to give a biblical illustration, of the Trinity.
Man is a triune being because he is created in the image of God. “Let us make man to our image and likeness:” (Genesis 1:26).
He has a spiritual nature that is separate and distinct from the body in which it dwells.
The two following passages from the Bible clearly establish the fact that man is a triune being composed of spirit, soul, and body:
And may the God of peace himself sanctify you in all things; that your whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
For the word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow, (the body) and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12).
So today, let us remember that we as a people of God are to be witnesses to the nations. We who are in the image and made in the likeness of the Trinity need to be a good testimony to the Trinity as we go and “teach all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation, that is the end of the world.”