11. A Class on the Holy Trinity

celtic_trinity_knot

This brief lecture was presented during summer of 2010 in the Responsible Living Unit of the Pierce County jail in the State of Washington.

THE PREFACE FOR THE CLASS

The Prayer:  Almighty God, send your Spirit upon me, so that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.

The Text:  The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 12:29-30, “Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, LORD our God, LORD is one. And you shall love LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’”

The class is seated … “Please be seated.”

The Greeting: Greetings everyone – May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

If appropriate acknowledgements of individuals.

The Title: Our subject on this day of the Lord, is “An Introduction of the Holy Trinity.

The Reason:  The reason why I am teaching on the Holy Trinity, is so that you may have an introduction to the Trinity.

The Points: The points of this class will be … 1. The Father. 2. The Word 3. The Holy Spirit.

THE INTRODUCTION FOR THE CLASS

I begin this introduction with a statement made by Jesus, “I will pray to the Father and He will give you another Helper.” [1] Here, in his own words Jesus clearly mentions the Holy Trinity when he said, “I, Father, and Helper.” This passage gives us an insight on how the seamlessly the Trinity interacts within itself, the Son asks the Father, then the Father grants and sends the Spirit. From the first pages of the Bible, it is clear that God is one; in the Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Scriptures it is written, “[God said,] Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” [2] Through using the words “Us” and “Our” it becomes clear from the start that God was more than one, but three in complete union with each other, a union that is for the most part beyond our limited human imagination. Although is God beyond our comprehension, we do have a unity we can grasp, ourselves. Each one of us has a mind, body, and soul. These three things are woven together and constitutes who we are. Today I will not offer you in-depth discourse on the Holy Trinity, which is a great mystery, but instead an introduction; one that should be understood as a summary of the subject.

THE BODY OF THE CLASS

With these in mind, let us turn our attention to my first point, the Father.

I will begin my introduction of God with LORD and this thought, the body of God is the one we call LORD, a real and existing presence. However, the body of God is beyond our human comprehension. You can see the body that light has and we cannot see the body that sound has, but we know that they are real and have a real existence.

While God is known by many titles and names, I will focus on only a few. The eternal and living God is known as I AM and the name for God is spelled YHWH. This name for God is pronounced in English as “Yahweh” and most English Bibles replace both the letters YHWH and the word Yahweh with the name LORD, which is always spelled entirely using capital letters. Unfortunately, most English Bibles have put the word “the” before the name LORD and thus changed it from a name to a title. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures LORD made himself known and his desire for humanity to live in harmony with him and each other. The Jewish Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth knew LORD very well and called him Father. Throughout his earthly life Jesus proclaimed his love and union with the one whom he called Father. Because Jesus called LORD Father Christianity has continued his practice.

LORD is the universal one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.” [3] For the most part the ability to be over, in, and through all at the same moment in time is beyond the limitations of our intellect and we can only grasp a little piece of the bigger picture. Therefore, it is enough for us to acknowledge that LORD, through the Word, is the creator and of everything throughout the universe; and as such, “LORD is our Father, [and] we are the clay, and [he is] the potter. We all are formed by [his] hand.” [4]

We should not find it strange that the one who is called LORD is not only our God, but also our Father. For as it is written, “Is not he your Father who created you? Has he not made you and established you.” [5] Yes indeed, he has done these things and he is our Father.

With this in mind, Judaism believes children belong to God and therefore parents do not own their children. In this context parents are caretakers and guardians of the children of God. Throughout his life among us, Jesus reflected this and reduce the emphasis on his earthly parents and focused on his relationship with his true Father, who was also God. Again and again, Jesus made it clear that God was his true Father and humanity was his brothers and sisters. Jesus wanted his followers to strongly embrace this Jewish concept and commit themselves to a relationship with their true Father. To this end, Jesus taught them a prayer that clearly directed them to their true parent, who is “Our Father, who is in heaven.” [6] Throughout the Lord’s Prayer Jesus affirms that the one who is in heaven is our real Father; and like any father who truly cares for his children, our Father takes an interest in our lives, and he will respond to us – according to what is in our best interests.

I will begin my final thought on God the Father with a gem from Billy Graham, “We are still His children, even when we disobey. We feel guilty and ashamed, and sometimes we simply want to hide. But God still loves us, and He wants to forgive us and welcome us back!”

God does not does not want us to disobey him, but instead he wants us to walk in his ways. However, we are only human and through our weaknesses we will disobey and find ourselves in sin. “But when we sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. “He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” [7]

The second point: The Son – the Word.

My introduction on the Word, the logos of God, begins before the Word was born in Bethlehem and two passages written by the Apostle John gives us an introductory foundation for this. The first passage is found in the Gospel he wrote, here it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.” [8] The second passage comes from a letter he wrote and begins in which the same way he wrote the Gospel. “We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seenhe is the Word of Life.” [9] These verses from the Apostle John provide those of faith some basic evidence that Jesus was among humanity before his human birth.

The Logos, the Word, is what created the universe and is the family redeemer of the family known as Christianity. Through the Word everything was created, from the very “beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” [10] This was accomplished when the Word of LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. “He breathed the word, and all the stars were born.” [11] Both through breath (Spirit) and voice (Word) LORD gave life and created everything on the earth and the far expansions of the universe, beyond our planetary system. The ability to create from absolutely nothing is only one great and amazing mystery of God, another mystery of God is the ability to be everywhere at every moment. The Word is the kinsmen redeemer of humanity and the one who promises to deliver, vindicate, and defend the children of God. The Word claims the privilege to act on our behalf when we are troubled, needy, or in danger. When we have allowed ourselves to be enticed by temptation and make mistakes, the Word will deliver us by paying the full price for our freedom and when we are trouble by the circumstances of our lives, the Word will comfort us. As our deliverer, the Word will redeem us with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of good judgement.

The prophet Isaiah foretold the manner in which the Word would enter human existence when he wrote. “The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son.” [12] At the appointed time, the Spirit of LORD came upon Mary and through a mystery of this presence she conceived a child. Therefore, the conception and birth of Christ does not require the intellectual reasoning of the human mind but instead the faith of the human heart. Jesus was born to Mary, his biological mother, and his step-father, Joseph, in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod. [13] Do not allow this to surprise you, because Jews receive their identity through their mothers, not their fathers.

The birth and life of Jesus came about because “God so loved the world, that he gave it his only begotten son, so that whoever believes in him should not parish, but instead will have everlasting life.” [14] Therefore, Jesus did not come [among humanity] to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. [15] Giving his life as a ransom meant death by crucifixion and through this “we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the wealth of his grace.” [16]

Now let us turn our attention to a mystery even more profound than the birth of Jesus, his resurrection from the dead. After his death, the human body of Jesus spent three days in the tomb, then he rose from the dead; we know this because the Scriptures say, on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb … and they found the stone rolled away from it; they entered the tomb and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus [17] After his body was not found in the tomb, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of his disciples and said to them “Peace be to you.” [18] One might ask, why did he have a resurrection; after all he had secured salvation and a right relation with God through his death? The beat and simplest answer is this, Christ died and rose again for this very purpose – to be “Lord of both of the living and of the dead.” [19] This is the mastery of the sovereign LORD and God of all things seen and unseen. If his birth was a soft message that he was God, then his resurrection would be a thunderous proclamation of his divinity. Here the Word leaves no doubt that God created everything through him, [20] including the creation of life and death.

I will leave this introduction on the Word with this reflection, when Jesus had completed his earthly ministries and finished instructing his apostles, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. [21] Jesus ended his time among humanity with another clear sign that he is the one known as LORD. Rather than simply disappearing in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep, he decided to give his apostles one final sign that he was God. While the Transfiguration had a limited audience [22] this Transfiguration and Ascension was seen by all the apostles and may be some of the disciples. Here the followers of Jesus saw heaven open its doors and witnessed the angelic company receive their king. What the apostles saw that day stayed with them for he reminder of their lives, it inspired them to always reflect upon the teachings of Jesus and motivated them to continue his work among humanity. On that day, Jesus went from being their teacher, to being their king of peace.

The third point: The Holy Spirit.

I begin my introduction on the Holy Spirit with a reflection, the Holy Spirit is everywhere and fills everything, including you and me. The Spirit of God is the means by which we receive the blessings, strength, and gifts from God. Have you ever felt a sudden inspiration to write some something? Have you ever been in a circumstance when you realize that you have strength you do not normally have? If you have or know someone who has, then listen to this; “the Spirit of LORD is the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Strength, the Spirit of Knowledge, and the fear of LORD.” [23]

The Holy Spirit is our counselor who will guide and support us on our spiritual journey. Our Lord Jesus confirms this when he said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who will lead you into all truth.” [24] Christ also taught that the Spirit is not only an Advocate, but our mentor, “When the Father sends the Advocate as my representative – this is, the Holy Spirit – he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” [25]

The Holy Spirit is the Breath of Life who gives life to everything upon the earth; we know this because the Book of Genesis says, “LORD God … breathed the Breath of Life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.” [26] Also, in the Book of Job we read, “the Spirit of God has made me, and the Breath of the Almighty gave me life.” [27]

In light of this, it only makes that sense that the Breath of Life is also the one who sanctifies us; therefore, salvation comes through the Spirit who “makes [us] holy and through [our] belief in the truth.” [28] This salvation came about long before our birth, God the Father knew [us] and chose [us] long ago, and his “Spirit has made [us] holy.” [29]

Concerning the Bible, the Spirit of Wisdom and Knowledge breathed into all Scripture and therefore it is given by inspiration of God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. [30]

And my final reflection on the Holy Spirit is the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” [31] Through the Breath of Christ, the Apostles were anointed with the Spirit and commissioned for the ministry of preaching, teaching, and absolution. This was also further evidence that Jesus was resurrected and indeed living, because a ghost does not breathe.

THE CONCLUSION

In conclusion, what I have offered before you, was an introduction to the Christian deity known as the Holy Trinity, a living and true God who desires to be in communion and fellowship with mankind. A God who calls each and every one of us, for the purpose of having a personal relationship. A God who is not just up there, but also very much among us and making our hearts his dwelling place.

Each and everyone one of us has a body, mind, and spirit, and this is true for God. The living God that is beyond our imagination has a body we call Father, a mind we know as the Word, his logos, and a Spirit. I will close with the words of one of the ancient Creeds of Christianity. “There are not three eternal beings, but one who is eternal; as there are not three uncreated and unlimited beings, but one who is uncreated and unlimited. … Thus the Father is Lord; the Son is Lord; the Holy Spirit is Lord; and yet there are not three lords, but one Lord.” [32]

Written by Dave Pflueger July 2010 © copyrighted by Pflueger

FOOTNOTES: [1] John 14:16. [2] Genesis 1:26. [3] Ephesians 4:6. [4] Isaiah 64:8. [5] Deuteronomy 32:6. [6] Matthew 6:9-13. [7] 1 John 2:1-2. [8] John 1:1-3. [9] 1 John 1:1. [10] Genesis 1:1. [11] Psalms 33: 6-7. [12] Isaiah 7:14. [13] Matthew 2:1. [14] John 3:16. [15] Matthew 20:28. [16] Ephesians 1:7. [17] Luke 24:1-3. [18] Luke 24:36. [19] Romans 14:9. [20] John 1:3. [21] Acts 1:9. [22] Luke 9:28-36. [23] Isaiah 11:2. [24] John 14:16-17. [25 John 14:26. [26] Genesis 1:7. [27] Job 33:4. [28] 2 Thessalonians 2:13. [29] 1 Peter 1:1. [30] 2 Timothy 3:16-17. [31] John 20:21-22. [32] The Athanasian Creed.

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