The Revelation of God as Trinity
Jesus reveals that the one God is three persons. This is something we couldn’t know unless God revealed it to us, but it is the heart of what and who God is.
Date: 22 Dec 2019
We begin now to look at 'the faith' what God has revealed to us about himself. These revelations require an act of faith from us. Remember the husband from last week’s sermon. His beautiful, loveable wonderful wife makes his love possible but he must respond freely to her in love, she makes it possible but he must do it. He must love if he is to be truly happy, truly human. So too what God reveals to us, makes possible our faith but we must respond with an act of faith.
Throughout the Old Testament God revealed himself, sometimes in a mysterious and hidden way. Sometimes with great clarity. God teaches his chosen people Israel that God is one and that all must worship him. The one God reveals himself to be a God of power and authority but also of love, forgiveness, truth and justice. All things, he teaches them, are of value and must be judged insofar as they lead to God, because to know the one God is to know the source of goodness, truth and love. There are many profound moments in the Old Testament when God reveals himself. One in particular is that moment when from the heart of the burning bush God reveals his name to Moses. ‘I am who am’ revealing to us that God wishes us to know him and that God is being itself.
Desiring our happiness God reveals in love the innermost truth of God. Think of that husband and wife again. So in love are they that each of them wants the other to know them fully, they give themselves to each other. God loves us so much that he wants us to know him fully even though, as the husband may well say of his wife, she is just too beautiful and wonderful and loveable for me ever to understand. And in Jesus this happens. We are dealing here with mystery, not the sort of mystery that a detective must solve or the sort of mystery people mean when they just don't know but similar to the sort of mystery that a husband feels about his wife. He knows it’s true, he experiences it, but it is given to him as a gift, he cherishes it, he cares for it, but he would never claim to fully understand it or put it adequately into words.
The clearest example of this is Jesus revealing that the one God is three persons. This is something we couldn’t know unless God revealed it to us, but it is the heart of what and who God is. Jesus speaks of God as Father. Not in a general sense but specifically as His eternal Father. At the same time the Gospels and letters of the apostles speak of Jesus as the Word existing from all time, the Word with God and the Word that is God. The Church expresses this by the word 'consubstantial' the Son is ‘consubstantial with the Father’ that is one God with the Father. In the Gospels Jesus, God the Son, also reveals God the Holy Spirit, speaking of the Father sending the Spirit, promising himself to send the Holy Spirit after his ascension. Jesus constantly uses the words gift, receiving, giving, sending, one, unity when speaking of the Father and the Holy Spirit.
The philosophical terms person and nature, though inadequate, have been used to enable us to speak of this Divine mystery. Person being the answer to the question “who is it?” Nature being the answer to the question “what is it?” Each person Father, Son and Holy Spirit possesses fully the whole, one, Divine Nature but the three Persons are distinct. The Son is different because the Son isn't the Father or the Holy Spirit, the Father is different because the Father isn't the Son or the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit is different because the Holy Spirit isn't the Father or the Son. Each is God but each is distinct person. Who is it? Jesus. What is it God. Who is it? The Father. What is it ? God. Who is it? The Holy Spirit. What is it God. Inseparable in what they are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are inseparable in what they do. But in their proper way each performs that work. Another way of saying this is "one God and Father from whom all things are, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and one Holy Spirit in whom all things are" or, as you will instantly recognise ‘through Him, and with Him and in Him, (that’s Jesus), O God Almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, for ever and ever.
In the end it’s the mystery of love. Inexhaustible, incomprehensible but if we love God who reveals himself in Jesus we cannot ignore it. Above all prayer and adoration lead us more deeply into the great gift of love which is God’s revelation of his very being.
Next time (after Christmas) we begin with first article of the Apostles Creed.