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Who is God?

- A Sermon by Rev. Mark Perry -

A NEW VIEW OF THE TRINITY

Who do You Believe in? Whom Should we Worship? Who is God?

Jehovah's Witnesses (amongst other religious groups) are very quick to point out that the word Trinity does not appear in the Bible. And the point, or impression is: - that since the word Trinity does not appear in the Old or New Testament, that somehow that makes the term, or idea, bad. So, if you find yourself talking to them and the subject of the Trinity comes up, jump in and tell them that the word Trinity does not appear in the Bible, but the teaching, or doctrine, is still valid.

Christian scholar named Tertillian

Tertillian (a Christian scholar and author writing in the 3rd Century A.D.) is credited with coining the phrase: - the Trinity. Initially early Christians were simply content to share in a fellowship, in a sacred club with new rituals by means of which they worshiped their Lord. But after initial persecutions, and once Christianity began to spread to eventually becoming the universal or Catholic religion, things began to change.

The Nature of Christ

Questions arose concerning the nature of Christ: Who Was the Creator? What was the Holy Spirit? How did they work together? The point is that just belonging to a sacred group was not enough. People began to ask questions. Many things happened as a result of questions along these lines. Some people were put to death as heretics because their doctrinal point of view was different to that of the set teachings of the church.

The early Christian church set herself up as the only authority on doctrinal issues - or religious teachings, and the Word of the Lord was hidden from the people and interpreted by priests, to the people. In part, this is why the Christian church split. The people who later became known as Protestants, protested against this very thing. Why should the church alone have the right to the Word of God?

Religious Scholars

The point is that there were religious scholars studying the Bible; in part to teach the masses the Word of God and people began to ask questions concerning the nature of God. The concept of a tri-personal God was the result of the council of Nicea in 325 A.D. The statement was: that in God there are three persons, each of whom is God.

Protestant Church Split Away

When the Protestant Church split away from the Catholic Church there was a lot of emotion and feelings of ill-will. Any separation causes pain. But something wonderful happened in the Christian Church. The Word of God was returned to the people. After hundreds of years being denied access to the Bible, suddenly all people could have the Word. Of course few people could read it, however, even that changed over time.

Some Things Did Not Change

Still, when the Protestant Church split away, some things did not change. The fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church were carried over into the Protestant Churches, and have pretty much remained today. Catholic interpretation of the Trinity as being a tri-personal God, with further inquiry, is said to be a Divine Mystery of Faith. Protestants also think there is a tri-personal God, but Jesus came to be seen as the one who could save us, and became our personal Saviour.

New Doctrine Emerged

A whole new doctrine or teaching emerged. That Jesus, through the blood shed on the cross - in some fashion appeased the Father, who was angry with the whole human race and wanted to destroy it. So Jesus, who was without sin, died ransoming or buying back forgiveness for the human race.

 If you are a little confused don't worry. The teachings concerning the nature of God has confused people since the birth of human consciousness. Unfortunately this confusion has led many people into a frustration and sadness about their religion....People just want their God to be near, so they can feel His presence....

People want the Lord to be there for them when they are in need. They want Him near when things are going well, to share in the wonder and beauty of a special moment: - like a wedding. People just want to be loved and cared for, by God.

We Begin To Read The Word For Ourselves

 This affectional approach works fine until we begin to read the Word for ourselves and bump up against terms like God, Lord, Creator, Messiah, Holy Spirit, Father, Son. At some point we do need to wrestle with these terms and try to figure them out. Let's face it, if we want to be near God - learning to travel down the path of life to fulness of joy, we certainly need to know who God is, otherwise how do we approach Him?

Personally, I like the term Trinity. It sort of has a comforting and melodious feeling. T-R-I-N-I-T-Y. I do not think of a Trinity of persons - as is stated in the Athanasian Creed. But rather, I think of a Trinity of attributes, or characteristics. Here is a model, or way of thinking, that may help you.

Model

If you look in the Bible, you will find places where Jesus and the Father appear to be two totally separate people: - for instance, when Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemene praying to the Father, "Father if you would take this cup from me.....never-the-less, not my will, but thy will be done." (Matt 26: 39)

Other places indicate that Jesus and the Father are one: - as the instance in which Philip blatently asks Jesus to show us the Father, and it will be sufficient for us.

And Jesus said to Him, "have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know Me Philip? He that has seen Me has seen the Father. Why do you say then show us the Father. (John 14: 8-9)

Confusion Enters

Confusion enters, because a father and a son are spoken of as two, yet one. However, what people in the Christian Church have not done is substitute ideas for words. Some folks do not feel like they can do this, because it is messing with the Word of God. But ask yourself one question, if God was standing here, what would He want? Would He want you to stay confused, or would He want you to understand? I believe He would want you to understand His Word so that you could live by it, and grow spiritually.

Suggestion

For this reason, I suggest the idea of substitution. Instead of reading Father and Son, and just moving on, substitute the Word Love for Father & God. Some people have said to me: "But Pastor that is not Christian-like. We can't just go substituting things in the Word of God."  I believe the Lord did this, not me.

A Few Readings From Scripture

Ephesians 2: 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His Great Love with which he loved us.

Zephania 3: 17 The Lord your God in the midst of you is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over you singing.

2 Corinthians 13: 11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of Love and peace shall be with you.

1 John 4: 7-9 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that loves not, knows not God; for God is Love.

In this was shown the love of God toward us, because God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Surely implicit in these passages is the idea that God is Love. Is it wrong that we substitute the idea of LOVE for GOD and FATHER in our private reading? Substitute also truth or the Word for the term Son, Christ or Jesus.

More readings From Scripture

John 1: 1-3, 14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made [14] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 14: 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.

Surely Jesus is both described and called the truth. Can we then not do the same?

The Holy Spirit

Substitute use, or activity, for the term Holy Spirit. For the Holy Spirit acts or operates. Uses, or charity, are performed. Jesus in talking with His disciples about a time after He has died: said:

John 14:16-20 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever, Even the Spirit of truth;....for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.....At that day you will know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

John 14: 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you.

John 15: 26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he will testify of me:

John 16: 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will lead you into all truth:

Notice how many things the Comforter or the Holy Spirit will do. The many uses or deeds of charity.

To Recap

To recap then: Father = Divine Love; Jesus = Divine Truth ; and Holy Spirit = Divine Use.

 Substituting these terms into Scripture we discover (I believe) great insights into the Word of God, discovering< who our Lord and God is. In the scripture already quoted above:

No one comes to the Father but by me......(John 14: 6).

No one comes to the Divine Love but by means of Divine Truth......No one can approach God apart from His Word (For Jesus is the Word made flesh) Think about this and see if you don't rediscover who the Lord is? The one God of heaven and earth:

"I am the Lord your God...You shall have no other gods before me...you shall not bow down to them nor serve them...for I your God am a jealous God....(Exod. 20: 1-5)

If this be the voice of Jehovah....how can we worship Jesus as our personal Saviour?

"You shall not tempt the Lord your God!" (Matt. 4: 7)

If this is the voice of Jesus (speaking to the devil who is tempting Him) and he is here calling Himself Lord, who is God, how are we expected to worship Jehovah?

Are they not one and the same? Isn't it time we re-evaluated who is our God and what really is the Trinity?