Three Persons, not Three People
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
“The Doctrine of the Trinity is the central Christian dogma that the One God exists in Three Persons, (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and one substance. It is a mystery in the strict sense, in that it can neither be known by reason apart from revelation, nor demonstrated by reason after it has been revealed, but it is not incompatible with the principles of rational thought.” (from the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 1977)
Sunday, May 30, is Trinity Sunday on the calendar of the Church. Its purpose is to emphasize the importance of the Trinity of God for all believers and to promote understanding of this doctrine among Christians. That it is defined as being a mystery assigns the responsibility to accept it by faith in God and to honor the early theologians who spent decades seeking an understanding and arriving at a statement of faith similar to that above. The primary work of defining this doctrine was accomplished at the Councils of Nicaea in 325AD and of Constantinople in 381. And the Western Church began celebrating Trinity Sunday as early as 1334AD. So this is no late addition to the Church nor is it denominational. Instead it is basic to all true expressions of the Christian experience.
There is not space in a brief commentary such as this to identify all of the scripture and tradition which led to our current understanding of the Holy Trinity, nor do I claim to be an authority on the matter. Rather I tackle this subject because I believe it important for Christians to consider and offer just a few comments and references in hopes that it will pique your interests and cause you to delve deeper into the truth of this doctrine and come to realize how it affects your own relationship with God.
Even as the word Trinity is not to be found in the Bible, the “trinitarian formula” is. One very familiar verse is that called “The Great Commission,” Matthew 28:19; “Go, make disciples of nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” And St. Paul ended his second letter to the Corinthian church with; “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” There are several similar references in the New Testament but, even from the earliest days, it was declared to all that there is only one God. “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Dt. 6:4) Also from the Old Testament, in Genesis 18:1 we read that “The Lord appeared to Abraham by the terebinth trees of Mamre,” and in verse 2 it says that “he saw three men standing there.” Not three lords, but one Lord. Add to this the beginnings of everything, Genesis 1, “In the beginning God,” He was first over everything, uncreated and eternal. In verse 2 we learn that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters,” and then from John 1 it is declared that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things that were made through Him.” And beginning at verse 14 we learn that this Word of God “became flesh and dwelt among us,” as Jesus Son of God. All three present from the beginning.
The evidence of scripture is undeniable in proclaiming that the Lord exists in three persons while at the same time is One God, that is having a single divine nature. The use of the words person and nature are important, for nature speaks to “what” God is, while person defines “who” God is. And we need to know both.
To conclude, I offer some simple thoughts which may help you wrap your mind around the concept of the Trinity: There are three persons, not three people. They are one in nature and thus inseparable. They can be distinct in their interaction with humans, yet they remain One. Each is always God; therefore, each is never not God!
Is this easy to understand? Definitely not. After all by the definition offered at the beginning of this letter, it is a mystery. And as a friend and mentor has said on many occasions, “My definition of a mystery? It’s a mystery.” Go forth his day being blessed by the Father, and by the Son, and by the Holy Spirit!
Seek and You Will Find
Written by Allison Gardner - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Photo credit: Allison Gardner
We looked everywhere. Every corner and cranny was turned upside down and inside out. There wasn’t a toy box left untouched. For several days, tears had been shed and prayer after prayer said in our attempt to find her. I even began questioning my husband about the run he had made to the donation center. Maybe Kitty found her way into the pile of clothes that were to be donated. I had gone to sleep every night wracking my brain, trying to figure out where that cat had gone, and each morning new search ideas greeted me with the sun! When Kitty was finally discovered in the hidden part of the recliner, there was so much rejoicing, and we said so many prayers of gratitude!
You see, Kitty is my daughter’s very first stuffed animal. From the first months of my daughter’s life to almost 10 years later, Kitty has been her faithful companion. She is the “stuffy” that has survived purge after stuffed animal purge. Kitty will be the one in the hope chest -- every frayed ribbon gently placed in a memory box for my daughter to maybe one day pass on to her daughter.
I was reminded of our search for Kitty today as I sang a familiar song. “The more I seek You, the more I find You. The more I find You, the more I love You.” Papa God reminded me of just how hard we looked and longed to find that Kitty. As silly as it seems, what if I truly searched that diligently for the Father? What if every prayer, every cry of my heart was “I need You, Jesus. I want to find more and more of You”? What if my thoughts, morning and night, were consumed with finding Him, drawing close to Him, and just being in His presence?
In this difficult season of just feeling dry and idle, He challenged me to seek MORE after Him. Instead of resigning to living with an unsatisfied, constant yearning in my heart for more, He encouraged me to move out of that stagnant place into a place of wholeheartedly seeking Him.
And the best part -- He promises to be found! God isn’t sending us on a wild goose chase. He is a patient Father, waiting for us to give our full hearts in search of more of Him.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV).
“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV).
May our hearts’ cry be a constant yearning for more of Jesus. And what sweet, glad rejoicing when we find more and more of Him! Just as our hearts experienced great satisfaction in finding Kitty, how much more will our souls discover contentment as we seek and find more of our Jesus.
Pray with me: Jesus, we lay aside all that may be consuming our minds and hearts. We want to seek wholeheartedly after You and You alone. Thank you for always being there, waiting for us. Amen.
The Rest of the Story!
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - The Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
This week, on May 13, the Church celebrated Ascension Day. Perhaps in your church
tradition there has been no mention of this day, and that is not unusual. Ascension Day is an ancient feast day of the Church recognizing the Ascension of Christ into heaven, and many Protestant churches will pass over this event in the life of Jesus. Yet it should not be so lightly taken. As Christians, we eagerly celebrate Easter and proclaim Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. But Jesus’ mission on earth was not completed until He had ascended into heaven. And the remembrance of this should be important to all of us who are beneficiaries of this act of God.
First of all; Jesus said that he had to go to the Father in order to send the Helper, the Holy Spirit to us. Here are some key scriptures from John 14. These are part of Jesus’ instruction to His trusted Apostles who had gathered in the Upper Room in Jerusalem for the Passover meal, what we now know as “The last Supper.”
Here, he has just restated the truth that He has to leave them and they were dismayed.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1) “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.” (verse 19) “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom I will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (verses 25-26) “You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ’I am going to My Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.” (verse 28)
These verses, and those in between, give testimony to the necessity and value of Jesus’ ascension. That the Holy Spirit may come to reside in the hearts of all believers and be our constant companion and guide, the source of our strength and our ready teacher of all things. But equally important is the understanding we gain
from the beginnings of the Book of Acts. Here we are reminded of the testimony of numerous witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection over a period of 40 days and in Acts 1:8 Jesus repeats His promise of the coming Holy Spirit; “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And what happens next is vitally important.
“Now when He has spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)
Not only is this assurance that Jesus will return as He has promised, but that it gives testimony to the work Jesus did in providing access for us to join Him in heaven. Remember who Jesus is; He is the incarnate Lord, God made man. He was fully man as He is fully God. Therefore, as the man Jesus can be raised to the heavenly realm, so can all those he draws unto Himself.
Yes, the acknowledgment and celebration of The Ascension is important. It was first celebrated in the church in 68AD making it one of the oldest feast days on the Christian calendar. Over the centuries, it has been celebrated by church services with communion, with a day of prayer and reflection. Traditionally, those who lit the Paschal (Easter) candle on Easter Sunday would now extinguish it. In some communities, the various churches would come together for worship, to join their voices in songs of praise, and perhaps hold a procession with images indicating the chasing of Satan from their midst. We invite you to reflect upon the ascension of Jesus and to read the scriptures proclaiming the rest of the story of Jesus’ Life, death, Resurrection, and Ascension into heaven; -- and be blessed!
What a Relief!
Written by Cathy Schrock - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Artist: Karen Harvey
Have you ever read Scripture, perhaps a familiar passage, and suddenly the Holy Spirit enlightens you to something that was hidden before? In reading through Jesus’ prayer for the believers in John 17, I was astonished at verse 19: “For their sake I sanctify myself [to do your will], so that they also may be sanctified [set apart, dedicated, made holy] in [Your] truth” (Amplified Bible). In all my years of reading the Bible, I never let that part sink in. Part of God’s plan was for Jesus to surrender Himself wholly through obedience because He knew that all believers would be IN HIM, and His holiness would become ours.
So often I find myself striving, fighting, attempting to overcome this sin or that sin on my own. “If I can just stop ________, I’ll be a better Christian, and God will be pleased with me.” And yet this thought is the exact opposite of what we need to do. We need to rest in the work Jesus has already done, surrender to Him, and not strive to accomplish that work for ourselves.
“It is finished.” I have come to realize that my work, my striving to please God by my own wits or power, is what is finished. Jesus did it all on the cross once and for all, and now I cease my striving and rest by accepting His work for me. Now I only need to count myself dead to sin and alive to God and choose to live with Him daily. Watchman Nee, in his book entitled “The Normal Christian Life,” (1977, Tyndale House Publishers) put it this way:
“Man’s way is to try to suppress sin by seeking to overcome it; God’s way is to remove the sinner. For years, maybe, you have tried fruitlessly to exercise control over yourself, and perhaps this is still your experience; but when once you see the truth you will recognize that you are indeed powerless to do anything, but that in setting YOU aside altogether God has done it all. Such a discovery brings human striving and self-effort to an end. The normal Christian life must begin with a very definite “knowing,” an opening of the eyes of the heart to see what we have in Christ. You have died! You are done with! The self you loathe is on the cross in Christ. And ‘he that is dead is free from sin’ (Romans 6:7, AV).” (pg. 46, 47)
“Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:6, 11, NLT).
PRAY: Father, what a relief it is to know that You have done it all for us! Show us how to rest in Christ’s work lest we begin striving on our own.
LISTEN: “Jesus Paid It All” by Kim Walker-Smith https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ymkl0t0FOcw
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry
“You are the light of the world, A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Mt. 5:14-16)
This well known and often quoted scripture testifies to the necessity of light in our lives and to our responsibility to demonstrate the light and life of Christ in an often very dark world. Indeed, there are ample reasons for us to consider the world today and believe that it is in a state of decline, -- of moral and spiritual decline. And if this be true, then our lights are becoming dimmer.
It is very easy for us to look around, identify failures, examine statistics, turn away from the ugliness, decry the depravity, and become depressed at the state of our world and ask, “What is the solution; will we ever be able to turn it around?” But what did Jesus say? “You are the light of the world.” He also commanded, “Let your light shine before men!” This is a call to action. It is a call for us to assure that the light He has called us to be, not only is lit, but that it shine brightly for all to see. It means, that Christians need to stand up, be identified as Christians, and demonstrate how brightly a Christian world can shine.
Jesus also said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) When Jesus was challenged by the Pharisees for; “bearing witness of yourself, therefore your witness is not true,” (vs. 13) Jesus countered by testifying that he does not bear witness only of Himself, but also carries the authority and the testimony of His Father. And when pressed further by his accusers who asked, “Where is your Father?” Jesus once again turned their argument back on them; “You know neither Me nor My Father: If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.” (vs. 19)
Here Jesus has identified the problem. The people living in darkness do so because they know neither the Father nor the Son. And as the Gospels also testify, they won’t be able to know them unless the Holy Spirit reveals them. “No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him;” (John 6:44) and “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
You have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. He resides in you to empower you to shine with the light of Christ. In this Holy Spirit Power, Christ lives in You and you in Him, and there is no power on earth sufficient to diminish your light; not when you go in the name of Jesus and in the power of the Spirit.
So, go; let your light so shine before men that you bring a little brightness to a darkening world and in the process demonstrate the truth that Jesus our Lord, is “the light and the life of the world.”
Go without fear, but with the certainty that your Christ-light is sufficient to snuff out the darkness which is trying to diminish your world.
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