Thinking of One and Three

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Devotional Word for Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Last week we looked at the three primary divisions of the Apostle’s Creed.  They are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  As we consider those divisions in the creed, it is good for us to consider exactly how Christians say there is one God and hold such a view of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Heidelberg Catechism question 25 asks, “Since there is only one Divine being, why do you speak of three, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?”  The answer says, “Because God has thus revealed Himself in His Word, that these three distinct persons are the one, true, eternal God.”  I happen to have read the whole Bible.  In fact, I have read it many times and the word Trinity (or Triunity) is not in any verse or page.  How is it that the Heidelberg Catechism speaks of one God and three persons? 

The Heidelberg Catechism speaks of one God in three persons because the Scriptures speak of one God in three persons.  Verses like Deuteronomy 6:4 remind us that there is One God.  This is reinforced throughout the Old Testament as God’s people wandered from the Lord and sought to serve idols.  The Lord Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 6:4 as He is summarizing the Law and explaining its significance.  While this may seem fairly straightforward, we must recognize that Jesus is affirming the Old Testament Word of God and helping any honest reader of the New Testament see that the statement is true. 

At the same time the New Testament makes explicit that God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Let me explain.  Within the gospel of John, we see right at the very beginning a declaration that the Word of God is Divine.  Listen to how this starts.  John writes, “In the beginning…”  If you had even a passing understanding of the Old Testament, the next words are clear.  They should say, “God created the heavens and the earth.”  Yet, that is not what John says.  Instead he writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  Before you ask how you get from the Word to either Son or Spirit.  Consider that this Word, John tells us BECAME FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US.  John tells us that this is the Lord Jesus God’s only begotten Son.  Jesus goes on in John’s gospel to say that He and the Father are one.  Unless we try to say that He was communicating something other than that He was Divine, remember that the people He was talking to picked up stones to kill Him. 

You may well think alright the Bible does seem to suggest (it actually shouts) that the Son of God is Divine, but can the same be said of the Spirit?  Note that the Spirit of God is said to proceed from God.  Even more than just a simple proceeding from Father and Son, the Spirit is listed with the Father and the Son as Divine.  In the last devotional we looked at Ephesians 1 and the role of the Father, Son, AND Spirit.  It wasn’t Father, Son, and Fred.  It wasn’t Father, Son, and the Church.  It was Father, Son, and Spirit all working on behalf of God’s people to the glory of God.  In the same way, Jesus instructs His followers to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, AND the Holy Spirit.  The reason why Jesus does so the Trinitarian character of God.  He is one God that exists in three persons. 

Now we could spend a long time looking at the many instances of the Scriptures that help us understand how the Father, Son, and Spirit interact, and it would be a good thing to do.  Today we are simply looking at the fact the Bible does present us with one God in three persons.  We also need to consider how we should try to understand this in our own little minds.  Gregory of Nazianzus helps here.  In a sermon more than 1600 years ago said in essence that anytime he thinks about the Oneness of God, he then reflects upon the three.  Anytime he then thinks about the three He is taken straight back to the one. That is a helpful word as we think about how to think of God as three in one.  Let us pray.