(…continued) #2) GOD THE SON, JESUS OUR SAVIOR. Eventually, all that God has given you will be taken away. But that is not the end of the story. In the second article of the Creed, we say we believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus died and rose again from the dead, promising that by believing in Him, we too may rise from the dead. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish (that is to say, should not lose everything), but have everlasting life.”
When we look to God, we look at Jesus, through whom we have been reconciled to God, says the Bible, through whom we now have access to God’s grace; Jesus, who at just the right time, says the Bible, died for the forgiveness of our sins. We experience Jesus as ‘the face’ of God for us.
When I pray, I do not pray to an abstract philosophical concept of a Supreme Being or Force. When I pray, I am able to visualize in my mind a person; in fact, I see a young man with a beard and a kind face, because that is how Jesus has been painted. We don’t know what Jesus looked like, but we are able to pray to a person, a person who is also God, but someone who has walked on this same earth, and breathed this same air, and felt the same kinds of pain and grief and frustration as we have. Within the Biblical portrayal of the Trinity, there is this richness in the ways we experience God both as the all-powerful Almighty God the Father, and also, as Jesus Christ, our brother and our friend. Therefore, we can sing both Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty and What a Friend We Have in Jesus. When we feel in our hearts and minds that longing for God, either in gratitude for what has been given, or in desperation over what has been taken away, it is Jesus our Savior who has provided the way back to our Father, and through whom we approach the Triune God.
#3) GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT. The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is spoken of in the third article. The name of that Holy Spirit is joined the to name of the God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:19 and II Corinthians 13:13. In John 16:13 Jesus said that he would send the Spirit in order to guide the disciples into all truth– but we might sometimes wonder about that. We know that it doesn’t always work that way. Nowhere in the world is the church anywhere close to possessing ‘all truth.’ The Spirit does guide us into truth, and the opportunities are always there, but God has given us a will and a mind of our own. And that will and mind, now corrupted by sin, may receive or reject what God aims to do in our heart. We experience the Holy Spirit as the one who leads us into truth, bringing us to Jesus. But our faith will always be incomplete. The Spirit continues to work in our hearts and minds, and we must constantly do battle against sin, and the devil, and the world.
How this all works is a mystery which even the Biblical writers struggle to explain. But when we are talking about the will, we are in the realm of the Holy Spirit’s work. “The Spirit will guide you into all truth,” said Jesus, and in the catechism, Martin Luther described the Spirit’s work in these words: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in my Lord Jesus Christ or come to him, but the Holy Spirit has called me called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctifies and preserves me in the one true faith.” Luther struggled to understand and explain this just like ever other theologian before and after him, but all of them put together are only scratching the surface of the truth of this mystery.
We do not need to fully comprehend the Trinity. We only need to keep looking to Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will take care of the rest. But we do need to keep looking to Jesus, and then, somehow, it is the Holy Spirit that moves within our hearts to respond in faith to all that our Creator and Savior has done for us.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit– the three persons of the Trinity and the three ways that we experience God’s presence in our lives. Our belief in the Trinity is not a theological problem to be solved. Rather, it is a description of three of the ways God blesses us with his presence. It is for us to believe in and acknowledge that presence of God; being grateful to God our Creator, looking to Jesus for forgiveness and salvation, and being open to the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds.
Genesis 1:26a — And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…
Matthew 28:19 — (Jesus said), “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
II Corinthians 13:13 — The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
MORNING PRAYER of John Stott (1921-2011):
Good morning, Heavenly Father; good morning, Lord Jesus; good morning, Holy Spirit. Heavenly Father, I worship you, creator and sustainer of the universe. Lord Jesus, I worship you, Savior and Lord of the world. Holy Spirit, I worship you, sanctifier of the people of God. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more. Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you. Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God, have mercy upon me. Amen.