Episode 5: Study of God, Part 2- The Trinity

Peace to Live By Episode 5: Study of God, Part 2- The Trinity - Daniel Litton
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[Transcripts may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and may contain extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       I hope everyone is doing well today.

       Most of us have had the experience of being in a church service where people are being baptized. For some, you may have seen the pastor or priest sprinkling water onto an infant. For others, you may have seen a person dunking another person fully under water, like in a tub or pool. Whatever the method of water that was used, you probably heard the person doing the baptizing say something like, “I baptize you into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” I think often times we hear the three Persons of the Trinity being said, but we really don't think about what is really being said. Is the person baptizing the other into three Gods? Or, is there just one God who makes Himself known in three Persons? Jesus tells believers in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV). But He also says in Mark 12:29, “‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Mark 12:29bc, ESV).

       God is perhaps the most misunderstood Individual in this day and age. A person doesn’t have to go out and about very far to learn that many people have varying perspectives of God. Who I want us to look at today is the God of the Bible. The Bible clearly explains who God is, though, it does not give us everything that could be understood about God. God is so great that what we understand with our basic, primitive minds doesn’t even come close to understanding who God really is.

       Now understanding God as Triune has been an issue of great debate. Not only is it a debate in this current day and age, it was also a debate in times past. People and churches alike have come up with different interpretations of the Trinity and the passages in the Bible that talk about God, and this has led to various doctrines within the Christian faith. Some of these doctrines about God have been heretical, while some are dead on accurate. This morning, we want to focus on what we, as evangelical Christians, believe about God—that He is a Triune God.

       What we mean by the fact that God is a Triune God is the following. We would agree that there is one God, and that this God is Triune in that He manifests Himself in three distinct Persons. This is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Bible, whether it be from the front, in the middle, or toward the back, attests that there is only one true God. The three persons of the Trinity only bid themselves to do the work that is limited to God. All three persons are the same in essence.

       First, I want to talk about God the Father. We first meet God in the opening of the Bible with the beginning of the book of Genesis. God is presumed to be existent. The Bible does not approach God as being created Himself, but it assumes that He exists as a given fact. This can be difficult for many people to understand. Nevertheless, we are told in the first chapter of Genesis that God created the earth, the sky, the universe, and everything that is in them. This includes human beings. Not only that, but ultimately people do not have a choice on whether or not we would like to trust in God in reality. For the Bible notes that, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10bc-11, ESV). Now, what that means is that after this life, every person who has ever lived will indeed agree that Jesus Christ is Lord of everything, that He is the one and true God. This is because all will see God and His glory, and reality will hit them. But for many, it will be too late.

       It is important to note here that God is holy and love. Indeed, this is very important. First, God must be recognized as holy. That is, God is set apart from human beings and creation itself. God is truly perfect, and in Him is found no deceit at all. The Lord Jesus Christ pointed out of God that His name is hallowed (Matthew 6:9). We also know that “God is love,” (1 John 4:16, ESV). This is significant to note because if God were not loving, we would be nothing. For how would we have this world, and all the gracious things the Father has given us, is it were not for God's love? Indeed, even our very salvation is made possible by the Lord Jesus Christ, and was given to us because “God so loved the world,” (John 3:16, ESV). Therefore, God has provided and still provides the Christian with his or her salvation. And no matter what we go through in this life, God will always be with the Christian and show his love for him or her. The Apostle Paul notes in Romans 8 the following about God the Father's love for us: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39, ESV).

       God also is all-knowing. That is, He knows everything. 1 John 3:19-20 tells us that, “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” (ESV). So not only is God all-knowing, but also He is Great. Also, in 1 Peter 1, the Apostle Peter discusses that God foreknew those whom He had called. So God knows everyone He has planned to call. A good summery of this is found in 1 Thessalonians 2:13-14: “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (ESV).

       God is active in many other works and areas as well. He was the One who raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, as He performed this miracle above all miracles see (Acts 2:24). God is the One who has written the Scriptures, that we may know what He wants us to know and how to live a righteous and godly life, so that we are complete and ready for all good works (see 2 Timothy 3:16). Moreover, God is one of the Triune Persons to whom people are to be baptized into after being saved (see Matthew 28:19). And God is also the One who receives the prayers for the saints. And this good God will give good things to those whom He loves if they will just ask Him for them (see Matthew 7:11)!

       Now I want to talk about God the Son. We know that God the Son was involved in the Creation. For John tells us 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 were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (1:1-3, ESV). This passage of Scripture tells us a lot about Jesus. First, it notes that He is eternal with God, at least we can assume so because He was in the beginning before anything that we see was made. Moreover, it tells us that He was a vital part of the Creation process, even though Genesis chapter 1 seems to only note God the Father and the God the Spirit. Nevertheless, nothing indeed within the Creation was made without the Lord Jesus Christ being involved.

       Jesus Himself, like God the Father, is noted in Scripture as being holy and given authority. In Acts 3:14, Jesus is noted as “the Holy and Righteous One,” (ESV). A demon recognized Jesus as “the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34, ESV). Simon Peter also acknowledged this very same thing in John 6:69. Jesus is also noted as having authority. John 10 tells us that God gave Jesus authority to lay down his life, and then to resurrect Himself. This was an important charge of authority from God the Father. Jesus would say after his resurrection that both all authority in heaven and on the earth was given to Him (see Matthew 28:18). This was not only a pivotal moment in human history, but also in that Satan himself had been dethroned in a sense from being king of the world. Satan likely could no longer say that he could give someone the kingdoms of the world and their glory, like he did in Matthew 4:9, when he was tempting Jesus. And what a sad state of affairs that would have been, if Jesus had accepted what Satan wanted! If this world, and everything in it, is passing away, the glory would only have been temporal. And who can trust Satan anyway? And because Jesus now has this authority over everything, this also entails we being obedient to Him (see 1 Peter 1:2).

       Jesus has brought about salvation for all mankind and shows His love for people through his salvation. Jesus commanded the Eleven Disciples—right before He went back to heaven—that they are to share that Gospel of his salvation with the world. They were to go about and make disciples from every nation, and this also included that baptism into the Triune Godhead, which specifically He was included by name (see Matthew 28:19). Jesus Himself tells us in John 10 that He was the one who lays down his life for the sheep—that is, those called to be His—and this of His own authority, and of which also He takes up his life again. This is important because we know that Jesus loved us and that He wanted to give up His life for us, so that we would have a payment for our sins. Jesus prophesied in John 15:13 in saying that, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (ESV). Of course, I believe He was talking about Himself here. And He said this shortly before His going to the cross. But this is also true in the general sense. It is also noted in Ephesians that Jesus showed His love by giving Himself up for the church that He might sanctify it (see Ephesians 5:25-26). Also, the Apostle Paul notes that the marriage relationship therefore mirrors this, for he says, ““Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32, ESV). So, the marriage relationship between husband and wife in coming together shows God's love for us. The two people become spiritually one person.

       But I want to consider a passage found in Romans 8 in discussing the love that Jesus has for those who believe in Him. The Apostle Paul penned some of the most encouraging verses to us in this text. Turn to Romans chapter 8, and going to look at verses 35-37. The text says: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35-37, ESV). Therefore, in Christ's love, we as Christians have nothing to worry about in this life, in reality.

       We also see Jesus as the sanctifier, peacemaker, and an intercessor for Christians. Romans 6:22-23: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (ESV). Therefore, in Jesus Christ we are made perfect at the end of our lives. The goal for the Christian in walking the Christian life (on the narrow road, which is hard and leads to life) is to seek constantly to be more like Jesus Christ. We are to do this in thought, word, and deed alike. One day, when we are actually with the Lord Jesus Christ, sanctification will be complete, and God will do this as Philippians 1:6 says. Now Romans 8:1 notes that because of Jesus Christ, the believing Christian now has his or her peace with God. This is vitally important. For who could have fellowship with God without peace with Him first? We can indeed have true, genuine fellowship with God “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him” (Ephesians 3:12, ESV). And Romans 8:34 tells us that Jesus intercedes, that is prays, on behalf of the saints! What a tremendous truth that is!

       Finally, I want to discuss the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity. In Genesis 1:26, it says, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (ESV). This is important because it notes that the Holy Spirit is indeed equal with God the Father, a great truth from the mouth of God. In Acts 5:3-4, when the Apostle Peter is scolding Ananias about lying to God, he equates the Holy Spirit as God Himself. This is an important passage because it establishes that the Holy Spirit is indeed God Himself. Nevertheless, even looking at Matthew 28 one can determine this. In that passage Jesus describes the three Persons of the Trinity, equating them, when He says that a person who has been made a disciple is to be baptized into the Holy Spirit, along with the Father first, and then Himself, the Son.

       The Spirit of God is also recognized in Scripture as Holy, hence the name the Holy Spirit. Sometimes His name appears apart from the name Holy, while other times He is called the Holy Spirit. Also noteworthy to consider is that God set apart the Holy Spirit in the time of Christ as of particular importance in name and in character. For Jesus at the time noted that, “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:31-32, ESV).

       The Holy Spirit was also part of the creation process, both the original creation and our new life creations as believers. We first meet the Holy Spirit in Genesis 1:2. In this verse, after God had created the heavens and the earth, it is noted that, “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2b, ESV). 2 Thessalonians 2:13 tells us that the Spirit of God was part of the salvation process. Indeed, we were saved it says through the Holy Spirit's sanctification. Titus 3:5 also says that, “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” (ESV). Romans 7:6 indicates that “the new way” in the New Testament for living the Christian life is brought about by the enabling of “the Spirit” (ESV). According to Romans 8:2, this new way of living gives us as Christians freedom. The Christian is also to put the deeds of the flesh to death by the Spirit, which produces true life (see Romans 8:13). The Christian is also noted as having the firstfruits of the Spirit (see Romans 8:23).

       The Spirit of God is our help in times of weakness, as He prays for us to our benefit. In Romans 8:26-27, it says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (ESV). This is a particularly encouraging passage. When we find things in life as difficult, we know that we have God Himself praying for us to help us along on the journey. That's a very good thing to know. Often times I think we do not know what we should pray for, or how we should pray for something. But the Spirit helps us by taking care of those types of situations. That is not to say that we should not pray always, but there are just times we may not be able to pray effectively.

       After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, the Spirit of God came down from heaven, like a dove, and rested on Him (see Matthew 3:16). We believers, Jesus explained later, would have the Spirit of God to come and dwell within us, and that He would indeed guide us and help us. Jesus talked about this in John's Gospel. Turn with me to John 14, and verse 16. Let's take a look at three different texts in which Jesus talks about the Helper, the Holy Spirit. Jesus states, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17, ESV). Now, turn over to John 15:26. Jesus says, ““But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (John 15:26, ESV). Finally, if we turn to John 16, Jesus notes the following. Let's start in verse 7:

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:7-15, ESV).

So, Jesus said the Spirit would guide believers into all truth, as well as declaring to us what will happen in the future. This obviously was fulfilled with the way the Scriptures would be written, and ending with the book of Revelation.

       In conclusion today, perhaps you've been listening to what I've been talking about—in the fact that God is Triune. Perhaps you have believed what I have been saying. Perhaps you believe that God really does love everyone. He wants everyone to come to know Him through faith in Jesus Christ. If faith in Christ is something you would like—if a relationship with the eternal God is something you would like to have, then today is your day. Not only does God guarantee a personal relationship with Him, but He always freely gives eternal life to whoever will believe in Jesus. That means you can escape from any of God's wrath to come. Indeed, the day will come when God will demonstrate His wrath against all people who do not believe in Him, against those who do not obey the truth. Don't be fooled, don't be fooled. God is a holy and righteous God, as we have learned today, and He will not let any person go unpunished who does not have a payment for his or her sins. God doesn't grade on a curve, and there are no exceptions to the rules! God wants everyone to come to know Him, but He never forces anyone to do so. However, anyone who does not accept the truth will incur the consequences of that decision because God is the One who is ultimately in control.

       If you would like to be free from the weight of sin and believe in Jesus, then all you need to do is pray a simple prayer, and God promises that He will save and transform you, in your life, so that you are like His Son, Jesus. Just follow my lead and pray a simple prayer, like this:

God, you are the true God. You are holy, I am a sinner. I have sinned my whole life, not doing the things you have wanted me do, but doing the things I have wanted to do. Today I accept your free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ the Lord. I believe that Jesus did come to the earth as a human man and died on the cross for the sins of the whole world, including my own sins. I accept His work on the cross as payment for all of my sins which stand against me. I believe that Jesus did rise from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion, and that today He is at your right hand in heaven. I believe Jesus truly is Lord of all. Please change my life, and make me like Jesus.

       Let's pray:

Heavenly Father, I thank you for the opportunity to discuss the Triune Godhead and trying to understand you more through the things that you have provided within your Word, so that we can be closer to you and more like Jesus. I pray for those you have accepted the truth today, who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior: please help them, build them up in the truth, please keep them firm in what they have believed today. I pray for us who already know Jesus: please protect us from evil and make us more like Jesus. So, Father, I pray all these things in Jesus most precious and holy name, Amen.

-Daniel Litton