The Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit

?????????????????????????  ” We worship one God in Trinity. For there is one person of the Father another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost.  But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and the Holy Ghost is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal.  And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.” (Excerpt from the Creed of Athanasius)

In the Gospel of John, John records Jesus’ disclosure of the mystery of the Trinity: three persons, one God with the Son doing the will of the Father and the Holy Spirit doing the will of the Father and the Son.

They are the “us” in Genesis 1:26, when God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness—“. Jesus was the Word. (In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God —All things came into being by him and apart from him nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:1,3). Jesus spoke everything into existence according to the will of the Father, then God the Father breathed the breath of life (the Holy Spirit) into the man’s nostrils and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).

God the Father sent Jesus into the world to do the Father’s will.  Jesus said, “I can do nothing on my own initiative—because I do not seek my own will, but the will of the one who sent me” (John 5:30) and “For I did not speak on my own initiative, but the Father himself who sent me has given me commandment, what to say and what to speak” (John 1:49).

God the Son came down to earth and made himself a little lower than the angels (Psalm 8:4,5) to identify himself with us. He was 100% God and 100% man and 100% sinless. He offered himself up for us as a perfect sacrifice just as the Levite priests offered up a perfect Pascal Lamb as a sacrifice, whose blood would cover the sins of the Israelites. But this was only a temporary sin covering and a “type” that looked forward to Jesus, the true Pascal Lamb whose blood would cover our sins once for all. The priests had to offer the sacrifice annually because the animal blood was only a substitute for our Redeemer’s blood. Jesus Christ was the perfect lamb of God who took our sins upon himself at the cross of Calvary and made atonement for us once for all. It need not be repeated. It is a finished work that restored a right relationship for us with God. We no longer have to go through a priest to speak to God, we now can pray directly to him.

The third person of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son as well as from the Father. ‘Jesus therefore said to them (the disciples) again, “peace be with you; as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21, 22).

The Holy Spirit is our Comforter, our Teacher, our Advocate. It is he who opens our spiritual eyes and our spiritual ears to hear God’s truth, giving us understanding and knowledge of who God is and what he desires of us. Without the work of the Holy Spirit there would be no gospel, no faith, no Church, no Christianity.

This is the God whom Christians worship: Triune Jehovah. Three Persons, one God.

Advertisements

The Love Chapter: 1 Corinthians 13

Image

Love: the surpreme good. It comes from and is at best a part of God. Love is more than a characteristic of God, it is his character. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, with Christ in full view, St. Paul wrote this stiring description of love:

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

(a) When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.

But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (verses 1-13)

Fittenly, love is the last word in this chapter. The heart needs love, and the Christian must allow every thought, action, and attitude to be ruled by love. It is the Character of our God.

Note on (a): Paul “put away childish things” with decision and finality. This is a normal process for normal growth. The child strives to be an adult and works at becoming one with deliberation. The spiritual process is also like that. Out of a spiritual nature comes the desire for maturity, fullness and adulthood.

What Clues Did Jesus Give Us About His Return?

Matthew 24:42

Matthew 24:42  “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

In Matthew, the parables Jesus told about the end times include The Flood and Noah (Matthew 24:37-42), The Master of the House and the Thief (Matthew 24:43-44), The Faithful Servant (Matthew 24:45-51), The Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), The Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), and The Judgment of the World (Matthew 25:31-46).

Each of these parables has a distinct eschatological theme. The central message is that the time of the Lord’s coming cannot be known. In light of this, it is critical to remain awake and prepared. Being prepared is to be understood especially in terms of being faithful to tasks entrusted to one by God. The theme increases in intensity as the parables are told until it eventually dominates entirely in the last of the parables on the judgment of the world.

My favorite, though, is the parable of the ten virgins. The parable presents the story of ten virgins who go out to meet the bridegroom. Jesus Christ, in his return, is the bridegroom. The ten virgins are a picture of those calling themselves Christians. The ten virgins in this parable represent the visible Church. That the Church is compared to the ten bridesmaids rather than the bride, shows the diversity within the unified Church. No single kind of individual makes up the Church.

The significant aspect of this parable is the division of the ten virgins into two groups, “five of them were wise, and five were foolish”. They shared so many common features: they were all bridesmaids; they all went out to meet the bridegroom; they all had lamps; all fell asleep while they waited; and all were awakened by the cry at midnight. Nonetheless, the difference between the two groups is vital. Five were wise and five were foolish. The foolishness of five consisted in the fact that although they brought lamps, they had no extra supply of oil. Thus these five were unprepared to meet the bridegroom. This is the point of the parable. The wise Christian is prepared for the Bridegroom’s return.

With the expression “the bridegroom tarried” Jesus may be indicating that the Church must wait for a time until his return. Furthermore, the comment that the bridegroom came “at midnight” may indicate the existence of a time of spiritual darkness over the earth when the Lord returns.

The harsh reality of this parable, however, is that there are two kinds of individuals calling themselves “Christians”. Outwardly all profess to being Christians. None are totally unbelievers. We are not talking about the differences between an unbeliever and a child of God. Rather, the issue here concerns the distinction between those in the Church who are spiritually alive and those who are not.

Jesus did not condemn hypocrisy in this parable, but he did denounce spiritual self-delusion. When the midnight cry sounded only five virgins had their lamps ready. The five foolish virgins had taken for granted that they would be in the wedding party. It is one of the most severe and disturbing truths of the Bible that some who are engrossed in religious affairs and imagine themselves to be participants in God’s kingdom will actually be refused entrance.

What did the five virgins lack? Some believe that the foolish virgins lacked a living faith. They only had an outward appearance of Christianity. Others believe that their faith lacked works and thus dead (James 7:17). Both interpretations contain a lesson for us.

The wise virgins could not lend any of their oil to those who had none. There is no implication that the merits of the righteous will in any way help others on the day of Christ’s return. The relationship between the soul of man and God is deeply personal. No one will go to heaven because of a father’s or mother’s prayers or faith in God. The foolish virgins could not borrow from anyone.

Those prepared joined the bridegroom in the wedding banquet and the door was shut. Later when the foolish virgins arrived, they were denied entrance. The parable concludes with a harsh warning. As he had implied on several other occasions, Jesus said there is coming a time when it will be “too late” to enter the Kingdom.

Now is the time to begin a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. He loves each of us. He wants us to spend eternity with him. His stern warning is not to condemn us, but to warn us of how disastrous a lack of living faith can be. Open your Bibles and get to know him through the eyes of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Listen to Jesus’ words as he speaks to your heart through his word. Consider prayerfully what he has to say and apply his precepts to your own life. For his words are a “lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path” (Psalm 119:105). Grow in Christ. Then, when at last you are standing before our Lord, his word to you will be “Well done, good and faithful servant –enter into the joy of your Lord. (Matthew 25:21)

Jesus’ Last Words Upon the Cross

Image

Luke 23:46

“Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit” Luke 23:46

Again and again the Savior spoke of a people which had been “given” to him (John 6:37 etc.), and at the hour of his arrest he said, “Of them which Thou gavest me have I lost none” (John 18:9). Then is it not lovely to see that in the hour of death the Savior commends them now into the safe-keeping of the Father! On the Cross Christ hung as the Representative of his people, and therefore we view his last act as a representative one. When the Lord Jesus commended his spirit into the hands of his Father, he also presented our spirits along with his, to the Father’s acceptance. Jesus neither lived nor died for himself, but for believers: what he did in this last act referred to them as much as to himself. We must look then on Christ as here gathering all the souls of the elect together, and making a solemn tender of them, with his own spirit, to God.

The Father’s hand is the place of Eternal security. Into that hand the Savior committed his people, and there they are forever safe. Said Christ, referring to the elect, “My Father, which gave them to me, is greater than all: and none is able to pluck out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:29). Here then is the ground of the believer’s confidence. Here is the basis of our assurance. Just as nothing could harm Noah when Jehovah’s hand had secured the door of the ark, so nothing can touch the spirit of the saint which is grasped by the Hand of Omnipotence. None can pluck us out of His hand. Weak we are in ourselves, but “kept by the power of God” is the sure declaration of Holy Writ – “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). Formal professors who seem to run well for awhile may grow weary and abandon the race. Those who are moved by the fleshly excitement of a “revival meeting”, endure only for a time, for they have “no root in themselves”. They who rely upon the power of their own wills and resolutions, who turn over a new leaf and promise to do better, often fail, and their last state is worse than the first. Many who have been persuaded by well meaning but ignorant advisers to “join the church” and “live the Christian life”, frequently apostatize from the truth. But every spirit that has been born again is eternally safe in the Father’s Hand.

If the closing utterance of the Savior expresses the prayer of dying Christians it shows what great value they place on their spirits. The spirit within is the precious treasure, and our main solicitude and chief care is to see it secured in safe hands.”Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” These words then may be taken to express the believer’s care for his soul, that it may be safe, whatever becomes of the body. God’s saint who has come near death exercises few thoughts about his body, where it shall be laid, or how it shall be disposed of; he trusts that into the hands of his friends. But as his care all along has been his soul, so he thinks of it now, and with his last breath commits it to the custody of God.

Thank God there is a Refuge from the gales of life and from the terrors of death – the Father’s Hand -the heart’s true haven.

The Sixth Saying of Jesus on the Cross

(John 19:30)

“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished”  John 19:30

When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished”. He had accomplished the fulfillment of all the prophecies which had been written about how he would die. Centuries beforehand, the prophets of God had described step by step the humiliation and suffering which the coming Savior should undergo. One by one these had been fulfilled to the very letter.  Prophecy declared that he should be the woman’s seed. (Gen. 3:15), then he was “born of a woman” (Gal. 4:4). Prophecy announced that his mother should be a “virgin”. (Isa. 7:14), then it was literally fulfilled (Matt. 1:18). Prophecy revealed that he should be of the seed of Abraham (Gen. 22:18), then mark its fulfillment (Matt. 1:1). Prophecy made it known that he should be a lineal descendant of David (11 Sam. 7:12,13). then such he actually was (Rom. 1:3). Prophecy said that he should be named before he was born (Isa 49:1), then so it came to pass (Luke 1:30,31). Prophecy foretold that he should be born in Bethlehem of Judea (Micah 5:2), then mark how this very village was actually his birthplace. Had prophecy forewarned that his birth should entail sorrowing for others? (Jer. 31:15), then behold the tragic fulfillment (Matt. 2:14,15). Prophecy foreshown that the Messiah should appear before the scepter of tribal ascendancy had departed from Judah (Gen. 49:10), then so he did, for though the ten tribes were in captivity, Judah was still in the land at the time of his advent.  Had prophecy referred to the flight into Egypt and the subsequent return into Palestine? (Hosea 11:1 and Isa 49:3,6), then so it came to pass (Matt. 2:14,15).

Prophecy made mention of one going before Christ to make ready his way (Mal. 3:1), see its fulfillment in the person of John the Baptist. Prophecy made it known that at the Messiah’s appearing “the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a deer, and tongue of the dumb sing. (Isa. 35:5,6). Read through the four Gospels and see how blessedly this proved true. Prophecy spoke of him as “poor and needy” (Psa. 40:17 – see beginning of Psalm.). Then behold him not having where to lay his head. Prophecy intimated that he should speak in “parables” (Psa. 78:2). Such was his method of teaching. Had prophecy depicted him stilling the tempest? (Psa. 107:29), then this is exactly what he did. Had prophecy heralded his “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem? (Zech. 9:9), then so it came to pass.

Prophecy announced that his person should be despised (Isa. 53:3), that he should be rejected by the Jews (Isa. 8:14), that he should be “hated without a cause” (Psa. 69:4). Sad to say, such was precisely the case. Prophecy painted the whole picture of his degradation and crucifixion. It was vividly reproduced. There had been the betrayal by a familiar friend, the forsaking by his cherished disciples, the being led to the slaughter, the being taken to judgment, the appearing of false witnesses against him, the refusal on his part to make defence, the establishing of his innocency, the unjust condemnation, the sentence of capital punishment passed upon him, the literal piercing of his hands and feet, the being numbered with transgressors, the mockery of the crowd, the casting lots for his garments – all predicted centuries beforehand, and all fulfilled to the very letter. And as Jesus reviewed the entire scope of the prophetic word and saw its full realization, he cried, “It is finished!”

It only remains to point out that as there was a complete set of prophecies which had to do with the first advent of the Savior, so also is there a complete set of prophecies which have to do with his second advent – the latter as definite, as personal, and as comprehensive in their scope as the former. We may look forward with absolute confidence to the fulfillment of those prophecies which have to do with his second coming.

Christ’s Reverence for Scriptures

“I Thirst”

“Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” (John 19:28)

“I thirst.” This word of suffering is the fifth saying of Jesus on the Cross. Here we see his intensity of his suffering, his submission to his Father’s will and his reverence for the Scriptures. For how constantly the Savior’s mind turned toward the Sacred Oracles! He lived indeed by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. He was the “Blessed Man” that meditated in God’s Law “day and night” (Psalm 1). The written Word was that which formed his thoughts, filled his heart, and regulated his ways. The Scriptures are the transcript of the Father’s will, and that was ever his delight. In the temptation that which was written was his defense. In his teaching the statutes of the Lord were his authority. In his controversies with the scribes and Pharisees, his appeal was ever to the Law and the Testimony. And now, in his death-hour his mind dwelt upon the Word of Truth.

In order to understand the force of this fifth Cross-utterance of the Savior we must note its setting: “Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst” (John 19:28). The reference is to the sixty-ninth Psalm – a Messianic Psalm which describes so graphically his passion. In it the Spirit of prophecy had declared, “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink (verse 21). This remained yet unaccomplished. The predictions of the previous verses had already received fulfillment. He had sunk in the “deep mire” (verse 2); he had been “hated without a cause” (verse 3); he had “borne reproach and shame” (verse 7); he had “become a stranger unto his brethern” (verse 8); he had become “a proverb” to his revilers, and “the song of the drunkards” (verses 11, 12); he had “cried unto God” in his distress (verses 17-20); – and now there remained nothing more than the offering him the drink of vinegar and gall, and in order to this he cried “I thirst”.

Jesus knowing that ALL things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” How completely self-possessed the Savior was! He had hung on that Cross for six hours and had passed through unparalleled suffering, yet his mind clear and his memory unimpaired. He had before him with perfect distinctness, the whole truth of God. He reviewed the entire scope of Messianic prediction. He remembers there is one prophetic Scripture un-accomplished. He overlooked nothing. What a pro0f is this that he was divinely superior to all circumstances!

There is a real sense in which Christ still thirsts. He is thirsting for the love and devotion of his own. He is yearning for fellowship with his blood bought people. Here is one of the marvels of grace -a redeemed sinner can offer that which satisfies the heart of Christ! I can understand  how we ought to appreciate his love, but how wonderful that he – the all-sufficient One – should appreciate our love. Yet it is. For this he still “thirsts”. Grace enables us to offer that which refreshes him.