Thoughts on the Trinity

John 14:15-21
Ephesians 2:8-18

From Reader’s Digest, Life in These United States, Ann Spivack writes, “While our friends from India traveled to California on business, they left their 11-year-old daughter with us. Curious about my going to church one Sunday morning, she decided to come along. When we returned home, my husband asked her what she thought of the service. “I don’t understand why the West Coast isn’t included too,” she replied. When we inquired what she meant, she added, “You know, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the whole East Coast.”

She’s not the only person who is a little clueless when it comes to the Holy Spirit; especially when it comes to talking about The Trinity, our subject for today.

So what are some of my thoughts on the Trinity?

First, the doctrine of the Trinity points to the mysteriousness of God. The doctrine does not make an attempt to define the totality of God. Where would we in our finite humanness ever get off thinking we could even begin to comprehend the Eternal One?

An unknown author wrote: “If God were small enough to be UNDERSTOOD, He would not be big enough to be WORSHIPPED.” The idea of the Trinity is a paltry human attempt to describe what God has allowed us to know of Himself. I am reminded of the words of Paul writing to the Christians at Corinth:

Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Someday, we’ll understand more about God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For now, we will have to be satisfied with what we can glean from God’s word.

And what can we glean?

First is what is absent. The word ‘Trinity’ does not appear in the scriptures. Rather the existence of the Trinity is inferred from the scriptures. It begins in Genesis chapter 1: “Let us make man in our image.” And people say what’s up with that? It’s God the Father, Son and whole East Coast.

If there’s any doubt, the New Testament is clear:

Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us (Ephesians 2:18).

It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us (II Corinthians 1:21-22).

Jesus said, But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you (John 14:26).

Some of you graying and/or balding people will recall with me a little song sung at many a church services in days gone by. Its title is the Gloria Patri. Some of you can sing it with me:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be;
world without end, amen, amen.

That song was written in the second century AD as the early church fathers began to see in the scriptures the deity of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. It wasn’t easy to formulate this doctrine as many of the early church fathers were raised in the Jewish faith and were weaned on monotheism. If God is one, how can there be three Gods?

Pastor and author R. C Sproul has one of the keenest theological minds on the planet. In his book, The Mystery of the Holy Spirit, he discusses the early church’s struggle.

If God is one, how can we justify the worship of three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

The concept of the Trinity is designed to answer that question. The formula of the Trinity is this: “God is one in essence, three in person.”

The formula seeks to protect Christianity from serious combat on two fronts. On the one hand, the church wants to maintain its strict adherence to monotheism. Hence the first part of the formula – “God is one in essence.” This means simply that there is only Being whom we call God.

On the other hand, the church seeks to be faithful to the clear Biblical revelation of the deity of Christ and the deity of the Holy Spirit. Therefore the church distinguishes between three persons in the Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This accounts for the second part of the formula – “Three in person.” 1

The Holy Spirit makes up one-third of the triune God. There’s no hierarchy. The Father doesn’t sit on a higher throne than the Son or the Spirit; they are all three co-equal.

This is important because some Christians think of the Father and the Son sending the Spirit as some kind of force. The third person of the Trinity is not a force, as in the ‘force be with you.’

In his book, The Counselor, A.W. Tozer writes,

Spell this out in capital letters: THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON. He is not enthusiasm, He is not courage, He is not energy. He is not the personification of all good qualities, like Jack Frost is the personification of cold weather. Actually, the Holy Spirit is not the personification of anything. He has individuality, He has will and intelligence, He has hearing. He has knowledge and sympathy and ability to love and see and think. He can hear, speak, desire, grieve and rejoice. He is a Person. 2

We could discuss the mysterious nature of the Trinity till the cows come home, and although it makes for fascinating theological enquiring, I would prefer to turn to practical theology.

The Trinity makes it possible for God to restore what was lost in the Garden.

And what was lost in the Garden of Eden? Two things: Innocence and intimacy. Jesus restored our innocence. And the Holy Spirit restored intimacy with God the Father.

Prior to the fall, our human parents enjoyed perfect innocence; that is, they were not only sin-free, they didn’t even have a concept of wrongdoing. But then a tragedy occurred as they ate the forbidden fruit and innocence died. They knew that they were guilty of violating God’s command and they were afraid. So they did what guilty people naturally do; instead of manning up and confessing their wrongdoing, they tried to hide from God. To make matters worse, when He found them, they began playing the blame game. God had no recourse, the stench of sin was all over them. They smelled like a skunked dog. They were, therefore; expelled from His presence.

In today’s text, Paul wrote: “You lived in this world without God and without hope” (Ephesians 2:12b).

That is an apt description of Adam and Eve, and of all their children, including us.

We too are guilty. We have been ‘caught red-handed.’

Were you aware that the phrase ‘caught red-handed’ originated in 15th C. Scotland where a common crime involved the stealing and butchering of another person’s livestock. Now under legal codes that were developed then and prevailed for generations, simply ‘possession’ of freshly killed meat did not constitute proof of guilt. But a man caught with the blood on his hands was sure to be convicted. It was a waste of breath to plead for mercy after having been caught red-handed. 3

When it comes to our spiritual guilt, we have ALL been caught red-handed. We are guilty of shedding the blood of Jesus Christ because it was for OUR sin that he bled and died (Romans 5:8). And yet, guilty as we are, our pleas for mercy are immediately answered when we simply acknowledge our sin and ask for forgiveness!

“You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12b-13).

“Wonderful, so wonderful is Your unfailing love. Your cross has spoken mercy over me.” (First line of song Beautiful One).

So the second person of the Trinity . . . Jesus, the Christ, restored our innocence.

Now that we have been cleaned up by the Son, we have access to the life-giving presence of the Father through the Spirit so that we can redevelop intimacy with Him.

This is important as, during OT times, access to God was extremely limited. God was powerful and awe-inspiring, and to approach Him in the wrong way invited disaster. People; even the people of God must not think that they could rush into God’s presence anytime they wished. Not even the High Priests were entitled to presume on the presence of God. There was only one special day of the year, the Day of Atonement, on which only the High Priest could enter into the presence of God. And then only after meticulously cleaning himself up, not only by offering a sacrifice for his sin so he could be forgiven, but also by taking a ritual bath to symbolize his cleanliness. Only then was he granted ACCESS into the very presence. But for 364 days a year ACCESS into the presence of God was denied!

“Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us” (Ephesians 2:18).

If we think in terms of gaining access to the presence of God the Father as He is sitting in His throne room, it is Jesus who opens the door and invites us in, but it is the Holy Spirit who offers His hand to lead us to the very presence.

If you knew that God the Father was sitting on His throne in the back room, and if you had the chance to see Him through a little peephole on the wall knowing He could not see you. How many of you would choose to look through the peephole to see God? How many would be bold enough to walk right into His presence? And why is that? Because we are fearful our life doesn’t measure up?

But wait, we have been cleaned up; when the Father sees us, He sees us as holy. There’s no reason to be afraid of drawing close:

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22).

So let us open ourselves to all that the Holy Spirit wants to accomplish in our lives! For it is God the Holy Spirit who, when we allow Him to,

  • draws us ever closer to the Father
  • gives us the desire and ability to become more like Jesus
  • gives us the power to overcome sin in our lives
  • cultivates in us the fruit of His Spirit.
  • gifts us with certain abilities to minister the love of Christ to others.Surely the presence of the Lord, in the Spirit, is in this place.

Surely the presence of the Lord, in the Spirit, is in this place.

He is here, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is (are) present among us right now because you are here.

Paul wrote, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but
Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Jesus said, “For where two or three gather together as My followers, I am there among
them” (Matthew 18:20).

Paul wrote the believers in Corinth, “Do you not know that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

He is here because He is accomplishing His will in us to become more and more like His Son through the working of His Spirit. For Paul writes the Philippians “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him” (2:13).

He is here because He is working in our hearts giving us the desire and the power to do what pleases Him calling us to this gathering to worship Him, to proclaim His worth together to be enlightened in our hearts and minds by the power of His word to make decisions that through the power of His Spirit will bring Him glory!

He is here because He has filled our hearts with love of the Savior and love for His people.

And God has given us His Spirit as proof that we live in Him and He in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. (I John 4:13-17)

He is here, God is Here, Jesus is here, Spirit is here! Let us celebrate together the Sacrament of Holy Communion which symbolizes for us the love of God the Father through the death of Jesus His Son, appropriated through the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit.


1 R. C. Sproul. The Mystery of the Holy Spirit. [Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., © 1979]. (p. 37).

2 Tozer, A. W. The Counselor, Straight Talk about the Holy Spirit. [Chicago, Illinois. Moody Publishers, © 2015]. (p. 72).

3 Where, When, and Why Did the Phrase “Caught Red-Handed …

Randy K'Meyer

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