Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Trinity

Fr. Dale Matson

Today is Trinity Sunday. The Christian Church is Trinitarian. The doctrine of the Trinity was established early in the history of the Christian Church and we confess it every Sunday in the Nicene Creed. We worship one God in three persons. This is both a fact and a mystery of Christ’s Church. Each person of the Godhead is usually associated with particular actions and we say as we do in the Nicene Creed that God the Father is the Creator of Heaven and Earth and all things seen and unseen. We also say that God the Son, Jesus Christ also participated in creation. Christ is one person with two natures. He is both God and Man. He is also associated with our redemption and salvation through this perfect life, death, resurrection and ascension. When He ascended to Heaven, the Holy Spirit was sent to give spiritual life to those who believe in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is here to live in us, to guide us into truth and to sanctify us as we live out our Christian lives. Sanctification is the process of becoming Holy. In this process we take on the life of our Savior Christ. God the Holy Spirit empowers us to live the Christian life and to boldly proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. What I have expressed are some of the basics of our Christian faith.

While we think of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit acting independently from one another, what makes us a truly Christian Church is our embracing each of the Persons of the Godhead equally and understanding how all the Persons of the Godhead are working together for our sake.  Let me give you an example in the account of the resurrection of Christ. Who raised Christ from the dead?

1.      There are a number of passages that say it was God the Father. Here is an example from Acts 5:30.  “The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.”
2.      In the verse immediately prior to our reading from Romans Chapter 8, we hear in verse 11, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Here it is God the Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead.
3.      How about this? “Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. “The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body” (John 2:19-20). The Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses try and explain this verse away because it clearly shows the deity of Christ. They will say He was simply speaking in a metaphor and this should not be taken literally. OK, how about these verses from John Chapter 10 (17-18a). “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” So, who raised Christ from the dead? One God acting as three Persons raised Christ from the dead.

We have three creeds in the Anglican Church. The creeds are, the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. The Athanasian Creed is the summary of our belief about the Trinity.  The Creed is found on Pages 864-865 of the BCP. It is fitting that at a minimum, we should confess the Creed of St. Athanasius on Trinity Sunday. 

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