God in three persons

“Almighty, Triune God”

Post 5 of 28

United Methodist Church “Articles of Religion

And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Church of the Nazarene “Articles of Faith”

The God who is holy love and light is Triune in essential being, revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Southern Baptist Convention “Basic Beliefs”

The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.   

Fellowship of Evangelical Churches Articles of Faith

The one triune God exists and reveals himself as three persons, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  

My Muslim friends are okay with the Old Testament. To them the stories and names are familiar—Adam, Abraham, Jonah, David—and clearly tells of the One, true God opposing the polytheists and those who dare have any other god but the Almighty Creator. To the casual reader there is no hint of Trinitarian thought that my faithful Muslim friends readily equate with polytheism.

It is the New Testament that offends. The Almighty Creator is God. Jesus Christ is God. This nebulous thing called the Holy Spirit is also God. They are, in Christian thought, wholly God…all the time…in all places…in all ways. “You worship three gods!” they tell me.

“No we don’t”, I quickly reply.

“Of course you do,” they continue, “your belief doesn’t even agree with your own Old Testament where is clearly states that ‘the LORD, your God is one’!”

“Yeah…but….” I don’t know what else to say. Neither do most Christians at this point. Some try out a hopelessly limited analogy of:

  • an egg (one egg made up of three parts—shell, white and yolk)
  • or a woman (one person with three roles—a daughter, a wife, and a mother)
  • or water (one substance with three states—solid, liquid, and gas)
  • or, my personal favorite, a “Three in One” coffee sachet! Surely the 3-in-1 coffee packet is a God-ordained gift to the church, right? The Newsboys even sing about it—”Our God is Three in One!”).

Unfortunately, each of these falls short. None of these things exist as all three parts at all times and in all ways.

“But what?” my friend pushes.

“It’s hard to explain,” are the only words I can convince to pass my lips.

“Yeah, sure is.”

Nabeel Qureshi, in his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus tells of his journey to Christ and the nearly insurmountable mountain questions such as these became for him. It was impossible for a man to be God, yet that is exactly what Christians taught… and with great enthusiasm! The idea of the separate entities all existing as one person was simply impossible—it was a “ridiculous doctrine that merited divine retribution,” Qureshi told himself.

Then, one day while sitting while sitting in a undergraduate chemistry class staring at a diagram of a nitrate, the professor ended her lesson by saying:

These drawings are just the best way to represent resonance structures on paper, but it’s actually much more complicated. Technically, a molecule with resonance is every one of its structures at every point in time, yet no single one of its structures at any point in time…it’s all the structures all the time, never just one of them.

—Nabeel Qureshi, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”

Before that moment the very idea of a Trinitarian God—three persons simultaneously existing as one God—was ridiculous. But now, having realized that such a things exists in nature—in the very building blocks of creation—suddenly made the whole notion of a simultaneous 3-in-1 a possibility. It would take a long time for Qureshi to move from “possible” to “probable” to “I believe it to be true.”

The key was in understanding the difference between a BEING and a PERSON. God is ONE being with THREE persons—just as one molecule exists in all of its resonance structures simultaneously. WHAT is God? God is One (and only one). Who is God? God is Father. God is Son. God is Holy Spirit. Each person exists simultaneously along with each of the others as one holy, eternal, almighty, loving Being.

The picture of an atom in my daughter’s chemistry textbook are simple representations of something much more complex, but they are the best we can do. I mean, who can really comprehend the fact that the chair I’m sitting in as I write this is mostly empty space? In the same way, the triune designations of Father, Son, and Spirit represent a reality far more complex than we can really fully comprehend or explain.

It’s good to have people like Qureshi to think about such things as this. In the end, however, I’m not sure how much our One God expects or demands that we fully comprehend. If a cognitive, intellectual understanding of the Triune teaching of the church–that God is Triune in essential being–is necessary for salvation, Church membership, or a seat at the table of Jesus, we all might be in jeopardy.

It’s no wonder so many people only see God as being One. When God sits far away on the heavenly throne so far from the messiness of our human lives, all that can be seen from such a distance is a vague silhouette of oneness. But when God is Emmanuel—with us, connected, personal, unafraid to get his hands a feet dirty by walking with us in the scruffiness of our lives—we can begin to see more of God’s true identity as:

  • not only Father, but Shepherd (Psalm 23:1) and Daddy (Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6);
  • not only as Son, but Brother (Mat 12:48-50; Rom 8:29) and Friend (John 15:15; Mat26:17-30);
  • not only Holy Spirit, but Bringer of New Life (John 3:8, Ez 37:1-14), Companion and Guide (John 16:13), Power-giver (Acts 1:4), and Fruit-bearer (Gal 5:16-26)

If you liked reading about how God is triune in essential being, please see the prayer from which this post was taken here.

 

The Fruit of the Spirit

Post 4 of 28

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” — Romans 5:5

Paul in his letter to the Romans points to a key identity and role of the Holy Spirit in our lives; and it’s not merely the emotional “good vibrations” that come during times of public worship. Although people will often say things like “the Spirit was present” during such times, it is also relatively easy to elicit similar emotional reactions through a variety of carefully orchestrated “emotive buttons.” When we base the work and presence of the Holy Spirit on an emotional reaction or some other pre-determined set of actions and reactions, we can be can probably assume that what is being observed in not the Spirit at work.

The presence and work of the Holy Spirit is something very different. We should not deny that the Spirit can and does work in the midst of energetic, emotionally charged, and so-called “spirit-filled” times of worship…but we also cannot deny that it is just as likely that ordinary, seemingly mundane, moments are also regularly filled with the Spirit’s presence and work.

The work of the Spirt in the life of the believer is to encourage, strengthen, and empower one to carry out the purpose and mission for which one has been called, both collectively (as part of the Church) and individually (the specific plan that God has for individuals). For Paul, the key to that purpose began with God love being poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit works in our lives as a conduit of God’s love to us as well as being the One who emboldens, empowers, and encourages us to shower the world around us cooling mist of Christlike love.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

—Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

Love-Joy-Peace-the Fruit of the Spirit

The Spirit is living and active in the life of the Church as Comforter, Helper, and Guide as well as the One who convicts and converts. The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of Scripture in ages past, inspired its compilation, editing, and canonization, and inspires all who read and meditate on it through all time andin all places. But it is love—the same love poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit—that is the natural, spontaneous, uncontrived, not-manipulated, holy fruit of the Spirit that flows naturally from the authentic follower of Jesus Christ. The same love is the beginning of point of every other fruit that Paul gives—joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Where is the Holy Spirit living and active? Follow the trail of fruit.  The fruit of the Spirit.

———————–

See the prayer from which this post was taken here.

 

Followers of the Way

“Jesus Christ—Messiah—Way, Truth, and Life.”

Post 3 of 28

The title Christ has the same meaning as messiah so when we say “Jesus Christ” we are also saying “Jesus, the Messiah” or “Jesus Messiah.”  Messiah is a Hebrew word meaning “anointed one” and could be applied to anyone who was specially designated for a particular task or role, such as a king or priest. 

So, in the Old Testament way of thinking messiah was an adjective — describing certain people and the task they were given — but in the New Testament Messiah comes to be used as a proper noun — “the Messiah” or “the Christ.” — describing the person, the work, and the purpose of Jesus, the anointed one.  In Jesus, the long-held hopes of the Old Testament people of God are realized, even if they didn’t realize it at the time. 

In the book of Psalms alone we see this played out time and time again.

  • Let the light of your face shine on us (Ps 4:6)

    The way, the truth, and the life
    In him is our life when we grow in him.

     

  • Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death (Ps 13:3)

  • As for God, his way is perfect; the LORD’s work is flawless; (Ps 18:30)

  • For I have kept the ways of the LORD (Ps 18:21)

  • You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. (Ps 18:28)

  • Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me (Ps 25:4-5)

  • Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me (Ps 43:3)

  • Never take your word of truth from my mouth (Ps 119:43)

  • The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth (Ps 145:18)

Much like the adjective messiah became a proper noun in Jesus, these three “lowercase” nouns describing three things that come from God — way, truth, and life — become “uppercase” proper nouns in Jesus.  

“Jesus Way”

“Jesus Truth”

“Jesus Light”

———————–

See the prayer from which this post was taken here.

 

Where does my help come from?

Most High, Most Holy, and Most Loving

Post 2 of 28

Jesus modeled to his disciples a prayer that began with “Our Father in heaven” which, at the time, was likely considered a near-blasphemous statement, if not outright heresy. God was flesh and blood human and to associate God in anyway with a human identity was not appropriate. Interestingly, our Muslim friends today hold similar ideas about God — the greatest of sins is to lift up any human being to God-status or to lower God down to the human level. This is a great obstacle in thinking about the identity of Jesus, the Messiah, for Christian faith does both of these things.

Love is the very nature of God

Nonetheless, I think that in calling God “Father,” Jesus is attempting to teach us something about God. Rather than being an impersonal, capricious, disinterested Deity, God is personal, loving, and involved in the daily affairs of God’s creation. God is a Father, not in the biological sense but rather in God’s authority, responsibility, and loving care of all that God has created. We can address God as Father, knowing that God is paying attention, has our best interests in mind, and is always working for the good of those who love God.

Even so, we cannot lose sight of the fact that God is the Most High — the greatest, most-powerful, highest authority, the One that stand above all. Even the greatest of humans barely registers on the height chart of God’s heavenly door frame. He is the Most High, worthy of all worship, adoration, and praise.

The child asks of the Father whom he knows. Thus, the essence of Christian prayer is not general adoration, but definite, concrete petition. The right way to approach God is to stretch out our hands and ask of One who we know has the heart of a Father.

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

God is Most Holy — completely “other” from humanity and all that has been created, yet unafraid to mingle with humanity, calling us and raising us out of the mess of our messed-up lives. God is perfect in God’s plans and purposes — in God’s holiness, God is perfectly just, perfectly compassionate, and perfectly loving.

Finally, God is the Most Loving — the perfect model of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. There is no greater love than the love of God, and in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that love (grace, mercy, and forgiveness) is on full display in all of its perfection.

We praise you, Lord, because you are most high, most holy, and most loving.

 See the prayer from which this post was taken here.


 

Morning prayer to begin the day

MORNING PRAYER

Post 1 of 28

Heavenly Father, God Most High, Most Holy, Most Loving

Jesus Christ — Messiah — the Way, the Truth, and the Life

Holy Spirit-our Strength, our Comfort, our Helper and Guide

Almighty, Triune God

Your name is holy and worthy to be praised above all others

You are perfect in love and in all your plans and purposes

We bow before you today with humble, thankful hearts

Let your kingdom rule in my body, my relationships, and my world

Let love and mercy be the starting point of everything I do

Let justice and truth be always on my mind and on my lips

Let your grace, your peace, and your blessing flow through me daily

First Jesus...Then Coffee
First-things-first…

I desire to walk close to you today, Lord

In all things give me what I need and no more

Love & wisdom; Perseverance & courage; Guidance and direction

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your path

Forgive me when I turn my back on you or hurt the people around me

When I am less than loving, less than peaceful, and less than truthful

And give me strength to truly forgive those who do the same to me

Teach me to follow you more and more

To trust in you more and more

To listen to and obey Your Word more and more

Let my words be full of grace, seasoned with salt

Let my thoughts and actions be full of spiritual fruit: Love-Joy-Peace-Patience-Kindness-Faithfulness-Gentleness-Self-control

Keep me from things that knock me down and pull me away from you

And when these things come, give me strength to stand firm

For your kingdom is a kingdom of power, hope, and forgiveness

Your way is the way of fullness and life

In Jesus name…Amen


 

Sunset at home

Where is home?

Finding a place to rest in the midst of unrest.

 

 

Where is home?

Where is home?

contemplation of belonging
Where do I belong?