December 18, 2017

Sunday’s Gospel: Trinity Sunday

By Chaplain Mike

Today is Trinity Sunday. This day marks one of the few feasts of the Christian Year that celebrates a reality and doctrine rather than an event or person. On Trinity Sunday we remember and honor the eternal God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

We will briefly consider this Sunday’s Epistle text, Romans 5:1-5 (NIV). This text contains several triads which describe the work of the Triune God on our behalf and the fullness of our salvation.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Thoughts

First triad: The results of being counted righteous by faith in Christ.

  • Peace with God: no longer at enmity with him, God has reconciled us to himself, accepted us, and brought us into an eternal relationship with himself.
  • A standing in grace: transferred out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his own dear Son, we now live in a new reality, a life characterized by God’s gracious presence and work in our lives.
  • The hope of glory: raised from death to life, we will be glorified, made like Christ in body and spirit to live in the new creation with him forever.

Second triad: The work of suffering in our lives

  • Suffering produces perseverance: as we await the fulfillment of our hope, we need not fear the trials that come into our life, for God will use them to help us grow. Patience, or perseverance, is not something God gives us, it is a quality he works in us through life’s experiences.
  • Perseverance produces character: As God works through our life experiences to help us endure, our character deepens. We gain perspective, develop wisdom, and become more kind and patient with others on their journeys.
  • Character produces hope: With the increased perspective of maturing character, we learn more and more to treasure our eternal prospects.

Third triad: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit

  • God the Father has willed and put into action his plan to reconcile sinners to himself, pour out the Spirit on his people for their sanctification, and bring them to glory.
  • God the Son is the One through whom the Father has brought his plan to fulfillment. Through the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ, we enjoy all the blessings of salvation.
  • God the Spirit has been poured out in our hearts, filling us with love of God, strengthening us to face the demands of life, making the eternal hope real to our hearts.

Hymn

All glory be to God on high,
Who hath our race befriended!
To us no harm shall now come nigh,
The strife at last is ended;
God showeth His goodwill to men,
And peace shall reign on earth again;
O thank Him for His goodness!

We praise, we worship Thee, we trust
And give Thee thanks forever,
O Father, that Thy rule is just
And wise, and changes never;
Thy boundless grace o’er all things reigns,
Thou dost whate’er Thy will ordains;
’Tis well Thou art our Ruler!

O Jesus Christ, our God and Lord,
Begotten of the Father,
O Thou Who hast our peace restored,
And the lost sheep dost gather,
Thou Lamb of God, enthroned on high
Behold our need and hear our cry;
Have mercy on us, Jesus!

O Holy Spirit, precious Gift,
Thou Comforter unfailing,
Do Thou our troubled souls uplift,
Against the foe prevailing;
Avert our woes and calm our dread:
For us the Savior’s blood was shed;
Do Thou in faith sustain us!

Text by Nikolaus Decius (1525), translated by Catherine Winkworth (1863)

Comments

  1. JoanieD says:

    I really like those three triads you outlined, Chaplain Mike. I am going to save this to my folder on my computer where I keep important things. Have a great Trinity Sunday!

  2. Jo Ann Peterson says:

    Thank you for church this morning.

  3. In the Lutheran churches has I have been a member of, we will recite the Athanasian Creed. This creed is the least known and longest of the three ecumenical creeds. While it was not written by Athanasius of Alexandria, it was named after him to honor him for how he stood for the doctrine of the Trinity when many were rejecting it. Today, we see this same problem today when many “Christian” leaders and church bodies reject the Holy Trinity.

  4. Trinity Sunday? What church calendar are you following, Chaplain Mike? Today is the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. You know, when we celebrate the Christian roots of our country and pray for God to make us a Christian nation once again. Get with the program! 😉

  5. Is there anywhere I can listen to the hymn?

  6. Good post, Mike

    As a long time reader of Imonk, I want to say that you are doing a great job keeping up the Imonk legacy. I miss the ol’ boy. I read and interacted with him through e-mails through the last few years which I spent finishing my BA in Christian Studies. He helped me to find my way out of the evangelical wilderness and back to my home, the UMC (I grew up in the UMC). I am now serving two churches and am pretty far in to a MDiv. at Asbury.

    Anyway, great post but I think you missed a word: “access.” Through Christ’s atoning work, we have been given “access” to the very presence of God – NOW. Can you believe that Paul would make such a bold claim? Same word used in Eph. 2:17-18 & 3:11-12.

  7. Christopher Lake says:

    I am currently in a conversation with a friend who is looking into what the Bible teaches about the Trinity. His familial background with religion was being raised by his parents in Hebert W. Armstrong’s pseudo-Christian cult, the Worldwide Church of God. Armstrong’s teaching was fervently anti-Trinitarian. My friend eventually realized that the WCOG is a cult and left it, and for years afterward, he rejected all revealed religion.

    Now that he is interested in Christianity again though, he is reading the New Testament and claiming that he still doesn’t see sufficient Biblical evidence for the Trinity. It is a difficult subject, because while I can bring up the historic Christian witness of the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, he will not view them as authoritative.

    Without meaning to sound cynical, I actually have to wonder if he is not, ultimately, practicing what could be seen as the logical end of consistent Protestantism, meaning, it’s my understanding of the Bible that has the final say in what I believe to be orthodox, and even creeds are ultimately evaluated by my understanding of the Bible…

    • I don’t think that’s a cynical definition of Protestantism at its logical conclusion, it’s a very accurate one. That’s why many people on this blog, those who care about creeds, church history, devout Christians of history, and the Church Fathers, are struggling with being or remaining Protestant. Others of our iMonk family are content with your definition and see what you say as a positive thing. It’s not bad to define things; we need to know before we can choose.

  8. Padre Scott says:

    New to Internet Monk after a referral from a worshiper at the church were I serve as pastor.

    We’ve all heard the sermons that begin, “The Trinity is like…” for Trinity Sunday. While these metaphors can enlighten, what I find missing from the conversation and what helps me pour my self more fully into the Triune God is that the body of Christ found the need to articulate their experience of God in ways we now cal the mystery of the Trinity. Or put another way, it was only in the slightly fantastical, slightly confusing, and figurative language of “three persons” of “one substance” (any many similar formulations) that gave expression to the way in which God has revealed himself. For me, it is the truth that other expressions fell short of describing their encounter with the God who created the universe, redeemed them, and was in the process of sanctifying them.

    And, even as they – and I – articulated sentences like my last, they realized that while the Father created it was not done absent of the Son’s agency or the Spirit’s power. And the same could be said of all of God’s acts. Language, even reasonably well defined language as was used in the Nicene council and eventually the Nicene Creed, rarely fully suffices to express the heart of one who has encountered the only true and living God.

    And this is where preaching on Trinity Sunday got interesting. The reading from Romans 5.1-5, speaks of “boasting in the hope of sharing the glory of God” (NRSV) or “rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God.” To me, what the formulations of trinitarian theology express is a piece of the glory of God – his noticeable, observable, or obvious greatness.

    Our church is in the shadow of Pikes Peak. On clear Sunday mornings the window face frames the peak perfectly. We see the glory of God – his obvious beauty revealed in the beauty of this part of his creation. Unfettered by sin, this sight points beyond itself to its and our maker.

    And this is the hope to which Paul speaks – that we “rejoice” or “boast” (better) in the future that will be ours by the work of God in us – a future where we, like Pikes Peak, will reveal God’s greatness. As the Holy Spirit forms us into the image of Christ, people will think “Ah, I now know what Jesus is like” and they will be drawn to him. One day, that unpleasant believing friend, that pesky fellow worshiper, that overbearing pastor – each will reflect perfectly God’s obvious goodness and greatness – they will reflect his glory. And when they do, God’s divine nature, which is three-in-one, will be fully visible to all.

    And this is my boast – I will, someday, by the grace of God, do this too. What I am far from at any one moment, will be fully possessed in and through me.

    And so Paul can go on to say, “We also boast in our weaknesses”, for it is in these where God is most frequently given the opportunity and permission from his own to change them, to teach them, to grow them up, to build them into a spiritual house. I’m a fairly cruddy pastor – so I praise the Lord, because now he has more to work with and more in whom to show others that he is great. For who else could do amazing things through the likes of me?

  9. Jeff Lee says:

    Correction. It was Trinity Sunday in the West. In the East its All Saints. Trinity Sunday is celebrated in Orthodoxy along with Pentecost, as Pentecost is a revealing of the Trinity, among other things. 🙂