Before the Beginning…

A prominent pastor sat down with the V.P. of marketing for MTV who relayed that their research demonstrated that the overwhelming majority of young people pray but they do not know who they are praying to.  This is simply part of living in a postmodern, postChristendom age; you cannot even assume that when you say, “god” people understand what you mean.

So, who is God?  The cliff note version is that God is Holy, which is a churchy way of saying He is absolutely perfect in every way. 

For nearly 2000 years the church has has affirmed a doctrine known as the trinity, which states that God is 3 persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) but only 1 God.  This is confusing.  So much so that Muslims have accused Christians like me of not understanding basic math! So, we should ask the questions: (1) is the concept of the trinity Biblical? (2) even if it is, does it make sense? and (3) does it make any real difference?

FIrst of all, no one denies that the Bible teaches that the Father is God, so for the sake of time let’s focus on the two tough ones–the son and the Spirit.  The son is spoken of in Old Testament texts as God (Isa. 9:6) and in New Testament texts such as Phil. 2:5-11.  

What about the Spirit? Tougher case to be sure but if you peruse texts like Hebrews 9:14 as well as verses like 2 Tim. 3:16 and Luke 1:35 you will see that the Spirit is referred to as Holy and performs actions that can only be divine. 

Yet, the Bible also clearly affirms that there is only one God (Deut. 6:4), which is where the doctrine of the trinity comes from.

But does this make any sense?

It is important to remember that God is infinite and we are finite (Deut. 29:29), so just because we cannot come to an easy solution does not mean it is not true. 

For centuries theologians have struggled to explain God’s three yet oneness.  Dr. Millard Erickson has done a good a job as any by comparing God to conjoined twins.  They are individuals yet they are one.  That’s as good as I can do!

Does it matter?

It does to those who suffer.  For if the trinity are truly one then what one feels the other two feel.  Thus, when Jesus was tempted and suffered the Father and Spirit felt it as well.  Therefore, we pray to and interact with those who fully understand our plight.

It is also matters because Christians are called to be holy as our God is holy, so how He is we are to strive to be.  If God is in constant community with each other then we are to look after one another and love one another as well.  If there is no such thing as an isolated God then there can be no such thing as an isolated Christian.

Finally, the trinity is what separates us from other religions.  It is absolutely unique to the faith.

But more than anything else I want you to remember how God has revealed Himself to us, which is as Father (John 1:12-13; Gal. 4:4-5; etc.)

You may object, “but isn’t God father to everyone…not just Christians?”  Not really.  The letter to the Romans makes it clear that before one becomes a Christian we are “enemies of God. Yet, because Jesus pays the penalty for our sins and then imputes his right standing before the Father to us, God adopts us as His own children.

J.I. Packer wrote that adoption by God is the highest privilige we can attain and that the whole Christian faith should be viewed through this lens.

As a pastor, I have met too many who been abused, molested or simply ignored by their own fathers but God is willing to father them (and you) and He is a good father who loves, listens and will never hurt you.  We may speak to Him as father, in fact, Jesus says that this is how we should pray to Him as a child to a loving Father.

Brennan Manning tells the story of a man who didn’t know how to pray but was instructed to simply pray to God as he would talk to His own father.  So the man began pulling up an empty chair and talking to God every day.  At his funeral decades later, his child told someone that when they found her father, he was leaning against an empty chair as if he was lying on someones shoulder.  God is a good father.

By Matt Rawlings, Member of the Revolution Leadership Team.


One response to “Before the Beginning…

  1. I have so many friends who really have a difficult time seeing any father figure to be someone good. They’ve been so corrupted by the dad who walked on on them, or the dad who beat them up, or the dad who never told them that they loved them to see any Father as someone good. It’s so easy for us to humanize a Holy God…. and see Him throuh our imperfect eyes….. and not cling to the goodness of our Heavenly Daddy….. out of fear.

    Awesome message tonight. Thanks for th reminder that we’re finite… and He’s infinate. It’s so easy for forget… but imperitive to remember. 🙂

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