Tag Archives: church doctrine

First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday

The Fullness of God

Today we celebrate the Holy Trinity of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We celebrate the fullness of God,  To better understand his fullness, let us go back to the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,

In Genesis we read:

When God began to create[ the heavens and the earth, the earth was complete chaos, and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.   (Genesis 1:1-3)

Notice that the wind of God swept over his creation when he said “let there be light.

Then God said, “Let us make humans in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over the cattle and over all the wild animals of the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”   (Genesis 1:26)

Observe how this time God said: “Let us.” To whom was he speaking? He was speaking to himself: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are made in the image of God. If we are to understand our selves we must understand the fullness of his image. We are made to be like him.

Let us look at scripture pertaining to God from the standpoint of first the Son and then the Holy Spirit. What part did they did they play in the creation of humankind? Beginning with the beautiful prologue of the of John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.   (John 1:1-4)

Jesus, the Word made flesh, was the Father’s agent of creation. Our very lives came through him. Not only that, but we have reborn spiritually through him. His life has been given to those who believe:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.   (John 3:16)

The creation also relied on the Holy Spirit. He is the wind of God in Genesis. The Book of Proverbs goes into greater detail:

The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.

Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.

When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.

Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth–

when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.

When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,

when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,

when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,

when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;

and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,

rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.”   (Proverbs 8:22-31)

One of the things that struck me about this passage was the beautiful relationship between the Holy Spirit and God the Father. The Spirit, a master worker for the Father, was rejoicing in the work that the Father had given him. He rejoiced before the Father as he delighted in the human race that was being formed.

This leads us to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus, as he was facing the cross, wanted his disciples to know about the person and ministry of Holy Spirit:

Jesus said to the disciples, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”    (John 16:12-15)

The Apostle Paul wrote:

The Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with groanings too deep for words. And God, who searches hearts, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit[q] intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.   (Romans 8:26-27)

God gave his all to us when he created the heavens and the earth. The fullness of God brought forth human like. His Son gave up his position in heaven to ransom us from sin and death. God literally torn himself apart on a cruel cross, when Jesus bore our sins. In that moment, the Father had to separate himself from his beloved Son.
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How do we respond to God? He gave us his all to redeem us and restore his image in us. Do we give him all of ourselves in return? We need to see the complete image of God. We need the complete ministry of the Holy Trinity of God.

Jesus gave this great commission to his disciples before he ascended into heaven:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”   (Matthew 28:16-20)

Notice in this great commission the working of the Holy Trinity. The Church must teach all believers to obey all that Jesus has taught. Jesus, the voice of God, had taught us the true nature of God the Father and the essence of his commandments. But the power of the Holy Spirit is needed to help us to understand and obey all that Jesus has taught us.

Without and understanding of the Holy Trinity we are left without a very shallow faith indeed. While it is true that we cannot fully understand all the aspects of the Trinity, we can neither afford to ignore the Trinity. So many of our churches seem to stress one form of God over another. This is why we have so many different church doctrines. Doctrines cannot take the place of understanding the fullness of God.

Today, God is calling us. The Father wants us to know his love. The Son, Jesus, wants to fill us with the Holy Spirit and make all things new. The Holy Spirit wants to lead us into all truth, guide us, comfort us, interpret scriptures for us, and help us to pray. A loving God is always ministering to us. Let us acknowledge and embrace all that he is doing.

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Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr

First Martyr for the Faith

For those who refuse to change, the truth of God is unbearable. This has always been true and is still true today. Let us look at some examples. God sent Jeremiah to King Jehoiakim to warn the nation of impending doom if the people did not repent. This is how the people in authority responded to his prophecy:

The priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD. And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, “You shall die! Why have you prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, `This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without inhabitant’?” And all the people gathered around Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.   (Jeremiah 26:7-9)

The messenger of God is rejected because the message of God is rejected.

Jesus lamented over Jerusalem:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you, desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, `Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'”   (Matthew 23:37-39)

Jesus was crucified because the Jewish leaders could not bear his message. They rejected him because they also rejected God the Father. They rejected his plan for their nation and the whole world. They wanted a different message and a different Messiah.

In today’s Epistle lesson we have the example of Stephen:

Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.   (Acts 6:8-11)

Stephen was not only a servant of the Church as a deacon, he was a powerful purveyor of the Gospel. The leaders could not tolerate the message of Stephen which was by the Holy Spirit. Thus they rejected Stephen. Stephen became the first martyr for the Faith. He was an innocent man full of God’s grace and power, yet he was stoned to death in the name of religion.

People have a certain concept of God. When challenged by God’s truth they often will do anything , including destroying the messenger of God, to keep from hearing and complying with his Word. How far are we willing to go today to reject the Word of God?

The Word was made flesh for us and died on the cross as payment for our sins. Are we to reject such a great salvation? Are we to reject healings? Are we to reject prophecy in our day? Some of our churches and denominations do not allow for certain manifestation of God’s power and presence because they do not allow for God’s truth. Church doctrine does not take the place of the truth in God’s Word.

Where do we stand today? Are we open to God? Are we seeking his revelation in our lives? Is his Word all important to us? If so, then we will surely be persecuted, even within the Church. When that occurs, will we still hold on to the truth at all costs?

Stephen was a man whom the Word of God was all important to him. He was willing to die for it so that the truth might be told. Not only that, he was able to forgive the very people who were stoning him to death.

We would not have the Church today without the testimony of Stephen and many faithful martyrs for the cause of the Gospel. As in the days of Stephen, we are living in an age hostile to the Gospel, even in America. Will we step up and step out for the Gospel in our day?

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