In Praise Of The Trinity

In these past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Trinity. Actually, my prayers increasingly celebrate all three Persons, focusing on each of their respective offices and functions. It’s been kind of exciting, and kind of fun, to pray with such a view of God in His various Persons.

The hymn I have chosen for today gives a vivid portrayal of God in each of His Persons, and I simply love the rich theology! As you listen, I pray that you will grow in your appreciation of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

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He Looks On Him And Pardons Me

Certainly we have cause to recognize, accept and confess our absolute wretchedness in contrast to God’s perfect holiness. Too few professing Christians understand the depth of human sinfulness or the height of His righteous purity. Indeed, one of this blog’s main purposes involves showing women how completely unable we are to live in a manner acceptable to the One Who knows and judges the secrets of our hearts.

That said, the Lord exposes our vileness, not to brow-beat us, but to show us His tender mercy and abundant grace. Gloriously, our sinless Savior bears the shame for our rebellion, firmly securing the Father’s favor toward us (if we trust in His shed blood for the remission of our sins). When I remember His flabbergasting love that caused Him to die on the cross for my sins, my heart floods with joy, gratitude and adoration for the spotless Lamb of God. Today’s hymn reminds me of His wonderful grace in bringing me before His Father’s throne.

The Grace Of Life: Ephesians 2:1-10

This post continues our Bible Study series on Ephesians 2:1-10 exploring the Gospel. Thus far we’ve seen that prior to conversion we were spiritual corpses. But we’ve also seen God’s mercy to give us life. Let’s continue studying that gift of life today.

Again, we’ll only get through one verse in our study today. But, like verse 4, verse 5 overflows with so much doctrinal content that we really need to spend time making sure we have a concrete understanding of Paul’s terminology so that we can apply the principles in our daily lives. So let’s go back to the text, this time adding verse 5.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— ~~Ephesians 2:1-5 (ESV)

In our study last Thursday. we watched the spotlight move from our deadness of spirit to the riches of His mercy as motivated by His great love in sending His Son to die for our sin. Verse 5 continues the Gospel message by triumphantly declaring that God raised us from death (verse 1) to new life with Christ. 

Here, Paul brings in the resurrection. We could not have life apart from Christ’s resurrection. (1Corinthians 15:20-23).  The resurrection of Jesus Christ is as essential to the Gospel as His shed blood on the cross.  And it is much more than the greatest event in human history. It carries a personal application for regenerate believers! Without compromising the literal facts of the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection, Paul demonstrates in Romans 6:5-11 (which I hope you’ll read) that believers die with Christ to our sin natures and now live in His righteousness.

As Adam Clarke writes: 

God has given us as complete a resurrection from the death of sin to a life of righteousness, as the body of Christ has had from the grave. And as this quickening, or making alive, was most gratuitous on God’s part, the apostle, with great propriety, says; By grace ye are saved.

With that thought, Clarke takes us to the first of two mentions in Ephesians 2:1-10 that salvation is by grace. Sadly, many professing Christians in our century often throw the word “grace” around with the assumption that everyone understands its theological meaning. Some even confuse grace with moral license, living as if it frees them to live in the very sin that once held them in death. Clearly then, we need a solid definition of grace.

I consulted a few Bible dictionaries, and found the most comprehensive explanation of grace in The Complete WordStudy Dictionary, which says, 

Grace, particularly that which causes joy, pleasure, gratification, favor, acceptance, for a kindness granted or desired, a benefit, thanks, gratitude. A favor done without expectation of return; the absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men finding its only motive in the bounty and benevolence of the Giver; unearned and unmerited favor. Cháris stands in direct antithesis to érga (G2041), works, the two being mutually exclusive. God’s grace affects man’s sinfulness and not only forgives the repentant sinner, but brings joy and thankfulness to him. It changes the individual to a new creature without destroying his individuality (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Grace necessarily implies dependence on the Person bestowing the grace. Unable to effect our own conversion to Christianity because we are dead in sin, we must rely only on what Jesus did on our behalf. The Amplified Bible offers a helpful rendering of “by grace you have been saved.” It reads, “it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).”

Verse 5 therefore reinforces the idea that the new life of salvation comes, not from anything we do, but as a  result of God’s great mercy. His grace transforms us from senseless followers of Satan into His holy children who desire to honor and obey Him. We enter into His life. What a glorious metamorphosis!

So, bit by bit, Ephesians 2:1-10 gives us a handle on the Gospel. Halfway through, we already see why the Gospel is such good news! But even  more good news awaits us in the next five verses, so don’t miss next week’s installment.

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How Many Reasons?

The Lord Jesus Christ has indeed given us more temporal blessings than we could ever begin  to count. Let me list just a few of mine:

  1. A mom who encouraged my independence
  2. Friends who included  me in activities
  3. Opportunities to travel
  4. Being mainstreamed into “regular” school
  5. College
  6. My writing abilities
  7. My digital art abilities
  8. Ministry opportunities
  9. Friends who listened and prayed with me
  10. A power wheelchair
  11. My headstick that enables me to type
  12. My Dell computer
  13. Personal Care Attendants
  14. All my wonderful adventures in Boston
  15. Belonging to First Baptist Church Weymouth
  16. Best of all temporal blessings, my wonderful husband John

As glorious as all those blessings are, however, I enjoy even greater blessings in knowing Christ Jesus as my Lord and Savior. He gives me:

  1. Forgiveness of sin
  2. The faith that leads to salvation
  3. A hunger for righteousness
  4. Scripture that reveals Who He is
  5. His righteousness in exchange for my depravity
  6. Assurance that I belong to Him
  7. The constant presence of His Holy Spirit
  8. The guidance of His Word
  9. A heavenly Father
  10. The knowledge that He understands my weaknesses
  11. The grace to resist sin
  12. The power to obey Him
  13. Increasing grace to reflect His nature
  14. Joy in knowing Him
  15. The sure hope of heaven
  16. Best of all, eternity with Him!

Today’s praise song reminds me of how much this amazing God offers each  of His children. I’ve only listed 32 of my reasons for praising Him, but I’m sure I can think of at least 10,000 more.

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Center Of Unbroken Praise

Why do we envision heaven as a place that will cater to our desires (as long as they’re not “sinful”)? Once a seemingly mature Christian friend told me that, for each of us, God would make heaven be whatever the individual wanted it to be. For example, her heaven would be filled with chocolate, while mine would consist of endless books.

Her view of heaven appeals to our innate narcissism, certainly, but it totally misses the Biblical truth that heaven revolves around the Lord Jesus Christ. We’ll experience indescribable joy, yes. But not the joy of Godiva truffles or laying on a cloud as I read Chaucer.

The joy will come as we behold Jesus, praising Him without the self-centeredness that distracts us from Him here on earth. The lyrics to “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” remind me of that glorious day when He  restores all creation to sing His praise!

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Neglected Trinity

“God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!” Hymn singers will undoubtedly recognize that majestic closing line from “Holy, Holy, Holy,” a hymn that praises the magnificence of God by exploring various aspects of His glory. Yet, could our familiarity with the hymn (for Shamrock Shadedthose of us who still sing hymns) cause us to gloss over its doctrinal declaration that the one and only God exists as three distinct Persons–God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? And how often do we think about the Trinity anyway (except briefly when and if we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy”)?

The doctrine of the Trinity seems to receive very little attention in our present time, perhaps because our inability to “wrap our heads around it” embarrasses us. Of course our analogies of H2O (water, ice and vapor) and shamrocks fall short of providing adequate explanations of  how He could exist as three distinct Persons while being one in essence, and the shortcomings of those illustrations frustrate our desire to present convincing arguments. Mystery makes us uncomfortable. So we avoid the discomfort by simply minimizing or ignoring the topic altogether.

Additionally, few Scriptures state the doctrine in easy-to-use sound-bytes. Don’t misunderstand; the Bible certainly teaches that God is one Being in three distinct, co-existing Persons. But there’s no handy little proof-text to insert into a blog post to settle the question. We’d need separate essays examining the deity of the Father, the deity of the Son (Jesus Christ) and the deity of the Holy Spirit in order to clearly show that Scripture indeed teaches that God is a Triune Being.

Having said that, I’d invite you to examine Christian Apologetics & Resource Ministry‘s compilation of Scriptures at God As A Trinity. In authoring this article, Matt Slick links to several Scriptures that defend the doctrine of the Trinity, making it easy to study. He also counters common objections.

The strategy of neglecting the doctrine of the Trinity may buffer us from a good measure of intellectual discomfort. But that strategy also places people at risk of entering eternity without a true understanding of Who God is. Of Who Jesus is. And that’s very scary, since we must acknowledge Jesus as Lord (which necessarily assumes His deity) as a condition of salvation (Romans 10:9). So, while no human possesses the intellectual capacity to  comprehend how one God can exist in three Persons, it’s essential to understand that this doctrine is true. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are every bit as much God as the Father.

Having lost a dear friend who belonged to a cult that denied the Trinity, I believe it’s imperative that Christians regain an insistence on teaching this vital doctrine to young believers. A year before my friend’s death, I made the opportunity to tell her the true Gospel, and I emphasized the doctrine of the Trinity. Sadly, she gave no indication of accepting what I had to say, but I can hope that the Holy Spirit worked in her heart before she died.

And I pray now that evangelicals will increase the preaching of the Trinity, so people will know God fully. Rather than neglecting the doctrine for the sake of intellectual comfort, let’s boldly embrace it with joyful conviction, firmly established in the testimony of God’s Word. Oh, no one will actually comprehend how He could be a Trinity, since it is something far beyond the scope of our finite minds. But the very wonder of God in three Persons can draw us into worship.  “God in three Persons–blessed Trinity!”

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