On Trinity Sunday we celebrate not a religious holiday or occasion, but a doctrine-the doctrine of the Trinity. The Trinity is a concept that is not explicitly stated in Scripture, but it is there. The Trinity is a concept that is not easy to describe or understand. In fact, some ministers take Trinity Sunday off!
The Trinity is referred to indirectly in the passage from Matthew 28:16-20. All three members of the Trinity are always with us. They give us their cooperation and support. They help us and protect us. The name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit means the combined authority of all manifestations of God. When we are baptized we become subject to the authority of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Consequently, we receive the remission of our sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The one true God has a personality that is threefold and indicated by relationship as Father and Son. It is indicated by a mode of being as Spirit. It is indicated by the various parts taken by the Godhead in manifestation and in the work of redemption.
Jesus’ resurrection proved that what He taught was correct. He used His ultimate authority when He gave the disciples and us the Great Commission. He showed His ultimate power by promising to be with us forever. When Christ rose from the dead, He created a new community with real change in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One God in action for all ages.
When Jesus states that all authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth, He declares His ultimate authority. He is the recipient of God’s authority. His deity is proved. As the Creator (God), He had the original right to all things. As the Redeemer (Son), even more so. The phrase “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” is a strong affirmation of Trinitarianism. When He commissioned the disciples, Jesus instituted the three-fold formula prior to the development of the Trinity. It holds Father, Son and Holy Spirit together as three personae by whom God encounters us in His love from all eternity to all eternity. Since all three members of the Trinity are with us all the time, we have the same authority Jesus had. We can bring God’s truth to the world because of His divine authority. His word will prosper if we are faithful to His message.
The Trinity allows us to make sense of the God who loves us enough to send Jesus to die for our sins. God who is God the Son is Christ not dead. The risen God who is God the Holy Spirit is not Jesus gone but Jesus present.
So now that we have the Great Commission, what do we do? First, we must show Christ-like behavior, and that includes being righteous. In the Old Testament times, being righteous meant obeying the Law of Moses perfectly, and that includes obeying the Ten Commandments. The fifth commandment is “Do not murder.” The Jews believed this referred to only the physical act of killing someone. Jesus argued that there is a broader meaning. He argued that words and anger can kill. That is, they show the true heart of a person. Anger and words such as senseless, stupid, shallow and the like violate the spirit of that commandment. If used, they may lead to a more open and dreadful infraction of that law.
For example, thirteen-year-old Marcy had little use for her loud, obnoxious, smelly little brother. “You’re just a jerk!” she yelled again and again. Her ten-year-old brother Mike didn’t exactly like his older sister either. He would often fire back, “You’re really stupid!” Their rivalry and toxic words polluted their home. God says it’s wrong to insult, wound, tear down, cut up, threaten or intimidate another person with our words. Hurtful words are hateful words.
Jesus taught that it is more important to have a heart that is right than to conform to the outright act of worship. For example, if a person brought a gift to the altar and remembered that someone had something against him, he was to leave the offering on the altar and go and be reconciled. The worship of God will not be acceptable until we are at peace with anyone we have hurt or offended.
Similarly, Christians are not to bring lawsuits against each other. We are encouraged to come to an agreement before going to court. God will see anyone who does not reconcile with those who have been offended as a violation of the commandment against murder. He will punish them accordingly.
Someone once asked Billy Graham, “If you ask God to forgive you for something you did to someone, does that mean you also have to ask them for forgiveness? I’m a Christian now, but I’m not sure I can do it. I don’t see what difference it would make anyway, except maybe to open old wounds.”
In his reply, Billy Graham wrote the following:
“It’s always important to seek the forgiveness of those we’ve hurt, even if it is hard to do….They might not forgive you, of course; they may reject your attempt or react with renewed anger over what you did, but then it becomes their problem, not yours. You will have done everything you could to let them know you regret what happened, and that you want their forgiveness.”
“Why is it important to seek the forgiveness of those we’ve hurt? For one thing, it could bring about reconciliation. After all, you were the one at fault: you alone are responsible for the hurt that resulted. But that hurt will only be healed if you seek to heal it and if the other person responds.”
Reconciling with those we have hurt is not easy. One of the barriers is pride. No one likes to admit they were wrong, because it is part of our sinful, human nature. Pride is a sin that needs to be faced, dealt with and confessed to God. If we have offended or hurt anyone, we need to make peace today. We must not put it off. When we reconcile with the people we have hurt, our relationships will be healthier. In Christ, it is never too late for reconciliation. God wants us to live in peace with everyone by sincerely humbling ourselves and finding reconciliation through Him.
It is no secret that sin often leads to health problems. If we refuse to forgive, bitterness creeps into our hearts and plants roots. It can spread to those around us. If it hardens in our hearts, it is next to impossible to remove. Forgiveness depends on us. Reconciliation is the ideal to work towards, but sometimes it is not possible. It depends on both parties. What others do is their choice. What we allow them to do is up to us. We are responsible only for our own actions.
When we ask others to forgive us, we have an opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission. The Great Commission has not changed since the moment Jesus uttered it. Christians are to “go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey.” They are to accomplish all of this by His power and for His sake, through His Spirit. When followers of Jesus are slow to share their faith, or pour into the lives of others, it is often because they do not really take Jesus at His word when He says, “I am with you always.”
It’s isn’t easy for us to remember that the members of the Trinity are always with us. Sometimes we’re so blinded by disappointment that we can’t see Jesus walking with us throughout heartache and leading us to something better ahead. The Trinity shows us that there is a way for us that leads far beyond disappointment. The Trinity proves that we are in the presence of someone who cares, who leads, who has authority and wisdom.
All three members of the Trinity encourage us to get going. They are with us all of the time, so we have a life that is exciting and full of confidence that the members of the Trinity have done all things perfectly for us. Life with the Trinity is to be lived with their gifts and their blessing. When we read and study Scripture, when we are baptized into faith, when we take part in Holy Communion, it’s like receiving a kiss of grace from the Trinity.
The doctrine of the Trinity is a confession, not a definition. Who can define God? We can only confess our history and personal encounters with God. To confess God apart from Christ is impossible. To confess Christ apart from God the Creator of everything is impossible. To confess God in Christ apart from our experience of both through the Holy Spirit sustaining the church is impossible. All we can do is confess our faith in the one God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013, pp. 1587-1588)
- Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament. Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.
- Augsberger, M.S. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 24: Matthew (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982, p. 18)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible, New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Billy Graham, “How Can I Reconcile With my Sister?” Retrieved from www.arcamax.com
- Rick Boxx, “Make Peace Today.” Retrieved from Christianity.firstname.lastname@example.org
- “Hateful Words.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Billy Graham, “Why Do I Need to Ask for Forgiveness?” Retrieved from www.arcamax.com
- Steve Arterburn, “Handling Anger.” Retrieved from www.newlife.com
- Dr. Harold Sala, “The Biblical Pattern of Reconciliation.” Retrieved from www.guidelines.org
- The New Testament Commentary, Vol. 1-Matthew and Mark. Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.
- Schofield’s Notes. Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2006)
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- Christine Caine, “Something Better.” Retrieved from Biblegateway@e.biblegateway.com
- The Rev. Gregory Seltz, “Living Life in the Power of His Name.” Retrieved from www.lhm.org