Building Our Christian Foundation: 4. The Triune God

given on Sunday, February 1, 2015

Building Our Christian Foundation Series:

  1. Laying the foundation: Scripture, The Word
  2. The Sacrament of Baptism
  3. Defining church
  4. The Triune God

 

Support scriptures

Deuteronomy 5:6-21

“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.

“You must not have any other god but me.

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind, or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. 10 But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those[a] who love me and obey my commands.

11 “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.

12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your oxen and donkeys and other livestock, and any foreigners living among you. All your male and female servants must rest as you do. 15 Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day.

16 “Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God commanded you. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

17 “You must not murder.

18 “You must not commit adultery.

19 “You must not steal.

20 “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.

21 “You must not covet your neighbor’s wife. You must not covet your neighbor’s house or land, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.

I Corinthians 8:6

But for us,

There is one God, the Father,
by whom all things were created,
and for whom we live.
And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom all things were created,
and through whom we live.

Mark 1:10-11

10 As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him[a] like a dove. 11 And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”

Matthew 28:16-20

16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[a] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Romans 5:5-6

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Reflection on the Triune God

Have you ever thought about a word like triune before? The mystery in this word begins with three letters: T R I. We hear that prefix in our language often, but I suspect we never really give it much thought, we just know that it means three and we move on.

Our world includes three all the time in so many different ways. We join the world of wheels by getting our first tricycle. As young as we are, we quickly learn the stability three wheels provide us. One wheel provides direction, and the other two wheels stability. Sometimes we go so fast that our feet cannot keep up with the pedals and all too often we lose control and tip over.

As we get older, triangles appear in our lives. The most common ones may be the yellow triangles that have long become the symbol for caution on the roads. And when we see yellow triangles on our computer screens, we know we have a problem to avoid. Triangles speak to us.

In the story of Moses leading the tribes of Israel, God spoke through a burning bush to Moses who took the Law of God down the mountain to the people. The Law is what we call the Ten Commandments. This method of communication created a triangle, too; and in the first three verses, the first law establishes the foundation of the Law:

“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. “You must not have any other god but me. “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind, or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea.

God is the very foundation of our lives. If we live our lives without God, we crumble.

The triangle is such a solid form. Each side depends on the other side. Just try taking only one or two sides and make them stand up. (For demonstration purposes, try making two sticks, pipe cleaners, etc. stand up.) Even if you can get them to stand for a few seconds, any disruption can topple them.

The triangle is a way to understand the Triune God. Moses returned from the mountain top (another example of a triangle) with the Law. The Ten Commandments were to provide the faithful Jewish people the structure for living a God-centered life and create a society that kept people from hurting each other. For at least 2,000 years, the Law was the way the leaders and the priests tried to keep the tribes faithful.

Yet, the people could not follow those ten rules successfully. The need to send Jesus became obvious. The prophets knew a change was coming and they kept warning the people. Unfortunately, even the prophets’ messages were not heard and God went into action. Jesus, a human form of God, was born like every other man and woman. God, as Jesus, had to walk beside the people to teach them how to live. He had to perform miracles. He had to get angry. He had to prove how to live like the laws wanted people to live.

Jesus is the second side of the triangle. Jesus is God. In I Corinthians 8:6. Paul writes it in his letter:

There is one God, the Father,
by whom all things were created,
and for whom we live.
And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom all things were created,
and through whom we live.

Even though Jesus lived only about 33 years, and his ministry only lasted three years, Paul explained the relationship between God and Jesus in very definite words.

The relationship of God to Jesus is the story of the four gospels, and in Mark 1:10-11, right in the middle of the story of Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit makes an appearance, too.

10 As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him[a] like a dove. 11 And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”

The Holy Spirit is the third side of the triangle. The scripture completes the Triune God with Jesus’ baptism of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost descended upon Jesus, the relationship is sealed of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The relationship of the three dimensions of God is again is the final earthly appearance of Jesus as shared in the gospel of Matthew:

16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[a] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

These are the final words in Matthew, chapter 28, which have become known as the Great Commission.   The faithful followers are now told to share the news, make new disciples, and baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Old Law that was delivered to Moses on the mountain and written in stone was simplified when Jesus was born, was baptized, and was raised. The New Law had two parts: love God, love one another. The Triune God is our foundation.

The apostles had witnessed it, the earliest Christians walked with Jesus, and Paul experienced the Triune God along the side of the road when he was struck with blindness. The scriptures give us the story and Paul spent the rest of his life doing all he could to make sure others understood, even the Romans. In his letter to them, chapter 5, he tells the Roman church how the Triune God works within us, too:

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

As long as God is with us, no one can be against us. The Triune God is strong and is always with us. In fact, doesn’t that mean any challenge we face, we have the strength of three to support us?

Closing prayer

Dear God–Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Our days are filled with challenges that cause us to tremble.

We meet people who try to defeat us.

We make bad decisions that end up hurting others or us.

We stumble and fall and fear getting back up.

Thank you for loving us so much that you sent Jesus.

Thank you for sharing yourself with us through the Holy Spirit.

Thank you for giving us such strong foundations.

May we share the good news of your love.

May we demonstrate grace to one another.

May we reflect your light in a world filled with darkness.

With the foundation of the Triune God there is victory. –Amen

 

 

 

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