March 4, 2017

One God, Three Persons

The Bible says “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) This definition needs clarification. Faith is not assumption: “My hope in good weather for next week is so strong that I’m positive it will happen.” Faith is not just believing: “My uncle said he has a new car and I believe him.”

Biblical faith goes beyond the normal idea of trusting or hoping something is true. While it is based on the validity of who said it (God), it is a deep assurance, not an assumption. It is knowing something is true, sometimes without visible evidence. It is reading and hearing the testimony of reliable witnesses, but also the deep and instinctive awareness that what they say is true. While the words and the testimony may come from human witnesses, they are combined with God the Father who had His own Word recorded in history as both a man and a book, the story is punctuated by the inner voice of the Holy Spirit. As we read and hear it, He declares to our hearts that all of it is true.

“For there are three that testify . . . . And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (1 John 5:7-11)

Christians get a lot of flack about the trinity. How can there be both one God and three Gods? How can Jesus be God but not the same as the Father, unless there are two Gods, but the Bible says there is one God? On and on it goes.

Yet the day Jesus Christ walked into my life, I instantly knew He is God. I wasn’t trying to figure it out; I just knew, and still know it because along with Jesus came the gift of faith and trinity is a faith thing, not a rational argument. It is a deep assurance in the heart, but also a gift. My mind cannot figure it out, only I know that it is true from a deep conviction of things not seen.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

In the original language, this verse says: For by grace you are saved through faith and this not from yourselves, of God the gift, not from works so that no one can boast. This points to all of salvation as being a gift. Other verses say that the human heart does not, will not, and even cannot believe God. We need the enlightening power of the Holy Spirit to do that. Both grace and faith are gifts from God, both needed for a person to have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

The bottom line is that the entire triune God is involved in my salvation, but also that without this amazing gift from God, I’m not able to experience grace or faith. This is why those without the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ struggle with trying to believe in the trinity or in much of anything else about salvation or about the identity of God. For goodness’ sake, even those of us who believe (because of God’s gift) cannot understand it — we just know that it is true.

Jesus, I know it is futile to try and explain the realities that You show me by faith. Without that amazing gift, no one can grasp or believe it. Yet faith comes by hearing Your Word (Romans 10:17) so the best I can do is speak and write the words of Scripture and trust that You will use it in the hearts of those who hear and read it. The Father said it, the Son demonstrated it, and the Holy Spirit illuminates our hearts with it — all to the same end, that the body, soul and spirit of all sinners will come to the saving knowledge of You.

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