I have much more to say to you, more than you can now hear. But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his won; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking what is mine and making it known unto you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
This Gospel is read today because of the festival of Holy Trinity, or of the three persons of the Godhead. This is the first, incomprehensible and chief article of faith. The purpose for today is so that the truth of God's identity may be preserved among Christians, enabling all to know God as he wants to be known. Although Jesus only refers to his participation in the Godhead briefly here, he would teach us that in our attempts to comprehend God we must not rely upon speculation and judge according to human reason, but to know God through the revelation that comes by the Holy Spirit in his written word. These divine truths are too far above the reach of reason ever to be comprehended and explored by the understanding of man.
We can only know about the person of God in Father, Son and Holy Spirit because the Spirit of God has inspired the Holy Scriptures to describe him to us. This is the revelation that Christians have of God: not only do they know him to be one true God, who is independent of and over all things that we see and know, and that there is no more than this one true God. Christians also know what this one true God in his essential, inscrutable essence is.
Our basic human wisdom can go so far as to reach the conclusion that there is one eternal divine being. We look around at the universe and see in outer space such beauty, and look around us on the earth and see the complexity of all living things and we say, "There has to be some supreme being who has made all of this for me to enjoy." It is impossible for all of this to have come into being merely by chance, as evolutionary theory would have it. Things don't normally order themselves. Over time, order moves to chaos. In the creation we see just the opposite. There has to be a God. But that is as far as human reason takes us in pursuit of the true God. We don't know if he is a nice God or a mean God, whether he loves us for being his creation, or despises us for making a mess of his creation.
It is as if we entered into a house where no one was living. We could look at the furnishings and make guesses about the type of person who lives there. But we would not know the most essential things about them. We can see what a person does, what they surround themselves with, but we cannot know their know their intentions or what they think.
But if we found a diary in the house and read it, we would know something first hand about the person who lives there. That is why diaries are so guarded. They are personal. The tell who we really are, what we think and what we feel.
So it is with the one true God. We can know nothing personal about him from the creation. Any real information has to be revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus told the disciples to remain until the Holy Spirit was sent to them. That is why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit. He would share the true nature of God with us and what his intentions toward human beings are.
That the only true God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit is revealed from heaven above. Therefore only Christians can intelligently speak of who God really is and how he regards his creation, and his will toward them concerning their salvation. All this is imparted to them by the Holy Spirit, who reveals and proclaims it through the Word.
Those who have no such revelation must rely on their own wisdom. They must think Christians are mad and illogical to believe that God is three persons but one God. It must appear as the greatest error and the most foolish joke to believe such a silly thing as three gods. How could more than one person rule the universe? And they would be right, if Jesus had not revealed to us that there is perfect harmony among the divine Trinity. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit share all things.
Sharing is a trait that is not natural to human beings. It must be learned. How do I know this? Just look at children. What are the first words out of a child's mouth? Mommy, Daddy, then comes "NO" and "MINE". Children are born unable to share. They must learn this. Some people never learn how to share. Just try to get a parking spot close to the supermarket door on a busy day and you will see what I mean. If you hesitate for a moment, someone will beat you to it. The natural side of man doesn't want to share anything.
There is a different nature at work in the Trinity. Jesus said, all that the Father has is mine. There is no stinginess going on between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There are three distinct persons, yet they share all things. When the Father created the world, he shared that glory with the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Son shared his Father's love for the world. When the Father grieved over the world's sin, the Son shared that grief enough to die for the sins of the world. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son."
Then the Father received his Son back to heaven and shared his glory once again. Jesus said, "All authority over heaven and earth has been given to me." This victory is shared with the Holy Spirit who now moves through the Church proclaiming the glory of the Son.
This is what Jesus spoke of when he said, "All that the Father has is mine, but when the Spirit comes, he will take what is mine and give it to you."
The triune God shares things within itself, and desires to share all things with us. Today we witness the sharing of the Trinity and give thanks for the riches He has shared with us.
We have all been taught how to share. We have not learned our lessons well. Most of the problems in the world are because people will not share with each other. God gives us good things such as food, shelter, clothing, education, people who love us, but we pay little attention to those who do not have these things. At the same time there are those who are lazy and will not share their labor with others, but expect to receive a handout for nothing. Stealing and thievery of every kind abounds.
All the attempts to force people to learn to share to have failed. Even communism, which sought to share all things in common, failed because of the very thing it sought to correct, corruption and greed in high places.
No, the only way we can really learn to share is the kindheartedness of god, who loves us by sharing the Son with us, giving him over to die to set us free.
As our second reading from Romans says God now shares his peace with us by justifying us by faith. This means that believing Jesus died to make you right with God brings peace into your life.
We have to remember that one of the true riches God shares with us is peace. This peace does not come by the abundance of possessions, by being financially independent, having a healthy body, or any other thing. These things are unworthy of our worship. The peace they bring quickly disappears when they are gone. True lasting riches only come from one place--faith in the mercy of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Ask people what they look forward to in life and they will most likely say retiring. Not having to work seems like it will bring joy and peace in living. But being able to work is a blessing. God never stops working for us. The Father created us and sustains us in this life from day to day. The Son worked in humility on earth, suffering for us and now works as our mediator in heaven. The Spirit continually works in the world everywhere today through the word as it is preached and taught, bringing saving faith to our hearts and leading us to God. The work of the Trinity is to share the riches of heaven with us.
But so many will never know this truth. This is because they will not receive the Holy Spirit. There are many others beside us who have the scriptures. The Jews and Muslims have the Old Testament, and the Bible is studied in universities around the world. The Bible is so much a part of western civilization that it is quoted in idioms innumerable. We hear people say, "I wouldn't know him from Adam," or "he's a wolf is sheep's clothing." Yet they do not know the true nature of the God who has spoken these things.
That is why we must forever hold fast and proclaim the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, so all may know his intentions. That is that there is only one God and there is no other, and that God is three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God the Father we are reconciled with, God the Son is the reconciler, and God the Holy Spirit is the one who reveals how the reconciliation took place. This is the nature of God.
We must always embrace the name of the Trinity. We can not accept any change or watering down of the divine name. We do not pray to Mother Nature, the great supreme being, or whoever might be out there listening. We worship the God who has revealed himself to us. The God who made us, who died to save us, and who comes today through his holy word and sacraments to set us free. He is the one who shares heaven's riches with us. He teaches us to share with others.
In the name of the Father and of the Holy Spirit.
Copyright © 1998-2011 James F. Wright. All rights reserved.
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