A message for Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron OH, Sunday, December 18, 2022.
For the “Live in Church” audio version of this message, click here.
As part of our spiritual journey together, I’m sharing with you a period in my life when I had my first exposure to life in the big city of Cleveland. After working at my uncle’s florist shop for a year after graduating from high school while going to college at Case Western Reserve University, I applied for and got a job working at Burrows Brothers at 419 Euclid Avenue in 1978. After work, in order to get home in the afternoon, I had to make the walk from Euclid Avenue down to Public Square to catch the rapid transit train to my house in the Lee-Harvard area. I loved that walk in the afternoon because of the sights, sounds and the smell of freshly roasted cashews from the King Nut Company. Every now and then, I would encounter the legendary street preacher who had a booming voice that moved people to consider the need for Jesus in their lives. Well, in one specific encounter, I saw that he was ahead of me on Euclid Avenue, and admittedly, I wasn’t very comfortable with him. It may have been his voice or his personality—I’m not sure, but when I got to where he was standing, he looked me in the eye and said “You need Jesus, young man!” In a voice similar to his, I responded, “I have Jesus, sir.” I think I was a little embarrassed for the attention because there were other people around us, but I also knew that I had lied to him. I didn’t have a clue as to what it meant to “need Jesus” or to “have Jesus.” But I look back on that moment as one of the Holy Spirit’s first words of communication to me about Jesus. From then on, my lie that day would continue to spiritually nudge me. I would be thinking more about who Jesus was and why the preacher was so adamant that I needed Him.
I was 19 years old in 1978, and I was looking everywhere—including the wrong places—for answers to questions about life. I thought that I was a “good” person, but I learned over time that I was, in fact, a very common sinner. I recognized my flaws and I could no longer rationalize through my sins or make excuses for them. God had to show me that my primary focus needed to be on Jesus in humility with a heart of repentance and the need for forgiveness from Jesus. It was time for me to accept Him as Lord of my life. It took a few years after my one-on-one encounter with the street preacher, but I accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior in June of 1986. I remember it just like it was yesterday.
And yet that was just the beginning. The Holy Spirit brought me to the feet of Jesus, and there was much more to come. I had to learn about how God runs His universe and more about Jesus, His Kingdom, and the workings of the Holy Spirit.
Fast forward to today. I’m still learning about each of those things and more.
This message will look closely at how God has revealed and presented Himself in Scripture and how we are to see Him today. This will be a brief communication about the Trinity—God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Three different and distinct persons and yet one God.
Now, if you are looking for me to provide an explanation as to how God can be all of these things as stated, then you’re looking in the wrong direction. I can’t explain it at all, and neither can anyone truly explain it, but what you or I cannot explain does not mean that it can’t be true. None of us have the minds of God to make such a contemplation.
Isaiah 55:8-9, 11 NLT
8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
11 It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”
We’re still learning about God because of this very important truth. It’s because God is anything but ordinary. He is extraordinary, and He continues to reveal Himself to us.
Understanding the principles of the Trinity require these two premises:
1. God’s Word is true. There is nothing false within it.
2. Faith is required to see God’s truth and His glory. That faith is in the risen Christ who sits at the right hand of the Father as approved by God. How important is this faith? It is foundational in recognizing the power and ability of Jesus Christ to be the complete atonement for our sins:
1 Corinthians 15:16-19 ESV
16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
It’s not meant to be confusing, but these words of Scripture have a confounding effect if there is no discernment or understanding of truth and are meaningless if there is no faith.
Do you see how truth and your faith must come directly from God? We have to start here to understand the role of the three persons in the Trinity. All three persons are equally important because all three of these persons emanate from one God, who desires for every person within the sound of my voice to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 2:1-7 NLT
1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For,
There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.
This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. 7 And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating—just telling the truth.
Please now follow me through this journey and, for this discussion, begin with the premise that God is true. John Piper properly described the sum of God’s Word is truth. He stated that “everything was made by God; therefore, everything is sustained by God, determined by God, defined by God, including you. And therefore, you cannot know who you are without God.”1 In our minds, believing in truth has to come from one who is wiser than you or me, and has to be rooted in credibility. This is a very important aspect of understanding truth and what it means to now allow faith to guide this principal. God, through His Word, according to Piper, has to authenticate Himself and give His Word credibility. He enables us to believe in Him. Do you know how He does this? He does it through the promptings and teachings of the Holy Spirit.
It starts with God. He brings us to Him with Jesus. The Holy Spirit does the work to bring Jesus to our consciousness.
Let’s start with the truth in God’s Word:
Psalm 119:160 CSB
The entirety of your word is truth,
each of your righteous judgments endures forever.
John 4:24 ESV
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
John 14:6 ESV
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 17:17 ESV
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
John 16:13 CSB
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.
These verses cover all three persons, or personalities, of the Godhead. Some Christian churches provide insight as to their beliefs by providing statements, such as “we believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God, which was written by specially chosen men of God as they were inspired and moved upon by the Holy Spirit” (2 Timothy 3:16) and “we believe that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) are three separate entities that make up the Godhead. All three are in complete agreement, and yet they are three separate individuals.”
We see all three of these persons together in Scripture. Notice hear how God regularly provides this example for the purpose of teaching us this truth:
Matthew 3:13-17 NLT
13 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”
15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.
16 After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”
Other versions of this passage in verse 15 refer to Jesus stating that “we must fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus was all about truth, obedience and righteousness before His Father. He is our best example for each of us as to how we are to fulfill His truth before others. The Father was present here with an audible voice as to how much He loves His Son. The Son of God, Jesus, was baptized as an example for others to see. The Holy Spirit descended like a dove. The dove is a symbol of peace. This event in history shows the presence of all three persons of the Godhead as a lasting testimony for all to consider.
There are three co-eternal, co-existing persons of God but only one God.2 We accept this in faith because of what His Word declares.
Deuteronomy 6:4 NKJV
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!”
Isaiah 44:6, 8 ESV
6 Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
“I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god.
8 Fear not, nor be afraid;
have I not told you from of old and declared it?
And you are my witnesses!
Is there a God besides me?
There is no Rock; I know not any.”
James 2:19 NLT
You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.
This leads us to the principle of faith in believing this truth. Even our enemies know who God is.
Even those who claim to be atheists are really more about worshiping self rather than acknowledging that God exists; nevertheless, there will come a time and a place “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11 KJV). This is a prophetic statement, of course, and it will come to pass because we serve a Jesus that tells the truth and does not lie.
Numbers 23:19 NLT
God is not a man, so he does not lie.
He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
Our path of righteousness is through none other than Jesus Christ (John 14:6). He was there in the beginning with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
John 1:1-3 ESV
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Here’s more about the three persons throughout Scripture. Note the plural pronouns:
Genesis 1:26 ESV
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Isaiah 6:8 ESV
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
Here is a reference by Peter as to the different “roles” of the persons within the Trinity:
1 Peter 1:2 ESV
…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
These roles are not exclusive by any means, but they do help us to identify God’s nature and character.
Matthew 28:19 ESV
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
It is true that God has shown Himself to be these three persons, and He has done so in a number of wonderful and mysterious ways. We see the three persons because of God’s gifts to us of His truth and faith in Him.
James 1:17 NLT
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
Hebrews 13:8 NLT
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Jesus has never changed and never will change. And for this, may we always be thankful, grateful and give Him praise.
Copyright © 2022 Melvin Gaines
1 Piper, J. (2022, December 13). The sum of god’s word is truth. Desiring God. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-sum-of-gods-word-is-truth#:~:text=What%20do%20you%20even%20mean,your%20righteous%20rules%20endures%20forever.%E2%80%9D
2 Scripture Memorization: Accreditation; Resources & forms. Central District Christian and Missionary Alliance. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2022, from http://cdcma.org/resources-forms