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Hear O Man, the LORD Our God is One!
How the Unity and Diversity in the Trinity Gives the Christian Peace
Without a doubt the most famous or precious, however you want to put it, verse or set of verses for the Israelite, and Jews today, is the Great Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4 which says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!”. That statement is as perfect a summary of the gospel and the redeemed sinner’s relationship to Jehovah as there can be. First of all Moses tells us to listen, to hear the truth. Second he notes whom he is speaking to, Israel, the people of God. What does he want them to know? The LORD, the covenant-keeping Lord who has ransomed captive Israel, is our God, and He is our God by His gracious gift of Himself in the calling of Abram out of the land of the Chaldees and granting unto the seed of Abraham the sign of that promise that He will always be their God and no created thing, no power or principality can take that away.
The Great Shema is like those precious words of Paul in Romans 8:38-39:
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
As we get into the Larger Catechism questions we need to be reminded ourselves of the practical nature of the Trinity. Everyone is always making that inquiry: Why does this matter and what can this do for me? While we recognize the selfishness of such thinking, it is worth answering that this morning. How does how many numerical persons in the Godhead affect me from day-to-day? What is the there-there I should be contemplating when my kids are being bad or my boss is being pushy, etc…? My goal is to help you to see that the matter is worth your time, for the reality is that without the Triune God not only do we not exist to have problems to begin with, but if God is not three-in-one and one-in-three there is no help available in the day of trouble. God is either God as He reveals Himself in the Bible or He is not God at all. The Christian is neither a polytheist nor a unitarian. It’s why it is a misnomer to class Christianity with Judaism and Islam as a “monotheistic religion”. We serve a different God than they do. Here’s the Q/A’s for today.
Q. 8. Are there more Gods than one?
A. There is but one only, the living and true God.
Q. 9. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A. There be three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one true, eternal God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory; although distinguished by their personal properties.
When it comes to thinking through the oneness and threeness of God our Lord Jesus gives us a testimony of His divine nature in John 10:30 when he declares, “I and My Father are One.”. Yet there is more going on there than just a word about math. Christ is describing the relationship between the humanity and divinity of the Second Person and the Triunity of God. The Father and the Son (and the Holy Ghost of course, He seems to be left out every now and then) are equal and the same in substance, equal in power and glory, though distinct in their personal properties, as the Catechism notes in Q.9. Jesus in His humanity and His divinity is responsive to the Divine nature of the Father as a Son to His Father in accordance with the 5th Commandment. That’s why He says in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will, but thy will be done” and elsewhere when the disciples ask Him about the future He responds, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”. Jesus is not being coy there. He really does not know in His human nature when the Father has decreed His return to judge the quick and the dead. It is not a denial of the Trinity to say the Son in His personal properties as Jesus of Nazareth is not privy to the secret counsel of the Divine. This is also not a case (not that there ever would be) of the Holy Spirit “blocking” the Human and Divine natures of Christ from speaking to one another or something like that. There is a reason why passages like Hebrews 4:14-15 are so wonderful as a balm to our souls. The Lord there is said to be our Great High Priest (something John repeats in his first letter) and that He was tempted in every way we are tempted, yet without sin. That only is a comfort if Christ was in every way human, and that includes in His brain power. Now, Jesus of course as the Divine Son of God was impeccable, in other words because He was the perfect sacrifice for sin He could not sin because it was not in His nature to sin. That does not change the fact that as Christ kept the law perfectly for us, in not only not committing adultery with His hands, but He also did not lust after women with His heart and mind. The totality of the Lord’s obedience to the Law is our hope, our peace, and our righteousness. (2 Cor. 5:21), that He did so as a member of the Godhead makes it even more concrete for our blessing and His praise.
In that very brief look at one minute example of why getting the Trinity correct matters to the faith of the believer it is also beneficial to consider as we close why the oneness of God helps us as well. We have an “easier” time knowing the LORD as three, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, because our minds conceptually grant that premise more effortlessly. When it comes to how the three are one we have more difficulty. I can’t think of a better way to say it than how R.C. Sproul succinctly puts it here (read the rest at the link below):
“The Father possesses all that makes God who He is; the Son possesses all that makes God who He is; and the Spirit possesses all that makes God who He is. We do not worship three gods, each of whom has his own power, his own intelligence, and so on. Instead, we worship three persons who hold in common the same power, the same intelligence, and so on.”
Our life, our felicity, all that makes us ready and able to face tomorrow is based on the fact that our God is one, just as Israel confessed in Deuteronomy 6. Make that your heart verse today.
Here’s one more word:
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church
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