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01 - I. Faith in the Holy Trinity

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15 June, 2008 AM

Tree Of Life Wesleyan Church

Billings Mt.

I. Faith In The Holy Trinity

John 1:1-2; 4:24; 16:13; 17:3

                Four ministers in neighboring Connecticut towns are named Wright, and none of them are related. To avoid confusion, the Rev. Wright in the North Church of Woodbury is referred to as “Upright”; the Rev. Wright in the First Church in Woodbury is “Downright”; the Roxbury church has the “Rev. Outright” and the interim minister in Southbury is the “Rev. Forthright.”[1]

        A news item from Los Angeles shows that Judge Yankwich had such a case as to make judges want to scream.

Luther Wright and Hermann Rongg appeared before Federal Judge Leon R. Yankwich, each claiming ownership of a patent. The judge attempted to moderate the dispute, declaring:  “Well, one of you must be wrong.”  “That’s right,” declared Rongg, “I’m Rongg, and I’m right.”  Then Wright interrupted:  “He’s wrong, your honor, I’m right and Rongg is wrong.”  But largely upon the strength of a letter Wright wrote Rongg, Judge Yankwich at length terminated the Wright-Rongg dispute by ruling:  “Paradoxical though it may appear in this case Wright is wrong and Rongg is right, and I so enter judgment.”


                Names – they sure can be interesting.  But names have a purpose – they tell us who a person is and many times they tell us something about the person.  If we use the term, “Mr.”, before a name we know that it is a male, and “Mrs., Miss, and Ms.”, will tell us that a person is a female.  Rev., refers to someone who is ordained and proclaims the gospel.  But when someone asks you what church you belong to, what do you tell them?  If you tell them Wesleyan, what is that telling them?  More specifically, what do the Wesleyans believe.  We are going to be looking at what makes up our denomination, what we believe.  There are certain things that we believe, that sets us apart from other denominations, we call these the “Articles of Religion” and there are twenty-one of these articles.  Article one says that we as Wesleyans believe in “Faith in the Holy Trinity.”

                “We believe in the one living and true God, both holy and loving, eternal, unlimited in power, wisdom, goodness, the Creator and Preserver of all things.  Within this unity there are three persons of one essential nature, power and eternity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (From the Discipline).

                For the majority of our studies of the Articles of Religion, we will be looking at references from the Gospel of John, so this morning, our first passage comes from John chapter one, verses 1 and 2.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (Jn 1:1-2)

                The word, Trinity, is not used in the Bible, but this passage and others like it show that there is more to God than what we think.  There are other denominations which would tell us that it is impossible for the Trinity to exist, but here in the Gospel of John we find that there is a definite relationship between God and Jesus.

                “In the beginning was the Word”, should draw your attention back to the opening words of Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).  But there is a huge difference between the two passages.  In Genesis, the camera was focused upon a specific event – the creation of the world – fixed at a time called “the beginning.”  In the Gospel of John, the camera views not the event of creation, but the state of affairs already existing at creation:  “In the beginning . . . the Word” already was.  

                There are three things to notice here in this passage, first, Jesus Christ shares God’s eternity.  In our limited mind, when we hear the phrase, “beginning” we automatically think of the start of something, but as we’ve already said, John was pointing towards the state of affairs already in existence at creation.  As God is eternal, so is Jesus.  Some may say that this passage does not really show that Jesus and God are one and the same, but what do they do with these passages where Jesus says in like in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one” (10:30) or in John 14:9 where Jesus says, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” 

                The second point is Jesus was eternally with God.  Remember what John said, “and the Word was with God.”  The word “with” here literally means “towards.”  A. T. Robinson takes this to mean that the “the Word was face to face with God.” And Basil Atkinson refers to a sense of home, when he says, “the Word was in God’s home.”  So we’ve seen that Jesus not only shares in God’s eternity, but has been with Him eternally.  And thirdly, we find that Jesus is one with God, when John tells us that “the Word was God.”

                There are some denominations that use this passage to try and deny that Jesus and God are one in the same.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses, use this text to try and drive a wedge between the Father and the Son by translating it this way, “the word was a god.”  But that is not what the Greek says.  John does not mince words here, he says, “the Word was God.”

                So it should be easy to see that God and Jesus are two parts of the Godhead, or two parts of the Trinity, but what about the third part.

                John tells us about this third part of the Trinity in the fourth chapter of his gospel when he quotes Jesus in verse 24.  Jesus says, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” 

                “God is spirit”, there is no way to misinterpret this phrase – three simple words, with a huge impact – God is spirit.  We have already seen that God and Jesus are one in the same, now Jesus tell us that God is spirit, meaning also that Jesus is spirit.  But what’s so significant about this spirit, why do we need Him, after all, Jesus came to provide salvation through His death on the cross.  Well, in chapter 16, Jesus gives us the reason for the Spirit.    Read 16:5-16.

                I want to focus this last part of our look at the Trinity on verse 13, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”  The purpose of the Spirit is to guide us into truth – but here is the important part, Jesus tell us that the Spirit will not speak on his own – He will only speak what He hears – and who does He hear from?  Well, since God is Spirit, we can safely assume that the Spirit hears from God – and God speaks to Him and He speaks to us and tell us what is yet to come.

                John, throughout his gospel, identifies Jesus as the full manifestation of God’s truth as seen in John 1:14, and 17; in John 14:6-7, he identifies Jesus as the way, the truth and the life; in chapter 1 verse 9, he says that Jesus is the true Light; and in chapter 8:31-32, John shows that Jesus is the teacher of truth which sets people free.  And yet Jesus tells us that after He departs, the Spirit will come to guide into all truth.  There is a question that comes to mind if the Spirit is to guide in all truths.  That question is, “How can it be that the instruction offered by the Spirit seems to go beyond the teaching offered by Jesus Himself?  Jesus goes on to answer this question by telling us about the source and character of the Spirit’s teaching, Jesus said about the Spirit, “He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hear. . .”  By this Jesus showed that the Spirit’s teaching does not arise from within the Spirit.  But from what source does the Spirit receive His information?  Jesus, the Spirit, “will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.”  In other words, the Spirit teaches no truth original to himself, since He teaches nothing other than the truth possessed by Jesus.  In this way the Spirit glorifies not himself but Jesus. 

                So the Spirit teaches what Jesus and God tell Him and He could only do that by being one in the same with them.  This may sound a bit confusing, but if we stick to the Scripture and remember that it is God’s word, and it is true – it is easy to see that God and Jesus are one, and that God is Spirit, so that would also mean that Jesus is Spirit and that the Spirit and God are one.  So from the Articles of Religion we have article one, which states that Wesleyans have faith in the Holy Trinity – it is not a possibility, it is fact, proven by Scripture and again it states that :

We believe in the one living and true God, both holy and loving, eternal, unlimited in power, wisdom, goodness, the Creator and Preserver of all things.  Within this unity there are three persons of one essential nature, power and eternity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (From the Discipline).

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