Re-post: Do Christians Worship One God or Three?

Muslims charge that Christians worship three gods. Unitarians and Jehovah’s Witnesses make the same accusation. The word, Trinity, offends them.

Even some Christians are vague about what Trinity means because it seems mysterious. Mysterious indeed: God reveals himself first as one God, and, at the same time, as three Persons in one Godhead.

When God addressed Moses at the burning bush (Ex. 3) Moses’ world reeked with many gods. He knew that. Yet, Moses did not ask, “Which God is this now?” From the beginning, it was revealed to him that there was only one true God to reckon with.

Listen to the Shema of the Old Testament: “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4). In that ancient world teeming with gods, the Old Testament holds Jehovah to be “the Sovereign Lord” (Hab. 3:19).

The New Testament continues the claim. During Jesus’ forty-day fast, Satan tried to entice Jesus to worship him. Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only’” (Lk. 4:8).

At the same time, Scriptures show that this One God manifests himself in three persons, and this reality is set forth repeatedly.

After the resurrection, Thomas worshiped the risen Savior. He exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” If this declaration had been false but Jesus had accepted it, his acceptance would have been blasphemous. Instead, later the Apostle John reinforces Thomas’s declaration. He testifies of Jesus, “the Word was God” (John 1:1).

But what about the Holy Spirit? In the early church, when a couple named Ananias and Sapphira tried to deceive Peter over a money gift, Peter saw through their ruse. He said to Ananias, “… you have lied to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:3). Then he added, “You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:4). It is not possible to lie to a mere influence. The Holy Spirit is obviously more than a feeling or an influence. He is “personal.” He is God, the Spirit.

So, Jesus, at his baptism “saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove” and heard the voice of the Father saying, “This is my Son whom I love” (Matt.3:16, 17). In that moment we have the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in one event of revelation.

During the first four hundred years of the early church, the church fathers wrestled with these affirmations made in both Testaments. To give them order, they formulated this precious truth under the title of the Trinity.

They said, God is one in “essence” and three in “persons.” He must be worshiped without dividing the essence or confusing the persons. God the Father rules over all; God the Son is our Redeemer; God the Spirit is our sanctifier.

He is one God manifesting himself in three persons. The hymn our congregation sang to conclude worship on a recent Sunday morning included the following words:

Laud and honor to the Father,/ Laud and honor to the Son,/

Laud and honor to the Spirit,/ Ever Three and Ever One./

We sing this 700-year-old hymn in praise to our God who is revealed to us as the Three-in-One – the God who creates, redeems and sanctifies us.

If this truth still mystifies you, remember that it is in our worship of the God who is three-in-one that we come closest to grasping the reality of this great mystery of the Christian faith.

When we pray, “Our Father which art in Heaven” we worship the one and only God. When we say of Jesus, “He is Lord and Savior,” we acknowledge the one and only God. When we entreat the Holy Spirit to intercede for us, we entreat the one and only God. Three persons in one Godhead!

Let us worship our God!

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One thought on “Re-post: Do Christians Worship One God or Three?

  1. The last 4 Just Call Me Pastor blogs have been on subjects outside my comfort zone: abortion and marriage. Important ,very important subjects for all Christians to think about and approach from the viewpoint Biblical standards,but beyond my experience

    This weeks subject is something I think about all the time – the divine mystery of the Trinity.

    How absurd the charge that Christians worship three Gods.There is only one God.Christians worship the one and only Triune God.

    But I can understand the misunderstanding.This central mystery of our Christian faith takes some thought even to begin to understand.

    This is how I begin to understand this beautiful mystery which has the greatest importance for our lives .

    The Father begets the Son,The Son is begotten not created like everything else that exists or has being.Everything else that exists or has being is created by God.In a sense God is beyond being and existence .For God is the ground upon which everything has it’s being and existence.God alone is uncreated.

    God the Father begets the Son.God the Son is begotten of the Father.God the Holy Spirit proceeds equally from the Father and the Son.This is my understanding.

    Triune God interacts with us From the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.So we pray TO the Father THROUGH the Son IN the Spirit.Did not Jesus tell us so.

    ‘’No one comes to the Father, but through Me.” Jesus said .John 14:6

    The Trinity is most mysterious,a beautiful mystery affording endless contemplation.We can only begin to understand God through the Trinity.This is why all true Christian denominations call themselves Trinitarian.

    Not one God in one Person.Not one God in two Persons.One God in three Persons !

    The Baptism of Christ is the glorious epicentre ( in the sense of absolute centre) of the Trinity ,for u s to perceive.Just as you say, Pastor: ‘’ In that moment we have the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in one event of revelation’’.
    ‘’As soon as Jesus was baptized, he wen up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17 NIv
    The Trinity is revealed to us the moment Jesus is Baptized and His mission is about to begin. Now He will enter the desert,resist Satan’s temptations,then gather His disciples and begin.

    One God in 3 persons,the Trinity..We need to be very careful,I believe ,to understand what person means in this particular sense.Sometimes,I notice , the term’ hypostases’ is used by theologians instead of persons.Words have their limitations when trying to describe God.These are not three separate ,individual people,like three different human beings would be.Three different human beings may be more or less made of the same substance but not exactly.Father,Son and Spirit are consubstantial,made of exactly precisely the same substance.

    The Persons of the Trinity are coequal and coeternal.How could they not be equal since they are the same substance.Coequal,consubstantial,coeternal .Coeternal because each Person of the Trinity always was and always shall be,without beginning or end.Jesus was born in Bethlehem so it is difficult to grasp that He always was ,even before time began.But He the Son is eternal because He is consubstantially God.

    Another truth difficult to grasp for the human mind is that the 3 Persons of God are not just similar,they are identical,the same.One entity,inseparable.To use a modern phrase – mind blowing!

    This is not God wearing three different masks at different times,to suit the occasion.God does not wear masks Thinking about it as far as I’m able,it seems to me the three persons of God is more like God doing different things,.Three different actions of God.

    This is not God having three different personalities.God doesn’t have different personalities.God is constant,unlike human beings.

    I sometimes think of the Trinity as three different doings of God,or three different ways God connects with us.God our Creator,our Heavenly Father.God our Redeemer,our Saviour.God our indwelling Spiritual transformer.God who makes us,God who saves us ,God who indwells us.

    I have heard several ways of explaining the Trinity in a little formula.Such as God the Father gave the kiss,God the Son received the kiss,God the Spirit was the kiss.The Kiss I presume is divine love.People endlessly try to define,explain or understand the truth of the Trinity,the divine mystery of the Trinity.I suppose it’s human nature to.It’s endlessly fascinating and because one is focussing on God,inspiring.

    Nothing is ever easy when it comes to trying to sum up God,understand Him logically or rationally. It’s impossible.God is far greater than the human mind can encompass.There’s a beautiful and poular hymn called ‘How Great Thou Art’ ,written by a Scandinavian and now popular with Country Gospel singers.

    Yet we can know God,do know God.It happens .I think there are times when every Christian knows God.These are special moments.

    I do not think these moments come by anything we do or think .I think these moments come sometimes when we open ourselves to God in silence and stillness ,doing nothing but being receptive to our Lord.

    I think sometimes these moments of knowing God come when we do something exactly in obedience to Him.But that’s just my idea,a notion that comes to me.When we act exactly according to His plan for us.Not like automatons doing God’s Will.But as free agents,choosing to do God’s Will by love for Him,by being wholly in tune with Him .Is this the beauty of Holiness?

    I have a hunch that when we know God it is nothing we are doing or thinking or feeling.It is all God’s doing.God makes Himself known to us.It is all God.None of us.All God’s doing.All the doing of the one Triune God Who is one being who acts upon us in 3 special ways as Father,Son and Spirit.
    In the end,for one such as I ,God is to be loved.God is to be obeyed.God is to be worshiped ,hallowed ,praised.God is to be given over to.But God is not to be understood.I cannot understand God.He makes Himself known to me,makes me to understand Him.Not our doing.His .All His.

    It seems to me Faith is His gift to us.By faith we know Him.

    Each Person of God is absolutely necessary,essential,pefect..By the Father we are made,exist,created.By the Son we know what God’s like and are saved..God made Himself human to show Himself to us.By the Son He saved us.By the Spirit He indwells us ,enters our being mysteriously.

    There’s something ineffable about the Trinity,inexplicable.Of course! The Trinity is Triune God,the One God,the Godhead.

    Exactly as you say Pastor Don.Let us love Triune God with all our hearts.Let us worship Him.

    .

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