The Mystery of the Trinity


Romans 5:1-5 & John 16:12-15

Today I’m supposed to explain the mystery of the Trinity. How God is 3-in-1. Last week we looked at the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and hopefully that should help us today.

Many churchgoers, like I did 25 years ago - believe in God, I knew about Jesus but secretly wondered if He was as important as some said! Fortunately, some good teaching at new church helped that idea change. I realised who Jesus is and what he did for me, but, I still had no idea of what/who the Holy Spirit might be. This was definitely not for me!

Fortunately God, via His Holy Spirit, surprised me via Romans 8 and Romans 5:1-5

Did you know that the book of Romans transformed:

Augustine - late summer 386
Martin Luther - August 1515
John Wesley - 24 May 1738
Linda Liversidge - 16 May 1989

The church, our faith, would be much the poorer if people like Augustine, Luther and Wesley had not experienced God’s grace via the Holy Spirit speaking into their hearts.

Earlier did you notice I said the ‘mystery’ of the Trinity? Supposing I unravelled it and you all fully understood it, how good would that be?

Perhaps it wouldn’t! If God could be fully described and understandable surely He’d be no better than us? Don’t we need a God whose totally amazing and beyond us?

The forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden was that of the knowledge of good and evil. It represented God’s knowledge: something too great and enormous for us to understand let alone bear the weight of.

Mysteries like how could the God who made us and the entire world allow Himself to become a weak and helpless baby. How could He allow us to kill Him?

How could an off-duty soldier in England be hacked to death in public? How could those who killed him wait around, boasting of it with no guilt or sorrow, wanting even to be recorded at the scene?

The answer to these questions is that God created us to be in a loving relationship with us. Jesus died for us to put that relationship, which we had broken, right. The Holy Spirit lives in us to sustain us, to keep the relationship alive.

Remember I too once didn’t know what this might mean but I can tell you now that the Holy Spirit isn’t something to be wary or frightened of. The Holy Spirit stops us doing things our way, guides us in the right paths and shows us the amazing grace God pours out on us.   God allows us the freedom to live our way or His way. His way is not just a belief in Him.  His way is a way of living wholly for Him. Relating to Him so well that we have Him, by His HS living in us so that our lives reflect that out to each other. 

Had a certain Christian that became a Muslim a few years ago encountered the HS he wouldn’t have murdered that soldier, destroyed a young family and a community.

What might happen if everyone in church allowed themselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Who knows – but it would be good, holy and wholesome.

Wholesome – the fullness of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit alive and at work within each of us and within our church.

In relationship with the God of relationship. In community – what our PCC says we should be working towards this year – members of this church becoming community.

The Trinity maybe mystery - but its definitely about relationships and community. Each person of the Trinity is distinct but interdependent. We’re made in God’s image and so are meant to be in community. We are only complete when we live that out. This challenges the idea that faith is solely a personal matter. We have to live out our faith with fellow believers. It means challenging the  individualism that pervades society, what’s good for everyone is also best for the individual. It means trying to seek unity amidst diversity.

Explaining the Trinity is difficult but the biggest key is relationship. The Father relates to the Son. The Son and the Father relate to the Spirit.

Mysterious details but plainly the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in relationship with one another.

God is in relationship with his creation - with us, and we with him so we are in relationship with the Trinitarian community within God.

Possibly our relationships with others might give a clue as to what this is all about. But no, God’s relationships are perfect, ours are not.

One day all our relationships, everything about us and all of creation will be redeemed. All tears will be wiped away - all division restored, all brokenness healed. Put back together like an enormous jigsaw, by God the Father.

There’s a story about a man of indeterminate nationality going into a pub and asking for a celebratory drink. “Sure”, says the barman, “and what would you be celebrating?” “Well”, says the other, “I’ve just finished my jigsaw”. “Oh, well done - how long did it take you?” “Six months.” Puzzled, the barman says “six months is quite a long time, isn’t it?” “Oh no”, says the man, “on the box it said 3-6 years”... When it comes to our life - our faith - our relationships with each other and with God - only God can put the pieces together perfectly.

And he can do it because there are no bits and pieces about God. He is one God. Three persons – but ONE God.

Only God the Trinity can redeem all the bits and pieces of our lives. He’s already done it, once and for all, in Jesus Christ our Lord.

It lasts for ever by the continuing work of the Holy Spirit who puts all of the pieces together for us. Making us into a community, a picture of the church that we create together: in our worship, by studying the Bible in homegroups, in our prayers, in our caring and service of others and the world. 

It’s both a physical image and a spiritual one with all of us who follow Jesus in it. God the Father reaches out to us, creating, encouraging and loving us. The Son, Jesus, by His wounds brings us wholeness and healing. And the Spirit, inspires, guides, illuminates, telling us to come and be part of this relationship, this picture of the church made up of living stones. Are you fully a part of it, as in this powerpoint picture, part of the community of church?

St Paul says “we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us”.

And it is true. Only God’s Spirit can supply what’s needed. Our trust in God grows more in difficult times rather than when all’s going well. When things are hard we’re more likely to come to Him for His strength and comfort. When things are going well its easy to forget God and rely on our own strength.

When Jesus left His disciples and went back to heaven He didn’t just leave us – He sent the Holy Spirit to take His place in our lives. God doesn’t just say to us ‘OK off you go (to school or work) saying “do your best, you’re on your own now”. God our loving heavenly Father says to us I’m here with you! My Holy Spirit is making you strong and more like Jesus!

God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” When we give God’s Spirit control of our lives we’re able to shine Christ’s light and God’s love to those around us. God, by His Spirit seeks to save everyone.

Let’s say John Stott’s wonderful Trinitarian prayer together:
‘Heavenly Father, I pray that this day I may live in your presence and please you more and more.
‘Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.
‘Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control.’ Amen