In a message in church on 5/13, Carl Kremer, one of our pastors, commented on hope, and that did a dangerous thing: it got my mind thinking about where our hope is supposed to lie and what that means. Perhaps you have struggled or at least wondered about that too. What got my mind bouncing around was the fact that our hope is supposed to be in God (Psalm 33:17-22, Acts 24:14-15, Romans 5:2-5, 15:12-13) and in Christ (Acts 23:6, 1 Thess. 1:3, Titus 1:1, 2:13, 1 Peter 1:3).
So, which is it, or is it both – that is what causes me stomach problems. Let me tell you why. I am sure you know that the Christian faith is one of the three major religions which is monotheistic (believe in one God). The other two are Judaism and Islam. But, something perhaps you were unaware of is that ONLY Christianity believes in the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in which all three persons of the Trinity are separate but also equally the one True God. Now this notion of the Trinity causes much angst to both orthodox Judaism and Islam, which think that this makes the Christian faith polytheistic, that is they think we believe in three Gods.
Now some would say we should de-emphasize the Trinity and just talk about Jesus, since He is the doorway to eternity (Luke 13:24-25) and the only path to salvation. But to de-emphasize the Trinity de-emphasizes both what God says about Himself and also one of the things that makes Christianity unique – God is a God of relationship as exemplified in the Trinity.
So, what does all this have to do with where our hope lies? Simple: do we emphasize Jesus, God, the whole Trinity, both or none of these? The church today has a tendency to treat the members of the Trinity as separate entities and as a different thing than God. Now, I don’t believe that this is intentional, and I am aware of doing this myself as well. But, this is simply wrong – each member of the Trinity IS God. The problem we have as a faith is coherently explaining this to each other and the world around us. We all believe in the Trinity as a reality (3 in 1, etc.), but we get nervous when we talk about it. Hence, my mind was going crazy on Sunday.
So, what does this mean? It means that we can NOT separate Jesus Christ from who He is – God in human flesh. He is still God and we need to remember that. If you look at the whole Bible, we see God as the focal point throughout, with each person of the Trinity playing a major role. The reason Christ is identified as the focal point of the Bible is because He is the person of the Trinity with which we can most easily identify (He lived among us as a historical human figure in history) and through which we must place our faith. But this does not mean that the Holy Spirit or the Father are any less important in our salvation – all three are required:
- We see all three persons of the Trinity present at the creation of the world (Gen. 1, John 1)
- The Father adopts us into His family (John 1:12-13, Galations 4:4-7), selects (Eph. 1:4-5), keeps (John 6:35-37) and judges us (Rev. 20:11-15)
- The Son is the one in whom we must place our faith (John 20:31) and the doorway through which we must pass through in faith (Luke 13:24-25)
- The Holy Spirit changes our heart to choose Christ (Eph. 1:13-14, Romans 8:9) and guides through the growth (salvation) process into mature Christian believers (Philippians 1:6, Titus 3:5).
Without one of these persons of the Trinity, the Christian faith would falter and die. That is because each of these persons is God and combines in relationship to each other to complete our understanding of God.
And so, this brings me back to where does my hope lie? I say in God, the whole of the Trinity, and we need to make sure we focus on who God truly is and not try to focus on one part of the three persons of God – there is only one God, Yahweh, who in some mysterious way is also the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all of whom are very active and involved in the whole Gospel message.
Yes, Christ is our doorway and path to salvation, but He is not alone. Christ is integral, but not complete in some mysterious way – He needs the Father and the Holy Spirit to complete His work. Don’t place your hope in only a part of God, place your hope in the wholeness of God.
May 15, 2018