A Sermon Preached during Trinity Sunday on 11th June, 2017 at the ACK St. James Church – Buruburu in the first Kiswahili Holy Communion Service.
- Psalm 8
- Isaiah 40:12-31
- 2 Corinthians 13:11-14
- Matthew 28:16-20
Trinity Sunday is the Sunday in which Christians celebrate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity / the Triune God / the three Persons of the Godhead: that is, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Trinity Sunday is the first Sunday after Pentecost and eight weeks after Easter Sunday in the Western Christian liturgical calendar.
The Historical debates on the Trinity
Trinity may certainly not be fully understood or rationalized, but it is clearly taught in the Scripture. Even though the word “Trinity” does not appear in the Scriptures, there is a reference to the same in several instances in the Scriptures:
Mathew 28:19-20 “19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The great commission mandate is given by the Trinity. Ministry is carried out in the name and power of the Triune God
2 Corinthians 13:14 “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
We must accept the fact that, it is not easy to explain the mystery of the Trinity, but we can try to explain in the following formula: God is three Persons in one Nature. The three Persons of God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – are all equally God, and they cannot be divided.
One of the heretics in the 3rd and 4th century, Arius (AD 256 – 336) believed only on the Supreme Being, that is God the Father and not the Triune God. To Arius, the Son by contrast was a being created by the will and power of the Father thus denying the divinity of Christ. However the Scripture is clear:
John 1:1-4 “1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.”
Revelation 19:13 “He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.”
John 17:5 “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”
Arius’ chief opponent in the theological debate for Trinity was Athanasius, who upheld the orthodox doctrine that there are three Persons in one God. The debate between Arius and Athanasius was settled in AD 325 during the Council of Nicaea which had been called by Constantine. During the Council of Nicaea, the orthodox view prevailed and the Nicene Creed was formulated, which is still recited in most Christian churches every Sunday (the Anglican church of Kenya recites the Nicene Creed during the Holy Communion Service).
The Nicene Creed affirms the unity of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit); that is, Christ the Son is of the same essence (homoousios) as God the Father. The Nicene Creed also upheld the divinity of the Holy Spirit. The Nicene Creed has a phrase which affirms the position of the Holy Spirit in the Godhead, thus: “…who proceeds from the Father and the Son. And with the Father and Son is worshiped and glorified…”
John 10:30 “I and the Father are one.”
Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
John 14:26 “But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
The Christian Creeds which has helped crystallize the doctrine of Trinity are:
- Apostles’ Creed
- Nicene Creed
- Athanasius Creed – Quicunque Vault
During this day, we take time to meditate the distinct roles of the Triune God in creation, redemption and sanctification. Each member of the Trinity is intertwined to one another and interpenetrates one another within their distinct roles and functions:
- God the Father is Omnipotent – The All-Powerful One
God the omnipotent one, and the All-Powerful One, according to the Psalmist, has demonstrated His power through His act of:
God the Father is the Creator:
Psalm 8:3, 7-8 “3When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place… 7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.”
God, through His power, is the Sustainer of all that He has created, but He glorified Christ, the Son of man and assigned the authority over creation under His feet:
Psalm 8:4-6 “4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet…”
Therefore, through God the Son, creation is sustained.
- Work of Salvation through the Defeat of His Enemies
God the Omnipotent One has demonstrated His power throughout salvation history. His power to save the sinner and punish the sinner is demonstrated throughout the way He dealt with Israel and the enemies of Israel. For the Psalmist,
Psalm 8:2 “2From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.”
To the enemies of Israel, the people of God, who had taken them to captivity, the All-Powerful God announces through Prophet Isaiah:
Isaiah 40:15-17 “15Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. 16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. 17 Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.”
From Isaiah 40:18-26, God asked the Israelites hypothetical questions which He Himself again answers, in order to show His power over every other powers of men:
Isaiah 40:18-26 “18To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to? 19 As for an idol, a craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it. 20 A man too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot. He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not topple.
21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood g since the earth was founded? 22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. 23 He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. 24 No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
25 “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”
The Babylonians’ power cannot much the power of the Omnipotent God. He gives salvation to His creation through defeating all the oppressive and destructive powers of the enemies. The power of the idol gods and images cannot match the power of the Omnipotent God.
- The Omniscient God – the All-Knowing One
God, the Triune God is All-Knowing. The second set of questions that God pose to the Israelites are rhetorical to demonstrate that He is the All-Knowing One:
Isaiah 40:13-14; 27-28 “13Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? 14 Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding? … 27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”
The All-Knowing God knows everything through the Holy Spirit and no one can read His mind. However, Apostle Paul in His first letter to the Corinthians, quoting the rhetorical in Isaiah 40:13, gives his answer that we can only know God’s will because we have the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
- The Distinct Work of the Godhead in the Trinity
In 2 Corinthians 13:11-14, Paul expressly refers to the Trinity in the final blessings. The distinct work of the Godhead in Trinity according to Paul
- Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
It is through the grace that Jesus Christ saves the sinners and it is Jesus Christ who gives us the grace to live a Christian life. Through the grace of Christ, we receive all the good things from the Trinity.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Romans 3:23-24 “23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
- The love of God
God the Father has expressed love to us:
John 3:16-17 “16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”
Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit
God the Son promised His followers the gift of the Holy Spirit who will affirm the Trinity’s continued presence in the world. The Holy Spirit does the work of regeneration and sanctification. As such therefore, is in constant fellowship with the believer.
Ephesians 4:30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
First, on Trinity Sunday, the Christian Church ponders with joy and thanksgiving what God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have done to accomplish the salvation of sinful humanity. It is brought to remembrance how Christians should respond to the love God has shown us, praising Him and giving Him glory.
Secondly, we remember God the Father as our Creator, God the Son as our Saviour and God the Holy Spirit as our Comforter and partner in our spiritual growth. And finally, we remember that we are worshiping one God who has manifested Himself in three distinct ways.
Trinity Sunday, 11th June 2017
The Rev. Simon J. Oriedo
Curate at ACK St. James’ Buruburu
P.O. Box 14814 – 00100, Nairobi Kenya
Mobile: +254 – 722 838 023 / 772 838 023 / 735 62 11 72 / 752660620