THREE IN ONE(Questions 24-25)
As we have said before, there are many religions in the world. Most of them are similiar in that the person who follows that particular religion has to earn his way to God or to heaven. His salvation is based upon his works. Christianity is different than all other religions because we believe that one is not required(nor able) to earn his way to heaven. We believe that Jesus accomplished this for us. In this lesson of the catechism we learn another thing that sets Christianity apart from all other religions. It is the belief in One God-who exists in three Persons.
In three parts:
1. God the Father and our creation
2. God the Son and our redemption
3. God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification
25. Since there is one God, why do we speak of three-Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
This teaching that God is three in one is called the Trinity. This doctrine can be taught in three simple statements:
1. There is only One God.
The catechism states that God has revealed this to us in His word. We see descriptions of God being Three In One in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Notice first of all how when Genesis describes the creation of the world it says over and over again "And God said..". This would seem to point out one God-and that is true, there is only one God. But look at the verse below and try to explain how the "One" becomes "Three":
Then God said, "Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness....So God created man in HIS own image...
This may sound confusing, and in a way it is, but God always describes Himself as the One True God-but He also describes Himself in three persons. Even though we have a hint of this in Genesis, God didn't reveal the entire doctrine of the Trinity at one time. Instead He revealed it to man one step at a time. First there was Father God who created the world and Adam and Eve. Then there was God the Son(Jesus), who came and died for His chosen people. Finally, God the Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus to empower and lead the church. Let's look at a verse to describe each step of God's revelation.
God the Father
With this statement Moses introduced God the Father to the freed children of Israel as they were led into the promised land.
God the Son
Where Moses was God's first prophet, in Jesus came a better prophet that proclaimed God's message of hope and salvation.
God the Holy Spirit
In the last stage God sent the Holy Spirit to keep us in Him and to guarantee our salvation until we enter into heaven.
These simple truths are reinforced in the Apostles' Creed. The twelve articles are divided into three sections. The first article deals with God the Father and His acts of creation. Article 2 through 7 deal with Jesus and His act of redemption to purchase us back from sin and the devil. Finally, the last 5 articles teach about the Holy Spirit and how he sanctifies us and keeps us growing in Christ until the Lord returns again.
As we close this lesson, let's look at a few practical examples of how God is one, and yet three. First of all, ask yourself this-who sent Jesus to die on the cross? Father God. Now an easy one-who died on the cross-Father, Son or Holy Spirit? You're right-the Son of God. Who indwells believers when they put their trust in Jesus' death on the cross? Right again-the Holy Spirit. So even though there is one God, each distinct person played a special role in salvation. Now let's look at the baptism of Jesus. In this event we see the Trinity, or each distinct person of the Godhead, making themselves known to mankind.
And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased".
As we continue in the Creed, we will learn more about how God is three in one and how each person of the Godhead is truly God, yet truly distinct from one another. It is important to know these things because many religions say that there is only one person in the Godhead-that it is only Father God, or the Son of God, or just the Holy Spirit. But by learning, memorizing and understanding the Creed we can share with them what God has revealed in His Word and through history to teach us about the Trinity-the blessed Three In One.
1. How are the articles of the Creed divided?
©1998 Pomona Youth Chapel/Pastor Tim Shultz