There are many ways to consider the nature of the Holy Trinity. The Scriptures are one unified truth, revealed by God through His Holy Spirit. We can begin with any truth and examine the other truths revealed by God.
We know Jesus is our Savior because this truth is revealed through the Scriptures. Islam is quite different. Moslems teach that Mohammed has given them the Koran, so the Koran is holy through the so-called prophet, who is considered by them to be the only and the true messenger of Allah. The moon-god of Mohammed's family was Allah. Therefore the Koran is whatever Mohammed declared it to be. He was illiterate but a talented poet. Others wrote down his verses. He included versus about Allah having daughters, due to pressure from one group that would not give up their daughter goddesses, but he later withdrew those verses and called them Satanic verses, the name of Rushdie's famous book. Therefore, in Islam, the religious book is centered around one man and his own compositions. Mohammed created a wealthy kingdom for himself by sponsoring armed raids against the caravans of other Bedouins. In contrast, Jesus had no home.
And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. Matthew 8:20
Unlike the Koran, the Scriptures come from the hands of many men and yet have a divinely-wrought consistency throughout, due to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The believer trusts in the inerrancy of the Bible because of the power of the Word. The Word of God teaches us so completely and compellingly about our nature and our Savior that we cannot do anything but confirm its origin and nature. Therefore, it is not surprising when we learn new bits of information dug up from the ancient past, confirming minor details recorded in the Bible. Those details were once denied with great vehemence by scoffers and skeptics but conveniently overlooked when confirmed by archeology.A key foundational truth of the Bible is that God has instilled purpose in each and every one of us through His Creation. There are two alternative philosophies, or ways of understanding the data around us.
1) Either God created and we all have a divine purpose.Or
2) Chaos has organized itself into an orderly and self-sustaining world, purely by coincidence.
The Bible teaches that God brought order out of nothingness and chaos:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:1-4
In our own little world, chaos does not progress into order. Instead, order degenerates into chaos. For instance, neglect the least little chores in a home and soon it is difficult to walk through a room or put a sack of groceries on a clean counter. Desks do not organize themselves over time. Instead they become more disorderly. More papers, pen, candies, bills, tools, and computer equipment piles up until nothing can be found.
Where man has control, there must be a constant effort to keep things from declining any faster than they will on their own.
God created beavers with a need to chew constantly and to build dams. Their dams are so well built that people use dynamite to blow them up when their ponds would engulf valuable land. Beavers encourage the formation of ponds. The ponds become loaded with plant and animal life because algae grows almost instantly in the sun. Algae feeds many forms of aquatic life. Fish enter the pondthrough the feet of water fowl, who are programmed by God to be attracted to water and to mark it on their mental maps. When I had the waterfall splashing one evening, geese flew overhead. One seemed to be looking down for the source of the water-noise. Even a dripping bucket into another water bucket will attract birds of all kinds.
The pond created by beavers takes care of itself. The fish and plants feed, cleanse, and add nutrition to the pond. Any pond will become a center of activity. It will keep itself clean and healthy in almost all circumstances. God has life-forms for all kinds of water except the Dead Sea . Finally the pond will silt itself up and become a fertile piece of ground.
In contrast, a man-made swimming pool needs 12 hours of pumping, filtering, and chlorine each day to keep it clean in the summer. The swimming pool does not clean itself. It does not fill itself with water. Left alone, even with timers, a good powersource, and an auto-filling option, it will break down and turn into an opaque mess.
This seems so clear to us. The problem is that people look at the same facts and come to different conclusions. The evolutionist sees the Grand Canyon and says, “Evolution.” The Christian sees the Grand Canyon and says, “The Flood.”
The evolutionist looks at religious history and says, “There must have been some big floods, because every culture has a flood story with one family surviving. Genesis probably got Noah's story from the Babylonians.”
Christians look at this same history and say, “No wonder every culture has a flood story. It really happened. And the Bible does not need a source to reveal the truth to us.”
Scientists can gather a vast array of facts, and we are thankful for that. But they admit that they cannot discuss purpose. The whole concept ofpurpose is a non-scientific concept. That is the ultimate problem of turning chaos into order by chance over billions of years. Arguing the impossibility of such occurrences is not very convincing and irrelevant to most people.
The real issue is how one can say two forms of life have a purpose, one for the other, and then multiply this by an infinite level of complexity. For example, the beaver must chew on trees to be happy and contented. He must make a dam and a nice little home for his family. All of his fellow creatures immediately benefit from his work. They need him as much as he needs the trees to chew and build with, as much as he needs the water for his pond. Fish arrive at the isolated pond because their eggs from other ponds cling to the legs of water fowl. This gives the fish population Lebensraum (elbow room) and the birds more food.
If there is a pond soaking in the sun, I will show you the dragon fly family. They hover and dart over the pond, grabbing insects on the fly. No man-madeaircraft has the flight control flexibility of the dragon fly. And yet there is another secret to this insect. As a baby it lives in the pond as an attack submarine, feeding as ferociously on insect larvae as it will devour mature insects in its adult stage. How many submarines can turn themselves into attack helicopters by feeding themselves on the enemy and then produce even more of these transforming insect-destroyers? The lower forms of life – even the lifeless minerals – point to the purpose we all share as God's creation, as human beings. The rocks crumble into soil, and those minerals become building blocks of plant and animal life. The way in which all of God's Creation sustains itself is a constant marvel to everyone, although many interpret it wrongly. They rhapsodize about “Nature” and not about the Creator. They want to protect “Nature” while disparaging the Creator.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Romans 1:20-21
The Scriptures teach us the nature of God's purpose.
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar:for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. 1 John 4:16-21
|This is the famous passage that reveals to us the simple phrase:|
|God is love.|
Therefore, those who dwell in God (who remain with and are faithful to the Gospel and Sacraments) dwell in love. The passage also means that lovelessness is not in harmony with faith in God.
Another simple but profound idea comes from this passage in I John:
That we may have boldness on the day of judgment.
Bold shall I stand in that great Day
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully through these absolved I am,
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.
“Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness,” TLH 371
This epistle lesson shows us that God created us to live in love. First of all, He created us to live in His love. The Gospel message is a constant and unfailing message of God's love and forgiveness. We love Him because He first loved us. From that love comes our love for others. As the Apostle John notes, fear and love are opposites. Fearful people are not loving, but loving people cast out fear. It is always going to be part of our human condition, but faith nurtured in God's love casts away fear.
The reason so many laity and clergy are timid today is their lack of trust in God. Not that God is denying them anything or proving false to them. They simply do not trust God to add anything to their human cleverness. Trust in their own devices, they shudder when things do not work out.
I was talking to a university leader. She always started from a position of trusting faculty members and encouraging them. But then she was replaced by someone who tried to show his power with threats and power-plays. Faculty voted on this change by resigning, even after decades of service.
In the same way, and much more profoundly, Jesus attracts all people to Himself because of His love and mercy. Therefore, we each have a purpose in God's Kingdom. One of the best ways to show that purpose is to multiply the love which God has already shown us, to extend the forgiveness He has already given us in Christ, to live as though the promise of eternal life is our one great certainty, based upon the objective Word of God and the merits of Christ.
"Behold a Host, Arrayed in White"
Behold a host, arrayed in white,
But now, how glorious they must appear!
Those martyrs stand a priestly band,
God's throne forever near.
So oft, in troubled days gone by,
In anguish they would weep and sigh,
At home above the God of Love
For aye their tears shall dry.
They now enjoy their Sabbath rest,
The paschal banquet of the blest;
The Lamb, their Lord, at festal board
Himself is Host and Guest.
Then hail, ye mighty legions, yea,
Paul the Apostle – On Creation
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Romans 1:16-23
|The First Day|