“The Goal of Knowing the Trinity”
May 22, 2016: Trinity Sunday
Isaiah 59: 15 – 21/ Psalm 29 / Romans 5: 1 – 5/ John 16: 5 - 15
Bishop Ariel Cornelio P. Santos
The Lord is here and in the presence of the Lord is fullness of joy. Banish whatever is against that fullness of joy and let it not rob you of this will of God that He has for you.
It is great to be back and to see all of you again. While I was away, I had a very productive time and I feel very refreshed and invigorated. I am very excited for greater things to come. We are moving on this journey with God. My question to you is: are you coming with us on this journey as God continues to lead us? He started the work in us and it is a good work and He will bring it to completion. This is His promise and this is what we believe.
The gospel today told us that the Holy Spirit will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. I would like to clarify the definition of the word “world.” I can think of at least four Biblical definitions when the Bible says “world.” First, it talks about the cosmos/all of creation as written in John 3:16. “God so love the world, all of His creation, including man and animals.” Second, it means mankind – all of man. Third, the world is the system or the culture of fallen man, the result of death and sin. Fourth, world can also just mean mankind in such a fallen state.
The Holy Spirit will convict fallen humanity in order to redeem man, and through man, restore all creation. Man is pivotal in the restoration of all things. Romans 8:19-21 says, “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” The anxious longing of the creation was in futility and it was subjected in hope that all of creation will be set free from its slavery into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We, the children of God, will initiate the restoration of all the rest of creation. Jesus died for us men so that we can effect the restoration the rest of all of creation.
In Romans 8:29, it says that we, the fallen man, are destined to be conformed to the image of the Son of God so that He would be firstborn among many brethren. “Many” means all. He is the firstborn from the resurrection of the dead. Every Sunday is a celebration and a reminder of that resurrection and the victory that Jesus won for us. He is the firstborn; we are supposed to follow and participate in the victory over death. Our destiny, the Eschaton, the last thing, the Omega is the restoration of truth of our creation, our true humanity. Acts 3 says that Jesus is held in heaven until the restoration of all things and He is coming back. What precedes His coming back is the restoration of all things.
Do you believe that Christ is coming back? Yes, because He promised and His Word always comes to pass. There is something that is going to happen before His coming back again, which is the restoration of all things. As sure that He is coming back, we will be restored. All things will be restored back to the pristine pureness of creation in the beginning. We are called to participate in Jesus’ perfect humanity.
To be human is not to be weak. God made us human; He made us sinless – very good – so it is wrong to say, “I am only human.” If you are only human, then, you are good; you bear the image of God because He created you a human being with His spirit breathed unto you. This is the humanity of Jesus. Jesus, being one hundred percent man, means He is what man should be.
I attended a Roman Catholic Church while I was gone and what the priest said blew me away. He said, “We were born of the Spirit. God created us a Spirit, but He did not create us a spirit but flesh and blood. He made us physical beings and we were born from Him, from above by the Spirit of God, so that we can be more and more physically human.” Our goal is not to disembody, not to get out of this good thing, the flesh, that God made. Our goal is to stay in this flesh perfected like Jesus is perfected in His humanity. We are to be physical beings bearing God’s image, just like Jesus Christ, the man - exactly what Jesus did, exactly what Jesus was, exactly what Jesus exactly is, and exactly what Jesus will ever be. He is not just one hundred percent God, but also one hundred percent man.
In John 12:23-26, Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…and where I am, there My servant will be also.” Where is this place or state where He will be and His servant will also be? It is in His glorification; His restoration into the fullness of what God made man to be – the saved man. Jesus says in John 14:3, “Where I am, there you may be also.” He is not talking about a place because our place is not in a spiritual realm, but in flesh and blood and like what God intended from the beginning, that is on earth, the physical realm. “Where I am” means is Jesus’ glorification and resurrection and His conquering of death and sin.
This is where we should be – free from all of these things. Where we should be is walking on the water with Jesus, not submerged under water and not subjected to all that water represents. “Where I am, there you may be also.” The will of God is for us to be restored.
An author said, “In Jesus, we see man as he was meant to be. In Jesus, we see God as He truly is.” An Anglican Bishop said, “If you want to know who God is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what it means to be human, look at Jesus. If you want to know what love is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what grief is, look at Jesus. And go on looking until you’re not just a spectator, but you’re actually part of the drama which has Him as its central character.” We are not supposed to be spectators, but we are participants and this is what Jesus means when He said, “The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth.” All truth is the truth of our creation, of our humanity. Truth is how God created us. He did not create us to be in bondage to sin, but to be like Christ as man. If we want to understand what humanity is, look at Jesus and be like Him because He is the picture of restored, resurrected humanity, not fallen man.
This truth is not mental. It is being; it is experiencing; it is living; it is participating. When we say, “I believe,” it does not mean, “I understand,” or “I read theological books.” It means it is not intellectual at all, but communing with God, walking with God, acknowledging Him and looking for the resurrection of the dead, that is, the making new all things again and benefiting from it by participating in it.
In the song, “There is a Redeemer,” the chorus says, “Thank You, Oh my Father, for giving us Your Son and leaving Your Spirit until the work on earth is done.” Why did God send His Son? To die for us? Why did He die for us? So that we can be delivered from our sin so that we can again be in the life of God. In the gospel, Jesus says, “I am going up to the Father, but I will send the Holy Spirit to you until the work on earth is done.” This is the same work of restoration because Jesus sits at the right hand of God until the restoration of all things and the Holy Spirit will be with us. Jesus is with us through the Holy Spirit and the work is making new all things.
We misinterpret the Holy Spirit’s convicting the world as judgment, as punishment because we misunderstand creation in the first place. Genesis 1 tells us that creation is “very good,” because the good God made it. He loves creation and creation was the beginning of humanity. Creation and man remain inherently good, even after sin entered the world. A parent would not stop loving his children, even if he fails. A parent sees the blood in his child; a parent sees himself in the child no matter what sin they did or how much of a black sheep he was. The parent doesn’t stop loving his child. Jesus said, “You, being evil, know how to love your children, how much more God?” Creation remains inherently good despite the fall and it remains in the love of its Creator. God never disowned us!
A Church father said, “Even if there was a time when creation did not exist, there was never a time when God did not love it.” God will never stop loving us. The material world is not bad, but good because God owns it. God created it, but His will is not for us to escape it; He made us for it. He made us humans, not spirit, but with His Spirit in us. Our destiny is to go back to Eden. We need to go back to the goodness of creation because creation due to sin was subjected to futility. We need to go back to Eden, the restored physical creation, and not to a place of spirits.
God is not like us in our weakness. Today, when something gets broken like a toy or a part of a car, we immediately replace it. An old couple was asked, “What is your secret for staying together for fifty years? They said, “We belong to a generation which, when things are broken, we fix them.” This is our God. We were broken at some point, but He doesn’t intend to throw us away and He intends to fix us and He is able to do this.
Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit did not come to judge and destroy us, but so that we can have life abundantly again. What is the price of God’s fixing creation? It was His own life in His Son. This is how God invested in us and is fixing us. He became human, went through our struggles, tasted our suffering and experiencing them. He tasted death for all men, which we fell into. He not only owned all of these, but He conquered them for us to fix us, to restore us, to resurrect us, and to redeem us from all of these.
This creation is good. This world is good. We are not passers-by. This is our home. We are reclaimers and involved in redeeming the world where we were made for. Remember, we are the steward of all creation. God gave us the stewardship of the world. I got “born-again” when it comes to animal cruelty. I confess that I used to be not very kind to animals especially stray cats. This is not all to it. As stewards of God’s creation, I am talking about godliness, responsibility and fulfilling our calling because creation will follow our restoration. When we are restored, then, we can take care of creation.
Banish from our theology the escapism attitude, that rapture attitude because that is ignorant of the truth that the world God chose is to have communion with the physical man. God made the earth because He chose it as the place to have communion with us as physical beings. Revelation says, “Behold, God pitched tent among men." The Psalm says, “He has chosen Zion(the physical Zion) as His dwelling place. This is My resting place forever. Here, I will dwell with men, physical beings.” Psalm 132:13-14a, “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell.”
Another author boldly stated this, “Actually, God only created the earth, so that there can be a venue for His communion with man.” We should be thankful that God did not choose another planet, but earth to make a physical venue so that He can put a physical being and have fellowship with Him. We are the apple of God’s eye. This is how important we are to Him, and Jesus Christ will be with us here, until the end of the age. He will be with us in our struggles and in our trials. He will be with us in our problems and help us see all of these through and He will never, ever forsake us.
In the Easter song that we sing, one line goes, “In every insult, rift and war, with color, scorn or wealth divide, He still suffers still and yet, He loves us more.” He still suffers with us – the offended, the victims, the broken, and the downtrodden. He loves us. He sees us through in all of these things until all creation lives and learns His goodness. Until everything in His temple, again, bearing His image and likeness, says, “Glory!”
This is the work of the Trinity. This is how we know the Trinity. We know their work, their heart, their nature and their love for us. This is the fullness of the Godhead investing everything that they got all for our sake us.
Our hope is in this promised work of God, not escaping it, but in conquering and reclaiming it. We will not throw this. In the eyes of God, we are precious. Our hope is in this work of God. Hope does not disappoint because it is in the love of God that we hope that has been poured out in its entirety toward us. St. Paul says, “Hence, we persevere and don’t give up.” We bet on it like God bets on us and increasingly, it is going to get better because that is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.