Tag Archives: Trinity

Eternal Father, Strong To Save

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who biddest the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy Word,
Who walked on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!
Our family shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect us wheresoever we go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

Words by William Whiting, 1860
Music by John B. Dykes, 1861

 


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.
Isaiah 40:28

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
Proverbs 8:29

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
Matthew 8:23 – 27

Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.
Matthew 14:23 – 25

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Genesis 1:1 – 2

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Matthew 28:19

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
Psalm 28:7

the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121:8


 

As long as man has walked the earth, the sea has served as a source of fascination and fear, a source of dread and delight. The sea can be a sight of beauty that seem to go on forever with an endless horizon. It can also be a sight of unparalleled terror as the great storms roll in filling that same horizon. They can be the purest image of peace and tranquility. And they can be a source of unimaginable power. Man has set out time and again to conquer the sea, some times to safely return and other to never be heard from again. It is this incredible image of the sea that William Whiting draws upon in his hymn, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save”, also known as “The Naval Hymn.”

The hymn begins with the words, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.” The use of the name Eternal Father draws our minds to the book of Isaiah where we read in 40:28 of the “everlasting God” and in 9:6 of the “Everlasting Father.” It is to the Eternal Father that the first verse is addressed. Whiting expounds his discussion of the Father when he says “Whose arm hath bound the restless wave, Who biddest the mighty ocean deep Its own appointed limits keep.” It is God the Father who formed the seas and set their boundaries. As Proverbs 8:29 says, “he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command.” It is the Father who put everything in its place, and the power of the sea is within His command.

The hymn now moves from the Father to Jesus Christ, the Son when it says, “O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard And hushed their raging at Thy Word,” Immediately our minds are drawn to Matthew 8:23 – 27 where we find the account of Jesus having fallen asleep on the boat as a great storm arose and when alerted through the fearful cries of the disciples “he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” The hymn continues on to say, “Who walked on the foaming deep.” Again our minds are drawn to the book of Matthew, but this time to 14:23 – 25 where we read, “Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.” He speaks and the storms and sea are silenced. He walks upon the very surface of the water. The Power of Christ over the very sea that fills man with such awe, can not help but humble us before Him.

The hymn has spoke of the Might of the Father and the supremacy of Christ over all things. It now moves on to speak of the Holy Spirit when it says, “Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood Upon the chaos dark and rude.” The Spirit over the water is an image that is familiar to all who have heard the creation account in Genesis 1. For in Genesis 1:1 – 2 we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” From the beginning of creation the sea was present and the Spirit of God filled it all.

The hymn moves into its final verse by bring everything together. It has presented us with the vision, that as powerful as the sea may appear to us, it is nothing when compared to the power of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is this image that is brought together when it says, “O Trinity of love and power!” Here our minds are drawn to another image of water. There is immeasurable power to be found in the sea, but in the New Testament we find another image of power that is represented in the water.

In Matthew 28:19 we read, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The image of the Trinity is tied to the image of Salvation. It is in the name of each member of the Godhead that we come to faith. For the Father sent the Son, who gave His life and it is the Spirit who has been sent to indwell in all who believe. It is this that is then represented in the water flowing over the new believer in baptism.

The hymn then addresses the truth that our God is “Our family shield in danger’s hour.” That “the LORD is our strength and our shield.” (Psalm 28:7) And that we can call on Him to “Protect us wheresoever we go.” For Psalm 121:8 tells us that, “the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

The sea is a powerful image in the mind of people everywhere. For those who have seen its endless horizon, those who have swum in depth and those who have sailed upon it vast surface it is an image that is indelibly written upon their minds. Yet as incredible and amazing as it is, it is nothing when seen in light of the awesome power of God. It is in this truth that we can join with the final line of the hymn, “Thus evermore shall rise to Thee Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.”

 

 

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Holy, Holy, Holy

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.

Holy, holy, holy! though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Words by Reginald Heber, 1826
Music by John Dykes, 1861

 


. . . At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. . . Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. . . Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
Revelation 4:1 – 11

. . . I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with two they covered their face, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they did fly.

And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. . .

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin removed.
Isaiah 6:1 – 7


 

I remember visiting my grandparents house when I was young. We would go there for Thanksgiving, Christmas, sometimes Easter as well as other times. One of the things that was always a given was a big meal. For the holidays there was always a big meal, but even if we were there only for the weekend, we would always have a big Sunday dinner.

Now my grandmother had a china cabinet (though I don’t remember it having china) that the dishes were kept in. We would pull out the dishes and set the table. For big family get togethers we would set a second table. Sometimes we stretched the dishes to the limit, using everything available in the cabinet.

But these were not the only dishes my grandmother had. Hanging on the wall in the dining room she had a collection of tea cups. These, however, were special. She had collected the. and they were never used. After my grandmother passed away these cups were distributed to family. I have one, and I as well do not use it, it sits on a shelf as a reminder of my grandmother each time I see it. It is set apart.

“Set apart” This is the meaning of he word Holy, and so is the theme of Reginald Heber’s hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Heber begins his hymn with the words, “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!” These words may be familiar to many. In Revelation 4:8 the angels around the throne declares, “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” They are echoing the words of the angels around the throne in Isaiah 6:3 where they declare, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Think about, the angels themselves, who are in the very presence of God cannot help but declare that God is set apart. He is above and beyond all of creation. He is Holy. But they do not simply declare Him holy, but do it three-fold. The three-fold formula is a declaration that God is not simply holy, but perfectly holy. And so over and over again, in his hymn, Heber proclaims that God is perfectly holy.

How humbling and frightening this can be. I mean if the seraphim and cherubim who are in God’s very presence bow before Him declaring his holiness and the twenty-four elders of Revelation 4:10 fall down and cast their crowns before Him, what can I do. As Heber puts it, “Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see.”

So when I find myself coming before the Lord, I am with Isaiah who says, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5) What am I to do?

There is hope. For Isaiah the angel touched his lips with a coal from from the altar of God and he is told, “this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin removed.” But what of us?

Our hope is in Jesus Christ. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18) Because of this, if we “declare with our mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) As a result, we need not fear standing before God, but we may “come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace “ (Hebrews 4:16)

Yes, we who have believed in Christ. We who have been baptized “ in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” ( Matthew 28:19) into Christ death and resurrection (Romans 6:3) need not fear being in the presence of a perfectly holy God. Instead we may join with that great chorus of voices testifying, “Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!”

 

 

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Doctrine of the Holy Spirit


What are we referring to when we speak of The Holy Spirit. Is it a spirit that represents God? Is it the same thing as God? First, the question should better be stated, “Who is the Holy Spirit?” As I discussed in the two previous articles, God exist eternally in three person. The Holy Spirit is the third and final (and often over looked) part of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit, along with The Father and The Son make up the Trinity.

How do we know The Holy Spirit to be fully God. First, the Bible equates lying to The Holy Spirit and lying to God as the same thing (Acts 5:3-4). The clear implication is that the Holy Spirit is God. Further many of the attributes ascribed to God are also ascribed to the Holy Spirit.(eternal – Hebrews 9:14, omnipresent – Psalm 139:7-8) But why do we believe The Holy Spirit is a distinct person from the Father and the Son. Jesus clearly saw the Spirit as distinct. We see this when He commanded His disciple to baptize people in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). We also see it in another passage where He states that when He leaves, the Holy Spirit will be sent from the Father (John 14:26, 15:26). The Holy Spirit is clearly God and clearly a distinct person, becoming a third person of the one true God.

So then, what is the role of the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is sent of God to fill His people (Titus 3:5). When a person comes to accept the Lord as his personal Savior, he is baptized with the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13), washing away all sins. Now, the sin having been washed away, the new believer in Christ is filled with the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19). The Spirit then works to guide this new child of God (Romans 8:14) helping them to grow and develop in their relationship with Christ.

The Holy Spirit is the helper that Jesus promised His disciples(John 14:15-26) and is at work in the church today. The work of the Holy Spirit is to develop God’s church, those who believe. The Holy Spirit is at work in the development of Christian lives (John 14:26). He guides those who believe day by day in their lives (Acts 8:29, Romans 8:14).

The Holy Spirit intercedes for those of us who believe, through our prayers to the Father and communicates those things we can not even speak (Romans 8:26). The Holy Spirit also convicts the believers of sin in their lives. The Holy Spirit draws unbelievers to God and regenerates the heart of those who believe and call upon the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

What about Spiritual Gifts? Where do they fit in? To further build up the body, the Holy Spirit bestows (I Corinthians 12:11) His gifts upon the people of God for the working of the church (Ephesians 2:22, 4:11-12, Hebrews 2:3-4).Some of these gifts include prophecy, teaching, miracles, tongues, and evangalism among others (1 Corinthians 12:27-30, Ephesians 4:11-13) While God may still use any of the gifts today, they are not always present. Many of these gifts are still manifested in the church today. I do, however, believe that the miraculous gifts (tongues, healing, prophecy) are for special situations, such as the founding of the church, and not normative for today. This is not to say they do not exist but that the miraculous gifts, when expressed, must be in a context consistent with the Bible. They must be edifying and non-disruptive to the body (I Corinthians 12:12-31, 14:26-40, Ephesians 4:11-12).

The “charismatic” [or spirit] movement of the 20th century brought this issue to the forefront of the church. When speaking of the most noted of the miraculous gifts, peaking in tongues, Paul declares it is the least of the gifts and that not all believers possess the gift of tongues (I Corinthians 14:5). It therefore cannot be used as a litmus test in the life of a believer as some have done. Now, while they may not be normative in the church today, they should not automatically be dismissed, but should be examined on a case by case basis as to their legitimacy.

Setting aside the discussion of the “miraculous” gifts, we know that many gifts are given by the Spirit that are important to the working of the church. Each believer has their own special gifts that complement the gifts of other believers (I Peter 4:10). One gift is not greater than another, rather they all work together to build up the body of Christ. Through all, however, we must always seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the interpretation of God’s word and the application of the gifts bestowed by the Holy Spirit.

The Doctrine of God


I was unsure how to title this section, after all how does one describe God? Infinite, yet personal. powerful, yet gentle. God is God. He summed it up best Himself when he stated, “I am that I am.” For this reason I have chosen to simply entitle this “The Doctrine of God.”

So who is God? God is nonmaterial, personal and eternal, . (I will discuss the nature of the Son at a different time.) The question then is, “What does nonmaterial mean?“ The term nonmaterial does not mean that God is without substance. Rather, it points to the fact that God is Spirit (John 4:24). He is nonmaterial in the sense that we understand physicality.

God is personal. To say that God is personal is to say that God possesses two basic characteristics. First He possesses consciousness. He is aware of himself and his relationship with his creation, with us. Second, He possesses distinctiveness. He possesses a unique identity and characteristics.

Of these characteristics possessed by God, some are unique to Him alone. There are three basic attributes of God, which are unique to him. These attributes are:

  1. Immutability – God in His essence and nature is never changing (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, James1:17). This is not to say that God is static, for He is capable of change and does so in His relationships (Genesis 6:6, Exodus 32:10, 14), but His very nature is unchanging.
  2. Infinity – God is limitless in His existence. He is beyond measure and therefore not capable of being confined. Included in his infinity are unconfinable (I Kings 8:27, Acts 17:24), all-powerful (Job 42:2), always present (Psalms 139:7-12, Jeremiah 23:24), and all-knowing (Psalms 147:4-5).
  3. Eternity – God is not confined to the essence of time. He is beyond time. His existence is outside time and is therefore in existence before, during, and after time. He has no beginning or end (Genesis 21:33, Psalm 90:2, I Timothy 1:17).

God also possesses certain attributes that are shared with his creation on a limited basis. These qualities include, but are not limited to:

  • Knowledge (John 2:25)
  • Power (Genesis 1:3, Matthew 19:26, Revelation 19:6)
  • Goodness (Mark 10:18)
  • Justice (Micah 6:8)
  • love (I John 4:7-10)

God is the creator of the heavens and the earth. He created them from nothing. (Romans 4:17, Genesis 1:1) Before anything existed, God existed. He was in the beginning. In the beginning, there was only God. (John 1:1) God created everything from nothing and brought life to it all. God is the origin (Colossians 1:16) and sustainer (Hebrews 1:3, Nehemiah 9:6) of all things. All things exist to bring Glory to Him (Isaiah 43:6-7).

God is the essence of being. I refer to God as a being, which is true in that he possess consciousness and distinctiveness. But God is more than “a” being, God is the essence of being. He is the source of all life (Acts 17:25, Colossians 1:16).

God himself exists eternally as a triune being. This is most commonly referred to as the Trinity. This is difficult concept for many and has led to some misunderstandings. While I do not claim to be able to explain it in any detail, I must be clear here, there is ONE God (Deuteronomy 6:4, Ephesians 4:6).

This one God exist eternally in three persons (John 10:30, 14:15-26, Acts 1:3-5): God the Father (John 6:40, Ephesians 4:6), God the Son (John 1:1, 6:40), and God the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4). Each of these are clearly identified in these passages as God, not a god and not one of the gods, but as God. They are each equally and fully God. (John 10:30, Romans 8:9-14)

At the same time there is a economic subordination, that is to say there is a functional authority structure between them. Each plays a specific role. The Son prays to the Father, the Father sends the spirit (John 14:16). This has much more to do with the relationship between the three then God’s relationship with us. This is not to say it has nothing to do with God relationship to us, for we see demonstrated in God, the unity of purpose. The Son submits to the will of the Father (Luke 22:42). The desire of the Son was to do the will of the Father. They were united in their purpose and the son was subordinate to the Father in his action. We also see that God sends His spirit to those who believe in Him and the Spirit is subordinate in His actions. The Spirit is clearly united in the purpose. Yet, as should be clear from these same passages this economic subordination does have something to do with us. For the united purpose of each of these is God’s desire to have a relationship with us. It is through this unique relationship within God, that He reaches out for a relationship with us. Again, it is a difficult concept that I do not claim to be able to explain in full.