Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day 23: Holy, Holy, Holy

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Years ago, before we had kids, Marc and I faced a real challenge in our belief in the doctrine of the Trinity -- one God in three persons. I had naively accepted some written materials from a couple of ladies who had knocked on our front door. I thought if I just took the material they would go away and I could toss it in the trash. But on my way to the trash can I decided to see for myself why they were considered so "out there" by Christians, so I took a peek inside the pamphlet. I was surprised to find that what they wrote seemed mostly okay, at least until I got to a part that indicated they didn't believe in the Trinity. I later learned there were other major differences in our beliefs, but this was what initially stood out to me.

To make a long story short, Marc and I realized that although we firmly believed in the Trinity, we weren't able to defend our belief very well. Those ladies came back and we thought we'd set them straight, but we ended up feeling very inadequate. We clearly didn't know our stuff very well. The result was that we spent many hours pouring through our Bibles in search of proof of the Trinity. This was before the internet, so it was not an easy task. God rewarded our efforts and led us to many passages that reaffirmed our beliefs. Even years later we would hear a Trinity-relevant verse in church and we would nudge each other and smile to silently say, "Yes! Another one!"

My purpose in telling this story is not so much to go into the doctrine (although I can't resist linking a couple of very helpful articles below), but to simply rejoice in it.  Because He is God in three Persons, He is perfect and worthy of our praise, and few hymns capture His perfection as well as Holy, Holy, Holy.

Holy, Holy, Holy
Reginald Heber, 1783-1826

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 wert and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
Though the eye of sinful man they glory may not see,
Only thou art holy; there is none beside thee
Perfect in pow'r, 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!

For further reading:

Union with God the Trinity by Sinclair Ferguson
The Trinity is so vast in significance because it can bring comfort to men driven to the edge by the atmosphere of sorrow about to engulf them. The triune One is greater in glory, deeper in mystery, and more beautiful in harmony than all other realities in creation. No tragedy is too big to overwhelm Him; nothing incomprehensible to us is so to Him, whose very being is incomprehensible to us. There is no darkness deeper than the depths of the inbeing of God. 

Trinity and Salvation by Rick Phillips
Theologians speak of the economy of the Trinity, which refers to the arrangement of their work for our salvation. Since the members of the Trinity share one divine being, each Person is present in the work of each of the other Persons, so there is no work of salvation in which all three Persons are not involved. Yet we may rightly speak of a particular member of the Trinity taking the lead when it comes to certain aspects of salvation.

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