Sunday, June 07, 2020

Salvation in Triplicate

Sermon for Trinity Sunday
You have the idea by now, haven't you? The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Ghost is God, and yet there be not three gods but One God. Easy to say, isn't it? But do we take the time to wrestle with it in our prayer?

It's very often the case, when we pray in ourselves, that we confuse who we're praying to. We might start our prayer to the Father and end it praying to the Son without realising it. Does it matter?

It depends on how you're praying.


One of the great and most misunderstood heresy against God is that of Modalism. It's misunderstood because people either miss it completely, or see it where it is not.

Modalism arises when we try to concentrate on there being One God and make the Father, Son and Holy Ghost just disguises of that One God. We could say that the Father and the Son are one God so, because the Son dies on the cross, the Father also dies on the cross. Clearly, this is wrong. The Father is not made man, so He does not die upon the cross. 

We also make the same mistake if we try to baptise in the name of the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sanctifier. Our Lord is very clear: we are to baptise in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Why is this the same mistake?


Modalism occurs when we get the relationships between Father, Son and Holy Ghost wrong. All three are the Creator but they don't all create in the same way. All three are the Redeemer, but only the Son is crucified as part of that redemption.  We do not receive the Body of the Father, or the Blood of the Holy Ghost. All three are sanctifiers but not in the same way. 

The same man may be an accountant, a bricklayer and a soldier, but this does not divide him up into three different men. Likewise there are many bricklayers doing the same job, but this doesn't make them one man, nor does it tell us anything more about who each of these bricklayers are.

 Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier are job descriptions: they express what God does, not Who He is.

Listen to St Paul:

" For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."

St Paul prays the Father to give us the riches of the Holy Ghost. He prays the Holy Ghost to strengthen us. He prays Christ to dwell in us. All this so we might be filled with the fullness of God beyond our imagination. This is our salvation in a nutshell. 

We are saved by God, each member of the Holy Trinity contributing to our justification, purification, and sanctification in different ways according to their personalities but as One God. That One God hears our prayers but if we only think of Him as one who answers prayer, then perhaps we don't really know Him at all.

So how should we pray?


There is no hard and fast rule for private prayer, nor should there be. We encounter God as we are and we encounter Him in each Person of the Trinity in different ways. However, we need to ensure that we worship the One True God, and this means praying in such a way as to recognise the Unity of God without treating the Trinity as identical persons. We worship one God in three persons.

Perhaps then, we should model our private prayer on our public worship. Public worship brings us all together before God, and our love for each other should bring us ever closer together so that we become one humanity in a multiplicity of persons reflecting God Himself.

Our private prayer to God may start confused but as we ascend in our love for Him, our words will become unnecessary and we shall sit and be with Him as He is in His incomprehensible majesty. 

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