Category Archives: Devotion

Reflecting on the Trinity

This morning in my devotion time, I decided to read and pray through the Athanasian Creed. I have a slick iPhone application that provides full text for the major Christian creeds throughout history. Ironically, scholars are not sure if Athanasius of Alexandria even penned the creed, though it bears his name. It likely originated in the late fifth or early sixth century and came about, as do all creeds, as a response to heresies (unorthodox beliefs) about the nature of the Trinity, the doctrine that God exists as three distinct persons (Father, Son, Spirit) yet mysteriously remains as one God. The heresies were centered on two false ideas: either they alleged that God the Son and Spirit were inferior, or subordinate, to God the Father, or they set forth a theology of tritheism (God existing as three separate, not unified, persons). The Trinity has been the most widely debated belief in orthodox Christianity and is the place of departure for the vast majority of past and present heresies and cults. Here is a portion of the creed:

And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Spirit Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty.

I enjoy reading creeds like this because they are theologically robust. Like old hymns, you can’t simply breeze through the words with ease. They require reflection, an exercise in worship of the mind. They also remind me of God’s sovereign providence to protect his Church from error and sustain the orthodoxy (literally “right belief”) that leads to proper worship.

שְׁמַ֖ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ יְהוָ֥ה׀ אֶחָֽד׃ : “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

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Journals of Jim Elliot

Years ago I received a book titled The Journals of Jim Elliot, a collection of devotional thoughts, personal reflections, and comments on Scripture from a man whose story has touched millions of lives. Fresh out of college, newly married with a young child, Jim and four other men and their spouses and children moved to Ecuador to begin mission work with the Waodani, an Amerindian tribe never before exposed to the Gospel. All five men were killed. Later, family members of the martyred men, including Jim’s widow Elisabeth, returned to reach out to the tribe. Two of the men responsible for the murders converted to Christianity. This amazing story has been reenacted in a film titled End of the Spear (trailer here) and documented in a second film titled Beyond the Gates of Splendor (trailer here). If you’ve never read or seen this story, I would encourage you to check out either of these films or do some reading online.

Today, for the first time in a few years, I took the book off the shelf and read it. I was struck by this journal entry, written by Jim when he was a junior in college. It reveals how passionate he was about becoming a man who exhibited the nature of Jesus Christ. May you be challenged by his words as I was today:

October 27, 1948: Sense a great need of my Father tonight. I do not feel needy [for God] enough. Sufficiency in myself is a persistent thought, though I try to judge it. Lord Jesus, tender lover of this brute soul, wilt Thou make me weak? I long to understand Thy sufficiency and my inadequacy, and how can I sense this except in experience? So, Lord, Thou knowest what I am able to bear. Send trouble that I might know peace; send anxiety that I might know rest in Thee. Send hard things that I may learn to rely on Thy dissolving them. Strange askings, and I do not know what I speak, but my desire to toward Thee- anything that will intensify and make me tender, Savior. I desire to be like Thee, Thou knowest.