The Witness

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Daily Reformation, Romans 8:12-17

From the Reformer

This article [the Trinity], though it be taught most clearly in the New Testament, yet has been always assaulted and opposed in the highest measure, so that the holy evangelist, St John, for the confirmation of this article, was constrained to write his gospel. Then came presently that heretic, Cerinthus, teaching out of Moses, that there was but one God, and concluding thence that Christ could not be God, or God man.

But let me stick to God’s Word in the Holy Scripture, namely, that Christ is true God with God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost is true God, and yet there are not three Gods, nor three substances as three men, three angels, three sons, three windows, etc. No: God is not separated or divided in such manner in his substance, but there is only and alone one divine essence, and no more.

Therefore, although there be three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, yet notwithstanding, we must not divide nor separate the substance, for there is but only one God in one only undivided substance, as St Paul clearly speaks of Christ (Co 1), that he is the express image of the invisible God, the first born of all creatures; for through him all things are created that are in heaven and on earth, visible, etc., and all is through and in him created, and he is before all, and all things consist in him.

Now what the third person is, the holy evangelist, St John, teaches (ch 15) where he says: “But when the Comforter is come, which I will send unto you from the Father, the Spirit of truth which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me.” Here Christ speaks not only of the office and work of the Holy Ghost, but also of his substance and faith; he goes out or proceeds from the Father, that is, his going out, or his proceeding, is without all beginning, and everlasting. Therefore the holy prophet Joel gives him the name, and calls him, “the Spirit of the Lord.”

—Martin Luther, Table Talk, “Of Idolatry”

Pulling It Together

How many times have you heard someone call the Holy Spirit “it,” as though he were merely God’s power—an electric charge or a revitalizing effect? While the Holy Spirit is powerful and has many effects on the world, he is more. In the same manner, how often have you heard Jesus referred to as a mere historical character? In fact, there is a popular, post-modern movement with the aim to reduce him to just that: history. But he is far, far more. And perhaps saddest of all, one so often encounters people who think the Father is an impersonal benevolence that they hope seems to have their better interests in mind in times of trouble. He is more.

Each person of the Trinity is important, not only for what he does for us but for who he is to the wholeness of the Godhead. For without even one person of the Trinity, God is no longer God. Without the Father’s love, the Son would not have come to bring us back into right relationship with God. And without the Spirit, we would not have a witness within ourselves of the Father’s great love.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers

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