Spirit, Lord, God
1 Corinthians 12:1–13 (ESV) Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
At the most basic level we confess belief in the Holy Trinity because this is how Jesus has revealed the name of God to us (Matthew 28:19). Yet this is more than a dry, lifeless doctrine isolated to one Bible passage. Throughout the New Testament, we see frequent mention of the Persons of the Trinity and a dynamic relationship among the Persons of the Trinity and between the Trinity and the Church.
St. Paul was made an apostle by the direct commissioning of Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 9). As such, He was authorized to speak on behalf of Jesus in his preaching and writing (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:15). Paul offered this Trinitarian blessing to his congregation at Corinth: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God [the Father] and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). This blessing is commonly used at the conclusion of Matins and Vespers services. It also serves well as a blessing to conclude morning or evening prayers. Using these words along with the sign of the cross reminds us to whom we belong—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the God who created and redeemed us, and who continues to sanctify us until either the Last Day or our own death.
Another passage from Paul is worth noting: “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). Again we see the Persons of the Trinity working in concert to save us. The prayer of thanksgiving is directed to the Father, who chose the Thessalonians (and us) to be saved through sanctification (Baptism, Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper) by the Holy Spirit and belief in the truth (faith)—the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which grants us the glory of eternal salvation.
In Ephesians 4:4-6, St. Paul mentions the Trinity in reverse sequence in his wonderful list of seven “ones”: “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. We see the same pattern in the above reading from 1 Corinthians 12: “same Spirit…same Lord…same God.” We receive gifts from the Holy Spirit in the Means of Grace, we serve the Lord Jesus, and we are empowered by God the Father until that day when we will live not by faith alone but are able to gaze upon the beauty of God in Paradise: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Prayer (LSB 914):
1. Light of Light, O Sole-Begotten
Radiance of the Father’s face,
Word made flesh, who lived among us
Full of truth and full of grace,
Shine upon our human darkness;
Pierce the night that shrouds our race.
2. Word eternal, through Your being
God created all we see,
When the empty spaces echoed
With the Father’s “Let there be . . . ”
Light and life burst from the glorious
Power of Your majesty!
3. Still Your brooding Spirit hovers
Over chaos, dark and deep,
Calling out with invitation:
“Rise, awaken from your sleep;
Christ the Lord will shine upon you
And from death your soul shall keep.”
4. Come, Lord Jesus, by Your Spirit
In our hearts Your work begin,
Bring the healing restoration
Of Your image lost by sin;
From Your fullness all receiving
Grace on grace, new life within! Amen.