Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Pentecost Special

Volume 5 No. 287 May 22, 2015

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O Comforter, Holy Spirit, Who, in the likeness of
fiery tongues, descended upon the holy apostles in the
Upper Room and enlightened their minds with divine
understanding; we beseech You to enlighten us with the
brightness of Your blissful gifts, that now and at all times
we may glorify You and the Father from Whom you
proceed, and the Son from Whom You take, now and forever.

Source: Liturgy of Pentecost - Syriac Orthodox Church

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1. Foreword

Pentecost Sunday

2. Bible Readings for Pentecost Sunday (May 24)

Bible Readings for Pentecost Sunday

3. Sermons for Pentecost Sunday (May 24)

4. Malankara World Trinity and Pentecost Supplements

The concept of Trinity is difficult to understand; but it is the cornerstone of Christian Faith. Malankara World has an infocenter specifically devoted to Trinity. You can find it here:

You can also learn more about Pentecost, Holy Spirit and the Birthday of the Church in our Pentecost Infocenter.

Malankara World Journal Specials on Pentecost

Volume 4 No 222: June 5, 2014
Pentecost Special

Volume 3 No 143: May 16 2013
Pentecost Special

Volume 2 No 78: May 24 2012
Pentecost Special

Volume 1 No 9: June 10, 2011
Pentecost Special

5. Pentecost Prayer

From the Syriac Orthodox Church Liturgy for Pentecost

6. Who is the Holy Spirit?

Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit is not just an impersonal power or a force, but a Person - the third Person of the trinity, in fact. The Holy Spirit is God Himself. ...

7. Pentecost: A New Wind

The giving of the Spirit to the new people of God crowns the mighty acts of the Father in salvation history.  ... The Spirit seals the new law and new covenant brought by Jesus, written not on stone tablets but on the hearts of believers, as the prophets promised. ...

8. God in Three Persons: A Doctrine We Barely Understand

The doctrine of the Trinity has been called the most puzzling doctrine in the Christian faith and the central truth of the Christian faith. Which is it? Inscrutable puzzle or central truth? The answer is, both are true.

This doctrine unites all true Christians and separates us from those who are not Christian. You may believe and still not be a Christian, but if you deny this doctrine in your heart, you are not a Christian at all. ...

9. What the Gospels Teach Us About the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit was an essential part of Jesus' ministry. Not only was Jesus enlivened by the Spirit, Jesus also taught his disciples that the Holy Spirit would be an essential part of their ministry. ...

10. Depending on the Holy Spirit

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life. But though we are orthodox in our creeds, I wonder if we truly realize how absolutely dependent on the Spirit we really are? I'm struck by the pervasive presence of the Spirit in the New Testament. ...

Regular Features

11. Health: How to Slow Down Your Life and Enjoy the Ride - Right Now

Four Considerations To Help You Embrace The Moment, From Speaker Hall Of Fame Member ...

12. Recipe: Lamb Tikka

A great spicy recipe from North India

13. Family Special: Three Things That Poison Your Marriage

...three small steps can ultimately lead to the death of a marriage. Unfortunately, so many of us regularly engage in these behaviors without realizing the dangers they pose. In 'How to Poison Your Marriage in 3 Easy Steps', Joyner says the first step is blame. ...

14. About Malankara World

This Sunday is the Pentecost Sunday, often described as the Birthday of the Church. If you think about the state of the mind of the disciples who were assembled in the Great Room with St. Mary, you can perhaps understand the significance of this event. Jesus was gone - he ascended into heaven. But he promised them that he will send the Holy Spirit, the comforter, who will describe and interpret everything they had witnessed and experienced. Then they will be ready to start on their own evangelism.

One thing we know is that God keeps His covenants and His promises. We see that throughout the Old Testament stories. Of course, He had kept His word regarding Pentecost too. Holy spirit came as promised and strengthened them for their difficult mission ahead. Most of them will experience violent deaths; but they were not afraid anymore. They were prepared to face any obstacles for Jesus and welcomed dying for the Lord. The theme of the New Testament was "Do not be afraid." Holy Spirit reinforced it.

Christians faced severe persecution in the first century AD. A few weeks ago, we had remembered the great genocide of Armenians and Syriac Christians 100 years ago. They were murdered because they were Christians. Our brothers and sisters in most parts of the world face similar persecution today under the hands of people like ISIL and others. The only constant is that Jesus told us ahead of time that we will face persecution like He faced; but we can overcome it and inherit eternal peace. That is also a promise we can count on.

From Pentecost to Koodosh E'to, the beginning of the New Calendar Year for the Church (Nov 1), we are going through the ordinary time of the church. The only major feasts of the church durint this period are the Sleebo Feast, Transfiguration and Soonoyo. Then we start the cycle all over again.

This Monday is the Memorial Day for the folks in North America, the traditional beginning of the Summer/vacation season. It is the busy time when people do lot of travel, marriage season, Family and Youth Conferences, etc. Then the autumn season arrives; leaves change color and eventually fall down, and we are back to Advent Season again. Have you ever thought what eternity will be like?

Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

Pentecost Sunday
Bible Readings for Pentecost Sunday (May 24)

Sermons for Pentecost Sunday (May 24)
Malankara World Trinity and Pentecost Supplements
The concept of Trinity is difficult to understand; but it is the cornerstone of Christian Faith. Malankara World has an infocenter specifically devoted to Trinity. You can find it here:

You can also learn more about Pentecost, Holy Spirit and the Birthday of the Church in our Pentecost Infocenter.

Malankara World Journal Specials on Pentecost

Volume 4 No 222: June 5, 2014
Pentecost Special

Volume 3 No 143: May 16 2013
Pentecost Special

Volume 2 No 78: May 24 2012
Pentecost Special

Volume 1 No 9: June 10, 2011
Pentecost Special

Pentecost Prayer
O God, invisible, inscrutable, eternal and immeasurable, You Who reconceivable in the oneness of essence and are apprehensible in three Holy Persons, Who are understood in three characteristic attributes by all rational beings and are acknowledged one God in three worshipped Persons; a perfect Trinity of three perfect Persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit; one subtime essence, one eternal nature, one true God.

Because You were pleased, O God the Father, to restore man who was created in Your image, and who of His free will slid into idolatry, You sent Your Word and Your Son for our reformation. When He became man without any alteration, He told us plainly and explained to us the ineffability of the Godhead, and announced to us the unknown things and the hidden secrets of Your wisdom in that he knows You and in that he is of You.

He also informed us about the third Light of the Godhead Who is the Person of the Holy Spirit, Who proceeds from You, O Father, in an unutterable manner. The Spirit of truth, the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of might, the Spirit of knowledge, the perfecter Spirit, the performer Spirit, the nonqualitative Spirit, the nonquantiative Spirit, the affectionate Spirit, the Spirit that guides the teachers; the beneficent Spirit, the powerful Spirit, the Almighty Spirit, the spirit that is simple in His nature and manifold in His operation, who is the fountain of divine gifts and is consubstantial with you and with your only Begotten Son, the Spirit Who spoke in the law through the prophets and the disciples, who is near to all and fills all, Who effects sanctifiction with authority, and not entreatingly, upon those with Whom he is pleased.

We beseech You on this glorious feast of Pentecost, on which the Holy Spirit descended upon the holy apostles, that He may also descend upon us, Your servants and worshippers, so You may fill us with his holy gifts; uproot from us all the defilement of sin, raise us up as pure temples and presentable habitations for Your dwelling and make us not submissive to the turbulence of the enemies and bring a good remembrance and a joyful repose to all the faithful departed, the children of the Holy Church, especially our parents, teachers and brethren, who have ended their lives in the true faith.

For You reign over us, o God, the Father and Lord of all, with Your Only Begotten Son, Who quickens all, and Your Spirit the most blessed, worshipped, life-giving and consubstantial with You, now and forever. Amen

Source: Syriac Orthodox Church Liturgy for Pentecost

Who is the Holy Spirit?
Many people misunderstand the identity of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is commonly thought of as an impersonal force. Some people think of it as a healing or protective power to which God gives a believer access. But what does the Bible say about the Holy Spirit? Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit is not just an impersonal power or a force, but a Person - the third Person of the trinity, in fact. The Holy Spirit is God Himself.

The Holy Spirit appears synonymously with God in many places in the Bible, both in the New and Old Testaments. In Acts 5:3-4, Peter asks Ananias why he has lied to the Holy Spirit, and it is clear that lying to the Holy Spirit is the same as lying to God. He shares the characteristics of God, such as omniscience and omnipresence, as seen in Psalm 139:7-8, which says "Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!" Again in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, God's attribute of omniscience is also present in the Holy Spirit: "these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."

The Holy Spirit is a divine Person, and He is intimately involved in our salvation, along with the Father and the Son, as shown in Romans 8:11 which says, "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you." The Holy Spirit has thoughts and knowledge (1 Corinthians 2:10), and He can feel sorrow and grief (Ephesians 4:30). The Spirit can make intercession for believers (Romans 8:26-27). He also has a will and makes decisions (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).

In summary, the Holy Spirit is God. He is the third Person of the Trinity. Only as that divine Person can the Holy Spirit be to believers a Comforter and a Counselor, according to the promise of Jesus (John 14:16,26; 15:26).

© 2011-2019 Got Questions Ministries. All Rights Reserved.

Pentecost: A New Wind

by Scott Hahn, Ph. D

Acts 2:1-11
Psalm 104:1,24,29-31,34
1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13
John 20:19-23

The giving of the Spirit to the new people of God crowns the mighty acts of the Father in salvation history.

The Jewish feast of Pentecost called all devout Jews to Jerusalem to celebrate their birth as God's chosen people, in the covenant Law given to Moses at Sinai (see Leviticus 23:15-21; Deuteronomy 16:9-11).

In Acts 2:1-11, the mysteries prefigured in that feast are fulfilled in the pouring out of the Spirit on Mary and the Apostles (see Acts 1:14).

The Spirit seals the new law and new covenant brought by Jesus, written not on stone tablets but on the hearts of believers, as the prophets promised (see Jeremiah 31:31-34; 2 Corinthians 3:2-8; Romans 8:2).

The Spirit is revealed as the life-giving breath of the Father, the Wisdom by which He made all things, as we sing in Psalm 104:1,24,29-31,34.

In the beginning, the Spirit came as a "mighty wind" sweeping over the face of the earth (see Genesis 1:2). And in the new creation of Pentecost, the Spirit again comes as "a strong, driving wind" to renew the face of the earth.

As God fashioned the first man out of dust and filled him with His Spirit (see Genesis 2:7), in John 20:19-23 we see the New Adam become a life-giving Spirit, breathing new life into the Apostles (see 1 Corinthians 15:45,47).

Like a river of living water, for all ages He will pour out His Spirit on His body, the Church, as we hear in 1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13 (see also John 7:37-39).

We receive that Spirit in the sacraments, being made a "new creation" in Baptism (see 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15).

Drinking of the one Spirit in the Eucharist (see 1 Corinthians 10:4), we are the first fruits of a new humanity - fashioned from out of every nation under heaven, with no distinctions of wealth or language or race, a people born of the Spirit.

God in Three Persons: A Doctrine We Barely Understand

by Dr. Ray Pritchard

All Christians believe the doctrine of the Trinity. If you do not believe this - that is, if you have come to a settled conclusion that the doctrine of the Trinity is not true - you are not a Christian at all. You are in fact a heretic. Those words may sound harsh, but they represent the judgment of the Christian church across the centuries. Christians in every land unite in proclaiming that our God eternally exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Those who deny that truth place themselves outside the pale of Christian orthodoxy.

Having said that, I admit that no one fully understands it. It is a mystery and a paradox. Yet I believe it is true.

I can think of at least three reasons for believing in the Trinity:

1. The Bible teaches this doctrine.

2. Christians everywhere have always believed it.

3. No other explanation makes sense.

Someone has said it this way: If you try to explain the Trinity, you will lose your mind. But if you deny it, you will lose your soul.

The Doctrine Defined

There are many places we might go to find a suitable definition. Any of the great ecumenical creeds would serve us well in this regard. However, let's stick closer to home and simply reprint Article B - The True God from the Calvary Memorial Church Articles of Faith.

We believe in one living and true God who is the Creator of heaven and earth; who is eternal, almighty, unchangeable, infinitely powerful, wise, just and holy.

We believe that the one God eternally exists in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and that these three are one God, co-equal and co-eternal, having precisely the same nature and attributes, and worthy of precisely the same worship, confidence, and obedience. Matthew 3:16, 17; Matthew 28:19, 20; Mark 12:29; John 1:14; Acts 5:3, 4; II Corinthians 13:14.

While I am sure that this statement is biblically accurate, I also understand that it can seem very intimidating. Let's break it down into six smaller statements:

  • One God and One Only
  • Exists in three Persons
  • Equal and Eternal
  • Worthy of equal praise and worship
  • Distinct yet acting in unity
  • Constituting the one true God of the Bible

As you might imagine, the early church struggled mightily over this doctrine. They eventually reduced their belief in the Trinity to two short statements. They concluded that God is …

  1. One in Essence
  2. Three in Person

When we say these things we mean that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but they are not three gods but only one God. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, the Spirit is not the Father, but each is God individually and yet they are together the one true God of the Bible.

Have you ever seen the word "Godhead?" Theologians sometimes use that term when they want to refer to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit as three divine Persons in one God.

At this point I think we should acknowledge the chief objection to the doctrine of the Trinity, which is that it is absurd. Sometimes the Jehovah's Witnesses (who pointedly deny the Trinity) ridicule it with this little equation: 1 + 1 + 1 = 3. In their minds Christians worship three Gods, not one. The answer is quite simple. The doctrine of the Trinity is not absurd if that's what the Bible teaches. Furthermore, there is more than one way to play with equations. You could also say it this way: 1 x 1 x 1 = 1!

The Doctrine Explained

What exactly do we mean when we speak of the Trinity? Let's start with the negative and work toward the positive.

A. What we don't mean

First of all, Christians don't believe in three Gods. That's a heresy called Tritheism. Second, we don't believe that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are three "forms" of God - like, steam, water and ice. That's the heresy called Modalism. Third, we don't believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are "parts" or "pieces" or God. That would imply that Jesus is 1/3rd God, the Father is 1/3rd God, and the Holy Spirit is 1/3rd God.

B. Where do we find this doctrine in the Bible?

I would answer that the Trinity is taught in both the Old and the New Testaments. It is taught by implication in the Old and by direct statement in the New.

For instance, the Bible contains numerous clear statements regarding the unity of God: Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us that "the Lord is one." 1 Corinthians 8:4 adds that "there is no God but one." 1 Timothy 2:5 explicitly says "there is one God." All Christians heartily affirm this truth.

However, the Bible also contains clear statements regarding diversity within that unity. For instance, in the very first verse of the Bible we are told that "In the beginning God." The Hebrew word for God is elohim, which is actually a plural form of the word el. It's a word that in other contexts is sometimes translated as "gods," referring to heathen deities. Later in the same chapter we have one of the most striking statements of diversity-in-unity:

Then God said, ‘‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27

Notice the shift in pronouns. "Let us … in our image … So God created man in his own image. … he created him." From us and our to he. Why the shift? Commentators speak of a literary form called the plural of majesty or the "editorial we." This much is certainly true. If Genesis 1 does not explicitly teach diversity-in-unity within the Godhead, it certainly leaves room for it to be developed later in the Bible.

Isaiah 48:16 seems to explicitly refer to all three Persons of the Trinity (with my additions in parentheses): "And now the Sovereign LORD (the Father) has sent me (the Son), with his Spirit (the Holy Spirit)." I'm not suggesting that Isaiah fully understood the Trinity or that the Jewish readers would have understood what it meant, but I do think that in the light of the New Testament, we can say that this seems to be a clear statement of the Trinity in the Old Testament.

Consider further this line of evidence. All Three Persons are called God in different places in the Bible.

  • Father - Galatians 1:1
  • Son - John 20:28
  • Spirit - Acts 5:3-4

How could the Son and the Spirit be called God unless they somehow share in God's essence? But if they share in God's essence, they are God alongside the Father.

Finally, all three Persons are associated together on an equal basis in numerous passages:

Jesus' baptism - Matthew 3:13-17 (voice of the Father, Son baptized, Spirit descending like a dove).

Salvation - 1 Peter 1:2 (chosen by the Father, sanctified by the Spirit, sprinkled with the blood of Jesus).

Sanctification - 2 Corinthians 13:14 (grace of the Lord Jesus, love of God, fellowship of the Holy Spirit).

Christian Baptism - Matthew 28:19 (baptized in one name, yet three Persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

Prayer - Ephesians 3:14-21 (strengthened by his Spirit, know the love of Christ, filled with the fullness of God).

Christian Growth - 2 Thessalonians 2:13 (chosen by God, loved by the Lord, sanctified by the Spirit).

This list of passages might be extended. It simply shows how easily the writers of Scripture passed from one Person of the Trinity to another, doing so in a way that assumes their equality of nature while preserving their distinct personhood. If the doctrine of the Trinity is not true, it would seem to be blasphemy to speak so freely of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in one and the same breath.

The Doctrine Examined

In this section of the message I want to examine some of the common questions about the Trinity.

A. Where in the Bible do you find the word Trinity?

The word "Trinity" is not in the Bible. Neither is the word "Inerrancy" but we don't discard it simply because it isn't found in the Bible. The issue is not the word, but the concept or the idea. We don't believe in the Trinity because of the word, but because of what the Bible teaches.

B. Is there another word we could use?

Yes there is. Theologians sometimes speak of the Tri-Unity of God. That's a good word - even though it sounds odd to our ears - because it combines the two ideas of unity and diversity in one word. There is a third word you should know. Sometimes we speak of the "Triune" God. That's also another word that means the same thing as Trinity.

C. How can we illustrate the Trinity?

A number of illustrations have been suggested. They all are useful as long as you remember they are only illustrations. For water can exist as solid, liquid, or steam. That's okay, but usually water only exists in one state at a time. However, there is a physical condition in which water can exist as solid, liquid and steam at the same time - which would be a much better illustration of the Trinity.

There are others we could mention. An egg is made up of a shell, the eggwhite, and the yolk. All three are needed for an egg to be complete. One of the more interesting illustrations note the different roles a person can play. I am a father, a son and a husband at one and the same time. Yet I am only one person. Perhaps a more biblical approach is to consider that a husband and wife are two persons yet in God's eyes they are "one flesh." Add children and then you have the family as a miniature (and very imperfect) version of the Trinity.

Tony Evans commented that the pretzel is a good illustration because it consists of one piece of dough with three holes. Take away any one of the holes and the pretzel isn't really a pretzel anymore. (According to some people, the pretzel was actually invented in Europe several hundred years ago by a monk who wanted to illustrate the Trinity to the children of his village so he took some dough, looped into the familiar three-hour shape, based it, and gave it to the children as an edible object lesson.)

My personal favorite illustration comes from noted scientist Dr. Henry Morris. He notes that the entire universe is trinitarian by design. The universe consists of three things: matter, space, and time. Take away any one of those three and the universe would cease to exist. But each one of those is itself a trinity.

Matter = mass + energy + motion

Space = length + height + breadth

Time = past + present + future

Thus the whole universe witnesses to the character of the God who made it (cf. Psalm 19:1).

It's important to remember that all illustrations fail eventually. They don't "prove" the Trinity, they simply help us understand the concept.

The Doctrine Applied

I am sure that many Christians think this doctrine has no practical value. That is, even if it's true, it doesn't and shouldn't matter to them. However, that simply isn't true. Let me suggest five important ramifications of this truth.

A. The Trinity helps us answer the question, "What was God doing before he created the universe?"

This is a question little children like to stump their parents with. But skeptics like to ask it as well. You may remember Augustine's answer: "He was preparing Hell for people who ask questions like that!"

But the Trinity teaches us that before the foundation of the world, God was having fellowship within his own being. That's why the Bible tells us that the Father loves the Son (John 17:24). In some sense we can never understand that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have forever communicated and loved each other.

Francis Schaeffer emphasized this point in his books. This, he says, is where the human desire for intimacy and communication comes from. We were made to communicate. That design is part of the image of God within each of us.

It also teaches us that God is never "lonely." He didn't create us because he "needed" us. God could have existed forever without us. That he made us at all is a statement of his great love and the wisdom of his plan.

B. The Trinity sets the limits on human speculation about the nature of God.

There is so much we would like to know about God, but our finite minds cannot comprehend it. We are not free to create God in our own image. The Trinity sets the limits for human speculation. God is more than the Trinity, but he is not less than that.

C. The Trinity teaches us that God is beyond all human comprehension.

After all, if we could explain God, he wouldn't be God. I have no doubt that God is much more than "one in essence, three in Person," but since I can't even understand those simple phrases, I don't worry at all about what else might be true about God. If you feel baffled by the Trinity, join the crowd. The greatest minds of history have stood in amazement before a God so great that he cannot be contained by our puny explanations.

D. The Trinity exalts the Son and the Spirit.

We all know that God the Father is to be worshiped. But what about Jesus Christ? If he is God, should we not also worship him? The answer of course is yes. But that truth leads us back to the Trinity. He is not merely the Son of God but also God the Son. The same thing may be said about the Holy Spirit. He is not just a "force" but a Divine Person. Not an "influence" or some vague power, but the Third Person of the Trinity.

Let me draw one important inference. Since all Three Persons of the Trinity are equally God, we may pray to any member of the Trinity. That, by the way, is the number one question I have been asked about the Holy Spirit since writing Names of the Holy Spirit. Many Christians simply do not feel comfortable praying to the Spirit even though we often sing songs that are essentially prayers to the Spirit, such as "Spirit of God, descend upon my heart" and "Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me." Surely if we may sing to the Spirit, we may also pray to him. If he is God, our prayers may be directed to him.

I do agree that Christian prayers will customarily be made to the Father (e.g. The Lord's Prayer). But let us not quibble or imagine that the Father is slighted if we direct our prayers to the Son or to the Spirit, according to the need of the moment. There is no jealousy among the members of the Trinity nor could there ever be.

E. The Trinity helps us understand what really happened at the Cross.

At the climax of Jesus' suffering, he cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" What do those strange, tortured words mean? We have a hint of the answer in that every other time Jesus prayed, he used the term "Father." But at that moment, when he bore the full weight of the sins of the world, when all that is evil and wretched was poured out upon him, in some way we cannot begin to fathom, God - who cannot look upon sin - turned his back on his own Son. Sin as it were (though not in ultimate reality) caused a rupture in the Trinity. Instead of "Father," Jesus cries out, "My God, my God!" It is God speaking to God. The eternal Son cries out to the Father at the moment when the penalty of sin has been laid upon him. If it be asked, how could one man pay for the sins of the entire race, we find the answer in the doctrine of the Trinity. Only an infinite God could bear the sins of the world!

A Doctrine that Unites and Divides

The doctrine of the Trinity has been called the most puzzling doctrine in the Christian faith and the central truth of the Christian faith. Which is it? Inscrutable puzzle or central truth? The answer is, both are true.

This doctrine unites all true Christians and separates us from those who are not Christian. You may believe and still not be a Christian, but if you deny this doctrine in your heart, you are not a Christian at all.

I come now to the end of my sermon. In so doing I end where I began. The Trinity is a doctrine that all Christians believe but no one really understands. That much should be clear from this message. If you try to explain the Trinity, you will lose your mind. But if you deny it, you will lose your soul.

The Arithmetic of Heaven

Someone asked Daniel Webster, who happened to be a fervent Christian, "How can a man of your intellect believe in the Trinity?" "I do not pretend fully to understand the arithmetic of heaven now," he replied. That's a good phrase - the arithmetic of heaven.

The Trinity should cause us to bow in humble adoration before a God who is greater than our minds could ever comprehend.

Let us rejoice that we have a Triune God who has provided for a Trinitarian salvation. When we were lost in sin, our God acted in every Person of his being to save us. The Father gave the Son, the Son offered himself on the Cross, and the Holy Spirit brought us to Jesus. We were so lost that it took every member of the Godhead to save us.

In 1774 a man named Ignaz Franz wrote a hymn of praise to the Trinity: Holy God, We Praise Your Name. Verse three may serve as an apt conclusion to this message.

"Holy Father, Holy Son, Holy Spirit, Three we name you;
While in essence only one, undivided God we claim you.
Then, adoring, bend the knee, and confess the mystery."

Indeed it is a mystery, and with all the saints we bend the knee in worship before our great God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

About The Author:

Dr. Ray Pritchard is the president of Keep Believing Ministries. He is the author of 27 books, including 'Credo, The Healing Power of Forgiveness', 'An Anchor for the Soul' and 'Why Did This Happen to Me?'

Source: Daily Update

What the Gospels Teach Us About the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit was an essential part of Jesus' ministry. Not only was Jesus enlivened by the Spirit, Jesus also taught his disciples that the Holy Spirit would be an essential part of their ministry.

1. When and how did the Holy Spirit begin the life of Jesus? Matt. 1:18, 20; Luke 1:35. What did the Holy Spirit do to Jesus at the beginning of his ministry? Luke 3:22; John 1:32-33.

Christ "made himself nothing" (Phil. 2:7), and the Holy Spirit caused Jesus to begin growing in Mary's womb. Although the Spirit remained in Jesus from that moment on, a visible sign was given at his baptism that the Holy Spirit was empowering him.

However, Jesus was not the first person to be given God's Spirit. The Old Testament describes a variety of people who were given power, wisdom and understanding by the Spirit. Jesus said that David — and presumably all other writers of Scripture — spoke by the Holy Spirit in the Psalms (Matt. 22:43).

But in the first century, the Jews had gone a long time without a Spirit-filled prophet. They were waiting for someone to come in the spirit and power of Elijah.

2. Before Jesus was born, was John the Baptist filled with the Holy Spirit? Luke 1:15. Even while Jesus was in Mary's womb, who was filled with the Spirit? Verse 41. What was Elizabeth inspired to say? Verses 42-45. Several months later, what was her husband, Zechariah, inspired by the Spirit to prophesy? Verse 67. And shortly after Jesus was born, did the Holy Spirit move upon yet another person? Luke 2:25-27.

3. After Jesus was baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, what did the Spirit lead him to do? Luke 4:1. After his victory over the satanic temptations, was he drained of power? Verse 14. What did he tell the people that the Spirit was leading him to do? Verse 18. What emotion filled him because of the Holy Spirit? Luke 10:21.

4. John tells us that God gave Jesus the Holy Spirit without limit (John 3:34). He was filled and led by the Spirit in all his work. One work in particular showed that he was empowered by the Spirit. What did that miracle prove? Matt. 12:28. In his ministry, how did Jesus fulfill a prophecy about God's Spirit? Verses 15-18.

Jesus' comment about "blasphemy against the Spirit" (v. 31) refers to people who become enemies of God (Isa. 63:10). The Pharisees became worse than unbelievers — they were actively resisting the power of God. By calling Jesus' power satanic, they were fighting against God, making themselves enemies of the only power able to lead them to salvation and forgiveness.

5. What did John the Baptist predict that Jesus would do with the Spirit? John 1:33. When was this done? John 7:39. Is it Jesus who sends the Spirit, or is it the Father? Luke 11:13;John 4:10; 7:37; 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7.

Jesus sent the disciples out to preach, heal and cast out demons, and they presumably did this with the same power Jesus had, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was living with them, but was not yet in them (John 14:17). They would be filled with the Holy Spirit after Jesus had been glorified. Both the Father and the Son would send the Holy Spirit to live within the believers.

6. What does the Holy Spirit do in a person's life? John 3:5; 6:63. What does the Spirit bring to our minds? John 14:26; 15:26. What is the focus of this spiritual work? John 15:26; 16:13-14.

The Spirit of God does not teach us truths about math, but about the Truth, Jesus himself, the way of salvation (John 14:6). The Spirit enabled the disciples to understand what Jesus had taught, and to understand what was "yet to come" — his death and resurrection. By causing the disciples to understand, the Spirit enabled them to preach the good news of life through Jesus Christ.

Jesus sent his disciples with a message, told them to receive the Holy Spirit (John 15:27;20:21-23) and to wait until they received the "power from on high" they needed (Luke 24:49). The gospel work of the church is done in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Through the Spirit-led disciples, the world hears the message of truth, the message of Jesus — but many people do not accept that message (John 14:17). In this way, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of guilt in regard to unbelief and judgment (John 16:8-11). The world may be hostile, but even in times of persecution, the Holy Spirit speaks through the disciples (Luke 12:11-12).

Disciples are baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). The Spirit is as much a part of our identity as the Father and the Son are.

Jesus said that he would go away, and yet live in his disciples (John 14:18; Matt. 28:20). He lives in us by means of the Holy Spirit, the Counselor who continues the teaching work of Jesus.

© 2013 Grace Communion International. All rights reserved.  

Depending on the Holy Spirit

by Brian Hedges

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life. But though we are orthodox in our creeds, I wonder if we truly realize how absolutely dependent on the Spirit we really are? I'm struck by the pervasive presence of the Spirit in the New Testament.

The Holy Spirit was intimately connected with Jesus throughout his entire life. Prior to Jesus' virginal conception an angel said to Mary, "the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" (Luke 1:35; cf. Matt. 1:18, 20). When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, the Father anointed him with the Spirit (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22). Then Jesus was immediately driven into the wilderness by the Spirit for a season of testing (Matt. 4:1; Mark 1:12; Luke 4:1). Luke says that Jesus was "full of the Spirit" when this happened; he afterward returned to Galilee in "the power of the Spirit" (Luke 4:14).

In Jesus' first sermon, he claimed to fulfill Isaiah's prophecy of a Spirit-anointed ministry of redemption and restoration to Israel (Luke 4:16–21). Peter's summary of Christ's ministry describes "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him" (Acts 10:38). When skeptical religious leaders accused him of casting out demons by satanic power, Jesus said, "if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Matt. 12:28).

In his death, Jesus offered himself as an atoning sacrifice through the Holy Spirit (Heb. 9:14). Paul tells us that Jesus was "declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:4). After Jesus' resurrection he breathed on his disciples, saying "receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22). Then followed Jesus' ascension and Pentecost, when the Spirit was poured out on the church, as the Spirit of Christ.?

The exaltation of Christ inaugurated the new age of the Spirit. Jesus, the quintessential Spirit-filled one, the Last Adam, has lived and died in our place. He is now exalted in glorified humanity. In this exalted position, the Spirit so identifies with the risen Lord Jesus that Paul speaks of Christ as "life-giving Spirit" (1 Cor. 15:45) and the "Lord of the Spirit" [ii] (2 Cor. 3:18).

As Sinclair Ferguson writes:

From womb to tomb to throne, the Spirit was the constant companion of the Son. As a result, when he comes to Christians to indwell them, he comes as the Spirit of Christ in such a way that to possess him is to possess Christ himself, just as to lack him is to lack Christ. [iii]

This is important for us to grasp because the Spirit, as given by our exalted Lord, is the agent who personally effects our transformation. When we embrace Christ as revealed in the gospel, he gives us his Spirit. The Holy Spirit remakes us after Christ's likeness, changing us by the sight of his glory into his very image (2 Cor. 3:18). We are dependent on the Spirit for every inch of progress in our pursuit of holiness and transformation. As Calvin wrote,

It is the Spirit that inflames our hearts with the fire of ardent love for God and for our neighbor. Every day he mortifies and every day consumes more and more of the vices of our evil desire or greed, so that, if there are some good deeds in us, these are the fruits and the virtues of his grace; and without the Spirit there is in us nothing but darkness of understanding and perversity of heart. [iv]

All the leaves of the New Testament rustle with the fresh breeze of the Spirit. The apostolic writings pulsate with the Spirit's life. They burn with the Spirit's fire. Meditate for a moment on how the New Testament letters speak of the Spirit's work.

  • Christ bore our curse and died in our place so we could receive the promised Spirit through faith (Gal. 3:2–3, 5, 14).
  • The Spirit gives us understanding of the gospel and makes it effective in our lives (1 Cor. 2:4, 12; 1 Thess. 1:4-5).
  • The ministry of the new covenant is a ministry of the life-giving Spirit who brings freedom and transformation (2 Cor. 3:5-18).
  • The Spirit is the agent of our sanctification, spiritual cleansing, and renewal (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Cor. 6:11; Titus 3:5).
  • The kingdom of God consists of life and joy in the Spirit (Rom. 14:17), and the Spirit causes us to abound in hope (Rom. 15:13).
  • Our access to God is in the Spirit (Eph. 2:18); in the Spirit we worship God (Phil. 3:3) and pray (Eph. 6:18; Jude 20).
  • We are joined to the body of Christ by the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13) and God inhabits us as his new temple through the Spirit's indwelling of the church (1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:22).
  • We know that we abide in God and God in us, because he has given us his Spirit (1 John 3:24; 4:13).
  • The Spirit secures our salvation by sealing us for the future day of redemption (Eph. 1:13; 4:30; 2 Cor. 1:22).
  • God gives his Spirit as the down-payment and guarantee of our inheritance in Christ.
  • The Spirit assures us that all of God's promises will be fulfilled (Eph. 1:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:19-22; 2 Cor. 5:5).
  • God pours his love into our hearts through his Spirit (Rom. 5:5), and gives us assurance of our sonship by causing us to cry, "Abba, Father" (Rom. 8:15-16; Gal. 4:6).
  • The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2).
  • We now serve God not under the old written code of the law, but in the new life of the Spirit (Rom. 7:6).
  • We walk in the Spirit and set our minds on the things of the Spirit (Rom. 8:4-6 ).
  • God's glorious Spirit rests on us when we suffer for Christ (1 Peter 4:14).
  • The Spirit opens the eyes of our hearts to know God better (Eph. 1:16-19), strengthens us in our inner being (Eph. 3:14-16), and fills us with the fullness of God (Eph. 3:17-21; 5:18).
  • The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in our hearts and enables us to put sin to death, promising to give life to our mortal bodies (Rom. 8:9-14).

It's obvious, isn't it? We are dependent on the Spirit for everything relating to our life and walk in Christ. The Spirit is the purchase of the Son, bequeathed to us through his death, resurrection, and ascension to God's right hand. He gives the Spirit to give us life and to secure, seal, sanctify, and assure us. It is by the Spirit that we live, walk, worship, pray, serve, and suffer. The Spirit opens eyes, strengthens hearts, enables holiness, and fills us with the fullness of God.

Are you consciously depending on the Spirit? Do you long for more of his manifest presence and fullness? Then ask, seek, and knock. To end with the words of Jesus,

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:9-13)


[ii] As Sinclair Ferguson explains, the last phrase of 2 Cor. 3:18, " 'from the Lord, who is the Spirit' translates three Greek words: apo (from), kyrio (Lord, genitive case following the preposition apo) and pneumatos (Spirit, also in the genitive case). The statement is amendable to more than one interpretation:

(1) 'from the Spirit of the Lord.'
(2) 'from the Lord who is the Spirit';
(3) 'from the Lord of the Spirit.'

The third option may, at first glance, seem to be the least likely, but it is the most natural rendering and one that is highly illuminating theologically. Paul is then saying that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Spirit. There is no ontological confusion here, but an economic equivalence; nor is there an ontological subordinationism, but rather a complete intimacy of relationship between Jesus and the Spirit. In effect, Paul is teaching that through his life and ministry Jesus came into such complete possession of the Spirit, receiving and experiencing him 'without limit' (John 3:34), that he is now 'Lord' of the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18). With respect to his economic ministry to us, the Spirit has been 'imprinted' with the character of Jesus." Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996) p. 55.

[iii] Ibid, p. 27.

[iv] John Calvin, Instruction in Faith (1537), Paul T. Fuhrmann, trans., (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1977) p. 52.

About The Author:

Brian G. Hedgesis is the author of 'Christ Formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change' and 'Licensed to Kill: A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin'.

Source: This article is slightly edited and expanded from two sections of Brian Hedges' book 'Christ Formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change' (Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2010). Used with permission.


Health Tip: How to Slow Down Your Life and Enjoy the Ride - Right Now

4 Considerations To Help You Embrace The Moment, From Speaker Hall Of Fame Member

It's finally Friday night, the beginning of a weekend of freedom, which also happens to include your birthday. Your family, friends and spouse all have celebratory plans for you.

You have a rewarding career and a network of beautiful people who want to rejoice in your life. As you walk out to your car to officially kickoff the fun, a giddy thrill washes over you.

But as you click the seatbelt into place, rather than sitting in awe of how lucky you are, a list of concerns begin worming their way into your consciousness:

"I need gas, but the conveniently located gas station charges more than others …
I hope it's not a surprise party …
Maybe I should get the beverages I like before going home …
I haven't been to the gym all week … Did I pay the electric bill?"

And so it goes.

"I think we've all had this experience, which often has us psychically living 30 minutes into the future – no matter how great the present circumstances might be," says Steve Gilliland, a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame and author of the widely acclaimed "Enjoy The Ride."

"Are we doomed to this torrent of noise which distracts us from enjoying our life? We don't have to be."

• Don't live your life 30 minutes ahead of the present.

If you won't live your life now, in the present, then who will?

"An older man came up to me, grabbed my hand, and said he wished he'd heard me speak decades ago," Gilliland says. "After I asked why, he said that when he was eating lunch on break or dinner with his family, he was always thinking about what he had to do after the meal, which represented his daily life. ‘At the age of 97,' he said, ‘I've officially lived my life 30 minutes ahead' – 30 minutes ahead of whatever he was doing at the moment."

• Laugh more!

It's better than crying before you're hurt. Don't put your umbrella up until it rains. Worry restricts your ability to think and act effectively, and it forces you to mortgage fear and anxiety about something that may never occur. Laughter is the opposite. When you laugh, you're living almost completely in the moment, and it's one of the best feelings you can have.

• No one can ruin your day without your permission.

As much as we cannot control in life – our genes, our past and what has led up to today – there is much control we may take upon ourselves. Today, for example, we can understand that life picks on everyone, so when the going gets tough, we don't have to take it personally. When we do take misfortune personally, we tend to obsess, giving a legacy to something that may make you a day poorer in life.

• Cure your destination disease.

Live more for today, less for tomorrow, and never about yesterday. How? You might have to repeatedly remind yourself that yesterday is gone forever, yet we perpetually have to deal with now, so why not live it? And what if tomorrow never occurs? There is a difference between working toward the future, which is inherently enjoyable in light of hope, and living in an unrealistic future that remains perpetually elusive. If tomorrow never comes, would you be satisfied with the way today ended?

"It is not how you start in life and it is not how you finish," Gilliland says. "The true joy of life is in the trip, so enjoy the ride!"

About Steve Gilliland

A member of the National Speaker Association's Speaker Hall of Fame, Steve Gilliland ( is one of the most in-demand and top-rated speakers in the world. Recognized by his peers as a master storyteller and brilliant comedian, he can be heard daily alongside Jeff Foxworthy and other celebrities on SiriusXM Radio's Laugh USA and Blue Collar Radio. He is a prolific writer who has achieved popular acclaim with his books "Enjoy The Ride," "Making a Difference," and "Hide Your Goat." His new book "Detour, Developing the Mindset to Navigate Life's Turns," which will focus on change, will be released in early May 2015.  

Recipe: Lamb Tikka

by Dr. Shila Mathew, MD., Food and Living Editor, Malankara World

Tikka dishes are traditionally prepared in a tandoori oven; Since these are not readily available, broiling or barbecuing works just fine. Please note: The longer the meat is marinated, the better the flavor.


1 lb lean boneless lamb, trimmed
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp tandoori paste
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
3 garlic cloves, crushed
grated peel of 1 lemon
6 green serrano chilies, seeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp freshly chopped mint
8 baby onions
2 zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into wedges
lemon wedges, to garnish


Cut the lamb into 1-1/2- inch inch cubes and place in a shallow dish. Put the yogurt into a bowl and mix in the tandoori paste, spices, garlic, lemon peel, chilies and 1 tbsp of the mint. Spoon the marinade over the Iamb, cover and chill for at least 4 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat the broiler to medium-hot just before cooking.

Thread the lamb alternately with the prepared vegetables onto kebab skewers and broil for 10 to 15 minutes, or until cooked as preferred. Brush with the marinade during, cooking. Serve sprinkled with the remaining chopped mint and lemon wedges.

Yield: Serves 4

Family Special: Three Things That Poison Your Marriage

by Debbie Holloway

What does it take to kill a marriage?

As someone who's only been married for two years, it's hard to imagine any force being strong enough to poison my relationship with my husband. But older, more experienced couples are more realistic, more aware of the devastating toll sin can take on a marriage. Every day couples get divorced over infidelity, dishonesty, and abuse. But nobody goes from 0-60 miles per hour instantly. Nobody goes from "loving husband" to "lying, cheating, gambler" overnight.

At Relevant Magazine, Cara Joyner writes that three small steps can ultimately lead to the death of a marriage. And unfortunately, so many of us regularly engage in these behaviors without realizing the dangers they pose.

In 'How to Poison Your Marriage in 3 Easy Steps', Joyner says the first step is blame.

"It's his fault."
"It's her attitude."
"He won't communicate."
"She won't listen."

Blame has short-term memory loss. It's a big fan of calling attention to the deficiencies in our spouse while conveniently failing to recall the toxic contributions we keep bringing to the table. Grace finds no home within the confinements of blame, as we become the man who was forgiven a huge debt only to turn around and refuse to forgive a much smaller one (Matthew 18:21-35).

Instead of blaming and complaining, marriage counselor Dr. David Hawkins entreats couples to learn how to confront one another lovingly and respectfully about bad behavior.

There is a time when we gently share with our mate that they have not kept their agreements, or have acted in a way that was hurtful. We must be willing to ‘stand in the heat' as they process the difficult words you say to them… Remember that you are on the same team and likely want the same outcome. Even if you want two different things, you want to collaborate so as to arrive at a conclusion that works for both. Respect goes a long ways toward achieving that goal.

Step #2 is comparison.

Ready to jump in where blame left off, comparison deceives us with the illusion of something better or someone better. Unfortunately, we aren't very good at gauging other people's reality from a distance—comparison's favorite vantage point. From a distance, it is easy to amplify their wins and minimize their losses; and in the convenience of that superficial space, our own faults appear diminished.

In These 5 Powerful Truths Can Absolutely Save Your Marriage, Cindi McMenamin reminds us that comparison is deadly because the grass is NOT greener on the other side.

We tend to look at other situations that are less familiar to us and imagine the best....just like you looked at your fiancι years ago and imagined the best possible scenario with him. Then reality happened. Your spouse has flaws. So does the nice-looking man across the street or the recently divorced woman in your office or the very capable single mom or dad you met in the school parking lot. Doesn't it make sense to continue to invest in the person you've invested years in than to start all over with someone else's issues, baggage, past, and problems?

The final step, writes Joyner, is withdrawal.

It's a war that no one wins: Withdrawal into silence; withdrawal into hiding; withdrawal into porn; withdrawal into the attention of another; withdrawal into resentment; withdrawal into busyness; withdrawal into anger; withdrawal into martyrdom.

Withdrawal undermines the work of healing by accepting zero responsibility and avoiding any platform for reconciliation. It's easy to be "right" when no one has the opportunity to suggest we may be wrong.

One way couples can avoid withdrawal and work toward healing is to become a student of each other – including their personality types. Etroverts and introverts communicate differently and often have different emotional needs, Debra Fileta explains in her article 3 Big Secrets Extroverts Who Married Introverts Need to Know. What an extrovert might initially consider "withdrawing" might really just be the necessary space an introvert needs to rest, recharge, and consider all factors of a situation.

Many introverts like to think things through rather than talk things out. They tend to "take it in" rather than "talk it out." They can internalize information in order to digest it better in moments of quiet. Some introverts may even need some time to step away and think before taking for a chance to speak. When problems or conflict arise in a relationship, it's important to remember this key difference between introverts and extroverts, otherwise you'll end up playing a game of cat-and-mouse with one person trying to "talk it out" while the other person is not quite ready.

If you're married to an introvert, remember that it's not only okay, but important to give them a chance to think before requesting for them to speak. Allow them the freedom to step back or step away from a situation momentarily, with the goal of coming together later to process, discuss, and work through the situation at hand.

With so many ways to poison a marriage, some might ask – is the institution even worth it? Fileta insists that it is. In another piece entitled '5 Reasons Why Marriage is Still an Amazing Idea', she writes:

As a woman of faith, I realize that my marriage is not just about me. It's so much bigger than me, and so much bigger than my husband. In marriage, you have the opportunity to learn so much about life, love, and God. There is a reason that God uses the analogy of marriage to describe his love for his people. It's because in marriage we get a glimpse of a love that's far bigger than us. Our deep love for one another reflects a universal need for love, for commitment, and for something and Someone greater than ourselves. Through marital love, we get a tiny glimpse of the great and unconditional love of God. Not only so, but my marriage is bigger than me because it impacts the world around me. There are many lives that are impacted by this one commitment between two people, most significantly the lives of our two precious children. At this stage of their lives, our marriage is the ONLY definition they get to see of love. Not only do we owe it to ourselves to live a life worthy of love, but we owe it to them. We owe it to them because how we reflect the giving and receiving of love, will impact generations to come.

Marriage is beautiful. Marriage is sacred. And marriage is totally worth it. For this reason, no matter what obstacles come my way, I choose to handle marriage, and if at all possible- so should you. I have hope that this generation will catch a glimpse of the blessings and joys of marriage.

Source: Daily Update

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