Sermon delivered June 8, 1996

by Pastor Jim Irwin

McDonald Road SDA Church, McDonald, TN

THREE IN ONE

Robert had many trials in his life. He had been to see a psychiatrist because he was failing in school, but that wasn't because he didn't have a high I.Q., he had a near genius I.Q. He had wonderful parents. He was a great people person, an extrovert, very outgoing, had lots of humor, people loved to be around him, but there was this sense of something missing. People told him that when God had made Bobby He had thrown away the mold. There wasn't anybody in the world like him. That made him feel kind of special. But there was an internal dream that he kept having that also made him feel special. You know how kids will invent playmates when they don't have one to play with. Well, Bobby kept having this dream that there was somebody that looked like him, talked like him, and acted like him. When he woke up from that dream he always felt better.

When he was nineteen he enrolled in Sullivan Community College in up-state New York. When he was registered he rushed to his room and put his stuff in his room and went out to find people. And he'd walk up to perfect strangers and say, "Hello. How are you doing." That was going fine until some guys came up to him and said, "Why, hello, Eddie." and slapped him on the back. "How are you doing?" "I'm doing just fine, guys, but I'm not Eddie. I'm Bobby." "Sure you're not, you joker." And that went on the rest of the day.

The next day it got even more interesting. He started meeting girls, and they were running up to him and hugging him and saying how good it was to see him and... "how are you doing, Eddie?" Finally so many people were coming up to him that he started taking out his driver's license and showing them the picture and saying, "My name is Robert." No! They didn't believe it. And then they began telling him stuff about himself that he didn't know how anybody else in the world knew. And so he was shocked.

That night he was sitting in his room and a guy named Michael came up and knocked on the door and looked in and asked, "Is this room eleven C?" Bobby turned around and said, "Yeah." And when he looked at Mike, Mike just went white. Staring at Bobby. Just kind of freaked out. And then when he came to, he started asking Bobby questions. "Where were you born?" "Why, I was born at the Long Island Jewish Hillside Medical Center." "When were you born?" "July twelve, nineteen sixty one." And then Mike said, "Were you adopted?" And Bobby said, "Yeah."

So Mike grabbed him by the arm and pulled him out of the room and out of the dorm and they raced across campus to another dorm, into Mike's room and Mike reached into a drawer and pulled out a picture of his very best friend whose name was Eddie. He handed the photograph to Bobby. Bobby looked at the photograph and stared. It was a photograph of Bobby. Just like Bobby. Just like Bobby was looking in a mirror at himself, but he was looking at a picture of Eddie and it looked just like him. And when Mike saw that he grabbed the phone and started calling his best friend, Eddie, who had gone to Sullivan Community College the year before. He called up Eddie at nine P.M. Eddie thought, "This was another crank phone call from one of my friends. They're going to tell me that there's some dude up there that looks just like me." And that's what Mike said. And then he handed the phone to Bobby. And Bobby said, "I think I might be your twin brother." "Yeah, right." Bobby said, "Listen. We have the same eyes. We have the same nose. We have the same smile. We have the same hair." So they decided to meet that weekend, but as Mike and Bobby were talking, Bobby said, "I just can't wait that long!"

So they went out and jumped in the car and drove down to Eddie's house. They got there at two o'clock in the morning and started pounding on the door. Bobby said that was the longest wait of any time in his life. When the door opened, it was like two professional minds that had practiced and practiced. Whatever Bobby said, Eddie said at the same time. Whatever Bobby did, Eddie did at the same time. Bobby turned to Eddie and it was like looking in the mirror watching himself turn away. They turned back to each other and then they shook hands and they hugged each other there was an instant bonding. That missing feeling was healed. That what was missing had been found. So they talked and talked. "Oh you did that, too?" "Yeah, I did that!" And not only did they look alike, they liked the same food. They liked the same music. They liked the same clothes. Both of them liked older women. Both of them had dated women who were twenty-seven. And here they were eighteen and nineteen. Both of them had a favorite sport. That was wrestling, and in that sport they both had the same favorite moves in the wrestling. They both had the same fastest pinning time of eighteen seconds. It just went on and on and on.

So then, Bobby went back to school. Eddie told Mike, "As I thought about it, whenever I excelled, Bobby excelled. Whenever I was failing, Bobby was failing." They even went to the psychiatrist at the same time for the same reason and told the psychiatrist the same things. "That's baloney!"

Well, you think that was kind of neat, but it doesn't end there. Two weeks later, a Long Island newspaper heard about this story and interviewed Eddie. They got Eddie and Bobby together and took pictures. Then two other New York papers picked the story up. One of them printed the picture of Eddie and Bobby and told about it. A guy named David picked up the paper. When he looked at the picture, what do you think he saw? He saw himself twice. His heart immediately doubled. The article didn't have a date of birth so he kind of held himself together and went home and casually said to mom, "Mom, check this out." Mom had the other New York paper and said, "Son, you check this one out." It didn't have the picture, but it did have the date of birth. So David calls up Eddie's home. Eddie wasn't there so he talked to Eddie's mother and said, "My name is David. I think I'm number three."

So she invited David to come over because Eddie would be home soon. So David went over. Eddie was watching. Kind of looking out when David got out of the car and he opened the door and looked at David coming up the walk, and he shut the door and opened the door up again. This time David was close enough for Eddie to really see his face and he shut the door again and then he opened up the door and David said in Eddie's voice, "I've been waiting to see you for nineteen years. Please don't slam the door in my face again." At the same time they both said, "I can't believe you said that." And then they said, "I can't believe you said that, too." And then it was the same thing over again. So they got everybody together.

They all had the same likes, they looked alike, they talked alike, they acted alike, all three were humorous, as they talked together they would often yelp with shear delight. And almost immediately go into a serious conversation. One of them would start a sentence and would never end it because one of the others would always finish the sentence. So it was like that. Talking and filling in for each other. One of the fathers said they were so happy together, but they were in such a rush to catch up on those nineteen years he was afraid they would forget about their education. Well, they didn't. David intended to become a businessman, Eddie was going to be a doctor because his father was a doctor. And Bobby had been cooking since he was four years old so he was going into the restaurant and hotel business. They were so much alike and there was something that had been something that was missing, and now it was no longer missing because they had been pushed apart by the adoption agency, and Eddie's father, Dr. Charon said, "No the agencies never do that." But they did. And even though they were so much alike they were going to function in different ways in real life.

You know, sometimes we feel like something is missing; like there's something we're looking for. If you looked in the bulletin you saw that the title of today's sermon is "Three in One". we could have said, "Three AS One". Or as Jontan Broad said, "Love in Three Words". Or like one of the camp-meeting speakers said, "The Dullest Doctrine in the Church".

We're going to talk about the Trinity today. I would like to submit to you that the Trinity misses something. That they've been separated from for over six thousand years. That close intimate relationship that Bobby and Eddie and David had been missing because they were made to be together. And God made us to be together with Him. But we've been separated. We want to talk about the Trinity and what that means to us.

Now we could go into all kinds of debates and arguments. The early church did. They tried to kick one another out of the church. There's lot of big words, but we're uninterested in big words. I don't even remember any of them. And I know you wouldn't want to know what they are. We could talk about how it is that there one God but there are three. And wrestle with that, but I want to talk about something else. I just want to say this though, that the Christian said that we have one God. You know what the Romans branded them as, and put them to death for? Not because they believed in God, but the Romans said because the Christians had only one God they are atheists. They are atheists. That's strange, isn't it? But today, Muslims and Jews and other Christians look at us as Adventists and say, "You don't believe in one God, you've got three Gods. How do you explain that? Well, I just say, "I'm not quite sure. Maybe God will tell us when we get there. But we do know that there are plenty of texts in the Bible that talks about all three of them." In Matthew 28 it says, "Go ye therefore into all the world and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Open your Bibles to Matthew three. There is a parallel in Luke, chapter three. If you were to go to Romans, chapter one; to Romans, chapter eight; to the little book of Jude; and other places in the Bible you would find these three Beings put together and they're called One God, One Lord, One Spirit.

In Matthew three we have the story of Jesus' baptism beginning in verse thirteen how Jesus came to John and John didn't want to baptize Him and Jesus said, "Let it be so." Verse sixteen and following are the verses we want to look at. "As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened and Jesus saw the Holy Spirit descending live a dove and lighting on Him. Then Jesus heard a voice from heaven (the Father) said, 'This is My Son whom I love. With Him I am well pleased." So we have these passages that mention three persons in the Godhead. But the Bible never tells us how that goes together. Doesn't explain it. Just says here they are, but you have one God. Instead of trying to wrestle with that, Christian churches have wrestled with that for two thousand years, I would like for us to look at what the Bible is really interested in as far as God the Father, Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit, and that is a relationship, a love relationship and how they function together to provide and seek that love relationship from us.

Christianity usually begins with Jesus. And John points out in John 3:16 the relationship that God has to Jesus and to us. You know it. Let's say it.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."

If you look in John, chapter one, you will see one of the things we often overlook as to why Jesus came. In Matthew, Matthew depicts Jesus' coming and preaching and teaching that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. In Mark, Mark records that Jesus said that He had come to be a ransom for us. Luke says that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. And here, John tells us another aspect of why Jesus came. And that's the one we're talking about today. John 1:18. "No one has ever seen God, but God, the One and Only who is at the Father's side, had made Him known." (NIV) King James reads a little differently, but they both say the same thing. Jesus came to make the Father known. So that we would know who the Father was. Now, we have many different views of God. All of us have a kind of individual view of God because we pick up what God is like from the families we live in, from the people we go to church with, from the things we see happening in the world, and Jesus came to help us know the Father better. So we can have a better understanding.

In John 14 Jesus is talking to the disciples and He says several things. Let's look at verses seven to nine of John 14, Philip told Jesus, "Show us the Father, and that will be enough for us." And Jesus said, "Don't you know me, Philip. Even after I've been with you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'show us the Father?' Don't you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?" See, the disciples had been with Jesus for three and a half years, but they had a different understanding of who God was, and Jesus said, "God is like Me. The Father is like me." Philip says, "I don't understand that. Just show us." And Jesus went on to say, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." Which really upset their thinking. They weren't sure how to handle that.

But Jesus' function was to reveal the Father to us. Paul says to us in 2 Corinthians 5 that Jesus came to reconcile us to God. He had the function of reconciling that which had been separated from God, the Father, back to the Father. And that was His whole purpose in coming. So if God loved us and wanted us back, and Jesus came so that we could be back together again, what does the Holy Spirit do? Well before we do that, I'd like to share with you a story I've already told you once. This is really a story that happened at Christmas time.

A young couple, young pastoral couple, had been sent to this old church. One time it was THE church in town. But now it was run down, but they got paint brushes together and rallied everybody to come and they were fixing the church the best they could when a storm came through and just, it was so fierce that particularly the plaster behind the pulpit area was broken down and there was a huge gaping eyesore there and they were weeping and crying there from all the hard work they had done and they were so disappointed and so discouraged they didn't know what to do.

And then he said, "we have the youth benefit auction to go to." So dutifully they went over there and sat there in sort of numbed stillness and watched al the things being auctioned off. Finally there was this old, out- of-date, golden ivory table cloth, about fifteen feet long. And all of a sudden, the young pastor came alert. Maybe they could use that to put over that hole. So he bid the magnanimous sum of six and a half dollars. Nobody in the auction thought it was worth anything. So they got it for six and a half dollars. They took it back and nailed it up over the hole.

A couple of days later, Christmas Eve day, they were there working and the pastor looked out and he saw this elderly woman standing at the bus stop, shivering like mad. So he went out and told her that the bus wasn't coming for an hour. Why didn't she come into the church where it was warm? She came in and he was talking to her and all of a sudden she looked up behind the pulpit and she gasped. The pastor thought she thought it was ugly. He started trying to explain, and she pressed her hands together and walked up past the pulpit, went up. And he was chasing after her, trying to apologize. And she reached up and felt it, and tears started running down her cheeks. So he shut up. He realized that there was something else going on. And she said, "This is my table cloth. My husband had it made for me in Brussels, and brought it back to me in Vienna. And I haven't seen it in years." They had been separated when the Nazis had occupied Austria. She said, "My poor husband died in the concentration camp." And so the pastor said, "Why don't you take it home?" "No! No! No, you keep it." And she went and got on the bus.

Well, that night, after the vespers program, after the Christmas Eve program, as the pastor and his wife were trying to console each other, the town clock-maker came up to them, the watch repairman, and said, "That cloth, I gave that to my wife years ago. God rest her soul. She died." And the pastor came alive. "NO! she's not dead! She came here looking for a job, but they wouldn't give it to her because she couldn't speak good enough English. Let's go!" And so they grabbed a newspaper and looked through the ads and found the people who wanted a governess and they went to her house and banged on the door. "What are you doing here?" "Why I'm pastor so-and- so, and this is so-and-so and the lady you didn't hire. They've been separated these many years. Do you have her phone number and address?" "Yes, we do!" and so boom , boom, boom. And they got them back together.

Can't you imagine what that reunion was like? Can you imagine the difference in how the pastor and his wife felt? God had His hand in it the whole time. They were so discouraged and wondering why all this was happening. Why did this all happen? Because God had chosen them to be an agent to bring people back together who were missing each other.

And that was Jesus's job. And that's our job. To reach out to people who are missing God and bring them back together again.

So, what does the Holy Spirit do in all this? Well, John tells us in John 14:25 and 26. "All this I have spoken while with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." So that was specifically for the disciples there. But for us in John 16:7,8. Beginning with verse five, Jesus said, "Now I am going to Him who sent me, yet none of you asks me where you're going? because I have said these things to you, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when He come He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin because men do not believe in Me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned." So Jesus says, "I need to go away so the Comforter can be with you." And The Holy Spirit's job is to point us to Jesus Christ, to help us to see Jesus better, and Jesus' function to bring people to God. As we understand that better, then we are in better position to bring people to God as well. And the Holy Spirit can be everywhere, talking to everybody at the same time about Jesus and His role and His function and what our role and function would be. All at the same time. Jesus was limited because He took a human body. The Holy Spirit is not.

So the three of them work together to bring people back to God. God misses us. There is within us that part of us that misses God. And so Jesus came to show us the Father so we'd understand the Father better and want to be with the Father and the Holy Spirit comes and shows us Jesus and helps us to be a part of what Jesus does. Let's be like "Jesus" to other people in our own small way to say, "Look, the Father misses you and wants to have you back." Would you like to have that "Missing" feeling filled up? Would you like to have the joy and happiness that Bobby and Eddie and David had? They had missed each other for nineteen years and didn't know why. And sometimes we miss God and don't really know why. And other people miss God and don't know why. And we can tell them why they miss God and say, "Here's Jesus. Let's go talk with Jesus. And Jesus will get us back together with God." We will have that sense of fulfillment and joy that we found what was lost.

What does Luke say in Luke 15? "For every sinner that repenteth there is great joy in heaven." A great celebration. As we go from here today, even though we may not understand, philosophically, or theologically, or logically how God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one, we can go away from here today and say, "God misses us. Jesus wants to bring us together again. The Holy Spirit then helps us to bring other people to Jesus and they can be brought back together with God."

May the Lord bless you today, and may you find that sense of joy and fulfillment of being reunited your God.



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