Posted by: rcottrill | February 21, 2018

Thou Whose Almighty Word

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Words: John Marriott (b. Sept. 11, 1780; d. Mar. 31, 1825)
Music: Dort, by Lowell Mason (b. Jan. 8, 1792; d. Aug. 11, 1872)

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: John Marriott was an English clergyman who wrote several hymns. This one was originally entitled “A Missionary Hymn.” Another fine hymn tune that could be used with the hymn is Felice de Giardini’s Italian Hymn, to which we sing Come, Thou Almighty King, and Christ for the World! We Sing.

Trinitarian doctrine is amply represented in our hymns. From Reginald Heber’s Holy, Holy, Holy, with its “God in three persons, blessed Trinity,” to Elizabeth Charles’s Praise Ye the Triune God, and Fanny Crosby’s Be Thou Exalted, with each stanza addressing a different member of the Godhead, there are many such hymns.

First, let’s consider a riddle. What is it that disappears the moment we try to talk about it? One possible answer is: silence. As soon as we start speaking about it, we have destroyed it!

At another level, some things are very hard to explain–much deeper riddles. We like to think that given enough human brilliance, and enough appropriate words, human beings can define and explain just about anything. But, if we’re honest, we have to admit we haven’t got there yet, certainly not in every case.

Take those black holes in space, for example. They’re invisible, so we can’t see them But there’s apparently some evidence they exist. And we may have our theories about them, but they are just that. Educated guesses as to what these entities are, and how they work. Perhaps we’ll learn more in time, but there are still mysteries there.

When it comes to attempting to explain what is unexplainable, God is at the top of the list. We refer to Him as the Supreme Being, higher than anyone or anything else. However, He is more than supreme, He is transcendent. Not just at the top, but way beyond the top. God is unique in the universe. He’s beyond time and space, and everything He has created, and infinitely beyond our full comprehension.

This shouldn’t surprise us. Not being able to fully understand God is one evidence of His transcendence. If we could fully explain all there is about Him, then we ourselves would be the supreme beings in the universe, but we cannot, and are not. The Lord says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9).

And one of the inexplicable mysteries about God is His Trinitarian nature, that He is one God eternally existing in three coequal Persons. The lengthy Athanasian Creed is an attempt to give full force to both of those seemingly contradictory truths. Athanasius (circa AD 296-373) said, “We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence.”

Without question, the Bible teaches there is only one true God (Deut. 6:4; I Cor. 8:4). It’s also clear that God the Father is deity (Jn. 6:27; I Pet. 1:2), God the Son is deity (Jn. 1:1-3, 14; Tit. 2:13), and God the Holy Spirit is deity (Acts 5:3-4; I Cor. 3:16), but there are not three deities. They are distinct though coequal (Matt. 28:19), and can have unique ministries (Matt. 3:16-17; II Cor. 13:14). Yet there is only one true God.

All attempts to illustrate the tri-unity of the Godhead by some means ultimately fail. Patrick, in Ireland, reputedly used the shamrock for this, with it’s three leaves on one stem. Others have used the egg (yolk, white, and shell), or water (liquid, solid, or invisible vapour), but these all have their limitations. There is nothing in the natural world that exactly compares to Him, without some profound shortcomings. It is best to take the Scriptures as they stand, and not insist that we must be able to explain the unexplainable.

John Marriott gave us a fine hymn on the Trinity theme–addressing Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Here are three stanzas.

CH-1) Thou, whose almighty word
Chaos and darkness heard,
And took their flight;
Hear us, we humbly pray,
And, where the gospel’s day
Sheds not its glorious ray,
Let there be light!

CH-2) Thou, who didst come to bring
On Thy redeeming wing
Healing and sight,
Health to the sick in mind,
Sight to the inly blind,
O now, to all mankind,
Let there be light!

CH-3) Spirit of truth and love,
Life giving, holy Dove,
Speed forth Thy flight;
Move on the water’s face
Bearing the lamp of grace,
And, in earth’s darkest place,
Let there be light!

1) Why is the biblical doctrine of the Trinity important?

2) Can you think of other hymns that deal with the Trinity?

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal


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