Comfort from the 5th Dimension
Daniel and John both fall down as dead men when they are brought into God's dimension. Do you think we'll fare any better as we step into the dimension of the Holy Trinity where 3 are 1 and 1 is 3? This dimension is beyond what men can think or imagine. It's not a 4th or even a 5th, but perhaps the 5th Dimension can help.
That iconic late 60s and 70s band did a cover of the popular "Going out of My Head Over You." A 4th century bishop in France, Hillary, said something similar when speaking of the Trinity. "'I have a firm hold on something that I do not understand'" (ACC, IVb, 203). I would say something I can't understand, the Holy Trinity, has a firm hold on me. In any event, Jesus says a similar thing to His disciples Maundy Thursday. "You are not able to bear, carry away, lift, the many more things I wish to say to you."
That's true of us too. On our own we can't bear to hear what God has to say. The church leaders couldn't bear what Stephen had to say so they covered their ears, rushed at him, and stoned him. Pharaoh couldn't bear what God had to say through Moses, so he threw him out. King Ahab couldn't bear what the prophet Micaiah said so he had him thrown in jail. God could tell us things that would bother us, confuse us, kill us even.
The Holy Spirit is needed to guide us in the dimension of the Trinity. Jesus calls Him, as He did last week, remember pay attention to the articles, the Spirit of the Truth, and He promise, "He will guide you in all truth." In the realm of all that is the truth, the Spirit will be your guide lest you be like the Ethiopian on his way back from Jerusalem who says to Philip, "How can I understand unless someone guide me?" You will get lost in this dimension where death is life, sorrow is joy, God is Man, and mathematics are frustrated. You need the Spirit to guide you lest you stray from the Truth who is Jesus Himself.
The 5th Dimension's most famous song is "Age of Aquarius" from 1969. After the death of a president, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, the never-ending Vietnam War, the campus protests against it, and the race riots, people were ready for a bright future. The 5th Dimension prophesied that peace would guide the planets, love would steer the stars, and harmony, understanding, sympathy, and truth abound with the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
All those upbeat positive predictions at the end of the 60s gave way to legalized baby killing, oil embargos, run-away inflation, and price controls. Political leaders were exposed in lies and cover-ups. Within the first half of the 70s you saw the resignation of a vice president and a president. The Age of Aquarius had dawned; the sunshine had been let in and men were shown in all their falleness and inability to control the future.
Chrysostom, another 4th century church father, said that there is nothing for which people so long for as the knowledge of the future (Ibid. 208). And guess what? Jesus promises such knowledge in the dimension of the Trinity. He says, "The Holy Spirit will tell you what is yet to come." O boy here we go! The Spirit of the Trinity will tell, show, declare, make known to us the coming things.
Spirit doesn't speak in your head, heart, dreams, intuition, feelings, or opinion.
No, the Spirit speaks in Scripture. 1 Peter declares, "Holy men of God spoke as
they were moved by the Holy Spirit." So what do the Scriptures reveal to you
about the future? They reveal that Jesus will return, raise the dead, judge the
world, and create a new heaven and earth. But one place in particular the
Spirit is said to expressly speak: 1Timothy 4: 1-3.
"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth."
No Age of Aquarius here; no sunshine shining here; no love, peace, sympathy or harmony. In the dimension of the Holy Trinity the Church of the future is not depicted as a mighty army but as stricken, smitten, and afflicted by deceiving spirits. But there is more to this divine dimension than truths we can't bear and a future we can't know apart from the limited things the Spirit says to us, and the 5th Dimension points us there. In 1971 they did a cover of "Never My Love." The title says it all. There will never come a time when the lover will grow tired of you, lose his desire for you, his love end, or change his mind. You can sing that of earthly lovers but it is only true of God of in Jesus.
Probably the most famous protestant theologian of modern times is Karl Barth. He was asked to summarize all that had ever written. He said, "'Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so'" (Illustrations, 377). In the dimension of the Holy Trinity love rules. John makes the simple but deep statement: "God is love." The 19th century hymn "Love came down at Christmas" is right in title but wrong in verse when it says "Love was born at Christmas." No there never was time when God was not love.
The dimension of the Holy Trinity is eternal. But love did come down in flesh and blood at Christmas sent by the Father. Galatians 4 says, "But when the fullness of time had come God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law to redeem those who were under the Law." But you can't know this, believe this, trust this, live from and to this love apart from the Holy Spirit. That's what Paul tells you in Romans 5. "God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us."
There is an interplay between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the divine dimension of the Trinity which no 5th Dimension, 5th Element, or 5th Column is ever going to know, help you understand, or undermine for that matter. Jesus tells us like Jack Nicholson that we can't handle the truth or know the future. The Triune God does both. He knows and can handle what will happen to you not just tomorrow but forever. He knows the good, the bad, the ugly. He knows the pains and joys, the victories and defeats that are in your future. He knows if you are going to die young, tragically, or at a ripe old age that to you borders on overripe.
The Triune God knows all this and more. All this, says Jesus, belongs to the Father: the Father you can't see; the Father no man has ever seen; the Father who dwells in light unapproachable and is a consuming fire. But all that belongs to the Father you can't ever see and will never see also belongs to the Jesus whom you do see. "All that belongs to the Father is Mine," says Jesus. Moreover, all that is His is given to you by the Holy Spirit. Jesus says that the Spirit takes of what is Mine and makes it known to you.
It's the Spirit who makes Baptism a washing of regeneration and a putting on of Christ. It's the Spirit who breathes into the Church the peace declared by the Father at Christmas and won by the Son on Good Friday. Jesus breathes on Her and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit whosoever sins you forgive they are forgiven." It's the Spirit who reveals in Communion that Bread is the Body Jesus gave to death on the cross in place of sinners and Wine is His Blood that He shed there on their behalf.
You know the 5th Dimension song is in the present tense. Oh it promises that there never will come a day when love will tire of you, but that love is happening down. Did you see this in the text? The Father has the Truth that sets you free by forgiving your sins for Jesus' sake and all that the Father has your past, present, future - is placed in the hands of Jesus. Hear the present tenses: the Father has this; the Son owns this; the Spirit takes it. The insert makes the last one future tense. The Spirit "will take from what is Mine." Nope, all that "belongs" to the Father and "is" Mine says Jesus, and the Spirit "takes" what is Mine and makes it known to you. There's the last important point about the dimension of the Trinity. It really is all about you.
The 5th Dimension had a song for this too: their 1967 "Go Where You Wanna Go." But it is all about you in the wrong, self-centered way. In the dimension of the Holy Trinity it is all about you in the right, gracious, unbelievable way. "You" appears 4 times and "to you" once. Hear them build, them mount, them emphasize. Jesus says He has much more to say to YOU. It's more than YOU can bear. The Spirit, however, will guide YOU into all truth. He will tell YOU what is yet to come. He will take from what is Jesus' and make it known to YOU.
The Divine Service begins with words from the Baptism of YOU. "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." In Absolution, I send the sins of YOU away by the command and in the place of Jesus. Repentance and forgiveness of sins is preached in Jesus name to YOU. In Communion Jesus says, "This is My Body given for YOU; this is My Blood shed for YOU." And then the Triune God sends you on your way with His benediction of blessing, of smiling, of peace. I place the single Name of the Triune God on YOU, on THEE the individual.
All this comfort comes upon you not in some unreal, un-experienceable 5th dimension or in the mysterious realm of the Trinity where six-winged seraphim eternally chant what they see, "Holy, Holy, Holy," and the 4 living creatures full of eyes in front and back chant their cubed praise of the Trinity: "Holy, Holy, Holy, / Lord, the God, the Almighty/ who was and who is and who comes." No the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost happen here and now in this present age and dimension. Amen.
Rev. Paul R. Harris
Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas
Holy Trinity (20160522); John 16: 12-15