2008-04-06pm Matthew 3.13-17; Lords Day 8 Q&A 24&25 The Trinity
It is very strange, just when our church seems to be moving away from sound doctrine, other churches are gravitating toward it. I’m glad that we are taking time to study the doctrine of the church. It is, as we’ve seen, important to know what we believe and why we believe it.
So, what do we believe concerning God? This morning we looked at God’s glory. What do we believe about God? Who is God? When God told Moses, “I Am Who I Am.” What did that mean? Well, it means that God is eternal. God simply is God! There is nothing like God.
But now, when we talk about God, what do we believe? We believe in a Trinity. What is the Trinity?
One of the early church fathers, a guy named Tertullian, coined the word Trinity as word to describe the three persons of God. Three persons, one God, one God, in three persons: God the Father our creator, God the Son our saviour, God the Holy Spirit, our sanctifier.
Though there are three persons in the Trinity there is one God. Question 25 hits the nail on the head, it underscores the fundamental difficulty of this doctrine.
Since the scriptures are very clear, that there is one God, why do we speak of three; Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
How do we reconcile the doctrine of the Trinity with the words of Deut. 6.4, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
We answer that, by saying that the Trinity is one God, but three persons. God the Father is a person, he spoke to the Son from Heaven, he walked with Adam and Eve in the garden. He gets angry, he shows compassion and forgiveness. He is a person, he feels, thinks, acts.
God the Son is a person. He wept, he ate food, he laughed, he thought, he spoke. The Holy Spirit is a person. The Bible says, do not grieve the Holy Spirit. A lot of people don’t think of the Holy Spirit as a person, instead thinking of God the Holy Spirit as a force or something like that. But the Holy Spirit is a person, you can grieve the Holy Spirit, you can’t make a force like gravity grieve, can you?
So we believe in One God, that is made up of three persons. We believe this, because God’s Word reveals God in that way, these three distinct persons are one, true, eternal God.
And, we are in relationship with each of these persons. We come before God the Father, who created us. We call upon God the Son who delivered us from sin and death. We have the person of the Holy Spirit, living within us, sanctifying us.
But how is God in three persons, one, we’ll get to that in just a second.
That God is three distinct persons is clear in our text this evening. God the Son, Jesus, is coming out of the water. God the Holy Spirit, descends upon the Son, in a way similar to a dove (he is not a dove, he merely descended like a dove), and God the Father proclaims that Jesus is His Son, whom he loves.
Here, in this passage, we have the three persons of the Trinity present. It cannot be denied. There are three persons who are God. Also, when we baptise our children, we baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! Why? Because they are God, eternally, united together.
But how are they united together? What joins them, what joins us to them?
It says in 1 John 4:8 that God is love. God’s love was complete, even before creating the world. God the Father loved the Son and the Spirit, God the Son loved the Father and the Spirit, God the Spirit loves the father and the Son.
Out of their mutual, perfect, full, rich love for one another, came the universe in which we live!
God created the universe so as to display His glory and His love.
1 John also goes on to say that love comes from God, everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Now, that’s interesting. Do you love? Do you know God? If we’re unfamiliar with God, then can we really love? And if we don’t really know God, then we don’t really know love.
The world gets love wrong. The world has exchanged love for sex. Love is a one night stand. Love is a thing you do. Love is being close, for a time. Love is a commodity.
But that’s not what the Bible says. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay his life down for his friends” (John 15:13). And the greatest love shown was in Christ, who died for us while we were still enemies with God.
So the Trinity, always existing, always loved and loving one another, is the pattern for us. We love in the same way that the Trinity loves.
Later in 1 John 4, John states that no one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.
We love because he first loved us.
So, the love that is displayed in the Trinity is perfectly selfless. It is perfectly giving to others. God gives his love perfectly to the Son and the Spirit, the son gives love to the father and the Spirit, and spirit gives love to the Son and the Father.
Now, if the Father and the Son and the Spirit are selflessly giving love to one another, they are never diminished in love, for in giving love, they are also, always, perfectly receiving love.
Now, if we are in Christ, if we are in the Trinity, we receive love perfectly. We’re perfectly united in Christ.
How do you get love? You get love by giving love away.
Another way in which the world gets love wrong, is in how the world quantifies love. The world speaks of love as being limited, divisible and measurable. In the secular world, there are tonnes of articles on how to show love to your children. At one time they say, to show love, you have spend quantities of time with your children. Then later, they say, you have to spend quality time with your children.
This is ridiculous. Most of us here have had children. Did you find your love decreasing, or being more divided the more children you have? Not at all, in fact, love doesn’t decrease, it increases! Love comes from God, who is eternal.
Love is selfless, it is completely focussed on another. We love when we know God.
We reflect God’s love, which is perfectly, freely given to the members of the Trinity, to one another.
But the most amazing thing is this! The Holy Spirit is in us. In that, we’re taken up into the Trinity!
We experience the Trinity, we experience God’s love.
But more than that, we act out on God’s love!
We reflect God’s love. We reflect the Trinity!
How do we do that?
In God, there is no sin, no jealousy, disrespect, lying, blaming, there is just love. So, in us there ought to be just love! We can show, and act out love to one another.
Jesus Christ was perfectly humble, perfectly submissive to the will of the Father. And though he was all of that, he was full of Joy! In the garden, when the total rubber was hitting the road, Jesus prayed for another way, though he knew that there was no other way. And yet, his prayer was that God would be glorified through him.
Jesus prayed that we would be one as Christ was one with His Father.
The Trinity is the example of perfect oneness.
As believers in the Trinity, we realise that we are to demonstrate the reality of the perfect unity of the Trinity in our living.
So, how do we do that?
Now, I the Trinity, the Father is not the Son, nor the Holy Spirit. The Son is not the Father, nor the Spirit, the Spirit is neither the Son nor the Father.
There is a difference of persons in the Trinity. There is also a difference in function in the persons of the Trinity. The Trinity works together for our salvation! God the Father sends the Son to redeem the world. God the Son redeems the world by his death and resurrection. God the Holy Spirit sanctifies believers.
But how does this play out in our lives? We recognise that there are differences in who we are, and what we do! Not everyone can be the pastor. Not everyone can be the janitor. If all were janitors, where would the preacher be? If all were preachers, where would the congregation be?
But in the Trinity there is perfection of unity. And in the congregation there is perfection of unity.
But that perfection can be seen and experienced in the church! There is no guile or envy or jealousy in the Trinity.
The Son doesn’t despise the Father the Father’s glory. The Spirit doesn’t despise the Son His redeeming work. The Father and the Son don’t begrudge the spirit His sanctifying power.
But the Church in North America doesn’t understand the essence of this teaching. Oh, they say they do. They proclaim tolerance as being a Christian attitude. But the Trinity doesn’t speak of tolerance, it speaks of submission. Christ submitted to the Father’s will. We to have to submit to the father’s will.
So, if we say we’re showing our love for one another by being tolerant, we’re actually not!
Let’s look at it this way. Would you tolerate your children colouring on the wall? Suppose they told you it was part of their artistic expression! Well, that’s ridiculous! You don’t have to express yourself artistically on the wall! You can do it just as well on a piece of paper!
So, if a person says, in the name of Christian tolerance, that it is okay to sin, that’s wrong! That’s not being loving at all! It is putting them in greater danger of God’s wrath! And woe to that person who promotes that tolerance is the same as or better than submission. The Bible doesn’t teach tolerance. There is no tolerance in the Trinity, there is perfect submission and perfect love! Amen.