Summary: The first in a 16 sermon series on the Nazarene Articles of Faith. This sermon explores several scriptures related to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
Article of Faith #1 - The Triune God
Date: Sunday, June 6, 2004
Author: Rev. Jonathan K. Twitchell
Today, the first Sunday after Pentecost, is known as Trinity Sunday. Trinity Sunday is a day in the Christian calendar which is set aside for us to reflect upon the Nature of the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I have recently considered preaching a series on the Articles of Faith of the Church of the Nazarene, and since the First Article of Faith is entitled “The Triune God,” I thought Trinity Sunday would be an excellent day to begin our journey. For the next several weeks, we will take up a different Article of Faith, explain it, explore the related scripture texts, and attempt to understand how each doctrine impacts our lives.
It is vitally important that we, as a Community of Faith, know what it is that we believe, why we believe that way, and the difference that those beliefs make in our every day life. My messages this summer will have a slightly different approach, as we will be guided, not by a single passage of Scripture, but by the doctrines of the Church, and the many scriptures which support them. We will take each doctrine, explore it, analyze it, find the scriptural supports for it, and see how our belief in the doctrine shapes our life. I hope that each of us will be challenged by this study, as we deepen our understanding of God’s Word in these matters of faith and belief, so that we can explain them to those who would ask.
It is important, from time to time, to take a systematic trek through our beliefs—examining our beliefs, seeing why we believe them, and learning how to explain them to others. If we do not know what we believe, we can easily be tossed about by every wind or wave—instead of being firmly grounded in God’s Word.
On the one hand, it would be easy to simply state: “We believe the Bible.” On the other hand, we recognize that some folks read the Bible simply as another piece of literature, while others encounter the Living God through its pages. There are many who “believe the Bible” and yet arrive at different conclusions about the nature of God and His redemptive plan. We are familiar with great cult leaders who have been able to convince others to commit heinous crimes in the name of “believing the Bible.”
And so, while it is true that we “believe the Bible,” it is important to recognize that we interpret God’s Word within the bounds of the Community of Faith. We recognize that our reason and experience go far in helping us to understand God’s Word. We also believe that Church Teaching throughout the ages helps us to understand God’s Word the same way that the writers and original hearers also understood it.
While the Church of the Nazarene has only been in existence for about 100 years, its beliefs stand squarely within the realm of Church Teaching and Christian Tradition as taught through the last 2000 years. To remind us of our earliest roots, it is often helpful for us to affirm together one of the oldest Summaries of Christianity—the Apostle’s Creed. While it was not actually written by the Apostles, it was gradually put together, by the common consent of the Christian Churches in the First and Second Century, and was used during the conversion and reception of new members. It reached its present form at about the close of the second century. It is one of the most ancient summaries of the Christian Faith , helping us to understand what the early church believed and taught about Jesus . Incidentally, the Apostle’s Creed predates the Canon of Holy Scripture, which did not come together until the end of the 4th Century. The Creed is important to us, for it ensures that our interpretation of Holy Scripture never sways far from the earliest teachings of the Church.
I invite you to join me as we affirm our faith together by reciting this ancient summary of the Christian Faith , which you can find in your bulletin.
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ , His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate ,
Was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into hades;
The third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy Church universal,
The communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,