Summary: The doctrine, importance and value of the triune God is incalculable for born-again Christians. Denying this doctrine rejects the whole of Christianity.
Humorist Garrison Keillor, host of the radio show “A Prairie Home Companion,” said this of love: “We should not think that we have figured this out, because it is not a problem, it’s a mystery and always will be.”
“It is not a problem, it’s a mystery, and always will be.” We’ve become so advanced that we can put fax machines in cars and computers in our pockets; therefore, we are not always open to the suggestion that there are things that have been and will be mysteries to us. We assume that our only limitations are time and energy, and, given enough of the two, there is really nothing we can’t ultimately know.
So, when we come to a doctrinal matter like the Trinity, the temptation is to want one neat analogy that will make it all clear: one concise statement on the Trinity that will settle it for us and allow us to move on to the next problem. If this is your desire, I am afraid I will disappoint you today; describing the Trinity in a meaningful way is not something we can settle in the time we have this morning.
If we cannot solve the mystery today (we can’t), maybe we can help to clarify the doctrine of the Trinity and identify some practical implications of the triune God in the believer’s life. OYBT 2 Co 13
1. Each week we conclude our worship with a prayer of blessing (benediction). This blessing, based upon Paul’s final words to the church at Corinth, we know as the apostolic benediction; and it reminds us of the triune God who is at the center of our faith.
A. “Now, may the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion and fellowship of the Holy Spirit rest and abide with us allnow, henceforth, and forevermore.”
B. To appreciate the meaning of this blessing, we must understand the doctrine of the Trinity, and why it is central to our faith. Our ambition this morning is to understand the doctrine, learn its importance within Christianity and its value to believers.
[The doctrine, importance and value of the triune God is incalculable for born-again Christians. Denying this doctrine rejects the whole of Christianity.]
II. THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity postulates an understanding of God as three persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All are equally divine, sharing the attributes of God. Yet, unity and interdependence notwithstanding, each interacts uniquely with humanity while maintaining a distinct relationship with the other two beings of the Trinity.
1. There’s a mouthful; what does it mean? Let’s break it down:
A. There is one God (Dt. 6:4). This God is triune (manifests himself through three separate beings). There are not three Gods, but three persons of one substance.
B. Each shares the attributes of God: love, compassion, righteousness, etc.
C. Each acts independently from the other two, yet none contradicts the divine will.
D. They are, in fact, perfectly independent and perfectly unified at the same time.
2. If it helps, think of water, steam and ice. Each is of the same essence (H2O), yet appears in different forms and performs a unique function.
III. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE DOCTRINE TO CHRISTENDOM
1. First, the Triune God is evident in the whole of Scripture; although the word “trinity” does not appear in the Bible (Tertullian, second century), we have a reference to the trinity when God uses a first person plural pronoun to refer to himself in the creation of man (Gen 1:26).
2. Second, this triune God is eternal; he existed before creation. In order for created ones to have life everlasting, their creator must be able to provide it (note: eternal vs. everlasting).
3. Third, the triune God is personal, and desires a relationship with his creation. Christianity has, at its core, God’s desire for relationship and man’s inability to achieve or maintain it apart from Christ. The triune nature of God makes this relationship between he and mankind possible, addressing the third goal of the morning:
IV. THE VALUE OF THE DOCTRINE TO BELIEVERS
1. Paul’s use of this benediction was neither random nor haphazard; his second letter to the church at Corinth was rather harsh, sternly warning the believers of the dangers of their poor behaviorspecifically the disunity among them.
2. Paul’s is a message of reconciliation; they are to be reconciled to each other and to God. The final blessing, rich in Trinitarian language, is preceded by a personal and urgent appeal:
A. “Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints send their greetings” (vv. 11,12).