Summary: an exposition of the doctrine of the Trinity, why it's important, and what it means if we get it wrong - part 2 of a two part message
God in Three Persons
TCF Sermon – part 2
October 23, 2011
In our house church we’re studying the book of Acts, and this past Wednesday, we were in Acts 20, and talked about the story of Eutychus. If you don’t remember the story, Eutychus is the boy who fell asleep during Paul’s sermon which went on past midnight.
He nodded off while sitting in a third floor window and fell out the window and died. Paul raised him from the dead and then went on preaching until morning. I don’t tell you this so that you’ll be prepared for a long sermon. But, one of the things we talked about in the group was how we sometimes must deal with the challenge of staying awake in church.
This was Paul preaching when Eutychus fell asleep, so I rather doubt it was boring. So on the one hand, there’s the recognition that there could be many reasons you may struggle to stay awake, and it doesn’t necessarily mean the sermon is boring. But it occurred to me that last week’s topic, to be continued and concluded this week, is kind of deeply theological, and might be seen by some of the less holy among you as boring.
So, in an effort to help all of you stay awake, I offer as a public service this short list of things to do when you’re bored in church.
Pass a note to the worship leader asking whether he plays requests.
See if a yawn really is contagious.
Slap your neighbor. See if they turn the other cheek. If not, raise your hand and tell the preacher.
Raise your hand and ask for permission to go to the rest room.
Whip out a hankie and blow your nose. Vary the pressure exerted on your nostrils and trumpet out a rendition of your favorite hymn.
Twiddle your thumbs. Twiddle your neighbor's thumbs.
I hope these help. I also hope you don’t need to use these practical ideas.
Last week we began our two part look at one of the most important teachings of our faith. The Trinity, despite being quite challenging to our finite minds, is nevertheless a doctrine that the early church strongly defended. We learned that analogies can be useful and funny, like the one that went:
She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.
We also learned that analogies of God always break down at some point, even when they’re useful to some degree, because God is absolutely unique. We learned that some analogies of the Trinity can also lead to false doctrine if they are taken at face value and not examined carefully. But we also learned that we see reflections of the Trinity all around us, from things such as the different roles teammates play on sports teams to the way a symphony combines diverse instruments playing, into a unified and beautiful sound.
Some of these reflections of the Trinity help us begin to understand this doctrine, because unity and diversity are at the heart of the Trinity. We began to explore what the Trinity truly is, and what it isn’t. We began to look at the many different ways people have described the Trinity, and we looked at some very specific definitions that begin to open up this doctrine to us, and we’ll look at a few more here in a moment.
Perhaps one of the most important things we learned last week was that, as believers in Christ, we already know the Trinity by experience, whether we can articulate the doctrine well or not, whether we know that we know it or not.
We know it because God the Father has sent God the Son to die in our place, because we are not able to pay the price for our sin. We know it because God the Holy Spirit has drawn us to Christ, and has sealed us for the day of redemption, and lives inside us, enabling us to call God “Abba Father.”
We know the Trinity because we see it and experience it most clearly in the process of redemption.
The New Testament does not present a systematic presentation of the Trinity. The scattered segments from various writers that appear throughout the New Testament reflect a seemingly accepted understanding that exists without a full-length discussion. It is embedded in the framework of the Christian experience and simply assumed as true. The New Testament writers focus on statements drawn from the obvious existence of the trinitarian experience as opposed to a detailed exposition. Holman Bible Dictionary
Near the end of last week’s message, we looked at this diagram, which is helpful in highlighting the key aspects of the important biblical teaching of the Trinity. It’s on the cover of your bulletin, too, for your reference.