Summary: The foundation of the Trinity is rock solid. It will never shatter or splinter. The Trinity is not some addendum or appendage hanging precariously from the building of the Gospel. No, the Trinity is the foundation of the gospel and without the Trinity there is no Gospel.
How Do You Explain the Trinity?
June 22-23, 2019
Rev. Brian Bill
A couple weeks ago visitors to the Willis Tower’s Sky Deck in Chicago got a big scare when the protective layer covering the glass floor splintered into thousands of pieces. This glass sightseeing box extends from the 103rd floor and attracts some 1.5 million visitors each year. One eyewitness said, “There was a woman with two kids and they looked real pale and scared because the floor just cracked.” Understandably, people are now afraid to go out on the ledge.
As we come to the topic of the Trinity, some of us get scared because it’s difficult to understand and daunting to explain. Because of that, we’d rather not go out on the ledge. On top of that, skeptics have tried to shatter and splinter Christianity with frontal attacks on the Trinity.
It’s my hope when we’re finished, each of us will grow in our delight of the triune God and our faith will be fortified. I was helped in this regard by a book called, Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves. Instead of being afraid, he challenges us to treasure the Trinity: “To know the Trinity is to know God, an eternal and personal God of infinite beauty, interest and fascination. The Trinity is a God we can know and forever grow to know better.”
Here are some preliminary points to frame our study.
1. The word trinity is not found in the Bible but the truth of the Trinity is found throughout Scripture. The word trinity means, “tri-unity” or “three-in-oneness.”
2. We’ll be doing some heavy lifting in the field of systematic theology. Simply put, systematic theology is the answer to this question: “What does the whole Bible say about a given topic?” It involves searching the Scriptures to find all the verses pertaining to a subject and then putting them all together so we know what God says. “Systematic” means, “carefully organized by topics.” For example, many books of the Bible give information about angels (we’ll be tackling this topic July 27-28). Because no one book gives all the information about angels, systematic theology studies the entire Bible and organizes the truth into what is called angelology. We’ll be doing this today with the doctrine of the Trinity.
3. This topic will stretch our minds and that’s a good thing. Jesus summarized the first commandment in Matthew 22:37: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Someone has said the doctrine of the Trinity is the most important Christian doctrine that most people never think about. A.W. Tozer often said, “What comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.”
4. The Trinity is one of the truly distinctive doctrines of Christianity. Actually, it is crucial for Christianity because it concerns who God is, what He is like, how He works, and how He is to be approached. The personal fellowship between the persons of the Trinity is the scarlet thread of the Bible. Michael Reeves writes, “Because the Christian God is triune, the Trinity is the governing center of all Christian belief, the truth that shapes and beautifies all others.”
5. This sermon will not answer all your questions but I hope you’ll grow in your awe of our awesome God. Dr. Sanjay Merchant, a professor at Moody Bible Institute, sent me his extensive explanation of the Trinity. Here’s how he begins: “Some consider the doctrine of the Trinity to be an impenetrable paradox, resulting from theological nit-picking, a technical addendum to our shared faith with little practical significance for the Christian life. On the contrary, the Trinity is the central mystery of Christianity, disclosing edifying truths about God’s nature and revealing the deep logic of the gospel.”
Here’s the outline we’ll follow.
• Exposition – what does the Bible say about the Trinity? Our approach will be to allow the Scriptures to speak as we see how the doctrine of the Trinity progressively unfolds.
• Explanation – how can we state the Trinity? We’ll look at the best way to describe the Trinity, giving attention to some of the early creeds of Christianity.
• Illustrations – how can we understand the Trinity? We’ll consider some of the more common metaphors and show why each one is ultimately inadequate.
• Application – how can we apply the doctrine of the Trinity today? As we delight in the Trinity we’ll discover a number of practical applications.
Exposition – What Does the Bible Say About the Trinity?
Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology, writes: “The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most important doctrines of the Christian faith. To study the Bible’s teachings on the Trinity gives us great insight into the question that is at the center of all of our seeking after God: What is God like in Himself? Here we learn that in Himself, in His very being, God exists in the persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet there is one God.”