Summary: We find the foundation for authentic biblical community within God’s relationship to Himself in the Trinity.

The Greastest Place on Earth - Part 1

January 13, 2002


While Jesus was here on earth a certain argument tended to break out among his disciples over who was the greatest.

Will Smith is currently starring in the movie “Ali,” based on the life of the famous boxer Muhammed Ali. Ali is famous for repeatedly proclaiming, “I am the greatest.”

Ancient disciples and heavyweight boxers aren’t the only ones who focus on their own greatness. We tend to struggle with it as well. The bug of self-interest infects families, small groups, congregations and denominations today.

“Whenever we insist on our own way, take credit for a group’s accomplishment, or walk away hurt because we weren’t consulted, we’re struggling with this form of self-centeredness and self-glorification.” (John Ortberg)

By contrast, listen to the words of Ephesians 4:1-6:

1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Do you know what is God’s favorite word

God’s favorite word is: ONE

Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear O, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

This is foundational to what we believe. There is one God and only one God. Almighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, holy and ever present. There is none like Him.

God is set apart, but does He stand alone? Does He live as one being in isolation?

Before Jesus ascended back into heaven he gave his disciples a statement commonly called the Great Commission:

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

God does not live in isolation. Because God exists as three in one. He lives in perfect unity. As something that is commonly called “The Trinity – a word that doesn’t appear in the Scriptures but is used because, as Donald Bloesch says, the Trinity is “the immediate implication of the fact, form and content of biblical revelation.” (from God the Almighty, quoted in “Adding Up the Trinity,” by Christopher Hall, Christianity Today, 4-28-97).

Much of what I’ll be sharing with you this morning comes from an article and a message from John Ortberg, one of the teaching pastors up at Willow Creek Community Church. I was greatly inspired by his words at the Small Groups conference Greg and I went to in October.

Ortberg writes: “Think about life within the Trinity. How do Father, Son and Holy Spirit relate to each other? Are there a lot of arguments about who’s the most omniscient, the most omnipresent, or the oldest?” (“The ‘Shyness’ of God,” Christianity Today, 2-5-01).

No! We just don’t see that kind of behavior manifested in God’s relationship to Himself.

TRANSITION: So what is life like in the Trinity?


The Spirit -

Ortberg cites an essay by Dale Bruner in which he begins with the person of the Holy Spirit and says:

“One of the most surprising discoveries in my own study of the doctrine and experience of the Spirit in the New Testament is what I can only call the shyness of the Spirit…

What I mean here is not the shyness of timidity (cf. 2 Tim. 2:17) but the shyness of deference, the shyness of a concentrated attention on another; it is not the shyness (which we often experience) of self-centeredness, but the shyness of an other-centeredness.” (In Ortberg, ibid).

Think about the ministry of the Spirit. His goal isn’t to draw attention to himself, but rather to point to the Son. John tells us the Spirit comes in the Son’s name, bears witness to the Son, and glorifies the Son (cf. John 14:26, 16:13).

Bruner says the ministry of the Spirit could be pictured by drawing a stick figure (representing Jesus) on a blackboard. Then to express what the Spirit does, I stand behind the blackboard, reach around with one hand, and point with a single finger to the image of Jesus. “Look at him, listen to him, follow him, worship him, be devoted to him, serve him, love him, be preoccupied with him.” (Ortberg, ibid.)

That’s what Bruner means by the shyness of the Holy Spirit.

The Son –

But when we look at the Son, oddly enough, we don’t find him parading around saying, “I am the greatest.”

Instead he said, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing.” (John 8:54)

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