Summary: Dave explains our denominational stance on the Trinity, delves into the four key aspects of that belief, and expounds on scriptures that make the case for it.
The Ocean In A Hole: Comprehending the Trinity
God in Five Weeks, part 2
Wildwind Community Church
October 1, 2006
St. Augustine once was walking along the shore of the ocean, greatly perplexed about the doctrine of the Trinity. As he meditated, he observed a little boy with a sea shell, running to the water, filling his shell, and then pouring it into a hole which he had made in the sand. Augustine asked, “What are you doing, little man?”
The boy replied, “I am trying to put the ocean in this hole.”
Augustine had learned his lesson, and as he passed on, said, “That is what I am trying to do; I see it now. Standing on the shores of time I am trying to get into this little finite mind things which are infinite.” Let us be content to let God know some things which we cannot know.
—Moody Church News
We continue today with our series on the Trinity, and this is a great place to pick up. We must begin with the fact that we are studying the Trinity not so that we can understand the Trinity, but so that we can appreciate the mystery of God. We cannot get that ocean into the holes between our ears. In fact one of the best reasons to study the Trinity is so that we can be reminded that God is in many ways beyond our grasp. As the ocean would not be the ocean if it fit into a small hole, so God cannot be God if he fits into our small minds.
I want to take you to two places this morning. We’ll begin by looking at what we believe about the Trinity, because here we will get a definition and a better appreciation for how great the mystery is. As we proceed through that I will give you Biblical support and evidence for what we believe. Then want to just do a survey of other scriptures that support our belief in the Trinity, because I want you to hear the Bible and know that our belief is well-grounded. My goal in teaching you this morning is to lead you to worship God more fully. I believe to know God is to love God and when we see him more clearly for who he is, our worship is enhanced.
John 4:24 (NIV)
24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
So let’s look at some truth about God this morning so we can better worship him.
I want to begin by reading to you our denominational statement on the Trinity.
This comes straight out of the Discipline of the Free Methodist Church.
There is but one living and true God, the maker and preserver of all things. And in the unity of this Godhead there are three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are one in eternity, deity, and purpose; everlasting, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness.
-- Discipline of the Free Methodist Church, paragraph A/101.
I don’t know about you, but just reading that makes me want to worship God. It describes something beyond my grasp. It’s something utterly other than me, and yet, in the final analysis, it is good. If you think you might believe that statement, will you read it with me?
Now we must admit that simply saying this does not enable us to comprehend it. But it does bring focus to our understanding of God as a Being beyond our understanding.
Proverbs 9:10 (NASB)
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Fear of the Lord in the Bible means reverent respect. We cannot have reverent respect for God if we do not understand his power, his complexity, the degree to which he is different from, and above, every one of us. Studying Trinity helps us understand that.
There are four key concepts involved in our understanding of the Trinity. First is that there is one God. To believe in Trinity is not to believe in three Gods, to embrace pantheism. (“Pan” = “Many” and “Theos” = “god”). The "Shema" is the single most well-known and important prayer in all of Judaism. What Jews call The Shema is Deuteronomy 6:4.
Deuteronomy 6:4 (NIV)
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
The Shema was first spoken by Moses in his final address to the nation of Israel. It is repeated by devout Jews every morning and evening during the week, and recited on every Sabbath and festival. It has been recited daily by the Jews as a central act of worship since about 700 BC. I was amazed to discover this past week that these are the oldest words in constant use in all history. The oldest words in constant use in all history are words that have proclaimed for 2700 years, “The Lord is One.”