Summary: There are certain beliefs that we hold that make us ONE. The doctrine of the Trinity is one such belief.
The Three In One
This morning as we enter into a new season as a church, we’re beginning a new mini-series as we journey through Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church. The Mini-series is called ONE and is based on ONE long sentence (like only the apostle Paul can write) that has been organized in THREE verses of Scripture. These words of Paul (even though scholars don’t believe they were an early creed) come across as creed-like. For us, they sum up in some ways our distinct beliefs in a very non-descript way. Last week we began chapter 4 talking about unity, talking about the character that it takes to be ONE, well today we’re going to speak of what we must all agree on, the very things that cause us to have unity, to be ONE.
You could go to any Evangelical theologian and pastor and ask what would have to be a given in a statement of faith and more than likely they would tell you that high up on that list would have to be the doctrine of the Trinity. But we so sparingly preach it, probably because more and more we’re getting away from preaching doctrine, but also because we do not follow a rigid liturgy. So today I want to speak to you about maybe the most mysterious and in some ways the most difficult doctrine for us to understand, but it is also one that I believe is clearly presented in Scripture, and it is of great importance to us.
This morning I’m going to ask you to stand with me, and we’ll read this statement together (all of us outloud). I’ll be reading from the NASB, and you can follow along from your own Bible or from the screen behind me.
READ: EPHESIANS 4:4-6 (You can be seated)
I’d like to post a warning on today’s sermon . . . in the end you may not get it, if you don’t, or if you have a question or if you want a clarification, email me this week.
EH: Pastor, I have a question. Last weekend I went to the park and there was a church group having a picnic and they had a big sign that said “Holy Trinity Church”. Well, Pastor, I’ve driven around town and I have seen churches named St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Joseph, St. Thomas, but I never heard of this St. Trinity. Who is this St. Trinity?
CW: Trinity is not a saint, Ed. Trinity is one of the ways that all Christians have come to understand God as revealed by Jesus Christ when he came to earth to live among us. The Trinity is God, One God – Three Persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
EH: That sure sounds like three gods to me.
CW: No, Ed, one God, three persons – It’s a mystery!
EH: Well, come to think of it, this is a very big universe and there are lots of people for God to watch. So probably the Father works the day shift, the Son the night shift and the Holy Spirit the graveyard shift?
CW: No, Ed. No shifts. God’s working all of the time.
EH: O.K. so if God’s working all the time, its still a very big world, so maybe God divides it up in thirds – a third for the Father, a third for the Son and a third for the Holy Spirit.
CW: No, Ed, no thirds, no divisions, God is undivided.
EH: Well, let me ask it to you this way. I think God must be a baseball fan – after all the first words of the bible say “In the Big Inning”.
CW: No, Ed, it’s “In the beginning” not “In the big inning”.
EH: Any way, you know how I like baseball. So let’s say that God’s team was playing a baseball game and God’s team was up to bat. The Father hits a single – Who’s on first?
EH: The Father
CW: That’s right, Ed.
EH: Then the Son comes up and hits a single. The Father goes to second base and the Son goes to first base. Who’s on first?
EH: I thought God was on second base.
CW: That’s right.
EH: O.K. – then the Holy Spirit comes up and lays down a perfect bunt. The Father goes to third base, the Son goes to second base and the Holy Spirit beats out the throw – Safe at first. Who’s on first?
EH: I thought God was on second and third.
CW: That’s right Ed. God’s on second and third. God is on first too. God is on all the bases.
EH: I don’t get it! (Illustration from Lou Schifano www.sermoncentral.com)