Summary: the first of the Church of the Nazarene's Article of Faith is "The Triune God." This it the first in my series showing where we get our Articles of Faith.
This morning, I begin a series of sermons on our Articles of Faith, which are found in the Manual for the Church of the Nazarene. As a Nazarene pastor, we are supposed to teach these to our congregations each year, but oddly enough, I have never heard a series based on them, so I felt it would be good to put one together.
Many pastors have become reluctant to preach Nazarene doctrine because they are afraid that the people that come to us from Baptist churches or Catholic churches will leave the church. I believe that there are very few things contained within our Articles of Faith that would scare away our people. It is possible that, if you are coming to us from the Baptist church or somewhere with that type of theology, there may be a few things that you might have issue with. However, if we don’t teach them up front, we only invite division and strife down the line. I believe that it is important to understand the basis for our theology and the Articles of Faith are the bedrock upon which our church is built because we believe that they are completely biblical in their origin.
We are going to go through them in order, so we will begin this journey by looking at the first article:
The Triune God
Let me first read you the description of this tenet of our faith:
We believe in one eternally existent, infinite God, Sovereign Creator and Sustainer of the universe; that He only is God, holy in nature, attributes, and purpose. The God who is holy love and light is Triune in essential being, revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I have already preached a few sermons that speak to a few of these parts of God’s nature…Now, I want to look at some verses that corroborate some of these other statements. The first one that I think is very important is Deuteronomy 6:4
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
This statement made by Yahweh, Himself, implies far more in the Hebrew text than it says in the English translation. What it really means is that Yahweh is the only God and the Israelites are to serve Him and Him alone. He tells us many times that He is a jealous God and will not allow polytheism to creep into the Israelite customs. The first portion of the Ten Commandments speaks to the exclusivity that God requires of His people and the importance of keeping any semblance of worshipping anything or anyone other than Him.
The Lord God is eternal. Revelation 1:8 says:
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Alpha and Omega. These are the symbols here on the pulpit. They mean the first and the last. Even His name, Yahweh, means “I Am.” This name implies that He always was and He always will be. ‘There in no shadow of changing with Him.’ He must be the constant in our ever-changing lives. It is not just because God is omnipotent, or all-powerful, that we can rely on Him. It is also because He never changes. Deuteronomy 33:27 says:
The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Genesis 1 begins with “In the beginning, God created…” He was before time and He exists outside of time, so it has no constraints on Him. He is eternal and infinite because He has no beginning and no end.
Let’s look at the Triune nature of God. The Bible never says that God is Three in One. This is applied theology taken from the Bible. The Bible never calls itself the Bible either. It is just a word that we use to describe the Word of God. The Bible never uses the word rapture either. It is an accepted word for a theological idea taken from His Word.
In the Old Testament, we see glimpses of the Trinity in various verses throughout the books that are contained within it. Even in the first two verses of Genesis 1, we can see a glimpse of the idea of the Trinity. Verse 1 says “In the beginning, God created…” and then in verse two we are told that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” He even says “let Us make man in Our image.” His Triune nature was there from the beginning.
Isaiah 48:16 says:
“Come near me and listen to this: “From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; at the time it happens, I am there.” And now the Sovereign Lord has sent me, endowed with His Spirit.
While God is spirit and has no physical form, when the Bible refers to His Spirit, it is referring to the Holy Spirit. This is far more evident in the New Testament, after the coming of His Son.