Summary: The Trinity foreshadowed in creation.
The well known Christian author, Jim Packer, lectures in systematic theology at Regent’s College in Vancouver. One of his former students says that Packer started every class by saying, ‘Arise, friends, let us sing the Doxology!’ After singing and a word of prayer, he would then say to his students, ‘The goal of theology, friends, is doxology’.
Today we begin a series on the Trinity. As we refine our understanding of the majesty and splendour of God, it should inspire us to worship him with renewed vigour and understanding. If you should think that studies in theology are an empty, cerebral pursuit with no application for the workplace or the retirement village, then repent now and forever hold your peace. If you should think that a study in theology is beyond your intellectual capacity, then you misunderstand the Spirit of God.
A former Principal of Moore College, T.C. Hammond, wrote a short book on Christian doctrine called, ‘In Understanding Be Men’. This title echoes Paul’s words in 1 Cor 2:12, ‘We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us’. God has freely given to us the truth of his being which is Trinity. It is in the Bible and so it is there for our edification so that we may glorify God which is the purpose of our lives and the goal of all creation.
Dr. Packer’s devotional approach to theology is evident from his choice of textbook which is Millard Erickson’s ‘Christian Theology’. Here’s an excerpt:
Because God is a person, our relationship with him has a dimension of warmth and understanding. God is not a bureau or a department, a machine or a computer that automatically supplies the needs of people. He is a knowing, loving, good Father. He can be approached. He can be spoken to, and he in turn speaks (Christian Theology, 296).
Now that’s the kind of doctrine that moves us away from an empty and removed view of God. Two young people in love will often say to one another, ‘Tell me more about yourself’. The same is true of relationship with God. The more we learn about him, the happier we become. So Jesus said, ‘And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’ (John 17.3)
Are you interested in moving from theology to doxology?
Our starting text is in the Book of Romans. So turn with me, please, to Rom 1:18–20. In this section, Paul is arguing that the Gentiles who have not received the revelation of the law are nevertheless accountable before God. For outside the experience of Israel, God reveals himself in the natural world. Verse 18, ‘The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. (And how has God made it plain to them?) For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse’.
Creation bears the imprint of its Creator. God who is invisible stamps upon his world evidence of his eternal power and divine nature. This general revelation is clearly seen so men and women who claim ignorance of God have no excuse. The brightness of the sun, the forces which produce the tides, the blast of massive volcanoes. This incredible power reflects the eternal power of God and should lead us to worship him.
This is exactly what happens in Psalm 104. First, the psalmist recognises the power of God in creation. ‘O Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendour and majesty […] The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God’ (Ps 104:1, 19–21). Here is the power of God in creation—to order, to control, to sustain. Then, second, the psalmist responds to the awesome power of God by worshipping him, ‘I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to God as long as I live’ (Psalm 104).
God’s eternal power is clearly seen in creation and so men and women have no excuse. And then Paul says in verse 20 that God’s divine nature is also on display. All of God’s glorious attributes which can be visibly seen are represented in creation. This world is an exhibition of God’s power and his wisdom and his goodness. Remember Job who wants wisdom? The Lord gives him wisdom by pointing him to creation. ‘Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand […] Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place? […] Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water?’ (Job 38). And on the lesson goes on and on which leads Job to conclude, ‘Surely, I spoke of things I did not understand, things to wonderful for me to know’ (Job 42:3).