Summary: Today we discuss the Trinity: What the doctrine means Where the doctrine comes from Why the doctrine matters
Dcn. Chris Nerreau
TITLE: Three in One, One in Three
SERMON TYPE: Topical
• Have you ever noticed how pragmatic society is today?
o We say we only believe in those things that we can touch, feel, see or understand.
o But I do not believe this for a moment
o We use a microwave but who can explain how it works? We drive cars daily, but do all of us understand the intricacies of the modern engine? We take medicine yet I’ll bet none of us know the working ingredients or the chemical composition in the pills that make us well.
o We believe in Love but can anyone here show me love? We are patriotic but what is that really?
• In many cases we believe because we see the effects:
o My popcorn pops, I get from point (A) to point (B) and I feel better.
o I have experienced love and my hat comes off during the national anthem.
• Today is “Trinity Sunday”, it is a time to celebrate the most Holy Trinity of God. Of all the Christian doctrines the Trinity is the most difficult to comprehend, it is the mystery of mysteries.
• While a full grasp of the doctrine of the “Trinity” eludes us all, we see His effects daily and as such can believe apart from a full understanding.
We do not have to understand the mystery of the Trinity in order to believe and experience Him.
Today’s sermon will be broken into three parts as we study:
o The Trinity - What does it mean
o The Trinity - Where did it come from
o The Trinity - Why does it matter
I. THE TRINITY – WHAT DOES IT MEAN “When I say God, I mean Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” Gregory Nazianzen (4th century)
• “Tri” + “Unity” and is literally the Tri-unity between the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
• Within the Godhead there are three "persons" who are neither three Gods nor three parts of God, but coequally and coeternally God.
• The doctrine of the “Trinity” serves to answer two very important questions about God.
• 1. What is God (Gk. Ousia) – A oneness of divine substance
o God is one - The ultimate reality of perfect power, love and goodness.
(Jer. 23:24) “Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? says the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD.”
(Deut. 6:4) “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
(Acts 17:28) “Live move and have our being”
• 2. Who is God (Hypostases) – Threeness of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
God is three – In expression of this power, love and goodness.
• At Creation – Genesis 1:1-3
• At Christ’s Baptism – Matthew 3:16
• Apostolic Benediction – 2 Corinthians 13:14
• So we see a tension developing between the oneness and Threeness of God.
• This is difficult for us to understand because it violates the law of non- contradiction. If you asked a married couple if they were having a baby and one said yes and the other said no, you may think a few different things:
o One knows something the other does not, One of them is lying, One of them is mistaken. You would never think they are both correct, this is the law of non-contradiction. Something cannot be (A) and (B) at exactly the same time in exactly the same way.
o So we see that the term “Trinity” means “Tri-Unity” and that is an attempt to try and explain the biblical principles of God’s oneness (Ousia) and His Threeness Hypostases).
II. THE TRINITY – WHERE DID IT COME FROM
• Ask if anyone can name a passage that uses the word “Trinity.”
• Term Trinity does not appear in scripture
• Discuss Tertullian –
o 3rd century – Son of a Roman Centurion – Raised Pagan
o Prolific writer and apologist for the church - Wrote
o Most Famous writing – Apologeticus was a defense of the Christian faith and a call for legalization.
o Tertullian debated at the highest levels of Roman authority for the freedom of Christians.
o Later in life Tertullian joined a heretical movement called Montanism which claimed that prophetic words had the same level of authority as the written Word of God and sacred tradition. Strict adherence to law.
• Tertullian “Coined the phrase “Trinity” approx. 200 a.d.”
o Tertullian provided a definition that was true to the scripture’s
It accounted for the three and One
It did not attempt to remove the mystery
• This definition was confirmed by the Church universal in 325 at the Council of Nicaea. It can be seen today in the creed.