Trinity Sunday: Trinity, the Church, and You!
The Trinity, the Church, and You! Trinity Sunday – June 14, 2019 Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist Church, Olympia, WA 1. INTRODUCTION: - Brunner: One Being + three Persons = gibberish to ordinary people1 o No matter how hard you try to explain it = confusion o Formula = three gods o If a saying can’t be understood or grasped = useless - What about you? o (1) Do you understand this? o (2) Does “One Being, existing as three divine Persons” make any sense to you? o (3) Do you just believe it because you’ve heard pastors say it? - Trinity Sunday helps correct an imbalance in the Church: o No Prophecy Sunday, Israel Sunday or Rapture Sunday = there is only Trinity Sunday – why? o Because knowing who God is is kind of important! o But, you wouldn’t know it from many conservative churches - Think about it: o (1) How many of you have heard more sermons on end-times speculations, on the Rapture, on the Tribulation, on prophesy, then on the Trinity? o (2) How many of you could explain your perspective on the end times better than you can “One Being + Three Persons”? - I want to try to lift the veil a bit on this formula o How does this “One Being + Three Persons” formula work? o I won’t explain why it’s true – join theology class! o My only goal is to help you picture it in your heads, so the framework “clicks” into place 2. TEXT: a. Out of Many, One! Trinity as divine union Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth (Jn 17:17). - Jesus asks for disciples to be sanctified, set apart and dedicated, made holy by the truth of the Gospel 1 See Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of God (London: Lutterworth, 1949), 222-227. 1 Pastor Tyler Robbins The Trinity, the Church, and You! Trinity Sunday – June 14, 2019 Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist Church, Olympia, WA o (1) What happens if God’s people, from every color and every flag under heaven, were made more and more holy by the Good News of God’s Kingdom? o (2) By the knowledge that there’s a future beyond this burning world? o (3) That there’s a solution to the darkness in this world and ourselves? o (4) That peace and salvation can’t come by: ▪ destroying police cars, ▪ vandalizing statues, ▪ burning and looting businesses, ▪ or even by peaceful and sensible activism? o (5) What would happen if God’s people really understood that reconciliation and justice here (horizontally) won’t ever happen unless we first reconcile with our Creator (vertically)? o (6) That MLK, the civil rights movement and all the social reform it accomplished: ▪ is all so much whipped cream on rotten strawberries ▪ if people don’t humble themselves, ▪ and accept the salvation planned by Father, ▪ accomplished by the Son, ▪ applied by the Spirit to hearts and minds? - What would happen if Christians were on the same page? o They’d be united together, with one mission, one purpose, one goal, one prize – the coming kingdom of God! I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me (Jn 17:20-21). - How does Jesus describe this unity? o (1) That they may all be one o (2) Just as the Father is in Jesus o (3) And Jesus is in the Father o (4) So Christians must be in them o (5) This is how the world will believe the Gospel = unity: ▪ in our vertical relationship with our great God and Savior, ▪ in our horizontal relationships with our neighbors 2 Pastor Tyler Robbins The Trinity, the Church, and You! Trinity Sunday – June 14, 2019 Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist Church, Olympia, WA - The description Jesus gives here opens the curtain to help us understand who God is o Trinity: One Being, eternally existing as three Persons o You’ve heard it – but do you even know what it means? - This passage (and others; e.g. Jn 14-16) explains: o (1) Jesus and the Father are one ▪ Distinct, but so bound together they form one unit o (2) In union with each other ▪ They’re “in” one another; united but without losing their distinguishing characteristics ▪ They don’t absorb into each other to make a third thing (a tertium quid) o (3) Believers can join this union ▪ God’s family is a society of believers, all united with Father, Son and Spirit ▪ We stay who we are, but together all believers are a single constellation, a single family of brothers and sisters, united to our God The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me (Jn 17:22-23). - What is Jesus’ glory? o Promise of reunion with the Father after completing His mission - What does that have to do with you? o You’re united with God when you obey Jesus’ message o You join the family o Outsider to insider - Why does Jesus give Christians this glory of reunion with God? o So that Christians would be united together; would be one o In the same way as the Son is one with the Father - What does that mean? o Jesus united with every believer o Just as the Father is united with the Son o So that true believers would be united together with God, as one family 3 Pastor Tyler Robbins The Trinity, the Church, and You! Trinity Sunday – June 14, 2019 Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist Church, Olympia, WA o This union, this “on-the-same-pageness,” is the only way outsiders will ever believe we’re sent from God b. How does it work?2 - Conundrum: o One God (Deut 6:4; Ex 20:3; jealousy) o Yet, NT shows us three actors with: ▪ will, emotions, self-consciousness (I + Thou), ▪ all interacting with each other, ▪ and acting upon one another o What to do? What framework makes sense? - Answer: the Trinity is a society of persons o Always existed in union together: ▪ (1) no derivation of essence3 ▪ (2) none owes His life or existence to the others ▪ (3) eternal and equal union of perfect symmetry o Three centers of self-consciousness that completely share their lives with each other o “Yahweh/God” = the union of the three o Each Person, on His own, completely represents the Divine Union (“if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father”) - How do we not have three gods? o They’re so closely bound together and united, that they’re one o They’re inseparable and can’t exist without one another o They give life to each other and energize each other o They do everything together - How can we picture this? Analogies, at best, highlight different facets: o (1) God is love (1 Jn 4:8) ▪ It’s something He is; it describes His structural make-up ▪ Love needs an object; you have to love something ▪ Because God isn’t unitary He doesn’t love Himself in a narcissistic way; as if He’s full of Himself 2 I am again indebted to Millard Erickson, God in Three Persons: A Contemporary Interpretation of the Trinity (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995). He presents a social trinitarian perspective in a winsome and persuasive way. I have never read anything better on the subject. He largely follows Moltmann and Boff and baptizes (pun intended; Erickson is a Baptist) their most un-orthodox tendencies in the laver of conservative evangelicalism. 3 I am aware this does away with the doctrines of eternal generation and procession. 4 Pastor Tyler Robbins The Trinity, the Church, and You! Trinity Sunday – June 14, 2019 Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist Church, Olympia, WA ▪ Instead, the Three Persons love each other; they’re bound together into one compound unit by their love o (2) A married couple (two people, but one union) ▪ Legally a single unit ▪ Act in each other’s names, for the benefit of the other ▪ Both represent the other (“if you talk to me, you’re talking to my wife”) ▪ Both are knit together in a real, non-physical way by shared lives and experiences ▪ Divorce is so painful because you’re ripping apart a real bond – it’s real even if you can’t ever see it! ▪ No accident = when the Holy Spirit led Paul to choose an analogy that pictured the union of Christ + Church, He chose “marriage” (Eph 5) o (3) Circulation of divine life (heart + lungs + brain analogy) ▪ Can’t exist without each other ▪ Depend on each other ▪ Can’t be separated ▪ They have to be considered as a composite unit, because they’re irrelevant on their own • Brian = needs blood from heart • Heart = pumps blood to the whole body • Lungs = provides oxygen • Body = the sum of this union ▪ So, Father, Son and Spirit are what they are in union with others • Brian = dead grey blob • Heart = dead flesh • Lungs = deflated trash • One organ only has meaning in relation to the others = the same with the Divine Persons ▪ They do different things, but taken together their united action achieves the same goal - So, Father, Son and Spirit are a society of persons: o (1) Individual Persons o (2) Bound together as one unit, by the bond of love o (3) They act together, are together, and can’t be separated 5 Pastor Tyler Robbins The Trinity, the Church, and You! Trinity Sunday – June 14, 2019 Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist Church, Olympia, WA o (4) God’s essence is literally the intravenous circulation of divine life and energy in the union of the Three o (4) One God; who is a union of Three Persons - Where is this in scripture? o John 17:22-23: The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. ▪ (1) Self-conscious distinction (“me + you”) between Persons ▪ (2) Yet, a union of one c. Why does this mean for the Church? For you? - Why does this matter? o God made us in His image o Structural = we’re hardwired to resemble God’s makeup ▪ A society of Persons knit together as one by love o So: ▪ we’re hardwired to only truly be “people” insofar as we reflect our Creator who we’re patterned after ▪ we’re made for vertical and horizontal relationships - So: o (1) If God is a society of persons united by love (and He is) o (2) And is we’re hardwired to be like Him, because we’re made in His image (and we are) o (3) And our lives as believers are about God forming us back into His image from the mess we’ve made of ourselves (and it is) o (4) Then God’s nature is a pattern, a template, that tells Christians how to live our lives - Like how!? o (1) It matters for your marriage ▪ Trinity = bound by mutual love, self-giving ▪ Marriage = mutual submission, self-giving ▪ Not patriarchy and subjugation ▪ Shared decisions, ▪ Shared responsibility, ▪ One unit, knit together by mutual love and self-sacrifice 6 Pastor Tyler Robbins The Trinity, the Church, and You! Trinity Sunday – June 14, 2019 Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist Church, Olympia, WA o o o o • Image of God patterned in your marriage (2) It matters for your health ▪ Trinity = not one guy alone in a room, but three Persons in eternal community; so close they’re one ▪ Health = you’re meant to be in community with others; just like the God you’re imaged after ▪ Marriage, friends, covenant church family • God’s image patterned in your relationships (3) It matters for your salvation ▪ Trinity = God has so much love that created men and women to be the special objects of this love • That’s why He’s saving us from ourselves ▪ Salvation = God gathering, adopting people into His family to love and take care of ▪ Life without God is nothing but really bad re-purposing (a cardboard box as a nightstand – not what it’s made for!) • Image of God patterned in your desire for meaning and purpose (4) It matters for the Church’s mission; why are we here? ▪ Trinity = Father, Son and Spirit (Covenant of Redemption) agreed the Son would be the One to go to save the world = self-sacrifice (Phil 2) • Father chooses • Son accomplishes • Spirit applies • Unity of action for one goal ▪ Church = the family that goes and tells the message that can save the world = self-sacrifice ▪ The Church does what it does because it loves outsiders, the same way God (triune sense) does = unity of action for one goal • Image of God patterned in the Church’s mission (5) It matters for this congregation ▪ Trinity = three Persons united by humility and sacrificial love ▪ SKRBC = a family united by those same things • Not a collection of individuals who come together 7 Pastor Tyler Robbins The Trinity, the Church, and You! Trinity Sunday – June 14, 2019 Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist Church, Olympia, WA ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ • One unit, one family, one society of persons knit together by the Gospel, in union with Father, Son and Spirit = with Yahweh We share our resources (Deacon’s Fund) We share our experiences and lessons-learned We pray together We eat together We covenant together in formal membership We study the scriptures together We gather in each other’s houses We put up with each other; every family has a crazy uncle or two! We’re patient with each other We forgive each other We make mistakes and don’t kick one another to the curb EXHORTATION: John 10:27-30: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. - “The Father and I; we are one” - Self-distinction (Me + You) + union = a pattern for us to follow - SKRBC’s missions: o (1) Fostering community ▪ Marriages, families, covenant brothers and sisters ▪ Because, if we want to pattern our God’s image, we’ll want to be one – just like He is! o (2) Building trust ▪ Invest time to know outsiders as a community, ▪ So they might become insiders ▪ Because, if we want to pattern our God’s image: • we’d realize that, in the Covenant of Redemption, • Father, Son and Spirit decided to invest the time to save us, too! 8 Pastor Tyler Robbins The Trinity, the Church, and You! Trinity Sunday – June 14, 2019 Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist Church, Olympia, WA o (3) Speaking truth ▪ Spend money, time and resources in preaching the Gospel as a community ▪ So outsiders might become insiders • Moody: “I like my way of doing evangelism better than your way of not doing it!” ▪ Because, if we want to pattern out God’s image: • we’ll look for new objects for His love • and we’ll do it by the Gospel 9 Pastor Tyler Robbins