May 5, 2013 Essential Tenants Wk. 3 Topic: Trinity Title: One-in-Three, Three-in-OneEmbrace the My

May 5, 2013

Essential Tenants Wk. 3

Topic: Trinity

Title: One-in-Three, Three-in-One—Embrace the Mystery



The following is from a USA Today report from October 2010.

Surveys say about nine out of 10 Americans believe in God, but the way we picture that God reveals our attitudes on economics, justice, social morality, war, natural disasters, science, politics, love and more, say Paul Froese and Christopher Bader, sociologists at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. . . .


Based primarily on national telephone surveys of 1,648 U.S. adults in 2008 and 1,721 in 2006, the book also draws from more than 200 in-depth interviews that, among other things, asked people to respond to a dozen evocative images, such as a wrathful old man slamming the Earth, a loving father's embrace, an accusatory face or a starry universe.


Researchers from the USA to Malawi are picking up on the unique Baylor questionnaire, and its implications. When the Gallup World Poll used several of the God-view questions, Bader says, "one clear finding is that the USA — where images of a personal God engaged in our lives dominate — is an outlier in the world of technologically advanced nations such as (those in) Europe." There, the view is almost entirely one of a Big Bang sort of God who launched creation and left it spinning rather than a God who has a direct influence on daily events.


Froese points out: "You can't really ask people directly about their moral and philosophical worldview. But if you know their image of God, it could give you insight into why they get upset when you break the rules, or you stand up for a certain politician. Or, how they will react when bad things happen or whether they see personal morality or foreign policy in stark right-or-wrong terms."

Updated 10/7/2010 2:29 PM


Our view of God will shape our attitudes toward money, morality, science, evil, war, relationships and world events. In your understanding and practice, is God authoritative, benevolent, distant, critical?  Where did your concept of God come from?  By what or whom has it been shaped?  And how does your view or understanding of God stand up next to how God reveals himself in our authority for understanding God – the Bible?


Yep!  As we talked about last week, this WHOLE book tells us who God is and what God is like and how God feels about all that He has created. How do you let all of what God has revealed about himself shape your understanding of Him, the world, yourself, events.  How do you allow the Word of God to transform you into who God has called and created you to be?


Although God is vast and we can never put him in a box, the key understanding of God in the Reformed faith is God as Trinity — Three in One, One in Three —­and even though we may not be able to get our heads firmly around that concept, we can do as the sermon title suggests and “embrace the mystery”.  We’ll look at three Scriptures just to nick the surface.  In our teaching time today and tomorrow, we’ll dig a little deeper.


Deuteronomy 6:4

Israel, listen to me. The Lord is our God. The Lord is the one and only God.


For many years the Israelites were nomads.  They traveled a lot and they interacted with many different cultures who worshipped a variety of gods.  Over and over again their leaders would try to get their attention and turn their eyes once more to the One true God who had claimed them and saved them and rescued them from Egypt and was giving them a new land of their own. 


Do you ever need to be reminded of the truth in this verse?  There have been times in my life so let me say this to you now: Romans, listen to me.  The Lord is our God.  The Lord is the one and only God.  How will that reminder shape your life this week?


Mark 1:9-12

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee. John baptized him in the Jordan River. Jesus was coming up out of the water. Just then he saw heaven being torn open. He saw the Holy Spirit coming down on him like a dove.  A voice spoke to him from heaven. It said, “You are my Son, and I love you. I am very pleased with you.”

At once the Holy Spirit sent Jesus out into the desert.


In this account of Jesus’ baptism we see the whole Trinity in action!  Jesus – the Word of God made flesh is being baptized in obedience to God the Father. As this is happening the Holy Spirit shows up in the form of a dove and the voice of God the Father speaks from heaven!  Wow!!!!  It was like family reunion time at the Jordan River!!! 


When we baptize, it is in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We are still part of that Trinitarian event!  This is the God we worship and serve and celebrate.  We may not understand all the ins and outs, but we are called to believe and live with the mystery!


One more passage that reveals how the three work together:


Ephesians 1:3-14

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

            who has blessed us in the heavenly realms

                        with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world

            to be holy and blameless in his sight.


God blesses us.  God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world.  God blessed us and chose us before the world was created.  What is the significance of that?  The Father and the Son worked together to choose you to be God’s own.  This is the God we proclaim.


In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ,

            in accordance with his pleasure and will—  

                        to the praise of his glorious grace,

                                    which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

                                                 In him we have redemption through his blood,

                                                the forgiveness of sins,

                                                            in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

                                                                        that he lavished on us.


Again, God the Father and God the Son are at work together to adopt us.  We are victims of God’s grace, freely given to us through Jesus the Son by whose blood we are redeemed and receive forgiveness.  This is how God reveals his grace to us, this is how he lavishes it on us.  This is what we celebrate and hold dear as we come to the communion table.  This is what we stand in awe of everytime we break bread and share the cup.  Our hearts ought to be in awe saying, “God chose me to participate in this redemption for which his son died.  Me.  Me!”


                                                With all wisdom and understanding,

                                                            he made known to us the mystery of his will

                                                            according to his good pleasure,

                                                                        which he purposed in Christ,  

                                                            to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment                                                             —to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth                                                                         under Christ.


God’s relationship with humanity is such that he wants us to know what he’s up to.  That mystery is that we can be made right with God. We can respond to his invitation to belong to him and receive from him the grace, mercy, forgiveness, redemption and love he is offering us.  Through those things, God is bringing unity to all things.


                                                In him we were also chosen,

                                                            having been predestined

                                                            according to the plan of him who works out


                                                            in conformity with the purpose of his will,  

                                                            in order that we,

                                                                        who were the first to put our hope in Christ,                                                                                     might be for the praise of his glory. 


Paul speaks of those who were first called to follow Christ.  They were for the praise of his glory.  All the things that God does circle back to give him glory.  Even you!


Up to this point the passage has spoken of the working relationship between God the Father and God the Son.  Now look at the working of the Holy Spirit as well.


                                                And you also were included in Christ

                                                            when you heard the message of truth,

                                                                        the gospel of your salvation.

                                                            When you believed,

                                                                        you were marked in him with a seal,

                                                                        the promised Holy Spirit,

                                                                                    who is a deposit

                                                                                    guaranteeing our inheritance

                                                                                    until the redemption

                                                                                    of those who are God’s possession

                                                                                                —to the praise of his glory.


The Father chose us as his own for adoption as children.  The Son, Jesus Christ, made that adoption possible through his redeeming work, his body broken and blood shed on the cross.  The Holy Spirit is the seal that marks us as belonging to God until he comes again.  The Holy Spirit living in us is the marker that keeps us and sets us apart and guarantees our status forever as one of God’s own.


Concl.  You’ve seen some options this morning but I hope this is the God you choose to believe in this week.  The God who chooses you.  The God who died for you.  The God who lives in you as a seal and reminder of who you belong to.


How might viewing God this way shape your week?  How might it shape your understanding of what is going on in the world around you?  How might it deepen your gratitude for being in God’s family? 


Think on these things as we approach the communion table this morning where we encounter the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, active in this meal we partake of as God’s family, together.