This past weekend at Eastbrook, I stressed the importance of Christian worship being centered in the Trinity in my message “Worship in the Beauty of Holiness” in the concluding weekend of our series “Roots.” There are some things in our faith that I would consider secondary, but the Trinity is not one of them. The Trinitarian understanding of God – one God in three persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is at the core of our faith as Christians.
As Bruce Milne writes in his book, Know the Truth:
Just about everything that matters in Christianity hangs on the truth of God’s three-in-oneness.
Or, to hear from an ancient commentator, Origen writes:
The believer will not attain salvation if the Trinity is not complete.
In the midst of our contemporary worship that often emphasizes personal experience or musical styles, the theological content and shape of our worship must not be underemphasized.
Since I didn’t give as much time to fully addressing the Trinity as possible, and because I am limiting my preaching largely to references found within Acts, I wanted to post some additional resources here. The following two resources can be downloaded as PDFs below and are resources from when I taught the session on the Trinity in the Elmbrook Church New Members class:
Almighty and everlasting God,
you have given to us your servants grace,
by the confession of a true faith,
to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity,
and in the power of your divine Majesty
to worship the Unity:
Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship,
and bring us at last to see you
in your one and eternal glory, O Father;
who with the Son and the Holy Spirit
live and reign, one God, for ever and ever.
Today is Trinity Sunday, the day in the church calendar one week after Pentecost dedicated to celebrating the wonder of “God in three persons, blessed Trinity” (to use a phrase from an old hymn).
For the Christian there is no doubt that the doctrine of the Trinity is both the revelation of God’s character and being, but also the necessary shape of our faith and worship. If you would like to read more deeply about the Trinity, here is a bibliography I’ve developed on the topic, as well as a teaching outline on the historical development of the doctrine.
Maybe it’s a also good time to re-watch the three-part series I preached last Fall at Eastbrook on the Trinity. You can view or listen to the messages here:Read More »
I recently came across a very helpful interview with J. I. Packer about the necessity of preaching on the Trinity called “God’s Triple Team.” Packer is probably best known as the author of Knowing God, and is also a professor at Regent College in Vancouver, BC.
Now, I love Packer’s work because he calls us back to important truths about Christianity and the church. He makes a strong case for the Triune nature of the Gospel: the Father whose kingdom it is; the Son who died on the Cross; and the Spirit who brings new birth. He emphatically summarizes his point with this succinct statement: “You cannot preach the gospel without that Trinitarian frame of reference.”
Packer gently chastises pastors these days who ignore the Trinity. They:
assume the people in the pew are not interested in this sort of mental lumber for the mind and so they try to dodge it simply because they’re afraid people will be bored if the truth of the Trinity is focused on in any way at all.
I’m reminded of one of my mentors in college who said that he wouldn’t die for a lot of things in the Christian faith – styles of worship music, forms of church governance, or even certain theological points – but that if there was one thing he would undoubtedly die for it would be the Trinitarian understanding of God.
As Packer points out, we may be functionally giving up the Trinitarian understanding of God in our preaching today.