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Who is Jesus in Islam and Christianity?

Posted on by Glen in apologetics, covenant continuity, evangelism, islam, My videos, trinity, videos | 2 Comments

Here’s my dialogue with Adnan Rashid from 2 December 2015. Unfortunately the video seems to have been lost but not the audio.

AUDIO

My opening talk is from 27:08-48:30 and then Adnan and I took questions from the audience before finally questioning one another.

With Adnan RashidI absolutely loved the evening. We were well hosted by the Postsmouth Uni Islamic Society who provided the refreshments. There were about equal numbers of Christians (from the Christian Union) and Muslims in the audience. At the end scores of Muslims personally requested John’s Gospels. I drove home buzzing. When you talk to Muslims about the gospel you speak about the things that matter: Who is God? Who is Jesus? Is the Bible the word of God? What is salvation? How can I know I’m right with God?

My approach for the opening 20 minutes was to unpack John’s Prologue a little bit (as a taster to encourage folks to keep reading John). In particular I explored Jesus as the divine “Word of God”. If Jesus is the revelation of God then it is not a question of whether He passes the “divinity test” set by others.  Divinity is what we see in Jesus. And, as you read through John’s Gospel, what an attractive divinity we see!

The first objection to this would naturally be: What about the Old Testament? But of course John is talking about the Old Testament. He is emphatically not saying that Jesus-the-Word is a New Testament novelty but an eternal reality – since the very “beginning.”

Therefore I took time to demonstrate that Jesus is the divine Word of God from Genesis onwards. I think this is vital in Muslim evangelism. Whenever the Muslim is able (either tacitly or explicitly) to present the Trinity as a New Testament novelty they score a massive advantage. Whenever the Christian is able to demonstrate the Trinitarian Old Testament they make a devastating case. It really is that important.

Of course it’s that important – it’s essentially the question, “Is Jesus really “the Word of God” or is He merely the best Word of God, the seal of a series of improving words about God??” If we falter here then we have begun on the Arian trajectory that, historically, flowered with Islam.

For this reason I pointed people to these 24 Old Testament Scriptures that cannot be understood with a unitarian doctrine of God. Moses and the Prophets were emphatically not unitarians and their writings cannot be understood unitarianly.

A monadic doctrine of God is not primary historically, it is not simple philosophically/theologically and it cannot be basic methodologically. In short, Trinitarianism is not an offshoot of some more fundamental Unitarian understanding. Quite the reverse. Unitarianism is an heretical offshoot of Trinitarianism.

Recently the question has been raised of whether Christians and non-Christians worship the same God. Many who say Yes have based their case on the Old Testament and/or the claim that, of course, we worship the same God as the Jews (e.g. Miroslav Volf and Bruce McCormack). The argument goes, if we’re content to say that Christians and Jews worship the same God, then the door is open to say that those other monotheists – Muslims – also worship the same God.

It seems to me that many evangelicals are uncomfortable with this “same God” position, but they don’t have a sufficiently Christ-centred, Trinitarian understanding of the Old Testament to be able to refute it. I’d urge them to revisit the issue of Christ in the Old Testament (perhaps start with this series of posts). This is not a needlessly divisive distraction but a crucial point about the basic nature of our God.

Look out in the next week or so for a podcast follow up (you are subscribed to The Evangelist’s Podcast I hope??). I’ll discuss the debate and some of these implications in greater depth. But before then, have a listen to the debate. And it might help if you saw the POWERPOINT SLIDES for my opening talk.

 

The Trinitarian Old Testament

Posted on by Glen in covenant continuity, trinity | 1 Comment

It is sometimes claimed that the Hebrew Bible’s doctrine of God is essentially unitarian. It seems to me that anyone who makes such a claim is out of touch with how the church has always read the Scriptures and they have clearly not been paying attention to the Bible itself.

In this post I will simply (and very briefly) draw attention to 24 passages in which we see plainly a multi-Personal revelation.

My point is not that the OT betrays hints, shapes and shadows of triune structure.

My point is not that NT eyes can see trinitarian themes in the OT.

My point is not that we go back as Christians and now retrospectively read the trinity into the OT.

My point is not that the OT gives us partial suggestions of trinitarian life that are then developed by NT fulfillment.

My point is that these texts read on their own terms and in their own context (as the Jewish, Hebrew Scriptures that they are) demand to be understood as the revelation of a multi-Personal God. The only proper way to understand these texts is as trinitarian revelation. These texts are either to be understood triunely or they are mis-understood – on their own terms or any others!

Ok. Here we go – 24 Scriptures to consider:

  • Genesis 1. Verse 1: “In the beginning Elohiym… ” Here is the God to Whom we’re introduced. A plural noun! One that takes a singular verb. The grammatical oddity is meant to make us sit up and take notice. Our plural God acts as one. And His plural counsel (v26) “Let us…” gives rise to a united creation of a plural humanity – male and female to image His own life.
  • Genesis 3. The Voice of the LORD God (v8) who comes to walk with Adam and Eve is also the LORD God (v9)
  • Genesis 16. The Angel of the LORD (v9) is also LORD and God (v13)
  • Genesis 18&19. The LORD who appears to Abraham (18:1) is Judge of all the earth (18:25), yet He excercises His divine prerogative in union with “the LORD out of the heavens.” (19:24)
  • Genesis 32. Jacob wrestles with the Man (v24) who is the Angel (Hosea 12:4) who is God (Gen 32:28,30)
  • Genesis 48. The God who is God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who is Shepherd and the source of blessing (v15) is the Angel of God (v16).
  • Exodus 3. The God of the burning bush is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (v6) and the great I AM (v14). He is also the Angel of the LORD (v2) and will bring the people to worship Godon the mountain (v12).
  • Exodus 19. The LORD on the mountain (v10) warns Moses that in three days the LORD will come to the mountain (v11) and things will be very different then. Sure enough, three days later, the LORD descends on the mountain (v18) and then the LORD descends on the mountain (v20)!
  • Exodus 33. Moses meets face to face with the LORD in the tent of meeting (v11) but the LORD on the top of the mountain he must never see (v20-22).
  • Joshua 5&6. The Commander of the LORD’s army (5:14) who fights for Israel to deliver her is also the LORD who is worthy of worship (5:15; 6:2)
  • Judges 2. The Angel of the LORD brought them out of Egypt and established His covenant with them. (v1-4)
  • Judges 6. The Angel of the LORD (v11-12) brings the LORD’s blessing (one who is Sovereign LORD, v22). Yet the Angel, as another Person is Himself the LORD (v14) with the same divine majesty (v22-24).
  • Judges 13. God sends the Angel of the LORD (e.g. v9) who is Himself God (e.g. v22). And the Spirit fills Samson (v25)
  • Psalm 2. The Son Whom we are to kiss and find refuge in (v12) is the Anointed Son of the Father through Whom is exercised all divine rule and authority.
  • Psalm 45. The most excellent of men who rules the nations as Champion and King is called ‘Lord’ by His bride and ‘God‘ by His God. (v6,7)
  • Psalm 110. David knows two Lords who converse in their rule of the nations. There is the LORD and there is the Kingly Priest who is David’s Lord.
  • Proverbs. The Wisdom of God who creates (8:30) and gives new life (8:35) through granting the Spirit (1:23) is also possessed by the LORD (8:22)
  • Isaiah 9. The government of God’s righteous kingdom will be on the shoulders of the Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (v6). Yet He is One who is born and through Whom the zeal of the LORD will accomplish His work (v7)
  • Isaiah 48. The great I AM, the first and the last who created the heavens and the earth and who called Israel (v12,13) is One who is sent from the Lord GOD along with His Spirit (v16)
  • Isaiah 63. The Saviour sends the Angel to save, yet they grieve His Holy Spirit (v9-10)
  • Ezekiel 34. The Shepherd of Ezekiel’s prophesy will be the LORD Himself (v12-22), yet this loving, kingly rule is exercised through the Prince, His Servant David (v23-24) who does all that the LORD is said to do as Shepherd and who rules for the LORD.
  • Daniel 7. The Possessor and rightful Ruler of the Kingdom that shall never pass away is the Son of Man (v13,14) who inherits the kingdom from the Ancient of Days (v9-12).
  • Micah 2. The Shepherd who will gather the remnant of Israel is the LORD (v12) who will set at their head a King who is also called ‘LORD’ (v13)
  • Zechariah 2. The One Sent from the LORD Almighty (v7,9,11) is the LORD Himself to live among the Israelites as the gentle, righteous, saving King of 9:9 (compare with 2:10)!

In all this my argument is not that these are hints of trinity but that they are texts that can only ever be understood from the perspective of a multi-Personal God. When two Persons called LORD are interacting in the text (when we see plainly “true God from true God”) then an understanding of God as uni-Personal is just dead wrong. It must always have been dead wrong for it could never account for the Hebrew Scriptures as written.

The only God there is is trinitarian and His revelation has always been such.

For more on Trinity in the Old Testament, see this series.

 

The Trinity – An Introduction for Jehovah’s Witnesses

Posted on by Glen in 321, evangelism, trinity | 4 Comments

I’ve been meaning to do this for ages but I’ve now met the excellent Chris the Witness online and our conversation has prompted me to write a short introduction to the Trinity with Jehovah’s Witnesses in mind:

The Good News That God is Trinity:

Here’s a 5 minute gospel explanation where the Trinity is front and centre:

It’s Not So Strange, Really It Isn’t

I hope from this video you can see that God’s “THREE-ness” is not weird. It’s good news. God is an eternal Father forever loving His Son in the communion of the Spirit. If that sounds strange, consider four sets of Scriptural evidence:

How God existed before the world began: There are many verses that speak of God’s pre-creation life and they always describe a lively interplay of Persons (e.g. Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8). Before the world began the Father was loving and choosing and speaking to His Son in the joy of the Holy Spirit (see for example John 17:5, 24).

How God presents Himself to us now: Jesus is constantly presented as “the Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1; John 20:31). In other words, He’s the One anointed by the Spirit beyond measure, who is also the Son of the Father. To know Jesus is to be introduced to the THREE. But these THREE are clearly ONE. These Persons are united together in the closest possible love relationship. e.g. Jesus speaks of the Father being IN Him and He is IN the Father, and it all happens IN the Spirit (John 14:10, 16-18, 23). You simply cannot understand the Gospels at all without doing business with this united three-ness to God.

How we know God: The Bible is clear about how we know God. Jesus is the Way to the Father. The Father is known only through His Son (Matthew 11:25-27; John 14:6; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6). This true spiritual knowledge can only happen by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13-16; 12:3). Therefore God is known as a Father revealed in the face of His Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

How we are saved by God:  The Bible is even more clear about how we are saved. God the Father gave us His Son by the Spirit. If we receive His Son (i.e. believe in Jesus) then we get filled with His Spirit and brought before His Father. According to the Bible, believers are adopted into the very life of God (see John 1:12-13; 2 Peter 1:4).

These shouldn’t be controversial points – it’s basic Christianity. And the shape of it all is triune. When Christians articulate the doctrine of the Trinity they are not trying to impose an alien structure on the gospel but simply to explain the contours of that gospel.

Why don’t I find the word ‘Trinity’ in my Bible?

The word “Trinity” is simply a convenient label to describe the truths above. In both Old and New Testaments God is described in terms of THREE-ness as well as ONE-ness. The word Trinity is trying to communicate this. God is a UNITY of THREE – a TRI-UNITY – a TRINITY.

No-one needs to use the word “Trinity” – it would be fine to drop it from our vocabulary. It’s just that we’d soon end up wanting another word to describe what we find in the Bible. If we read the Spirit-breathed Scriptures, we meet the Father in the face of Jesus Christ. This united THREE-ness is foundational to our Christianity.

Deity, Difference and Oneness

As we read the Bible it becomes clear that the Three Persons exhibit deity, difference and unity.

Deity: Each Person is God. (cf John 17:3; Romans 9:5; 2 Corinthians 3:17)

Difference: The Persons are distinct from one another. (cf Matthew 3:16-17)

Unity: The Persons are so united that they are “in” one another (cf John 14:10, 16-18, 23)

This last point should be obvious – there cannot be a Father without Him having a Son and the Spirit of the Son cannot be without the Son (cf Galatians 4:4-6). The Three do not simply get on well with one another – they constitute one another and have done so eternally.

One devastating problem for the Jehovah’s Witness account of God is that, for them, Jehovah is not fundamentally Father. If Jehovah has not eternally had his Son then he is not eternally a Father. But for the Christian, God has always been life-giving because He has always had His Son; He has always been communicative because He has always had His Word (John 1:1); He has always been wise because He has always had His Wisdom (1 Cor 1:31); He has always been radiant because He has always had His Light (Hebrews 1:3). As an orthodox Christian I cannot help but think that Jehovah, according to the Watchtower, is life-less, mute, thoughtless and dark.

Roles, Authority and Being

From Scripture it’s plain that there is a flow to God’s life. The Father sends the Son. The Son never sends the Father. The Son obeys the Father. The Father never obeys the Son. Jesus can say things like “The Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). Paul can say things like “God is the head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3). Trinitarian Christians have never denied or been threatened by these verses – we rejoice in them. They speak of the flow of God: from the Father, through the Son and by the Spirit. The Persons take on different roles and there is clearly authority within the Trinity. We can speak rightly of a First, Second and Third Person of the Trinity. All this is perfectly straightforward. The problem comes when anti-trinitarians imagine a completely unwarranted conclusion: namely that such an authority structure makes the Son or the Spirit lesser beings than the Father. That would be a bizarre conclusion for two main reasons:

First, we know in every walk of life that roles and being are very different. If I told you “My boss is greater than I” you’d know exactly what I meant: he has authority over me. You would not conclude that my boss was a greater being than I, I hope! Similarly with the headship point in 1 Corinthians 11. The parallel is with marriage – husbands are the heads of wives as the Father is the head of Christ.

A JW once told me that 1 Corinthians 11:3 was Paul “completely ruling out the doctrine of the Trinity.” I asked him if he thought this verse meant God was a greater being than Christ. He said “Yes.” I asked him if, by parallel, I was a greater being than my wife. He paused and then said “Yes.” Flabbergasted I asked for clarification. He said “Well you call the shots.” I told him he clearly didn’t know my marriage. At this point his female partner was so outraged that he had to pull her away from the door-step and down the street. I yelled after her: “You know that woman are equal in being to men… AND CHRIST IS EQUAL IN BEING TO THE FATHER!!” (They haven’t been back).

It’s obvious that roles and being are different. That’s reason number one that the roles in the Trinity do not make the being of the Son or Spirit lesser. But there’s a second, more fundamental, reason why we can’t conclude that the being of the Son or Spirit is lesser…

Second, the Persons are completely and indivisibly united. We can’t think of the Father without the Son, or the Spirit without the Father. There is no “being” of God underneath or besides the three Persons. The being of God is the one, unified life of love which the Father, Son and Spirit share. And so of course they all share in that life together. There isn’t a separate or separable being of the Father and another of the Son. The Father-Son-Spirit relationship constitutes the unified being of God. There can be no “greater” or “lesser” when it comes to this being, because the Father, Son and Spirit in their life together are the being of God.

Some Objections

Chris tweeted me some verses to consider. I think that what I’ve said already will explain them:

In Revelation 3:12, Jesus calls the Father “my God.” Very good. I should hope so. The Son has always looked to His Father in the Trinity’s united life of worship and joy.

In Colossians 1:15, the Son is called the Firstborn. Does this make Him the first creature? Clearly not, because by Him all things were made so this very verse teaches that Christ is Creator and not creature. “Firstborn” in the Bible is about inheritance – David was the “firstborn” even though, physically, he was the eighthborn! (Psalm 89:20,27).

In 1 Corinthians 11:3 Paul calls God the head of Christ. Absolutely. In the same breath he says that husbands are heads of wives. If you think the role of headship entails a greater being then you blaspheme Christ and denigrate all women.

In Matthew 24:36 Jesus says the Father knows the hour of His return but He, as Son, does not. Again, within the flow of the life of God this is exactly what we would expect. The Father sends the Son. Jesus does not do anything of His own initiative. He entrusts all things to His Father and will go when sent. This does not undermine His divine identity but expresses it as the Sent One of the Father.

A Question of My Own

If you are a Jehovah’s Witness, allow me to challenge you on your doctrine of God assumptions. Perhaps you think that unitarianism is an obvious or default doctrine of God. If you do, I suggest that this assumption comes from Aristotle and not from Scripture. I contend that Moses’ doctrine of God is not and never was the Watchtower’s. Moses and the Prophets spoke of a unified but multi-Personal revelation of God, from Genesis 1 onwards.

If you are a JW I challenge you to study these 24 Old Testament passages and see how a unitarian doctrine of God cannot handle the Scriptures – even the New World Translation. There has always been more than one Person called Jehovah – therefore the question is: to which Jehovah are you witnessing? Jesus is the eternal Son – whose eternal nature has always been to be Jehovah. Jesus is LORD!

In Conclusion

Last year I preached on John chapter 1. A JW who was 30 years in the Watchtower came to me in tears at the beauty of the Trinity. He’d never been taught the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, only the Watchtower straw-man version. I said to him “If Jesus is only a servant of Jehovah then all he can do is bring you into his own slavery.” He said “That’s exactly what it’s felt like: slavery.” I continued… “But if Jesus is the eternal Son, then He’s come to share with you His life of love in the family of God.” We prayed gratefully to the Father and that man was liberated from slavery into the freedom of the children of God.

I pray that you too will know this freedom.

 

Recent Sermons: Trinity, Exodus, Luke 6

Posted on by Glen in sermons, trinity | 5 Comments

Trinity Sunday Sermon: 1 John 4:7-12

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Introduction to Exodus

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Rules or Rest: Luke 6:1-11

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A Poem For Trinity Sunday

Posted on by Glen in creative, poetry, trinity | Leave a comment

trinity iconPerhaps my favourite verse of Scripture – notice the roles of the three Persons:

“The Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to Streams of Living Water and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17)

 

And so…

 

For our anxious little realm,
for the fears that overwhelm…

There is a throne.

For mistakes we can’t forget
and the sins that still beset…

We have a Lamb.

For our lost and lonely hearts,
for our gnarled and tangled paths…

We have a Shepherd.

For our dry and listless souls
and our thirst for being whole…

We have a Stream.

For regret and ravaged years,
for all sweet and bitter tears…

We have a Father.

For treks through burning sands,
To our home in promised lands,
This hope till all is done:
Our God the three-in-one.

Trinity Resources

Posted on by Glen in trinity | 7 Comments

trinity iconYou all know it’s four days till Trinity Sunday right?

If I had one piece of advice for preachers it’s this: Trinity is not weird. If your people are Christians they already know the Trinity. If they’ve ever prayed to their Father in the name of Jesus, they know the Trinity intimately. If they’ve ever grasped that the Spirit brings them the presence of Jesus, they are deeply trinitarian. If they know that Jesus is the Way to the Father they are profoundly Trinitarian theologians. They may not know the grammar of technical Trinitarian theology but they know the Trinity. Trinity is the shape of their Christian lives, prayer and worship. Don’t come across like you’re telling them something strange and impossible to grasp. Trinity is a truth that has already grasped them and they know it even if they don’t quite know the language for it.

 

Here are some Trinity links with descriptions to get you thinking, praying, worshipping, preaching…

 

Trinity Saved My Life

The Trinity means relationship, radiance, room and response in the life of God. The alternative to the Trinity is Satan, self-absorption, stoicism and slavery. It really is the Trinity or hell…

 

Trinity Sermon: Slaves or Sons

Trinity means the difference between slaves and sons. Miss Trinity and you’ll never be free.

 

All-Age Trinity Songs

One is based on “To God be the Glory” by Fanny Crosby, the other is a round.

 

321: The Story of God, the World and You

A Trinitarian gospel outline that exists as a video, a course, a book, a tract and a T-shirt. Ok not a T-shirt but the other things are true

 

God is not revealed in His Twin

The Father is perfectly revealed, not by His Twin, not by a Clone, but by Someone who is His Complement.  The Father is revealed in His Son, the Firstborn, His Image, His right-hand Man-Priest.  Self-differentiation is at the heart of God’s revelation.  Jesus is not the same as His Father and yet fully reveals Him. More than this – this difference is of the essence of the divine self-disclosure.  Self-differentiation in communion is the being of God – all of this is perfectly revealed in, by and through Jesus of Nazareth….

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Nicene Trinitarianism

The Creed has no interest in defining an ousia (being) of God first and then assigning this essence to each of the Persons.  The Creed does not have a lengthy prologue before discussing the Father, Son and Spirit.  It simply unfolds the being of God as the interplay of these Persons in their roles and relations…

The vital phrase which calls Jesus “of one being with the Father” does not follow a prior discussion of “the being of God.”  Nicea does not first consider a general essence of deity and then apply it to Jesus.  No the very first mention of “being” is in the relationship of Father and Son.

As TF Torrance says in Trinitarian Faith, “The Father/Son relationship falls within the one being of God.”  This oneness upholds the distinction (as well as unity) of Father and Son…

There are genuine differences in Persons that in no way compromise their equality of divinity. There is never a time when the Son is not “one being” with the Father nor is there a time when the Son is not begotten of His Father. Therefore there is not a being of the Father that could ever be separately conceived and then assigned in equal measure to Father, Son and Spirit. Instead the being of God is a mutually constituting communion in which Father, Son and Spirit share.  The being of the Trinity consists in three Persons who are one with each other.  While Nicea does not say explicitly that the being is the communion of Persons, it points decidedly in this direction…

The divine nature is constituted by difference, distinction, mutuality, reciprocity – it is a divine life (a dance even!) not a divine stuff.

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Nicea Comes Before Chalcedon

…Starkly put, who cares if the eternal Son is God if we can’t say the same of Jesus of Nazareth!  It’s Jesus of Nazareth who says ‘If you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father.’ (John 14:9)  It’s Jesus of Nazareth who says ‘Son your sins are forgiven.’ (Mark 2:5)  It’s the Man Jesus who lives our life and dies our death.  If salvation is truly from the LORD then it has to be Jesus ‘born of the virgin Mary and suffered under Pontius Pilate’ who is declared fully God.  Nicea necessarily and clearly does this.

And what does this mean?  It means that before we’ve even gotten to Chalcedon we’ve affirmed that the Person of Jesus who is fully man and fully God exists entirely within the circle of divine fellowship which constitutes the being of God.  Jesus the Man is of one being with the Father.  If we could not affirm this then the revelation of Jesus would not be the revelation of God (contra John 14).  If we could not affirm this then the salvation of Jesus would not be the salvation of God (contra Mark 2).  But no, Jesus and the Father are one – not simply ‘the Son’ and the Father…

…Thus His full humanity in no way contradicts His full deity.  The Man Jesus exists fully and without remainder within the circle of divine life.  Chalcedon upholds the full integrity of Christ’s humanity, the complete perfection of His divinity, the absolute unity of His Person.  What Chalcedon does not say, and what it must never be made to say, is that there is a humanity to Jesus that is beyond or outside the divine homoousios.  Nicea has for all time assured us that the Man Jesus fully participates in the circle of triune fellowship which is the divine nature.

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Arianism and Modalism: Falling Off Either Side of the Wrong Horse

…With Arianism and Modalism, Jesus gets either squashed down or squished in.  When the “One God” is defined without Jesus, He will always lose out.  Arius will allow Him to be Jesus and not God, Sabellius will allow Him to be God and not Jesus.  But fundamentally these errors are not so different because they both assume a pre-conceived ‘One God’ before they think of Christ.

This leaves us no option but to begin with a doctrine of God that expressly includes the mutual relations of Father and Son.  The “One God” must accommodate relationship from the outset.  Nothing else will allow Jesus to be Jesus and God.

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Trinity is not a nuance.

When we unfold the trinitarian life of God in His gospel work, we’re not simply adding a level of detail to functionally unitarian ‘God’-speak.  Trinity is not just a nuancing of more basic truths.  To speak of trinity is to uncover a logic which alters the way we conceive of everything, from the ground up.

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Trinity and unity?

Have you ever heard someone say:

“Ah yes you’re emphasising the trinity.  That’s well and good.  But let’s not forget the unity of God.”

And I say…. huh!?

The trinity is the unity of God!!  Trinity means tri-unity.  In that one word (that one doctrine) we have both the oneness and the threeness of God.  God is three Persons united.  That’s what trinity means.  Trinity gives us everything we need to articulate the One and the Three…

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The Trinitarian Old Testament

This post lists 24 OT Scriptures that must be understood multi-Personally or they are misunderstood…

My point is not that the OT betrays hints, shapes and shadows of triune structure,

My point is not that NT eyes can see trinitarian themes in the OT,

My point is not that we go back as Christians and now retrospectively read the trinity into the OT,

My point is not that the OT gives us partial suggestions of trinitarian life that are then developed by NT fulfillment,

My point is that these texts read on their own terms and in their own context (as the Jewish, Hebrew Scriptures that they are) demand to be understood as the revelation of a multi-Personal God.  The only proper way to understand these texts is as trinitarian revelation.  These texts are either to be understood triunely or they are mis-understood – on their own terms or any others…

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Click the Trinity tag for over a hundred other posts.

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Short Sermon on Matthew 3

Posted on by Glen in gospel, sermons, trinity | Leave a comment

The Sermon features 12 minute sermons from some wonderful preachers. Check it out.

They’ve also let me on. Here’s the first to be released: Jesus’ Baptism

 

 

Trinity Sermon

Posted on by Glen in 321, sermons, trinity | 3 Comments

Two boys at work in a field. (Gal 4:1-3).

They look the same, but they couldn’t be more different.

One is a slave, the other is a son.  One is property, the other is heir.  One calls the owner “Boss”.  The other calls him “Daddy.”

But from a distance you can’t tell.

In church, slaves and sons sit side by side.  And, from a distance, you can’t tell which is which.  But actually there is a profound difference in their relationship to the Father – and this difference is decisive.

Paul writes Galatians 4:4-7 to sort out the slaves from the sons.

At the heart of this difference is the trinity.  If we understand the trinity and our union with Christ, if we understand our adoption into the very life of God, then we’ll be sons.  If we miss this, we will live as slaves.

The trinity really is that important.

SERMON AUDIO

Older slides here.

Older Text below…

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Podcast: Why evangelism must be trinitarian

Posted on by Glen in 321, podcast, trinity | 1 Comment

TEP-PodcastCover-1024x1024In this episode we unpack THREE from 321.

We ask:

– Why speak about THREE?

– What happens if we’re not trinitarian?

– How should we go about trinitarian evangelism?”

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All About Us

Posted on by Glen in gospel, grace, preaching, trinity | 9 Comments

its-all-about-meWhen we hear a preacher talk about “our Jesus-shaped hole” we’re sensitive to the dangers. It sounds instantly “me-centred” doesn’t it? If a preacher goes on about our felt needs and how Jesus meets them, Jesus seems only as big as the hole that’s in us. That can’t be right.

Yet, while we may be able to spot that error, another kind of me-centredness can beset the soundest of pulpits. Let me pick on perhaps the three most popular topics preached on in the churches I visit. These days the Trendy Trifecta is Trinity, grace and idols. Everything now is Trinity, grace and idols. Thinking back to last Sunday, I touched on all three, and if you’re a preacher I hope you covered at least two of those!

But here’s the danger, we are so self-obsessed, we can even make these truths all about us. We psychologize them and turn them into anthropology not theology.  So,

We’re interested in “Trinity” because it resonates with our need for love.

We love love, we think it’s lovely. So we love that God is love. And we preach the Trinity because it accords with our prior proclivities. We don’t preach Trinity as the nature of God, we preach it as wish-fulfillment.

We’re interested in “Grace” to the degree that it’s a motivator in our lives. 

It’s all about which regime produces the better Christian life – carrot or stick. Well, because we’re “grace” people, we say CARROT. Loudly! But what we mean is “we believe in a certain shape to the Christian life” – not “we believe in a certain shape to God’s life.” Again, we don’t preach grace as God’s very nature (quite apart from how we feel about it), we preach it as wish-fulfillment.

We’re interested in “Idols” as a psychological explanation for our patterns of addiction.

Idols-speak provides us with a window onto our own desires and we need little encouragement to think about ourselves. Idols-speak can become like the online personality test to discover the real me: delicious! But in preaching there’s a real danger that we don’t consider idols theologically. I find it rare for a preacher to define idols (as Scripture does) as false conceptions of God. Instead we consider over-investment in the world and the flesh and how we can solve our idolatry problem by determining to worship the right thing. In all this, God Himself is quite dormant, waiting for us to switch our allegiances. We are centre-stage. (More on idolising idols here).

It might sound “God-centred” to talk about Trinity and grace and idols, but so easily we make it all about us.

 

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