Theology 101: Doctrine of the Trinity, and Dance Lessons in Life

trinityWe began on Sunday by watching this video that introduces us a little bit to the doctrine of the Trinity. It helps us to get orientated to what the topic is about, and what it all means.

The Trinity in a nutshell (which is an oxymoron) is this: God is one being, in three persons. Or God is three-in-one. This is difficult to understand but has some really important practical implications.

St. Augustine said:

There is no subject where error is more dangerous, research more laborious and discovery more fruitful than the ones of the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit

So to begin with we looked at how the doctrine of the Trinity developed out of the Scriptures. The scriptures clearly speak as God as one, but they also then speak about there being a plurality within God. If you look at the Baptism of Jesus you see the Father speaking, the Son rising out of the water, and the Holy Spirit as a Dove descending. So there is this oneness to God, but also a plurality.

Michael Bird writes:

The Trinity is a theological inference that is drawn out of the Biblical material. The trinity is no mere abstract speculation, but is a theological attempt to provide coherence to the scriptural narrative about God

We then moved to discussing what is the oneness that holds the trinity together? And the clear answer is love. Love as the centre of God (see last week), is also the centre of the Trinity as the loving relations between the Father, Son, and Spirit bind the Trinity in oneness.

Tim Keller puts the binding love of Trinity this way:

Each of the divine persons centers upon the others. None demands that the others revolve around him. Each voluntarily circles the other two, pouring love, delight, and adoration into them. Each person of the Trinity loves, adores, defers to, and rejoices in the others. That creates a dynamic, pulsating dance of joy and love

That’s a beautiful picture of the Trinity being a divine dance of love, and invites us to participate as they open space not only for one another but also for us.

So that was our main point for Sunday. That the trinity is: The unity of One God, in three persons bound in love

This is a very practical assertion for this reason. If God is bound in love together in unity, self-sacrifice, and submission this gives us a model for how we are to live in our relationships. If the relationships between the Father, Son, and Spirit are characterized by mutual submission and love this then is not only an explication of God, but a invitation for us to follow God in mutual love and submission in our relationships.

This means in our churches, communities, marriages, and neighborhoods we should be seeking to live with mutual love and giving. We should be inviting others into the dance of love that we follow the Trinity in.

 

 

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: The unity of One God, in three persons bound in love

Teaching Points:

  • If all the Holy Spirit does is to confirm your personal theology, it probably isn’t the Holy Spirit. The work of the Spirit is to conform each of us as persons and together as a people into the image of Jesus. Michael Hardin
  • The Trinity is arguably the most distinctive doctrine of Christianity as it distinguishes Christianity from other monotheistic faiths like Islam and Judaism. Michael Bird
  • There is no subject where error is more dangerous, research more laborious and discovery more fruitful than the ones of the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. St. Augustine
  • The Trinity is a theological inference that is drawn out of the Biblical material. The trinity is no mere abstract speculation, but is a theological attempt to provide coherence to the scriptural narrative about God. Michael Bird
  • Each of the divine persons centers upon the others. None demands that the others revolve around him. Each voluntarily circles the other two, pouring love, delight, and adoration into them. Each person of the Trinity loves, adores, defers to, and rejoices in the others. That creates a dynamic, pulsating dance of joy and love. Tim Keller
  • The unity of One God, in three persons bound in love
  • Be like the Trinity and be loving

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? Have you ever wrestled with understanding the Trinity before? What was helpful in thinking it through, what wasn’t? Had you ever heard of the idea of God being a dance of love at his centre? What did you think of it? Were you more like Krista or Andrew in his Flatland analogy? Excited or not? What helps you picture or think about the Trinity?

Discussion Questions for Young Families

Talk to your kids about the Trinity. Use it not as an exercise in telling them things, but realizing how beyond God really is than us. Listen to their questions, fumble, give it your best, and in the end be grateful that we can’t understand everything about God, but can trust him.

Challenge for the Week: Be like the Trinity and be loving.

Why the Trinity and What’s the Trinity?

trinityOn Sunday we are going to be tackling some of the most difficult stuff to understand in Christian theology. We are going to be looking the doctrine of the Trinity.

The Trinity is hard to understand, prone to error, and occasionally makes your mind melt. But in a good way.

So why bother learning it?

Well because at the heart of the trinity is this beautiful compelling and absolutely astounding vision of a dance of love that we want to discover together on Sunday. And even if it is difficult this one belief is probably the most distinctive belief of Christianity that distinguishes it from other monotheistic faiths (i.e. Islam and Judaism).

So we are going to give it a shot at looking at it, and learning about it. St. Augustine once said, “There is no subject where error is more dangerous, research more laborious and discovery more fruitful than the ones of the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” And I think that is very true. So come Sunday we are going to be exploring the Trinity and hopefully discovering something more fruitful than we ever imagined.

Learning to Leave the Desert

1412359_51543500How do you leave the desert?

I mean honestly. When your life is feeling dry, distant, and you feel alone – how do you leave that place? When you feel like you are wandering around in circles, when life has passed you by, when you look back and regret decisions wondering – how did I end up here? How do you leave “here”? How do you find a place with life, hope and grace? How do you leave the desert?

I don’t know if you’ve been there but I have. I have been in a place that once was good but got drained of life and was draining me. I have been in a place where all of a sudden I felt alone, distant from God, and wondering where I was. I have been in a desert staring at the empty world around me wondering how I will ever find my way out. And maybe you’ve been there too. It is a difficult place to be. The trouble is that life seems to take us to the desert.

The question is how do we leave? How do we find new life again? How do we find hope again? How do we find a land flowing with milk and honey?

That’s what we are exploring on Sunday how to leave the desert and find new life. We are going to be exploring a pretty well known passage with some pretty not-so-well-known conclusions.

Come Sunday we’ll explore how to find your way out, which not so surprisingly, begins with God finding you.

But that’s Sunday, what about today? What if your desert is so difficult, and oppressive that you can’t wait till Sunday to start leaving it?

Well I’ll give you a hint of where we are going on Sunday. It doesn’t begin with you. It doesn’t begin with you forcing or finding your way out. It begins with God finding you and leading you out.

So today why not make yourself easy to find. Why not take some actual time, sit in space with God, ask him to direct, and to wait on him. Give him time to speak to you, give him your attention, and wait patiently on him. This, of course, isn’t easy, but it’s a lot easier than languishing in the desert.

So come Sunday we’ll explore how to find your way out in more depth, but it does begin with God. So no matter how your life has been these past few weeks, days, or even years why not let yourself be found by God. Don’t fill your weekend so full of noise, business, and stuff that he can’t break through to you. Sit still, stop, and listen. And who knows maybe God will show up in a burning bush and lead you out…

Heaven is Here Now…

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On Sunday we talked about the end of the story. We explored the last two chapters of Revelation. These chapters are full of images of life and hope. We read of living waters flowing, bringing healing to every person. We read of a place where chaos no longer reigns. We read of God restoring everything. We read of a place where the sun continually shines bathing people in life, light, and love. We read of how the presence of God is fully there unmediated, and fully available.

And we asked the question that is most obvious: when will these things happen?

The difficult, astounding, and Biblical answer is that in some way they already have. That with Jesus’ resurrection God’s presence is available for all us. Healing of our spirits and souls can now be found. Chaos is beaten, and light begins to stream from the tomb. The hard to grasp beautiful truth is that the future of hope is coming towards us, but it began at Easter with resurrection. So we do not need to wait till the end of time to experience, we can experience heaven now. Because the truth is wherever Jesus is fully present so too is heaven. Heaven is his presence.

We closed with reading a promise, a prayer, and an invitation to all of us today:

“The Spirit and the bride say ‘Come’. Let each one who hear them say, ‘Come’. Let the thirsty ones come – anyone who wants to. Let them come and drink the water of life without charge”.  Revelation 22:17

This promise isn’t about the future but the present. This promise isn’t about what will happen, but what can happen today. Today if you need life, love, grace, hope, and healing. Answer the invitation to come, answer the call and drink the water of life, letting it give you life.

This is what we explored on Sunday and what we will explore for the rest of our lives…how to live in light of God’s presence that is with us today because of Easter.

Sermon Notes

Big Idea: The end of the story is beautiful but it begins today…

Take Aways…

  • What does Jesus death and resurrection mean?
  • God doesn’t cancel our current creation but restores it
  • In Jewish thought the sea can be a metaphor for chaos
  • We can experience living water today
  • You experience heaven now by finding Jesus today

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What made you laugh? What did you take away? What would your life be like if you lived without guilt, shame, or brokenness? What do you need to experience today (life, freedom, hope, etc)? How can you Easter become a reality? How can you welcome Jesus into your life today?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Talk to your kids about how following Jesus isn’t about just going to heaven, but experiencing heaven here. Ask them what they think heaven is like. Talk to them about how heaven is full of joy, grace, love, fun, and hope. Talk to them about how Jesus wants them to experience that now. Ask them when they’ve felt those things and if Jesus has felt close when they feel loved. Take a moment and pray with them to experience “heaven” in their lives today.

Challenge for this Week

Come to Jesus today…

Seven Letters and Seven Sundays

On Sunday we are starting a brand new series for Lent here at the church.

7 Letters

We are going to explore the seven letters of Revelation. Revelation is a book that is complex on the best days, and downright confusing on the worst days. But in this ancient book the Spirit still speaks. In fact, in each of the letters that is wrote there is this phrase, “Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches”

This is very true and worth reflecting on as we come up to the season of Lent next week. What is the Spirit saying to you? What is the Spirit saying to you as a church? Are there ways he is asking you to repent, to change, or to sacrifice?

Why not spend some time today and ask this question: Holy Spirit, what would you say to me?

This is a good way to start anyday…

Path’s that Lead to God: Listening

Take a moment and think about your relationship with God. How often is there silence in your conversation? How often are you bringing things to him? Does God though have space to speak?

As a youth pastor I once had a youth come to me and say that God isn’t speaking to them. That they want to hear God’s voice. I said, “Often it’s not that God isn’t speaking, but that we aren’t listening.” So after discussing we realized that in their life they woke up listening to music, listened to an iPod on the bus, sat in school texting, played on their phone on the way home, watched TV, and went to bed. The point is their life was so full there was no space to listen.

So for me a path that leads to God is creating spaces to listen for God. A Hebrew sage Solomon ibn Gabirol wrote,

“The beginning of wisdom is silence. The second stage is listening.”

So for me I realized that rarely do I not have music, sound, or noise on. In the car I listen to podcasts, at my office I listen to music, at home the Olympics are currently always on. So I started to create times to listen. Car rides just with me and God. Lunches outside with the breeze. Moments of silence in my life where I simply wait and listen.

And I think you can do the same. We need to be like Samuel where he says, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:10). So what can you do to listen? What creates noise in your life that you can turn down? Because I do believe God is listening and we will hear it if we start to listen…

How do you find God?

How do you find God?

This seems to be a very important question if you are a Christian. Or maybe it’s better put “How do you let God find you?”

This is what we are going to be looking at on Sunday. The point is that the Bible is very clear, Christ is in you, the Spirit is in you, and the Father loves you. So how do we live in light of these realities? How do we experience the presence and connection with God that I think many of us desire?

So that’s what we’re going to be looking at on Sunday from Psalm 84. But before we get there, what about you? What do you do in your life that helps to connect you with God? What is it in your life that allows you to be found by God?

This is not about creating new rules or laws to connect with God; it’s about creating some healthy rhythms that cultivate relationships. For example, with my wife,we have rhythms of eating, sitting outside together, and cooking together that sustain our relationship. None of these are rules, but when this rhythm fades because of busyness or a lack of priority our relationship suffers. If I miss one meal with my wife, our relationship won’t suffer. If I don’t make it a priority to eat any meals with her, our relationship will quickly fade. I think the same thing can happen with God. The point is that if you miss your “quiet time” one morning with God you’re relationship with him isn’t in danger. If though, you never put any time or effort into it – how can you expect it to grow?

So, for you, what rhythms help to develop your relationship with him? Is it music, dancing, conversation, creation, or something else? For me I often find God in conversations, in regular moments with a cup of coffee, a stolen moment of silence at work, or when I’m creating something. But what about you? What brings you closer to God? What rhythms or practices have helped you to cultivate a relationship with him?

And lastly, and most importantly, are you practicing them? Because when we seek God, as we’ll find out on Sunday, the promise is we will be found by him.

Rabbi Jason Shulman writes, “There are many books that tell us how to find God. But the truth is that God is not lost or hiding. In fact, it is the actual continuous, omnipresence of God that is so hard for the human mind to fathom.”

So today why not create some space to be found by God, and realize he’s already with you…