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A.W. Tozer said, “The most important thing about you is what you think about when you think about God.” What do you think about? A lion? An ocean and stars? An old man? Jesus? If it does not include The Trinity—we do not have an accurate view of God.
Contending for the Faith
A.W. Tozer said, “The most important thing about you is what you think about when you think about God.” What do you think about? A lion? An ocean and stars? An old man? Jesus? If it doesn’t include The Trinity—we don’t have an accurate view of God.
We believe that there is one God, that the Father and the Son and the Spirit are each God, and that the Father and the Son and the Spirit are each a distinct person (Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Corinthians 13:14; see also 1 Corinthians 8:6, Colossians 2:9, Acts 5:3-4).
The Trinity is a word used to describe God. If we misunderstand The Trinity, we end up inaccurately describing God, and we risk making Him in our image. The Trinity has implications for how we pursue relationships and seek out God.
I want to start by telling you about how my life changed 17 years ago. I was in Waco at my friend's apartment, wasn't walking with Christ. We were at a party one night, and I had never met my best friend's sister. I was kind of hassling him, "Man, you should invite your sister over to this party." Just giving him a hard time.
I remember I was sitting at the table in my friend's little kitchen. He had a little table there. I was sitting there and there was someone at the door, and the door opened and my heart stopped. It was just like, "Who is that?" She walks in. It's my best friend's sister and I had never met her. I'm just like, "Oh my." It was like my peripheral vision was blurred. All I saw was her. We were instantly, in my mind, frolicking through fields of dandelions.
I was like, "I have to get to know her." That began the pursuit that would take over my life the next couple of years. I learned everything about this girl, okay. I learned her favorite flowers were Gerbera daisies, so I bought them by the dozen. I learned she worked at The Salon at Ridgewood Village (#stalker), and I would take those flowers there by the dozen.
I learned her favorite dessert was white chocolate mousse from TCBY frozen yogurt with Heath bar toppings, very specific. I learned that, though. I had never been to TCBY, but all of a sudden I found myself as a frequent flier. I was buying those and bringing them to her. I got her phone number, which was the big score.
I would call her, and she wouldn't answer, but I would leave these epic voicemails. I'm talking poetry on her voicemail. One day, we ended up being at the same party in the same geographic location. I'm like, "This is my shot. I'm just going to leave it all on the field." I walk up to her, and I'm like, "Hey. Anybody ever heard of Shai?" Like the group? Okay, so there are seven of us here.
I go up to her, and I go, "Mm-da-da-da-doo da-doo. The very first time that I saw your brown eyes your lips said, "Hello" and I said, "Hi." I knew right then you were the one." She didn't do that. She looked at me and she goes, "My eyes are green." "Oh, that's what I meant. Green. Green eyes."
She is saying something, though. She is saying, "Hey, it's cool you've observed me from afar, but you don't know me. You haven't really taken the time to get to know me. Oh, that's cute, your little sixth grade infatuation. You think you found someone you're attracted to. Neat. You don't know me. You don't know who I am. You haven't taken the time to really invest to understand who I am." She is saying, "Hey, I don't like your song. Not because you're tone deaf, but because you don't even understand the words to sing."
I start there because this describes some of our relationship with God. We see God from afar and we just appreciate that he is God, that we're not, and like, "Hey, I'm supposed to worship you, read your book, and gather with people and talk about you," But we don't really know God. We haven't taken the time to peel back the layers, to look inside the depth of the Godhead. Maybe you've just chalked it up to, "Well, I can't understand it. I can't get there."
He is saying, "I don't need your singing, not because your voice is bad, but because you don't know the one you're singing to." A.W. Tozer says, "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." I've said that quote up here a couple of times, a few times. What comes to your mind when you think about God? Let's just do a little experiment if we can. If you would, close your eyes.
Not everyone here is a believer, so I'll watch your purses. If you would, just for a minute, everybody close your eyes just for a second. Now picture God. Picture him. Come back with me. Who did you see? I did this same experiment with a group full of Christians. I heard one guy saw a lion. I pictured a lion. Anybody picture a lion? You watched Narnia one too many times?
One guy pictured Morgan Freeman. Any Morgan Freeman people here? Somebody else said an old man. Anybody just see an old man when they closed their eyes? Okay. A couple of you saw an old man. One guy said he saw forces of nature, like big waves crashing up against cliffs. He saw stars expanding. Anybody see that? One person said, "I saw creation. When I think about God, I just think about the beginning of creation." That's cool. I wondered what that looked like.
Somebody else said, "I saw Jesus." Anybody picture Jesus? Yeah, some Jesus people here. When you thought about God, you thought about the image of the invisible God, Jesus. If, when you think about God… Let's just assume A.W. Tozer is right, that that is indeed the most important thing about us, what comes to our mind when we think about God. If, when you think about God, you forego the triune God…that God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three persons, one essence…then you've missed out on who God says he is and who this Scripture says he is.
We are in this series called The 7 where we're walking through Watermark's seven essentials, which are seven doctrines we believe every healthy Christian should hold to. Blake set up the series two weeks ago, then Todd covered the Bible last week. He just covered God's Word, and we dove into that.
Today, we are talking about the subject of the Trinity. Here is our statement from our document. "We believe that there is one God, that the Father and the Son and the Spirit are each God, and that the Father and the Son and the Spirit are each a distinct person." Very complex idea when we're talking about the incomprehensible, the Deity we worship, but it shouldn't keep us from seeking him out.
Why is this important? Because God is the most important relationship you have. The health of a relationship is often determined by your ability and your effort to get to know the person in the relationship with you. Without the Trinity…hear me on this…there is no salvation. Do you understand? I cannot die for your sins. That whoever would die for your sins would have to be eternal, God himself, that Jesus would be God.
Without the Trinity, marriage is not a reflection of God, it's just a manmade tradition. It can become whatever you want. Without the Trinity, God cannot be love in the way the Bible says God is love. Because if there were two gods who loved each other, what they have would be love, but they would not be love in and of themselves. So it explains so much about God in just this idea of the Trinity.
St. Augustine, who wrote much about the Trinity, one of the fathers of our church, said this. "If you try to understand the Trinity, you will lose your mind. But if you deny the Trinity, you will lose your soul." So I get the topic that evidently you can't understand. Here I'm going to the best I can up here. If you leave in a few minutes confused, I'm kind of promising you will. That's kind of going to happen. I didn't fail you, it's just a complex idea. We're going to do the best we can.
You're going to have to engage your minds this morning. If you have a pen and paper, I'd encourage you to grab it. Stay with me to the best of your ability. It's going to feel a little professorial on the front, on the first half. About halfway through the message, you're going to need an aspirin. If you have one, feel free to take that. Just do the best you can. We're going to look at what the Trinity is, what it is not, and before you leave here today, what you need to do because of the Trinity. Let's just start with…
1._ What the Trinity is._ The Trinity is not a word you're going to find in here. It doesn't show up anywhere in the Bible. Very, very important, now, hear this. It is in the Bible, Genesis to Revelation. It is covered by much of the Scriptures. We continue to see this theme that God, the God we worship, exists in three persons, one essence: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The word Trinity used to describe that showed up in the third century by a man named Tertullian, who was a lawyer. He was writing about God, efforting to describe the Triunity of the Godhead, and we see this word Trinity birthed forth in writing. Let me say it again: that was not the invention of the Trinity but just the word to describe the Trinity. The Trinity has existed in eternity past. He has always been there in eternity past. As long as there has been God there has been the Trinity.
If we seek to understand the Trinity, you need to know that it efforts to answer the what and who of God. That's what the Trinity does. In one word, it describes the what and the who of God. You say, "JP, what do you mean?" Well, if I was to say, "Let's describe the what and the who of you, what would you say?" What are you? Who are you?
Let's talk about me for a moment because I have the microphone. If we said, "What are you?" "I'm a human being." That's the what. If you said, "Well, who are you?" I would say, "I am Jonathan Bob Pokluda." That's right. Just Bob. Not Bobby or Robert or anything. Let's be honest, I'm Jon Bob from Cuero. Make fun of it later. That's who I am. My parents hate me. They don't. I love you mom and dad. The what, human being. Who, Jonathan Pokluda.
What is he? He is God. That's the what. He is God. He has been there forever. He is one God. In fact, an Israelite over and over and over, would say a prayer that shows up in Deuteronomy, chapter 6. The beginning of that prayer starts in verse 4. It says this, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." We have one God that we worship.
We know there is one God, in fact, it's carried over into the New Testament. Jesus says that in Mark, chapter 12. He recites from Deuteronomy, chapter 6, that there is a God, and that God is one. There is only one God that exists, not god of many gods, not other gods. There is just one God. It says it in 1 Corinthians 8:6, "…yet for us there is but one God…." Galatians 3:20, "…but God is one." 1 Timothy 2:5, "…there is one God…."
This God, we would know him. If there was no Trinity, the one we see the most, we think about the most, and what many of you pictured is God the Father. This is the Father. In the Islam faith, you would call this god Allah. In the Jewish faith, you would call him Yahweh. Those are not the same God we worship. Those are different gods, a singular god. When we say Yahweh, we know him as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This God the Father has existed in eternity past. He is responsible for creation, but he is not solely responsible for creation, for with him was God the Son, Jesus Christ, who was also with God in the beginning. John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Get your aspirins ready. This is like me saying, "Yesterday, I was with Todd and I am Todd." You would say, "Are you feeling okay?" It's very complex.
There is nothing we have in our English language or our earthly experience to appropriately describe the Trinity. Every single thing you could come up with would fall short, that the Son was there in the beginning. Colossians 2:9 says, "…in him all the fullness of the Deity dwelt." But the Son was God. It's not just the Father and the Son who are God, he is also the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God. It says this many times in the Scripture.
One I'll go with you to is Acts, chapter 5. Ananias and Sapphira have held back some money from some real estate they sold. Peter says this to them, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God." When you lied to the Holy Spirit, you lied also to God.
Jesus says this in John 14:26 and John 15:26, almost the same verse, "When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father — *the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father* — he will testify about me." The Holy Spirit is also God. The what…What is the Trinity? He is God. The who…Who is the Trinity? Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
You cannot talk about the Trinity without three words, I want you to write them down. Unity, equality, and distinction. These are the best three words I know of that we can use to describe the Holy Trinity when we're thinking about God. Unity, equality, and distinction. What does unity mean? As we talk about unity, it's that we worship one God.
You see three names, those are three persons, but we worship one God. We are what you call monotheists. We believe there is one God. The Jews and Muslims who are critics of Christianity would say, "No, no, no. You're tritheists. You're polytheists. You believe in multiple gods." No, we don't. We believe there is one God, that he is one. Ephesians 4:5-6, "…one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." These have unity, they are one God.
Not just unity, they also have equality. This is really complex, as if it wasn't complex enough already that the Father is God and the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. They are each person fully God, like each of them are all of God. Not that you have a pie and you divide it in thirds, and the Spirit is a third of God and the Son is a third of God and the Father is a third of God. That's not what I'm saying. The Spirit is all of God, the Son is all of God, and the Father is all of God. They are each equally God.
Jesus says this in Matthew 28:19, a verse you know as the Great Commission. He is with his disciples and he is about to leave and he says, "Go into all the earth and make disciples." "You guys are disciples, now y'all go make disciples. What I want you to do is I want you to baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Now what he says is really important, he says, "I want you to baptize them in the name…singular, one name…of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit." He doesn't say, "I want you to baptize them in the names of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." He is describing one God in three persons, Jesus, God, in the flesh talking about the Trinity.
You have unity, you have equality, and now we also have distinction. Here is what distinction is. It means the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father. That within this one God, there are three distinct persons of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This, my friends, is the closest I can get to illustrating the very complex idea of the Trinity to you. You can take a picture of it, you can draw it on your paper, but this is the closest I can come to showing you a picture of who God is on this TV screen up here.
It's this idea there is but one God. The Father and the Son and the Spirit are each God, and the Father and the Son and the Spirit are each a distinct person. B.B. Warfield says it like this, "…there is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence."
That's what he says. It's difficult. What I want you to do…because some of us have that personality if we don't understand something we just get frustrated and move away from it. I don't want you to do that. I want you to look at it like a puzzle you can't put down. You move into it. Be awed by the majesty and the mystery and the beauty and the creativity of the Trinity.
In our world, if you have a dot and another dot, you have what is called a line. If you have a third dot, you have a plane. If I pull up from that plane now a fourth dot, you have a shape, some sort of pyramid-like shape. That's what we know as three dimensional. That's our world. This is not three dimensional. This is infinity dimensional. Eternal dimensional. This belongs to the world we're moving toward, the world that you belong to.
It's not simple, you cannot put the God that you worship in a box. You don't want to worship a god you perfectly understand. There are so many things here on this earth we don't perfectly understand. Men, let's be honest, we don't understand women, much less God, the one who created women and men and made you in his image. Because it's a mystery, don't stop seeking out the mystery. Allow it to be motivation to you to continue to move toward him and to pursue him and seek him, seek to understand him.
I've always loved magic entertainment of all sorts, but specifically illusionists have caused me wonder and excitement and entertainment. I was watching a magician once, maybe you've seen him, too. He had a table, had stuff sitting on the table, and right before my eyes he brought that table up, and it began to fly.
I mean, it was floating right in front of my eyes. I'm not just talking about off the ground, it was high, way above his head this table. He goes like this over it, waves something over it. There were no strings. I just couldn't figure out this table. I was awed and I was entertained and I was amazed.
He even said afterwards, "You know what? The internet has changed magic forever. Because it has removed the mystery, should you choose. Don't go home and YouTube how I did that. Allow yourself to sit in the wonder and the mystery." What did I do? I went home and YouTubed how he did that. The awe was instantly removed. It's trickery. It was simple. It's like, "Wait a minute. That's not even interesting."
That will never happen with God. For the rest of the rest of the rest of the rest of the rest of the rest of the rest of the rest of the rest of the rest, you can continue to seek him and find awe and move into him and find more awe and wonder and move into him, closer, deeper into him, and be awed and find wonder all the more that you would continue to move into him. That we would allow the mystery, the majesty, the beauty of God to move us closer to him. This is what the Trinity is.
2._ What the Trinity isn't_. Let's talk for a moment what it's not, because sometimes when you address the idea of what something isn't, you begin to understand more what it is. It pushes it deeper into your heart. What I am showing you up here is not three gods. The Trinity is not three gods because of unity. If you get rid of unity, you are left with polytheism, multiple gods.
Now, here is why this matters. You say, "Why are you saying the same thing over and over?" Because some of you, when you've learned about the Trinity, you've actually learned a polytheistic worldview. Has anybody ever heard that God is like an egg? Anybody ever heard that? Neapolitan ice cream? Something like that?
God is like an egg, he is like the shell and the egg white and the yolk. They all exist perfectly in harmony like the Trinity. No, they don't. The shell of the egg is not entirely the egg. The white of the egg is not the whole egg. The yolk of the egg is not the whole egg. That's a polytheistic view, you have three separate things, like three separate gods.
Same problem with the apple. God is like an apple. The skin of the apple, the flesh of the apple, the seed of an apple. Maybe you heard of this in Sunday school. No, God is nothing like an apple. Maybe you heard three leaf clover, anybody? Any three leaf clover people? Okay, I have some. Each leaf makes up the Trinity. No, one leaf is not the entirety of God.
You're seeing three different gods there. That would be polytheistic. I'm not frustrated by those illustrations, I'm just telling you up front, any illustration would fall short in describing the mystery and the majesty, the unity, equality, and distinction of the Trinity. As we talk about equality, what I want you to see here is not a hierarchical org chart.
This is the issue. If you get rid of equality you're going to be left with something called subordinationism or subordination, that Jesus is lesser than the Father. Jesus is not lesser than the Father; they are all equally God. This would be the issue with an illustration like where you have a CEO, then you have a COO and a CFO. Not the case. They are all equal in rank, but they play different roles. There are different roles they play in the Godhead. Equal in rank. They play different roles.
Would you not subscribe to what is known as subordinationism? This one is important because it has a very firm grip on history. In AD 325 there was a rising heresy known as Arianism. Arianism was a flavor of subordinationism. They gathered a group of men, 318 bishops, Constantine did, to talk about this. That was known as the Council of Nicaea.
Anyone ever heard of the Nicene Creed? It was born out of that council where the words of that creed, the belief... Arianism taught Jesus was created by God and he was lesser than God. What that creed addresses is it says, "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made." So this creed was to address this heresy. It still exists today.
In fact, Lifeway surveyed a bunch of Christians and asked them several questions around the Trinity. Over 50 percent of those so-called Christians said they believed Jesus was created by God. That's the heresy of the fourth century. Over 50 percent. This is what happens when you deny the Trinity.
The other thing I want you to know about our God is he is not playing three different roles. He is not one God putting on three different hats or three different uniforms. That would be if you got rid of distinction. You would be left with the heresy known as modalism, that God exists in different modes. There is a God the Father who became the Son and then when the Son left he became the Holy Spirit.
This is the issue with illustrations like these. "You have Jesus, who is ice, and when the ice melts you're left with the water, who is God, and when that water evaporates you have the steam of the Holy Spirit." That illustration actually teaches modalism. Much like the one that says, "I'm a man and I'm a father and a husband and a son. All at the same time. Just like the Trinity." No, you're a son to some, you're a father to some, you're a husband to one. That's modalism. That is not like the God we worship, that the three of these exist, they are all equally God and yet distinct in their persons. There is not an illustration that appropriately describes this. You say, "Why does this matter?" Because it's the God we worship.
I mean, imagine with me if I went home… I've known that girl who walked into that apartment for 17 years ago, and I've been married to her for 13 years. Got the girl. Imagine if I go home and I look at her, and I'm like, "Huh. You're blonde. I never realized that." She is going to be like, "Hold on. What? I've been that way for 17 years. You've never noticed that? You've never taken the time to know me in that way? To see me to make that very basic observation?"
In the same way we continue to seek out the complexity of God, that we would pursue him. Because when you don't… Listen. If you don't take the time to know who God is, that you've been made in his image, what you will do is in your heart and your mind and in your creativity, you will begin to make him in your image. He will begin to become whatever you want him to be.
If you're just observing God from afar, let's be honest, what that is it's idol worship. It's idolatry. It's not relationship he calls us to. That's the craziness of this. God invites you to be a part of that relationship. Why does it matter? Because that's how you were saved. Remember the big triangle we put up. That's a picture of how you were saved. These three working together and him inviting you into that relationship.
Consider it with me for a moment. The Father chose you. He elected you, selected you, and say, "That one is mine." The Son says, "I'll purchase him. I'll die for him." He comes to you, the Spirit begins to woo and pursue your heart, illuminating you to who God is and his desires for you. You trust in the payment of the Son, you become sealed by the Spirit who is carrying you home to the Father so you can be presented pure, holy, blameless, and righteous by the Son. These three working together to bring about your salvation for eternity. Let me show you in one beautiful passage. It's Ephesians 1:3-14.
"Praise be to the God and Father…" Father. "…of our Lord Jesus Christ…" Jesus. "…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. 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. […] 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."
He is working together to bring about your eternal security. When you're going to purchase something, and you're coming back for it, what you do is you put down a deposit. God did that with himself in the form of his Holy Spirit. Not just that, he has already paid for you in full in the form of his Son, Jesus Christ. You've been purchased, sealed, and you will be with God forever, perfect, blameless. Not because you are, but because he makes you that way.
Let me show you why it is of utmost importance. Let's just say I go to God and I choose any one of you, any lucky person here. I say, "Hey, God, I'd like to die for their sins. Take my life for them so they can be with you forever." He is going to be like, "Well, JP, who is going to die for your sins? It seems like you would need to die and suffer for your own sins."
That's not the only problem with that, you have your own sins to suffer for, but also your sins are against an eternal God. They're going to require an eternal payment, an eternal suffering. The only person who could suffer eternally for your sins would be God himself. In that, we see the necessity of the Trinity.
Let me show you in one verse. In 1 Peter 1:2, he writes his letter to you, "…who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood; Grace and peace be yours in abundance."
3._ What do we do because of the Trinity?_ Now we're leaving this infinity dimension, we're coming to our world and we're saying, "Because that's there, what do we do?" The first thing I want you to do as you leave here is that you would seek God through spiritual disciplines. Let's just talk about prayer for a minute. How can you go to a God you don't know?
I have a little girl and every now and then we're sitting down at dinner and I'll say, "Hey, will you go ask them for a straw or ask them for a napkin or let them know they forgot our fries." Something like that. She'll get up, she'll try, but she'll come back and say, "No, Daddy. I can't." I'm like, "Why can't you?" "Because I don't know them."
It's hard to go to someone you don't know, especially when we're talking about God. Imagine how knowledge of God impacts our prayer life. Some of you, you don't have a healthy prayer life. You didn't pray this morning. You haven't been talking with God. It's because you don't know him. You have to start with the relationship, seeking to know him. Then how we pray because of the Trinity. We go to the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit. We pray to the Father.
You say, "Well, I pray to Jesus. Sometimes I pray to the Holy Spirit. Am I in the wrong?" I think you can do that because the Holy Spirit is God and Jesus is God, but I will tell you this, answer you from the Scriptures, they ask Jesus, "How should we pray?" He said, pray like this. "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven." This really has tremendous implications for our prayer life.
Also consider what we talked about last week, reading the Bible. When you know the author, you read the Bible differently. It's just like when I read Come and See, an incredible book by my dear friend, mentor, and leader, Todd. When I turn the pages of that book, it speaks to my soul in a very different way than when I read a book of someone I don't know. Because I'm reading about what God has done here, and I've lived it. I've seen some of it. I'm like, "Oh, I remember that." I hear his voice because I have a relationship with him. I can hear it in his voice.
Now imagine when you know the author of the Scriptures and you're reading it. Imagine a Jew who came to the fullness of the understanding of who the Messiah was, and he converts or believes upon the triune God. He reads the first page of the first chapter of the first book of the Bible.
He gets to this. Genesis 1:26, "Then God said, 'Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea….'" He would read that, and he'd be like, "Oh. What's going on? Oh, Jesus was there in the beginning. When he says our, he is talking about Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God was hovering over the depth of the sea and the Word was there in the beginning, in the Father. Out of their love for one another, are creating things. Things are birthed forth in creation. That's what's going on there."
Consider with an understanding of that, how we might also pursue relationships. That's the next thing you do because of the Trinity, you pursue relationships. They say, "Jesus, what is the most important commandment?" He says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself." Love. That you would love, because God is love.
That's what it says in 1 John 4. "…let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." Because God is love. How can God be love? Because God has existed eternally in relationships. It's the way God was loved. God did not create you because he was lonely. He was perfectly not lonely in perfect relationship with himself, that in that relationship was love perfectly out of that. Perfect love was also joy. In there existed happiness and eternal joy in that relationship. That's why those things come from him.
What this means for us, especially here in Dallas, is it means relationships are more important than success, more important than striving and driving and climbing and crawling. I've sat with the dying. They never said, "I wish I would have been more successful." Many times they've said, "I wish I would have spent more time with.… I wish I would have pursued…. I wish I would have been more intentional with relationships." They're more important than success.
My buddy dropped off his daughter for college last week. He said he walked onto that campus and instantly he was flooded with, "Man, I wish I would have spent more time with her in this way and that way." Relationships in the Trinity we find how important are relationships. Because of the Trinity we pursue unity.
See, marriage is an imperfect picture of the Trinity. If you get to Genesis 2:24, it says, "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh." Jesus says that is a mystery we can't even understand how two would become one. That marriage was created as a picture of God himself. You can't just make it whatever you want it to be.
There would be these two people incompatible, male and female, very different from one another (Ephesians 5), mutually submitting to one another and serving each other and caring for one another, that he would be willing to give his life for her and she would follow him. They would be equal in rank, but play different roles and pursue unity in their disagreements. It's not just this contract we tear up when we don't want to do it anymore. We go into it understanding that it's a picture of our deity.
We pursue agreements, we resolve conflict. Why? In Genesis, you see "God created…it was good. God created…it was good. God created…it was good. God created…it was good." You get to this "And man was alone, and it wasn't good that man was alone, because man was created in the image of God." He said, "It's not good that you're alone, because I've never been alone. I'm going to create woman."
You say, "Well, I'm not married, so is it bad that I'm alone?" Yes, if you're alone it's bad. Not that you're not married, but you need to live in community. Community. That you would seek unity in community. My friend, Todd, said it so well at a wedding he did Saturday night. He said, "Relationships are not found; they're forged." If you're looking for the right spouse, you will never find them, because you're the wrong spouse.
If you're looking for the right Community Group, you will never find it, because you're the wrong member. Relationships are forged. They're pressed into. They're chipped and chiseled and worked at. You're committed to resolving conflict that you would stay in the ring. You get in the circle, "We need to talk about this. It's going to be hard, but I have to say these things to you so we can preserve unity."
Be diligent at preserving the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace because of the Trinity that we would serve. Inside the Trinity you seek perfect service, deference given to one another that the Father glorifies the Son and the Son glorifies the Father and the Spirit and the Spirit glorifies the Father and the Son. Because of the Trinity, you can give up your rights to be right and serve others.
At the essence, the center of the essence of the universe that we live in is giving up your right so you might serve others with your life. That you would become nothing. "He humbled himself in the nature of a servant, not considering equality with the Father something to be grasped," Philippians 2.
That we would model this in the way we serve each other. That you would give your life away, not hold onto it and try to build your kingdom, but you'd serve those around you, understanding that the way up is down, that the way to power is to give up power, That Mark 10:45 is right and true, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Lastly, because of the Trinity, you marvel at God. You stand in awe of him. You understand that in him is the richness of joy. Everything as it was meant to be is found in him. There is beauty and majesty and mystery, there is creativity in this God. We move toward him. We seek him out. We never stop seeking him.
There is no wonder that when we look at the beauty of this God who is love and in him there is the richness of joy that when he indwells with his people, that when their hearts are wrung out what is brought forth by the power of his Holy Spirit is love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and gentleness and faithfulness and self-control. That's what you see, that you begin to see the God we worship when you live in right relationship with him.
If that relationship is not right, no relationship will be right. If that relationship is right, you have a really good shot at the other relationships that you live in. We sit back and we marvel at him. Not put off by the mystery but move forward because of it.
That woman, 13 years into marriage. Can I tell you something? What I saw 17 years ago are not even the top 100 best things about her. Now that I've been close to her, she is amazing. She has no enemies. She walks into a room, finds the most vulnerable thing and loves it like crazy. That's who she is. She just bleeds love. She loves everybody. She is full of hugs and smiles. She is amazing. I only know that because I've lived with her. I've spent so much time with her.
I've seen her in the trials, the hard times, the good times, the bad times. One of my greatest insecurities is walking around this place. You guys are like, "Dude. How did he get her?" Grace is the answer. Grace. As amazing as she is, she is no god. She'd be a miserable god. I look at God and I'm awed. I'm wowed. I marvel at him. Three persons, one essence.
In summary, the Trinity is a word used to describe God. If we misunderstand the Trinity, we end up inaccurately describing God and we risk making him in our image. The Trinity has implications for how we pursue relationships and seek out God. There is no perfect illustration to picture this.
If there was a perfect one, if there was one, if I was going to try, it would have to be beautiful. It would have to moving. It would have to grab your hearts and pull you forward as you begin to think about the reality that in the beginning was the Father, like the bass line of a cello. Pulling you forward, constant, never changing.
There, in the beginning, eternity past and with him was the Son. The melody of the violin pulling us out, coming here in the flesh, dying for our sins, paying for our sins. With the Son was the Holy Spirit wrapping these two in harmony. So we might know him, be awed by him. That what would be produced in him would be love.
We would continue to give ourselves to others in service. We would not be satisfied with disunity, that noise. That we would continue to seek out relationships. That we would be awed and inspired and marvel at the beauty of our God. The Father choosing, the Holy Spirit wooing, the Son purchasing.
Without the Trinity, the music stops, and your god is stagnant. There is no relationship. He is not love. He is not enough to save you. You would have to work your way to him. This is what we see in the Trinity. God wooing and pursuing, loving and saving, paying for and choosing. It's beautiful. Let me pray to him.
Father, we do just stand in awe of who you are. Your character, your wonder, your might, your majesty. Father, thank you for your goodness and for your grace. Lord, we love you so much and just pray you would stir our hearts even now. In Jesus' name, amen.