Sermon Notes: Life and Teaching – What is Trinity?

1 Timothy 4:16 (CSB) 16 Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

What we believe matters. What we believe works itself out in our daily lives. 

If the whole church is going to be the missionary, then we have to represent God well in the public square and to do that we have to think rightly about the things of creation from God’s perspective. 

Everyone is a theologian. The question is if they are good or sloppy. 

It matters how we think about who God is. Last week we asked and answered the question: Who is God? 

The Bible gives us some glorious glimpses of God’s nature, and one of the amazing truths we learn about God is that he is Triune. 

The teaching on Trinity is essential in understanding what the Bible says about the nature of God in the persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is so important that this doctrine was investigated for over 300 years until 381 AD at the council of Constantinople when the church landed on a way to communicate what the Bible taught. 

Trinity is vital to being a Biblical Christian. 

I hear often, not from TRC folks, that theology is boring or that doctrine is boring or that doctrine hinders people from experiencing God. 

Please understand that if God is boring or truly seeking God by truly studying his word is boring or hindering someone from experiencing God, then God has not been known at all and what is being sought for experience is not God or his kingdom. 

Seeking to know God and really seeking his kingdom is not boring, never has been boring, and it never will be boring. 

Are there some kill-joys who seek God but are really seeking their version of God? Yes. 

Do those folks make God and his kingdom boring? Likely. 

But seeking God and knowing God as directed by his word while being led by the Holy Spirit and actually following the Lord by turning from sin is the thrill of a lifetime. 

We are engaged in a titanic struggle for knowing God and we are being opposed by a dark enemy who disguises himself as an angel of light and does not want us to know and worship God. 

I invite you this morning to seek after God with an open Bible in fellowship while turning from sin and being willing to go wherever he leads. 

Today, we will ask and answer the question: What is Trinity?

TRC Statement of Belief: We believe in one God, eternally existing in three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who know, love, and glorify one another. This one true and living God is infinitely perfect both in his love and in his holiness. He is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, and is therefore worthy to receive all glory and adoration. Immortal and eternal, he perfectly and exhaustively knows the end from the beginning, sustains and sovereignly rules over all things, and providentially brings about his eternal good purposes to redeem a people for himself and restore his fallen creation, to the praise of his glorious grace.

I commend to you John Frame and Wayne Grudem for further and deeper study. 

Let’s read Matthew 3:13-17 together:

Matthew 3:13-17 (CSB) 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to stop him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?” 15 Jesus answered him, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John allowed him to be baptized. 16 When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.”

The inspired Bible records Jesus’ baptism with the presence of the Holy Spirit and the Father all participating and all distinct and present as one God at the same time. God does not exit in “modes” on a timeline. He is one and three at the same time. 

  1. Jesus is God the Son, and John proclaims this clearly in John 1.
    1. John 1:1; John 1:14
  2. The Holy Spirit descends on Jesus to empower the Son in his redemptive work as he has taken on flesh in order to display God’s glory and provide salvation through his life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. 
  3. The Father proclaims his word at Jesus’ baptism from Psalm 2:7 and Isaish 42:1 over Jesus’ baptism.
    1. Psalms 2:7 (CSB) 7 I will declare the LORD’s decree. He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.
      1. Psalm 2:7 looks forward to the coming of Jesus as the King in David’s line. 
    2. Isaiah 42:1 (CSB) 1 “This is my servant; I strengthen him, this is my chosen one; I delight in him. I have put my Spirit on him; he will bring justice to the nations.
      1. Isaiah 42:1 describes Jesus as the Servant that Isaish will declare in chapter 53 as the one who will bring salvation to his people by dying for their sins as he is empowered by the Holy Spirit!
    3. Jesus’ baptism is a “theophany”.
      1. A theophany is God appearing for people to see parts of his glory.
        1. Exodus 19
        2. Genesis 18
        3. Ezekiel 1
        4. Isaiah 6
    4. Jesus’ baptism displays God’s nature as Triune and proclaims to the world that Jesus is the One!

Jesus commands us to baptize new disciples in the name of God which he declares as Triune.

  1. Matthew 28:19-20 (CSB) 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
    1. Notice Jesus says “name” NOT names.
      1. Jesus affirms the oneness of God and his distinct nature of 3 persons in one God. 
    2. The disciple’s discipleship is to be Trinitarian.
      1. We are to know Father. 
      2. We are to know Son. 
      3. We are to know Spirit. 

Paul prays for the Corinthians in the Triune name of God.

  1. 2 Corinthians 13:13 (CSB) 13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
    1. Paul’s understanding of the Triune nature of God is clearly informed by his understanding of Jesus and his encounter with Jesus as God. 
    2. Paul, being a good Jewish man, knows the oneness of God, and Jesus reveals himself to Paul as that God, and Paul receives the Holy Spirit.
      1. Therefore, Paul’s prayers reflect a dependence on the Triune God’s work in his people. 

Peter greets his audience as chosen by the sovereign work of the Triune God.

  1. 1 Peter 1:1-2 (CSB) 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To those chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
    1. Chosen according to God the Father’s foreknowing. 
    2. Chosen through the sanctifying work of the Spirit. 
    3. Chosen to be obedient and be sprinkled (cleansed from sin) with Jesus’ blood shed for them.
      1. God’s people are precious and so much so that each member of the Trinity participates in their salvation. 

Moses presents God the Father and the Spirit as creating together.  

  1. Genesis 1:1-2 (CSB) 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

Paul, with Genesis 1:1-2 in mind, places Jesus the Son of God, as the means by which the Father and the Spirit create. 

  1. Colossians 1:15-16 (CSB) 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through him and for him.

Jesus teaches that the Spirit is one with Father and Son, and even declares that the Spirit’s presence with us is his presence with us. One God. Three distinct persons. 

  1. ​​John 14:15-18 (CSB) 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another (“allos” – another of the same kind not “heteros”) Counselor to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.
    1. Jesus says the Spirit is “another” one just like him.
    2. Jesus shifts personal pronouns from “him” to “I”.
      1. If you have repented of sin and believed the gospel, you have the Triune God with you and dwelling on the inside of you. 

John declares that if people don’t remain in Jesus’ teaching about who he and the Father and the Spirit is, one God, three distinct persons, then those people do not have God at all. 

  1. 2 John 1:7-11 (CSB) 7 Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves so that you don’t lose what we have worked for, but that you may receive a full reward. 9 Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your home, and do not greet him; 11 for the one who greets him shares in his evil works.

What about the Trinity and the Old Testament?

  1. “The Trinity that was a mystery hinted at in the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament. The human authors of Scripture (The New Testament), inspired by the Holy Spirit, look back and interpret the Old Testament in light of the reality of the incarnation (the Eternal Son taking on flesh to dwell among us John 1:14) and the indwelling presence of the Spirit. In the Old Testament, the Trinity is a mystery that is foreshadowed and anticipated, only to be fully revealed in the New Testament’s witness to the incarnation of the Son of God. Within Scripture, the doctrine of the Trinity serves to demonstrate that it is the Triune God who accomplishes salvation—through the calling of the Father, the incarnation of the Son, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This promised salvation, which the Old Testament anticipates, the New Testament proclaims as revelation and accomplishment.” – Zachary Lycans, “The Trinity in the New Testament,” in Lexham Survey of Theology, ed. Mark Ward et al. (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018).
    1. What we have in the Bible is the progressive witness of the whole Bible that God is one and in his oneness, he is three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 


  1. Believe that God is one. Believe God is three persons. Believe each person is fully God. 
    1. God is one. God does not share any equal in the universe.
      1. God’s oneness is qualitative in that, regardless of how you deal with what the Bible says about angels and demons and the names given to the hosts of heaven by God, HE, and HE alone is the Creator of all things, including the hosts of heaven, and HE alone is the One and True God over all.
        1. God is one.
      2. God alone is the Creator of all things by himself and for himself, and all things and all his created beings serve his ends. 
      3. Deuteronomy 6:4 (CSB) 4 “Listen, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
    2. God is three persons.
      1. Though God is one, God reveals his oneness in three distinct persons. 
    3. Each person (Father, Son, Spirit) is God.
      1. The evidence we have seen tells us that Father, Son, and Spirit are each God. 
    4. Our job is NOT to remove the mystery of God’s Triune nature.
      1. Rather, our job is to marvel at him. 
      2. Be in awe. 
      3. Look on the Lord because he has invited you to look at him, and never be the same. 
  2. Avoid analogies and embrace the text of Scripture and be ok with the mystery of what you don’t understand. 
    1. When it comes to Trinity, there are loads of poor and easy-to-repeat illustrative teachings that have been designated as heresies (modalism, Arianism, tri-theism).
      1.  Unfortunately, illustrations fall short and are best to be avoided when it comes to the Trinity.
    2. J.I. Packer has stated in his book, “Knowing God”, he believes the second command includes us making an image that depicts the LORD as well as poor illustrations.
      1. His reason is the calves that Aaron made as a festival to the LORD was condemned by God.
        1. God defies human depiction, therefore, we should avoid illustrations that fall short or physical depictions that don’t do him justice.
      2. I tend to agree with Packer.  
    3. The reason God gives us the second command is that our words and artistic crafts come up way short of who God is and therefore rob him of glory when we try to go beyond Scripture to tell more of him than he tells of himself. 
    4. God is holy, and he is approachable, and he is infinitely glorious, so be ok with what you don’t know, AND keep asking, seeking, and knocking in prayer to know him.
      1. In his approachableness, it’s vital we remember he invites us to come to him in the truth of who he is not any way we want. 
      2. John 4:23-24 (CSB) 23 But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”
  3. Trinity models unity in diversity and God created humans and the family unit in his image of the Trinity and thus gave us the responsibility to steward his image with care. God also intends the church to model unity and diversity in every holy way. 
    1. Humans are unity and diversity.
      1. We reflect God in that as persons, we are one yet composed of gloriously complex parts.
        1. We are bodies with souls and minds, and all of our being is important and amazingly intertwined. 
      2. As complex creatures, we image the Triune God, and thus we are to nourish and care for the whole person not merely one part.
        1. Being image bearers of the Trinity, we must seek how to know ourselves and each other rightly and care for ourselves and each other rightly.
          1. This is a holy work in stewarding the image of God in man.
    2. Humans together in family units display Trinitarian glory.
      1. Man created in Triune glory.
      2. Woman created in Triune glory.
      3. Children created in Triune glory..
        1. No wonder the dark kingdom seeks to destroy families and individuals in the family.
          1. To destroy that is to strike at God’s glory. 
        2. Fight for your personal health. 
        3. Fight for your family’s health. 
  4. Worship. 
    1. When God reveals himself in Scripture to people, their response is worship.
      1. Ezekiel 1:28 (CSB) 28 The appearance of the brilliant light all around was like that of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day. This was the appearance of the likeness of the LORD’s glory. When I saw it, I fell facedown and heard a voice speaking.
      2. Our response to the Trinitarian God of the Bible must be worship.
        1. We worship him for what he has chosen to show us. 
        2. We worship him for the mystery of what we don’t understand.
        3. We worship him for all that we still need to learn about who he is. 


Athanasian Creed

That we worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity, 

neither blending their persons nor dividing their essence.

For the person of the Father is a distinct person, the person of the Son is another, and that of the Holy Spirit still another.

But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.

What quality the Father has, the Son has, and the Holy Spirit has.

The Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, the Holy Spirit is uncreated.

The Father is immeasurable, the Son is immeasurable, the Holy Spirit is immeasurable.

The Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, the Holy Spirit is eternal.

And yet there are not three eternal beings; there is but one eternal being.

So too there are not three uncreated or immeasurable beings; there is but one uncreated and immeasurable being.

This creed was developed and assigned the name of Athanasius, because of his defense of Trinity against Arius and Arian heresies in the time period 293-373 AD.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s