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The Implication of the Doctrine of the Trinity (Part 2) – Video and Manuscript

This is the second in a two-part series of sermons titled:  “The Implications of the Doctrine of the Trinity on the Christian Life” based on Roman 5:1-11.  This sermon was preached on June 2, 2013 at the Patterson Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia.

The manuscript for this sermon is immediately below this tremendous resource for Trinitarian preaching.

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Christian Preaching: A Trinitarian Theology of Proclamation
by: Michael Pasquarello III
publisher: Baker Academic, published: 2008-01-01
ASIN: 0801027608
EAN: 9780801027604
sales rank: 1104400
price: $4.98 (new), $2.30 (used)

There are many books that give preachers hints about engaging speaking or methods for creating sermons. This homiletics primer focuses not on the “how to” of preaching but on the theological foundation of the very act of preaching itself, introducing students and pastors to a thorough understanding of why they preach or will preach. Michael Pasquarello III takes a biblical and historical look at preaching, calling all preachers to think theologically, regardless of denomination, audience, or preaching style, when they proclaim the Word of God. Each chapter concludes with a sermon example that shows the practical way that such theology works itself into the pulpit.

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Manuscript: The Implications of the Doctrine of the Trinity on the Christian Life (Part 2)

In the summer of 1987, I was chosen as one of five students from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to attend a 3 week, almost all expense paid trip to what is popularly referred to as “The Holy Land.”  We began in Syria, spent several days in Jordan, climbed a mountain in Egypt, visited all the popular sites in Israel, and ended our journey in Greece.  During my travels, I purchased a variety of gifts for Jeana.

In Syria I bought her a doll.  In Jordan I purchased a marble and pewter chess set.   In Israel, we visited Bethlehem, where I purchased her a candle.  In Jerusalem, I bought her a cross necklace with a dove perched on the top of the cross.

When I returned to Louisville, I asked Jeana on a date.  We had been dating for pretty much throughout my time at seminary.  By this point, she had graduated and had a full-time job.  She is, of course, several years older than I am.

Anyway, I took her to a Greek restaurant, and we enjoyed a wonderful meal.  Throughout the meal I kept bringing up conversations about the trip, and the locations where I had purchased her various gifts.

At several points, I would say something about the “five gifts” that I had brought back from the Middle East.  “Do you like the five gifts I brought you from the Holy Land?” I would ask.

At one point, I saw the wheels starting to turn in her head.  Then she spoke.  “You gave me a doll, a chess set, the candle, and a necklace.  That’s only four gifts!”

That was the opening I was waiting to hear.  The waitress had just stepped away from the table, after serving us each a plate of baklava.   I took a deep breath, and said:  “Jeana, I did bring you five gifts from the Middle East.”  Then I got down on one knee, in that crowded restaurant, and pulled out a diamond engagement ring I had purchased on the Island of Hydra, during our final few days in Greece. ”  Jeana, I brought you back this fifth gift from Greece.  It’s an engagement ring.  Will you marry me?”

Isn’t that romantic?

Of course, you know that she said “yes!”  This coming January 7, 2014, Jeana and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.

When you like, love, and appreciate somebody – when you are involved in an intimate relationship with somebody – you will often shower them with gifts.  You will give them chocolate on “Valentine’s Day,” flowers on a special anniversary, thoughtful gifts during the Christmas holiday, unique expressions of your affection on their birthday.

That’s how I felt about Jeana.  After almost three years of dating, my heart told me she was the gal I wanted to marry.  So I showered her with gifts – including that engagement ring.  She’ll show it to you after the service, if you want.  Now understand the diamond is very small.  I was a poor seminary student at the time.  I offered, once, to get her a newer, larger diamond.  She would have nothing to do with that.  The ring, the romantic dinner at which I proposed, the location at which I purchased the ring – all of that was enough for Jeana.  She valued the expression of love, the romance of the evening, the desire for a permanent and committed relationship more than getting a “big rock.”  So, I did ask her once if she wanted a larger diamond.  She said, “No!” and I have not asked a second time, just in case she’s changed her mind.

It will be 25 years of marriage this coming January.  You might say we have been dancing through life together for a quarter-century.

Last week I spoke to you about the word Perichoresis, which means to “to turn or twirl about in a dance.”  Theologians have used this word to refer to the oneness and the unity of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This is not three gods, but one God is revealed as three persons, united in Perichoresis, a “Divine Dance” of intimacy, love, relationship, and interdependence.

I also shared with you that God created humanity for the purpose of sharing the joy, and wonder, and passion, and beauty of the Trinitarian life with all humanity.  “Before the foundation of the world,” Paul writes to the church at Ephesus.  “Before anything was made” … “Before Adam and Eve were created” … “God had chosen us for adoption in Jesus.”

Grace – salvation – brings us INTO the life of Jesus, and therefore into the “Divine Dance” – into Perichoresis.

Paul writes about that relationship also in the text we looked at last Sunday, and again this morning.  Paul writes that  “through Jesus Christ we have been given access to this grace.”

Paul is not only speaking about sins forgiven and mercy given.  We have a tendency to speak (especially we Baptists) about salvation and grace in such minimalistic terms.  Salvation is about so much more than just mercy and forgiveness.  Grace is about us being given access to a quality of life, to intimacy and connection and relationship with God in Christ.  Paul is talking about the fulfillment of God’s ultimate intention for our lives, that being our sharing in the fullness of God’s life and love.

Last week I began preaching about “The Implication of the Doctrine of the Trinity on the Christian Life.”  I told you that I did not intend to load you up with biblical proof-texts or theological metaphors to help answer all the question or solves all the mysteries of God.

I share with you a quote from children’s book author Joan Walsh Anglund who said, “Birds do not sing because they have an answer, They sing because they have a song!”

That’s how I am approaching these sermons addressing the “doctrine of the Trinity.”  I am not approaching this as a riddle to be solved, or a question to be answered, or a mystery to be deciphered.  Good theology is something that should make our heart sing.  Good theology should make us want to dance.

When we are given access to divine grace through Christ – when we are brought onto the dance floor of life and love with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – the purpose is that we experience the full reality of God’s presence in our lives.  When that happens, we also begin to benefit from the wondrous grace-gifts that are included in that relationship.

Paul tells us about some of those grace-gifts that flow out that connection with the Trinitarian means in the passage we have read this morning.  These grace-gifts offer of some very meaningful and practical implications of our connection with the Trinity.

What are these grace-gifts?  Paul mentions several in the text we have read from Romans 5.  He speaks about…

Knowing the love of God Experiencing Grace in our failures Sharing in the life of God Living with an eternal hope (and) Knowing that God is at work in our lives

But the foundational truth of all these gifts is the celebration that in Christ, we are at peace with God.  In Christ, we are on the dance floor, intimately connected to the Trinitarian life of God, experiencing Perichoresis.

Paul writes that we have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Now, to begin to celebrate what that means, we need to understand the words and concepts used in the Bible in reference to PEACE.

The Hebrew word is SHALOM.

When I was traveling in the Middle East, when we met a new friend, or ended a conversation with somebody we’d met, it was customary to use the word SHALOM.  What we were doing was wishing them PEACE.  While the word is sometimes used to reference peace (the ending of hostilities) between two nations or families, in a broader sense, SHALOM also means wholeness, completeness, or prosperity.  When we used the word SHALOM in conversation, we were wishing blessings, wholeness, and good life of the other person.

The Greek word translated peace in the New Testament is “eirene” – and it has a similar meaning.  It, too, can be applied to a conflict between two individuals or groups, but its broader meaning references things like harmony, unity, security, safety, wholeness, and prosperity.

In the stories of Advent and Christmas in the Gospels, we learn that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of the Father, comes as “incarnate God.”  Jesus comes to bring and reveal the Divine God of peace (SHALOM, eirene).  Jesus comes to bring and reveal wholeness, life, connection, and reconciliation.

Paul writes to the Corinthians, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not counting our sin against us!”

Paul writes in verse eight of the passage we read this morning, that “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”  In other words, while we had set ourselves up to be at war with God in our sin, God was breaking through our rebellion to establish peace with us.  When we were at our very worst (expressing the wrath of our sin against Jesus on the cross), God was on the cross expressing His very best – granting mercy and forgiveness.

We are granted the peace with God in/through/by Christ.

Listen, God does not hold any enmity toward us.  God does not hold any anger toward us.  God is not looking down his nose at us.  God is not holding our sins against us.  In Christ, we are at peace with God.  In Christ, we are reconciled to God.

Now I know that there are many among us who daily lives make us feel like we are fractured, broken, empty, and incomplete.  There are times I feel that about my own life.  And invariably, when I feel that way, it is because I question the reality of whether God really likes, loves, accepts, includes, and adopts.  And when I question the reality of God’s loving grace, I begin to live my life trying to earn God’s favor.  I don’t see God as a loving and accepting Papa, instead, I see God as a big mean ogre God who is out to get me.

It’s not true – but I still feel that way sometimes.

One of the things Jesus constantly tried to communicate about himself, the Spirit, and the Father, is that our Triune God is loving and gracious.  Jesus wanted us to REPENT – the Greek word is metanoia – which isn’t about being sorry for our sin or turning over a new leaf.  It means that we have a heart toward God.  It means that we see God as Jesus revealed him – gracious, merciful, and loving.

Paul echoes this teachings of Jesus, teaching us that IN CHRIST, the Spirit works to convince us of our adoption, allowing us to have the type of relationship with the Father that calls upon him as “Abba,” – “Daddy” – “Papa.”

The aim of the New Testament is to communicate the type of relationship we have with the Heavenly Father through Jesus, in the power of the Spirit.  Paul teaches us that in Christ we can pray the same way Jesus prayed.  We can pray to God as “Abba” because we have “peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.”

To many of us spend WAY too much time trying to earn the PEACE that God has given us by grace.  Listen, we do not have to earn God’s favor.  We are favored by God in Christ because of grace.

Now when really realize that this is true, it will change the way we want to live – not because of obligation, duty, or responsibility, but rather because we realize that in Christ we are at SHALOM and eirene with God.

In Christ, we are liked and loved.

In Christ, we are accepted and included.

In Christ, we are adopted as a dearly loved child.

In Christ, we are at peace with God.

The more we fully experience this TRUTH by faith, the more fully experience the reality of peace with God.  And as we experience the reality of our being at SHALOM/ eirene/peace with God, the more we will experience that Godly peace within – and in our relationships with one another.

How exciting it is to come to the Lord’s table today, remembering the gift of peace with God that Jesus makes a reality.

What was it I said earlier?

When we were at our very worst (expressing the wrath of our sin against Jesus on the cross), God was on the cross expressing His very best – granting mercy and forgiveness.

That’s what we are celebrating today…despite our sin and brokenness, God is gracious and kind.  God offers us mercy and forgiveness and the wonderfully good news of the gospel that we are at peace with our Triune God in/through/and by Christ.

The Epistle to the Romans
by: Karl Barth
publisher: Oxford University Press, USA, published: 1968-12-31
ASIN: 0195002946
EAN: 9780195002942
sales rank: 74858
price: $12.59 (new), $9.97 (used)

This volume provides a much-needed English translation of the sixth edition of what is considered the fundamental text for fully understanding Barthianism. Barth–who remains a powerful influence on European and American theology–argues that the modern Christian preacher and theologian face the same basic problems that confronted Paul. Assessing the whole Protestant argument in relation to modern attitudes and problems, he focuses on topics such as Biblical exegesis; the interrelationship between theology, the Church, and religious experience; the relevance of the truth of the Bible to culture; and what preachers should preach.

 

 

 

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