Christ Covenant Church
Rev. Marq Toombs
3 February 2019
[ sketch notes ]
Mini-series on the Holy Trinity: One God, Three Persons
Sermon Text: Ephesians 1:2-14
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Flashback to the Beginning (Dug out my old sermon archives from 2008) – Took a calculated risk: I don’t think we’ll make it past Ephesians 1. If we make through Ephesians 3, we might be here for the long haul. Link to the Archives*
Jesus said that eternal life is knowing the one true God. Not just knowing facts and data points about him, the way you might know facts about a rock star or a professional baseball player, but knowing God, personally and relationally, they way you know each other, they way you know your parents and siblings.
So, today I want to draw your attention to the true and living God, who has revealed himself to us in the Scriptures, as one God in three persons.
Gregory of Nazianus (aka, the Theologian), well known quote by the Cappadocian church father from the 4th Century AD, might help us. After thinking about the Trinity and trying to understand God, he said —
“No sooner do I conceive of the One than I am illumined by the Splendor of the Three; no sooner do I distinguish them than I am carried back to the One.
When I think of any One of the Three I think of Him as the Whole, and my eyes are filled, and the greater part of what I am thinking of escapes me. I cannot grasp the greatness of that One so as to attribute a greater greatness to the Rest.
When I contemplate the Three together, I see but one torch, and cannot divide or measure out the Undivided Light.” Orations 40.41
The point? The Trinity is truly knowable yet not totally comprehensible to our finite minds.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church – “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life. God alone can make it known to us by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
The 39 Articles of Religion used by the Anglican Church – “There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”
The Westminster Confession of Faith – “In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.(o) The Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding: the Son is eternally begotten of the Father:(p) the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.(q)
The point? All the historic Christian traditions believe there is One God Three Persons. The Holy Trinity is a profound mystery.
Eulogy, a good word of praise, for the Triune Savior.
God is sovereign over all things, even the salvation of sinners. The gospel of salvation is rooted in eternity past, cultivated in space-time history, and harvested in eternity future.
The Father arranged salvation for the church; Jesus Christ accomplished salvation for the church; the Holy Spirit applies salvation to the church for the praise of God’s glorious grace.
The scripture readings before the sermon pointed us to Trinitarian Salvation: one God three persons.
“In the doctrine of the Trinity we feel the heartbeat of God’s entire revelation for the redemption of humanity.”
“We know ourselves to be children of the Father, redeemed by the Son, and in communion with both through the Holy Spirit.
Every blessing, both spiritual and material, comes to us from the triune God.
In that name we are baptized; that name sums up our confession; that name is the source of all the blessings that come down to us; to that name we will forever bring thanksgiving and honor; in that name we find rest for our souls and peace for our conscience. Christians have a God above them, before them, and within them.
Our salvation, both in this life and in the life to come, is bound up with the doctrine of the Trinity; yet we grant that we cannot determine the measure of knowledge — also of this mystery — needed for a true and sincere faith.”
(Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 2, p. 334)
The crux of the matter:
The Father loves you.
Jesus is on your side.
The Spirit is for you.
God is relentless.
(Adapted from Eugene Peterson’s saying: “God loves you. God is on your side. He is coming after you. He is relentless.”)
Response: Eulogy, a good word of praise, for the Triune Savior — “to the praise of his glorious grace”
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Eph. 1:16-21
*Dug out my old sermon audio from 2008. Average sermon length was 55 minutes, not including scripture reading and prayer. Since Advent 2018 my average sermon length is 31 minutes, including two scripture readings and prayers.