Opening Prayer: Almighty and everlasting God, we come now before your word, your law, your judgments, and we thank you for them. We ask that you would write these words on our hearts, and that we would not merely hear these words and agree mentally with these words, but that by your Holy Spirit you would perform reconstructive surgery on us. Tear out all that still remains of Adam in our bodies and souls, and remake us according to the image of your beloved Son, in whose name we pray, Amen!
Last week we considered the myth of neutrality and the necessity and centrality of Christian worship. Another important aspect of the First Commandment is identifying who this God is.
The God Who Frees
Yahweh identifies himself as the God who brought Israel out of Egypt. God is known by what he has done and what he does. Central to our understanding of our God is the doctrine of the Trinity. The Trinity is not a thinly veiled form of tri-Theism. We do not worship three gods, but one God in three persons. This doctrine is not some hidden, secondary truth. Throughout Scripture there is a plurality within the one, true God of heaven. The “angel of the Lord” and the “spirit of the Lord” act as God and are recognized to be the one, true God (Gen. 18, 32, Ex. 3:2-4, Jdg. 6, 13, Is. 63). This reality is present in the Old Testament, but it is supremely manifest in the New Testament (e.g. Mt. 3, 28, 2 Cor. 13:14, 1 Pet. 1:1-2, Jn. 1:1, Phil. 2, Heb. 1). Jesus comes as God in the flesh, anointed with the Spirit of God above all his brethren to set the captives free (Lk. 4:18). Jesus is the Angel of Yahweh who brought Israel up out of Egypt (Acts 7). We serve the God who frees.
The Tyranny of Humanism vs. The Love of the Trinity
Ultimately, when the true God is not worshipped and served, humanism fills the void. Humanism may take many forms. It may include lots of religious trappings or very few. Humanists worship human emotions (“what feels right/good”), human reason (“what makes sense”), human taste (“hunger, thirst, lust, beauty”), etc. What must be recognized is that all idolatry (which is some form of humanism) is tyrannical. Why is this? Humanism must always necessarily be relativistic. “Question Authority” – says who? But if there is no absolute standard of truth, goodness, or beauty, who must decide? Finally, what is progress and how will it be accomplished? Humanism and all other gods cannot affect change through love and grace; therefore they must always resort to force, coercion, and violence. Apart from the Trinity all other gods are tyrants. But the Triune God is love, loyalty, and faithfulness (e.g. Gen. 3, 6, Is. 63, Mt. 17, Phi. 2, Jn. 16-17). The persons of the Trinity eternally love and defend the glory of the others. All other unitarian perversions are ultimately impotent, self centered, or both. This means that we cannot be surprised when Muslims resort to violence. They just happen to be more consistent than most Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Jews.
The Danger of a Triune God
Dt. 8 continues Moses’ application of the first commandment. Moses commands the people in particular to “remember” (8:2ff) and not to “forget” (8:11ff). Central to this command to remember and not to forget is being able to handle the blessings of God. God’s blessings are dangerous: the proper response is to bless God in return (8:7-10), but the temptation is always to think that you have done something to deserve it (8:12-17). And for Moses, these exhortations have everything to do with the first commandment (8:19-20). To serve the Trinity is to serve the God of excess, the God who overflows with love and goodness. But sinful hearts cannot handle the goodness. The glory is too heavy for mere man, and that is why we need the Holy Spirit to lift us up and empower us. Serving the Triune God is dangerous because it always dangerous to come into contact with life itself.
Conclusions and Applications
We need to remember godly fear. The danger of apostasy is not hypothetical. The covenant is real and requires loyalty, faith, and obedience (e.g. Heb. 4, 6, 10:29ff, 2 Pet. 2:21).
The answer is faith. But faith is not death. It lives. It enters the life of the Trinity; it receives the blessings of God and returns blessings to God. Thankfulness and gratitude must be central to Trinitarian living and teaching our children to do the same. This means that we must pursue Trinitarian education, learning gratitude. We must pursue Trinitarian love, learning gratitude for our spouses, children, and parents.
Finally, we need to cultivate a culture of joyful duty. Duty has become a bad word, because we have believed the lies of humanism. But if we serve the Triune God, we are the armies of God and our duty to God is nothing but glory and honor for us if we receive his word in faith. If we receive his word with suspicion, doubt, or contempt, it will crush us; faith is the only mouth big enough to take it all in.
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen!
Closing Prayer: Almighty God, we have believed so many lies, and therefore we ask that you would fight for us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Often, we cannot even tell which lies we have bought, and therefore we need your grace and mercy to see clearly, to think clearly, and then to repent truly and fully. Teach us to live, to think, and to worship as Trinitarian Christians, and enable us to repent of every Unitarian and humanistic inclination in our hearts that we may worship you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength today and every day.