Battle of the Gods: How the Trinity Changes Everything by Pastor Abidan Shah

BATTLE OF THE GODS: HOW THE TRINITY CHANGES EVERYTHING by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

battleofthegods1Introduction: Today we’re starting a brand new series in our ongoing study of the Life of Christ. It’s called “BATTLE OF THE GODS: HOW THE TRINITY CHANGES EVERYTHING.” We’re going to deal with a critical battle that is taking place over the doctrine of the Trinity (God is Father, Son, Spirit, three and yet one). And don’t think for a moment that this will be some deep theological discourse, hard to follow. Each message will be very applicable for our salvation, our church, our marriage, our family, and our world.

John 5   18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.

Bridge: Have you ever been misunderstood or misrepresented by somebody? How did you feel? Annoyed, angry, and even amused. It happened to me some time back. I had seen this person many times around town. She was always friendly towards me. We had even talked briefly several times through the years. Then one day our conversation went beyond the pleasantries and she said something about my job at the hospital! I replied – “No ma’am. I work at a church in town.” All this time she assumed that I was a doctor at the local hospital. She thought she knew me but she didn’t. There is one person who is constantly misunderstood and misrepresented more than anyone else in this world. He is God. Even those who claim to believe in Him and talk with Him from time to time don’t really know that He is the Triune God – three persons in one essence. In this series we’re going to learn about this cardinal doctrine of Christianity, the Trinity.

Question: What do you believe about God? When you pray, which God are you praying to? Some Supreme Being or the Triune God? Someone might say – “I really don’t care. God knows my heart even if I don’t have it right.” Would you say that to your spouse or your best friend – “I don’t care to know who you are”? Are you saved? You don’t have to understand the Trinity to be saved but if you are saved, you will believe in the Trinity.

Today’s message is to help us understand the nature and the significance of this Battle of the Gods. 3 questions we will seek to answer:

I. WHY IS THERE A BATTLE OF THE GODS?

18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

Background: Monotheism, belief in one God, was a cardinal doctrine of the Old Testament. The first of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:3 says, “You shall have no other gods before Me” and the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” Throughout the Old Testament God repeatedly reminded His people Israel to remember that He is one. Isaiah 45 says, 5 “I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me, 6 That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.” Zechariah 14:9 says, “And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be—‘The LORD is one,’ And His name one.” When you read all these passages it makes sense why the Jewish people were angry with Jesus. He not only broke the Sabbath but He clearly referred to God as His Father, making Himself equal with God. In their minds this was a direct assault on the Ten Commandments, the Shema, and their entire Old Testament faith. The only solution for such a crime was the death penalty.

Were they right for wanting to kill Jesus? Of course not. Even though the doctrine of the Trinity is not found in the Old Testament, many passages in the OT tell us that God exists in more than one person.

  • In Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”
  • In Genesis 3:22 God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.”
  • In Genesis 11:7 God said,Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language.”
  • In Isaiah 6:8 Isaiah hears the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?”
  • In Psalm 45:6-7 the psalmist says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever….Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness….”
  • In Psalm 110:1 David says, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’”

The fact that God is one and yet more was always there in the Old Testament.

Here’s a deeper question: Why didn’t God just lay out the doctrine of the Trinity from the beginning? This way there wouldn’t be any battle. 2 reasons why didn’t:

#1. The people of God were not ready for the full exposure of the doctrine of the Trinity. Think about a newborn baby. He/she needs food and nourishment, starting with mother’s milk or bottle milk and then gradually moving up to baby food, which can be nasty. Why don’t we just give the baby a nice juicy steak, with a fork and a knife? The baby is not ready for it. It will even hurt himself/herself. So also the damage the people of God may have done to the doctrine of the Trinity, the Incarnation of Christ, and the Holy Spirit. In His divine wisdom, God knew that they were not ready for all that information. In His divine mercy, He chose to reveal it slowly and carefully.

#2. God reveals Himself gently and progressively.

I heard someone once say – “Be careful of someone who shares everything about themselves in the first five minutes of your encounter.”

II. WHICH IS THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BATTLE?

Here is the doctrine of the Trinity in three statements:

  1. God is three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  2. Each person is fully God.
  3. There is one God.

I don’t have the time to go through every verse on each point. Error in understanding comes when any of the three statements are denied.

Error #1 God is three separate gods. That’s definitely not true.

Error #2 God is just one person who appears to us in 3 different forms. That’s a heresy called Modalism or Sabellianism.

Error #3 The Son or the Spirit or both are inferior to the Father.

  • The heresy of Arianism claimed that the Son was created by the Father and was not divine.
  • The heresy of subordinationism claimed that the Son was eternal and divine but not equal to the Father in being and attribute. The Son actually derived His being from the Father.
  • The heresy of adoptionism claimed that the Son was not eternal but just a man that God adopted at the baptism. He was not divine.
  • The heresy over the Holy Spirit that claimed that the Holy Spirit came only from the Father. Later it was fixed as the Filioque clause to say that He also came from the Son.

Application: Which side of the battle are you on? Do you have the right view of God?

III. DOES THE BATTLE OF THE GODS MATTER?

It absolutely does!

  1. If Jesus was not fully God, then how could He as just a man bear the wrath of God against all our sins?
  2. If Jesus was not fully God, then we can place our faith in just some human being for our salvation?
  3. If Jesus was not fully God, then how can we worship Him and pray to Him? Yes we can pray to Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:2  “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” 2 Corinthians 12   7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

And yes you can pray to the Holy Spirit because He is God as well.

  1. Because of the Trinity
  • We know that God can relate with us because He has related within Himself since the beginning of time.
  • We understand the unity in a marriage where two come together and become one flesh.
  • We understand the unity in a church where many come together and yet we are one body.
  • We understand the unity between Christ and His church.

Do you know the living and true God? Do you know the Triune God? God wants us to know Him for who He really is

The Battle of the Christian Life

THE BATTLE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

thebattleofthechristianlifeIn honor of Veteran’s Day, I’m preaching a message titled “The Battle of the Christian Life.” 4 passages we will read from 1st and 2nd Timothy.

1 Timothy 1:18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

2 Timothy 2   3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.

2 Timothy 4 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Overall Background: The passages we just read come from 2 letters that Paul wrote to Timothy, his son in the faith. What stands out to me in these letters is Paul’s use of the battle imagery to describe the Christian life. Repeatedly, Paul reminds Timothy to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ and to fight the good fight. This is contrary to what we hear today – “Get saved and all will work out!” or “Start living for God and you will know exactly what to do.” Paul doesn’t paint this rosy picture. Instead, he challenges Timothy that the Christian life is anything but easy. It’s warfare and only those who are committed to fight to the end will receive the crown of righteousness.

Here’s a statement: Christian life is the battle and every Christian (man or woman, boy or girl) is a soldier. We enlist the moment we get saved. Unfortunately, many go AWOL, retreat, or become a casualty. Very few fight the good fight and finish well.

Question: Are you fighting the good fight of faith? Are you a good soldier of Jesus Christ? Will you finish well? Will you receive the crown of righteousness? What would your fellow soldiers say about you? Are you saved?

4 things about this Battle of the Christian Life:

I. IT’S NOT “A” BATTLE BUT “THE” BATTLE.

1 Timothy 1:18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,

Background: What is interesting to me is that every time Paul mentions the Christian warfare, he does not call it “a” warfare but “the” warfare. In other words, it’s not one of many warfares in life but the only real warfare. Many times people think that life is a series of battles – battle between me and my spouse or me and my children or me and the neighbors or me and my coworkers or me and the world or me and the Devil. Basically, there’s only one battle – it’s the battle you have within yourself. You win this battle and the rest will work out. How do we know that this is an internal battle? Listen to the next verse – that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience.” What you are fighting towards is “faith” referring to the apostolic faith and “good conscience” referring to daily holiness before God. In other words, daily you and I have to fight a battle within as to what we believe about Jesus and how we deal with sin. Paul says it a little differently in 1 Timothy 6:12 but it has the same idea – “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” Not that you are fighting to gain eternal life but you are fighting to recover what is rightfully yours.

What happens when you lose this battle?Which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck.” When we lose this internal daily battle, our lives look like a shipwreck, a total disaster. Paul even gives the names of two individuals who lost this battle – 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. In other words, Paul says – “I’ve left them behind enemy lines because they seem to like it better over there. Hopefully, they’ll learn their lesson.

Listen carefully – Unfortunately, many Christians are naïve about this battle of the Christian Life. They wander around on the battlefield of life as if walking on a beach, busy putting on sunscreen, building sandcastles, picking up seashells, taking selfies, and riding the waves. They don’t realize that daily they are under attack. They don’t put on the whole armor of God. They don’t fight the good fight. They don’t resist the enemy. No wonder there is so many causalities!

Application: Do you realize that you are in a battle? Are you winning or are you losing this battle? What do you believe about Jesus? Is He real to you? Can you see Him everyday? How is your sin life? Are you back in your old ways?

II. IT’S NOT “EVIL” BUT “GOOD” BATTLE.

When we think of battle/warfare, it immediately brings up a negative imagery. Bombs going off, people getting shot, blood splattering everywhere, soldiers losing their arms and legs, homes blowing up, children crying. As someone said, “War is hell.” I did a wedding this weekend and we had the opportunity to meet a wonderful couple from England, friends of the Mahlers. They loved history just like us and they were telling us about a tour they took to Belgium where one of the battles of World War 1 was fought. They were telling us about this one battlefield where as many as 50,000 British troops died in just one day. They told us how they went to the graveyard where these soldiers were buried and how sad and heartbreaking this was. In fact, they are still finding bodies from some of those trenches.

Many of us don’t realize the sacrifice that our men and women in uniform pay for our freedom. Every day should be Veteran’s Day.

But unlike earthly battles that are evil, Paul uses the adjective “good” to describe the Christian battle? 1 Timothy 1:18 “wage the good warfare”; 1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith”; 2 Timothy 2:3 “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ”; 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight.”

Background: The word “good” comes from the Greek “kalos,” which has the idea of beautiful, praiseworthy, beneficial, without defect, and high standard.

Here’s the point: The battles of this life can be bad, evil, dishonoring, and shameful, but the battle of the Christian life is always good, always beautiful, always praiseworthy, and always beneficial. God looks down with a smile when He sees us contending for the faith and striving to maintain a good conscience before Him.

  • It pleases God when we grow in our faith in Jesus.
  • It pleases God when we learn more about Jesus.
  • It pleases God when we obey Jesus.
  • It pleases God when we lift up the name of Jesus.
  • It pleases God when we walk in holiness.
  • It pleases God when we preserve our testimony.
  • It pleases God when we leave a godly legacy to our children and grandchildren.

Application: Which warfare are you fighting this morning? Is it good and pleasing to God? How do you see the battle of the Christian life? Can you say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight”? Is it bringing glory to God?

III. IT’S NOT JUST A “PRIVATE” BATTLE BUT A “COMMON STRUGGLE.”

Background: Just when we think Christianity is just my private struggle with my faith and conscience, Paul reminds Timothy that his calling and confession were not in private but in the presence of many witnesses. Listen to I Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. Here Paul reminds Timothy that he was not alone in this battle. In fact, there were many witnesses who watched him when he enlisted. He is referring to Timothy’s conversion and baptism.

The tendency among many Christians is to live our Christian lives in isolation from others. We like to do our own thing. Give me my Bible and my notepad or ipad and I’m good. This was never meant to be this way. It’s like going into battle by yourself. You would get shot and hurt and no one would be there to help you. So also in the Christian battle, we don’t go about by ourselves.

Yes, community is messy and many times the overall outcome may appear to be slow and shallow but this has always been God’s way, in the Old Testament and the New. There is great encouragement in seeing other soldiers who have fought the same battle before you and won. There is a great encouragement is seeing other soldiers struggling with the same hills that you are trying to capture.

Application: Are you a lone ranger or are you fighting with your regiment? Do you look at others in the Body as a hurdle or as help in fighting the battle of the Christian life? Do you realize that you have a part to play in the battle of other Christians around you?

IV. IT’S NOT BATTLE “TO” VICTORY BUT BATTLE “FROM” VICTORY.

2 Timothy 4 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Background: There is something very rich in that passage. Even though Paul is challenging Timothy to fight the good fight and to follow his example in fighting the good fight, he doesn’t want Timothy to forget that the battle has already been won. Jesus, when He died on the cross for our sins and rose from the grave on the third day, He did two things for us – He broke the power of sin and He took the sting out of death.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

I Corinthians 15 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:15 “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

Romans 8 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Old Illustration: D-day (June 6, 1944) and VE-day (May 9, 1945).

Application: Do you understand what all this means? We are not fighting to win but we have already won. Are you living in victory? Do you realize who you are in Christ?

Are you winning the battle of the Christian life?

Are you saved

 

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