The Trinity and the Gospel: YEMA 2013 (Part 1)

Last week I was greatly privileged to get to go to the Yorkshire Evangelical Ministry Assembly, an annual conference organised by the Yorkshire Gospel Partnership and which took place right here in Leeds. The theme this year was ‘The Trinity and the Church’, with David Meredith, pastor of Smithton-Culloden Free Church of Scotland and Mike Reeves, head of theology for UCCF speaking.

As I usually blog from AblazeUK each summer, I thought I’d write a little blog summary from this conference too (although, you don’t really need my summary, as the audio of the talks will be available on the Yorkshire Gospel Partnership website).

David Meredith spoke at a preconference evening on the Trinity and Worship, looking at how, not only is/should the content of our worship be shaped by the Trinity, but also how the reality of the Trinity impacts our approach and attitude to worship. It isn’t all down to us to make sure we get everything perfect – we simply can’t; but in Christ we are caught up into His perfect worship of the Father. (The briefness of my comments on Wednesday night is not reflective of the ministry - it just reflects the fact that I forgot my notebook!)

On Thursday morning the conference proper kicked off with Mike Reeves speaking on ‘How the Trinity shapes the Gospel’. Reeves showed the close link between the Trinity and the gospel, saying ‘Our beautiful gospel could only come from the God who is the perfection of beauty – the Trinitarian God!’ And he went on to explore two reasons that this should make a big difference:

1.) If we’re not being explicitly Trinitarian when we talk about the gospel, then we’re not explicitly talking about the Christian God.

If we just talk about ‘God’, people around us are more likely to think of someone more like Allah, yet the God of the Bible is completely different from Allah. John 17:24 shows us that even before the creation of the world, the Triune God was a God of love; it’s only because God is Triune that we can say that God is love! And being able to trust God depends on the fact that He’s loving, so that means we can trust Him because He is Triune.

2.) The Trinity shapes what salvation looks like.

If God weren’t Father, Son and Spirit, then there wouldn’t be any salvation at all. We can see that, for example, at the Cross: if God weren’t Triune, He wouldn’t be able to provide Himself as the sacrifice in the person of the Son. And that would mean that we’d have to provide the sacrifice, and it would have to be perfect! So that would be a graceless salvation. And that would be an impossible salvation. And what if the Spirit weren’t God, just a power? Well, then He’d be ‘no more use to us than a fancy angel!’

If the Gospel we preach isn’t a Trinitarian gospel, then it ends up being all about rules, all about becoming a law-abiding citizen. But a Trinitarian gospel is much more. A Trinitarian gospel makes us Spirit-anointed sons in the Son. It’s not just about righteousness, but about being adopted. We become beloved children of the Father. And you can’t ever earn your way into a family; the only way to be adopted into a family is by pure grace. So that means that, in a Trinitarian gospel, salvation is all from grace from first to last. And this also means that salvation isn’t about getting some ‘thing’; no, salvation is all about relationship – what we ‘get’ in salvation is Christ and His relationship with the Father.

So, as Mike Reeves summed up: 'The Trinity makes salvation possible. The Trinity makes salvation sweet.'

Okay, turns out my summarising isn’t all that succinct, so I’ll have to leave the other sessions (Mike Reeves on ‘How the Trinity shapes evangelism’ and David Meredith on ‘The Trinity applied in Church life’) for another post. Don’t forget, if you want to hear the whole thing, you can get the mp3 from the Yorkshire Gospel Partnership site.