The Trinity, Evangelism & Church Life: YEMA 2013 (Part 2)

A bit more from YEMA today (continuing on from yesterday’s report). And as I mentioned before, if you want to hear the whole thing (including the Q & A session), then the audio is available to download from the Yorkshire Gospel Partnership site. So, today a summary of Mike Reeves on 'How the Trinity Shapes Evangelism' and David Meredith on 'The Trinity Applied: Church Life.'

Mike Reeves’ second session was on ‘How the Trinity Shapes Evangelism’. Reeves sees two main ways in which our evangelism is shaped by the Trinity.

1.) The Content of Our Evangelism

In the pluralistic culture in which we live, the Trinitarian gospel which we share shows how different our God is. When witnessing to Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses, our faith in the Trinity shows immediately that the gospel is good news of a loving God. When speaking with atheists, the truth of the Trinity addresses their problems with what they think of as the character of God. The New Atheists think of God fundamentally as the Ruler, but the Trinitarian God is an entirely different God from the one they hate. When people say they don’t believe in God, the God they don’t believe in is often not the Trinitarian God in whom we do believe.

2.) Our Evangelistic Motivation

If guilt is our primary motivation in evangelism, then people end up giving up caring about the lost: the burden of the guilt is just too great! Neither is our resolve a sufficient motivation to evangelism.

Instead the reality of the Trinity provides an altogether different motivation for evangelism. As Christians, we receive the Spirit of the Son: the Spirit who works to make us like the Son and who gives us to share in the Son’s life. As in Psalm 133, the Spirit is poured out on the Great Hight Priest and flows down from his head to his Body, so the Spirit flows from Christ to His Church.

And what does the Spirit do for the Son (and then for us as sons in the Son)? The Spirit makes the love of the Father known to the Son (think of Jesus baptism) and so, in the Spirit, the Son rejoices in the Father’s love (Luke 10:21). That means the Son doesn’t act out of guilt, resolve, neediness or anything else. No, the Son acts out of knowing the love of the Father. And the Spirit is poured out in our hearts that we also might know that same love (Rom. 5:5). The Father has given us what is most precious to Him; He has given us the Son and He has given us the Spirit.

The love that the Father and Son have for each other is the trigger of all mission. The Father sent the Son because of the love He had for Him before the foundation of the world, and mission is to spread that love (John 17:22-23). And as it is with the Father and the Son, so it is with us. Just as the Father pours out the Spirit on His sent Son, so Jesus pours out the Spirit and sends us. The Son’s very life is an outgoing life, taking out the Father’s love and that is the life that the sons of God share.

The Triune God is already on a mission; when we go out and share His love we reflect something profound about who He is. The Spirit’s work is to bring us into the mutual delight of the Father and the Son, and there we become like our loving God, and heartfelt love for Christ motivates our mission.

David Meredith, minister of Smithton Culloden Free Church of Scotland in Inverness closed the conference by speaking on ‘The Trinity Applied: Church Life’, asking what a self-consciously Trinitarian church will look like (and providing three answers).

1) Our Church will grow in a Trinitarian manner

As we praise and proclaim the Trinitarian God, He will grow His Church. For as we proclaim the Trinity, we proclaim the uniqueness of our God. In a sense, Trinitarianism ‘is like the DNA of the one true God.’ Meredith also explored how the Trinitarian uniqueness of the one true God rules out certain movements in world missions like the insider movement, for Allah is in no way the same as the Triune God.

Not only do we proclaim the uniqueness of God as we proclaim the Trinitarian gospel, but we also announce the love of the Triune God. Whereas Mohammed declared himself to be but ‘the slave of Allah’, Christians are beloved sons of our heavenly Father. Slavery is all about us and can only lead to moralism, but sonship is all about the love of the Father for us. And just as the people with whom we keep company influence what we’re like, so does the God with whom we keep company – that’s what godliness is. So if our God is the Triune God of love, that should have a huge impact upon our lives. Just as the Father draws people in with His love, so do the godly!

2) Our Church will reflect Trinitarian unity and diversity

Each of us is of equal worth even in our differences, reflecting the equality of Father, Son and Spirit. (And that means that church splits are anti-Trinitarian!) We should celebrate both unity and diversity in the church. The Church should be the most diverse community in the world. We should be able to say that ‘whoever you are, you will find someone in the church like you’.

What does the reflection of Trinitarian perichoresis look like in the church? It looks like bearing one another’s burdens. The church is a place for shared life.

3.) We’ll minister in a Trinitarian manner

Christ is the Servant of the Lord anointed with the Spirit. His ministry was Trinitarian. For example, at the Cross, He offered Himself to God ‘through the eternal Spirit’ (Heb. 9:14). Christian ministry is Trinitarian.

In the heart of the Trinity there is mutual glorification and praise. And this should be reflected in our ministry and in our churches. We should be building one another up by expressing our love for one another and praising one another. Caring is Trinitarian.

We want people to come into church and say ‘surely God is in this place’, but that God must be the loving Father who sent His Son in the unity of the Spirit.

So there you go, a brief and rather fallible summary of the main talks from YEMA 2013. But if that’s whetted your appetite, why not get the mp3s from the Yorkshire Gospel Partnership site?