The greatest and highest focus of anyone’s mind is the thought of God. How a person thinks about God matters. If left to our own human reason, our understanding of God would be extremely shallow. By nature, we would know God exists. However, we can only come to know the details of who God is through the revelatory lens of Scripture (1 Cor. 2:14). In a similar manner, if left to our own deficient human reason, we would have an inappropriate view of ourselves. That’s why God commissions preachers to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:1-5). However, preaching the Word is not the end goal. Preaching the Word involves preaching the Trinity.
My assignment for the 2016 G3 Conference is: “The Calling to Preach a Triune God from a Trinitarian Book.” As I prepare my mind for this sermon, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about Jesus’ expectations of us as revealed in the Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20 is one of the most memorized and quoted texts in the Bible. It’s often used to teach the importance of evangelism and missions. As I travel to conventions and conferences, I cannot recall one single sermon that was delivered through a trinitarian lens from the text known as the “Great Commission.”
I can recall lots of statistics (mostly negative) about evangelism efforts among evangelicals. I can recall passionate charges to live radically for Jesus. However, I can’t recall one time where a man opened his Bible to Matthew 28:18-20 and explained that our calling is to proclaim a triune God to rebels and then baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The overwhelming emphasis is typically placed on our need to go to the nations and Jesus’ substitutionary work on the cross.
Bruce Ware, in his book, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit writes, “The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most important distinguishing doctrines of the Christian faith and therefore is deserving of our careful study, passionate embrace, and thoughtful application.”  I agree with his statement, and that’s why it’s so shocking to consider that so few distinctively Trinitarian sermons are preached in our evangelical pulpits. In a day where pragmatics overshadows doctrinal fidelity, we should expect this – right? Sadly, yes we should expect it, but it doesn’t make it right. Furthermore, even among conservative evangelicals who pride themselves on doctrinal depth and expository preaching, it’s often the case that the sermons preached from their pulpits are focused on the person of Jesus or a generic God without clarification.
Fred Sanders writes, “Nothing we do as evangelicals makes sense if it is divorced from a strong experiential and doctrinal grasp of the coordinated work of Jesus and the Spirit, worked out against the horizon of the Father’s love. Personal evangelism, conversational prayer, devotional Bible study, authoritative preaching, world missions, and assurance of salvation all presuppose that life in the gospel is life in communion with the Trinity.”  You wouldn’t get that from most evangelical preaching on a weekly basis. We’ve chopped up and segmented the three Persons of the Trinity and turned our God into a dysfunctional deity in modern preaching.
If we’re preaching the gospel, we’re preaching the doctrine of the Trinity. As B.B. Warfield makes clear, “the nearest approach to a formal announcement of the doctrine of the Trinity which is recorded from Our Lord’s lips, or, perhaps we may say, which is to be found in the whole compass of the New Testament, has been preserved for us, not by John, but by one of the synoptists…It is embodied in the great commission which the resurrected Lord gave His disciples to be their ‘marching orders’ ‘even unto the end of the world’: ‘Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ (Mt. 28:19).” 
Not only should we preach with a distinctively Trinitarian accent, we should undergird all mission efforts, sermons, conferences, church planting efforts, and personal evangelism with the doctrine of the Trinity. Preaching a generic god to hopeless sinners is worthless. They get that each time the sun rises in the morning. The world needs to hear about a triumphant, sovereign, sinner saving, devil defeating, sin conquering, death destroying, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, righteous, loving, wrathful, triune God.
After sinful rebels bow to King Jesus, they are to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. At this point, the work of preaching is not complete. Now these people are to be taught the Scriptures through an intentional Trinitarian lens from a Trinitarian book – the Bible. Until Christ returns and sinners are reconciled before the personal presence of God – our preaching must prepare people to live for eternity with the triune God who has revealed Himself to us in the pages of the Bible.
Matthew 28:18-20 -And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (English Standard Version)
- Bruce Ware, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance, (Crossway, Wheaton, 2001), 15.
- Fred Sanders, The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything, (Crossway, Wheaton, 2010), 9.
- B.B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. II, Biblical Doctrines, (Oxford University Press, New York, 1932), 153.