Trinity Church is a mixed community – people of many nations, of many ages, students and non-students – all seeking to know Jesus better, to grow in his likeness, and to go with the message of his undeserved kindness to our neighbours near and far.
We are a congregationally governed church. We partner with other churches in Oxford and the local area through the South Central Gospel Partnership and nationally through our membership of the FIEC (a network of independent churches that exists for mutual support and encouragement). We operate within the terms of the FIEC Doctrinal Basis.
Although God reveals himself in creation and through our consciences (Romans 1), the Bible is his special revelation. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert, He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. Although the Bible was written by over 40 authors, the human writers did not merely write their own opinions, but words which were inspired by God. When Paul talks about inspiration he means that the Holy Spirit superintended the writing of the Bible. The Holy Spirit guided the human authors so that their words were in fact the very words of God.
The Bible is both infallible and inerrant and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. The scriptures principally teach what man is to believe about God and what duty God requires of man. However, this can only be understood through the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit.
The term Trinity describes a relationship not of three gods, but of one God who is three persons. Although the term is not found in the Bible, the truth is clearly communicated. On the one hand the Bible strongly affirms the unity of God (Deuteronomy 6:4). On the other hand the Bible clearly affirms the full deity of the three persons of the Godhead: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
There is a distinction in the work done by each member of the Trinity. The work of salvation is in one sense common to all three persons of the Trinity. The Father initiates creation and redemption; the Son redeems the creation; and the Holy Spirit regenerates and sanctifies, applying redemption to believers.
The doctrine of the Trinity does not fully explain the mysterious character of God. Rather, it sets the boundaries outside of which we must not step. It defines the limits of our finite reflection. As we think of God, we think of one God in three persons. Or as Gregory of Nazianzus: I cannot think on the one without quickly being encircled by the splendour of the three; nor can I discern the three without being straightway carried back to the one.
God’s sovereignty means that he is omnipotent (all-powerful). This does not mean that there is nothing that God cannot do. He cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18). He cannot die. He cannot be eternal and created. He cannot act against His nature. However, to say that nothing is impossible with God means that He can do whatever He wills to do. God is sovereign in creation, able to do whatever he wishes, in salvation, saving whomever he calls, and in judgement, always doing what is right and just.
God’s sovereignty brings great comfort. The same power God displayed in creating the universe is at His disposal to bring us salvation. He displayed His power over death in the resurrection of Christ and we know that no part of creation can get in the way of his plans. Though powers and forces of this world threaten to undo, we have no fear. We can rest in the knowledge that nothing can withstand the power of God.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. (1 Peter 3:18). The death of Christ is central to Christian teaching, so that Paul could say to the Corinthians that he was determined to know nothing save Christ and Him crucified. The Bible makes it clear that all human beings are sinners. As God is of purer eyes than to look on sin, atonement must be made in order for us to have relationship with God. We cannot make a sufficient sacrifice and are therefore like debtors who cannot pay our debts.
Jesus was a propitiation for our sin, bearing the punishment for the sins of his people. Christ became “a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). He was forsaken by the Father and experienced the full measure of hell on the cross. In dying on the cross, he acted as a substitute and provided satisfaction for our sins, saving us from the wrath that is to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
Jesus was raised in the power of the Holy Spirit as the first fruits of our Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20). Because of His Resurrection, the sting and victory of death has been defeated and we can say as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said before his execution, “This is the end. For me, the beginning of life.”
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity (2 Corinthians 13:14) and is personal rather than a force. The Holy Spirit comforts, guides and teaches His people and it is therefore possible to have a relationship with him. As we can relate to the Holy Spirit, it is possible to sin against and grieve Him.
The main role of the Holy Spirit is to bear witness to our spirits that we are the children of God, confirming His word to us (Romans 8:16). Because He knows the innermost thoughts of God, the Holy Spirit can illumine to us what is revealed in the Bible.
Every Christian is baptised in the Holy Spirit, fulfilling the prophecy of Joel 2 and the promise of Jesus in John 14:16 that he would send another helper or comforter. The Holy Spirit helps every Christian as they pray, communicating in ways which words cannot express and helping us to mirror and reflect the Holy and Perfect character of Christ.
The church refers to all the people who belong to God, bought with Christ’s blood. The Church is the elect, the people of God or the bride of Christ but perhaps the best description of the Church is family, indicating the intimacy with which God thinks of us, and the body of Christ, which indicates how the Church ought to work together.
The Church is a “mixed body”, as described Augustine and therefore contains both Christians and those who aren’t. Only God knows the heart and since he is sovereign in salvation, the Churches responsibility is to faithfully proclaim Christ crucified.
Historically the marks of a true church have been defined as: (1) the true preaching of God’s Word, (2) the use of the sacraments in accordance with their institution, and (3) the practice of church discipline. In addition to these three, and included within we would see worship, discipleship, evangelism and works of mercy (particularly demonstrated in James 1:27 – care for the orphan and widow) as essential components of Church ministry.
In John 17:15, on the night he was betrayed, Jesus prayed, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” Christians are therefore to engage with the culture, seeking to shape it according to the gospel, without being corrupted by it. The way to engage with the culture is by a deeper understanding of the Bible and through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. On each issue there will be decisions to be made with regards to how far a Christian should engage with the culture, which is why the local church is essential to disciple and support Christians in their spheres of mission.