Many Christians today quietly (and somewhat ashamedly) believe the doctrine of the Trinity to be a monstrosity of sorts—an awkward theological deformity that is to be practically tucked behind more logical orthodoxy. To many, the Trinity is merely a conundrum of mathematics, filled with philosophical jargon intended for the abstract tinkering of men in sophisticated seminaries and ivory towers.
The problem with this manner of thinking is that the biblical authors were utterly captivated by the Trinity.
John spent the first 18 verses of his Gospel expounding the Trinity. Mere hours before His crucifixion, Christ spent His last meal explaining it (cf. John 13-17). The parting words of Jesus before ascending into heaven were, “Make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (emphasis mine, Matt. 28:19).
It is true that you would waste your time searching for the word Trinity in your Bible - it’s just not there. But the Bible is so steeped with the notion of a God who is three in one that it is hard to find a page without the threads and implications of this triunal God.
For those in Christ, salvation was planned and predestined by God the Father,
purchased and paid for by God the Son, and preserved and protected by God the Holy Spirit
The Trinity is not a matter of speculation but, instead, the essence of who God is. One God, three Persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—each equally, fully, and eternally God, and yet still One.
Leaving the Ivory Tower
The next step in our study of the doctrine of the Trinity is to learn to feed from the Trinity for daily sustenance, rather than simply to assent that the Trinity is somehow sound doctrine.
Here are 5 reasons why the doctrine of the Trinity is for the Christian a deep well of practical value. Simply stated, here is how the Trinity changes things:
1. The eternal relationship of the Trinity informs us that God is the happiest, most joyful Person in the universe. God has been infinitely happy because, within the context of the Trinity, He has been eternally enjoying, loving, and rejoicing in Himself. The fountain of our joy as believers is the joy that has always abounded within the Trinity.
2. The Trinity reminds believers that salvation was eternally intentional. Our salvation was not a last-minute roll of the dice or some mad-scramble for the saving of sinners—no. Despite our undeserving and rebellious hearts, we were the subjects of an eternal, salvific conversation between the Persons of the Trinity, and that conversation began long before God ever uttered light into existence.
For those in Christ, salvation was planned and predestined by God the Father, purchased and paid for by God the Son, and preserved and protected by God the Holy Spirit. To God be the glory!
3. The Trinity helps shape the way we think about salvation. Our salvation is not merely a commodity that we receive as a reward for faith in Christ; rather, the essence of salvation is being granted access for all of eternity into the mutual exhilaration each Person of the Trinity has in one Another (cf. John 17). As believers, we will be forever caught in the crossfire of Trinitarian love and affection (cf. John 17:22-26).
In his book The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything, Fred Sanders writes, “the gospel is Trinitarian, and the Trinity is the gospel. Christian salvation comes from the Trinity, happens through the Trinity, and brings us home to the Trinity” (10).
4. The truth about the Trinity explodes the childish notion that God created man because He was somehow lonely, bored, or disheartened by a world without man’s affections—as if God needed anything from us that He did not already possess in Himself.
The truth is that God was supremely satisfied in the fellowship of the Trinity long before our existence. We must never forget that God did not create the universe because of what He lacked, but rather, He was so filled with joy that His joy overflowed into its creation.
5. The ultimate foundation for our confidence that the Great Commission will be completed is the Trinity. We tend to forget that the most prominent text on missions is, in fact, Trinitarian. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commands, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (emphasis mine, cf. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:6-8).
The work of each Person of the Trinity in the plan of redemption is our guarantee that every name written before the foundation of the world in the Lamb’s Book of Life (cf. Revelation 13:8) will be saved through the proclamation of the Gospel.
A Thriving Soul
More reasons for why the Trinity matters could and should be included, but for now let’s leave it at this: many in the church struggling with feeling spiritually shallow, weak, and anemic must remember that our apathy toward the Trinity and our spiritual starvation are intertwined. The problem is that we have not even begun to ascend the staggering, Trinitarian heights of the nature of God.
The secret to a thriving soul is not to avoid thinking deeply about God, but at an even more intimate level to understand the character of God. We must have eyes to see that at the root of our stubborn sins is a view of God that just doesn’t go high enough – that isn’t beautiful enough.
In short, it isn’t Trinitarian enough.