In last week’s article, the discussion concerned the importance of the Trinity as a vital part of the Christian faith. One of the most beloved of Bible verses is John 3:16 which tells us that God is both a father and a son. It is because God is a trinity He can be expressed as both, and He stands as both because He is a Father only in His relationship to Jesus Christ, and Christ is only a son because of His relationship with the Father. Why is the trinity important and why does it matter? It is because only as a trinity can God be both Father and Son, one in essence but distinct in personality.
Today, I would like to follow up with the second part of the article. The premise is the Trinity matters because God matters. Many thanks to the author from whom these thoughts are gleaned. Read carefully to see knowing God as a Trinity is the only way to know Him truly.
“The Trinity matters because this is who God is. It’s who he always was and would’ve been even if there had been no you, no me, and no heavens and earth. The question isn’t first and foremost, ‘Is this practical?’ or ‘Will this be on the test?’ The question is ‘Do I want to know God?’ As Fred Sanders observes,
It makes no sense to ask what the point of the Trinity is or what purpose the Trinity serves. The Trinity isn’t for anything beyond itself, because the Trinity is God. God is God in this way: God’s way of being God is to be Father, Son, and Holy Spirit simultaneously from all eternity, perfectly complete in a triune fellowship of love. If we don’t take this as our starting point, everything we say about the practical relevance of the Trinity could lead to one colossal misunderstanding: thinking of God the Trinity as a means to some other end, as if God were the Trinity in order to make himself useful.
One reason we Americans neglect the Trinity is because we’re so pragmatic. Instead of asking ‘Is it true?’ we’re more likely to ask, ‘Is it useful? ‘Will it help me get ahead?’ ‘Will it make me a better spouse or parent?’ Those are good questions, but if that’s all that matters to us, then how are we any different from the pagans? Even the pagans care about those things.
To know God savingly is to know him as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Anything less is sub-Christian. The number one question is, ‘Do you want to know God?’ Because as Jesus said, ‘This is eternal life: that they know you the only God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’ (John 17:3).
To know God savingly is to know him as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Anything less is sub-Christian. The Trinity matters because God matters, even if it doesn’t strike us as practical.
And yet it is practical. Because—to bring our two points together—the kind of God we have determines the kind of relationship we will have with him. For example: Is your God an all-sufficient fountain of joy and love with an inexhaustible supply available for you anytime? Or did your God create you and save you because he was lonely and needed you?
Is your God the unitarian God of Arianism (think Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses), modalism, or Islam? Or is he the biblical three-in-one? The God of John’s Gospel was never lonely, because even in the beginning, before anything made was made, he already had someone with him. ‘The Word was with God’ (John 1:1).
Is the Trinity practical? Let me ask you—what kind of salvation does your gospel give you? A judge who forgives your sins? Not bad. But not good enough. The triune gospel is better by far. This is good news, because it tells us God didn’t create us because he needed somebody to love. He wasn’t without family. He was already a Father. And he already had an eternally begotten Son, the radiance of his glory and the exact imprint of his nature (Heb. 1:3), lying in his bosom (John 1:18) and basking in his love (John 17:24). You and I aren’t the result of some man-shaped hole in the Father’s heart; rather, you and I represent the overflow of the Father’s eternal love for his Son—as though the Father had said, ‘Son, this love of ours is just too good to keep to ourselves. So together with our eternal Spirit, let us make man in our own image, so that others might see and experience our love, and so that you might be the firstborn among many brothers’ (cf. Gen. 1:26; Rom. 8:29).
Is the Trinity practical? Let me ask you—what kind of salvation does your gospel give you? A judge who forgives your sins? Not bad. But not good enough. The triune gospel is better by far. It’s God giving himself to you in creation and redemption. The same Son who was begotten by the Father before all worlds was sent by the Father into this world, to live and die for us and our salvation. And the same Spirit who proceeded from the Father and the Son from all eternity was sent by the Father and the Son into this world, to live inside us and bring us to Christ—and through Christ to the Father—so that we might be taken into his family, surrounded by his life and love, to glorify and enjoy him forever.
It’s more than forgiveness. It’s joining an eternal family. It’s being conformed to the image of the Son by the Spirit (Rom. 8:29) and becoming a partaker of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). In short, it’s the kind of salvation that only the trinitarian God can offer.
This is the Holy Trinity. This isn’t just a doctrine; this is our life. It’s more than just a mystery or a mind-bending math problem; this is our God, who loves and gave his Son for us (John 3:16), who loves us and gave himself for us (Gal. 2:20), who loves us and lives inside of us (Rom. 5:5).
Pastor V. Mark Smith