Aug 16 21

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF THE TRINITY

vmsmith

Recently, I’ve had some discussions with one of the young people about the Trinity. In preaching the subject of assurance of salvation, this young person became concerned about his confusion on the Trinity. It is not that he didn’t believe it, but that he didn’t understand it. This is not uncommon, although I will say there used to be much more preaching of the Trinity than we hear in the modern pulpit. The failure of the younger generation to understand may have much to do with our failure to preach it often enough as essential to the Christian faith.

            In my daily reading, I crossed paths with a very good article on the subject, commenting on the apathy of Christians towards the doctrine as if it doesn’t matter as much to the person in the pew as it does to academics who argue its intricacies. Indeed, lately there has been a raging argument in Reformed circles about its inner workings with charges of heresy crisscrossing from both directions.

            However, this article was much more practical, showing how important the doctrine is for every Christian regardless of their theological acumen. I would like to copy a small portion of the article which takes one of the most beloved Bible verses and shows how important the Trinity is even to the neophyte with limited theological understanding. Read carefully and consider the following:

            “Did you ever notice that even in John 3:16 you’re already wading into trinitarian waters? Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that the whole doctrine is here full-blown (you’ll need the rest of John’s Gospel to get the Holy Spirit, including a few verses earlier in 3:5). But just think about all the Trinity-related truths stated or implied in this one simple verse. I can think of at least six:

  1. Two of the three persons are explicitly mentioned: God and his only begotten Son.
  2. The fact that God has a Son tells us that he’s a Father. It also suggests that when Scripture speaks simply of “God,” it’s often referring specifically to the Father.
  3. The fact that the Father gave his Son tells us they’re distinct persons. The Father can’t be the Son if he gave the Son.
  4. It says something about how the Father loves his Son that giving him would be the ultimate demonstration of his fatherly love.
  5. The fact that Jesus is referred to as God’s only Son suggests there’s something unique about Jesus’s sonship. After all, Scripture teaches that God has other sons (Job 2:1; Heb. 2:10). In fact, John has already told us in 1:13 that when we believe in Jesus, we become God’s children. So how can he say that Jesus is God’s only Son? Answer: because while we are sons by grace, he is Son by nature. We become God’s sons by adoption and regeneration, but he doesn’t become God’s Son—he simply is God’s Son, begotten from the Father before all worlds, God from God, light from light, begotten and not made.
  6. John 3:16 tells us that this is how we receive eternal life—by the Father giving his Son. Salvation is trinitarian. The Father has an only, eternally begotten Son, and in his love for sinners he sends that Son for us. The Son of God becomes a Son of Man, so that the sons of men might become sons of God. And then, the Father and Son send their Spirit to dwell in us so we can experience this new life as sons (John 3:5, 7:37–39, 15:26, 16:12–15).

As Paul puts it in Galatians 4, But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Gal. 4:4–6)

As one writer has said, “The Trinity and the gospel have the same shape.” Are you beginning to see why? This is how God saves us—by sending his Son and Spirit. Our salvation hangs on these two sendings. Without them, God would still be a Father, but he wouldn’t be our Father. He would still have a Son, but he wouldn’t have many sons. The Trinity matters because the gospel matters.”

Next week, I want to follow up with another part of the article that makes the point: The Trinity matters because God matters. Think on this first part and look forward to more understanding in the second.

                                                                                      Pastor V. Mark Smith