Why does the Doctrine of the Trinity even MATTER?
Other than being an interesting theoretical issue to ponder, what practical application does the Trinity have to our lives? Shouldn’t we just leave discussions of the Trinity to musty professors and theologians in the ivory towers of Universities and Seminaries? How does it affect our lives in any way in real life?
For the Christian, the Doctrine of the Trinity has implications on everything we do in our lives and our worship. Here are some reasons why the Trinity IS important:
- If we are to worship God, we must worship Him as He is and as he has revealed himself to be.
God has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ and in the Scriptures to be Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and so we should take this self-disclosure seriously and relate to him accordingly.
“For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” John 4:24
- Christian prayers are Trinitarian in nature.
When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he taught them to pray, “our Father”. And Jesus himself prayed to the Father. He also taught them to pray to the Father “in my name”. We are also taught that we are to pray in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are to pray TO the Father, in the Name of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Also, Scripture tells us that “when we do not know how we ought to pray, the Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8). Jesus prayed to the Father and asked him to send the Holy Spirit to us. Jesus intercedes for us before the Father as our eternal Advocate before the Father. So even our prayers are affected by our belief in the Trinity.
- Our very salvation is the work of the Trinity.
The Father sent the Son to become flesh for our sakes. The Holy Spirit overshadowed the Virgin Mary and she became pregnant with the Incarnate Son, who was born to her…so the Son came into this world BY the Holy Spirit.
The Son accomplished all righteousness for us in his perfect obedience to the Father. The Son reveals to us the invisible Father, whom we can ONLY know through him. The Son died upon the Cross for our sins and the Father raised him on the third day by the Holy Spirit. The Son glorified the Father in his life and in his death.
Jesus, the Son, ascended to the Father and presented himself as our perfect sacrifice for sin, our perfect mediator between us and God–being both man and God himself.
The Father accepted the sacrifice of the Son for our sakes and forgave our sins. The Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit into the world to empower those who believe in the Son to proclaim the Gospel.
The Holy Spirit testifies to Christ, convicts the world of sin, draws people toward faith in Christ, regenerates those who repent of their sin and place their faith in the Son, and enables them to have a relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ the Son.
Everything in the Gospel is the work of the Trinity. We cannot understand the Gospel apart from discerning the work of the Trinity.
- Our worship as a Church is Trinitarian in nature.
We, the Church, are the Body of Christ, indwelt by and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, worshiping the Father.
We are united together, not just by a common Creed or by a unified hierarchical structure…but by our common possession of and indwelling by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit has union with himself, and he is in us all, and so we have union with one another. It is by the Holy Spirit that we are One in Christ. We are, by the Holy Spirit, “hidden with Christ in God (the Father)” (Colossians 3:3).
When we partake of the Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper, it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that the elements, the bread and wine (or juice) are made to be for us the Body and Blood of Christ (whether literally or figuratively, or mystically, depending on what your persuasion is…it matters not to this point.) It is in this act that we become partakers in the sacrifice of Christ, who once and for all time paid the penalty for sin and gave us peace with God the Father.
When we are baptized into the Church, it is “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit“...in the name of the Trinity! The Scriptures tell us that we are all baptized by one Spirit into One Body, the Body of Christ. When we gather to pray and to worship as a church, we do so as a Trinitarian body.
- The Scriptures are Trinitarian in nature.
Jesus himself said that the whole of the Scriptures testify about him. The writers of the Scriptures were inspired by and “carried along by” the Holy Spirit.
The Scriptures teach us about Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Scriptures are said to be “the Word of God”, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ himself is “the Word made Flesh”. And yet, The Scriptures are not only inspired by the Holy Spirit, but also illuminated by the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit inspired the writers of the Scriptures with the Words of the Father (Jesus said that the Holy Spirit did not speak of his own accord, but only what the Father gave him to say), and those Scriptures testify about Christ, and Christ reveals to us the Father, and the Father glorifies the Son.
Not only is the Trinity found and taught all throughout the Scriptures, the Bible itself is the product of the Trinity.
- The obedient Christian life can only be lived through the work of the Trinity.
The life of the Christian is to glorify God the Father and obey the commands of the Son by the Power of the Holy Spirit. According to Scripture, human beings are not capable in their own power to obey the commands of Christ–not even the simplest ones to love others as God loved us.
It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are capable of truly obeying God.
And the Holy Spirit is empowering us, convicting us of residual sins in our lives, and guiding us toward more perfect obedience every day. This is called “sanctification”.
But Christ knew we could not obey perfectly, and so he accomplished our perfect obedience FOR us during his life. He not only took the penalty for our sins, but he also accomplished all righteousness for us.
It is his perfect obedience that is credited to us when we place our faith in him, and becomes for us “the righteousness of God that is by faith”. Therefore, we are free to grow in righteousness without fear of punishment or rejection by God if we fail and do not perfectly obey him.
It is because of Christ’s perfect obedience that we can be FREE from condemnation and fear and live freely before God, obeying out of love and gratitude, not out of fear and obligation.
And so it is that pretty much everything in the Christian life is affected by the Doctrine of the Trinity! It is not a distant, obscure theory that has no practical application to our lives. It is a living, central part of our lives every day.
From our baptism and salvation, to our prayers and our worship and our reading of Scriptures and even our daily living out of the commands of Christ–ALL OF IT is wrapped up in and centered around the Trinity.