The Trinity Matters

Of course the Trinity matters!  Trinity is the Church’s description of God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture.  So to say that the Trinity matters is simply to state the obvious, namely, that God matters supremely.  “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be glory forever. Amen!” (Rom. 11:36).  I mean to say more than this, however.  Not only does God, the Trinity, matter, but that God is Trinity matters.  That God is Trinity impacts our understanding of every area of Christian teaching.  In fact, it informs our very perception of reality.  That there is only one God who exists eternally as three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each Person being fully God, each distinct from the others in Person, yet of the same essence and therefore inseparable in being, matters.  Why does it matter?

Knowing God as Trinity helps us to worship God in truth.  Every alternative to the doctrine of the Trinity leads to false worship.  For example, Arianism, which rightly contended for the uniqueness of God, but wrongly denied that the Son (Jesus) is God, would leave the church with two bad choices for worship.  One choice would be not to worship Jesus, since, according to Arius, He is not God, and it is only fitting to worship God (Exod. 20:1-6).  The other choice would be to worship Jesus, not as God, but as the highest of all God’s creatures, which would be a clear violation of God’s command not to worship any creature.  The New Testament does not rescind this prohibition.  In fact, in Revelation, a book full of the worship of Jesus, the Lamb of God, John twice wrongly attempts to worship an angel, and each time He is rebuked and told to, “Worship God!” (Rev. 19:10; 22:9).  It is not appropriate to worship even a glorious angel who is an ambassador of God, yet there is no rebuke when all of creation joins with the saints and angels in proclaiming, “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”  The Son is worshiped together with the Father—no dilemma.  Why?  Because, the Son is God—distinct in person from the Father (Him who sits on the throne), but one in essence.  Knowing this, we can rightly worship God and sing “Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and mighty! God in three persons, blessed Trinity!”

Knowing God as Trinity helps us relate to God as a person.  God is not the “force” of Star Wars.  He is not merely the “Supreme Being,” the First Cause, the Unmoved Mover, of philosophers.  Knowing God is quite the opposite of the mystical pursuit of unknowing or unconscious existence, the obliteration of individual personhood.  The doctrine of the Trinity teaches that an eternal attribute of God is community—relationship.  God did not need to create another being in order to have a relationship.  There is relationship within God.  Jesus prayed to the Father, “You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).  When God the Father testified at Jesus’ baptism, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” He was speaking of an eternal relationship and pleasure in His Son.  We worship, pray to, and rely on a Person—the most important Person!

Knowing God as Trinity reveals the happiness of God in Himself.  God was never lonely.  As was already stated, God did not need to create anyone in order to have a relationship.  He has always enjoyed perfect communion within His own being.  So, everything that God does arises from this perfect fellowship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  God did not have a “you-shaped” hole in His heart that only you could fill!  His creation of us was purely an act of grace.

Knowing God as Trinity helps us understand the Bible.  Because the New Testament authors assume the doctrine of the Trinity, it is essential that we understand this doctrine if we are going to understand what they wrote.  For example, Paul says to the Ephesian elders that God obtained the Church by His own blood (Acts 20:28).  If we do not understand the doctrine of the Trinity, then we will be puzzled by such a statement, or we will come up with some strange doctrine of the corporeality of God.  The New Testament also applies many Old Testament passages about the LORD to Jesus Christ.  If we do not understand the Trinity, as the Apostles did, then we may think that the Apostles seriously blundered in their handling of the Old Testament Scriptures.

Knowing God as Trinity helps us understand the God-centered nature of creation and history.  The Bible reveals that the meaning of history does not terminate on man.  Man is not the measure of all things.  The story of the creation and redemption of humanity must be understood in light of the Trinity.  The Father delights in the Son and plans to glorify the Son by creating a people to glorify and enjoy Him forever.  The Son, the radiance of the Father’s glory, makes His Father known to this people, that the Father might be glorified and enjoyed by them.  The Father and the Son send the Spirit, who delights to disclose to this people the glory of the Son.  Our last glimpses of the drama have the whole of creation encircling the throne worshiping Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Knowing God as Trinity helps us understand that our humanity as God’s image-bearers is to be realized in community.  Being made in the image of God required that we be relational beings with other-oriented affections.  Our relationship is first and foremost to God.  But God Himself pronounced Adam’s being alone in a creaturely sense as “not good.”  Eve was necessary for the full display of God’s image in humankind.  The marring of the image of God by sin is not only evident in humanity’s open rebellion against God, but in all of what we euphemistically call dysfunction within the human family.  No wonder Malachi described the redemption to be realized on the “great and awesome day of the LORD” as the turning of “the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” (Mal. 4:6).  Little wonder, too, that Jesus speaks of the new creation community as being defined by mutual love: “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

The Trinity matters!  Knowing God as Trinity impacts all that we know.  So let us not leave the contemplation of God in three Persons in the realm of historical theology and Christological debates.  Let us know Him.  Let us live in the light of this knowledge.  Let us make our Triune God known.