Editor’s note: This post is part of a series featuring outstanding excerpts from student papers at the BibleMesh Institute, which offers affordable online training for local churches, schools, and ministries. The author’s name has been withheld for privacy purposes. He is a pastor in Canada.
How does believing in the Trinity affect our Christian lives? It affects our worship and prayer life, our understanding of the gospel, our view of God. The Trinity is a practical doctrine.
Firstly, understanding the Trinity affects our worship and prayer. If we misunderstand how God has revealed himself to us, then we worship him improperly. If God is Triune, then our worship should be Triune. Our singing in corporate worship should be Triune. We should recognize that we approach God the Father, through the work of God the Son, by the power of God the Holy Spirit. Likewise, our prayer life. Who do we commune with in prayer? One person who manifests himself in three ways (a heretical view), or three divine persons? We can thank the Father for choosing us before the foundation of the world; we can thank the Lord Jesus Christ for his perfect life and death in our place; we can thank the Spirit of God for opening our eyes to see the beauties of Christ. Christian prayer is Trinitarian prayer. As Trinitarians, we should desire to see our friends in non-Trinitarian faiths be able to experience true worship, for our Lord Jesus in John 4:24 said that the Father is seeking worshipers who worship in spirit and in truth.
Secondly, the gospel is a trinitarian gospel. How do we understand the work of the cross apart from the Trinity? If God were a solitary monad rather than a Trinity, you could not make sense of penal substitutionary atonement, a doctrine central to the Christian faith. God the Father pouring his just and holy wrath out on God the Son incarnate as a substitute for sinners does not make sense if Jesus is both the Father and the Son, as some claim. Without the Trinity, you also cannot make sense of Ephesians 1, where the Father decrees salvation, the Son accomplishes it, and the Spirit applies it and seals believers. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, as Romans 1:16 declares. The doctrine of the Trinity lies so close to the heart of the gospel message that we need to understand this doctrine so we don’t embrace a false gospel and thus miss out on the great salvation that can be ours.
Lastly, the Trinity affects our view of God. How can we have a God of love without the Trinity? Logically, without the Trinity you cannot have a God who eternally loves, for he would have to create in order to love someone else. Trinitarians believe in a God who eternally loves within himself. God did not need to create in order to love. The Father eternally loved the Son and Spirit; the Son eternally loved the Spirit and Father; the Spirit eternally loved the Son and Father—an eternal, divine community of love. Our view of God is affected by our embracing or denying of the doctrine of the Trinity. Trinitarians should desire to see their non-Trinitarian friends come to know the true and living God, the Triune God of the Bible. For God desires that we love him with our hearts, souls, minds, and strength as Mark 12:30 states. The mind is to be involved in our love for God. We want to love the true God, not a false God. It does not honor God to have a false view of him.
May the truth of Scripture move our hearts to worship the Triune God; may our theology lead to doxology!
Holy, holy, holy!
Lord God Almighty
Early in the morning
Our song shall rise to Thee
Holy, holy, holy!
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons