The Trinity is hard to understand and even harder to explain to others, so we tend to spend little time thinking or talking about it. This attitude is tragic. When we only believe God is a Trinity because we know we’re supposed to, we deprive ourselves of great truth, hope, and joy. As we meditate on the reality that our God is triune, we should be moved to worship God for who he is, we should be encouraged by his love, and we should recognize the very practical implications God’s triune nature has for our lives!
1. The doctrine of the Trinity is awe-inspiring
The Scriptures reveal to us the truth that God is one essence, three persons. In the Old Testament God makes it abundantly clear that he is one God: “Hear O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one”(Deuteronomy 6:4). As monotheists, the Jewish people were very different from the polytheistic nations around them. Even with this emphasis we see hints in the Old Testament of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:26; 11:7; 16:-7-13; 18; Is. 48:16; 61:1, 63:9-10). The fact that God is three persons becomes abundantly clear in the New Testament: from Jesus’ Baptism (Luke 3:21-22) to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19), the reality of the Trinity is boldly proclaimed.
As we try to wrap our minds around this revealed truth, we run up against the limits of our finite minds. Try as we might, the being of God is not something we can totally understand because we are made by God, we aren’t God. Every analogy we come up with ultimately falls short of the truth about who God is. As we meditate on the fact that God is triune, there is only one appropriate response: awe. The majesty and splendor of God’s being is more than we can fathom. As we come to know him more deeply, we are filled with wonder and amazement. As we contemplate the triune nature of our God, we should respond with humble worship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
2. The doctrine of the Trinity is encouraging
It might seem odd to claim that the doctrine of the Trinity is encouraging. How could something that seems so cerebral and esoteric encourage us? I believe that the doctrine of the Trinity encourages us in every single area of life for one simple reason: God is love (1 John 4:8). This statement can only be true because God is triune.
Love requires an object. In other words, you can’t love someone or something if there’s nothing there to love. If God were a singularity and not an interpersonal God, he could not love. In eternity past, before creation, there would be nobody else to love. God would be a self-centered, self-absorbed, navel-gazing narcissist. He would then be self-absorbed, loving only himself. Things wouldn’t be any better if God was two persons. There would be no reason for him to create anything outside of that relationship. Thankfully, this is not the way God is. He is eternally Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is three equal persons who co-exist for all eternity in a perfect relationship. In this relationship the Father, Son, and Spirit always love and glorify one another. This is why God created.
It is entirely consistent with who God is that he would make creatures in his image. He creates to manifest his glory and share his love because he is not an inherently narcissistic or self-absorbed being. You exist because God freely chose to create you so that the perfect love, which the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have experienced and delighted in for all eternity, might be shared with you. In John 17:24-26 Jesus prays,
Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
God’s desire is that we would experience and know his perfect love. The problem is that our sin makes this kind of relationship with God impossible. Yet, even though we are sinners unworthy of a relationship with a perfect and holy God, there is a way to be reconciled. The Father shows us his love by sending his beloved Son to die in our place. Through Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit we can have a relationship with God. He invites us to know and experience the eternal love of the Trinity by faith in Christ! This love is incredible and irrevocable. What could be more amazing than knowing that the Father loves you so much, he did not withhold his only son? What could bring more security and comfort than knowing the Son freely and humbly chose to become human in order to be punished in your place? How encouraging is it to know that the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ our savior by faith so that we might know and experience the love of God in this life and for all eternity? These questions only begin to scratch the surface of the countless ways the doctrine of the Trinity offers encouragement.
3. The doctrine of the Trinity is practical
The doctrine of the Trinity is at the foundation of the Christian life. John tells us, “We love because he first loved us”(1 John 4:19). As we have seen, God loves us because he is triune. As a result, when we have experienced the love, grace, and mercy of God, we cannot help but love him in return. The more we experience and grasp the heights and depths of God’s love, the more it ought to overflow out of us. It should spill into all of our thoughts, actions, and relationships. In this way, we mirror the triune God, who is not focused inward but eternally looks outward to love and glorify the other persons of the Trinity. The Trinity teaches us that the Christian life is, by definition, outward facing. We should seek to serve and help others, following the example of Christ.
In addition, the Trinity teaches us that Christians should be unified. The bond between people in the church should reflect the unity of the Trinity. Jesus prays to the Father that believers “may be one even as we are one”(John 17:22). This can happen in the church because the Holy Spirit unites all believers to Christ by faith. This unbreakable bond transcends time and space. However, this reality is often not reflected in the Church on earth. That ought to spur us on to strive for unity, love, and peace within the church and with every fellow believer. We should use the energies, resources, gifts, and passions God has given us for the benefit of the whole Church. In doing so we reflect the perfect, eternal unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Finally, the fact that God is a Trinity means we should emulate his outward focus by doing missions. In other words, Christians do missions because God is a missionary God. He did not withdraw into himself when his creation rebelled. Quite the opposite. He came to us to bring us salvation. We should have the same mindset as our loving, triune God. We share our faith because we want others to experience the reality of being unconditionally loved by God. The Father so loved us that he sent his Son. If the love of God is within us, we should have hearts to go to the lost and proclaim the good news of salvation through Christ!