The Doctrine of the Trinity
- Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Let us quickly review what we have seen.
1. The Trinity is not belief in three gods. There is only one God, and we must never stray from this.
2. This one God exists as three Persons.
3. The three Persons are not each part of God, but are each fully God and equally God. Within God's one undivided being there is an unfolding into three interpersonal relationships such that there are three Persons. The distinctions within the Godhead are not distinctions of His essence and neither are they something added on to His essence, but they are the unfolding of God's one, undivided being into three interpersonal relationships such that there are three real Persons.
4. God is not one person who took three consecutive roles. That is the heresy of modalism. The Father did not become the Son and then the Holy Spirit. Instead, there have always been and always will be three distinct persons in the Godhead.
5. The Trinity is not a contradiction because God is not three in the same way that He is one. God is one in essence, three in Person.
The Trinity is first of all important because God is important. To understand more fully what God is like is a way of honoring God. Further, we should allow the fact that God is triune to deepen our worship. We exist to worship God. And God seeks people to worship Him in "spirit and truth" (John 4:24). Therefore we must always endeavor to deepen our worship of God-in truth as well as in our hearts.
The Trinity has a very significant application to prayer. The general pattern of prayer in the Bible is to pray to the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18). Our fellowship with God should be enhanced by consciously knowing that we are relating to a tri-personal God!
Awareness of the distinct role that each Person of the Trinity has in our salvation can especially serve to give us greater comfort and appreciation for God in our prayers, as well as helping us to be specific in directing our prayers. Nonetheless, while recognizing the distinct roles that each Person has, we should never think of their roles as so separate that the other Persons are not involved. Rather, everything that one Person is involved in, the other two are also involved in, one way or another.
1.Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (InterVarsity Press and Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), p. 255, emphasis added.
2. Ibid, 252.
3. Ibid, p. 255. While I believe that this is a helpful definition, it should be recognized that Grudem himself is offering this as more of an explanation than definition of Person.
4. Herman Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, (Great Britain: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1991 edition), p. 303.
5. Grudem, pp. 253-254.
Augustine, On the Trinity
Herman Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, pp. 255-334
Edward Bickersteth, The Trinity.
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, chapter 14
Donald Macleod, Shared Life: The Trinity and the Fellowship of God's People
R.C. Sproul, The Mystery of the Holy Spirit
R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, pp. 35-36
J.I. Packer, Knowing God, pp. 57-63.
John Piper, The Pleasures of God, chapter 1
James White, The Forgotten Trinity
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