Why does the Trinity matter? This is a fair question, especially since the Trinity isn’t easy to understand. Simply put, the Trinity is God in three persons and one essence. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but there are not three gods. There is only one God who is three persons. This is complex. Christians want to move on from talking or thinking about God to knowing God. I understand that, but I want you to see that understanding the Trinity actually changes your life.
As you come to know God, you come to know the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As Christians, you and I have a personal relationship with each person of the Trinity. This kind of knowledge is more than just what you need to know to pass a doctrine exam. This kind of knowledge matters for your life. It makes life worth living. Here are three ways understanding the Trinity will change your life.
1. Salvation has a Trinitarian shape.
Fred Sanders in The Deep Things of God (Crossway, 2010) said: “The Gospel is that God is God for us, that he gives himself to be our salvation….He does not give us something that makes us blessed, but he blesses us by giving us himself.”
In Ephesians 1:3–14, the apostle Paul describes God’s work of salvation as a work of three persons. The Father’s love moved him to send Jesus to die in your place. Jesus’ love moved him to die in your place and send the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s love moved him to draw you back into the Father’s love. This is hard to describe, but this reflects the gospel’s depth.
As you ponder this more, you will come to realize that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit love you. They call you to enjoy their presence. You receive the fullness of God’s love and grace when you trust in Jesus, the one who died for your sins.
2. Prayer has a Trinitarian flow.
J. I. Packer in Knowing God (Intervarsity Press, 1973) explains that prayer is a time to take what we know about God before God, to lead us to worship. The way we pray has practical significance:
How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God. (17)
Scripture teaches us to pray to the Father, in Jesus’ name, with the help of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 6:9; John 14:14, 27). Jesus’ name should give you confidence that the Father will hear your prayers. Jesus paid for your sins. Jesus proves that God loves you. Jesus suffered what you deserve so that you could become an adopted child of God (Gal. 4:4). The Holy Spirit gives you the strength to want to pray. And the Holy Spirit helps you, even when you don’t know what to ask (Rom. 8:26).
When you fail to pray with this understanding, God still hears; but when you understand the Trinity while you pray, you have a greater sense of confidence and hope that God will answer.
3. We worship and enjoy each person: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God’s Story (Zondervan, 2016), Michael Horton explains that much of the church’s understanding of the Trinity comes from passages expressing the church’s worship:
Some of the most foundational passages for faith in the Trinity come from expressions of praise in the church’s worship. Confessing that God is “one God in three persons” arises naturally from the formulas we find in the New Testament, especially in the context of baptism, blessings, and benedictions. (50)
In Ephesians 1:3–14, Paul praises the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for their work in salvation. In the same way, we worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit specifically for what they do and who they are. As you worship each person, understanding his work of salvation, your mind will stretch and your heart will rejoice. The Trinity adds depth to our worship. We worship a God who is beyond us, above us, and within us.
The Trinity is beyond our ability to understand. God is big. God is able. God is love. Praise the Father. Praise the Son. Praise the Holy Spirit.