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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Trinity: One God in Three Persons

Don Stewart :: In What Ways Is the Doctrine of the Trinity Important for Christian Belief?

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In What Ways Is the Doctrine of the Trinity Important for Christian Belief?

The Trinity: One God in Three Persons – Question 2

The Bible teaches that only one God exists. However, this one God is made up of three distinct persons; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all of the same essence, God, but they are distinct persons. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father. This is the doctrine of the Trinity.

While Bible-believing Christians confess to believing the doctrine of the Trinity, many people do not understand its importance. Indeed, it seems that belief in the Trinity is something which we hold to but we do not really understand why it is significant or how it can affect our daily living. Consequently, the idea of the Trinity is not at the center of our thinking about God. Rather we have placed it as something of secondary importance or as an afterthought. Therefore, we wonder why we should take the time to study the subject or think about its implications.

Is the doctrine of the Trinity that important for Christian belief? Does it really matter? The answer is a resounding, “Yes.”

The Doctrine of the Trinity Is Vital to Christian Theology

The Trinity doctrine is actually at the heart of Christian theology. In other words, if there is no Trinity, there is no Christianity! This can be seen in a number of ways. They include the following:

1. The Doctrine of the Trinity Is Crucial If We Are to Trust the Bible

To begin with, if humans are to trust the Bible as the written Word of God, then it is absolutely essential for the doctrine of the Trinity to be true. Why? It is because the Scripture says that the Holy Spirit is the One who reveals the things of God to the human race.

Peter wrote the following words to the believers in his day:

First, you must understand this: No prophecy in Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation. No prophecy ever originated from humans. Instead, it was given by the Holy Spirit as humans spoke under God’s direction. (2 Peter 1:20-21 God’s Word)

Peter said that no prophecy ever had its origination with human beings but rather it originated with the Holy Spirit. He is the One who ultimately directed everything contained in Scripture.

If the Holy Spirit reveals God’s truth to humanity then of necessity, He must be God. God’s truth cannot be revealed by any other source.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians He emphasized that the only one who fully knows the truth of God is God Himself. He put it this way:

God has revealed those things to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches everything, especially the deep things of God. After all, who knows everything about a person except that person’s own spirit? In the same way, no one has known everything about God except God’s Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:10-11 God’s Word)

Paul says that the only one who really knows a person is that person himself. In the same manner, the only person who really knows who God is, or what He is thinking, is God Himself. The Bible claims to be a written revelation from God. This is a revelation whose ultimate source is the Holy Spirit. He is the One who lead the writers of Scripture to record God’s truth. Yet if the Holy Spirit is not actually God Himself then He could not really know the thoughts of God. He may have had mistaken ideas.

If this is the case, then humans could have no confidence whatsoever in the written Word of God. We could not be certain that it contains the actual mind of God. Therefore, it is crucial that the Holy Spirit has the same nature as God. The Scripture says that He does.

2. The Doctrine of the Trinity Is Essential for Us to Trust Jesus

Not only is the doctrine of the Trinity essential for us to trust the Bible, it is also essential if we are to trust Jesus Christ. If Jesus is not God, then we would have no guarantee that His teachings were error-free, or for that matter, that they were even true. The stakes could not be higher.

For example, the entire thrust of the New Testament message is that Jesus came to reveal God to humanity. John wrote,

No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known. (John 1:18 NET)

Here is the claim. Jesus, who is Himself God, came to earth to reveal God to us. If we want to know what God is like, all we have to do is look to Jesus. However, if Jesus is somehow less in nature than God the Father then we could never be certain He was speaking accurately for God.

As we saw in our last point with the Holy Spirit, the only one who knows what anyone is thinking is that person himself. If Jesus is not God, then we could not be confident that He was correctly revealing God’s thoughts. Indeed, if Jesus was somehow less in character than God, it is possible that He may have misunderstood God’s thoughts or intentions. However, since the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus Christ is God, we have no such problem.

This is why the doctrine of the Trinity is of such importance. Jesus, God the Son, is of the same essence as God. The same is true for the Holy Spirit. Consequently, when they speak, they speak for God. They accurately know the truth of God and are able to convey it to us. Therefore, we can have complete confidence in everything Jesus said and taught as well as what we find in the written Word of God which is ultimately directed by the Holy Spirit.

3. Without the Doctrine of the Trinity, There Is No Salvation from Sin

There is a third reason as to why the doctrine of the Trinity is of the utmost importance for Christian belief. This has to do with the salvation of our souls. The Bible teaches that we human beings have sinned against a holy God. Sin demands judgment. Someone must pay with their life the penalty for our wrongdoings. The good news of Scripture is that Jesus Christ, God the Son, took the penalty of our sins upon Himself on the cross of Calvary. Since He has died as a substitute for us, we do not have to experience the judgment of God concerning sin.

However, this can only be true if Jesus is both fully human and fully God. Why? The penalty and the guilt of sin extends to the entire human race. It is the human race which has sinned against a holy God. Thus, only a human being could die in the place of another human being to atone for our sins. This is not something that animals or angels could accomplish. To be the perfect sacrifice, and to satisfy God’s righteous demands, Jesus must have been fully human.

4. Jesus Must Be Fully God for Our Salvation to Be Accomplished

Yet being fully human would not be enough. Jesus must also be God Himself. Indeed, He must be fully divine. There is no mere human being who could pay the penalty for his or her own sin not to mention the sin of the entire world. Therefore, whoever saves us from our sins must also be God Himself. Otherwise the giving of ones life as a sacrifice in the place of others would be meaningless.

This is where the doctrine of the Trinity is of vital importance. Unless Jesus is fully God, we cannot have forgiveness from our sins. His nature must be greater than the nature of human beings and the nature of angels. He must be of equal nature with God the Father if His sacrifice is to be sufficient.

Therefore, if Jesus Christ is not God the Son, then there could be no assurance that He secured our salvation by His death for us on the cross. This is one reason why the doctrine of the Trinity is of enormous importance to the human race. Jesus Christ must be God Himself for our salvation from sin to be accomplished by His death. The Bible says that Jesus is indeed God.

5. The Holy Spirit Must Be God Himself for Our Salvation to Be Assured

The importance of the Trinity for our salvation from sin also extends to the Person of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is the Person who comes into the life of the believer the moment we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior. He is the One who regenerates us. Furthermore, He continues to indwell us and lead us during our entire Christian experience. However, if the Holy Spirit is not fully God, then we cannot be certain if our conversion is valid or if our Christian experience is real.

If the Holy Spirit is someone, or something, less than the Father and the Son, then we could have no confidence whatsoever that we are truly saved from our sin or that we are doing the things which He wants us to do. The Holy Spirit must not only be equal in nature to God the Father and God the Son, He must also be equal in purpose. Otherwise, our salvation from sin has not been secured.

Conclusion: The Doctrine of the Trinity Is Important for Christian Belief

Therefore, unless Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are fully God our salvation from sin cannot be assured. On the other hand, since the Bible teaches the full Deity of the Son and the Holy Spirit we can be confident that our salvation has been accomplished by the work of God the Son on the cross and that the Holy Spirit does make us a new creation in Jesus Christ.

As can be readily seen, the doctrine of the Trinity is indeed an important belief!

Summary – Question 2
In What Ways Is the Doctrine of the Trinity Important for Christian Belief?

While many people do not give much thought to the doctrine of the Trinity, because of its seeming unimportance and irrelevance, it actually is absolutely essential for the Christian faith to be true. The biblical teaching of one God in three persons is at the heart of Christian belief. There are a number of reasons as to why this is so.

To begin with, the Bible says that the Holy Spirit is the ultimate source of Scripture. The writers were guided by Him to put down exactly what He showed them. However, if the Holy Spirit is not God, then the final result, the Bible, would not be the Word of God. It would be something less. Consequently, there would be no reason to trust what it says.

In the same way, God the Son, Jesus, claimed to speak for God. If He is not God, then we could not trust anything that He said for only God knows the mind of God. We would be uncertain about everything He said and did. Consequently, for us to trust what they teach, both Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit must be the one God.

In addition, our eternal salvation depends upon the identity of Jesus. To be an acceptable sacrifice for our sins, Jesus must be God Himself. All humans are sinners by nature. None of us could be the perfect sacrifice. However, Jesus, as both God and human at the same time, was able to die as our substitute on the cross of Calvary.

Therefore, rather than being irrelevant, we find that the doctrine of the Trinity is absolutely essential for the Christian faith. Indeed, without the Trinity, there is no Christian faith.

How Can There Be One God in Three Persons? ← Prior Section
How Can Understanding the Doctrine of the Trinity Affect the Way We Live the Christian Life? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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