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

Don Stewart :: Does It Really Matter Whether or Not One Believes in the Trinity?

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Does It Really Matter Whether or Not One Believes in the Trinity?

The Trinity: One God in Three Persons – Question 30

After one looks at the evidence for the Trinity there is one question which remains to be answered. Does it really matter whether or not a person believes in this particular doctrine? Isn’t the doctrine of the Trinity something that should be the merely subject of theological discussions by professional theologians? Indeed, what does it have to do with everyday life?

There a number of points which need to be made as we answer this question about the relevance and practicality of the doctrine of the Trinity. They can be summarized as follows:

1. What One Believes about the Trinity Is Not Irrelevant

To begin with, the doctrine of the Trinity is not something that is irrelevant to Christianity. While some people may ignore the Trinity doctrine because of its difficulty, it does not mean that it is irrelevant. Their failure to appreciate the truths regarding the Trinity should not stop others from understanding the doctrine the best way in which we can. There are a number of reasons why the Trinity is extremely relevant to the believer.

2. Christian Truth Stands or Falls on the Doctrine of the Trinity

Everything that is central to the Christian belief is based upon the doctrine of the Trinity. For example, if Jesus Christ is not God, then He can do nothing about our sin. The Bible says that our sins offend God and Him alone. David said,

You are really the one I have sinned against; I have disobeyed you and have done wrong. So it is right and fair for you to correct and punish me. (Psalm 51:4 CEV)

The New Revised Standard Version puts it this way:

Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment. (Psalm 51:4 NRSV)

Ultimately our sin is against the Lord and Him alone.

If Jesus Christ is not God, then we did not sin against Him. Therefore He can do nothing about our sin problem. Only God can forgive sins that are committed against Him. The Lord has said,

“I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25 RSV)

On the other hand, if He is God, then He is able to forgive our sins. This demonstrates how important it is to recognize that Jesus Christ is God. The whole program of salvation, or redemption, is based upon the perfect sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.

The same holds true for the Deity of the Holy Spirit. If He is not God, then the presence of God does not reside with us. We only know and experience God on a personal level through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that we recognize that He too, is God.

3. We Need to Realize That God Himself Saved Us

When a person understands the basic truths about the Trinity, they understand that the salvation of sinners was entirely a work of God. God the Father sent God the Son to take upon Himself the punishment for the sins of the world. For those who are saved, God the Father has sent God the Holy Spirit to lead and guide the believer.

Consequently humankind cannot take any credit for any part of the salvation process. It was, and is, totally a work of God from beginning to end. The only thing that a human being can do is believe it. That’s all.

Realizing this should cause the believer to better appreciate and love God for what He has done. He gave Himself for our salvation. Indeed, He did not sacrifice one of His created beings whether it be a mere human or an angel. God became a human being, and it was He who was sacrificed for our sins.

There is something else. If Jesus was not God, then we could never be certain that we could trust Him to save us. If He is only a created being, then there would be some doubt whether He could bring our salvation to completion. Fortunately, we do not have that worry.

4. The Fact of the Trinity Proves That God Is Love

The Bible says that the God of Scripture is love. John wrote the following to believers:

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. (1 John 4:16 NRSV)

This is demonstrated by the Trinity. It is proof that God indeed is love. Instead of being lonely before He created humanity, there was perfect love and communication between the members of the Trinity. Since God is fulfilled within Himself, He did not need to create us. Neither did He need to save us from our sins once we rebelled against Him. Creation and redemption, the forgiveness of sins, are gracious acts of God toward humanity, were free decisions on His part, nothing made them necessary.

If God is not a Trinity, then one could argue that He needed to create humanity in order to have some type of relationship with a person being. As a personal God, He would have had no one in which to communicate if He was not a Trinity. However, because God is a Trinity, with three distinct centers of consciousness, there was no need for anyone else. Denial of the Trinity is a denial of the interpersonal relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

5. Understanding the Trinity Is Important for Worship

There is the practical matter of worship. Christians worship one God in Trinity. It is important to have a correct idea of the God who deserves our worship. Since the doctrine of the Trinity acknowledges the Son and the Holy Spirit as God, they too are included in our worship when we worship God. If any of the three was not wholly God, then that Person would not be worthy of our worship. Only God is to be worshipped.

6. We Should Correct Errors of Belief about God’s Nature

Without a correct understanding of what the Bible says about the nature of God, there are other errors that can result. When a person is wrong on their view of the Trinity there is a good chance they will be wrong about other important beliefs. An incorrect view of the Person of Jesus Christ can lead someone into an improper view of the biblical doctrine of salvation. Therefore, errors of belief should be corrected.

It is important that people have a correct understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity since it is an explanation of the nature of God. The Christian needs to know exactly who God is in order to have a proper understanding of the One they serve. A wrong view of the Trinity will give us wrong views about God.

7. We Don’t Have to Understand the Trinity to Be Saved

We must emphasize that it is not necessary that a person understand the Trinity in order to be saved. Salvation consists in believing on the Person of Jesus Christ and His work on Calvary’s cross. It is not based upon ones view of the Trinity.

However, those who have trusted Christ as Savior should readily accept the doctrine of the Trinity once it is explained to them.

8. The Truth of God Must Be Precisely Defined

The truths of the Christian faith need to be precisely defined to keep people from error. The historic creeds of the churches were formulated to respond to false doctrine that came into the church. The biblical truths must be upheld and defended.

Since the doctrine of the Trinity lies at the heart of so many important doctrines of the faith, it is crucial that it be understood by the believers, and precisely defined. Indeed, just about everything that is important to the Christian faith depends upon the truth of the Trinity.

Conclusion: The Trinity Is an Essential Doctrine

We conclude that the doctrine of the Trinity is an essential doctrine of the Christian faith. It is crucial to understand it the best we can and to believe it. It is extremely relevant, and of the utmost importance.

Summary – Question 30
Does It Really Matter Whether or Not One Believes in the Trinity?

The doctrine of the Trinity is important to the Christian for a number of reasons. Although it is often neglected, a proper understanding of the nature of God can have a many practical benefits for the believer. First, it gives us a proper understanding of the God whom Christians obey and worship.

This will keep one from worshipping false gods, something the Bible strongly condemns. A correct understanding of the Trinity is also a safeguard against error. Those who have a wrong conception of the Trinity will likely be wrong in other areas of their belief system.

The doctrine of the Trinity is also central to the beliefs of the Christian faith. Jesus Christ must be God for His sacrifice to mean anything. Because He is God, we can have forgiveness of sins. Otherwise, there is no forgiveness. We have sinned against God and Him alone. The Holy Spirit must be God if we are to have the personal presence of God dwelling with us.

In addition, when the Trinity is properly understood, then the believer can appreciate the participation of all three Persons in the salvation process.

The doctrine of the Trinity is also proof that God is love. In eternity past, there was love and communication among the members of the Trinity. Thus God did not create humanity because of some need that He had. Neither was He forced to save humanity when we sinned. There is love among the members of the Trinity as well as love that is graciously expressed toward humanity.

While the understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity is not necessary for a person to be saved it should be readily believed once it is explained to a Christian. Finally, it is important to precisely define the truths of the Christian faith. Once defined, these truths should be upheld and proclaimed by all believers. This is particularly true of the doctrine of the Trinity.

Does It Matter Whether the Holy Spirit Proceeded from the Father Rather than the Son? ← Prior Section
Who He Is and What He Is Like (Introduction) Next Section →
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