Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Why the Doctrine of the Trinity is So Important

The heart of the Christian faith is the doctrine of the Trinity. This doctrine has always been seen as necessary element of Christianity, one that cannot be surrendered without destroying the faith itself. This is undoubtedly true. Indeed, if you were to ask most Christians if they agreed with the previous sentences, they would likely answer in the affirmative. The burning question then is this: Why is the doctrine of the Trinity virtually never preached or taught? Raw belief in the doctrine is affirmed every Sunday in countless churches as they recite the Apostles Creed. Yet little more that this raw confession is ever, ever mentioned.

One need not be a genius to realize that something that is never taught or preached about is either unimportant or not true. How are millions of professing Christians supposed to believe that the Trinity is true, and that even if it is true, that it makes a difference anyway, if they never hear the doctrine explained? The simple fact is: they won’t. I am a baseball fan. But I do not, for a second, entertain the notion that baseball has any eternal or salvific value. Why? It’s never taught at church. I have never heard a sermon on the infield fly rule. Neither have you. I submit to you that a minister who does not nor has not preached on the Trinity either doesn’t believe it himself, or he hasn’t learned it well enough to teach it (in which case he shouldn’t be preaching in the first place!), or he is a Finney-ite who believes that any doctrine which cannot be twisted into providing a moral lesson is not important enough to bother with.

Zachary Ursinus defines God this way (and as you read it, ask yourself is such language would fly in any church you know of today!): “A theological and more complete description of God, the one which the Church receives, is the following: God is a spiritual essence, intelligent, eternal different from all creatures, incomprehensible, most perfect in Himself, immutable, of immense power, wisdom and goodness; just, true, pure, merciful, bountiful, most free, hating sin – which is, the eternal Father, who from eternity begat the Son in His own image; the Son, who is the co-eternal image of the Father; and the Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, as has been divinely revealed by the sure word delivered by the Prophets and Apostles, and divine testimonies; that the eternal Father, with the Son and Holy Ghost, did create heaven and earth, and all creatures, is present with all creatures, that He may preserve and rule them by His providence, and produce all good things in them; and that from the human race, made after His own image, He hath chosen and gathers unto Himself an everlasting church, by and for the sake of His Son, that by the church this one and true Deity may, according to the word revealed from heaven, be here known and praised, an glorified in the life to come; and that He is the judge of the righteous and the wicked.”

Notice the stress which the doctrine of the Trinity receives. If it is true, because it is a truth about God, then it is of infinite importance.

There are two simple yet important reasons why the Church must hold fast to the doctrine of the Trinity.

1. For the sake of God’s glory. God must be distinguished from false gods. God must be worshipped as He has revealed Himself. He has revealed Himself as Triune. Worship of anything less is idolatry.

2. For the sake of our salvation. No one is saved without knowledge of the Father. But the Father is not known without the Son. Scripture says, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18). And, “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father” (1 John 2:23). Further, no one is saved without faith in the Son: “This is the true God, and eternal life (1 John 5:20). “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed, and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard (Rom. 10:14). Similarly, no one is sanctified and saved with knowledge of the Spirit. If one has not receives the Spirit, he cannot be saved. Scripture says, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he in none of his” (Rom. 8:9). No one receives the Spirit without knowing Him; for Christ says, “Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him” (John 17:17). Hence if one does not know the Holy Spirit, he is not saved. It is necessary then, that for anyone to be saved, he must know the Triune God.

3 comments:

  1. I would also commend the second chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith, Of God and of the Holy Trinity. Its first paragraph reads, "There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his won glory, most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal most just and terrible in his judgments; hating all sin; and who will by no means clear the guilty." I wish I could have witnessed the Assembly working on this chapter. I bet that the sermons and scripture discussions would have been meet for years of meditation.

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  2. You're absolutely right, Chris. It's hard to top the WCF. It would have been a wonderful experience to have been a fly on the wall at the meetings of the Westminster Assembly.

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  3. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something which I think
    I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for
    me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang
    of it!

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    ReplyDelete

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