The Practicality of the Trinity

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The doctrine of the Trinity is as complicated as it is foundational to Christianity. But does it actually make a difference in the day-to-day lives of believers?

Scripture is clear: There is only one true God (Deuteronomy 6:4; James 2:19).

But the Bible also presents the Father as God (Isaiah 63:16; Matthew 5:45), the Son as God (John 8:58; Colossians 2:11), and the Holy Spirit as God (Acts 5:3–4; 1 Corinthians 2:10–11). It also affirms that these three Persons are distinct from one another (2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 Peter 1:1–2).

How is that possible?

It’s a mind-bending doctrine, to be sure. (Then again, why should creatures think they should be able to fully understand an infinite Creator?!) Unfortunately, due to its complexity, Christians can sometimes make the mistake of relegating the Trinity to the academy, assuming its lack of relevance and practicality to their lives. 

May it never be! The Trinity is very relevant and very practical! Here are six ways a better understanding the triunity of our God can make a difference in our day-to-day lives.

1. A dose of humility. There’s nothing quite like trying to comprehend the incomprehensible to knock the pride out of you (Job 36:26).

You may ask, Then why bother if we’ll never understand? Because it honours God that we make an attempt (e.g. John 17:6–19). I’ll never fully understand my wife, but she sure loves it when I try!

2. Greater fullness of worship. The more we know God, the greater our capacity for worship (John 4:24). This makes sense in our earthly relationships, why would it not in our relationship with God? The more intimately I know my best friends, the more I’m able to show them honour, respect, and love.

3. A clearer understanding of humanity. Mankind is unique in creation as we bear the image of the Creator (Genesis 1:27). That same Creator desires to be known by his people and tells us things about himself. The more we wrestle with who he is, in all His trinitarian glory, the more we can understand humanity.

4. Changed relationships with people. God himself provides us with a model for how we’re to live with others as he, eternally existing in three Persons, is forever in relationship with himself. God is eternally submitting to himself and eternally loving himself (read John 13–17 for a taste of their affection for one another!).

The more we understand the inter-personsal relationships within the godhead, the more we understand how we’re to love and submit to one another also.

5. A greater, more complete understanding of salvation. “I asked Jesus into my heart and he saved me.” We’ve all heard a variation of that testimony and, though I’m sure it can be sincere and truth-filled, it is only a shadow of the glorious reality that occurs at conversion (see Ephesians 1).

Each Person of the godhead plays an incredible role in our being declared holy (justification), progressively becoming holy (sanctification), and our eventual holiness (glorification).

6. An urgent and effective evangelism. When we more completely understand the beauty of salvation, we can’t help but share!

This is the fuel in the tank of evangelism. It’s being so overcome with the truth of the gospel—that you’re a sinner, and that you were saved in spite of yourself—that you can’t keep it inside any longer. This starts, and is rooted, in a right understanding of the Trinity.