Sunday, June 12, 2022

Three reasons to meditate on the doctrine of the Trinity

On Trinity Sunday, here are three reasons (many more could be given) why it is good to think long and hard on the doctrine of the Trinity:

1. To know God.  Most basically, if you want to know God, you need to think about the Trinity.  God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, from eternity to eternity.  This is not an extra, deep and ultimately optional piece of knowledge about God; it is not something obscure which is only for advanced believers.  The doctrine of the Trinity describes God's name - Father, Son, Spirit - and somebody's name is perhaps the first and most basic thing you learn about them.  In one sense the whole of redemptive history can be read as God introducing himself, over the course of thousands of years, as Father, Son, Spirit.  It is his name.  And whereas for us a name is a fairly arbitrary label - many names have meaning, but they don't really relate to who we are - God is wholly himself in every presentation of himself: his name conveys the depths of his reality.  Knowing God as Trinity is both basic knowledge - his introductory name - and deep knowledge - because God is not divided, does not hide behind his name but is his name.  To know God, meditate on the doctrine of the Trinity.

2. To understand the gospel.  I take it that the gospel is essentially the good news that Jesus Christ has given himself up to death on the cross and been raised to new life.  His broken body and shed blood are given for the life of the world, for the forgiveness of sinners, for the redemption of the nations.  But how, and why, does this work?  How does the death of one man atone for the sins of countless millions?  Why can death not hold him?  The answer is manifold, but at root it is this: it is the human life of the eternal Son of God which is offered up on the cross and raised up from the tomb.  It is God himself, God the Son, who offers obedience to God the Father, taking up our cause.  And then again, how is it that this comes to affect us?  How does what Christ did there and then come to mean something for me here and now?  It is because the same God, God the Holy Spirit, lives in me and causes me to live.  One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: this is at the foundation of the gospel history.

3. To delight in our blessings.  The gospel tells us that we are invited in to share the love that has always existed between Jesus and his Father; it tells us that we are given the life which Jesus has in himself, having been granted it from his Father.  The doctrine of the Trinity helps us to see that we are beckoned, indeed welcomed, into the life of God himself.  As we are joined to Christ by faith and by the Holy Spirit, we share in the love which the Father eternally has for his Son in the unity of the Spirit.  We are given by grace to share in the divine life of God.  The Spirit poured out on us, enabling us to pray and to praise, is nothing other than God himself - a God who is close at hand as well as far away, inhabiting our own hearts.  To meditate on the Trinity is to gain deep insight into the manifold ways in which we are blessed as believers.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit -
as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be forever.

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