Why is there so little emphasis on the holy Trinity in our churches and amongst Christians? Do we regard it as being akin to our ‘appendix’ or a ‘mathematical conundrum’? That is what some think. After all, we do not miss our appendix after it is removed. Similarly, few seem concerned about the lack of attention to the Trinity in churches.
Who are to blame? We all are. But let me be more specific.
When did you last hear a sermon in church on the Trinity? I have asked that question to Christians from different churches in England and Wales. The majority doubted whether they had heard one sermon about the Trinity during the past three years or more.
An exaggeration? Possibly. And their memory recall may be poor! However, a different example confirms my suspicions.
An American theologian researched recently as to how frequently, and well, the Trinity is preached in the United States. He researched fifty-five large volumes of sermons by many different but respected preachers, checking all references to the Trinity and to biblical texts associated with the Trinity.
The result? Sadly, only twenty sermons on the Trinity were found and three preachers were represented by two sermons each. A few other sermons made passing references to the Trinity but the content of all these sermons was disappointing. For example, there was no exposition of the texts on the Trinity, not even in texts like 2 Corinthians 13:14 and Matthew 28:19.
Congregations could be justified in regarding the Trinity like our appendix – it is there but not essential. Preachers, how Trinitarian is our preaching and worship?
Christians now read less and we tend to choose lighter devotional books and biographies. But why neglect reading about God as Trinity? Are we lazy? And unwilling to try and understand what the Bible says?
Or are we afraid it is too complicated? If so, that is a pity. One writer describes the Trinity as ‘the most exalted and the most glorious of all doctrines; the most amazing and astonishing thing that God has been pleased to reveal to us concerning Himself.’ True.
It is an exciting as well as an ‘amazing’ doctrine. Let me explain.
God is one. There are not three Gods. Yet within the one God there are three ‘Persons’, namely, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each can say, ‘I’ and refer to the others as ‘He’ or ‘You’. This is the inner reality of God’s glorious being. John 14:31 is referred to as the ‘Love Life of the Trinity’. The three Persons have always been deeply in love with one another. They have distinctive relationships. This Triune God is fantastic!
Why not become more familiar with Bible statements describing the inner-Trinitarian relations of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? You will be excited by what you see of God. But it gets even more exciting.
Each of the divine Persons has an agreed purpose and function, namely, to love and save us as rebels and sinners. The Bible majors on this from Genesis to Revelation. And each of the Three Persons has a precise and related work to do. In fact, for the Son, it was necessary for Him to sub-ordinate and humble Himself in incredible ways. The Spirit, too, was willing to serve the Father and the Son and to bring sinners like ourselves to life and trust in Christ.
It is exciting. What about making an effort to see more clearly how this Triune God has loved and worked so amazingly to save you? Well, read on because some of the articles here may help you.
Unlike our appendix, the Trinity is essential. This teaching is foundational to the gospel. You cannot know God and His mercy without knowing the Triune God.
Read the Bible
Begin in the New Testament. There are over sixty statements here mentioning the three divine Persons together like Matthew 28: 18-20, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Ephesians 4:4-6 and Titus 3:4-6. John’s gospel is rich in its teaching on the subject, especially chapters 14-17. Another passage packed with Trinitarian teaching is Romans 8. There is much more, too!
I urge you to explore more about our Triune God in the Bible. This teaching is integral to the gospel, the Christian life and the church.
If you do, you will be greatly helped.
Eryl Davies is an elder of Heath Evangelical Church, Cardiff.