The Trinity is undoubtedly one of the most mysterious Christian doctrines. It can be intimidating to explain and we tip-toe carefully with our words so as not to slip into heresy. However, we would miss the point if we left the Trinity as a mere doctrinal discussion. How does the Trinity practically apply to our everyday life?
The practicality of the Trinity is clear in John 13–17. The disciples were deeply troubled at Jesus’ words about leaving them, thinking it would bring a devastating break in their relationship with God. But Jesus spoke tenderly to them, giving them guidance for continuing their walk with God after his departure. In giving this instruction, Jesus spoke about God’s Trinitarian nature. This passage of Scripture teaches that knowing God as three in one should be at the center of our daily relationship with him.
Responding to the Father's Love
In light of Christ's lessons on the nature of the Father . . .
He is the fountain of divine love. He is the source of the encouragement we receive in the Scriptures, in answers to our prayers, in the grace of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and in all the other blessings we receive.
As the source of all, He is to be served as the object of all. He is the One to whom we respond with love, prayers worship and adoration. We also worship the Son and the Holy Spirit, but because even the Son and the Spirit give glory to the Father and share in his glory (e.g., John 16:14-15; 17:4-5), we worship the Three-in-One with an understanding that the Father is the ultimate object of all.
We should honor the Father with the fruits of our lives. Just as a vineyard owner plants his vines in order to receive a harvest, so the Father (the Vinedresser) rightly receives the fruits that Jesus (the Vine) brings to our lives (the branches). John 15:1-5.
Responding to the Son's Mediation
There are four main ways we are to respond to the Son's Mediation . . .
We look to the Son to bring us into favor with God. It is only in the words and work of Jesus that favor with God is provided.
We join ourselves with believers—specifically within a local church. Jesus instructed his disciples: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, your are also are to love one another. (John 13:34-35; cf. John 13:13-17; John 15:12)
We pray to the Father in Jesus' name. (John 16:23)
Jesus brings the Father's words to us, so we respond to his role within the Trinity by using the Scriptures as the standard for our faith and life.
Because of the promise of the Spirit . . .
We expect the Spirit to instruct our decisions through the Word. This doesn't mean the Spirit will produce new meanings from the Bible tailored to our individual questions, but we expect the Spirit to help us as we bring our lives under the light of God's Word.
We expect the Spirit to guide Christians as a community. It is important for us to study our Bibles with confidence that the Spirit will help us, and to do so with careful attention to the counsel of others who have studied the same Scripture.
We trust that the Spirit authorizes us to serve as witnesses. Wherever Christians live, the Spirit is with them to make them witnesses to their communities.
We respond to the continual presence of the Spirit by welcoming his conviction. When we lack faith, the Spirit stirs our hearts to believe at the hearing of Scripture. When we sin, the Spirit brings conviction and draws our hearts to remember and obey the words of Scripture.
This article is adapted from Our Triune God by Phil Ryken and Michael LeFebvre.
- The Work of the Trinity in Salvation (Michael LeFebvre, Philip Graham Ryken)
- Differentiating the Work of the Son and Spirit in Salvation (Fred Sanders)
- The Life and Mission of St. Patrick (Michael A. G. Haykin)