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The Trinity

Jim Thompson - 9/4/2022


Saint Augustine once wrote, “There is no subject where error is more dangerous, research more laborious, and discovery more fruitful than the oneness of the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” The fruitfulness he’s talking about is a life-fruitfulness. It isn’t mere theological precision. Augustine is talking about human flourishing the way God intended, about rightly navigating all your troubles and trials by thinking about God as triune. He’s saying that if we get the Trinity right, if we believe in it rightly, if we rejoice in it rightly, then we’ll do life rightly before God. So, how should we think about the Trinity in a way that leads to worship and life change?

In John 14, Jesus’ disciples are troubled (14:1, 14:27). And Jesus’ answers to their being trouble is a glorious portrait of an active and faithful triune God. Jesus says things like, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He tells Philip, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” He cryptically mentions, “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.” He talks about how he and the Father will send the Spirit to his friends. And that the Spirit is “another Helper” from the Father. Needless to say, Jesus uses unique and powerful language about God in John 14. This language will help us as we seek to think about the Trinity in a way that leads to worship and life change. Below are three observations:

SCRIPTURE: John 14:1-20


  • Only the triune God of the Bible can be both the Giver and the Gift of salvation. It’s worded like this because of all of the sending and giving language in John 14 and throughout John’s gospel. The Father gives the Son in John 3:16 and elsewhere. Jesus says “the Father sent me” in 14:24. The Father and Son both send and give the Spirit. And this might feel abstract, but there is so much life in this. If God is not both Giver and Gift, then there is no grace, and therefore no hope of salvation. This truth should prod us to worship, that he gives grace graciously. In the same way that Paul says that God is both the Just and the Justifier because of Jesus (Romans 3), God, in the gospel, is both the Giver and Gift of salvation. He doesn’t merely provide salvation. He himself is the Provision and the Salvation. He doesn’t just make a way. He is the way, the truth, and the life (14:6). And trusting that this is true sets us free from doing it on our own.
  • Only the triune God of the Bible can rule over us as Father, for us as Son, and within us as Spirit. Whereas the first observation is about how Father, Son, and Spirit are all self-giving in some way, this thought is that each member of the Trinity carries out different roles in re-creating the mess we’ve made of God’s good world. Some say it like this: “The Father is the Author of salvation. Jesus the Son is the Actor of salvation. And the Holy Spirit Applier of salvation.” Something like this is the reason behind why Jesus says, “Believe in God, Believe also in me.” 
  • Only the triune God of the Bible can invite us into eternal, communal love. The Father, Son, and Spirit have forever-shared perfect life and harmony and joy and love and oneness and beauty together. God – in himself and by himself – has always been an eternal community of belonging and self-giving love. This is staggering enough, but Jesus takes it a step further. In 14:20 and elsewhere, he invites us to share in God’s own eternal life and love. In creation and redemption, he bids us to come and partake in his mutual delight and reciprocated affection. God has been singing an everlasting solo that is also three-part harmony somehow, and he invites us to sing along. And it should indefinitely inoculate us with humility and gratitude that he welcomes us into this very eternal, communal love. 

*We are a church located in Greenville, South Carolina. Our vision is to see God transform us into a community of grace passionately pursuing life and mission with Jesus.