6 Reasons a Deeper Theology Is A Must
I was doing the dishes from dinner a few nights ago. I turned to grab the remaining plates from the island when I saw them out of the corner of my eye. White shirts and black ties. A couple of Mormons were approaching my door. The dishes would just have to wait. Our conversation lasted over an hour. It took many different directions (I’ll post some more blogs on some other topics we discussed). But one question we spent a considerable amount of time on was the Trinity. I know a lot of Christians that will tend to avoid talking about the Trinity. And I get it. The Trinity is confusing and hard to explain. And when talking to Mormons, even more confusing; because if you are talking about Jesus as God, they will agree. If you are talking about Jesus being the Son of God, they will agree. But I thought they didn’t agree with Orthodox Christians on Jesus? They don’t. This is why the Trinity is so important.
So often in our youth groups, the complex nature of the Trinity deters us from discussing. But students who get it and can explain it is an important part of making disciples. Years ago I read a very short but dense book on the Trinity. “Father, Son, & Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance,” by Bruce Ware. He offers a comprehensive look into the importance of understanding the Trinity as a fundamental piece of Christian faith and belief. In it, he offers ten specific reasons why this doctrine is essential. Here I want to borrow and expand on just six.
The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most important distinguishing doctrines of the Christian faith.
Although certainly confusing, there is no other religion or worldview that asserts monotheism, yet somehow in three persons. Understandably this becomes the largest tripping point for most. How does 1+1+1=1? How can Christians claim there is but one God, but pray to God the Father, in the name of God the Son, and claim to have the power of God the Spirit? So naturally, there must be clarity on this issue.
The Three-in-One nature (or Triunity) of God helps us explain relationships, including marriage covenants and the community of believers in the church. It helps Christians understand the dangers of social issues such as same-sex marriage. It also clears up what it means for humanity to be created in the image of God and what that means for humanity’s purpose on earth. Although not explicitly stated in the Bible as a doctrine, the Triunity of God gives Christians incredible insight into the world of God’s character and how we are to live as his people.
Remove it, and the whole faith disintegrates.
Reading the New Testament, it is undeniable that the writers understood God in three distinct persons. As we have seen in previous posts, how God the Father has revealed himself, how Jesus has revealed himself as God; the Spirit of God is held to the same level. All three equally God in essence, but distinct in person.
Without the Triunity of God, much of our understanding of the nature and character of God is wide open to misinterpretation and misunderstanding.
Worship of the true and living God consciously acknowledges the relationship and roles of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Take a minute a look at Ephesians 1:3-14. Here Paul gives the Ephesians a framework for worship. Because of God the Father, we are adopted sons and daughters through Christ. Redeemed by his blood and sealed by the Holy Spirit. It is God in his fullness as the Triune Godhead that we give worship to because each possesses a role in the grand narrative and mission of God. Although equal in their divine attributes, the Triune nature of God maintains specific roles and submission to one another.
Prayer must rightly acknowledge the roles of Father, Son, and Spirit
If prayer in the life of a Christian is vital, then there is little doubt that we should pray as Jesus taught, “Our Father in Heaven…” Jesus as the divine Son serves as our mediator, our Great High Priest. He is the means by which we have a relationship with the Father, and therefore we are called to pray in the name of Jesus. So what then is the role of the Spirit? The Spirit provides the power behind the prayer. We let him guide us as we pray, at times we utter no words and simply allow the Spirit in us speak for us.
Sanctification is rightly understood when seen as the work of the Triune God.
As Jesus prepared to leave the world and return to the right hand of the Father, he reminded the disciples that another would be coming; a Helper. The Spirit, as we see poured out at Pentecost serves as the life-giving breath of the body of Christ. Those who have experienced the saving work of Christ and are therefore “in Christ” can only accomplish the mission past on from Jesus (John 20) through the power of the Spirit. The embodiment of Jesus’ reign on earth through the church can only be accomplished through the power of the Spirit of God. All of these are acts of God.
The Trinity provides one of the most important and neglected patterns for how human life and human relationships are to be conducted.
The better we understand the nature of the Triunity the greater opportunity we have to model God’s design. We are made in God’s image, so living rightly requires we mirror our earthly relationships after God’s perfect relationship within the Triune God. Bruce Ware argues that “to miss this is to miss part of the wonder of human life, and it stems from failing to see something more of the wonder of God himself.”
Set some time aside this year dig deeper into topics like the Trinity. It will no doubt sharpen your students and make them better disciples and ambassadors for Christ, but it will also sharpen you.
Executive Director of AwanaYMSteve currently serves as the Executive Director of AwanaYM. Previously, Steve spent over a decade teaching high school theology and apologetics from Detroit to LA. Steve holds a Masters degree in Theology from Moody Theological Seminary and a Masters in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Steve is also an adjunct professor at Trinity International University. He speaks and writes on youth ministry, youth culture and apologetics. He resides in Chicago, IL with his wife and four children.
Follow Steve Kozak on Twitter: stevenmkozak
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