While reading Romans 8, it is not difficult to see the repeated mentions of the Trinity in the passage. This week, we'll take some time to pause and study in greater detail the work of the Trinity, and the many implications there is for the Christian life. We'll use Romans 8 and also Ephesians 1:3-14 for our study.
The Work of Three: Each intimately involved with the Christian
To begin, let us read both Romans 8 and Ephesians 1:3-14, and pick out the work of each person in the Trinity-- Father, Son and Spirit.
|Person||Romans 8||Ephesians 1:3-14|
From this, we see that each person of the Trinity has a distinct and unique role to play – perhaps looking at the table you will see ways of organising them. The Father is like the in charge, the boss. The Son is the perfect sacrifice who dies for the sake of Christians. The Spirit is the one who walks alongside us. This is because they are distinct persons. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, the Spirit is not the Father. The fact that there are 3 distinct persons in the Trinity is a key foundational truth.
They are not only 3 distinct persons, but each person’s work is intimately involved in the life of a Christian. Sometimes it is easy to forget this. Perhaps we forget the Father, thinking of Him as ‘God distant’. He appears in fire and cloud, or in voices, but is somehow less relatable. Maybe we forget the Son, what His sacrifice really means for us. It happened such a long time ago, it’s part of history, but we forget that He is part of our own walk out of sin and into God’s presence. Maybe we forget the Holy Spirit, that everything we do is guided by Him. Maybe we forget that He is even a Him. Do we forget any of the persons of the trinity, dismiss His work in our daily walk with God? Each person of the Godhead is intimately involved with the Christian!
The Dance of Three: Perfect harmony and love within the Trinity
Let us take a closer look at Ephesians 1:3-14, to understand a bit more about the relationship within the Trinity. We can break the verses into two main categories:
|The execution of God’s plan |
| The explanation of Man’s Inheritance |
| The first paragraph of Eph 1:3-14 shows us some things God set out to do:|
Each of these is accomplished by Christ:
|The second paragraph shows us various aspects of our inheritance: |
What’s the point of all this? Do you see that the work of the Father and the Son and the Spirit are all interconnected. We took the first section to think of the work of each person in the Trinity separately, but in truth, they all work together. For all the things to be done ‘in Christ’ or ‘through Christ’, He needed to be obedient to God the Father in His work on earth, which was to die and be raised again, granting salvation to sinners. God grants us an inheritance and gives us some information about it, but the important thing that this is something in the future. How are we assured and what do we do till we receive it? We have the Holy Spirit who seals and guides, and dwells with us etc.
The point of all this is to unlock something about the way the Trinity works. Tim Keller calls this the dance of the trinity. Dance is movement. It is a dynamic, living relationship between the three persons of the trinity. As dance also requires co-ordination. This in turn requires selfless love. Only when motivated by this, can the dance work – because each member of the dance desires to move around the other. When one member becomes selfish and desires others to move around him/her, he/she becomes static. The dance is no longer around each other.
The trinity is the purest form of love producing action that we will ever know. Everything that we have read in Ephesians about how the roles are all interlaced with each other could only have happened if each person in the trinity is that kind of pure, unselfish love. God’s love and care (e.g He calls the Son ‘the Beloved’) in sending the other two persons, Christ’s obedience to save sinners, the Spirit’s willingness to walk alongside every Christian, being fully aware of God’s will and the weakness of man. All of this works and happens because of the love that exists within the Trinity. When we talk about the Spirit’s help, life in the Spirit, etc. that we have been talking about for the last few weeks, we must understand that it is an outflow of the dance, the intertwined work of the Trinity. When we are saved, therefore, we are called into the dance of the Trinity. To have the same kind of selfless love, to revolve around the plans of God. This means we don’t just think of God sometimes, or pray to Him only when we’re in trouble, or demand that He fulfil our demands.
The Revelation of Three: The One God in all His fullness
We have read so much about the Trinity in these passages. Perhaps it is timely to pause, and pen down for yourselves the attributes of each person of the Trinity in light of what they have done? These attributes describe and reveal for us our God. Each person of the trinity is God. There is one God. The trinity reveals a God that is so incomprehensible to us in a more understandable way. Ephesians 3:14-21 speak of the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge and he is able to do far more abundantly that all that we ask or think.
What does this mean for our lives? Plenty! It changes the way we understand our salvation, and it certainly changes the way we approach prayer and worship. As we close, perhaps these reflection questions will be helpful in helping us think about how the doctrine of the Trinity can be applied in our lives:
- Is there a person of the Trinity that you are prone to forgetting? Why is that so? Has today’s study reminded you of anything in particular that will help you remember this person?
- What are some ways that you have fallen out of step with the dance of the Trinity? What can you do to enter the dance again?
- Is there something that you can change in your prayer/worship life to reflect the fullness of God?