A Brief Explanation of the Trinity - Is the doctrine of the Trinity really that important?
For Christians, the doctrine is indispensable for many reasons, but we focus on two. The doctrine of the Trinity cannot be given up without irreparable damage to Christ’s atonement, first, and salvation or how we get into heaven, second, which is life’s ultimate question.
First, the doctrine of the atonement is jeopardized. This doctrine says that Christ died on the cross for our sins and propitiated divine wrath that was directed at us because our sins. The inspired Apostle Paul says in Romans 8:18-21 that creation itself waits for ultimate redemption. If Christ were a mere creature like us and part of this creation as we are, then he could not have redeemed all of creation. A creature cannot redeem all of creation, of which he is a part. He himself would need redemption. Hence, the eternal Son of God must not be a created being.
Second, justification by grace through faith in Christ is jeopardized, and our salvation goes down the drain. If Christ is not fully God, then how can we trust him to save us in his redemptive act on the cross? We may as well do all kinds of good work, hoping against hope that we may get invited into heaven when we die, but not knowing for sure that God will let us in. Rather, since Jesus Christ was fully divine in human flesh, his salvation is divinely secure for us.
We Christians trust in the Son of God’s good work on the cross and receive his sanctifying Holy Spirit; therefore, our place in heaven is secure. We do not mix up the sequence, doing good works first, and then hoping that we might get into heaven. No, Christ comes first and our trust in him comes second, so now heaven has been promised to us. Only after this sequence do we perform good works, but not to re-earn our place in heaven; rather we do good works out of gratitude to him, in obedience to the Holy Spirit, and out of God’s call on our life. This passage from the Epistle to the Ephesians is one of the clearest on responding to him with good works, after he has saved us:
2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We have been saved by grace through faith, and even this faith is a gift of God so that we do not boast in ourselves. After we are saved, we do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.
Without the full deity of Jesus Christ, God the Son, our salvation or guarantee to get into heaven becomes shaky. Therefore, the doctrine of the Trinity is a matter of eternal life and death.
We Christians must hold on to the Trinity, as we experience the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in our daily life and in our creeds.
Copyright (c) by James Malcolm Arlandson and used by permission. Originally published at Answering Islam.
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