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The Church and the Trinity

 

By Heath Jarrett

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Pastor Matt’s new series on doctrine stresses that our actions reflect our beliefs. “If you want to change your life, you must change your mind,” he says. Agreed.

For the next few weeks, my articles will focus on practical applications that stem from the often mysterious doctrine of the Trinity. What we believe about God changes how we live. Our actions expose our beliefs.

The Trinity is a central and uniquely Christian doctrine, yet it is not outlined in a systematic, textbook-like fashion in the Bible. The word “Trinity” isn’t even in the Bible. We have to hunt and gather throughout Scripture to put the pieces together. This has often frustrated the church. If the Trinity is so important, why isn’t it just explicitly outlined and defined in one place?

God has chosen to reveal himself to us in the middle of everyday life, not in dry and detached lectures. He teaches doctrine, not in the context of the classroom, but in the reality of human existence.

When Paul introduces the metaphor of the body to describe the church, perhaps surprisingly, he begins with the Trinity (1 Cor 12:1-31; Eph 4:1-16). This is not coincidence. These two local churches had widely different problems (Ephesus suffered ethnic division, and Corinth was riddled with factions and the abuse of spiritual gifts), yet the same corrective was given. A proper view of the church begins with a proper view of God. The church is to reflect the nature of the Trinity.

“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:5-6).

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (1 Cor 12:4).

There is one church to which all Christians belong, composed of many members, each endowed with various spiritual gifts, all collectively designed to edify the whole. In the church, there is unity as well as plurality, variety of function coupled with mutual purpose, equality of membership although diversity. Sounds a lot like the Trinity. And that’s his point. We’ll explore the church in relation to the Trinity more in the weeks to come.