Just a quick thumbnail statement on the Trinity. As Thomas Adams once said, “It is rashness to search, godliness to believe, safeness to preach, and eternal blessedness to know the Trinity.”
A great deal of practical confusion exists concerning our relationship to our Triune God. Of course, Christians believe in the Trinity — but they may still wonder about how this affects them practically in their prayers, worship, and so forth. But consider this — “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:18).
The doctrine of the Trinity can be easily stated, but not easily understood. It is not against reason, but this teaching is most certainly beyond reason. The reason this doctrine must be formulated in this way is that Christians must be faithful to all of Scripture’s teaching on the nature of God. To be faithful to just a portion of Scripture’s teaching on the nature of God is to be guilty of heresy. So the summary of Scripture’s teaching is this: There is one living and true God. This one God consists of three eternal Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each of whom is fully God, and each of whom is not to be confused or confounded with the other two Persons.
Theologians distinguish between the ontological Trinity and the economical Trinity. This does not mean two Trinities — two Gods. The very idea is blasphemous, and ridiculous to boot. Rather, these terms refer to God as considered by us in two different ways or aspects. The ontological Trinity refers to God as we consider Him in His nature, being, and attributes. In other words, it refers to God as He is. The economical Trinity refers to God as we consider Him in His deeds in history, and in His relationship to us. In other words, it refers to God as He acts. This distinction is necessary as we turn to understand how we are to approach the living God — what we understand in the economy of our worship.
When speaking of God, illustrations are dangerous — but consider this with all due reverence. As we approach God in worship and prayer, our approach is, in a small way, like this: We are traveling to a certain destination, a certain city (the Father). The way of access is the road to that destination (the Son). The means by which we travel is the car (the Spirit). We come to the Father through the Son by the Spirit, as in the text from Ephesians above.
Our focus in worship is to be the Father. In our text, our access is to the Father. This emphasis is clear throughout Scripture. The points below are only a short beginning to a vast subject. Jesus Himself worshipped and served the Father (John 20:17). Jesus died to bring us to the Father (John 14:6). Jesus teaches us to pray to the Father (Matt. 6:9).
Our mediator and priest is the Son. In the Ephesians text, our access is through the Son. This is what is meant by in Jesus’ name, amen (Col. 3:17; Eph. 5:20). We should worship and adore the Lord Jesus as our Priest and Sacrifice (Rev. 5:9-10). Christ is our King and Lord — we must submit to His word (Matt. 7:24-29).
And our motivation is the Holy Spirit. Again, in our text, our access is by one Spirit. The Spirit impels us as we pray and worship (Gal. 4:6). The Spirit teaches and encourages us in our worship and prayer (Rom. 8: 26; John 14:16). The Spirit is a Person ever present with us (Eph. 4:30).
So our duty is to worship and serve — and glorify — all three Persons of the Trinity, but we should do so understanding the economy of the Trinity. The work of the Spirit is to glorify the Son (John 16:13-14). The work of the Son is to glorify the Father (John 17:1). We must glorify them all — with understanding.