Why Must God be a Trinity?

All sorts of people are fond of repeating the Christian statement that ‘God is love.’ But they seem not to notice that the words ‘God is love’ have no real meaning unless God contains at least two Persons. Love is something that one person has for another person. If God was a single person, then before the world was made, He was not love. 

– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Yesterday I did my best to briefly summarize why Jesus must be God. Today, I want to do the same with the question, Why must God be a Trinity? 

If we are honest, the Trinity seems, at best, a math problem or a religious puzzle to solve. At worst, it is a man-made construction not supported in the Scriptures, as many in history, and still today, have proposed. But before trying to figure out how God is one-yet-three and three-yet-one (and you won’t figure that out!), I suggest we ask why God must be a Trinity.

The easiest way to summarize the answer is this: God must be a Trinity if he is to be a God who is love. This means the Trinity is good news! God does not just love (a verb), though he does do that! But he is more than doing. His very essence is love (a noun). God can love because he is love. God is Father, Son, and Spirit. The three persons of the Trinity exist in perfect loving relationship with each other. This loving community of persons are united in their being and purpose, yet diverse in their roles, responsibilities, and functions.

If God is merely one–individual, solitary, and alone, in relationship with no one–he can be or create many things. But he cannot be love. To be love, by very definition, requires relationship with someone other than yourself. The alternative is called vanity.

Allah, the god of Islam, for example, can be many things. He may even have the capacity to love. Yet, he cannot be love. Love can’t be his very essence. If love is not a god’s essence, it can be created and, therefore, destroyed. If love is not a god’s essence, then something else must and will be. This is not good news.

If we reflect further on God as Trinity, there are numerous applications. Here’s two:

  • Human beings are made in God’s image. Thus to be human means we are communal beings designed to live in loving relationship with each other.
  • The church is to be a diverse unity of persons, who together have a common faith, identity, and mission, yet individually have differing gifts, roles, functions, and activities.

Ultimately, because God is a Trinity—because he is love—the Father can, out of his great love for us, send his Son to atone for our sin and appease his holy wrath. The Father pours out his wrath on his own Son on the cross. The Son completely satisfies God’s wrath, paying the debt we owe with his blood. And in his resurrection, he conquers death so that all who repent of their sin and trust in the Son, are welcomed by the Father into this loving, harmonious, diversity unity of three through his giving us his Spirit. Do you see what this is? It is a Family working in unity, with complementary roles, to rescue lost, rebel orphans and bring them into the Family.

And this is good news. For you, for me, and for the world.

Scriptures to consider: Genesis 1:1, 26-27; Psalm 110; Matthew 3:17-18; Matthew 28:19-20; John 15-17 (esp. John 17); 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; Ephesians 4:1-7; 1 John 4:7-21


Pray for the Arab World Today

Frontiers will be praying and/or fasting today for the Arab world.  Here’s an outline to pray with them:

Prayer Guide for the Arab World

Part One: Praise for many aspects of what has happened so far

Many of the events which have happened so far have had evidence of Godʼs mercy and compassion in them. In many cases, changes have taken place with a minimum of violence and destruction. The proud have been brought down, and the poor and humble lifted up. We praise God for protecting people and restraining evil, and ask Him to release all of his promised blessings on the peacemakers and the merciful (Matt. 5:7,9).

  • Protesters in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco, Yemen, Oman, Iraq, and Jordan remained mostly peaceful, until present.
  • The military in Egypt refused to turn their guns on the people, preventing what would have been a massacre of many innocents.
  • The king in Bahrain stepped back from using the military against the people, after some initial violence.
  • Rulers of Jordan, Morocco, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq, and Algeria have all made some decisions that allow greater freedom and crack down on corruption and human rights abuses in their countries.
  • Protesters in Libya were protected during the crucial early weeks of the uprising from reprisals by the government (this may be changing now, and we accompany this praise with deep prayer for Godʼs intervention in the situation there, now).

Part Two: Prayer for the gospel to go out in power across the Arab world now

There is a temporary window of freedom for the gospel in Egypt, Tunisia, eastern Libya, and possibly in some of the other Arab countries that are experiencing protests. Pray for Godʼs people to not let this opportunity pass, for as long as the door is open.

  • In Tunisia, some missionaries who were previously kicked out of the country by the government have been allowed back in. Pray for openness in every Arab country for messengers of the Gospel to come in.
  • In Egypt, some Muslim-background believers have shared that they now feel great freedom to share about their faith openly with friends and family. Pray for a spirit of boldness among Muslim-background believers in the region, and a receptive spirit in those around them.
  • In Tahrir Square in Cairo (the main square where the protests took place), Jesus Christ was preached in open air to tens of thousands of Muslims by national church leaders during the protests, in an atmosphere of freedom. Pray that true freedom for open proclamation of the Gospel will be established in the Arab world.
  • The border between Libya and Egypt is currently open for Christians to enter and share the love of Jesus through medical and practical help, as well as through proclamation of the Word. This opportunity has not existed for generations. Pray that the opportunity will remain open.
  • Pray for an increase of freedom for apostolic teams and national churches to proclaim Jesus in every country across the Arab world. Pray that all the changes taking place will move toward that.

Part Three: Prayer for rulers and those in authority

God loves justice and righteousness, and is the giver of freedom. Pray that He will move rulers and authorities in the Arab world at this time to make righteous decisions on behalf of their people, that promote freedom of expression and religion, compassionate economic development, and respect for human rights.

  • Pray for the interim government of Tunisia, for wisdom and freedom from corruption, and to set the country on a long-term track of peace, stability, and righteousness.
  • Pray for the military rulers of Egypt, that they will be wise in decisions they make about the future of Egypt, and in their timetable for handing power over to a civilian government. Pray for the restoration of order in the midst of a wave of lawlessness and crime across the country.
  • Pray that God will restrain the murder and destruction unleashed by Ghaddafi against his own people in Libya, and establish a government that rules on behalf of the people in Libya, opening doors for the Gospel.
  • Pray for leaders of countries that are currently facing sizable protests for change, that they will make decisions in line with Godʼs will for their lands: Jordan, Morocco, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq, Algeria, and Lebanon.
  • Pray for leaders of Arab countries that have not yet had to face sizable protest for change, that God will give them wisdom and cause them to respond to whatever He wants to accomplish there: Mauritania, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Syria, and the Palestinian territories.

Part Four: Prayer for protection and blessing on Godʼs people

In the midst of turmoil, there has been an increase for Godʼs people in the region in opportunity as well as in threat. There is potential for greater religious freedom and equality, but also threat of increased danger and persecution.

  • Christians in Egypt have faced intense violence from extremist Muslims over the past week, with riots, a church being burned, and numerous Christians being killed. Pray for protection and peace for Godʼs people in Egypt (Isaiah 19:25), and for a spirit of bold proclamation of Jesus the Messiah.
  • Christians in the Arab world face discrimination and pressure from legal measures that are unfair to them. Pray that the current upheavals will bring about lasting changes in the constitution and legal system of each country that allow the church to flourish and fulfill its calling to reach Muslims.
  • Over the past decade, prayer movements have flourished across the Arab world. In Egypt and Algeria in particular, these movements have been significant in size and boldness/faith. Current circumstances are pushing Christians to pray as never before, feeling that it is their prayers in large part that have brought about some of the current changes. Pray for the growth and increase of prayer inside the Arab world.