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In honor of the release of Doxology & Theology: How the Gospel Forms the Worship Leader, I want to cliff-note-outline my chapter in two parts in hopes that (a) it will make the topic of the Trinity in worship even more digestible, and (b) it will entice some of you to get this great book and read it in its entirety. I want to start by saying that the Trinity, or God’s three-in-oneness, is one of the most relevant, applicable doctrines for living out the Christian faith on the ground level. Think of any issue in life, from the highly philosophical to the mundanely pragmatic, and it can–and should–be informed, indeed formed, by the Trinity. If you have a hard time seeing this, I’d suggest Michael Reeves’ Delighting in the Trinity (135 pages) as an accessible starting place, then graduating up to Fred Sanders’ The Deep Things of God (256 pages) as a good next step.
The Trinity Effects the Possibility & Proximity of Worship
1) The Trinity makes our worship possible.
We often think of salvation as a generic “work of God,” but it’s actually a specific, calculated, master-planned action of the Three Persons. The Father orchestrates it, the Son executes it, and the Spirit applies it. If one of the Persons hadn’t done their part, salvation would not happen. Furthermore, we’re not just saved to be saved. We’re saved to something, namely, to enjoy reveling in the relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We’re saved to delight in the Trinity’s magnificent, overwhelming self-love. We’re saved to worship.
2) The Trinity puts us in close proximity to God.
Perhaps that language is too clinical, but the upshot is that our salvation means we’re adopted and enfolded into the very life of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit “glues” us to Jesus, who marches us straight into the center of the Trinity’s love and life. To say that we’re “brought near” to God (certainly a biblical phrase) is perhaps a monumental understatement. We are saved into God’s life. It’s not so much that we accept Jesus into our heart; it’s that God accepts us into His. (Let the face-melting commence.) This means that as we live the Christian life, and, especially, as we worship, we don’t do so from afar. We do so from the “inside,” and this reality should be especially palpable to us when we gather on the Lord’s Day with the people of God.
1) The Trinity makes corporate worship a priority.
If, at the core of God’s very Self is a Triune community, then we better reflect, embody, and live out our Trinitarian faith in community and not as individuals. So when we think about those habits, actions, and priorities that inform, nuture, and grow our faith, this suddenly gives heavy weight to those things which are communal, the chief of which is corporate worship. Contrary to folks who say we don’t need corporate worship as long as we “make worship a way of life,” the pinnacle act of a way-of-life worshiper of the Trinity is weekly corporate worship.
2) The Trinity preserves worship’s purity.
When God’s Triune nature permeates and saturates the language, content, and structure of our worship services, we do ourselves a great service in heresy-fighting. Heavy doses of Trinitarian expression are the best preventative medicine for keeping the Body of Christ healthy and vital. (I won’t go into it here, but this section takes to task the overly “triumphalistic” language of some of our modern worship songs today.)