Beliefs Impact Actions
But does it really matter? Is it actually significant that many Christians hold to the idea of the Trinity, versus the doctrine that appears to be taught in Scripture: that of God manifestation?
Essentially, whenever we are confronted with any kind of discrepancy, be it in a disagreement with a friend or a co-worker, be it in some of our own actions, or be it in some of the beliefs that we hold, we must ask ourselves if the discrepancy is important enough to warrant our consideration. At times, the disagreement may seem so minimal that we might just ignore it, and other times, the disagreement requires deeper consideration and prayer.
I fervently believe that this subject is an example of the latter and a very serious example at that.
But why? Why is it that a simple belief could be so important?
Because, after all, these are questions about God and not just questions about His nature, but questions about who He really is. These are questions that impact how we understand the way in which He works in the world. If it is our desire to know Him, then it behooves us to understand how He reveals Himself. If, as we suggest, He reveals Himself through God manifestation, the implications for us and our lives are huge.
This isn’t just an academic question regarding whether or not God is one or three. This is a question that reaches to the very heart of our faith; a question that extends itself, reaching past the nature of God and Christ, and touching the very hope that we take from Scripture. Ultimately, God manifestation is a doctrine that leads us to the end result of what God plans for His followers. It gives a tangible example and provides a framework for hope.
Even more than that, God manifestation impacts our understanding of the cross and what took place there which, in turn, impacts our understanding of the character of God. Depending on our views of this question: “is God a Trinity or does He reveal Himself through God manifestation?” we have a different understanding of what took place on Calvary, and a different understanding of the mercy and love of God.
This is a doctrine with massive implications. Therefore, when we ask ourselves “does this really matter?” the answer must be “yes!”
Because doctrines don’t operate in a vacuum. One doctrine impacts another, and eventually, they impact the way in which we act. Beliefs impact actions. Just note the testimony of Hebrews 11, the chapter which is all about faith and its importance:
“By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.” Hebrews 11:4
Did you notice why Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice? What was his motivation?
It was his faith. It was his beliefs in what God wanted and who God was. These beliefs dictated his actions. Again, consider another of the apostle’s examples:
“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Hebrews 11:7
What was the motivation for Noah’s actions? Again, it was faith! His beliefs led to action. And so the list goes on. The writer to the Hebrews states that Abraham’s faith caused him to be obedient, Isaac’s faith caused him to proclaim a blessing on Jacob and Esau, Joseph’s faith compelled him to ask for his bones to be brought from Egypt to the promised land.
Over and over, faith, or an understanding of God’s character, His promises, and His plan, led to action.
Therefore, this is a doctrine that cannot simply be dismissed. The question of the Trinity or God manifestation is a discrepancy that cannot be ignored.
And, Lord willing, in the next post, we will consider the far reaching implications of this doctrine on other doctrines, and ultimately, on our actions.
- Jason Hensley