Nowadays it’s easy to listen to one song on repeat. Back when I was a student – in the 1900s – you had to stop your Sony Walkman and hit rewind. I was also too stingy to waste precious battery life on something as frivolous as rewinding. I would take out the cassette and twirl it around a pencil until I’d physically spooled the tape back to the beginning. Then I’d jam it back in and hit play, all because one song had captured me: ‘Everybody Needs Somebody to Love’.
Everybody needs somebody to love
The signature song from The Blues Brothers soundtrack was bouncing around my head for most of my degree. For three years I’d been studying the towering thinkers of the last two-and-a-half millennia: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant and Marx.
But it was John Belushi who began burrowing into my heart.
For a philosophy student at the turn of the millennium, it became the soundtrack to my conversion. My friend persisted for three years in inviting me to church. Eventually, in my final year, I relented, whereupon I hated the preacher, and then found myself returning, Sunday by Sunday, to hate him some more. And then I hated him some less. And then, reading the Gospels, it all fell into place: everybody needs somebody to love – of course, but not if we’re purposeless meat robots. Everybody needs somebody to love — of course, but only if love is actually at the heart of the cosmos. And only Christians can say that. Why? Because of the Trinity.
I want to convince you that the doctrine of the Trinity is crucial in evangelism. Far from being a distraction and a complication, it’s at the heart of the good news. Embracing it will clarify, not complicate, your faith and your sharing of it. I recognise I’ve set myself a tough challenge, but let me try to persuade you with four benefits to Trinitarian evangelism.
The Trinity means love is ultimate
When I met Jesus in the Gospels, something clicked. What made sense in that moment was not just Jesus’ identity, or the Bible’s narrative, or some religious truths. What made sense was life. What made sense was the Blues Brothers, being, beauty and bliss – everything! Yet none of this works without the triune God.
The night before Jesus died he prayed, ‘Father… you loved me before the creation of the world’ (John 17:24). Jesus introduces us to the only God who could ever claim to be love (1 John 4:8). An almighty loner could not be love. Multiple different gods cannot be love. An impersonal spiritual energy is not love. Fate is not love. Karma is not love. Physical forces are not love. Only the God who has eternally loved his Son in the joy of the Spirit can be love. At which point you realise that the Trinity is not an evangelistic liability. It is, in my opinion, the most compelling truth we could bring to a meaning-starved, love-hungry world. The Trinity means the songs are true! Everybody needs somebody to love!
The Trinity means Jesus is Lord
According to Scripture, Jesus is ‘the Christ, the Son of the living God’; that's how all the Gospels identify him. This means he is anointed with the Spirit and he’s the Son of the Father – eternally so. Jesus is intimately related to the Father and the Spirit and cannot be understood without that Trinitarian context.
If God is introduced in single-person terms, Jesus will appear on the scene as someone other than (and almost certainly less than) God. Unless he is presented as ‘one with the Father’ from the beginning, then you will make him out to be a late-comer, solving a problem that’s not really his. This feeds into the third point.
The Trinity means the cross is good news
Who is the one on the cross? If we get this wrong, we will preach a horrible caricature of the gospel. As John Stott says in The Cross of Christ:
"At the root of every caricature of the cross there lies a distorted Christology... In particular, it is essential to affirm that the love, the holiness and the will of the Father are identical to the love, the holiness and the will of the Son. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself."
Jesus is not a ‘third party’ zapped by God. The One on the cross is the One who made us. And he is perfectly expressing the love of his Father (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10).
So many gospel presentations look like (or even explicitly say that) Christ buys off a reluctant and angry Judge. In truth Christ is demonstrating the very love of God in substituting himself for sinners. And so, finally…
The Trinity means the good news is good
If God is an almighty loner, then the best we could hope for is some kind of status beneath – far beneath! – his greatness. But if God is a Father loving his Son in the joy of the Holy Spirit, and if that Son has taken our flesh, lived our life, died our death and risen again to the Father’s right hand, then that is where we have been brought. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 contains those incredible words: ‘Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am… in order that the love you have for me may be in them…’ (vv. 24, 26). Wrapped up in the Son, filled by the Spirit, we are taken to the Father’s embrace, to be loved with the very love which he has for his eternal Son. Because of the Trinity – and only because of the Trinity – the good news is incredibly good.
Everybody needs somebody to love. But, wonderfully, there’s not only a universal need; there is a universal offer. Better yet, with the triune God there is an eternal reality. God is love and here is our evangelistic (and thoroughly Trinitarian) message: the Son of God is calling you home!
Find out how to share the Trinity in evangelism
321 is a new evangelistic course from Speak Life – free to use and easy to share. It’s life according to Jesus and it begins by exploring the THREE-ness of God. You can do the course now at 321course.com
Monthly emails for supporters. Inspiration, practical tools and guidance to support the causes you love in more meaningful ways.