Practical Theology

Here’s a classic post I first wrote four years ago. Hope you enjoy the summer rerun!

A few months back a friend of mine sent me several questions about the way I understand the gospel.

Briefly: I understand the gospel to be the good news that the Father, Son and Spirit created humanity in order to adopt us into their shared life of love, joy, and freedom (Eph. 1:3-5) and that they accomplished this plan of adoption through the Son’s incarnation as the man Jesus Christ (Heb. 2:10-18). The good news is that all of humanity is included in the joy of the Triune Life because Jesus is the union between the Trinity and humanity (Rom. 5:18, Col. 1:20).

Here was one of my friends questions: What are the practical implications of Trinitarian theology? Does it affect how we live and preach the gospel?

My answer was simple: It changes everything.

I no longer look at my kids and think “how can I help them see they are lost sinners and accept Christ so they won’t go to hell?” I look at them and think “how can I help them see they are children of the Father and everything in their life is a participation in the Triune dance the Father shares with the Son and the Spirit?”

I no longer look at my congregations and think “how can I get them busy building the kingdom and saving the lost?” I look at them and think “how can I help them embrace the truth of how they have always been included in the life of the Father, Son and Spirit and always will be no matter what happens?”

I no longer look at un-churched people and think “how can I get them to accept Christ and come to church?” I look at them and think “how can I break through their blindness to help them begin to see how they were saved in Christ before they were ever born and how every good thing they’ve ever experienced is because the Father is sharing his life with them through the Son in the Spirit?”

I no longer look at myself and think “what do I need to do to be in God’s will and do what’s right?” I look at myself and think “hooray! My Dad in heaven loves me and I’m in him through Jesus and he’s in me through Jesus and I don’t ever have to worry about anything ever again!!!”

What we are talking about here is not just “a theology” it is the gospel declared by Jesus, preached by the apostles, and handed down by the Fathers. It is the end of religion, programs, and the whole human treadmill of trying to “get right” with God and “build” something for him. It is freedom to the captives and good news to the poor.

None of our old wineskins of singing, praying, preaching, or doing church will ever be adequate to hold this new wine.

It changes everything.

~ Jonathan Stepp

4 comments so far

  1. Jeannine on

    Wonderful – LOVE this!!!

    • Jerome Ellard on

      I SURE do love this Good News! Thanks for re-posting, Pastor Jonathan. Thank You, Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit for changing everything! Life is awesome in You.

      • Jonathan Stepp on

        Thanks Jeannine and Jerome, glad you liked it!

  2. Patricia Schoonhoven on

    While it may be comforting to believe that all humans, just by being humans, are ‘included in the joy of the Triune life’, I cannot read through the Gospel of John and find your conclusions to be biblical. The incarnation of Jesus is not what accomplished the adoption of the children of God; it was the atonement; His death on the cross; their is judgement and consequence for not believing in the Lord Jesus as Savior. There is an exercise of a person’s will, by the grace of the Holy Spirit working in a person’s heart and soul. There are many, many scriptures which address that there are saved people, and unsaved people, and judgement.

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