The Joy of Being Reformed (8): Trinitarian Theology Is Directly Linked to Intimacy with God

Along with the Apostles’, Nicene, Athanasian, and Chalcedonian Creeds, Belgic Confession Article Eight is insightful commentary on the Trinity. We need a clear doctrine of God today, a clear doctrine of the Trinity. Why? Well, in order to rightly know God, love God, and praise and glorify God. We won’t get very far in knowing, loving, praising, and glorifying God if we have idolatrous and errant conceptions of Him.

Throughout history, there have been soul-condemning heresies like Docetism, Adoptionism, Sabellianism, Monarchianism, Arianism, Subordinationism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, and more which have all distorted God’s self-revelation in Scripture and have led many people to think wrongly about God. Inevitably, these heresies have led people into idolatry which is the worship and service of a false god.

In my new book, The Belgic Confession: Truth Worth Dying For, I write in the introduction:

My wife is 5’3”. She has brown hair, brown eyes, loves to cook, and doesn’t scrapbook. If you said you knew my wife but described her as a tall, blonde-haired, and blue-eyed woman who always eats out and has a scrapbook room, I would conclude that however vociferous your claim may be, you don’t actually know my wife.

In a similar way, those who reject essential truths about God don’t truly know God. As difficult as it is to face conflict in the church with those who reject essential truths about God, we must remember that heresy destroys people, ruins people, condemns people. Those who believe heresy assume they know God, but they confess a false god which proves they don’t actually know the one true God, and that’s terrifically sad.

For example, tritheists don’t know the one true God; they believe in multiple false gods. If a person believes that the Son and Spirit are less than the Father or that the Son and Spirit are of a different essence than the Father, they don’t know the Father, the Son, or the Spirit. In other words, they don’t know God. Folks, theology is all about rightly knowing, loving, adoring, worshipping, serving, praising, and glorifying the one true God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible. Theology is ever relevant to our lives because a thoroughly Biblical theology guards us against soul-ruinous idolatry. Whenever I believe or assume wrong things about my wife, it never, ever, ever fosters a closer relationship with my wife. It only ever gets in the way of love and harmony. To rightly know Kristina enriches our relationship and deepens our love. The same is true in our relationship with God; theology, rightly pursued and comprehended, only deepens our fellowship and intimacy with God. Certainly, knowing facts about God does not equal fellowship and intimacy with God, but we will not have fellowship and intimacy with God unless we truly know God, and that is where theology is a glorious necessity. We do theology in order to know and love God.

This brings us to Belgic Confession Article Eight, a marvelous statement that clarifies for us the doctrine of the Trinity. Article Eight is titled “God Is One in Essence, Yet Distinguished in Three Persons.” Here’s what Article Eight says:

According to this truth and this Word of God, we believe in one only God, who is one single essence, in which are three persons, really, truly, and eternally distinct according to their incommunicable properties; namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is the cause, origin, and beginning of all things visible and invisible. The Son is the Word, the wisdom, and the image of the Father. The Holy Spirit is the eternal power and might who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Nevertheless, God is not by this distinction divided into three, since the Holy Scriptures teach us that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each has his personal existence, distinguished by their properties, but in such a way that these three persons are but one only God.

It is therefore evident that the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father, and likewise, the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. Nevertheless, these persons thus distinguished are not divided, nor intermixed, for the Father has not assumed our flesh and blood, neither has the Holy Spirit, but the Son only. The Father has never been without his Son or without his Holy Spirit. For these three, in one and the same essence, are equal in eternity. There is neither first nor last; for they are all three one, in truth, in power, in goodness, and in mercy.

That’s a rich statement worth your attention. Get a copy of the Belgic Confession and meditate on these Biblical truths. Our God, brothers and sisters, is one, and yet our God is three Persons. We have fellowship and intimacy with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Each loves us. Each saves us. Each is with us. Each blesses us. Our triune God is the delight of our lives and the one Lord deserving of our worship.

The Trinity is worth your thought, study, and reflection. Don’t ever settle for a shallow knowledge of and intimacy with God. Get closer to God by knowing Him more deeply, and you will be awestruck by His glory and filled with joy and comfort.

Quotes from the Belgic Confession are taken from Guido de Brès & Jonathan Shirk, The Belgic Confession: Truth Worth Dying For (Manheim: Small Town Theologian, 2024). Purchase at:

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one-half of any book of the ESV Bible.

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Jonathan Shirk

Welcome to the online home of Jonathan Shirk, family man, Reformed pastor, author, podcaster, and small town theologian. Whether you're from a small town or big city, may this website help you find deeper comfort and joy in the gospel.

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