Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | July 27, 2008

Practical Theology

A few months back a friend of mine sent me several questions about what 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 every 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.


  1. jonathan my brother you are right on. that is the absolute best news ever. we dont have to get on the spiritual stair climber no more, like we thought we had to. we can just live in the embrace of the triune God, and the beauty of living in that alone will cause us to want to do. we cant possibly say enough about Jesus. I let my cousin listen to two of your sermons [faith who is God] and he cant stop talking about it. He will be joining our congregation soon. Im excited about hearing this good news it really is so practical. Thanks 4 all that you do cal.

  2. Is God three who’s and a what?

  3. I am fighting all the time. Leaving to never come to hear again. But wanting it all to be true just the same. I just listened to Bruce on healing and it is deeply affecting to see the need for and the attacks against unity in man and God. I obviously am ruptured but seem to find the scriptures themselves torturing me. How do you take Paul letter to Rome:”…if any have not the spirit of Christ he is none of His…”? “As many as were baptized…..No condemnation to those who are in Christ………etc. There does seem to be separation. I only ask so that I may put the whole dam thing down once and for all for myself. I run to and I run away. Thanks Jonathon. (where are the pastors!!!!!overflowing with this message?)
    Hope Tim is reading too!!! (email me when u can)

  4. Anyone is free to comment to the following post I asked of Dr.Rowan

    Pretty sad that Inspirated Scripture can’t satisfy the bill to define the nature of the Supreme and His Christ……….
    Tell me why The God and Father of our Lord Jesus has a god; where is it that the Father has or proceeds from God? There is One God – and One Lord, Who is His Image. Analogies to prove a dogma prove too much that they are shallow attempts to avoid the lack of real substance. mainly the scriptures do not use this language. You bring up the Muslims’s questions. How about telling me how the Jews would take Deut.6.4? Why the insistence on One God? Please freely explain

  5. Thanks for reading and commenting, guys. I am really thankful for your encouragement, Calvin! And the fact that we are working together in the gospel!

    Franco, I appreciate your struggle, we all run towards the truth of our Father’s love and we run from it, that’s why we can be thankful that Jesus believes for us and shares his faith with us (Eph. 2:8). Even when we have trouble believing, Jesus is still faithful to us!

  6. Jonathan, you didn’t answer the point of the scriptures in question. How would you explain the scriptures by Paul in romans which seem to me to be speaking of those who are in christ as opposed to those who are not?

  7. Since Romans 5 identifies Jesus as the second Adam, in whom humanity’s fall in the first Adam is reversed, I would say that any passage in Romans that seems to describe human beings as not being in Christ is describing to us our subjective experience where we think and live as though we are not included when in fact we are included.

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