This post is based on the book The New Christian’s Handbook by Max Anders.
“God does not live in isolation– not in the solitude of a single person, but three persons in one essence. – Louis Everly
A Difficult Concept
The Trinity is a term coined to describe the Biblical teaching that there is one God comprised of three distinct co-equal persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The term itself is not used in the Bible. The teaching, however, is solidly laid out in scripture. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to comprehend.
People have debated this doctine for millennia, pretty much like everything else in the Bible. Since it is hard to wrap our heads around, many people give up trying. A lot of offshoots of Christianity deny it entirely. “How is this possible? It doesn’t make sense!” many argue. It is possible and it does make sense. It’s just perplexing. That doesn’t make it false, nor does it diminish its importance.
- False teaching often denies the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit.
- God is triune, not triplex. He is not three Gods in one.
- The tri-unity of God is perplexing, but that doesn’t diminish its factualness or importance in scripture.
A Practical Illustration
I think the easiest way to get the Trinity is to look in the mirror. You are created in the image of God.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26-27
Since God is a Spirit being, we must be created in his image spiritually. We are three distinct co-equal persons that form one essence. Each of us has a mind, a body, and a spirit. Today our body is flesh. The Bible says one day we will receive a spirit body like Christ.
An Essential Teaching of Scripture
God Is One
“I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” Isaiah 45:5
“You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” Isaiah 44:8b
“So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that ‘An idol is nothing at all in the world’ and that ‘There is no God but one.'” 1 Corinthians 8:4
“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” James 2:19
His attributes (omniscience, omnipotence, omni-presence, etal) apply equally to each member of the Trinity.
God Is the Father
“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:37-40
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29
Role in the Trinity: The role of a Father is to lead. He initiates relationships and makes plans. He provides for and protects his children. God the Father leads the Trinity. Think of the Father as the mind of God.
God Is the Son
“Thomas said to him [Jesus], ‘My Lord and my God!'” John 20:28
“‘Very truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’” John 8:58
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, ‘This is the one I spoke about when I said, “He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.”‘)” John 1:1-15
“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!’ His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’
The Jews then responded to him, ‘What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?’
Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’
They replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.” John 2:13-23
Role in the Trinity: The role of the Son is to execute the will of the Father. He is the representative, or face of the Godhead, that directly and personally interacts with mankind. Kind of like what people see of us. They see our bodily representation.
God Is the Holy Spirit
“Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.’
When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.” Acts 5:1-5
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'” Matthew 28:16-20
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” Ephesians 3:16
Role in the Trinity: The role of the Holy Spirit is to comfort, convict, guide, teach, intercede and reveal, in order to execute and exert the will of the Father and the Son.
No matter you how break down God, he’s bigger than we can fit in our understanding. God is infinite. How the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit interact and engage is mind-bending to contemplate. There’s a beauty to God though. Aren’t we fortunate to be made in his image.