The Trinity is one of those things that is often swept under the rug OR easily dismissed as something we can’t understand. BUT, understanding the beauty of the Trinity and what it means for us as believers is vital for our walk with God. It is through the Trinity we understand, know, and fall in love with God more.
So What is the Trinity?
The Trinity simply means God exists as three persons, each person is fully God, and yet he is one God.
God Is Three Persons
The fact that God is three persons means that the Father is not the Son; they are distinct persons. It also means that the Father is not the Holy Spirit, but that they are distinct persons. And it means that the Son is not the Holy Spirit, but that they are distinct persons.
We see this best in John 1:1-2 when we read “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God…”
This word “with” shows that Jesus was not the same as God the Father but is a distinct person who was with the Father in the beginning.
We also see this in Hebrews 7:25 when we are told Christ is the one who “is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them”. In order to intercede for us before God the Father, it is necessary that Christ be a person distinct from the Father.
In addition, the Holy Spirit is a distinct person. We see this in John 14:26 when Jesus says, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”, and again in Romans 8:27 when we learn the Holy Spirit also prays or “intercedes” for us.
All of these verses clearly show there is a distinction between the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and God the Father to whom the intercession is made.
Each Person Is Fully God
This is where our brains start to have a difficulty understanding the Trinity. Each member of the Trinity is a distinct person YET each person is fully God.
We tend to have little difficulty believing God the Father is fully God. In fact, we tend to view the Old Testament as simply the sovereign work of God the Father.
But, we must also realize that Christ is fully God. John 1:1–4 clearly affirms the full deity of Christ when it states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Here Christ is referred to as “the Word,” and John says both that he was “with God” (a distinct person) and that he “was God.” (fully God)
Mind-blowing. I know. Thomas, one of the disciples had trouble with this concept as well. We often read John 20:28 as his statement of belief in Jesus but it’s also a huge statement of belief in the Trinity. After touching Jesus’ wound in his hand, Thomas states, “My Lord and my God!” ’ Thomas finally gets that Jesus is a distinct person (my Lord) AND Jesus is fully God.
So what about the Holy Spirit?
Once we understand God the Father and God the Son to be fully God, then Matthew 28:19 (“baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”) becomes significant to help us understand the Holy Spirit.
By baptizing in the name of God the Father (fully God yet a distinct person), God the Son (fully God yet a distinct person), and God the Holy Spirit shows that the Holy Spirit is classified on an equal level with the Father and the Son and therefore must be fully God.
Further, the activity of giving new birth to everyone who is born again is the work of the Holy Spirit. Giving new spiritual life is something only God can do which shows us the Holy Spirit, while a distinct person, is also fully God.
There Is One God
While there are three distinct persons of the Trinity, they are one in essence. In other words, God is only one being. There are not three Gods. There is only one God.
The Old Testament spends the majority of it’s time making sure the people of Israel understand this before God ever introduces the idea of the Trinity.
Deuteronomy 6:4–5: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
For there is one God and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).
Why is it important to believe all 3 statements:
If we didn’t say 3 distinct persons, but ONE person who functions in 3 different roles, the Trinity would be easier to understand.
But such a solution would deny the fact that the three persons are distinct individuals, that God the Father sends God the Son into the world, that the Son prays to the Father, and that the Holy Spirit intercedes before the Father for us.
It would also be easier to understand if God the Son and God the Holy Spirit were not fully God but are only subordinate or created parts of God.
But if this were true, our salvation would rest on a created being. There’s no way a created being could handle the full wrath of God OR secure our salvation for us.
It might also be easier to reconcile in our brain if we dismissed the idea of One God. But this would result in a belief in three Gods, something clearly contrary to Scripture.
How does this apply to your life:
Each person of the Trinity has a different function. As you think through your own salvation, it is vital you realize the importance that each member of the Trinity has in your life.
Then, after Jesus ascended back into heaven, the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son to apply redemption to us, give us new spiritual life, sanctify us, and empower us. (John 3:5-8; Romans 8:13; Acts 1:8)
Overall, the work of the Holy Spirit brings to completion the work that has been planned by God the Father and begun by God the Son.
What Do You Need to Remember about the Trinity
While the persons of the Trinity are equal in all their attributes, they are different in how they relate to creation and each other.
Trying to understand how there can be three distinct persons, and each person have the whole being of God in himself, and yet God is only one undivided being may be impossible for us to exhaustively understand. But we can grasp it as we see the Trinity played out in our relationship with God. However, acknowledging that God is greater than we could ever understand is healthy for us. Knowing God is greater than our ability to comprehend keeps us humble and helps us worship him alone.
For more in-depth understanding on the Trinity, this is the Systematic Theology textbook I used and taught out of in the live teaching below.
- 3 Ways to Know God Better
- 5 Reasons Christians Base Their Beliefs on the Bible
- How to Approach the “Hard” Books of the Bible
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