Charles Wesley once said, “Find me a worm that can understand the complexities of being a man and I’ll show you a person that can understand the Trinity.” While we may have trouble understanding all of the complexities of the Trinity, we certainly find the concept throughout the pages of the Bible. Do we need to fully understand all of the complexities of the Trinity? No. We do, however, need to understand that God presents in three different personages while still being only one God.
We first encounter the concept of the Trinity is found in Genesis during the creation. Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26 NASB) We catch the plural pronouns “US” and “OUR”. There is a clue for the casual reader. For the Bible student, the word God appears 32 times in the first chapter of Genesis. Each time the word God is used it is the Hebrew word אֱלֹהִים 'ĕlōhîm, which is the plural form of the word meaning rulers, divine ones, or gods.
So, what is the Trinity?
Simply stated, the Trinity means that there is one God, who exists as 3 distinct persons- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is one in essence and 3 in person. Each person is fully God, and yet there is only one God. Let’s look at three scriptures that show the three persons referred to as God. These scriptures are somewhat random and are not in any particular order.
First, we look at Paul’s greeting to the church in Philippi where he calls God our Father.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:2 NASB)
Second, Paul writes to Titus and calls Jesus our God. I will read enough to satisfy that the reference is Jesus who died for us.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (Titus 2:11-14 NASB)
Third, we see Peter speak of the Holy Spirit as God in Acts the 5th chapter. Here, we see Ananias has lied about his offering in an effort to appear more generous than he was.
But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” (Acts 5:3-4 NASB) Peter said he lied to the Holy Spirit and that was the same as lying to God.
These three passages name each of the persons who are God-the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The three individuals of the trinity have more to do than be a role or duties of one person who is God. The Father sent the Son into the world. When Jesus returned to the Father, the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit. So, they are distinct from one another. We may remember when Jesus was baptized by John, the Son (Jesus) came out of the water and the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove and landed on Jesus. Then, the Father spoke from heaven to express His pleasure in Jesus, His Son. All three are apparent on that occasion. Now what this means to us is that the Father is not the Son, and He is not the Holy Spirit, the Son is not the Father and He is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father, nor is He the Son. The Father is God, Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but they are not three separate gods. Now it’s easy for us to think of the Father and the Son in terms being a person, but often times we fail to see the Holy Spirit this way. But the Holy Spirit is not some mystical force. He is not simply “the power of God”. He is a distinct person. Now when I say person, I’m talking about personhood, having a personality. Each member of the Trinity can think, each can speak, each are attributed with what we would call emotions, They can have joy, grief, wrath, mercy, they understand, have wills, feel, and give personal help and fellowship. So, we see that each Person of the Trinity is distinct, but each one is also fully God. It’s not like the Father is 1/3 God, the Son is 1/3 God, and the Holy Spirit is 1/3 God; no, the Bible is clear that all 3 Persons are each 100% God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all FULLY God.
Just so we are clear, there is only one God. The central and most important prayer in Judaism is the Shema. It is found in Deuteronomy the 6th chapter and verse 4: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4 NASB) Once more, we find the Hebrew word Elohim (plural form). Literally, the wording is “Adonai, Elohim, Adonai.” Adonai meaning Lord. So, Lord God is Lord. Within the Shema, we find evidence of the three personalities of the one God.
Each member of the Trinity has a specific role in our salvation. (After all, our salvation is where the Trinity touches each of us.) First, God the Father is the planner. Peter opens his first letter with these words: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. (1 Peter 1:1-2 NASB) God the Father knew in advance that we would need a savior. God the Father planned and executed His plan which includes God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
At just the right time, God the Farther sent Jesus to redeem us and allow us to become children of God.
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5 NASB)
As we read in 1 Peter earlier, The Holy Spirit has a role in our sanctification. Paul shares this as he writes to Titus: But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7 NASB) The Holy Spirit washes and regenerates us.
God, through the threes persons of the Trinity are actively participating in our salvation.
So, let’s look at each member of the Trinity as we wrap up.
The Father is revealed as representing the majesty, exercising the sovereignty, and maintaining the rights and privileges of the Godhead. The Bible tells us that “He loved us,” that “He blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ,” that “He chose us before the foundations of the world,” that “He predestined us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will,” that “He has made us acceptable in the beloved,” that “He gave His only begotten Son,” that “He sent His Son to be our Savior,” that “He made Him to be sin for us,” that “He set Him forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood,” that “He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up to death for us,” that “He commanded His love towards us,” that “He raised Him up from the dead,” that “He crowned Him with honor and glory and set Him over the works of His hands.”
The Son is revealed as submitting to the Father; He is “sent,” He is “given,” He “comes to do His Fathers will,” “He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities,” He “bore our sins in His own body,” He “gave Himself as an offering and a sacrifice to God,” He “was raised because of our justification,” that He is “seated at the right hand of God,” and every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father.
The Holy Spirit is revealed as proceeding from the Father, and sent by the Son, He “testifies of Christ,” He “glorifies Christ,” He “bears witness of Christ,” He “convinces the world of sin and judgment,” He “shines into the hearts of men and gives them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God,” He “renews them in the spirit of their minds,” He “gives life to them eternally,” He “dwells in us,” “works in us,” and “guides us into all truth,” He “helps in our infirmities,” and “bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God.” And He “seals us until the day of redemption.”
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all involved in our salvation and our sanctification. The Trinity is important because God is important. We need to know about God. We need to see the various roles of God and the three persons who are God. We need to understand how they work to bring salvation to us. Will we fully understand the Trinity? No. We can no more understand the trinity than we can fully know and understand God. We do know that God loves us and has provided for our salvation. What more do we need to know?