What is the Trinity?
Things we know from the Bible
There is only One God:
Deuteronomy 4:35, 39 – You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other…Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other
Isaiah 44:8 – Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”
Isaiah 45:5 – I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me,
The Father is God:
John 6:46 – No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.
Ephesians 4:6 – [there is]on God and father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
The Son [Jesus] is God:
John 1:1, 14 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Colossians 1:15-17 – He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
1 John 5:20 – We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true. And we are in Him who is true – even in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
The Holy Spirit is God:
Luke 12:10 – And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
Acts 5:3-4 – Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Stan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit… You have not lied to men but to God.”
What is the Trinity?
All true Christians are Trinitarian (meaning they affirm the doctrine of the trinity) and are also monotheistic (meaning they affirm that there is only one God). It’s possible to be a Trinitarian without necessarily using the word “trinity”, or even fully understanding it. In fact, no one fully understands the doctrine of the trinity. As humans, we are finite beings trying to describe the infinite God. It’s almost like explaining what color looks like to a blind person. Sometimes there aren’t enough words or analogies that can thoroughly explain something.
If you read the bible from cover to cover, you will not find the word “Trinity” anywhere. The word “Trinity” is a word that theologians use to explain the complexity of God’s oneness. To be sure, there is only one God. However, God is complex in His oneness, and is revealed in three distinct persons. You could say that God is one in essence, yet three in persons; three distinct personalities, making up one Godhead – this is the Trinity. These persons, of course, are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; all of them different from one another in their personhood, yet the same in their unity as the One True God.
Man as a Trinity
There have been several analogies used to try and explain how this works – how God can be three, yet one. One example is water – water can be liquid, gas or a solid; three completely distinct forms, but the same basic elements. There are several different word pictures that have been used to make some sense out of this conundrum; however I have found one to be most helpful. I think it is easiest to understand God as a trinity when we understand man as a trinity.
We (mankind) are a trinity of sorts as we consist of a spirit, a soul and a body. We have three distinct parts which collectively make one human. You are not your body; you are a human consisting of three parts – one of which just happens to be a body. When you die and your soul leaves your body, you will not cease to exist (in Philippians 1:4-5, the Apostle Paul said, “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far…”).
You are a spirit, you have a soul, and you live in a body. Three distinct parts, yet one you.
See more about “man as a trinity” here.
If you are still confused about the trinity issue, it’s okay. Don’t feel bad. Don’t get frustrated. Remember, God is a lot bigger than your capacity to understand Him. Just because you can’t understand something doesn’t stop it from being true. Look at what the Apostle Paul had to say when He was trying to explain the complex nature of God
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:33-36
Below is a list of the distinctions of each of the 3 persons of the trinity, as written in the Combating Unbelief Statement of Unity:
· We believe that there is only one true and living God who created all things in heaven and on earth (Deut. 4:35). Though God is one in nature, essence and character, God expresses Himself in three distinct persons. This complex unity is known and referred to as the trinity, or the Godhead.
· We believe that the Holy Spirit is the third member of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit is not the impersonal energy or the power of God, but rather a personal being who can be lied to (Acts 5:3) and grieved (Eph. 4:30), and who was active in the creation of the universe (Gen. 1:2).
· We believe that the Holy Spirit dwells inside of every believer in Christ (John 7:37), teaching us all things and reminding us of all Christ taught (John 14:26), guaranteeing our salvation and future resurrection through Christ (2 Corinthians 1:22), giving us gifts for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7), and coming on us in power for the purpose of being Christ’s witnesses in the earth (Acts 1:8).
· We believe that Jesus is both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36), and that salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
· We believe in the deity (John 1:1; Col. 1:15; 1 John 5:20) and supremacy (Col. 1:15-20) of Jesus Christ above all things
· We believe in Christ’s virgin birth (Isa. 7:14; Matt 1:23; Luke 1:34)
· We believe that Christ died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
· We believe that Christ’s sinless life can be imputed to us so that God could see us as righteous (2 Cor. 5:21)
· We believe that God has set a day when He will judge the world with Justice by Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31), and that only those who have confessed with their mouth “Jesus is Lord,” and believed in their heart that God raised Him from the dead will be saved (Rom. 10:9)
One God and Father:
· We believe that God the Father is the first person in the trinity, and head in the chain of command of the Godhead
· We believe that Christ gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father (Gal. 1:4)
· We believe that God the Father spoke the world into existence (Gen. 1:3), through His son (John 1:3)
· We believe that no one has seen the Father except the son (John 1:18; 6:46).
· We believe that God the Father appointed Jesus to be Judge of all creation (Acts 17:31).
· We believe that when Paul said in Ephesians 4:6 that the Father is “over all” he is speaking of His absolute supremacy above all things; and when he says that the Father is “in all and through all” he is speaking of the Father’s personal involvement (His immanence) within creation.
· We believe that when the end comes, Jesus will hand over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power (1 Cor. 15:24)