Human beings are clearly designed to enjoy the blessing of love, both by showing love and by being loved. If we felt totally unloved then we would wonder whether life was worth living. Love is very important to us and is expressed in the close relationships of marriage, family and friendship. Life loses a great deal of meaning if we have no bonding with others. Yet where did the need for love and relationships come from and why do they develop? Atheism and evolution offer no solution because in the fight for the survival of the fittest, love which sacrifices for others is considered inexplicable. Yet if we were created in the image of God, we have an explanation as God is both loving and relational.
“The Christian Church confesses … that God is the Incomprehensible One, but also … that He can be known and that knowledge of Him is an absolute requisite unto salvation.”1 “It is evident that we need more than a theoretical knowledge of God. Yet we can know God only as He reveals Himself to us in the Scriptures, and we cannot know the Scriptures until we are willing to be changed by them.”2 So we can have academic knowledge of God and that is useful, but ultimately we need personal knowledge of God as an experience in our lives. We can never fully understand God because as finite human beings we cannot exhaustively understand all there is to know about the infinite God. We need to grow in our knowledge of God and His ways, and as we respond positively to the light we already possess, He willingly gives us more light.
Christianity is a monotheistic faith as we believe in and worship one God. Yet God is Trinitarian and not Unitarian, which means He is not one person but three persons. Thus, we come to the doctrine of the Trinity. “The doctrine of the trinity is, in its last analysis a deep mystery that cannot be fathomed by the finite mind. That it is taught in Scripture, however, there can be no reasonable doubt. It is a doctrine to be believed even though it cannot be thoroughly understood.”3 Billy Graham has written, “When I first began to study the Bible years ago, the doctrine of the Trinity was one of the most complex problems I had to encounter. I have never fully resolved it, for it contains an aspect of mystery. Though I do not fully understand it to this day, I accept it as a revelation of God.”4 This doctrine of the Trinity is defined as follows, “God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God.”
The actual word “trinity,” though not found in the Bible, stems from the Latin word “trinitas,” which means three-ness, tri-unity, or three-in-oneness. It is used to summarize the teaching of Scripture that God is three persons, yet one God. This is progressively revealed throughout the Bible and finds its fullest expression in the New Testament.
In the Old Testament this truth is not so much declared openly as intimated in the following ways. Firstly, in Genesis 1:1, the word for God is not a singular or dual word but a plural word and would suggest very strongly that there is the plurality of persons in the Godhead. Secondly, we have the famous “us” passages where the plural personal pronouns are used of deity (Gen. 1:26; 11:7; Isa. 6:8). It is also interesting to note that the seraphim around the throne of God in Isaiah 6 chanted the words, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts.” The triple use of the word holy would suggest the Trinity of God. Thirdly, there are the theophanies or Christophanies that were pre-incarnation appearances of the Lord (Gen. 16, 18).
It is in the New Testament that the truth of the Trinity is more clearly revealed. It is here that we read of the great evidence for the deity of both the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The baptismal commission indicates the Trinity where we are required to baptize in one Name but three Persons. “Go ye therefore and teach all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Mt. 28:19). It is wonderfully summarized in 1 John 5:7, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one.”
When we consider the Trinity, we must remember that God is three distinct Persons. For example, the Father is not the Son. In the same way the Father is not the Holy Spirit and the Son is not the Holy Spirit. These distinctions are witnessed in John 1:1, 1 John 2:1, Hebrews 7:25, John 14:26, and Romans 8:27. We must also remember that each of these three distinct persons is fully God. Clearly the Father is God, but so is the Son and this is demonstrated in such great chapters as John 1, Colossians 1, and Hebrews 1. It is also evident that the Holy Spirit is revealed as God in the Scriptures. He has divine attributes (Heb. 9:14; Ps. 139:7, 1 Cor. 2:10) and is actually called by the name of God in Acts 5:3-4. He also does the work of God such as creation (Job 33:4), regeneration (Jn. 3:5), and resurrection (Rom. 8:11). These works, by their very nature, can only be performed by God. Thus, we see that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not only distinct but each one is fully God.
Only One God
However, we must note strongly that Scripture is abundantly clear that there is only one God. The three different persons of the Trinity are one not only in purpose and in agreement on what they think, but they are also one in essence, one in their essential nature. In other words, God is only one Being. There are not three Gods. There is only one God.6 “I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God” (Isa. 45:5). Also, Paul writes, “There is one God” (1 Tim. 2:5), while James confirms it by writing, “You believe that God is one; you do well” (Jas. 2:19).
The Trinity makes us realize why God is love as there has always existed a loving relationship between the members of the Trinity. It is from that relationship of love that we find ourselves needing love and companionship. If God were Unitarian, He would never have loved anyone and would not have experienced relationship. So, we reflect His character as we demonstrate love and enjoy relationships with those who are near and dear to us. •
1. Systematic Theology, Louis Berkhoff
2. Foundations of the Christian Faith, John Montgomery Boice
3. The Great Doctrines of the Bible, William Evans
4. The Holy Spirit, Billy Graham
5. Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem