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The Trinity

Faith Fundamentals

The Trinity

God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit

Christians believe in one eternal God who is the Creator of all things, and that He exists in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This is because the Bible speaks of God with three individualities or personhoods.

Of all the characteristics of God, the Trinity is perhaps the least understood and must therefore to some degree be grasped by faith. Here is what we do know:

Although the word “Trinity” itself doesn’t appear in the Bible, the concept does, (the same is true for the word “Bible”). There are scriptures that demonstrate a ‘trinitarian’ feature such as when Jesus told His disciples to “make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The Apostle Paul declared in Ephesians that “there is… one Spirit… one Lord… one God and Father of all.” Jude encourages the reader to pray in the Holy Spirit, stay in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The church believes therefore that God exists as a unity of three distinct persons – each has a will, each love and each speak in the first and second person (i.e. “I” and “You”). All three are divine, and yet they are One – not three separate gods. One way that may help you understand this is to use the metaphor of water. Water can exist in three forms: liquid, solid and vapour (water, ice and steam). All three are still the same substance but take different forms depending on the temperature. Using water to explain the Trinity is just a metaphor, and like all metaphors, it has its limits.

The three persons of the Trinity have distinct functions and relationship to the other. The Father is first, the Son is second and the Holy Spirit is third – demonstrated in the scriptural examples above, but this doesn’t mean one is not equal to the other. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (John 15:26). The Father sent the Son (1 John 4:10). The Son and the Father sent the Holy Spirit (John 14:26).

Without getting bogged down with theological discussion, it is enough to say that the difficulty of the concept of the Trinity of God is essentially to do with its divine nature with which we have no precedent here on earth. It is mostly a mystery, yet the concept appears all through the Bible.

Explain the Trinity? We can’t even begin. We can only accept it – a mystery, disclosed in Scripture. It should be no surprise that the triune Being of God baffles our finite minds. We should be surprised, rather, if we could understand the nature of our Creator. He would be a two-bit deity, not the fathomless Source of all reality. – Vernon Grounds (Theologian)

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