The Mystery of the Trinity
By Heath Jarrett
The Trinity is a central and uniquely Christian doctrine. Just like salvation by grace alone, our belief in one God in three persons sets Christianity apart from other religions. Admittedly, this is not easy terrain. We couldn’t understand that our God is three in one without the Scriptures and the ministry of the Spirit himself. Even so, the Trinity requires deep thinking.
For those of you who are new to this concept of the Trinity, Bruce Ware summarizes the teaching of Scripture in this helpful definition:
“Christian faith also affirms that this one God eternally exists and is fully expressed in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each member of the Godhead is equally God, each is eternally God, and each is fully God—not three gods but three Persons of the one eternal Godhead. Each Person is equal in essence to the other divine Persons. Each possesses fully and simultaneously the identically same, eternal divine nature. Yet each is also an eternal and distinct personal expression of that one and undivided divine nature.”
As Christians, we confess that there is only one God, not three gods. We also confess that the Father is fully God, that Jesus is fully God, and that the Spirit is fully God. The Son is not one third of God but all that God is along with the other two persons.
In addition, we affirm that the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Spirit. They are distinguished from one another. For example, we do not say that the Father took on humanity. That was the role of the Son.
Furthermore, while we affirm there is only one God, we also affirm that all three persons of the Godhead simultaneously and eternally exist. That is, the Father does not become the Son at some point in history and then the Son becomes the Spirit. No. Each person exists simultaneously. This is easily seen at Christ’s baptism where all three persons interact with one another:
“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:16-17).
May we be richly rewarded as we think deeply on our incomparable God!