Summary: If we would know what God is like, we must discover the Triune nature He has revealed through His Word.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
You have undoubtedly heard the story of the little boy who was colouring at the kitchen table. When his mother asked him what he was drawing, he informed her that he was drawing a picture of God. “But no one knows what God looks like,” his mother remonstrated with him. “They will when I get through,” the lad responded.
Whenever we speak of God, we must be cautious that we don’t attempt to reduce God to a concept we can handle; we must avoid recreating Him in our own image. The Psalmist Asaph charges those who supposed they were worshipping God with a dreadful sin when he writes, “You thought I was exactly like you” [PSALM 50:19]. The professed worshippers of God attempted to make God after their own desires. Of course, such an attempt is foolish. God is not at all like us. In fact, it is fair to say that God can only be described as “Other.” However, there are aspects of His character to which we can relate.
The most distinctive facet of the divine nature is perhaps His Triune nature. God reveals Himself as the Triune God, a concept that is difficult for people to grasp. It is doubtful that any of us can say that we actually understand the concept, but as Christians we accept the revelation. Though we see the reality presented in the Word, we nevertheless grapple with the implications of this doctrine—attempting to find models or analogies, only to see each effort end in futility.
It is important to acknowledge that the triune nature of the Godhead is not a concept that man could envision—it is revealed by God Himself. Closing the Second Letter he wrote to the Christians in Corinth, the Apostle to the Gentiles referred to the Triune Godhead when penning a benediction. It seems apparent that this truth permeated the Apostle’s mind because it flows so freely from his pen as he pronounces a blessing on those first readers.
THE TRIUNITY PRESENTED — It is fascinating to discover that the Bible does not attempt to provide a definition of the Triune Godhead. One cult makes much of the fact that the word “Trinity” does not occur in the Bible. This should not be worrisome to any serious student of the Bible. The word “rapture” does not occur in the Bible, but we still look for the Blessed Hope. Likewise, the word “millennium” is not found in our English versions of the Word. Nevertheless, the Word makes it clear that we shall reign with the Master for a thousand years. The terms “natural depravity” and “eternal security,” though evident from what is revealed in the Word, are not found in our English versions. Doctrinal terms are used to identify biblical truth; they are not the biblical truth themselves.
The term that speaks of the Triune Nature of God which we commonly use is “Trinity”; this is likely the term that you will have heard used most often by pastors and theologians. I prefer to use the term “Triunity,” which though less familiar is somewhat more descriptive. Whether we use the term “Trinity” or “Triunity,” we need to know that we are speaking of the nature of God as revealed in His Word.
Let’s admit up front that the passage we are focused on in this hour does not conclusively teach the truth of the Triune Nature of God; however, it is evident that the Apostle assumes the Triunity to be an accurate representation of the Godhead. Today, we have the advantage of looking back to this verse with more understanding than the first readers could have had because we have received the entire revelation of the Word. Thus, it is obvious that our understanding is retrospective; we are privileged to have the full revelation of the Word to guide our understanding. Consequently, contemporary Christians are able to see the nature of God in the degree He has chosen to reveal Himself to mankind.
Throughout the Word of God, the Triunity is accepted as factual by the writers. Consequently, they expend no effort in defending this truth—one either accepts the doctrine as true, or one rejects it as fanciful imagination. Thus, the doctrine is revealed, and not assumed. Pause for a moment to weigh that thought—the nature of God could not be discovered through man’s effort, for if we were able to discover what God is like through our own ruminations and cogitations, we would be greater than God. God’s nature is known by revelation, and not through man’s search to know God. For us to know what God is like, it is necessary for God to reveal Himself. As God reveals Himself to us in the written Word, we are amazed to meet One God, but in three expressions. We do not meet three gods, for that is nothing short of paganism. We do, however, meet God in three Persons comprising the Godhead.