Summary: A simple guide to explain the wonder of the Trinity to newer Believers.
Personal example to help imagine the concept of a ‘trinity’: “I am a son to my mother, a husband to my wife, and a father to my children … yet I am still only one person.”
2. Introduction – The Gospel
1 Tim 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God [Father] was manifested in the flesh [Jesus], Justified in the [Holy] Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.
3. The Trinity in the New Testament
a. Jesus’ baptism
Mat 3:16-17 As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
For the first time the Trinity, foreshadowed in many ways in the OT, is clearly revealed. The Spirit descends upon the Son and, at the same moment, the Father’s voice is heard from heaven.
Luke 3:22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “This is My beloved Son; in whom I am well pleased.”
John 1:32-33 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptise with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptise with the Holy Spirit.’
b. Christian baptism
Mat 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
When we are baptised, we proclaim our acceptance of the scripture-revelation concerning God - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We confess our belief that there is a God, that there is only one God, that in the one Godhead there is a Father that begets, a Son that is begotten, and a Holy Spirit of both.
We are baptised, not into the names, but into the name, of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which clearly shows that these three are one, and that their name is one. The distinct mentioning of the three persons in the Trinity, in Christian baptism here is full proof of the doctrine of the Trinity.
Through the Lord’s revelation, the one true God appears clearly in the NT, as existing in three Persons: named here “the Father,” and “the Son,” and “the Holy Spirit.” Compare also Mat 3:16 -17; 1 Cor 12:4 - 6; 2 Cor 13:14; Eph 2:18; 4:4 - 6; 5:18 - 20; 1 Pet 1:2; Jude 20 - 21.
c. Important points about the Trinity
1. In the Trinity, each of these divine Persons has His own personal character, and is clearly distinguished from the other Persons (cp. John 14:16 - 17,26; 15:26; 16:7 - 15). Yet the three Persons are equal in being, power, and glory: each being called “God” (John 6:27; Heb 1:8; Acts 5:3 - 4); each possessing all the divine attributes (James 1:17; Heb 13:8; 9:14); each performing divine works (John 5:21; Rom 8:11); and each receiving divine honours (John 5:23; 2 Cor 13:14).
2. With reference to the order of their activities, the Father is first, the Son is second, and the Holy Spirit is third; the general formula being as follows: from the Father (1 Cor 8:6), through the Son (John 3:17), by the Holy Spirit (Eph 3:5), and to the Father (Eph 2:18).
Even so, however, not one of the Persons acts independently of the other Persons; there is always mutual agreement, as our Lord said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (John 5:17); and, “The Son can do nothing by himself “ (John 5:19); and again, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:28 - 30).
3. In the NT revelation of God as a tri-personal Being, there is no retreat from the monotheism of the OT (cp. Deu 6:4 - 5 with Mark 12:29 - 30 and Rom 3:30). The three divine Persons are one God, not three gods.
It was necessary in the OT to emphasise first the divine unity in order to guard against polytheistic tendencies. But even in the OT, read in the light of the NT, a plurality of Persons appears within the one true God (cp. Gen 1:26; Isa 6:8; 48:12 with 48:16).
4. The Trinity of God is a great mystery, something wholly beyond human explanation. We can guard against error by holding fast to the facts of divine revelation that: