Summary: The 3rd in our series on the Baptist Faith and Message
The Trinity (BFM pt. 3)
By: Ken McKinley
Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley who was the founder of the Methodist Church once said, “Find me a worm that can understand the complexities of being human and I’ll show you a person that can understand the Trinity.”
The word “Trinity” isn’t found in the Bible, and because of that, sometimes there are people who say it’s not a Biblical doctrine. I’ve had people say to me things like, “If it’s not in the Bible then I’m not going to accept it as a Biblical teaching.” And then I usually will say to them, “The word Bible isn’t in the Bible either, that doesn’t mean you don’t accept it.” The word “rapture” isn’t in there either… what about that? The word “Trinity” isn’t there, but he concept and the teaching of it – is most certainly found and taught in Scripture. Now the problem is that the doctrine of the Trinity is beyond our full understanding. Our finite minds can’t fully comprehend it, but we believe in this doctrine because it is taught in Scripture.
The first time we see the Trinity in Scripture is in the creation account in Genesis when God created man, Scripture tells us that God said, “Let US make man in OUR image and after OUR likeness.” He speaks of Himself in the plural. The Hebrew word used for “God” is Elohim, which is a plural word, or a plural form of God. And so right off the bat we see that God is a Trinity.
So what is the doctrine of the Trinity?
Well for starters let me just say that the doctrine of the Trinity is foundational to the Christian faith, if you deny that the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit is God, then you have denied Christianity and so it’s important that even though we can’t fully understand the Trinity, we at least understand what the Bible teaches about it.
What God as the Trinity means – is that there is one God, who eternally exists as 3 distinct Persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is one in essence and 3 in person. Each Person is fully God, and yet there is only one God.
So turn with me first to Phil. 1:2 (read), this passage clearly shows us that the Father is God. Now turn with me to Titus 2:13 (read), here we see the Son is God. Now lets look at Acts 5:3-4 (read), here Peter says, “When you lied to the Holy Spirit, you lied to God.” And so we see in these passages and others, that God is 3 distinct Persons. This has more to do than with just roles and duties of one Person who is God. The Father sent the Son into the world, and when Jesus returned to the Father, the Father and Son then sent the Holy Spirit. So they are distinct from one another. We see an excellent example of this in the baptism of Jesus, turn with me to Mark 1:10-11 (read). Now what this means to you and me is that the Father is not the Son, and He is not the Holy Spirit, the Son is not the Father and He is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father, nor is He the Son. The Father is God, Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but they are not three separate gods. Now it’s easy for us to think of the Father and the Son in terms of “personhood” but often times we fail to see the Holy Spirit this way. But the Holy Spirit is not some “force” from Star Wars, He is not simply “the power of God” as some Unitarians claim, He is a distinct person. Now when I say person, I’m talking about personhood, having a personality if you will. Each member of the Trinity can think, each can speak, each are attributed with what we would call emotions, They can have joy, grief, wrath, mercy, they understand, have wills, feel, and give personal help and fellowship. So we see that each Person of the Trinity is distinct, but each one is also fully God. It’s not like the Father is 1/3 God, the Son is 1/3 God, and the Holy Spirit is 1/3 God; no the Bible is clear that all 3 Persons are each 100% God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all FULLY God.
Again; let me make it clear that it isn’t 3 gods.
The central, most important prayer in Judaism is the Shema, and it comes from Deuteronomy chapter 6:4, “Hear O Israel, the LORD, our God, the LORD is one!” The original Hebrew is very interesting there because it says, “Adonai, Elohim(in), Adonai” It amazes me that the Jewish people can’t see the 3 distinctions made there. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons, they are each fully God, and yet there is only one God. So again… what that means is that there is one God who exists in 3 distinct Persons.