Summary: Who is God and what’s he like? The Trinity is one of the distinctive beliefs of the Christian faith. No other religion has incorporated in its belief system this concept of the Trinity. Many religions propose that there is only one God – Islam, for exampl
Trinity: The Unity Factor
1 John 5:7 NKJV
If someone asked you, “What’s God like?” how would you respond? One email I received answered this way: "God is a little like General Electric. He brings good things to life." God is a little like a Visa Card. He’s everywhere you want to be. God is like Scotch Tape. You can’t see Him, but you know He’s there. God is like Alka Seltzer. Oh, what a relief He is. God is like Tide. He gets the stains out that others leave behind." These are nice ways to describe what God is like. But they are limited explanations. Who is God and what’s he like?
In an attempt to explain the person and nature of God, the early church fathers began to clarify the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The reason was throughout the ancient world, as far back as the 16th century BC, the worship of pagan gods grouped in threes, or triads, was common. That influence was also prevalent in Egypt, Greece, and Rome in the centuries before, during and after Christ. After the death of the apostles, such pagan beliefs began to invade Christianity. In response, the church from the first to third centuries sought to clarify the nature of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit until in A.D. 381 when the Council of Constantinople settled on the definitive phrase "Three persons in One God". And thus, the doctrine of the Trinity was formed.
The Trinity is one of the distinctive beliefs of the Christian faith. No other religion has incorporated in its belief system this concept of the Trinity. Many religions propose that there is only one God – Islam, for example declares that, “there is only one God”. The Trinity says there is one God, who exists in three distinct persons, who are each equally the one God. Why is the Trinity important to understand? Part of our spiritual growth and our transformation is coming to a deeper understanding of and thus relationship to God. Matthew 22:37 says to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your MIND. There’s an intellectual side to Christianity. We’re expected to think through the teachings of Scripture for ourselves
The second reason we need to understand the Trinity is that our understanding of who God is affects our attitudes, relationships and actions toward other people. When you have a wrong understanding of God, then you will have wrong attitudes and actions toward other people. This war on terror going on right now is a God war. It’s interesting that ancient wars were God wars too, and the future wars we will see are going to be God wars. This is a God war because Islamic fundamentalists believe that Americans and Jewish people are Satan, or anti-God. They think we are enemies of God. So when your understanding of God is not right, then your attitudes and actions toward other people are going to be wrong.
We need to keep in mind in this series that everything we say about God as the Trinity will be inadequate. How do you try to describe an infinite God with finite words? The Trinity is one of the most difficult things to understand about God. Scholars and theologians have been arguing about the Trinity and what it means for centuries and there is still no definitive understanding. In part because it is impossible for the finite, limited human mind to totally comprehend the infinite God. 1 Corinthians 13:9 reminds us that “we know in part and we prophesy in part" meaning we will never fully understand God now because of our limitations. We’ll only come to get the rest of the story until we get to heaven. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work to understand God and the Trinity. Coming to a deeper understanding of God brings about the transformation of our lives.
The other point we need to be aware of: you don’t have to understand this to experience it. You don’t have to understand the Trinity in order to experience God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Through his grace we can experience the Trinity even though we don’t understand it. Any time you are trying to explain something to another person that they have never experienced, it’s difficult. So you resort to using analogies. Have you ever tried to explain to another the taste of a food they have never experienced? You describe what something is like by relating it to something the person already knows. God is like water in that God shows himself in 3 different ways like water shows itself in the form of ice, steam, and liquid. Each has different qualities and characteristics and thus can have different functions but the composition is still H2O. Likewise, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all God equally three distinct persons but are each equally the one God. But what are the qualities of the Trinity as a whole. Today, we’re going to look at those qualities in the unity of the Trinity and then the following three weeks .