Summary: God is three-in-one.
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THREE IN ONE
“Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, then I will show you a man who can comprehend God”—John Wesley
“Without God, God cannot be known.”—Irenaeus (about 175 A.D.)
God can be known truly, but He cannot be known fully.
God has revealed Himself in three ways: (1) through His creation, (2) through His Word, and (3) through His Son.
Why should we study the doctrine of the Trinity?
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
If your belief about God is wrong, the more DEVOUT you are, the more LOST you become.
Trying to understand the Trinity is like reading a mystery novel and discovering that the final chapter has been torn out.
Augustine, while walking along the beach one day was puzzling over the doctrine of the Trinity. He saw a young boy with a bucket, running back and forth to pour water into a little hole. Augustine asked, “What are you doing?” The boy replied, “I’m trying to put the ocean into this hole.” Then Augustine realized that he had been trying to put an infinite God into his finite mind.
The doctrine of the Trinity can be summed up with the following three statements:
1. There is ONE God.
The LORD our God, the LORD is one (Deuteronomy 6:4).
2. God is THREE persons.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, 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. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17).
A “person” is not necessarily a human. “God is Spirit.” Only the Son became human.
3. Each person is FULLY God.
In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).
Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).
The Father is not one-third of God. He is fully God (as are the Son and Holy Spirit).
All analogies used to explain the Trinity are inadequate and even misleading (St. Patrick’s three-leafed clover, three parts of an egg, Neapolitan ice cream).
FALSE TEACHING ABOUT THE TRINITY
When one of the above truths is denied, heresy is the result:
• TRITHEISM – There are three Gods (Mormonism).
• MODALISM – God is one person who expresses Himself in three ways (United Pentecostal Church).
Modalism teaches that God is successively Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; He is not simultaneously Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For a modalist, the God of the Old Testament is the Father. In the incarnation, God was manifest in Jesus. Then, after the resurrection and ascension of Christ, God came in the mode of the Holy Spirit. However, the baptism of Jesus and Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane reveal clearly that the three persons converse with each other simultaneously. [Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears, Doctrine, p. 31]
• ARIANISM – Jesus was created by the Father (Jehovah’s Witnesses).
COMMON OBJECTIONS TO THE TRINITY
Here are a few common objections to the doctrine of the Trinity:
• The word “Trinity” isn’t found in the Bible.
Answer: The word “Bible” isn’t found in the Bible either.
• The Trinity isn’t taught in the Old Testament.
Answer: Take a closer look.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26).
• What about John 10:30: “I and the Father are one”?
Answer: In the Greek, “one” is neuter (“one thing,” not “one person). The Father and Son are distinct as persons but one in nature.
• What about John 14:28: “The Father is greater than I”?
Answer: When Jesus came to earth He took on a subordinate role.
HOW SHOULD THE TRINITY AFFECT MY LIFE?
What are the practical implications of the Trinity?
1. Trinitarian life is HUMBLE.
2. Trinitarian life is WORSHIPFUL.
3. Trinitarian life is RELATIONAL.
The triune God is a relational God (“with God,” John 1:1). God did not create us because He was lonely, but He does delight in welcoming us into relationship with Himself.