Summary: the mystery of the Trinity, God being three persons in one, has been difficult for Christians to explain since the beginning. Last week we talked about some religions and offshoots of Christianity who have denied the Trinitarian nature of God because it
How many of you have read the Shack? I recently read it and the newest book that author came out with, and both books have interesting imaginings about the Trinity. In both books the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit are people with various characteristics, male and female. In the Shack, the Father manifests Himself initially to the person as a black woman, which of course was very controversial. I wouldn’t take it too seriously though, because I’m sure in our imaginations, God could manifest himself in any way that would best get His message across to us. We have no idea what the Father looks like other than in human form he is Jesus. The book honors the Trinity as one God however.
Anyway the mystery of the Trinity, God being three persons in one, has been difficult for Christians to explain since the beginning. Last week we talked about some religions and offshoots of Christianity who have denied the Trinitarian nature of God because it is hard to reconcile that God is one, and three. I think it’s also one of the ways Christianity has weakened itself by making the most personal and active person of God, the Holy Spirit, something other than what He is. We have an easier time thinking of God as some external, impersonal being that we can worship from afar, not a Spirit actually living in us. Our main problem is in trying to separate the three rather than seeing them as one.
I’m going to do my best today to have you leave with a better understanding of the Trinity, and I’m sure it will still be inadequate, as I’m sure I will not come up with a new revelation that will turn the lights on for everybody. And the point of this again is to be able to come up with an accurate, believable explanation that we can feel confident sharing with those who are not Christians yet.
Let me start today with looking in Scripture to find the basics of what it says about the Trinity. The very first inkling is actually right at the beginning in Genesis 1. “In the beginning God…” That is the Father, the creator of the universe.
Next verse, “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters”. There’s the Holy Spirit. And God said “let there be light” in the next verse. I believe that is Jesus, the light of the world, the very first visible manifestation of God. We’re also familiar with the parallel account at the beginning of the Gospel of John.
“In the beginning was the Word who was God and was with God”. What was the very first thing God said in the Bible? “Let there be light”. Jesus is the original word that was with God in the beginning when all things were created, and according to John in chapter 1 verses 4-10 it says, “In him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”. Then John the Baptist was sent as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all may believe through him. He was not the light but came to witness about the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.”
So the Trinity is mentioned in the first 3 verses of the Bible. It is hinted at again later in the first chapter of Genesis where we hear God say “let us make man in our image, in our likeness”. He refers to himself in the plural a couple other times in Genesis most notably at the tower of Babel where he says, “Let us go down and confuse their languages”.
Now let’s look at this for a minute. God identifies himself at the very beginning of the Bible as a plurality but also one. He says that man is made in his image and likeness, and II. Jesus himself is the physical manifestation of God when in the flesh he identifies himself with the Father saying in John 14, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me, if you had known me you would have known the Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him, I and the Father are one … Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”.
So what can we say about this Trinity so far. We can say that no one has seen the Father per se. He is the invisible, omnipotent, all-knowing source of all things. In some ways he is like a giant unlimited, perfect, consciousness able to create with a word or intention. We hear elsewhere that He is Spirit and he is love.