Ask Steve: The Trinity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question: Steve, what is the Trinity? Why do you believe it is biblical? How is each member of the Trinity the same? How are they different in their roles?

Answer: Although the word Trinity does not appear in the Bible and is a doctrinal formulation of the Council of Nicea, its truths are nevertheless found throughout Scripture, making the concept of the Trinity, or the Triune God, not only absolute, but an indispensable doctrine of the Christian faith, without which anyone can be saved. A proper understanding of the Godhead is important for salvific purposes, and even for the life of the church in terms of worshipping God in spirit and in truth, and for doctrines that are related to the Trinity. This short response will set out to define what the Trinity is, why belief in the Trinity is important, how each member of the Trinity is the same, and how each member of the Trinity is different.

First off, it important to begin by understanding what is the Trinity. The Trinity is the One living God who exists eternally in three separate Persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. The triune nature of God is first revealed in Genesis 1:26. Although Trinitarian Old Testament references cannot be as dogmatically affirmed as with New Testament references, passages such as Genesis 1:26 and 3:22 give a strong indication of a plurality of Persons within the Godhead. God’s Trinitarian nature, however, is fully ascertained in the New Testament, particularly in the baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3:16-17, where the Son of God is present, the Father speaks from heaven, and the Holy Spirit descends like a dove onto the Son for empowerment of ministry. There is no more persons and no less persons in the Godhead.

This is why belief in the Trinity is important. Every Christian must believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit because this is what distinguishes the Christian faith from every other religion. To disbelieve in the Triune God is to strike at the heart of the gospel and the Christian faith. There is no saving faith if one gets the Trinity wrong. Every other monotheistic religion is Unitarian and even attack the idea of the Trinity, why is why Christians must be on guard against this onslaught. Scripture makes it clear that Jesus is God (Jn 1:1; Jn 10:30) and the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3). To be saved, a person must believe that Jesus is God (Rom 10:9; Jn 20:28), therefore a belief in the Triune nature of God is indispensable in saving faith. 

The members of the Trinity are the same in that each person is fully, irreducibly God, with all the attributes of God. The Father is eternal, omniscience, omnipotent, loving, just, righteousness as much as the Son is and the Spirit is. Each Person is fully God and to be worshipped. Each Person is different in that each are separate Persons, and there exists an order to the Persons, which is not an ontological ranking of superiority in essence or being, but of responsibility. The Father honors loves and honors the Son (Phil 2:9); the Son submits to the Father (1 Cor 5:11; Acts 4:27), and the Holy Spirit submits to both the Father and the Son (Jn 16:13; 7:18). To further illustrate how their roles differ: The Father is the source of all revelation and who foreknew our salvation and demonstrated His love for us by giving His only Son (Rom 8:29); the Son is the one who incarnated Himself and gave Himself as a sacrifice for sin and now intercedes as the eternal God-Man for us (Jn 1:1; Phil 2:8); the Spirit indwells the believer and works to sanctify the believer through the illumination of the Word of God (Jn 16:13; Phil 2:12). They are three separate Persons, but in indivisible communion as the one true God.

The Trinity may seem to be a complex issue, but it is at the heart of the Christian faith and cannot be compromised. Scripture teaches that the Triune God is a reality. It demonstrates what the Trinity is, why Christians must believe, how the members of the Trinity are the same and how they are different from each other. In this, we know how we are to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. 

 

Recommended Resource: Father Son & Holy Spirit by Bruce A. Ware