“After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened[a] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.””- Matthew 3:16-17.
The doctrine of the Trinity is foundational to the Christian faith. It is crucial for properly understanding what God is like, how He relates to us, and how we should relate to Him. But it also raises many difficult questions. The key thing to remember about the Trinity is that we are always more wrong than right whenever we talk about it. It is so outside of our experience that we don’t really have the means to describe it. Any effort we make to describe it will ultimately fail, to some extent. Because of this, we simply do our best to explain the Trinity by using images and models that we humans can wrap our brains around.
How can God be both one and three? The doctrine of the Trinity means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons–the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Stated differently, God is one in essence and three in person. These definitions express three crucial truths: First, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons; second, each Person is fully God, and third there is only one God. We need to remember that this isn’t just God showing up in a different form at different times. Each person of the Trinity has always existed and has always been fully God.
The Trinity is a difficult concept because God is beyond us. God is knowable, but not fully comprehensible. We can know Him, but we can’t know everything about Him. Through the Bible, God has revealed something about Himself so that we can know Him and He can know us. And at the same time, as we want to know Him, we cannot fully wrap our minds around every aspect of who He is. St. Augustan said, “if you understand Him, He is not, God.”
The Trinity is not something irrelevant as far as our daily lives are concerned. Indeed, it provides us practical examples of how we are to conduct our lives. The Trinity doctrine is not only essential to the truth of the Christian faith it is also tremendously helpful in a practical sense. For one thing, there is complete unity and harmony among the members of the Trinity. Since the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three separate gods, we do not have to be concerned that they may have different purposes. They will never disagree with one another or have differing agendas. Therefore, we can rest assured in the promises of God and in the fact that God’s program is going forward as He has planned. This should give us a whole lot of confidence.
There are so many things to learn about God and His desires for us, that getting caught up on the Holy Trinity and explaining it as something scientific can take us away from the His glory. We need to just remember that He is our God. We need to read the teachings of Jesus. We need to listen to His Spirit talking to our hearts. That is the purpose of the Trinity, and that is the most important thing we need to understand about it.
- How are the persons of the Trinity distinct?
- How much do we need to know about the Trinity?