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Trinity - Father, Son, Holy Spirit

The Glory, Majesty, and Necessity of the Trinity

Trinity - Father, Son, Holy Spirit
Because of the Trinity, we have the hope of salvation! Because of the Trinity, we have a rich, personal relationship with our creator! Apart from a Triune God, these assurances and realities are impossible
 

 

If you’re a Christian, then you affirm the doctrine of the Trinity. This is a fundamental belief in the history of Christianity, something that completely separates us from all other faiths and philosophies in the world. But far too often, Christians are unable to articulate what the Trinity is, and, for a lot of us, we don’t even really understand it. As a result, this teaching is routinely written off as simply a cold, theological doctrine for scholars to quarrel and debate over. This could not be further from the truth. The fact is, the Trinity belongs to the very essence of Christianity, to the core of the faith.

Whenever we discuss the Trinity, it is essential that we define what it is we’re talking about, and so we should begin with a brief explanation of what the Trinity is. To quote Dr. James White’s definition: “Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” This is a clean, basic definition which touches on the major truths of what the Bible teaches us about God Himself. There is one God. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. One Being, three persons. While it’s important for us to be able to know where in Scripture the Trinity is taught, and how to defend it, that is not the purpose of this specific post. I am writing this, not to give a biblical apologetic for the doctrine of the Trinity, but rather to illustrate why this truth is vital to the very existence of the gospel. If you’d like to study on your own, check out some of these passages, which refer to the deity of the Son (Ps. 45:6, Heb. 1:8, Jn. 1:1, Jn. 17:5, Col. 1:18, Jn. 20:28, Jn. 8:52, Mk. 14:62, among many, many others), and the personhood and deity of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4, 1 Cor. 2:10-11, Heb. 9:14, 1 Jn. 5:6, Jn. 6:63, Rom. 15:16).

Now, understanding the Trinity is understanding God Himself, at least to the extent with which He has been pleased to reveal Himself. So what are some of the things that we are taught about the character, the being of God? Well, one of the biggest things we need to understand is that He is eternal (Is. 44:6, Ps. 90:2), which means He has no beginning and He will never end. He is completely outside of time. We’re also taught that He is eternally unchangeable (Mic. 3:6, Num. 23:19). Nothing at all about God changes, not His purpose, His knowledge, His affections – nothing. He does not evolve, He does not learn, He does not grow – He eternally is. This teaching is going to be fundamental to understand for our purposes here. The Bible goes on to describe God for us: He is wise, good, powerful, just, true. He is merciful, and He is loving; in fact, God is the embodiment of real, true love (1 Jn. 4:8).

Let’s stay there for a moment. How does the Bible describe real love? Throughout Scripture, love is portrayed as being sacrificial; that is the great expression of true love (Jn. 15:13). Real love cares for others and their needs more than our own (Ph. 2:3). This kind of love is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s perfect law (Mt. 22:39, Rom. 13:10), which means it is the fullest expression of God’s character. This selfless, sacrificial love belongs to the very essence of who God is, it is inseparable from His being. We conclude then, since God is eternal and unchangeable, He would need to have this quality of selfless love from all eternity, which would mean that it is necessary that He have someone to love from all eternity, somebody alongside of Him, also eternal. If God is completely monadic – that is one person in one Being – then there is no grounds for Him to be truly loving in His essence. If we affirm that God is love, then we must affirm a plurality within the one Being of God, or otherwise believe in another eternal being, which is polytheism. The Trinity, however, gives us a God who is eternally engaged in active selfless love. The Bible gives us several different ways of seeing this love between the three Persons of the Godhead. We see a perfect unity of purpose in creation, especially in the creation of man in God’s own Image (Gen. 1:26); there is also perfect accord in the work of redemption (Jn. 10:30), all three Persons willingly fulfilling their role. Throughout John’s Gospel, Jesus tells us again and again about the love shared between he and the Father (Jn. 3:35, 5:20). We also see that the love between the members of the Trinity is truly selfless, submitting to their roles with an incomprehensible humility (Ph. 2:5-9, 1 Cor. 15:28).

Of course, in the human incarnation of the Second Person, we experience that love personally and in action. This points us to another important truth about our God: He is eternally relational. Throughout redemptive history, a picture is painted of the God that visits His people. He is constantly active, initiating relationships, speaking to, and guiding His people. He created man in His image (Gen. 1:27), walked with Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:8), spoke to Noah (Gen. 6:13), visited Abraham (Gen. 18:12), wrestled Jacob (Gen. 32:24, 30), appeared to Moses (Ex. 3:4), Joshua (Josh. 5:14), and on and on until finally, He visits His people in the form of real, human flesh (Jn. 1:14). Once again, this fellowship that we are blessed to have with God flows naturally from who He is. He is eternally in fellowship, it is part of His being, the state of His nature – the three Persons of the Trinity in continual, unbroken, perfect relationship with one another. If God is monadic, if He is not Triune, what change occured in Him which prompted Him to create, and to then relate to His creation? Did God feel incomplete? Did He suddenly develop an urge to have fellowship? This conception of God makes Him dependent on His creation for these attributes, and therefore, it must be condemned as a false doctrine.

For a God who is not triune, the atonement simply does not make sense. A God who is not eternally loving, and not eternally selfless, and not eternally relational could not possibly sacrifice Himself for the sake of rebellious sinners. It would be against the nature of God for Him to do something this radical for us. Understanding this, it is clear why Muslims, who deny the Trinity, find it so offensive to suggest that God became a man and bore the penalty for our sins. That is a natural response for one who believes that God is monadic; it does not make sense to them since the god they worship is not sacrificially loving and relational from all eternity. The result is a cold, distant god, with no deep-seated, selfless love and affection for his people. This is why Christianity absolutely depends on the Trinity; without this doctrine, there is no salvation, and one could even contend that there could be no creation, let alone revelation

But, if God is Triune, creation and His atoning work for our salvation flow seamlessly from His nature. If God is eternally loving and relational in His essence, then it makes sense that He would create, after His own Image, beings to love and have relationship with. There is no change that occurs, no sudden prompting of God to become affectionate or to enter into fellowship – these things belong to His essential character, and have from all eternity. And in the same way, a deep love for His people, in which He lays Himself down as a sacrifice and suffers for us in order that we may be saved, is something that is in harmony with His eternal, unchanging character! This kind of love is the very nature of God, and it is because He is Triune, because He exists eternally as three persons, in perfect, loving fellowship with one another. From this perspective, it becomes clear that the Trinity is far from being cold doctrine, or just some traditional teaching that we affirm because we’re supposed to; rather, it is a beautiful glimpse at who God is! Because of the Trinity, we have the hope of salvation! Because of the Trinity, we have a rich, personal relationship with our creator! Apart from a Triune God, these assurances and realities are impossible, and it is for this reason, among many others, that we must know, love, and ardently protect this biblical truth.

Luke Griffo is a member of leadership at Redeemer Church of South Hills in West Mifflin, PA. Click here for more RCSH Blog posts.
 
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