Up to now we’ve been looking at how God reveals Himself in the Bible through His actions, and His own nature and character revealed in descriptions of His attributes. All of this corresponds to our tenets that: God is in control, God speaks authoritatively to all mankind, and His promise to be present with us always. Now we’ll spend a few days to approach the concept of how God reveals Himself in three separate means, or persons, we call the Trinity. God’s promise to be with us always is seen best in this doctrinal thought: God is three in One.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
This topic is mysterious indeed, and I would never presume I understand better than other theologians who have written on this topic. I just want to make it easier to understand, without getting bogged down in technical terms or theological protocols often driven by different denominational instruction.
Here are the basic declarations we can find in Scripture:
- God is one
- God is three
- The three persons are each one fully God
- Each of the three persons is distinct from the others
- The three persons are eternally related as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
At the end of this topical search for truth in the Bible, I hope that you will be confident in your understanding of the Trinity. Well, as confident as any one person could possibly be regarding a mysterious truth that only God alone can know fully.
Over the next several posts we’ll look at models and illustrations explaining the Trinity. And we’ll look at least briefly at each one of the declarations above.
After my years of study on this topic I agree mostly with Athanasius (296-373 a.d.), bishop of Alexandria, a great hero of the faith. Athanasius was a defender of the concepts of the Trinity given voice in the Nicene Creed which was written 2 years after his death. He suffered horrible acts of persecution by Arian heretics for his views about the Trinity. Why would he do this? Who would suffer hardship and persecution for philosophical terminology? For Athanasius the important issues of the Trinity were pretty basic and simple. In his mind this belief (the Trinity) is the firm foundation of worship and salvation.
If Jesus, as Son of God, is only a creature… then we are guilty of idolatry. At the time of his death Christians had already worshiped Jesus as God for 400 years. Athanasius said Jesus is worthy of worship ONLY if He is equal to the Father.
If the Arians were right, he said, then we are placing our hope of salvation in the life and hands of a mere creature. ONLY if Jesus is equal to the Father, is He capable of saving us from sin.
Next time we’ll talk about models and illustrations of the Trinity.
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