“While the doctrine of the Trinity may be difficult tp grasp, we should be thankful we have a God who is bigger and broader than what we can ever imagine.”
Pastor Tony Pyle
We believe in one God in three distinct persons: the Father, son, and Holy Spirit-each of whom possesses all the attributes of Deity and characteristics of personality but distinct in roles and responsibilities
“I have to be cruel to be kind.”
“You can save money by spending it.”
“It was the beginning of the end.”
We don’t like paradox do we? Oftentimes we say things or hear things that seem contradictory and can’t wrap our minds around how they could be true. You have to be cruel to be kind? How does that make sense?
Webster’s Dictionary defines a paradox as “a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.”
While a paradox is difficult for us to understand, one of the most essential doctrines of Christianity is quite paradoxical.
We believe in one God in three distinct persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – each of whom possesses all the attributes of Deity and characteristics of personality but distinct in roles and responsibilities.
One God in three persons?
How can that be?
While this truth may be hard to grasp and will never be fully understood by us as finite humans, the doctrine of the Trinity shows us much regarding how God exists and how we are to exist as His image-bearers in a fallen world.
The Trinity in Scripture
While the term “trinity” isn’t found in the Scriptures, the truth of its doctrine can be seen in many places.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
God the Father
We believe in the loving headship of God the Father, His supremacy over all creation, His design of creation and redemption, and His exercise of authority through His Son and Spirit.
The term “father” brings forth a variety of emotions and memories depending on your experience. Many had great fathers who spent time with them, loved them sacrificially, encouraged them, and led them to Christ. Others had fathers who were absent, unloving, and unsupportive of them. Some even lack understanding of a father as they were fatherless as children.
Thankfully our experience doesn’t determine the validity of timeless truths of the Scriptures. To see God as a loving father who cares for us deeply and desires to be in relationship with us is more challenging for some than others. Regardless of our experience, we have a heavenly father who desires to love us and be in relationship with us.
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
While God the Father was the Grand Architect of creation and redemption, He carries out His authority through the Son and the Spirit. In this perfect fellowship, each person of the Trinity is fully God, yet yields to one another out of love and difference in roles. While God the Father exercises supreme headship, His desire for the world is to see and believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. Along with this, God the Father sends the Holy Spirit to indwell believers and make known to us His work.
This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Jesus the Son
We believe in the full humanity and Deity of Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, His sinless life, His miracles, His vicarious and atoning death as a substitute, His bodily resurrection, His ascension to the Father’s right hand, and His personal return in power and glory.
The whole of the Scriptures point to Jesus. From the creation account in Genesis 1 all the way to His triumphal return in Revelation 21, the Word of God aims to make much of Jesus Christ and His work of salvation1 for us.
Jesus claims in John 14:6 that He is “the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” While many have a difficult time believing this exclusive claim, the weight of it moves us to share the Gospel message boldly and to be an example of Christ in our communities. Read slowly through these verses about Jesus and really think about who He is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do.
Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.
1 Peter 3:24
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 15:3-6
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.
The Holy Spirit
We believe in the ministry of the Holy Spirit, His work to reveal Christ to the world, to convict people of their sins, His indwelling presence in every one who believes, which enables that believer to grow in godliness in respect to his or her salvation.
While much is made of God the Father and Jesus the Son throughout the Scriptures, it seems that Holy Spirit gets less of the spotlight. Is this correct?
Bruce Ware writes this regarding the Holy Spirit: “…as long as we make clear that the Spirit seeks always and only to point away from himself to the Son and, through him, to the Father, we can honor the Spirit in a way that also honors the focus of his own Person and work.”2
This is so counter-cultural isn’t it? So different than us! We are a people that love getting credit and pointing back at ourselves for jobs well done. Who doesn’t like getting credit? Apparently, the Holy Spirit!
The Holy Spirit consistently seeks to honor both God the Father and Jesus the Son by serving in His role at magnifying them both to the fullest. While still fully God, His goal is to reveal Christ to the World and go where the Father desires.
…these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
1 Corinthians 2:10
And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
Practical Implications of the Trinity
God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit exist in perfect fellowship with one another and show us the relational nature in which we were made in His image. Being image-bearers of God, we were created to be in community and relationship with others.
“As we see the harmony expressed amidst differing roles and responsibilities among the members of the Trinity, we should seek the same kind of harmony as we acknowledge the various varying gifting and activities within the body of Christ.”3
Unity and Diversity
Have you ever heard a group sing in three-part harmony? Each person is singing the same song, reading the same music on the same page. However, each voice sings a different part, and when sung together, there is an incredible fullness and melody that one alone could not accomplish.
The Trinity exemplifies perfect unity while not being uniform. This unity shows three different roles working together perfectly while loving and respecting the other. Each person of the Trinity has unique roles and diversity in how they work, yet they are still one.
The Church body is similar in that God designed all of us with diverse gifts and talents. The Church is a body with many parts, and when the family of believers leads and serves within their gifting, the Church thrives and grows. The Apostle Paul discussed this in his letter to the Corinthians:
But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
1 Corinthians 12:18-20
Authority and Submission
We don’t like these two words do we? Authority in our culture is something people despise and submission is thought of as a way to win a mixed-martial arts fight. No wonder we don’t like these words!
But the Bible talks of authority and submission within the Trinity as a good thing. Our Triune God exercises authority and submission in a perfect way, and shows us the beauty of how this can be done in relationships.
The Holy Spirit submits to Christ; Christ submits to God the Father. While all are still equally God, the authority and submission within the relationship show how God functions in separate ways. This picture of loving authority and willing submission is how God desires His children to live in the world within culture, the Church, and marriage relationships.
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
While the doctrine of the Trinity may be difficult to grasp, we should be thankful we have a God who is bigger and broader than what we can ever imagine. Our one God, exists in three persons, and desires to be in relationship with us.
Reginald Heber wrote a hymn in the late 1800’s describing the beauty of the Trinity.
Holy, Holy, Holy!
Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name
In earth and sky and sea;
Holy, Holy, Holy!
Merciful and Mighty!
God in Three Persons,
1. For further reading, see Pastor Noel’s article: Salvation.
2. Ware, Bruce A., Father, Son, & Holy Spirit; Relationships, Roles and Relevance. p.104
3. Ware, Bruce A., Father, Son, & Holy Spirit; Relationships, Roles and Relevance. p.132