The Trinity

The teaching of the Trinity is one of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. Unbelievers have called it contrary to reason, illogical, absurd, and nonsensical. That the word “Trinity” does not occur in Holy Scripture is used in attempts to discredit the doctrine. Men and women of faith, though, have tried for centuries to understand the implications of all that Scripture says about the being of God. One expression of the doctrine is: “[There is] one Godhead and Power, found in the Three in Unity, and comprising the Three separately, not unequal in substances or natures, neither increased nor diminished by superiorities or inferiorities, in every respect equal, in every respect the same … the infinite conjunction of Three Infinite Ones, Each God when considered in Himself; as the Father so the Son, as the Son so the Holy Ghost; the Three One God when contemplated together; …”(Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration XL, “On Holy Baptism,” Paragraph 41). As God’s Self-revelation is apprehended by a believer’s understanding, the doctrine will be seen to express the truth of Scripture concerning Him. And the believer who so grasps it will worship as did the poet.

The Persons of the Trinity

The teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ provide much of the basis for the above brief statement including the names we use for each of the Persons of the Trinity. One writer commented, “It is noteworthy that our Lord Himself should have taught us to call these three Persons in the Godhead by such homely titles as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is clear that God Himself would have our finite minds to possess as clear a grasp as possible of the relationship which each of these divine ‘Principals’ or ‘Agents’ bears to the others and to our redemption. There seems to be no word which can adequately take the place of ‘Person’ in these various connections” (Hammond, T.C., “In Understanding be Men,” Chicago, Intervarsity Press, 1960, p. 54).

The Person of the Father

It is not hard to see the reason for the use of Father as a title for God. God’s care for His people had been likened to that of a father for his children (Psa 103:13), and God had described Himself as a “Father of the fatherless” in Psalm 68:5. The prophet Jeremiah quotes the LORD as saying, “I am a Father to Israel” (Jer 31:9). The further revelation of the Father by the Lord Jesus fills and deepens this pre-existing revelation of God as Father.

The Person of the Son

John 5 teaches the true nature of the Son. Verse 19: Identity of work argues equal divine power and agreement. Verse 20: Love for the Son and showing Him all the works argues the Son’s omniscience to comprehend and His divine wisdom to appreciate all the infinite Father does. Verse 21: Divine power in resurrection is in the Son as is non-dependence of will. Verse 22: Divine capacity for, and right of judgment, are the Son’s. Verse 23: Divine honor is to be paid to the Son as to the Father. Verse 24: Jesus of Nazareth is that Son in view. Taking these verses and many others in the New Testament, it is no wonder that the early believers, and those who follow them in their faith declared that Jesus was and is God manifest in the flesh, their Savior, Redeemer, Lord, and God; that “The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (1Jo 4:14). The late Anglican Bishop H.C.G. Moule said, very appropriately, “A Savior Who is not quite God is a bridge broken at the farther end.”

The Person of the Holy Spirit

The Upper Room ministry of the Lord Jesus has some of the clearest teaching about the Holy Spirit. He described the Spirit as “another Comforter” (John 14:16), immediately suggesting that the Spirit had the full capabilities of the Son to fill that position. Noting that the Father would send the Comforter at the behest of the Son, He then calls the Spirit “The Spirit of truth” (v 17), echoing His own Self-description, (v 6), suggesting equality with the Son. This Comforter would indwell the disciples permanently (v 17), and that is paralleled with a similar promise concerning Father and Son (v 23). The Comforter would teach all things (v 26) showing His omniscience, and remind them of the Son’s teachings, showing His divine understanding. The Comforter would guide the disciples into all truth (John 16:13) showing His divine wisdom and skill. Yet, as the Son is not Self-directed, neither is the Comforter (v 13). He takes guidance from the Son, and glorifies Him (v 14), as the Son takes guidance from and glorifies the Father. These notes, and many others in the New Testament, show us that the Holy Spirit has the attributes of Deity as do the Son and the Father. These, and similar considerations, led the believers of old, and believers since, to declare the Holy Spirit to be God, co-equal with the Father and the Son.

“One God! One Majesty!
There is no God but Thee!
Unbounded, unextended Unity!

“Awful in Unity,
O God, we worship Thee,
More simply One
Because supremely Three!”

– F. W. Faber, (1814-1863)

“Timeless, spaceless, single, lonely,
Yet sublimely Three,
Thou art grandly, always, only
God in Unity!

Lone in grandeur, lone in glory,
Who shall tell Thy wondrous story
Awful Trinity?”

– F. W. Faber