The Doctrine of God: The Trinity
Core Tenants of the Christian Faith
Doctrine of God: The Trinity
When people think of what sets the Christian faith apart from all other religions, what usually comes to mind is faith alone apart from any works, but there is another essential of the faith that is equally, if not more distinguishing, and that is the Doctrine of the Trinity. While both Islam and Judaism also hold to the belief of one God, Christianity is exclusive by teaching there is one God who eternally exists in three Persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith says this about the being of God, “these three have the same substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence without this essence being divided". Intrinsically, the nature of each person of the Trinity is exactly the same because they are one divine being.
Within their being, everything that is true of the Father is true of the Son and the Holy Spirit. They are all infinite, eternal (no beginning and end), have the same divine will (they are in perfect agreement on everything), the same power, knowledge, wisdom, and glory. No one is less than in the Trinity. Each person is truly God and not divided in parts. All distinctions occur within their personhood. The Son is not the Father, the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Holy Spirit, but the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. In their relationship, the Son is eternally begotten of the Father (which we will discuss part 3 of the Trinity), the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and Son, and the Father proceeds from no one.
Furthermore, they are distinct in what they do. For example, in salvation, the Father elected those who would be saved before the foundation of the world. The Father sent the Son, who willingly came to earth to die for the sins of the elect, and the Holy Spirit applied the work of Christ to the elect. We can clearly see the distinctions within the persons of the Trinity but also notice the harmony in which they work. They work in perfect harmony in everything they do, including salvation (Galatians 4:4-6, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, Titus 3:4-6), creation (Genesis 1:1-2, John 1:1-3), the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:15, John 2:19-21, Romans 1:4), and Baptism (Matthew 28:19).
Now that I have explained what the Doctrine of the Trinity is, let’s examine more closely how scripture proves it. Deuteronomy 6:4 declares “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one”. And Genesis 1:26 shows us that this one God is plural, saying, “Then God said, ‘let us make man in our image after our likeness’.” And the Testimony of scripture proves this plurality to be the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—mainly by presenting all three persons as God. While almost everyone agrees that the Father is God (John 6:27—“on Him God the Father has set His seal”—is one of many verses,), false religions often attack the deity of Son and the Holy Spirit, but the testimony of scripture proves their efforts futile. The Son is called God in Romans 9:5 (“…Christ, who is God over all”), 1 John 5:20 ("…Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life”), and 2 Peter 1:1 (“Our God and Savior Jesus Christ”). Furthermore, in John 20:28, Thomas calls Jesus “my Lord and my God”, and Jesus receives His worship.
The deity of the Holy Spirit is just as clear. In Acts 5:3 Peter says that Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit. Peter then refers to the Holy Spirit as God in the next verse. “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit…. You have not lied to man but to God’.” A lesser-known reference to the deity of the Holy Spirit is found in the connection between Hebrews 3 and Psalm 95. In Psalm 95:7-11, God speaks to the people of Israel to not harden their hearts as they did in Meribah. Verses 7-11 says,
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. If you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” Therefore, I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”
Hebrews 3:7-11 quotes Psalm 95:7-11, but says the person speaking is the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore, I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest'."
We can be certain that God in Psalm 95:7-11 is none other than the Holy Spirit.
In conclusion, though our finite minds cannot fully comprehend it, scripture presents the doctrine of the Trinity in a clear, cohesive, and logical manner. God is triune and to deny the trinity is to deny God, therefore putting one outside of the Christian faith. Praise the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who have eternally blessed those of us who are saved. In my next blog, I will deal with and correct some trinitarian heresies such modalism and adoptionism.