Three Equals… One?

Perhaps one of the most confusing parts of Christian theology is the idea of a triune God (that is to say, a God who is three-in-one).  We understand God in three persons that form what is often called the Holy Trinity:  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  However, if one were to read through the Bible cover to cover, they would not find the word “trinity” or phrase “Holy Trinity” anywhere.  This prompts the question, if it’s not in the Bible, then where did it come from?  To say that the idea of the Holy Trinity is not in the Bible is not entirely accurate.  While the word “trinity” is not actually used, the information we are given indicates such a relationship.  In other words, when we put together the entirety of what we know of God from the Bible, we see the Holy Trinity.  The doctrine of the Trinity is Biblically grounded because it comes from our understanding of what the Bible says about God.

There are more Scriptures relating to the Trinity than what I will be using in this post.  However, my goal here is merely to set down a starting point that I hope shows that this Holy Trinity business is at the very least plausible according to Scripture and thereby show that further investigation into the matter is not a waste of time and/or energy.  The first passage that I would like to call your attention to is Luke 3:21-22.  This is Luke’s account of the baptism of Christ.  Upon coming back up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descends upon Christ “in bodily form like a dove” and a voice from heaven says to Christ, “You are My beloved Son; in you I am well pleased”.  The scene shows God as three distinct persons:  Jesus (God the Son), The Holy Spirit descending like a dove (God the Holy Spirit), and God speaking from heaven (God the Father).

It is easy to stop there and think of the Trinity as a kind of pantheon of gods much like the Romans or Norse had.  However, we read in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 that “The Lord our God, the Lord is one!”  The word “one” here implies singleness or unity.  The Lord is the Lord.  There is no other.  This of course leaves no room for there being three Lords, so the approach of making God to be strictly three falls short of being Scripturally sound.  The question is how can the three persons of God we saw in the Luke passage be one?

I am going to start with God the Father and show how Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one with Him since this is the person of the Trinity who is generally best known as God and also who we are most familiar with.  This is the person who speaks creation into existence in Genesis and who parts the Red Sea in Exodus.  This is also the person who Christ refers to as “Our Father” in the Lord’s Prayer…  This is also the person most of us visualize as an old guy with a long, white beard and a white robe…

The Holy Spirit is the “Helper” who is sent to abide with us and teach us (John 14:26).  The Holy Spirit guides us in all truth and speaks what He hears from God, speaking not on his own authority but on God’s (John 16:12-14).  He reveals to us the things of God.  1 Corinthians 2:9-12 compares the Holy Spirit and God to the spirit of a man and the man.  Just as we do not separate the our spirit from ourselves, our essence as it were, neither can we separate the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, from God.

John 1 tells us that Jesus is the incarnate Word of the God; specifically it says that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  The Greek word behind “Word” is logos.  Logos has a broad definition that ranges from spoken words to thoughts.  One could say that in being the logos, Jesus is the incarnate mind of God.  The relationship between Jesus and God the Father is similar to that between the Holy Spirit and God the Father:  one is linked to the other at the core; or we may even venture to say they are one heart and soul.

That may be the best starting point I can offer in this short explanation:  that we know and experience God in three persons:  Father, Spirit, and Son, but they all share one heart and soul.  God is of one heart and soul, but He relates to us on a spiritual level, as someone who has shared our experiences as humans, and as our Father in heaven.

It bears mentioning that the Holy Trinity is part of the mystery of God, an aspect of Him that will not fit into our human understanding.  The aspects of God that are above our complete understanding, such as His triune nature and His holiness, nonetheless invite us to spend time in meditation and contemplation of God, seeking to further appreciate the fact that He is the Lord God Almighty.

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