One doctrine that sets Christianity apart from every false religion and cult out there (and every other religion out there is a distortion or contradiction of Christianity) is that of the Trinity. The teaching that God is one being and three distinct persons of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Every single false teaching out there will deny some aspect of this cardinal truth and therefore wind up having a wrong view of God. Failing to believe the Trinity will place one outside of orthodoxy or right teaching.
While there is not one specific text in Scripture that lays out the teaching of the Trinity, all of the aspects of it can be found throughout its pages. Rather than seeking to define God as a trinity, the authors of Scripture assumed that He was such and continually speak of Him in that way. What we do find are certain claims made about God which put together gives us the definition of the Trinity. For instance, the Bible clearly teaches us that there is only one God in existence and that any others that one may speak of or bow down to are a fabrication (Deuteronomy 4:35; 6:4; Isaiah 45:5; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6). At the same time however, the Bible presents to us the three persons of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit as each being God. They have all the attributes of God and are even referenced as God. The Father is explicitly said to be God (1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 1:3; 5:20), the Son declares Himself to be God (John 5:17-18; 8:58-59; 10:31-33), and lying to the Holy Spirit is equated to lying to God (Acts 5:3-4). Since we are told that there is only one God, the only reasonable conclusion that we can make with these two claims are that these three persons must be the one and same God. They can’t be three separate gods because that would contradict the truth that there is only one God. And they all must be seen as God since all three of them are described as such. This one God must exist as three persons. There is no other possibility than this conclusion if we believe all of what Scripture says about God.
And we see that these three persons, though each fully the one same God, are related to each other and interact with each other at the same time. We find all of them present in the work of creation, being told that God the Father created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1), the Holy Spirit was hovering over the waters (v. 2), and that the Son was there as well with everything being made through Him and nothing being made apart from Him (John 1:1-3). At Jesus’ baptism, we have the Son being baptized with the Spirit coming down upon Him as a dove and the Father speaking from heaven (Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22). It cannot be said that God presented Himself as each of these subsequently because they each are present at the exact same moment in time. It is not that the persons are different “modes” or “forms” of God. God always has been and always will be a trinity. He is not the Father at one time, the Son another time, and the Spirit at a different point. He is all three equally all the time in every moment.
Perhaps the best verse that we have which lays out this doctrine in a succinct way is Matthew 28:19. Jesus instructs the church to baptize disciples in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Notice that it doesn’t say the names plural of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit but the name singular. God’s one name consists of the persons of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. All three are who He is. Furthermore, the three persons together are presented as being the one God in many of Paul’s benedictions where he places them on equal grounds in giving a closing blessing from God at the end of some of his letters (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Now, granted this doctrine is very difficult for us to understand and make sense of. And that’s because there is nothing that we can compare it to. God is so unique and different from His creation that we can find nothing corresponding to this in nature. He is incomparable. As Isaiah 40:18 reminds us, To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with Him? This is why none of the popular analogies that people have come up with in an attempt to explain it really work. They each are lacking in some way. What it comes down to is not do we fully comprehend God being a trinity but do we believe the revelation of His Word that declares that He is. Do we believe that God is who He says that He is? It has been quipped, “If you try to explain the Trinity, you will lose your mind. But if you deny it, you will lose your soul.”
Why is such a doctrine so important? Important enough to place you out of the bounds of even being a Christian if you deny or intentionally distort it? It matters because to deny the Trinity is to in essence deny God since He is a trinity. If we get the Trinity wrong or have a faulty view of it, we get God wrong and have a faulty view of Him. Our salvation will not make sense unless we see how all three persons of the Godhead worked to bring it about. And the very way that we relate to God in worship and prayer is skewed if we fail to think of Him as a trinity; as one God in three persons. To worship and pray to Him correctly is to worship and pray to Him as a Trinity. So, let’s be sure to in faith accept the teaching of Scripture that our God is a trinity, even as we fully cannot comprehend such all for the glory of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Love in Christ,