3 Undeniable Truths to Help Us Understand the Trinity

3 Undeniable Truths to Help Us Understand the Trinity

“To meditate on the three Persons of the Godhead is to walk in thought through the garden eastward in Eden and to tread on holy ground. Our sincerest effort to grasp the incomprehensible mystery of the Trinity must remain forever futile, and only by deepest reverence can it be saved from actual presumption.” –A.W. Tozer

A quick search on the internet brings up many articles explaining the doctrine of the Trinity. Many Bible scholars have spoken at length in an attempt to understand a concept that ultimately must be accepted by simple faith. Our finite, human minds simply cannot wrap our thoughts around God, who is one in essence and being, yet clearly described and revealed as three distinct Persons in Scripture. Like the doctrines of God’s sovereignty in salvation and man’s free will to believe and receive, it is two sides of the same coin. Have you ever tried to look at both sides of a coin at the same time? It simply can’t be done! To reconcile “one yet three” without diminishing either concept is a matter of faith, not reason.

Don Stewart gives a succinct definition of the doctrine of the Trinity on BlueLetterBible.org:

“The Bible teaches that there is one eternal God who is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He is the only God that exists. However, within the nature of this one God are three persons, or three centers of consciousness - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three Persons are co-equal and co-eternal. They are also distinguishable or distinct from one another. These three distinct Persons are the one God. Everything that is true about God is true about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

When we say “doctrine” we immediately think of an academic pursuit, some higher knowledge to be gained. But to view these truths about God as purely facts to be assembled and stored away in a mental file called “God” is to miss the point entirely. The one true God, the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists, has revealed Himself to us to cause us to know Him, and worship Him. As we meditate and ponder on truths too big for our minds to conceive, we are given glimpses into the divine nature of the God we serve. He reveals Himself because He desires us to know Him.

Here are three things we must believe about the Trinity.

1. There Is One God

Isaiah 45:21 – “Declare and set forth your case; indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none except Me.”

Isaiah 44:6 – “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.’”

When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, the first rule on the list was that they would have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:1-3). Hebrew children were taught from birth that God was the only God, and that He was one God: “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). What peace and assurance this gives us! We worship one God, the only true God that exists. There is no need to search for other gods to meet our needs or provide for our souls’ salvation. Our time, resources, loyalty and gratitude, and indeed, our very lives, can be focused in one direction, that of the Most High, the one and only God.

2. God Exists in Three Persons

Both Old and New Testaments are filled with references to God the Father, the Holy Spirit of God, and the Son of God, although the Son of God’s name “Jesus” is not identified until the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the Son of God is the coming Messiah (Daniel 9:24-26), the Redeemer (13 times in Isaiah), the Righteous, Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53). We find the phrase “Spirit of the Lord” or “Spirit of God” more than 35 times in the Old Testament.

If God commanded His people to worship Him alone, it can only be concluded that the Person of the Son of God, Jesus, and the Person of the Spirit of God are the same God, not different Gods. 

There really are no good analogies to explain how one is three, yet not divided and separate. Some people use water (liquid, ice, vapor), maintaining that the essence (or in this case, the chemical composition of H2O) is still the same, though in different forms. Others have used the idea of time (past, present and future), in that we experience time in three ways, but essentially, there is only time itself.

One way we can get a small glimpse is from Scripture itself, when Paul in his closing words to the Thessalonian believers reminds us of how God made us: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

I believe this is at least in part what God meant when He said in Genesis 1:26, “Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness.” Who is the “Us” except the Triune God? Jesus Himself was present and participating in Creation (Colossians 1:15-17), and who but the Spirit of God that hovered above the face of the earth (Genesis 1:2) could breathe the breath of life into man (Genesis 2:7)?

As created beings, we are made of body, soul and spirit, yet we are not three people, but one. We are not “gods” but we are made in the image of God, who is one God, yet distinctly three Persons. He has revealed Himself to us and responds to us as the Spirit of God, God in a physical body (the Incarnate Jesus), and God the Father. The human soul, as the seat of our affections, our mind, our will, and our emotions, perhaps exemplifies God the Father, the Person of the Trinity who so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son to purchase salvation (John 3:16), and at the Son’s request, sent the Spirit of God to indwell those who would believe. (For further reference see Luke 11:13, John 7:39; 14:16, 26; 15:26; Acts 2:32-33, Galatians 4:6.)

Many Scripture verses validate the existence of God in three Persons. Here are just a few that mention all three Persons in the same verse.

Matthew 3:16-17 – “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’”

Matthew 28:18-20 – “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”

Acts 7:55-56 – “But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’”

1 Peter 1:2 – “According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.”

2 Corinthians 13:14 – “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

3. All Three Persons Are Equally God

Because Scripture describes each Person of the Trinity as having distinct, separate roles, we are naturally drawn to imagine or describe them as existing in relationships that we can understand. If God the Father “sent” Jesus to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14) and “sent” the Spirit into our hearts (Galatians 4:6), then God must be the chief God. The Spirit and the Son must in some way be subservient or less than one another; somebody has to be the boss.

Here is our struggle in understanding the Trinity: we see with human perspective. According to Scripture, God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are co-equal and fully God. Wrap your head around this truth: God sent Himself to be the Savior. God’s justice and holiness demanded payment for sin, so He required the price of Himself. He satisfied His own wrath (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 2:17). He entered human flesh Himself, laying aside His glory, but never His divinity (Philippians 2:5-11), to live and die as a human sacrifice for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). Then, He entered heaven to offer His own blood to Himself on a heavenly altar (Hebrews 9:24; 10:11-13) and returned as promised in Spirit to indwell all men, women, boys and girls, who would believe by faith in Him.

When Thomas asked to see the Father, Jesus replied, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father… Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me” (John 14:9-11).

Again, in John 10:30, Jesus declares “I and the Father are one. The entire chapter of John 17 gives proof that Jesus and the Father are One, co-equal, fully God. Ephesians 4:4-6 describe one Spirit, one Lord, one God and Father. Hebrews 1:1-4 tell us that the Son of God is the exact representation of God’s nature, the radiance of His glory. 

God the Father is God.

Jesus the Son is God.

The Holy Spirit is God.

Why Does It Matter? 

There are many religions that do not affirm the Trinity. They believe in “God” but deny the deity of Jesus Christ and the Person of the Holy Spirit. Why is this important?

1 John 5:20 – “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” (Also 1 John 4:1-3.)

Without the Trinity, there is no salvation. If Jesus is not God, then our sins have not been paid for, His death on the cross was pointless, and He was just another “good” man who died for His beliefs. If the Holy Spirit is not God, then we are simply following our feelings and what is left of the human conscience. Jesus was not raised from the dead and did not return to heaven, fulfilling His promise to send the Spirit of God to indwell believers.

The beauty of the Trinity is that God has made Himself known to men. Jesus, being God in the flesh, redeemed us. The Spirit speaks to us, enlightens our minds to understand Scripture, convicts us and guides us. God has always been who He is, and in His Triune essence, provides everything the human soul, spirit and body could need or want. And why not? We are made in His image to worship Him in both the things we can know and those incomprehensible attributes we can only perceive by faith.

For more Scripture verses about the Trinity, see:

2 Cor. 4:6; John 1:14,18; Matt. 4:1; Acts 16:7; Rom. 1:1-4; 8:11; Ps. 51:11; John 5:18; Col.2:9; 1 Cor. 12:4-6,11,18,27; John 1:32-34; Isa. 43:10, 1 Cor. 8:6

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Author Sheila Alewine is a pastor’s wife, mother, and grandmother of five. She and her husband lead Around The Corner Ministries, which serves to equip Christ-followers to share the gospel where they live, work and play. She has written seven devotionals including Just Pray: God’s Not Done With You YetGrace & Glory: 50 Days in the Purpose & Plan of God, and her newest one, Give Me A Faith Like That, as well as Going Around The Corner, a Bible study for small groups who desire to reach their communities for Christ. Their ministry also offers disciple-making resources like One-To-One Disciple-Making in partnership with Multiplication Ministries. Sheila has a passion for God’s Word and shares what God is teaching her on her blog, The Way of The Word. Connect with her on her blogFacebook, and Instagram.