One God in Three
If we are to think rightly about God it is necessary to grapple with the doctrine of the Trinity. I say “grapple,” because the truth of the trinity is neither easy to understand, or to articulate. Though the word “Trinity” does not appear anywhere in our Bibles, the doctrine is clearly taught in Scripture and affirmed to us throughout the history of the church.
Put simply, the doctrine of the Trinity is there is One God who has eternally existed in three distinct persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is one in essence and three in person. These three persons are not parts of One God, but three distinct co-equal persons. Neither should we be misled into thinking there is One God who revealed Himself in three “modes” (a false doctrine referred to as “modalism”). The three members of the Trinity of God have eternally existed, as co-equal persons, sharing in the same essence in nature and will.
If the word “trinity,” is nowhere to be found in our Bibles then what is the basis for this doctrine? Good question! Foundational is the clear teaching there is but one God. Deuteronomy 6:4 speaks to this, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Cf. 1 Timothy 2:5). But the Bible also teaches the Father is God (John 6:27; Romans 1:7); and the Son is God (John 1:1, 14; Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:8); and the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16).
There are numerous examples in Scripture where we find all three members of the Godhead harmoniously working to accomplish mighty deeds: creation (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16; Job 26:13); the incarnation (Luke 1:35); Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:16-17); atonement (Hebrews 9:14); the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:32; John 10:17-18; Romans 1:4); the salvation of the believer in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14; 1 Peter 1:2); the indwelling of the Spirit (John 14:16-17).
Both texts in today’s reading speak to the “three-in-oneness” which exists within the Godhead. Before His ascension, Jesus told the disciples, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The word “name” is singular in the Greek, indicating there is one God. Then Jesus spoke of the three distinct persons within the Godhead. This “three-in-oneness” is reflected again in 2 Corinthians 13:14.
There are some who scoff at this doctrine. As A.W. Tozer observed: “Some persons who reject all they cannot explain have denied that God is a Trinity. Subjecting the Most High to their cold, level-eyed scrutiny, they conclude that it is impossible that He could be both One and Three. These forget that their whole life is enshrouded in mystery. They fail to consider that any real explanation of even the simplest phenomenon in nature lies hidden in obscurity and can no more be explained than can the mystery of the Godhead” (A. W. Tozer, “The Knowledge of the Holy”). I say, “Praise God that we worship a God whose thoughts and ways infinitely transcend our own!” (Cf. Isaiah 55:8-9).
“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.