In our last class, we introduced the concept of the Trinity. It is one of the most mysterious doctrines of our Christian faith.
The Trinity affirms that God is “one in essence” and “three in person.” This is not a contradiction. It is a paradox, something that appears to be contradictory until closer examination.
Everything that makes God God that never changes, we refer to those qualities, that state of being, as his essence. God is one in essence.
But God is “three in persons.”
- The Father is not the Son or the Holy Spirit. The Son is not the Holy Spirit.
- We read the Athenasian Creed that states, “So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; and yet they are not three Gods, but one God.”
2.3 The Father Is God
A. The Father planned everything.
- Read Ephesians 1:3, 11
B. The Father planned our salvation and sent His Son.
- Read John 3:16–17
C. The Father is described as the One highest in authority.
- We pray to the Father because He has the highest authority of all
- “Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name.” (Matthew 6:9)
- Even Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father, indicating that the Father is highest of all.
- “That He [God the Father] worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:20)
2.4 The Son Is God
A. Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father who came down from heaven to take on full human nature. He is truly God and truly man.
- Read John 1:1, 14
B. There are many places in the New Testament that refer to Jesus as God.
- Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)
- Who, though he [Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, (Philippians 2:6)
- He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (Colossians 1:15)
- But of the Son he [God the Father] says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.”(Hebrews 1:8)
- Read 1 John 5:20
C. Jesus can do things that only God can do.
- Jesus created the universe. (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16)
- Jesus forgives sins. (Mark 2:1–12)
- Jesus is eternal. Jesus is immutable. He never changes. (Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2; Hebrews 1:10–12; 13:8; Revelation 1:8)
- Jesus is worshipped as God. (John 20:28; Philippians 2:9–11; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:8–14)
- The Bible is clear that only God can be worshipped. (Exodus 20:1–5; 34:14; Deuteronomy 6:13)
- Jesus declared that He is God (John 8:58; Exodus 8:14)
2.5 The Holy Spirit Is God
- God is a spirit (John 4:24), and the third person of the Trinity is called the “Spirit” or “Holy Spirit.”
- The Holy Spirit is a real, genuine person. The Holy Spirit can be lied to and insulted and outraged.
- Read Acts 5:3
- Read Hebrews 10:29
A. The Holy Spirit has a mind, a will, and emotions.
- These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:10-11)
- All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:11)
- And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)
B. The Holy Spirit is God.
- But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?…You have not lied to man but to God. (Acts 5:3-4)
- Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)
C. The Holy Spirit can do things only God can do.
- Holy Spirit is eternal and was involved in creation.
- The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:2)
- Holy Spirit cleanses use from our sins.
- He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5)
- Holy Spirit inspired men to write the Word of God.
- For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21)
D. The Holy Spirit has qualities that are only true of God.
- The Holy Spirit is eternal.
- How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:14)
- The Holy Spirit is omnipresent. He is everywhere.
- Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:7-10)
- The Holy Spirit has the name of God, just like the Father and the Son.
- Go therefore 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)
2.6 How does the Triune God relate?
The one God does most everything through all three Persons of the Trinity. Each person does his own distinctive work. They work in harmony with each other.
A. The Father stands atop as the One who designs and plans what the work shall be.
- The Father plans the work that should take place. He determines how the Son and Spirit should join him in carrying out this work.
- The Son is completely committed to doing the will of the Father.
- Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34)
B. The Son, Jesus Christ, lives always under the authority of his Father — in eternity past, present, and eternity future.
- When all things are put under the authority of the Son, the Son will put himself under the Father’s authority along with all of creation, in order for God the Father to be shown as supreme.
- For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Cor 15:25–28)
C. The Spirit is under the authority of the Father and the Son.
- The Spirit delights in showing Jesus off, shining the spotlight on Jesus, and helping people see just how wonderful Jesus is.
- I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13-14)
In summary, the relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one of glorious harmony. The Father, Son, and Spirit are fully equal as God, yet they live gladly within lines of authority.
The doctrine of the Trinity is essential to the Christian gospel. To know “what is the trinity” is to understand our great God for who He really is, one in essence and three in persons.