What is the Trinity?

The key to the Trinity discussion is understanding and admitting that it is a mystery. Once we rightly arrive at the conclusion that the Trinity is ultimately incomprehensible to the finite human mind, we can then find a biblically balanced position. All of the errors and heresies regarding the Trinity are due to individuals trying to explain the unexplainable and fathom the unfathomable. A finite human being trying to understand an infinite God is like an amoeba trying to understand quantum physics.

The doctrine of the Trinity can be summarized in four points: (1) The Father is God (John 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Peter 1:2), (2) Jesus Christ is God (John 1:1,14, 8:58; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9), (3) The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16), (4) There is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5). The mystery of the Trinity is that God is somehow three Persons (Father, Son, and Spirit), and yet there is only one God. Those two concepts seem mutually exclusive to our finite human minds. But, remember, we are speaking of an infinite God.

Common errors regarding the Trinity are: tri-theism (the belief in three gods), modalism (the three "Persons" of God are actually modes in which He has chosen to reveal Himself), monarchianism (God existed in Jesus and exists in the Holy Spirit, but Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not, in fact, God), and patripassianism (God the Father became the Son and became the Spirit). Each of these attempted explanations is in error because they contradict God's Word. The truth about the Trinity is that the Father is fully God, Jesus is fully God, the Holy Spirit is fully God, and there is only one God.

The Persons of the Trinity are distinguished one from another in various passages. "LORD" is distinguished from "Lord" (Genesis 19:24; Hosea 1:4). The LORD has a Son (Psalm 2:7, 12; Proverbs 30:2-4). The Spirit is distinguished from the "LORD" (Numbers 27:18) and from "God" (Psalm 51:10-12). God the Son is distinguished from God the Father (Psalm 45:6-7; Hebrews 1:8-9). Jesus speaks to the Father about sending a Helper, the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17). Scripture speaks of subordination between the members of the Trinity (Luke 22:42, John 5:36; 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7, 13-14; 1 John 4:14). These aspects can only be true with separate Persons within the Godhead. How can one mode of God be subordinate to another mode? How can the Father submit to Himself or the Son pray to Himself? How can the Holy Spirit send Himself?

Again, it all goes back to the fact that the Trinity is a mystery. The sooner we admit that, the sooner we can focus on our relationship with our Triune God. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God—but there is only one God. That is the biblical truth. While it is fascinating to study, the doctrine of the Trinity should not consume our attention or become more important than our actual relationship with our Creator, Savior, and Comforter.

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