Mystery of the Godhead.
If God revealed to us all there is to know about Himself, our finite minds would be overwhelmed by this crushing tidal wave of infinite knowledge. In mercy, He has not done so, yet there are certain lofty truths that He has chosen for us to know and hold as tenets of our faith. The doctrine of the Trinity falls into this category.
Unlike some religions that claim many, even hundreds of gods, as Christians we worship only one God. But the nature of our one God is threefold, since there are three distinct personalities making up the Godhead. This Trinity is composed of the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each is separate in person and work, yet all are united in one as God.
While it may not be possible for the mind of man to fully grasp this concept of three in one, our faith can firmly lay hold of it as it does other spiritually-discerned truths. Through failure to do this, some have become confused and even denied the reality of the Trinity. But the Bible is clear in its teachings, and the honest person can avoid confusion by carefully reading the Scriptures which bear on this subject.
The doctrine of the Trinity begins to develop in the first chapter of the Bible. In Genesis 1:26 we read, “And God said, Let us make man in our image.” The plural forms “us” and “our” indicate that the Godhead consists of more than one individual.
In our Bible, the Hebrew word Elohim is translated “God.” Throughout the Scriptures it is used almost invariably in the plural form. It is enlightening to note that in Genesis 1:1, the original language used the plural form of “God” and the singular form of “created.” This harmonizes with the rest of biblical teaching on the Trinity, for we see the plurality of God unified in one action, the creation of the world.
In addition to this obvious plurality of God expressed in the Hebrew, we can also see confirmation of the oneness of God. In Deuteronomy 6:4, Moses cries out, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord . . . .” Some have attempted to use this text to disprove the existence of the Trinity. But consider the original Hebrew in this verse. The word translated “one” is eh-ghahd. This same word is used elsewhere (see Genesis 2:24; 34:16; 41:25) in the sense of a unity consisting of several parts. So here again we see the truth of the oneness and yet plurality of God taught in the Bible.
In the New Testament, the doctrine of the Trinity is developed much more fully. With the coming of Jesus Christ to earth, mankind was able to observe the mysterious reality of the Triune God as never before. Perhaps the clearest picture of the Trinity that we have in Scripture is the account of the baptism of Jesus. Matthew recorded it in these words:
“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16,17).
What a beautiful picture this is! God in three distinct persons! But this is certainly not the only reference to the Trinity. Throughout the New Testament we find many mentions of the three individual Persons of the Godhead. A few examples are:
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2).
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (1 John 5:7).
It is amazing that people can read Scriptures as plain as these and still remain confused as to whether the Trinity is real. Some who take exception to this important doctrine believe that God vacated Heaven to be incarnated as the man Christ Jesus. They further maintain that God and the Holy Spirit are one and the same. But Scripture does not support this view. If Jesus was the Father, whose voice spoke from Heaven on three occasions? Who was this Spirit of God descending upon Jesus in bodily form as a dove? Who was it Jesus prayed to so often? Why did Jesus have to go away to send the Comforter if He was the Comforter? And why was Jesus always referring to “my Father” if He actually was the Father?
The most widespread proponents of this teaching take their denial of the Trinity so far that they baptize their converts in Jesus’ name only. This is in direct opposition to the teaching of Jesus, for He plainly instructed us to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).
Belief in the Trinity is at the core of the Christian faith. Confusion results if we accept only a portion of biblical teachings and discard other parts. The message is clear: God the Father sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to die for all mankind. Jesus suffered to the point of being forsaken by His beloved Father, died, and then rose triumphant over death, Hell, and the grave. Since then, mankind has been led by the Holy Spirit to pray to God through Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man. Thanks be to God for the Trinity!