Why is the Trinity a Christian Belief?
Christianity rests on the doctrine of the Trinity – (the Threeness of the One God.) Our Athanasian Creed written by the Church fathers around 500 A.D. describes the Christian doctrine of the Trinity like this: “that the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God and yet there are not three gods, but one God.”
We Christians believe in One God and we believe in the Three in One. We believe this because we find the concept of the Trinity in the Bible. The Old Testament as well as everywhere we look in the New Testament speak of the Triune God. Just because we cannot put the mystery of the Triune God in a neat box and understand Him doesn’t mean we don’t believe in what Scripture says about Him.
God would not be God if we could grasp who He is with our limited understanding. His ways are much higher than our ways and His truths than our truths. It is silly to try to pin Him down or box Him in with our little incomplete human reasoning. God is all powerful and He can do anything He wants. He made the rules. He is one God and He is also Three in One - a mystery we accept by faith.
Nicky Gumbel in his book, “Searching Issues” tells the story of a preacher who preached a sermon about the Trinity. At the end of the sermon he asked his congregation, “Have I made the doctrine of the Trinity clear?” One man in the congregation answered “Yes”, to which the preacher replied, “In that case you have got it wrong!” If you can understand the Trinity it is not God because there will always an element of mystery about God. A mystery we Christians accept by faith. Faith alone can bridge the gap.
Our Christian faith arose out of Judaism. The belief that there is one God is and always has been all important to the Jewish faith. Deuteronomy 6:4 states: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” All of the nations that were neighbors to Israel in the olden days believed in many gods. And the Jewish people were constantly being tempted to worship idols since everyone else in the ancient world was doing it. Many times human sacrifices were being made to these idols. God hated to see His people worship idols and He was constantly calling Israel back to worshipping Him and Him alone.
God also calls us Christians to worship Him and Him alone. The New Testament states that God is one God. And as Christians we believe that. (John5:44: Romans 3:30: 1 Timothy 1:17: and James 2:19) Our Athanasian Creed says that: “We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity.”
The doctrine of the Trinity sheds light on the interaction of God with His creation. First, God the Father is the Source and the Creator. He does everything out of love. Even His justice is out of love. “God is love “(1 John 4:8) and we are told to “Abide in His love.” (1 John 4:16)
Second, God the Son, Jesus Christ, is the human face of God revealed. Scripture says that Jesus Christ (the Word) was there in the beginning with God and was God. (John 1:1) Jesus Christ is the One through whom all things were and are created. (John 1:3) And God the Son (Jesus) died for us. He is our Shepherd. And He is a risen Savior. Jesus could not have conquered death and risen again if He were not God.
And thirdly God the Holy Spirit is God who is active and present throughout His creation. The Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts when we believe in Jesus. And He meets our most fundamental psychological and spiritual needs as human beings. He is our teacher and guide if we allow Him to be.
The followers of Jesus found themselves worshipping Jesus as God. (John 20:28) They watched Him heal the sick and raise the dead. They saw Him after He rose from the dead. These early Christians had an experience with the Holy Spirit and they realized that the Holy Spirit was the spirit of Christ and was God.
John writes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him (Jesus), and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of men. And the Word (Jesus) became flesh and lived among us. ” (John 1:1-4 and 14) The “Word” here is another name for Jesus. Scripture has called Jesus the Living Word. Jesus was in the beginning with God and is God and He became flesh (was born) and lived. (John 1:1)
There are several blessings in the New Testament that include the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Baptism is in the Name (singular) of (1) the Father, and (2) the Son and (3) the Holy Spirit. One name but three Persons. (Matthew 28:19) Paul ends a letter to the Corinthians with: “may the grace of (2) the Lord Jesus Christ, and (1) the love of God, and (3) the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)
In Ephesians chapter 2 our relationship with God in prayer is seen in terms of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are instructed to pray (1) “to the Father”, (2) “through the Son”, and (3) “by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:28) And when we are filled with the (3) Holy Spirit we give thanks to (1) God our Father in the name of our (2) Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18-20) And then there is “(3) one Spirit…(2)one Lord…(1)one God and Father of all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)
Everywhere in the New Testament we see the Father, Son and Holy Spirit working together. Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:13:14, “(1) God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the (3) Spirit…that you might share in the glory of our (2) Lord Jesus Christ.
Another of the many Trinitarian Bible passage shows the Trinitarian God at work. “To (1) God’s elect, …who have been chosen …through the sanctifying work of the (3) Spirit, for obedience to (2) Jesus Christ sprinkling by His blood.” (1 Peter 1:1, 2)
The doctrine of the Trinity teaches us that there is a threefoldness about God’s acts and revelations. In the New Testament the doctrines of baptism, grace, salvation, ethics, worship, and unity – are all described in Trinitarian terms. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to experience God as the Father. Scripture says: “those who are led by the Holy Spirit are sons of God. …and by him we cry, ‘Abba Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:14-16)
Paul also prays that the followers would experience the love of Christ and be filled with the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19) And Paul prays that the followers would experience the “power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:16) When the Holy Spirit fills us, we experience the Fatherhood of God and the love of Christ, and the power of the Spirit. Yet the three are not separated. Our spiritual lives also have a threefold fullness about them through the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is to experience God as Trinity.
Many of the ideas in this blog were taken from Reverend Nicky Gumbel’s booklet “Searching Issues” which is one of the Alpha series.