Doctrine of the Trinity
Study provided by David Niednagel, Pastor/Teacher, Evansville, IN. David uses the S.O.A.P method of study in his morning devotional time (study, observe, apply, pray)
The word Trinity is not in the Bible, and the doctrine has generated much confusion and opposition. So what is it and why do we believe it? (This is a very brief overview)
We start by recognizing that both the OT and NT teach that although there are many gods/idols, there is only one true God, (Deut 6:4; Isa 45:5-6; 1Tim 2:5; Jas 2:19) and that is the Creator we have been studying (holy, omniscient, omnipotent, etc). But the Bible also says Jesus has the same qualities of the God of the OT – He, Jesus, is the eternal Creator and the exact nature of the invisible God. (John 1:1-3; Col 1:15-19; Heb 1:1-3) The Holy Spirit is also clearly called God. (Acts 5:3-4).
Even though the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all the same God, they are distinct from one another, and not God manifesting Himself in different ways at different times. (A heresy called Modalism) At Jesus’ baptism, the Father spoke from heaven and the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove (Matt 3:16-17). All three members of the Godhead were present yet distinct. When Jesus commanded baptism to be administered “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” all three were placed on equal footing and it was in “the name” (not “names”) of the one true God. Note also 2Cor 13:14; Eph 4:4-6; 1Pet 1:2; Jude 20-21.
So there is one God, eternally existing as three “persons”. (No one has thought of a better word.) And there is some hierarchy within that relationship, with the Son submitting to the Father (Heb 10:5-7; 1Cor 11:3) and the Holy Spirit also doing the will of both the Father and the Son, (John 15:26; 16:13-15) without being any less God or inferior in any way.
So, the word “Trinity” was designed to balance both the unity of the one God, and the “threeness”. Some have suggested a better word might be “Triunity”. But we don’t start with a definition, we start with the scripture and try to describe the data.
Although all three members of the Triunity/Godhead share the same eternal qualities, there are some differences in their works. Eph 1:3-14 says the Father planned and chose us for Salvation before ever creating the universe, then the Son lived a perfect life and died a perfect death to provide our salvation, and the Holy Spirit “sealed” us to guarantee our salvation till the day of our redemption. It is good to praise each member of the Triunity for our perfect salvation!
Great Triune God, I praise you for Your truly awesome works of Creation and Salvation! Both require the miraculous ability of a true God. And thank You for Your infinite love, to provide such a costly salvation. I praise You for Your love and unity within Your relationship that provides such blessing for me/us. Help me consciously think about and praise each of You as I worship You and call on You each day for Your to work in me and through me. Amen