29thJanuaryTrinity, God the Father, Holy Spirit, Jesus | 2008 | by Ken Horn | 75 comments
I am having a difficult time explaining to my children how Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit are one person. Can you help?
The Trinity is first-rate mystery.
Augustine said that anyone who denies the Trinity is in danger of losing his salvation, and anyone who tries to understand it is in danger of losing his mind. It is not fully explained in Scripture.
In fact, the word Trinity is not found in the Bible. But, by the late second century it was being used by the church to describe a biblical concept—literally, tri-unity, or “three in one.”
This does not mean three Gods … though Christians have been accused of being polytheists by other world religions. Instead Christians have a unique view of God, one that comes about because they believe both the Old and New Testaments.
There are six basic biblical steps to understanding the Trinity:
1. There is one God. (Deuteronomy 6:4)
Deuteronomy 6:4 is one of the most important verses to the Jews, who believe in one God. It is known as the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”
Here is the Hebrew: Shema Yisrael: Yahweh Elochenu Yahweh Echad. The Hebrew language has two words that are translated “one”—Yachid and Echad. Yachid means an absolute one. Echad refers to a united one. Echad is the word used of God in the Old Testament—God is a united one.
2. The Father is God. (2 Peter 1:17)
3. The Son is God. (John 8:58)
4. The Holy Spirit is God. (Acts 5:3-4)
5. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct individuals. (John 14:26)
6. Therefore, there are three Persons in the one Godhead.
A typical, accurate doctrinal statement is this, Assemblies of God Fundamental Truth no. 2: “WE BELIEVE … There is only One True God—revealed in three persons … Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (commonly known as the Trinity).” (See ag.org for all 16 Assemblies of God Fundamental Truths.)
Since the Trinity is completely unique, no analogy really fits. The Trinity is not really “like” anything.
But attempts have been made. The best analogies do not look at the Trinity as three parts that make up a whole, like these examples:
• Shamrock: Saint Patrick, who spread the Gospel in Ireland, used a three-leafed clover.
• Egg: Another common one—eggshell, egg white and yolk.
• H2O: The three phases of H2O—water, ice, steam—are better as an analogy but also fall short since any given temperature produces only one of these at a time. That picture leads to a false doctrine that says the Trinity is really only one person who takes on one of three modes at any given time. This belief is problematic for those who hold it: Just what was going on in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was praying to the Father? Was He talking to himself?
The best illustration I have seen comes from C.S. Lewis:
• The three dimensions of space: Length, width and height. All coincide in the same place, yet are distinct.