How Do You Explain the Trinity?

Text of "Our Father" prayer with Tri...

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Question:  How do you explain the Trinity?  Since our personal relationship is with Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit lies within us, what role does God play as Father? 

Answer:  Jesus came to lead us into relationship with the Father and that required the sacrifice of his own life because of our rebellion.  He described himself as a “helper” (“counselor” or “comforter” in some translations) and said that when he left he would send another “helper” like him, the Holy Spirit, who would lead us in our relationship with the Father (John 14:15-21).  The Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit are the three persons who make up the one God. 

The Son was commissioned to take on human nature so that he could show us more tangibly who God is and model for us how to relate to the Father, and so he could die in our place to cover our guilt before God.  The Holy Spirit is the one who enabled Jesus to accomplish all he did when he was here, because he chose not to utilize his deity but rather live the way we need to live.  Now the Holy Spirit is here to help us live as Jesus did. 

Normally, all our prayers are directed toward the Father, just as Jesus gave us access to Him through his death and resurrection.  But as we’ve said before, there is no jealousy in the Trinity.  The Father will not be mad if you talk to the Spirit or the Son.  The Holy Spirit will not be mad if you think of Jesus as the one who empowers you (for he certainly does, as does the Father).  They are not operating in any way independently of each other, but each does have specialized responsibilities and there is a chain of command (1 Corinthians 11:3; 15:20-28; John 15:26, etc.).  Nevertheless, each is equally God in every sense of the word (infinite, eternal, unchangeable in being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth, to paraphrase the Westminster Confession of Faith catechism).

The Church has worked carefully through the Biblical data to formulate a perspective that, while it does not exhaustively explain the Trinity, does keep us within Biblical bounds.  We understand God to be one in essence (infinite, eternal and unchangeable…), yet three in personality.  In other words, each personality of the Godhead shares the one, undivided essence of deity.  Thus each is equally God without there being more than one God in essence.

Wrong views of the Trinity include the view that God is one solitary personality who reveals Himself in three different ways (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) much like a woman could be a mother, daughter and sister all at the same time, yet be only one person.  This view breaks down regarding God because Scripture represents the members of the Trinity interacting with each other (a person who talks to herself might be considered mentally ill) and Jesus, in Mark 13:32, indicates that he does not know the time of his return, that only the Father does.  This would not be possible if he were the same person.  Other wrong views include the view that Jesus is just somewhat less God than the Father.  This is best represented in modern day Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Jesus, according to them, is the highest created being in God’s universe, but He is not God.

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