2001-06-08 - The Trinity
Basics of the Christian Faith Series, Part 2
Since some of our churches celebrate Trinity Sunday this week, we will look at the Trinity in this week's "Basics" devotional. Over the years, there has been controversy over the doctrine of the Trinity. But it is a foundational and necessary Christian belief, drawn from the Scriptures. Basically this is the belief that God is "three in one," God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Some people believe that Jesus is God's Son, but not that He is God. But if He is not divine, He is not perfect and thus cannot provide a blemish-free sacrifice for our sins.
God's word tells us that Christ is in fact God:
Philippians 2:5-7 (Young's Literal Translation) For, let this mind be in you that [is] also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought [it] not robbery to be equal to God, but did empty himself, the form of a servant having taken, in the likeness of men having been made.
Christ took on the "likeness" of man, but He has the actual "form" of God. If we say Christ is not God, we are saying His death was for nothing, because the death of a sinful human being would not have fulfilled God's demand of a holy sacrifice. But because Christ is perfect, His death was sufficient to cover our sins:
Hebrews 7:26-28 (RSV) For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself. Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.
Jesus Himself shows us that the Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead, when He instructs us:
Matthew 28:19 (RSV) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
And in Mark 3:29, He confirms the supremacy of the Holy Spirit, when He warns us against sinning against Him:
"But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin." (RSV)
The Trinity is a concept that our finite minds cannot fully grasp. How can God be three in one? One admittedly incomplete analogy would be the roles we humans can simultaneously fill. For example, you may be a mother (like God the Father), a daughter (like Jesus the Son) and a guide to your family (like the Holy Spirit). We probably won't fully comprehend the Trinity until we reach Heaven, but as we need to study what the Bible has to say about God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit, and as we do, our understanding will deepen.