[CF Devotionals] 2004-02-29 - The Trinity

Part 6

V. What this Bible Truth Teaches us Today.

I thought with this difficult subject, the best way to conclude was to give one more summary of the Doctrine of the Trinity. In this case, I am quoting Bruce Shelly.

"The designations Father, Son, and Holy Spirit do in fact refer to something real within God. To identify these distinctions, the church used the Greek term hypostases and its Latin counterpart personae. Our English word persons comes from the Latin. Whether in Greek or Latin, the early Christians intended to designate something genuinely threefold when they spoke of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They knew that the Trinity is more than three attributes or three appearances of God.

Within his own mysterious being, God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The designations are just ways in which God is God. Within the Godhead, there are three "persons" who are neither three Gods nor three parts of God, but coequally and coeternally God.

The trouble with our English word person is its connotation of 'personality'. It carries the idea of an individual center of conscious life and independent activity. So three "persons" suggest to us Tom, Dick, and Harry. Such an idea is obviously inappropriate of God. But early Christians speaking either Greek or Latin never intended these ideas when they spoke of God "in three persons."

What early Christians wanted to affirm were the actual distinctions within the Godhead-the bears of the differing relations within the one Almighty God. "Person," applied to God, meant a genuine and self-supported presentation of the reality of God.

While Christians knew that the names, Father, Son or Logos, and Spirit were analogies of God's inherent life, they believed actual distinctiveness was behind the titles Father, Son, and Spirit. And that distinctiveness was not three gods, but a trinity within the one personal God.

In summary, the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Spirit is God. The result is not three gods, but one. What they share equally and completely is deity. At the same time, the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father. The distinctions are real. The "Persons," then, are within one personal deity." 1

Or, as Hank Hannegraaff puts it: "There is one What and three Whos. One in substance and three in person."

I hope this has provided some clarity, but most of all, like in a previous devotional, with our consideration of the Doctrine of God the Father, I hope it encourages to pursue these studies in the Word on you own.

"Praise ye the Father for His loving kindness;
Tenderly cares He for His erring children.
Praise Him, ye angels, praise Him in the heavens.
Praise ye Jehovah!

Praise ye the Savior-great is His compassion;
Graciously cares He for His chosen people.
Young men and maidens, ye old men and children,
Praise ye the Savior!

Praise ye the Spirit, Comforter of Israel,
Sent of the Father and the Son to bless us.
Praise ye the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-
Praise ye the Triune God!" 2

1 Shelley, Bruce L., Christian Theology in Plain Language, Word Books, Waco, TX, 1985, p. 142-143.
2 Charles, Elizabeth R., "Praise Ye the Triune God," The Celebration Hymnal, Word/Integrity, 1997, #155.

Comments or Questions?

[email geoff] GKragen@aol.com