THE HOLY TRINITY
Westminster Confession of Faith 2.3
In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost: the Father is of none, neither begotten, not proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.
The Bible from beginning to end presents the Creator as one God who exists in three Personsthe Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is called the doctrine of the Trinity. It is admittedly one of the most difficult teachings of the Bible for men to understand; yet it is clearly taught in the Scriptures, and is to be believed because of that fact.
The doctrine of the Trinity teaches that there is only one God, not many gods, as pagans in many cultures believe. The Bible says, Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! (Deut.6:4) Such a statement, taken by itself alone, has led many to think, mistakenly, that God is only one Person. But the Bible adds to this revelation the teaching that God is also and equally three Persons.
The clearest expression of this is found in what is commonly called the Great Commission, recorded in Matthew 28:18-20. In that passage the Lord Jesus Christ commands His church to make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (verse 19). In this verse the term name is singular but it is followed by three equal, parallel, prepositional phrases. Of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit are all identical phrases in the original language. What this means is that the one name of God is expressed in the three Persons of the Trinity.
This relationship is hinted at in the first chapter of the Bible. In Genesis 1:26 God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . Some have thought that this conversation records God speaking to the angels. But this interpretation is strictly forbidden in the context. The Bible goes on to say in verse 27: So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him . Man was created in the image of God, not in the image of the angels. To whom was God talking, then, if not to the angels? He was talking within the Godhead to the other Persons of the Trinity. This was a conversation among the three Persons of the TrinityFather, Son and Holy Spiritwhich God has graciously revealed to us.
What does all this mean? Just that the Father is God; Jesus Christ, the Son, is equally God with the Father; and the Holy Spirit is equally God with the Father and the Son. Is this important? Yes! Without this Trinitarian relationship you and I could never be saved.
It is precisely because God is triune that the Father could elect some men for salvation, the Son could redeem Gods elect, and the Holy Spirit could apply this salvation to the redeemed (see Eph.1:3-14). The work of the triune God is based on the nature of the triune God.
If the Father were not God, His election would mean nothing. He might choose men for salvation, but be unable to cause them to come to Him and be saved.
If the Son, Jesus Christ, were not God, His redemption would not save us. If He were a mere mortal man, the only one He could hope to save would be Himself, but His shed blood would never effectively cover your sins or mine.
And if the Holy Spirit were not God, none of us would ever come to God for salvation in the first place, for it takes the work of the Spirit changing the heart of sinful man to make him able to respond to the Gospel message. The Holy Spirit must be God for you or me to be born again so that we might respond to the Gospel message with faith in Jesus Christ.
In spite of these facts, there have been, and still are, those who deny the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Among them are the Mormons, who teach that there are many, many gods, and that the three Persons of the Trinity are three separate gods, and the Jehovahs Witnesses, who teach that Jesus Christ is only a created being (a god with a small g), and that the Holy Spirit is a mere impersonal force. These cultists have had an impact on the church in the twenty-first century because she has neglected to study and teach the great doctrines of the faith, such as that of the Holy Trinity. Many have been drawn away into error through the false teachings of these cults.
Make no mistake about it, the doctrine of the Trinity is vitally important to the Christian faithwithout it you end up worshiping a false god, and you never find that eternal salvation which is only offered by the triune God of the Bible.
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|This page was last updated 19 June 2008.|