Chapter 3 occupies our attention today as we continue to read together through “Christian Beliefs.” If you are just joining us, I recommend after you read this post you jump in by beginning with chapter 4 (What is Creation?). This will prepare you for our time of interaction next week. By way of reminder, we read one chapter each week. Every Thursday we use this online forum as a place to interact and stir up each other to love and good works.
What is the Trinity?
The Moody Handbook of Theology defines the trinity as:
“While there is one God, there are three eternally distinct and equal persons in the godhead, existing as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each is distinct from the other, yet the three are united as one God.”
Any rational being will find himself puzzled at the statements in any accurate definition of the trinity. It has so perplexed us that our efforts to understand it better by using illustrations actually cause us to stumble in our understanding. Nevertheless, Grudem rightly states,
“But somehow God’s being is so different from ours that it can be both undivided and can unfold itself into interpersonal relationships among three distinct persons.”
It was helpful to be reminded of the distinct roles and actions of each person of the Godhead. It helps form up their distinct persons. Yet we must remember God is one, not three. I found relief when Grudem reminded me that,
“At times it can seem difficult to understand how there are three distinct persons of the Trinity, each with the whole being of God in himself, even though there is only one God, and he is undivided. And it should be difficult. The Trinity is one of those mysteries we can only describe in part.”
Why is the Trinity so Important?
One example for the importance of the trinity is salvation. The great saving acts of God involved the active participation of each member of the Godhead. If there was not a tri-unity, salvation could not be accomplished. Jesus (the Son of God) could not have taken the wrath of God and been raised from the dead. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead his cross-work would have simply been a death with no saving effect.
How do I apply the Trinity?
I found it helpful to use the trinity as a model for relating to others — equal in person, yet different in role. This should help safeguard against a dominating personality in marriage. It protects against belittling one’s spouse. It prevents looking down on one another. It provides a safe haven for fulfilling one’s role without fracturing that role by striving to be all the same. If God is three persons in one with perfect harmony, can’t we as his children find oneness in some measure while yet fulfilling different roles? This of course would all be “to the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14).
What did you learn?
Perhaps you were reminded of a facet of the trinity that built your faith? Maybe you are stuck in a mental loop of frustration as you seek to understand the trinity with greater clarity. Feel free to comment.