As a teacher of the Bible, I would have to say that one of the most frequently asked questions I get is not “Does God really love me” or “Did Jesus really die for my sins?” But rather, “Can you explain the Trinity?”
I cannot. I can only struggle to understand it as best I can—as well as any man can. Sure, books have been written about it, articles have been penned concerning it, and great minds have thought to understand it. But, in reality, we—none of us—can wrap our finite brains around this vitally important element of God.
Sometimes I try to explain it this way: “I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a daughter.” I say to those who will listen, “I have three distinct roles.” But, that can only scratch the surface of an explanation because I am not three distinct people.
I am not God.
One Yet Separate
In the Nicene Creed we read: …being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made.
This is, of course, speaking of Jesus. The Son.
The Son, who is also God.
God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. As a trio we have seen them “moving” together to create the whole world. But we also see them working separately as well.
The Father: “sending the Son” (He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. ~~Matthew 10:40)
The Son: “the hope of man” (…while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. ~~Titus 2:13)
The Holy Spirit: “sent by the Father in the name of the Son” (But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. ~~John 14:26)
All Together Now
When Jesus was about to begin His ministry, His first stop was at the Jordan River where “the Baptizer,” John, reluctantly baptized Him. Those who witnessed this historical scene were also privy to experiencing a Father/Son/Holy Spirit moment.
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are y Son, whom I love;with you I am well pleased.” ~~Luke 3:21,22
Likewise, when Jesus had fulfilled His call and mission on earth (and just before His resurrection), He told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit, which came to them during Pentecost. Filled with His power (the Spirit’s), Peter addressed the crowd in his first sermon, saying:
God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.
Peter understood the combined work of the Trinity, yet saw them distinctly as well.
But, Perhaps None Other
Perhaps no other verse of the Scriptures so says “Jesus is God” than His own words, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)
As a Jew, Jesus would have recited the “Shema” each day. The Shema—Hebrew for “hear”—comes from Deuteronomy 6:4. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
In its beginnings, the Shema was written to remind the Hebrews, who would live in a polytheistic society, that there is only ONE God and that He is ONE. Ironically—as He recited it—Jesus was speaking of Himself, His Father, and His Spirit.
Later, as He prayed for the Twelve before His arrest and crucifixion, He said, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved t5hem even as you have loved me.”
These words tell us—those who believe because of the message begun by the disciples—that Jesus wanted us to not only understand, but also to be a part of the mystery.
Separate, yet one.
Award-winning national speaker Eva Marie Everson is a recent graduate of Andersonville Theological Seminary. Her work includes the upcoming Sex, Lies and the Media (Cook) and The Potluck Club (Baker/Revell) She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at www.evamarieeverson.com.