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Explaining the Trinity
by Greg Baker
4/03/2010 / Christian Apologetics
The word 'Trinity' is not found in Scripture. Much like the word 'rapture' it is a descriptive term used to encompass a broader teaching of the Scriptures.
Throughout history, the teaching of the Trinity has been debated and fought over. The Council of Nisea in 325 AD attempted to settle the dispute and debate by firmly establishing the relationship between the Son (Jesus) and the Father (Jehovah or Yahweh). They failed to end the debate however, and without going into detail it is still a debated doctrine to this day.
The core of the belief centers on the deity of Jesus Christ. Is Jesus a created being, or as much God as the Father is? For the typical Christian, to deny the deity of Christ is to deny the core and fundamental elements of their faith and belief. For many, salvation is predicated on the belief that Jesus is divinemore than merely a created being and much more than an angel. Without this divine nature, Jesus could not have been sinless. If He was not sinless, His death on the cross for our sins is a sham, a hoax, and in vain. He would have died for His own sins, not ours. Many of us, therefore, believe that Jesus is divine and as much a part of the Godhead as the Father and the Holy Spirit.
But how does one explain it? How do you explain a concept that transcends our human ability and understanding? All knowledge, in order to be understood, must have a basis of relation. If you can't relate it to something that you can understand, you'll not have the ability to fully grasp it. The Trinity Doctrine is one such belief. So how do you explain it?
The purpose of this article is to explain it, not defend it. There are many critics of the belief and teaching, and there is much information on both sides of the issue. I want to give you a base of relationssomething that you can understand and thus relate to which may help to deepen your understanding of this wonderful doctrine.
I've heard many examples and attempts to explain the Trinity. For example, one explanation I heard likened the Trinity to an egg. An egg is made up of three distinct partsthe shell, the white, and the yoke. All three, however, make up the egg. The Godhead is much like that. Add all three parts together, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and you have God.
Another explanation involves water. Water can take a variety of forms such as liquid, ice, snow, and steam. Yet all are still water. The Godhead, the explanation goes, can do something very similar. And as it is possible to have liquid water flowing in a stream with ice at the edges and snow on the bankall at the same timeit is also possible for one God to manifest Himself in three distinct forms and yet still retain a single essenceall at the same time and in each other's presence.
These do help people, and they may have helped you, but these are not the best explanation, in my opinion, of the Trinity. Let's look at a few verses first:
Genesis 1:26-27 - And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Verse 26 begins in the plural and moves into the singular in verse 27. This infers that the persons in verse 26 are/is actually singular in verse 27. That's fine, but notice that God said that man was created in His image. If that is true, and God is made up of three parts, then so must we.
I think each of us is the best explanation of the Trinity that there is. All of us are made up of three parts:
These three distinct and separate parts of us combine to make up one person. When I talk to someone, I don't address the body separate from the soul, or the spirit separate from the body. All three make up the individual that I am interacting with. Yet each individual consists of three distinct parts.
The function of the body is different than that of the soul or that of the spirit. Yet all three are included when we call someone by name. They exist together to make a single person, yet are distinctly three parts.
When we think of God, you cannot separate in your thinking Jesus from God or God from Jesus. They are both one God.
While we are limited to the physical plane of existence for the moment, God is not bound by such mundane forces. God is a spirit (John 4:24) and as such has no limitations placed on Him. It is in the context of the Trinity that God can be everywhere and see everything. The complexity of God is so much more awesome than even that of a human. The human nature is complex and diverse. God is so much more so.
To limit God and say that it is impossible for God to separate Himself into three persons is disingenuous. All Christians believe that there will come a point where the spirit and soul are separated from the body. When the body dies, we don't believe that the soul does. We believe the soul to be eternal. So it is possible to separate two very distinct aspects of ourselves, and for God to do so is mere child's play.
And just as the soul and spirit interact together, or the body and spirit can interact together, so do Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit interact with each other. Jesus can pray to the Father and still be part of the Godhead just as your spirit communicates with your body and vise-a-versa. And just as the Father always knows what is in the mind of the Son and Spirit (Rom 8:27), so too does our spirit know what is in our own soul and body and so forth.
If you would consider the incredibly close connections between what makes you, you, then you may begin to get a glimmer of how the Trinity functions. Just as your spirit can feel pleased when your body is refreshed, so too can the Father feel pleased by His Son (Mat 3:17). The connection between Father and Son is not like our human connections with our children. It would be closer to the connection of our soul and body, or spirit and soul, or body and spirit. It is much, much more profound and intuitive.
Only at the cross, did Jesus feel a severing of that connection when He cried out, "My God, my God" (Mat 27:46). Up until that point, Jesus had always referred to the Father as 'Father'. This is similar to death for us. At death, our spirit and soul is separated from our bodyonly to be reunited with a better one later. Jesus, too, was reunited with the Father.
But the profound connections of the parts of God that we call the Trinity can only be understood, in any real context, in our understanding of our own nature and the interactions of the three parts that define us as a single individual.
There are other explanations of the Trinity, but none, in my opinion, help me to understand the nature of the Trinity better than to realize that God created me as a trinity as wellin His own image!
HERE ARE A FEW VERSES ON THE TRINITY:
John 10:30-33 - I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
Jesus never denied this statement and accusation. There was no misunderstanding here. What they thought Jesus said, He did. He made Himself to be God.
1 John 5:7 - For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
This is more than just agreement. The scriptures use the word 'agree' later on in a different contextual sense.
John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Jesus is the Word that was made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).
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