Do Christians believe in one God or three gods? Do Christians claim Jesus is God himself or merely a son of God? Who or what is the Holy Spirit? And what do Christians mean when they say, “We believe in the Trinity?”
Christians use the word Trinity to describe how God reveals himself in the Bible. Although the word “trinity” isn’t found in the Bible, the teaching is. The Bible reveals a paradox – not a contradiction – about the Trinity. There’s only one God; and this one God exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As Christians confess in the Athanasian Creed, “We worship one God in Trinity and the Trinity in unity.”
When it comes to the nature of the Trinity, many would agree with Dorothy Sayers, who whimsically wrote, “The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the whole thing incomprehensible.”
No wonder people try explaining the Trinity with clever analogies: A three-leaf clover, or three forms of H2O (water, steam, ice), and so forth. However, all analogies break down and result in false teaching if pushed too far. The problem is we’re trying to explain the inexplicable. After all, a God we could understand perfectly would be a pretty poor excuse for a God (think of the Greco-Roman gods and goddesses).
That’s why Christians confess, “I believe,” rather than, “I fully comprehend.” And that’s okay. We operate this way daily. For example, you can fly on an airplane without knowing physics or drive a car without being a mechanic (thankfully in my case!). We may not understand how these things work but we trust them anyway. Similarly, we may not be able to explain how there is one God who exists as three persons; yet we can believe and confess this teaching based on God’s word.
Moreover, although we can’t completely understand the Trinity, God has indeed made himself known to us. How? Not by analogies, but in time and space in human history, as we’ve explored in previous articles.
The incomprehensible God made himself known in the person of Christ. The untouchable, unseen God took on human flesh. The play-write became part of the play. God was born in a manger. God was seen, heard, and touched. God bled, suffered, and died on the cross. God rose from the dead. Why? For you and your salvation.
The love of the Triune God is revealed for you in Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection. The Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - created, redeemed, and now makes you holy through his word. And that’s what the Trinity is all about.