The cornerstone of Biblical doctrine and Christianity is the doctrine of God. Who is God? What is His nature? How does He manifest Himself to us, and how does He work? While this writer shall make no attempt to answer all of these questions, it is imperative that we learn the fundamental truth of the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity is not arrived at by philosophical searching; it is a doctrine that is known only by revelation. While the eternal power and deity of God is manifest in creation, the Trinity is only shown to us in the revealed Word of God, the Scriptures.
One thing that is necessary to state is the fact that the Trinity does not teach that there are three gods. On the contrary, the term Trinity speaks of three in unity, or tri-unity. When we speak of the Trinity, we mean three in one. The Scriptures bear witness of this fact saying, 1 John 5:7 there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (KJV) When the Scriptures tell us that the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost are one they are telling us that they exist as one. The very being of God is one. The three who are in God exist as one. There is only one existence in God, but three persons. God’s Word attests to the fact of the solitary existence of God in a plurality of persons. 1 Cor 8:6 To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. (KJV) Paul is telling us that there is only one God, as opposed to the belief in many gods that idolaters hold. He states that there is only one God, and names two of the persons who are God: the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. While he names two persons, he calls the two persons the one God!
As we consider this subject, the question should be asked, “why speak of the necessityof the Trinity?” Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines necessity thusly: “That which must be and cannot be otherwise.” When we speak of the Trinity being necessary we mean that God’s nature is such that He must be a plurality of persons who are of one essence. The Bible reveals to us that this God is a Tri-unity of persons, hence the Trinity.
The Glory of God Makes The Trinity Necessary
God is eternally glorious. God’s glory is His nature and character. He shines forth in splendor, beauty, and might. This glorious nature of God makes the Trinity a necessity.
The first attribute of God’s glory we shall consider is the name of God. When we speak of God’s name, we speak of the reputation and fame of God as well as the appellation by which He is called. God told Moses that His name was an eternal name/fame. Ex 3:13-15 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. (KJV) If God’s fame and glory are eternal there must have been a plurality of persons present to see and enjoy this fame. True fame does not rest in one’s mind alone. The fame and glory of God were expressed and enjoyed in eternity before even the angels were created. God enjoyed His glory as He beheld His Son (See Prov 8:30;John 17:5,24).
God’s glory is seen in His mercy and truth. Ps 115:1 Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. (KJV) God is eternally merciful and true. He has always been this way. These are personal attributes. In other words, mercy and truth are shared with other persons. For God to be eternally merciful and true means that there have always been other persons to whom He expressed mercy and truth. (Note: Mercy here does not primarily speak of God’s compassion on those who face hardship and judgment, it is the loving-kindness of God which He expresses to other persons and has expressed forever to the other persons of the Godhead.) From this we see that God is a plurality of persons.
Love Makes The Trinity Necessary
The Bible tells us that God is love (See 1 Jn 4:8). The love of God is such that, should God cease to love at all He would no longer be God. God does not only love, but islove. When we consider the fact that God is eternal (Ps 90:1,2;Rom 1:20), God has always been love and has always loved. For God to have always loved, there must be one who was there to be loved before the world was made. That one who was present and loved before the world was created must also be eternal. That being so, this one must would be equal to God. That would mean there would be more than one in the essence of God.
As we read the Bible we find that this one who is loved is none other than the Son of God, who is also called the Word. John 1:1-3,14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (KJV) The reader will recall that the Word is spoken of as being one with the Father and the Holy Ghost. Now we find that the Word was present in the creation, and is God. How is this so? Perhaps it would be well to try to describe it in this manner: As person looks at life they will find themselves thinking about particular moments in life. As these moments are contemplated, one finds that many emotions come to them as though they are reliving the moment. Should one be able to have a perfect thought of every moment of his life, that thought would then become a complete replica of that person. When God is considered as contemplating His eternal greatness and having a perfect thought of Himself, that thought is spoken of as the Word (logos), because it would be both a perfect representation of His thought and (words being expressions of thoughts) would be an eternal person equal to the Father and of the same essence. We know that Jesus is the Word of God who is the expression of the nature, heart, character and will of God in eternity and in this world (See John 1:1-4;Heb 1:1-3). The Word is also the Son of God, because God is spoken of as the Father of whom are all things. He would also be the Son because He is of the same nature as the Father. He is not created, but is eternally generated and eternally co-equal with the Father. He has no beginning nor end, because God has always had the perfect thought of Himself.
Jesus spoke of this great love that existed between Him and the Father. John 17:24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (KJV) In fact, this love between the Father and the Son is so intense that that love in itself is another person. That person is the Holy Spirit. Have you ever been around a group of people where, although there are many individual persons, there is a group spirit? We call it esprit de corps. The spirit of the body. It seems the group of people has a personality in itself. So it is in the Godhead. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father. This eternal love is so great that it has a personality and is a person. Jesus’ own words bear witness to this fact. John 17:26 I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (KJV) Note that Jesus spoke of the love of the Father and Himself dwelling in us. Who is it that dwells in us? Paul says it is Christ (Col 1:27) We find also that Rom 5:5 the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (KJV) The Spirit of God dwells within us spreading God’s love in our hearts. In fact, Rom 8:9 if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
(KJV) I think it is evident that the love which exists in the Godhead is the one we call the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit.
This, I believe, is the Biblical doctrine of the Holy Trinity. This doctrine is a revealed doctrine. We do not by searching find God out. This is not seen in Creation, nor inherently understood. It is not understood at all. We simply embrace this truth, because God has revealed it to us. This truth demonstrates to us that our God is truly transcendent. Let us, therefore, worship Him in all His Tri-une glory. Isa 6:3 Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. (KJV)