Courtney Jacob

The Holy Trinity

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity asserts that there is but one God who makes himself known in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How exactly this works remains a mystery, but this teaching has been a central tenet of the faith since its early days. There is no direct reference to the Holy Trinity in the Bible—the word trinity appears nowhere in the Bible—so how did this teaching come to be? Is it biblical? Join Groundwork for our series, “The Holy Trinity,” to explore the deep roots of this Christian teaching in Scripture. Together with our guest, Dr. Sue Rozeboom, we’ll dig into the Bible to better understand the distinct roles and attributes of each person of the Trinity, while embracing the mystery of their unity. We’ll discuss how our belief in our triune God shapes Christian worship and prayer, and guides us daily in our spiritual growth and community life.

One God or Three gods?

Why do we make the distinction that Christians worship one God and not actually three gods? Aren’t three persons three different beings? We find the answer in Judaism, the religion established when God set Israel apart as his people and out of which Jesus Christ called his disciples and Christianity arose. The monotheistic worship of one, singular God—who was God of everything—set the Jewish faith apart from all the polytheistic cultures that surrounded it. To the Jews, worship of anyone or anything other than the one true God was idolatry and rightly so. 

When Jesus identified himself as the Son of God, to his Jewish listeners, he was claiming his Father’s identity, and in so doing, making himself equal to God. Some of the Jews accused him of blasphemy for saying this, and tried to stone him on the spot. After his resurrection, Jesus' disciples recognized Jesus’ divinity and worshiped him. The apostles and early believers, performing miracles through the Holy Spirit, faced accusations of heresy and idolatry from Jews who said that they were worshiping someone other than the one true God. In time, it became necessary to articulate what it meant to worship the one true God revealed in the persons of God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit. This became the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

No Bible passage specifically names the Trinity, but like all Christian doctrines, this set of beliefs is deeply rooted in Scripture. Jesus himself references the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, claiming that they are One. The triune God appears together in all three persons at different times in the gospels, most especially in accounts of Jesus’ baptism. The belief in a singular, triune God is evident in the apostolic letters. Later gatherings of Christians in church history debated the finer points to clarify and write creeds to help generations of Christians understand as much as we are able, the mystery of one God in three persons. 

One God, Three Distinct Persons

Within the triune nature of God, each person of the Trinity is distinct from the others. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each have important traits, attributes, and work as evidenced in Scripture. Three persons, united as One. Understanding how God the Father is different from Jesus Christ or articulating why Jesus' salvation work is different from the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work deepens our understanding of God and enriches our relationship with him. 

Studying the differences and unity of our triune God in the Bible reveals how this belief in the Trinity influences how we worship, how we pray, and how we live in community with fellow believers. Embracing the mystery of their unity in the one true God also helps us embrace unity in our earthly diversity.

God’s Invitation

The Bible tells story after story of God revealing himself to his people. His revelation of his triune nature is an invitation to know him more intimately. I invite you to experience God, deepen your understanding of who he is, and how the Christian beliefs about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit daily impact our faith through our Groundwork series, “The Holy Trinity”: 

Together, we’ll grow in our relationship with God as we allow our belief in the triune nature of God to shape our worship and prayer, and guide us daily.

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