How do I explain the Trinity?
March 6, 2020
What a great question!
The Trinity can be a very confusing aspect of Christianity. To begin with, the word “Trinity” doesn’t exist in scripture. I know. That statement can be scary. For those of us who insist on scriptural integrity, talking about something never mentioned in the Bible can feel like heresy. However, even though that particular word isn’t in there, the theme of Trinity becomes plain after you’ve looked through the entire Bible.
So, let’s get started . . .
Two of my favorite examples of the Trinity are H20 and Shamrocks.
St. Patrick used the three part leaves as a picture of the Trinity. Just like the shamrock leaf has three separate parts but is all one leaf, the Trinity has three separate parts, yet God is one God.
H20 is the chemical breakdown of water. Whether it’s ice, steam or a cool drink, it will always be H20. We call it by three different names, and each state serves a different purpose, yet it’s still H20. Likewise, God is one God, we call Him by three names, Father, Jesus, and Spirit.
But what does the Bible say about the Trinity?
Throughout the Old Testament, God made it quite clear He was One. Constantly tempted by all the gods of the nations around them, the people of Israel needed reminded of the nature of the Creator. Here are a few verses to help you understand that God is One God.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one — Deuteronomy 6:4
There is none like you, O LORD, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. — 1 Chronicles 17:20
“I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols. – Isaiah 42:8
I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. — Isaiah 43:11
“This is what the LORD says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.
7 Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come— yes, let them foretell what will come.
8 Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” Isaiah 44:6-8
Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, — Isaiah 46:9
Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another? . . . Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. — Malachi 2:10 & 15
Obviously God wants His children to understand He is One. He is not a multi-god. Christians have been accused of worshipping multiple gods because so many misunderstand the concept of the Trinity.
During the time of the Old Testament thinking about God as a singular entity was well understood. Folks even bought into the Holy Spirit being a part of God, but Jesus really shook things up.
The Almighty spent a great deal of time preparing folks for His Son. He gave His people sneak previews over 300 times in scripture. He even told them the Messiah would be Immanuel (Isaiah 7:1) God with us. But when Jesus came along insinuating He was God, folks had some difficulty.
Over and over Jesus stressed He was God, but He was also the Son.
Let’s check out a few verses.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.Matthew 3:16-17
Jesus’ baptism is one of the first places we find evidence of the split nature of the Trinity. It’s here we see God is able to be all three entities at one time. Jesus is in the water with John, the Holy Spirit comes as a dove and the voice of God speaks.
Other references include:
Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit – Matthew 28:19
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. – John 1:1-2
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, — John 1:14
When John used the term “The Word” he referred to Christ. Jesus existed before time. The Creator spoke everything into being. Jesus was the very Word He spoke. If we check out Genesis 1:2 in the Hebrew, we find the writer used a plural word for God, Elohim.
Later in the Creation epic, in Genesis 1:26, God says, “Let us make man in our image. Do you think that was an accident? No, from the days of creation God revealed Himself as a singular God with plural identities.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:24
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” – John 8:58 (see Exodus 3:14)
When Jesus used that phrase I am, he reminded the Synagogue rulers of what God had said at the burning bush. God said, My name is “I am who I am.” Many times in the book of John, we read Christ using the phrase “I am”. The Pharisees were furious. Even if we don’t recognize Christ’s attempt to link himself to the Creator in the burning bush, those Jewish leaders did.
And Jesus just kept going . . .
[Jesus said,] “I and the Father are one.” – John 10:30
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. – John 14:20
But the Advocate, 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
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; — Philippians 2:6
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. – 2 Corinthians 13:14
I’ve been asked about times Jesus prayed. Technically, He was talking to Himself.
In Matthew 1 God reminded His people that He had promised to be Immanuel, God with us. God came to earth as a helpless infant. He put skin on His Spirit so He could experience exactly what you and I experience. He wanted us to know He cares that much about us.
I’d love to answer other questions you have regarding the Trinity. Leave a comment below. Or ask another question, and I’ll try to answer it soon!
Would you like to have all those scripture references on one piece of paper to hand out to your group? Use the link below!