The Trinity is hinted at in the Old Testament, but the mystery is more fully revealed in New Testament era, where the missions of the Son and Holy Spirit take centre stage. Jesus is included in divine identity, John 1:1-3, 1 Corinthians 8:6. The Holy Spirit is constantly mentioned in the same breath as the Father and the Son, Matthew 28:19, 1 Cor 13:14. The mystery of the Trinity is not irrational, or totally baffling. It is a mystery in the biblical sense of truth hidden in God until he was pleased to reveal it, Colossians 1:24-27.
1. In the Name
'Father'. God is disclosed as Father not first and foremost because he is in some sense the universal Father of his human image bearers, or even that he is the Father of believers, his adopted children. He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit is the Spirit 'of God'. He did not become Father at some point. He is the eternal Father of the eternal Son and the eternal Spirit. We speak of the Son as eternally generated by the Father, and of the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son. The named three persons are one God.
2. God sending and sent
The Father ever loved his Son and gave him life in himself, even as the Father has life in himself, John 5:26. His Spirit is the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2). The eternal relations between Father, Son and Holy Spirit are reflected in the missions of the persons of the Trinity. The Father sent the Son into the world, rather than the other way around, 1 John 4:14. The Holy Spirit was sent by the Father in the name of the Son, John 14:26. He is the ‘Spirit of God’ and the ‘Spirit of Christ’ (Romans 8:9). Each person is concerned for the glory of the other, John 17:1, (from eternity vs. 5), Phil 2:11, John 16:14-15. Because our God is a God who communicates life, love and glory in himself, he is also a God who was pleased to communicate life and love and reveal his glory in creating the universe. Above all that includes creating human beings in his image. Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). We are made in his image (Genesis 1:26) to share in the life, love and glory of the Trinity, John 17:22-23.
Although there is an order in the persons of the Trinity, there is no hierarchy of being so that the Father is God in a superior sense to the Son or Holy Spirit. The three are fully God, of the same being as the Father. How else can we do justice to New Testament depiction of Jesus and the Spirit? The divine Name Yahweh Deuteronomy 6:4 is accorded to Jesus, John 8:58. The Spirit is the 'Spirit of Yahweh', active in creation (Genesis 1:2) and exercising Lordship (1 Corinthians 12:11).
It is wrong to say that the Son eternally submitted his will to that of the Father in the decree that he would be sent into the world. Will is a property of God’s being, not the persons. All three persons were party to the plan of salvation in which Son would come to save us in the power of the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 1:4, 9. If it is true to say, that the Father gave the Son for us, Romans 8:32, then we may also say that Son freely gave himself for us, Galatians 2:20. Father and Son are one in being and will, John 10:30.
3. Salvation is of the triune Lord
In creation, providence and redemption God does all things by his Son and through his Spirit to his glory. Because they share one being, the three always act in concert. Only the Son became man, but he became man on being sent into the world by the Father and by the power of the Spirit in his virginal conception. Consider the miracles Jesus performed, which are jointly ascribed to all three persons of the Trinity as they share the one divine being, John 5:19-20, 14:8-11, Matthew 12:28. Consider the cross of Jesus, Hebrews 9:14 and his resurrection from the dead, Romans 8:11.
The doctrine of the Trinity helps answer some fundamental questions:
How can we know God? John 1:18, 14:7, 14:16-17, 25.
How can we be saved by God? Salvation is trinitarian in structure, Ephesians 1:3-14, Romans 8:1-17, Galatians 4:4-7, 1 Peter 1:1-3. Only the divine Son could atone for sin, only the divine Spirit could give us new life and communicate love of God to hearts, Romans 5:5, 8.
Who are the people God? We are 'baptised into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’. Baptism signifies that we are brought into union with God in Christ by the Spirit. Matthew 28:19. The triune God showers his gifts upon the church, where unity in diversity thrives, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, Ephesians 4:4-6, 7-8.
How may we worship God? Ephesians 2:13. In our communion with God, particular communion with one person always involves the other two. The worship of heaven is trinitarian, Revelation 4 & 5. The Second London Baptist Confession 1689 states. “which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on Him.” Let us worship our adorable Trinity.
Creeds and Confessions
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
From the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325) with additions by the Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381)