Brian Edgar once said, “To know God is to be in love; where there is no God, there is no love. Hinduism has karma , Islam has law , Buddhism has the eight-fold path , and secularism has self-improvement , but it is only Christianity which dares to say that we find our salvation and the meaning of life in God’s unconditional love. Love is the answer to the most fundamental questions of human existence.” It is important to notice that love is a relational word. One person who has always been alone cannot conceptualise love, experience love, give love or receive it in any way at all. The Bible, however, states categorically, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).
The implications of this regarding the nature of God are profound. It means that somehow, intrinsic in the very nature of God, there are more than one person to His identity. The next few verses that follow indicate there is one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons. “We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:13, 14).
It is not enough to say that God the Father first created Jesus as His Son and then sent Him as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. No created being, however, majestic and sinless he may be, can become a solution to the sin problem in a created universe. Sin is a cosmic problem focusing on the character of God, and it takes God Himself to take the initiative and atone for sin.
Nor is it acceptable to say that the Holy Spirit is only an impersonal force or the influence of God on our lives. It takes God Himself to reveal Himself to us. Not only are such beliefs unacceptable, they also are blatant contradictions of Scripture.
It is true that the word trinity never occurs in Scripture and that the church spent time clarifying this teaching in the early centuries. But it is also true that what is implied in the terms “Trinity” or “Godhead” saturates Scripture and was accepted, not only in the thinking and writing of the early church, but the whole corpus and spectrum of the body of Christ down through history.
Christianity rightfully asserts on the basis of God’s own revelation that He lives eternally as Father, Son and Spirit, not as three Gods and not merely as one God with three names. God is the Father, the originator of all things, the transcendent Creator and Lord of the universe, and also the Son, the incarnate historical participant in human life, and finally the ever-present Spirit of life and love. To reject this leaves one outside the realm of being authentically “Christian” because the teaching of the Trinity is the biblical pattern and foundation for all other doctrines.
The Bible, for example, teaches that we are made in the image of God. Because the essence of God has always been a social one in His own triune existence, part of our nature as humans is that it is not good for us to be alone. The unity and diversity of the Godhead is a model for everything involved in the unity and community of the church. Jesus prayed that all of His followers might be one in the same way that He and the Father were. That essence of unity in diversity was meant to be the most convincing evidence to a doubting and critical world that it might believe that the Father had sent Him. The church in its pattern of living should not be inconsiderate of each other. To love one another means to be equal, yet in submission to each other, just as the members of the Trinity relate to each other.
We learn also that the Father so loved the world that He sent both His Son and His Holy Spirit into the world to save the world. The whole basis of the church’s mission in the world is essentially a continuation of the heart of the triune God for lost humankind.
The implications of this go much further than evangelism—new believers connecting with God. They embrace the whole fabric of the church’s role as salt in a socially saltless world. The value of individual human worth has stemmed from the personal relationship we experience with a personally related God. It has served as the motivating impetus to raise the standards of all manifestations of our inhumanity to one other, and as such has impacted slavery and all other forms of authoritarian domination. God’s reign as our Lord and sovereign ultimately counteracts all acts of autocratic tyranny.
The reality of the Trinity is the only thing that gives humanity hope in chaotically self-destructing world. When Jesus suffered and died on the cross grappling with being forsaken by His Father, we begin to understand the magnitude of evil, injustice and suffering in our world.
And our hearts are broken at the realisation and magnitude of God’s pure gracious heart in the way He chose to deal with the sin problem.
At the same time it heightens our ecological responsibility to the natural order around us that stems from the work of the Godhead in creating it, sustaining it and ultimately transforming it again at the consummation of all things.
It can be seen that these references are more explicit in the New Testament than in the Old, but at the same time, the implicit existence of the Godhead underlying all of the Old Testament becomes very evident in the light of the New Testament.
For example, the most famous declaration of Hebrew people in Deuteronomy 6:4, called the “Shema,” asserts the monotheistic nature of the covenant God in its declaration “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” But in the concept of personified wisdom in Proverbs 8:22-31 there is more than a vague illusion to the pre-existent Jesus as an eternal coexisting craftsman in Creation alongside the Father. And in Ezekiel 37:1- 14 there is a clear command from the Father that He will dispense a co-existent personalised Spirit separate from Himself to call life into the dead nation of Israel.
God has not, however, just appeared to us in a Trinitarian fashion because it became necessary for Him to save the world after sin entered. It is an outworking of what He has always been in His true essence.
Sometimes Christians make the mistake of dividing up God’s work for us into separate parts. (The Father is limited to the overall supervision of Creation and salvation. The Son is restricted to the work of becoming one of us in the virgin birth, living and dying for us in a substitutional manner for our salvation, and interceding for us as our advocate.
The Holy Spirit, on the other hand is confined to such things as inspiration of Scripture, guidance, and the indwelling and empowering of Christian life and ministry.) A careful reading of Scripture reveals a combined interest and involvement by each member of the Godhead in all these functions to a greater or lesser degree.
We worship and love You, heavenly Father, for who You are. And Jesus, we worship and adore You for becoming our brother. And Holy Spirit we worship and love You, too, for making all this real to us. “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).