I Believe in the Triune God
This is the second post in a series providing more detail on what I believe. This one will expand on the second point in my statement of faith, "I believe there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Like my first post, this is intended to be more an explanation of my beliefs than a defense of them.
First and foremost, there is one and only one God. The Bible is abundantly clear on this. (See Deuteronomy 6:4, for example.) There aren't three Gods, many Gods, or whatever God or Gods you happen to believe in. There is one God. Period.
This is where things start to get more complicated. The Bible teaches that the Father is God (Galatians 1:1). It also teaches that the Son is God (John 1:1). And it teaches that the Holy Spirit is God. (Acts 5:3-4).
Further, the Bible teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct from one another. This is what is meant by "God in three persons." (Person, in this context, doesn't mean human. It simply means each member of the trinity has his own mind, will, emotions and so forth.)
One example where we can see all three persons as distinct is John 14:6, where Jesus says, "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever." Since Jesus is asking the Father to do something, this indicates Jesus is not the Father. He refers to the Holy Spirit as another advocate. So, Jesus is not the Holy Spirit. Also, since the Father is the sender, and the Spirit is the one sent, they are not the same.
All three persons of the trinity have always existed. They did not come into existence at creation or the incarnation.
There are a number of illustrations that people use to try to help people grasp the concept of the trinity. While they may have some value, they are also imperfect at best. For example, some use water as an illustration, since it exists in three forms: ice, liquid water, and vapor. However, this is not really an adequate illustration, at God does not change forms to become the Father, Son or Spirit. All three persons eternally exist together.
Another illustration is an egg. It has three parts, the shell, white, and yolk, but is one egg. Again, this is not really an adequate illustration, because none of the parts could rightly be called an egg. It is not really accurate to say the yolk is an egg, but it is absolutely true that Jesus is God.
Some argue that the trinity is just too confusing to be true. There must be a simpler answer. Do we really believe that the infinite, all powerful God must be simple enough for our finite human minds to easily comprehend? The fact that this is an undeniably difficult concept does not in any way call into question it's validity. I consider it to be a critical doctrine for a number of reasons, but primarily because it is so clear in Scripture. To deny it is to deny the accuracy and infallibility of Scripture.