The Trinity is a Three-Unity

One of my professors once said, “You don’t have to believe in inerrancy to be a Christian, but you do have to believe in the Trinity to be a Christian.” That seems right. (However, abandoning the inspiration of the Bible, or parts of the Bible, only sets the table for walking away from Christ sooner or later.)

So why do you have to believe in the Trinity? Why is it required?

It is required because God is three-in-one. The Trinity is who God is – He is a three-unity.

Two passages are particularly helpful here: Genesis 1:1-2 and Matthew 28:18-20.

Creation
1. Genesis 1:1-2 reads:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Here, the writer tells us at least two things:

  1. God existed before all things. He was there before creation. He had to be in order to make things.
  2. His Spirit was present and “hovering” at creation. The writer plainly states that third person of the Trinity was present at creation, too.

Third, but harder to see, is the fact that the Hebrew word for “beginning” (reshiyt) can also be translated “first,” “first-fruits,” or “chief,” as it is in Genesis 49:3:

Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the firstfruits (reshiyt) of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.

This could mean that even the writer of Genesis had in mind God’s “firstfruits,” in the sense of His firstborn Son. Christ was never made, but He is properly the Son of God, God’s “firstborn.” Paul affirms this meaning when he writes in Colossians 1:16-17:

For by him [the beloved Son, v.13] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

John repeats this meaning in John 1:1-3:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

So both say that every thing in the universe came to being through Jesus, and without Him nothing came into being that has come into being (including Himself, because He never came into being). The Son was present at creation, too.

God has always been three-in-one, and He has always revealed Himself as such.

The Great Commission
2. In Matthew 28:18-20, Christ says:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Christ Jesus says that, in the making of all-nations disciples, we ought to do two things: (1) baptize them into the Trinitarian name of God, and (2) teach them everything the Son taught. The second tends to make sense, but it’s the first that gives evangelicals a hard time.

Why all three names?

For starters, the grammar says that there are not three names in this verse, only one name (huh?). Look closely, because the English for “name” in verse 19 is translated correctly. That word is singular, not plural. It is “name,” not “names.” So Matthew, recording Jesus, says first that God has one name.

Second, notice that following the “name” is a description of it – “of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” All three “names” make up one “name.” In the style of the Gospels, the teaching of the Trinity couldn’t be any clearer. Jesus is teaching (through Matthew’s Gospel-writing) that God has one name in three, and three in one.

God’s “name” = Father + Son + Holy Spirit

There’s a Lot More (but This is Enough)
As with any short blog post, we could obviously go on and talk about John’s entire Trinitarian theology, the explanation of the Trinity in many places in the Old Testament, the presence of the Trinity in Paul’s letters, and the appearance of all three Persons in the Revelation; but for now these two giant passages will have to do.

The name of God (i.e., the person of God) is three-in-one. You have to believe it to be a Christian, because to believe otherwise is to trust in some other god.

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About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

3 Responses to The Trinity is a Three-Unity

  1. Pingback: The Red Letters Aren’t Better « Your Cross on My Back

  2. Pingback: New Series! « Your Cross on My Back

  3. Pingback: The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth « Your Cross on My Back

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