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The doctrine of the Trinity

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The doctrine of the Trinity is foundational to the Christian faith and helps us realize that God exists as three distinct, consubstantial persons– the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The first defense of the doctrine of the Trinity was in the early 3rd century by the early church father Tertullian. He explicitly defined the Trinity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and defended the Trinitarian theology against the “Praxean” heresy. The heart of the Trinity lies in the fact that although the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three discrete persons, they share the essence of one God who is the creator of heaven and earth, who is eternal, almighty and holy. In essence, the three persons are one God. They are co-equal, co-eternal, and worthy of the same confidence and worship as God himself. At the same time, the three persons are distinct from one another in their relations of origin and in their relationships with one another. It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten and the Holy Spirit who proceeds. The first and most important person of the Trinity is God the Father. The Father is in his position and authority; supreme among the person of the Godhead as reinforced in “… yet for us, there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”(Corinthians 8:6) The Father is the wise designer and the grand architect of all has occurred in the Creation (Col. 1:12-13).

Everything in heaven and earth, everything from creation to ultimate eternal life in heaven and hell is planned according to the purpose of the Father’s will. The Father is the giver of every good and perfect gift. He is always infinitely wise and good in his authority. The Father is worthy of the highest because he exhibits remarkable care, wisdom, and goodness. Jesus, the Son is the second Person of the Trinity. He is eternal and a begotten of the Father. God, through the Father, sent Jesus Christ to reconcile mankind back to Himself again. This further reinforces the point that all three Persons of the Trinity serve a different purpose. Additionally, it is interesting to recognize that although the word “trinity” is not used in the Bible, there are several instances in the Bible where a reference to the Trinity is made. For instance, the verse, “…And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3). This says that Jesus Christ was sent down to Earth by God, the Father. This further reinforces the fact that Jesus was not God himself but and was the Son, a distinct Person of the Trinity, who shared the essence of one universal God. As the gospel of John records: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

The reference to “the word” is of great significance. The Greek word is “logos” and simply means “idea” or “purpose”. God’s purpose, therefore, was centered in Christ and so when “the man Christ Jesus” was born, the purpose, the word, became flesh as we read of later in John: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” By the same token, the Holy Spirit, who is the third Person of the Trinity, also has a unique purpose and plays an active part in our lives. According to Jesus’ words in John 14:26,“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”, God sent the Holy Spirit to forever carry forward Jesus’ teachings about goodwill and community. Another role that He plays in our lives is that of a teacher. I Corinthians 2:12, says “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” The Spirit provides bountiful wisdom and blessings when He enters our lives. The third and last office of the Holy Spirit is to comfort and delight the souls of God’s people, and thus one of His names is the Comforter, and thus we have the phrase of “joy in the Holy Ghost.” (I Thess. 1:6)

Additionally, the role of the Spirit has been greatly influenced by Jesus, the Son. When Jesus died and rose from the cross, He opened up a new doorway for us, a new opportunity for us to experience the Holy Spirit. The Spirit became active and real to us in a way that He never could before. Today, our lives are focused on Jesus, focused on His love and sacrifice. His present ministry is seen through His believers. In conclusion, it is also important to realize that the teachings of the Trinity play a very important role in our lives today. The Spirit instructs our decisions through the Word. This doesn’t mean the Spirit produces new meanings from the Bible tailored to our individual questions, but the Spirit helps us as we bring our lives under the light of God’s Word and guides us to stay true to ourselves as we make decisions and move forward. We also trust that the Trinity encourages us to serve our families and communities.

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