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Scripture tells us that God is a person who created, rules and sustains the world. That he is eternally independent yet personal. How are we to know him or learn about him? Some argue for a mystical experience apart from Scripture or worship with believers. The result is that they have depreciated the value of theology and are unaccountable to any set of morality or persons. Affection has replaced knowledge but this isn’t how we operate with each other. If we love one another we want to know about each other.
Scripture teaches us that we love God because he first loved us. We learned about God from his Word, and if we love God we will obey him. Therefore I argue that if we want to love God apart from knowing anything about him, then we don’t actually love God but a false god made in our image. Christians should not be indifferent to learning about God, especially since He has revealed himself to us in Scripture. This raises the question, “What has God told us about himself?” WSC gives a helpful and succinct answer
Q. 4. What is God?
A. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.
Consider for a moment about the depth of this simply stated answer. God is infinite, while all other beings are finite. His infiniteness is beyond our imagination. You can consider the vastness of space perhaps but even space is created, God has nothing near to him nor far away. He is eternal, understood in reference to time. He has no beginning, nor end. To God, all things are equally present and thus he is without change. He is the same at one place as he is at another place.
This is a description of his being but also it attempts to describe his wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. We begin to understand his awesomeness, yet Scripture also tells us he is personal and not distant.
Yet even in his person, he is mysteriously majestic. In Scripture God reveals to us that he is Trinity. In Trinity God exists alone yet is personal because of his perfect relationship within the Godhead. God as three persons is a mystery revealed. While there are hints of the doctrine of the Trinity in the Old Testament, it is clearly revealed to us in the New.
Ordinarily, the New Testament tells about each person of the Trinity, then when put together we have the whole. But there are also places where it is explicitly stated. There is the Great Commission in:
Matt. 28:19 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,
Also, there is the well know benediction
2Cor. 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Here “Lord” is understood as a designation of deity, It is the same Greek word used to translate the name “Jehovah” from Hebrew.
It should be noted, that the New Testament writers are never thinking they are writing something contradicting the teachings of the Old Testament that there is one God. They are just as opposed as the Old Testament to the thought of there being more than one God. Yet in the New Testament, there is the clear teaching that the Father is God, the Son is God and the Spirit is God, three persons in relation to each other. Not to be mistaken as one person with three personalities. Yes, it is a mystery, a great mystery that should make us thankful that God has condescended and allowed us to learn even this about his being.
Recommended Reading: Ch 1 The Person of Jesus
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” is the very first verse in Scripture. If you start reading the Bible and never finish that is one truth of the Faith you will walk away knowing. Scripture begins with a monotheistic presumption. The apologetic is not to establish God’s existence but his identity. Throughout history God reveals his identity. The national cry of Israel, the Shema in Dt 6:4, would remind them of God’s oneness, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Progressively God reveals more of his identity as the mysteries of Scripture unveil him. Understand that when God gives a new revelation, it does not contradict a previous revelation. Revelation shows more clearly, what has already been revealed. (more…)
The Reformed faith is framed by covenantal thinking. The covenants of Scripture are what you see when you take away everything related to Reformed faith and practice. At the foundation of our doctrines is the doctrine of the Trinity. We don’t look at the Trinity as one of the doctrines that are added on or part of another doctrine. The doctrine of the Trinity serves to structure all of our faith and practice. It’s all over our theology. It’s everywhere in worship (praying, singing, preaching, sacraments). And the Trinity is part of the life of the Christian. Herman Bavinck stated “The Father, the Son and the Spirit is above us, before us, and within us.”
In history, God reveals himself to Israel and they will agree, as part of their covenant, that they will serve God and him alone. God is one and he says in many places of Scripture that there are no other gods besides him. Part of conversion and repentance of the people who turned to God was that they would have to give up their false idols. By nature humanity had known that God existed and they knew the true God. But their sin kept them loving and serving idols rather than God. It was only when God worked in their hearts they could love him. (more…)
When a laymen begins their studies of the Trinity, church father Augustine made a helpful saying that comes to mind. “anyone who denies the Trinity is in danger of losing her salvation, but anyone who tries to understand the Trinity is in danger of losing her mind.”
There are good reasons for the complexity of questions and at times the absurd conclusions in place of the doctrine of the Trinity. Ultimately it is often confusing to me how some get this concept so wrong when it is so clearly implied in Scripture and in our face (literally) when it comes to the Incarnation.
The common error the heretics make against the Trinity is to observe it wasn’t in full blown form till it was spelled out in the fourth century at two great ecumenical councils (Nicea 325 and Constantinople 381). What the non-believer doesn’t realize is that many doctrines didn’t have to be refined till heresy came about and the early church father were constantly exegeting Scripture to combat and refute heretical claims. So while we don’t really struggle with the fact that Jesus was a man who walked in the flesh, first century skeptics did. And while we don’t argue over the canonicity of pseudopigrapha texts the early church did.
When people are shocked to hear that people today call themselves Christian but don’t hold to the doctrine of the Trinity, they should understand ultimately that this isn’t anything new at all. It is only something old wearing a new hat. Trinitarian doctrine needs to be instilled constantly in our services and in our preaching. Our preaching ought to make people think on the Trinity weekly if not daily.