I am reading a book with two of my sons. Tanner and Tim (9 and 14 yrs old). The book is titled: Big Truths For Young Hearts by Bruce Ware. Young hearts…. really? It seems to me to be: Big truths for old hearts too! As I read this to my kids I stand in awe of our God!
It is with that in mind that I want to share with you an excerpt from the book. The chapter is titled One God in Three Persons. The author is explaining that many analogies and illustrations that seek to describe the Trinity fall short of doing so.
“A question often asked is whether there are any examples, any analogies or illustrations, to the Trinity that can help us understand how God is both one and three. Some have suggested that the Trinity is like a triangle – three sides make up one triangle, so you have three in one. This example helps for a bit, but when you think about it more deeply, you can see it isn’t quite right. You see, the Bible teaches that there is one God, and the Father is fully God, the Son is fully God, and the Holy Spirit is fully God – not three gods but three Persons, each of whom expresses fully that one God. But a triangle is not this way. Yes, it has three sides, but each of the sides is not fully a triangle, right? So, while a triangle shows one thing made up of three parts, it doesn’t show one thing that is fully expressed by each of the three parts.
Some have thought that perhaps the Trinity is like three men, say Peter, James, and John. They all are human, but they are three persons. Will this work to show us the Trinity? Here the problem is the opposite of the problem with the triangle. Each person is fully human, but in this example you not only have three persons, you have also three human beings. After all, Peter is a man, but a different man from James, who is a different man from John. So if we followed this illustration we would end up with three gods as well as three persons who are god.
Yet others have thought H2O (water) shows us the Trintiy since H2O can be three things: solid (ice), liquid (running water), and vapor (steam). But the same H2O molecules cannot be all three at exactly the same time. H2O is a good illustration of modalism (a false teaching of the Trinity that we’ll learn more about later) where God is first the Father, then the Son, and then the Spirit, one at a time. But the Bible teaches that God is Father, Son, and Spirit all at the same time. Each person lives eternally as God.
The closest thing I have imagined to the Trinity is drawing a circle using three colored markers (perhaps red, blue, and green). If you draw the same circle three times, with each color overlapping exactly the previous one, you have one circle. But the red line is not the blue line, and the blue line is not the green line. Yet all three lines enclose only one circle. While this illustration may work in a very small part, the truth is that there simply is nothing in our experience that shows us exactly what the Trinity teaches. Nothing quite works to show what it means for God to be one in his nature as the one true God, yet three in Persons as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each fully God. But we should not be surprised at this. After all, the Bible has told us many times that there is no one like the Lord (Exodus 8:10; 9:14; Deuteronomy 33:26; 34:11; Jeremiah 10:6-7). He is the one and only true and living God, and He also is unlike anything or anyone else.
There truly is no one like the Lord. He is one God, but that one God lives and is expressed through the three Persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each Person is fully God, yet each Person is also distinct from the other Persons. We have here a biblical teaching that in the end we must believe even though we cannot understand it fully. And what we can learn from this is that God is greater than we can imagine and more beautiful than anything we’ve seen. The doctrine of the Trinity calls us to wonder and marvel at just how great our God is.
Three in One and One in Three – This is God, and there is no other!”
Greater than we can imagine……. Praise Him!