“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV)
It’s popular today to think that there are many paths to God or that God is whatever you feel him to be. People say things like, “God for me is [fill in the blank].” If Christians claim their knowledge of God is true, this claim is seen as misguided at best and arrogant at worst. But the most important question any of us will ever ask is, “Can I know God?” The Bible answers with an emphatic, “Yes!” So, for the next few weeks, I want to attempt to answer the question, “Who is God?”
Let’s start with the basics. Scripture teaches that there is only one God. In fact, at the core of ancient Jewish daily life was the recitation of the shema (shema is the Hebrew word for “hear”) found in Deut 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” In opposition to the pagan nations around her, who, without exception, believed in many gods, Israel proclaimed that there was only one God. However, even in the Old Testament, we are given hints and foreshadows that this one God, Yahweh, exists in multiple persons.
With the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, the revelation of the Trinity comes into clear focus. Simply stated, the doctrine of the Trinity affirms that God is one God who eternally exists in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each person is equally God. We see this truth in places like Jesus’s baptism. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove, while a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:9-11) From there, throughout the rest of the New Testament, we see this bedrock truth that God is a Trinity of persons stated time and again. Paul’s benediction in 2 Cor 13:14 is therefore extraordinary. Paul was a Pharisee, the strictest of the strict among the Jews. For him to include Jesus and the Holy Spirit alongside God the Father in a benediction was not only unheard of among people like the Pharisees, it was considered the worst sort of blasphemy, deserving death. But Paul had been changed by meeting the resurrected Lord Jesus (Acts 9:1-9) and his view of God would never be the same.
The same thing can happen to us today. We can meet God and it will change our lives! But the God we meet is the same God Paul met, the same God who has always been there, the triune God of the Bible. The ramifications of God eternally existing in three persons are massive, but I will mention only one.
If God has always existed in three persons, then the universe, at root, is basically personal. Why is that important to grasp? Because today, the dominant (mistaken) view of the scientific establishment is that the universe, at root, is basically impersonal. But then a quandary arises: if all we are is basically impersonal matter and energy in motion, then where do inescapably personal things like love, justice, and beauty come from? Science gives us not one clue how to answer this question. The Trinity does provide us an answer. Since before the universe was, God eternally existed in three persons, then personal things like love, justice, and beauty are the result of a God who himself is a God of love, justice, and beauty. In other words, you can’t make sense of everyday life without the Trinity. It’s that important.
Finally, Jesus himself shows us the truth of the Trinity. He is the ultimate revelation of God (John 14:9). And in Jesus we learn of God’s great love for sinners like us in sending Jesus to live and die in our place. So the revelation of the Trinity, far from being an abstract, impractical doctrine, really is the beating heart of Christianity. Remind yourself this week that you have the greatest privilege: you get to know God! Not only this, but you can have a relationship with him, where you speak and he listens to you (in prayer) and he speaks and you listen to him (in studying his word). Most of all, remember that this God longs for us to know him as he is. By the power of the Holy Spirit, our eyes are opened to the stunning fact that not only do we know God, God knows us because he became one of us in Jesus. Knowing God as Trinity, therefore, makes the ordinary, extraordinary; the mundane, amazing; and the everyday, a foretaste of eternity!