If there is one thing we know clearly from Scripture it is that there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 44:6; 1 Corinthians 8:6). But the other thing we know clearly from Scripture is that Jesus is God (John 1:1; 20:28; Romans 9:5 NIV). And for that matter, the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3,4). So what do we do with these facts?
One thing we know is that we’re dealing with a God who is beyond our ability to fathom. But He has given us a revelation of Himself that enables us to stay within the boundaries of truth about who He is and avoid false thinking about Him:
- God is one in essence. By this we mean that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit each share the one and same essence or nature of deity (infinite power, eternal existence, all knowledge, etc.). The divine essence is not split up somehow between them.
- God is three in person. Each person of the godhead is a unique and separate individual who can relate in love to the other, who can think his own thoughts and yet remain at one with the others in terms of purpose and character.
- Each person has a different function. The Father is the head of the Trinity, but not because He is superior to the others (they share the same undivided essence, right?). The Son is the one who took on human nature in addition to the divine nature (or essence) in order to die for our sins. The Holy Spirit is the one who comes to live in us to enable us to become more like Christ.
Thus we do not believe that God is three Gods with three separate divine essences. We do not believe that God is one person who plays three different roles (Father, Son and Spirit). We do not believe that the Son is a creation, albeit the highest creation of God, but rather, we believe that He is fully God.
Each person of the Trinity is worthy of the same honor and praise. Neither is jealous of the other. Each loves the other with perfect love. The Son is bringing all of earth under His dominion in order to give the kingdom finally to the Father that He might be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). The Spirit bears witness to the Son and brings glory to Him (John 15:26; 16:14). The Father says, “This is my beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17).
This is the example of perfect teamwork as each person of the Godhead fulfills His own role in accomplishing our salvation from sin. The Father planned our redemption, the Son was our sacrifice, and the Spirit makes it real in our lives. Neither has His own agenda but yields to the purpose of the Father. All hail the Godhead, three in one!