There is no mystery as grand as that of the Holy Trinity. It is indeed a holy mystery. What does that mean though? In our world, mysteries are that which can be understood given sufficient time and thought. Mysteries in our world need patience and diligence but can eventually be found out and unveiled by our rational faculties. This is not the case with the mysteries of Scripture. The only means by which we can come to understand the mysteries in Scripture are by God’s self-revelation. In other words, if God does not reveal it, we can never understand it. As Deuteronomy 29:29 explains, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (ESV)
What is it about the Holy Trinity that is so mysterious? In short, there is nothing else like it in all the universe. This should not surprise us as we are encountering God as He is. The Creator cannot be confused with the creation. We should not be surprised that God as He exists is so infinitely above our understanding, that we are left barely able to comprehend what He has revealed.
One titan of the ancient church, Gregory of Nazianzus (AD 329-390), described the mystery of the Trinity in this way, “No sooner do I conceive of the One than I am illumined by the splendor of the Three; no sooner do I distinguish them than I am carried back to the One. When I think of any One of the Three I think of Him as the whole, and my eyes are filled, and the greater part of what I am thinking of escapes me.” (Oration 40.41) The mystery is meant to lead to adoration. But how should we describe the trinity?
There is One God who eternally exists as three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. There has never been a day where the persons did not exist in perfect love and fellowship with one another. Neither the Son nor the Spirit are created, but are equal to the Father in glory, in worthiness of worship and adoration, and in excellence. They are equal in nature and being, yet they are distinguished. There are three persons, but not three gods. With equal effort we must maintain both Trinity and Unity.
As mentioned, this is a more weighty teaching of the Scriptures, but no other doctrine can sufficiently explain the teaching of the Bible which is why believing in the Holy Trinity is a non-negotiable for the Christian faith. In other words, to deny the Holy Trinity is to deny biblical Christianity. This is not unique to our church, or our denomination, or even Protestantism as a whole. This is a point shared by all Christians. To quote the Athanasian Creed “He therefore that will be saved must think thus of the Trinity.”
There are some who argue that the word “trinity” is not found in Scripture. That’s true. However, the concept is present and is deduced from the Bible. Clear texts include the reality that Christ attributed divine rights to Himself such as when He claims to be Jehovah or YHWH God in John 8:58, or when he receives worship in Matthew 28:17, or when Thomas calls him, “My Lord and my God!” in John 20:28, or in Acts 20:28 where the blood of Jesus is referred to as the blood of God. If these words were spoken towards any other ordinary human they would be blasphemous, because they are robbing God of His glory. But the fact that it is not treated as blasphemous by Christ or the Apostles, but is celebrated reveals most clearly that Jesus is with God, was God and is eternally God (cf. John 1:1-3). Other clear Scriptures include Colossians 1:15; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:3. There are more texts than time allows.
In addition, we see the divinity of the Holy Spirit is obvious from passages such as Matthew 12:32 where blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unpardonable, or the frightful account of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 where the Apostle Peter makes it clear that the wicked couple’s attempt “to lie to the Holy Spirit” is condemned by Peter in these words, “You have not lied to man but to God.” (Acts 5:3-4) Again one can simply look at the mere formulas of benediction (2 Cor. 13:14) and Holy Baptism (Matt. 28:19) to be reminded that there is a glorious bond between the Three and the One.
You cannot make sense of the Scriptures if you walk away from this glorious mystery. We are led therefore to acknowledge both the limitations of our finite minds, and the love of God which is so clearly displayed in his self-revealing act of speaking to us through the Scriptures. Glory be to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.