A Simple, but Personal Picture
By Edward F. Lundwall
Jimmy was going to a church membership class. He seemed to understand the many subjects taught, especially after the teacher answered the many questions he asked. However, one subject was still not clear in his mind. His teacher had proven the doctrine of God as a Trinity, but Jimmy heard his teacher say that the Trinity was hard to understand and theologians often debate how to describe what they know. Since Jimmy did understand that God is not the author of confusion, he decided to see if his Dad could help him. Jimmy started with the question, "Is there a simple way to understand the Trinity?"
“Well, son, you have asked a difficult question. While the word “trinity” does not appear in the Bible, yet, it describes a very important thing about God as He reveals Himself. Trinity means three in one, i.e., tri (three) unity (one whole). Trinity is used to describe His basic nature and how it functions. This word is not used to describe all his characteristics, power, and details of His nature. Trinity simply describes His personality functions. This means that He has a unity of life, involving more than one personality expression.
The Bible speaks of many plural unities. The Bible emphatically teaches that there is but one true God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth and the One who provides redemption for fallen men: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:" (Deut 6:4). However, the Old Testament Hebrew word for "one" is a plural unity. It is used of specific things having more than one member. This Hebrew word stem is used for the first day of creation yet it was composed of “evening and morning.” A single day but having two parts performing different functions that work together to do more that can be done without the other.
Another plural unity described in scripture is marriage. From the very beginning husband and wife were called one flesh. Family members are one in the sense that they share the same life and live together. Christ prays that along with himself and God the Father, that Christians or believers are to be one in the same way (John 17:11). Christ possesses both eternal life from an eternity past as God, the Word (John 1:1) with God the Father. Born again Christians experience an oneness with God by receiving Christ’s life (Galatians 2:20) and thereby are Christ’s brethren (Romans 8:29). As God, the eternal Word (John 1:1–3), He united with a sinless human life becoming Jesus. Thereby, in Himself God is a plural unity. His name in prophecy, Emmanuel, (Isaiah 7:14) describes Him as “God with us” born of the Virgin Mary (Matthew 1:23). When believers become born again, they receive the life of Christ (1 John 5:11, 12) and therefore are in unity with God the Father and the Holy Spirit by sharing this life. So there are many plural unities in the Bible and life.
Another way to understand these plural unities and the trinity is to identify their functioning parts. As with any living being, its various parts have different functions or jobs (1 Corinthians 12:14–18). The word “trinity” describes the eternal God as three identifiable parts in His being. In the limitations of language, these different parts are called personalities: Father, Son (God, the Word dwelling in flesh – John 1:14) and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).
In my opinion, son, the easiest way to understand the trinity of God comes by understanding our own being. Adam, as the first human being, was created by God in His own image (Genesis 1:26). So when we consider the essential components of human life, we begin to see a picture of God's life. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23: the Bible clearly describes man as a trinity, one man, composed of three parts: "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Each individual is composed of a spirit, a soul and a body and yet is but one person, a plural unity, i.e., a trinity created in the image of God. Each part of man has a different function, one from the other, yet together, they complete one being. Each part of man is identifiable by its function, yet all parts are essential for each person to be complete. The body functions to house one's spirit and soul through which they function in their expressive ways. Also, the body functions, according to its own needs and desires. The soul functions to gain and express personality through intellect (learning and thinking), emotions (giving feeling to one’s intellectual orientations) and volition (the power of choosing and sticking with it). While the spirit functions in communion (fellowship with God’s Spirit), conscience (the testimony of sensing right and wrong while in communion with the Holy Spirit) and intuition (enablement to understand spiritual things).
God designed human beings to be like a kingdom within their own self like He is, a sovereign within Himself. For the true Christian, the body is like the people who are ruled by the soul, led by a prime minister, the Holy Spirit, who then communicates with God the supreme King. So, the Trinity of God is reflected in God’s design of man. Jesus, as the Word, gives visible expression from and about God the Father like the body functions as a stage for man’s soul and spirit. Therefore, God the Father is the Authority of the Trinity like man’s soul and the Holy Spirit as the Trinity’s communication and effecting agent like the human spirit.
Jimmy, why not just look at yourself? You were created in God’s image. Your body, soul, and spirit are different parts of you, but together, they harmoniously live and function as one…A special young man, my son, Jimmy!”
The young boy broke out in a huge grin, and hugged his dad tightly saying, “I got it, Dad. Now, I see what the teacher was trying to say. I will explain it to her the way you explained it to me next week!”