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The Trinity

God's Persons and Essence

Deuteronomy 29:29
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

When we speak of “persons” in the context of the doctrine of the Trinity, we are not speaking of human bodies.  A person, for our purposes, is one with will, intellect, and emotions.  In the case of the Trinity, these persons are known as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  They each share identical attributes.  In other words, they are one in substance or essence.  Their essential natures are identical.  They are coequal and coeternal.  They each possess all of the attributes of God as described in the Scripture.  They are, therefore, One, since three persons sharing the same omnipotence would be one omnipotent being.  Or one sovereign being.  Or one omniscient being.

Essence, then, is the concept of the qualities that make or identify God as God.  These traits are intrinsic, permanent, and inseparable. The subsistence which makes up God might be called His fullness. What we find is that each of the Persons of the Trinity possess this fullness. We will present examples of this both hereafter and in the study on God&s Existence.

Having set the stage, one should note that the doctrine of the Trinity is beyond our understanding.  It defies logic and reason.  Our examples fall far short of being an analogy for the Trinity.  Water may exist in three forms – solid ice, liquid, and gaseous steam – but this does not define the Trinity, for each of these states have slightly different attributes, such as temperature.  A man may be a father, husband, and son.  He will act differently in each of these roles.  But, as an analogy, this still falls short.  The man’s actions are dictated by which role he plays.  And, he will perform in a variety of other roles, such as neighbor, employee, boss, brother, coach, etc. 

Having said all of this, it is clear that the doctrine of the Trinity is one formed, at least, partially in nothing but biblical faith.  God has stated His Oneness and revealed His Threeness.  As believers in the absolute of His Word, we can do nothing but accept the doctrine as being a true picture of God.

So, how do we accept the Trinity? Why has God dangled it in front of us? What is the purpose?




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