What is the Trinity?


How are you all doing tonight? For those of you who I haven’t met, my name is Nick. Its been funny how many times have asked what grade I’m in. I’ve been told I have a baby face. Anyways, contrary to popular belief, I am no longer in high school. I’m not even in college anymore. I have started the process of adulting: I pay taxes, I have a sideways ID, I married to my amazing wife Siana, and we have a baby on the way, expecting September.

Now tonight, we are going to dive into the topic of the trinity.

How many of you have ever been snow skiing? Well my wife and I went to South Dakota a couple months ago to go skiing with my family. Every day we would drive out to the ski resort and get all our gear checked out. Once we had our skis on, we would wait in line to ride the ski lift to the top. Now if you’ve been skiing before, you may have noticed this. From the base of the mountain, you can look up and see the peak. But, after you take the first ski lift up, you see that it wasn’t the top of the mountain. It was just a false summit. The real peak is even higher still. And dependng on what mountain you go to, you can ride several ski lifts before you get to the real top of the mountain. You thought the mountain was big when you stood at its base, but the higher you go, the more you realize just how massive it is.

The same is true with knowing God. The more you know God, the more you will see just how awesome he is. We were made to spend our entire lives climbing this mountain with the word of God as our map. Tonight, I can’t possibly show you every route to the top, but I want to show you where to start the climb. I can promise you that the view is work the climb.

If you take nothing else away from tonight’s message, hear this: There is no one like our God.

For tonight’s teaching, we are going to look at two big questions: 1. What is the trinity and 2. What does the trinity have to do with salvation.

What is the trinity?

Definition and misconceptions

Alright, first things first. What is the trinity?

Trinity means three in one. The Bible teaches there are three persons in the one true God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; 3 persons, 1 being; or 3 whos, 1 what.

To help us understand the trinity, here are three guardrails that will keep us grounded on biblical truth:

  1. God is three persons.
  2. Each person is fully God.
  3. There is only one God.

Since the beginning of the church, people have tried to simplify the trinity. They’ve tried to reduce God into an analogy that we can understand. The problem is, we can’t put an infinite God into a box. When we do that, we are no longer talking about the God of the Bible.

So let me clarify some common misconceptions. First, the Father, Son, and Spirit are not three different Gods; They are one God. They are not different parts of God, like parts of an apple; they are each fully God. They are not different forms of God, like the states of water; they each exist at the same time, all the time. One did not come before the others; the Father, Son, and Spirit have always been and always will be. God cannot change. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Spirit is God.

When we look at scripture, there is evidence of the trinity across the whole Bible, but I want to zero in on two verses where we see the three persons of the trinity in the same scene.

Matthew 3:16

  • [16] And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; [17] and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Stop right there for a minute. Here we see the Father, Son, and Spirit as separate persons, each doing something different in the same moment in time.

The next verse I want to show you is Matthew 28:19.

Matthew 28:19

  • [19] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…

Did you catch that? Jesus shows us that the Father, Son, and Spirit share the same name. That is a reminder that though God is three persons, he is one being.

Unity and diversity

Within the trinity, there is perfect unity. The Father, Son, and Spirit are one in power, glory, purpose, and character. They have the same attributes and they are always in agreement. We worship one God. Within the trinity, there is complete unity.

But, there is also diversity within the trinity. We can’t forget that the Father, Son, and Spirit are different persons with distinct roles. For example, it was the Son who became a man, not the Father. Likewise, it was the Father, not the Spirit, who sent his Son to be our substitute.

So then, what do these diverse roles look like? Let’s start by answering the question “who is God the Father?”

To put it simply, the Father is the initiator. What does it mean to be an initiator? When we say the Father is the initiator, it means he makes the plan and sets it into motion. The Son and the Spirit submit to his plan. That’s why Jesus prays “not my will, but your will be done”.

That leads us to the Son who is the agent through whom the Father works. Does anyone who what an agent is? (Not a secret agent). An agent is someone who acts on behalf of another. The Father works through his Son to accomplish his plan and the Son submits to the Father’s will.

Next, we come to the Holy Spirit, who is the means by whom the Father works. He, the Holy Spirit, submits to the Father and the Son.

So now we can see that within our God there is perfect unity and diversity; three persons, one being.

Why does this matter?

But you might ask “Why does it matter that God is triune? Does this change how we respond to God?” Well I’m glad you asked. This changes everything. God’s triune nature is woven into everything he does. Not only that, but without understanding the trinity, we can’t know God!

For example, just look at the teaching that “God is love”. How can that can’t be true unless God is triune. A non-triune god could only be love if he had something to love. Without creation, that kind of god would have no one to love. That kind of god is weak, lonely, and dependent on creation. Ultimately, in that kind of religion, man is at the center. But that’s not the God we serve.

When the Bible says “God is love”, it means that for all of eternity, the Father, Son, and Spirit have been outdoing each other in displaying selfless love towards the others. Like three spotlights lights pointed toward each other, the Father Son and Spirit are always seeking to give glory to the others.

The implications of this are huge! This means we worship a God who has never been bored, lonely, or in need; who has always been happy, satisfied in the fellowship of the trinity.

This God is beyond human comprehension. This God is unlike anything we could imagine. There is no one like him. This is the anthem of the whole Bible! Isaiah says “[8] For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”

In 1 Samuel, Hannah says “[2] “There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.” And in Revelation, the angels cry out night and day: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

There is no one like our God! The more we know him, the more our hearts will worship in awe and wonder.

The trinity in salvation

So far, we have answered the question “What is the trinity”. Now let’s see how each person of the trinity is involved in salvation.

To sum it up, the Father plans salvation, the Son accomplishes salvation, and the Spirit applies salvation.

The Father plans salvation

When I say the Father plans salvation, I mean that it has always been his plan. The Gospel is not his backup plan; its not plan B.

From creation, we were made in God’s image for the purpose of having a relationship with him. Since then, each of us has rejected God through our sin. Just like Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, we have disqualified ourselves from living in God’s presence. We were created to love God, but we have chosen to love anything and everything else but God. We were designed for friendship with God, but we have made ourselves his enemies. If we stop there, the story is terrifying. By our sin, each of us is guilty in God’s eyes and is therefore deserving of his wrath.

But God was not surprised by mankind’s rebellion. His plans were not ruined. In fact, the Father has always planned on displaying of his grace and justice through our sin. Like a photographer who sets up a backdrop to create contrast in a photo, it was the Father’s plan to use the backdrop of a sinful and broken world to make known his power, justice, love, mercy, and wrath. In the Father’s wisdom, he has planned a way for us to be reconciled back to him. Notice that we aren’t the center of his plan, God is.

John 3:16 says “For God (meaning the Father) so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

You can be sure that the Father loves you, but not because of who you are or what you’ve done, but for his own glory. If you have turned from your sins and trusted in Jesus, then this should be a huge weight taken off of your shoulders. This means that the Father’s love for you doesn’t change based on how you’re feeling and it doesn’t waver when you feel like you’re not making progress in fighting sin. The Father has proved his love for you by sending his Son to live and die for you and he has given you his Spirit as a promise of your future inheritance.

Salvation is the Father’s plan.

The Son accomplishes salvation

Next, the Son accomplishes salvation. When I say that Jesus accomplished salvation, I mean that he did all the work. Jesus lived the perfect live that we could never live and he died the death that we deserve. He rose again, victorious over sin, satan, and death. Now, he commands everyone everywhere to turn from their sin and trust in him. When we do that, there’s a great exchange that happens. All that Jesus accomplished becomes yours and all that you deserve gets put on his shoulders. Literally, his life becomes your life, his death becomes your death, his resurrection becomes your resurrection, and his victory becomes your victory, all because he did the work.

This means everything in the Christian life is a response to what we’ve already been given. We don’t give away our time and money to the Father to get his favor. We give him our very lives because we already have his favor by faith in Jesus. We don’t try to clean ourselves up before going to the Father. Instead, we go to him to make us clean.

Before we move on, I want to pause and ask you where is your confidence. What are you trusting in? Are you still trying to earn God’s love? Are you exhausted trying to be good enough? I can promise you that that path will only lead to despair. The truth is you and I will never be good enough. But Jesus is enough. Jesus says “my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. He’s already done the hard work. All he asks is that you follow him. Today, would you stop working and start trusting in what Jesus has already accomplished.

The Spirit applies salvation

The Father planned salvation and the Son accomplished salvation. Finally, the Holy Spirit applies salvation. He does this in two ways.

The first way is through regeneration. Regeneration is when the Spirit of God softens someone’s heart to hear and believe the Gospel. This is also called being born again.

In my own life, there was a season where I began to feel convicted of the things that I was doing. During my senior year in high school and into my freshman year at college I was trying to find life in sin. I turned to impurity in my dating relationship, drinking to get drunk, and vaping. In all these things, I thought they would give me some sort of satisfaction. At first, my conscience told me that things I was doing were wrong, but after a while I learned to to numb myself so that I didn’t have to feel guilt or shame. Eventually, I became so overwhelmed by a sense of guilt over my sin that I realized that I didn’t have a relationship with God. I had called myself a Christian my whole life, but I hadn’t really given up my sin or submitted to Jesus. I was still lord of my life, not Jesus. Looking back on that season, I can see that it was the Holy Spirit who softened my heart so that I would know my guilt before God. It was through this process that the Holy Spirit brought me to repentance and gave me faith.

Think about your own story. Can you think of the time when you were saved? It may be a season instead of a specific hour. I think one of the best questions you can ask yourself is this: Have I given my life to Jesus? Does my life look any different?

Tonight, if you hear the Holy Spirit’s voice, don’t ignore him. If he is calling you to confess your sin to God and to trust in Jesus, do it! Don’t wait until tomorrow to repent. The Spirit convicts us for our good. He wants you to experience the joy of his salvation. There is nothing better than to know God and to free from the slavery of sin.

Some of you may be wondering “what does the Spirit do once I become a believer”. Once we are born again, the Spirit begins the process of making us look more like Jesus. This is sanctification. The evidence of this is changing desires and freedom from the power of sin.

Shortly after trusting in Jesus, I noticed that my desires changed. I began to hate the sin I once loved and to love things I once hated. When I would slip back into old patterns of sin, the Spirit would lovingly make me aware of my guilt and lead me to the cross for forgiveness and fresh grace.

Is anyone a fan of Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines? Well, if you’re not into the show, here’s the premise. Someone buys a run-down house. Then Chip and Joanna move in and renovate the house from top to bottom. All the old carpet, drywall, and weird furniture is replaced. By the end of the process, you can’t even tell that it is the same house!

Well, sanctification is a lot like home remodelling. When you trust in Jesus, he will give you his Spirit. From the moment you repent and believe, the Holy Spirit moves into your run-down heart. He sets up shop and begins the lifelong process of renovation. One by one, the old sins are tossed out and replaced by godly desires. He sets you on the firm foundation of God’s word. He tears down the lifeless idols that you’ve built and replaces them with thankfulness that overflows into worship.

The Holy Spirit takes what Jesus accomplished and applies it to our lives through regeneration and sanctification.

If we take a step back, it is beautiful how the Father Son and Spirit are intimately involved in the work of salvation. The Father planned salvation, the Son accomplished salvation, and the Spirit applies salvation. Behold the wisdom of God. At every step, he is the author and perfecter of salvation. In his wisdom, he is working all things for his glory. There is no one like our God.