15 May 2021
To suggest that the Trinity is an irrational doctrine is to be guilty of making man and his reason the measure of all things. It falsely assumes that God is like a man, so that whenever we speak or think about Him, we are simply attributing to Him larger versions of what is true of ourselves. The truth is that we are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. We move from man to God when we ought to, and must begin with God. We must recognise and acknowledge the distinction between the Creator and the creature, between the Infinite and the finite. In fact, we are the miniatures; in us, created finite people, are embedded microcosmic reflections of realities that are true of God Himself in a macrocosmic, uncreated, infinite way (Genesis 1:26-27).
What is beyond human reason is not necessarily contradictory to true and ultimate reason. The finite mind cannot comprehend Infinite Mind.There are places in our quest for understanding where we reach the limits of the human mind. The finite does not have the capacity fully to grasp and understand the infinite. Our approach then has to be the approach of faith – this would lead us to bow down, ‘lost in wonder, love and praise,’ because we have come to the horizon of human understanding and can only gaze in awe at the God who is so infinitely great and glorious – and who loves and cares for us! (Isaiah 55:8-9)
The doctrine of the Trinity means that each person of the Godhead expresses His specific personhood both internally (in relation to the other persons) and externally (in relation to the cosmos and especially mankind). Our experience of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is shaped by the specific role that each plays in relationship to our lives and especially to our salvation.
This simple truth can be simply illustrated by the confusion of speech we sometimes hear when listening to someone else pray. Either by accident, or sometimes ignorance, a person will address God as “Our Father” in prayer and thank Him for all He has done. But then, perhaps losing the thread of what he is praying, he then thanks the Father for, among other things, “dying on the cross for us.”
The Father did not suffer and die for us on the cross. It was His Son, Jesus Christ, who did that. While it is certainly appropriate to praise the Father for sending His Son to die for us, a moment’s reflection will confirm that the Father HImself did not die. Reflect on some of the practical implications of what has been said: For if neither the Father nor the Spirit died for us on the cross, that means it is only the Son we praise for making such a sacrifice. We have unique reasons for thanking Him (in distinction from the Father and the Spirit), which means there is a unique element to our fellowship or communion with Him. Yet, at the same time, this also suggests that there are also unique elements in our communion with the Father (“Father, thank you for sending your own Son for me”) and with the Holy Spirit (“Holy Spirit, thank you for being with and sustaining the Lord Jesus when He died for me on the cross”).
The God of the Bible is the living God – living in Himself, loving within His three persons, expressing all His attributes in the dynamic interplay of Father with Son, Son with Spirit, Spirit with Father, Father and Son with Spirit, Spirit and Son with Father, Father and Spirit with Son.
The nearest we get to experiencing this is in the discovery of a friendship or love in which we seem both to lose and find ourselves in the apparently unending fascination and satisfaction of knowing and being known, loving and being loved, by another person. Time itself seems either to stand still or to become like an unending stream; being seems far more significant than doing, being together becomes an all-absorbing, all-consuming, all-demanding delight. Deep down at the foundation of knowing God and living and enjoying the Christian life, lay the experience of these basic truths.
What is clear is that unending supreme love, joy and enjoyment reside in the relationship within the three persons of the Godhead; in that sense, God is sufficient in Himself and does not require anyone else to fulfil this beautiful harmony within the Trinity. Yet God loves us and does not want to lose us to damnation; the triune God went to the greatest extent and limits to bring us back to Himself and to invite us into this wondrous fellowship within the Trinity which rightly only belongs to the three persons of the Godhead. To bring this to fruition, God not only has to justify us justly and righteously; He also sanctifies us and glorifies us in Christ. Our ‘struggles’ on earth and our ‘battles’ on earth are part and parcel of the outworking of this wondrous plan of salvation. Praise be unto God!