The Doctrine of the Trinity: The Triune God in Action
- Summary: A classic definition of the holy trinity is: There is one God, eternally existing in three persons — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In reading the Bible, we come across many illuminating occasions where we see all three persons of the trinity in action.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
- •• Skeptics ask, "Where do you find the doctrine of the trinity in the bible?" Interestingly, the reply to this begins in the very first verse of the Bible, where we see a revelation of the plurality of persons in the one God.
- • The Hebrew word for “God” in this verse is “Elohim”, a plural noun. As we read on in the Scriptures, again and again we will see a sense of plurality of persons in the identity of the one God of the Bible.
- •• For those desiring a more theological treatment of the trinity, I invite you to read my study on The Holy Trinity Demystified.
Genesis 18:1-3 The Lord appeared to Abraham ...  Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.  He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by.
- •• This is a “theophany”, an appearance of God in a form discernible to humans. Notice who it was — “the Lord” — and how the Lord revealed Himself to Abraham — in the form of “three men”.
- • “The Lord” who appeared is the (anglicized) Hebrew word Jehovah (or Yahweh). Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines this Hebrew word as: “(the) self-Existent or Eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God”.
• Vs. 3 “...my lord” (KJV: “My Lord”) to whom the patriarch Abraham bowed down is the Hebrew word Adonay, the “proper name of God only” (Strong’s).
• The important point to make here is that God ... Jehovah ... Adonay ... appeared in the form of “three men”.
• The trinity in action! Three in One. One God appearing as “three men.” I find that living illustrations like this help me personally in understanding the trinity. We'll see more below.
Isaiah 61:1, KJV The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound...
- •• We see the full holy trinity in action in just the first nine words of the verse — “The Spirit of the Lord God is on me” ( the “me” is Jesus, revealed in Luke 4:16-18).
•• God the Father anoints Jesus the Son with the Holy Spirit, as also in Acts 10:38 — “...God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power...” Again, the triune (three-in-one) God is seen in action.
Matthew 28:18-19 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
- •• In the Great Commission we have Jesus’ baptismal command — to baptize in the name of the trinity.
Mark 1:9-11 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.  And a voice [God the Father’s] came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
- •• This is a dramatic revelation of the trinity in action at the water baptism, the Holy Spirit anointing, and the public revelation of Jesus Christ.
•• Picture the scenario — Jesus the Son of God, standing by the river ... the Holy Spirit descending on him in the form of a dove ... and the voice of God the Father from heaven giving audible recognition and blessing to His Son Jesus on earth.
•• Remember the classic definition of the holy trinity we gave at the beginning — There is one God, eternally existing in three persons — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Luke 1:35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
- •• Here again, the full trinity — God the Father (“the Most High”), the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit — are revealed in Jesus’ miraculous conception and incarnation.
John 14:16-17a And I [Jesus] will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever —  the Spirit of truth.
- •• In the wisdom of God, during this Church Age God the Son has returned to heaven, and His place with us on earth is taken by God the Holy Spirit. In response to the resurrected and ascended Son’s request, the Father has sent the Holy Spirit “to be with [us] forever”.
John 16:13-15 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears...  He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.
- •• Here we see a wonderful flow of God's truth, via the full trinity, to us. Jesus said that all that belongs to the Father is His (is Jesus'). He then says that the Holy Spirit will take that which he receives from Jesus and will make it known to us believers.
•• Father —> Jesus —> Holy Spirit —> Christian believers receive the truth.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are different kinds of service [KJV: administrations], but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working [KJV: operations], but the same God works all of them in all men.
- •• Note: “different kinds...but the same Spirit ... Lord ... God.”
- • It is the persons of the Triune God — the Holy Spirit, Son, and Father — working in unity and harmony, who give and coordinate the various spiritual gifts, ministries, and operations going on in the body of Christ.
2 Corinthians 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
- •• The apostle Paul closed his epistle with this trinitarian blessing.
•• The blessing reveals certain aspects of the three Persons — the grace of Jesus, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship (koinonia) of the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 2:18 For through him [Jesus] we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
- •• It is the Trinity in fullness that enables men and women to come to God.
- • “Through [Jesus] ... to the Father by [the] Spirit”. Triunity (three-in-oneness) in action, in prayer, in worship, in all areas of approaching God.
- •• When we pray, for example, our ultimate intention is to communicate with God the Father (Matthew 6:9). This is made possible by the access to Him purchased by Jesus’ redemptive death and resurrection. And the Holy Spirit dwelling within the believer actively facilitates the communion between us and the Father.
Titus 3:4-6 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.
- •• Our very salvation is an operation of the entire trinity — “God our Savior ... Jesus Christ our Savior ... rebirth...by the Holy Spirit”.
Revelation 1:4-5, KJV John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him [God the Father] which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits [Amplified: the sevenfold Spirit] which are before his throne;  And from Jesus Christ...
- •• Once more we see the triune God together — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit —
- • sending His word — here, the Revelation — to the churches.
• imparting grace and peace to the believers.
• making personal contact with the seven churches named here. God in His fullness — God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit — is fully, deeply, and lovingly involved with His people.
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©2002, 2015, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.