Do you know what the Trinity is? Rather I should ask – Who is the Trinity?
In short, for the Christian, the Trinity is ‘God’. ‘Trinity’ is a theological term (not found in the Bible) that is used by the Christian Church to describe the relationship between ‘the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’ – that is the relationship between God our loving Father in heaven, the Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of God.
The Trinity is the three persons that our one God is comprised of – and yet we affirm that God, as one God, is indeed still one person too.
We say, “God is one person in three but also three persons in one”.
Such a statement however makes no logical sense! As illogical and nonsense such a statement is – to quote the leading Oxford Theologian, Alister McGrath, however:
The Christian church [has] come to regard such a counter-intuitive notion as the Trinity as fundamental to its vision of God. (Introduction to Christian Theology)
Although not 100% fool proof, we do have some everyday examples that can help us to understand the Trinity however…
God is like a triangle, God is like Aquafresh toothpaste – the toothpaste with three stripes (!), God is like ‘H2O’ – think about ice, water and steam.
One particularly helpful example I’ve come across before now, is to describe the Trinity like an apple…
An apple has three parts to it – there is the peel, the flesh and the core – and all these parts of an apple are all apple – and what is more if you take away one of the three parts then you will no longer have a complete apple!
The three parts of the apple can help us to understand how the Trinity works together… because each part of an apple has a different role…
Similar to how the peel of an apple holds an apple together, in God the Father we find our Creator and protector, the one who made us, loves and protects us and holds us together…
Similar to how the flesh of the apple good to eat, in God the Son we have our Saviour… the one who gave up his own body or his own flesh and blood for us on the cross, who died for us so that by our faith and trust in Him we can know our own sins forgiven.
Similar to how an apple has a core or a seed, in God the Holy Spirit we have a spiritual strength and a spiritual helper. We trust Jesus Christ to forgive us our sins, forgive us the wrong things that we have done, and as we do this we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who – like a seed – plants himself inside us and makes us aware of God’s presence: Of how God is with us and here to help each of us, here to guide us, lead us and equip us to live a good, happy and content, and pleasing life.
The Trinity too, God, as three in one, and one in three, can help us to understand too how God is not a remote God but a relational God whom we can know for ourselves too.
As we focus on God our Father in heaven, we realise that God is divine. As we focus on God the Son come down to earth, we realise God is human. As we focus on God the Holy Spirit, we see how the Trinity working together brings the divine and human together, both within God himself and in God coming to us and us to coming to God.
The Father sent Jesus into the world at Christmas so we can know God as our Father. Jesus gave up his life on the cross and rose again at Easter so we can know God as our Saviour. The Father and Jesus sent the Holy Spirit into the world at Pentecost to help us to live the good life that God calls us to live.
Ultimately, to quote Tim Chester in his book, ‘Delighting in the Trinity’ (a very good read): “The Trinity is good news because the Trinity means we can know God for ourselves.” Take away one part of the Trinity from the Godhead and we no longer have God, take away one part of the Trinity from the Godhead and we can no longer know God in the relational way God wants us to know him.
In Christ, Adam
Rev Adam Pawley