The Triunity of God

“We believe in one God, eternally existing in three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who know, love, and glorify one another.  This one true and living God is infinitely perfect both in his love and in his holiness.”

The first article of our confession is about who God is.  Here we confess that we believe in one God.  Put simply, we are monotheists.  As Christians, we believe that the biblical God is the only true and living God; all other gods, including those of other religions, are nothing more than false gods, idols that humans have created and in whom they place their trust and find their satisfaction.  While holding to monotheism today might be countercultural or even offensive to some, it is nevertheless the historic confession of the Christian church as well as the unequivocal teaching of Scripture: “Before me was no god formed, nor shall there be any after me.  I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:10-11). 

The next part of our confession is also the most fundamental difference between the Christian faith and all false religions: we confess that God exists eternally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  In the simplest possible terms, we confess that God is one in being and three in person.  Because we are monotheists, we believe that there is only one being who is called God.  And yet God Himself reveals to us in the Bible that He is three in person: the Father is identified as God (cf. Hebrews 1:1-3), the Son is identified as God (cf. John 1:1-3), and the Holy Spirit is identified as God (cf. Acts 5:3-4).  These three divine persons are not only united in purpose (cf. Ephesians 1:3-14) but they are united in being (cf. Matthew 28:18-20).

If this doctrine seems difficult or confusing, rest assured that you are in good company.  One of the things that Christians have said throughout history is that God is incomprehensible.  Psalm 145:3 says, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable.”  Notice that the text does not say that God’s greatness is unsearched, as if it were something that we could find out but just haven’t yet; the text says that God’s greatness is unsearchable, as in we literally cannot even search for it because it is so far beyond us.  We cannot fully wrap our minds around the greatness of God, though we can know Him truly.  So in His Trinity we can know Him truly, even if in His Trinity we cannot comprehend Him fully. 

We also confess that God is infinitely perfect in His love.  Not only is God loving, but He is love (cf. 1 John 4:8).  There is no defect in Him, and He continually gives Himself to others.  There has existed an eternal love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  One of the things that this means is that God did not need to create human beings in order to love, for He was perfectly and eternally loving in the Trinity.  When God creates human beings and communicates His love to them, He does not do so out of a need, but out of the overflow of who He is: infinitely and eternally perfect in love.

Finally, we confess that God is infinitely perfect in His holiness.  When the prophet Isaiah encountered God, he witnessed the utter perfection and “separateness” of God.  “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts,” cried the seraphim (Isaiah 6:3), and Isaiah was immediately stricken: “Woe is me!” (Isaiah 6:5).  The sheer greatness of the majesty and perfection of God was enough to send the holiest man of Israel to his knees.  How much more, then, should this same majesty and perfection send us to our knees?  We can barely stare at the sun without burning our eyes, and that is but the faintest of lights compared to the infinite brightness of the holiness and perfection of our God. 

So perfect is His holiness that He is entirely different than creation.  God is not merely a bigger, better version of something in creation.  Rather, God is of a completely different kind of being.  Indeed, with the universal church we confess that God is “the perfect, highest, and most excellent being . . . a boundless ocean of being.”[1]  Here again we run into God’s incomprehensibility.  We literally cannot get it into our minds how completely other God is compared to everything else in creation.  And this is a good thing, for if we could fully wrap our minds around Him then He would not be worthy of all adoration or worship.  But since He is incomprehensible to us, since He is so perfect in His oneness of being, “threeness” of person, greatness of love, and supremacy of holiness, He is worthy of “whatsoever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of us.”[2]  Therefore, let us worship, serve, and obey Him with reverence and joy!


[1] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 2:151. 

[2] Westminster Confession of Faith, 2.2

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