What We Believe — The Trinity

Our series on what we believe continues this month with a most basic tenet of the Christian faith: the doctrine of the Trinity — God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

If you worship at a liturgical style Christian church, and at some point during the worship most congregations will recite what’s called the Creed. Creed means “statement of belief,” what church members collectively believe. Our Creed consists of one article for each member of the Trinity: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit.

The concept of the Trinity states that there is one God in three persons, which sounds like a paradox. There are not three Gods, but one, each “person” of the Trinity co-equal in essence, co-equal in glory, co-equal in majesty. Each person of the Trinity has a different purpose, but no one person is separate from another, as all that God does works through the three persons.

To give clarity to this abstract theology, consider a business such as a car dealership. Its departments consist of sales, service, and finance; three departments with different functions, yet one business, one name. Now we apply this to the Trinity.

The first person, God the Father, is known as Creator, the one who designed and made all things. He is also the orchestrator of the plan for our salvation. The second person is God the Son, Jesus, known as our Redeemer, who, at a price paid by His death on a cross, bought us back from our sins and made us to be reconciled to God the Father. Jesus is our Savior, our intercessor, our advocate to speak to the Father on our behalf. His life blood paid our judgment price for sins, and through Him we have life eternal. The third person is God the Holy Spirit, known as our Sanctifier, He who makes us purified, cleansed from sin. When we think about God’s work, the evidence of that work, prayer answered or our conscience convicted, we see the Holy Spirit, He who proceeds from the Father and Son.

The Scriptural concept of Trinity comes from the Hebrew word “Elohim,” expressing not a plurality of gods but a plurality in one God. Our Athanasian Creed states, “We worship one God in trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being.” The doctrine of the Trinity is certainly beyond our logic and our comprehension, yet throughout Scripture, the Godhead is described as such.

To believe and worship a God beyond our comprehension is actually an exciting concept. Do we really want a God we understand, whose ways are not beyond our knowing, who has to lower Himself to being only what we can embrace and accept? To know God’s ways are above and beyond our ways tells us that He can handle the biggest problems in our lives, and He is truly in control, that He can see beyond our worries and wants to what we truly need in the big picture of our eternity.

And yet, God is still knowable. God the Son, Jesus, became man, God in the flesh, to show us the love of God for all people. God the Son took human flesh, and took our sins to the cross as a sacrifice for us. Our faith in Jesus tells us we are no longer condemned for our sin, but forgiven, able to have fellowship with the God we worship in Trinity. This is what we believe.

As the Lenten season begins, you can learn more about the doctrines of faith from our churches: St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fredonia (672-6731), Immanuel Lutheran Church in Gowanda (532-4342), and Trinity Lutheran Church in Silver Creek (934-2002).