FATHER + SON + SPIRIT
The Trinity (Triune God) is one divine Being in three eternal, co-essential, yet distinct Persons— God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God is one in being and three in Persons. God is the eternal communion of holy love shared by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are equally eternal and divine and share the same mind, authority, power, will, and purpose in all things. Though we cannot know exactly how God’s being functions, we can say that, unlike human persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are related to each other in such an absolutely unique and profound way that they are one in being. The oneness of God’s being is a tri-unity. The Father eternally begets the Son, the Son is eternally begotten by the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father. Though the acts of the divine Persons are undivided, each contributes uniquely to the perfectly united works of the one triune God. We could say that one of the Persons initiates a gracious act towards, while the others perfectly follow in complete harmony with each other. The triune God who is living and loving created us for the sake of communion and holy love with his creation. From the beginning, God’s human creatures, in distrusting God, have alienated themselves from His communal essence and sought to live autonomously from their good, faithful and life-giving Creator. But because the triune God is faithful and loving, God himself made a way for them to be reconciled to him and thus return to the fullness of communion with him as their Lord and Savior. The Bible records Jesus’ teaching concerning the eternal names of the divine Persons of the Trinity and the relationships in the eternal being of God—most specifically knowing, loving and glorifying one another. Coming from the eternal communion of the Trinity, Jesus is the only one who can tell us surely and authoritatively that God, from eternity, is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Only the Father knows the Son, and only the Son knows the Father and those to whom the Son has chosen to reveal him.
GOD THE FATHER
God the Father is the first Person of the Trinity, of whom the Son is eternally begotten and from whom the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds. Our Lord Jesus called God his eternal Father and identified himself as his only eternal Son. Thus, the Father is, first of all, the Father of the Son. The bible teaches us that before creation the Father was loving the son.The Son taught his disciples to address God as Father in prayer. The apostle Paul teaches that God adopts believers as his children, sending the Spirit of the Son into their hearts so they cry out, “Abba, Father.” As adopted children in the Son, we may address the Father as Jesus does. In calling God “Father,” we acknowledge that God exists in personal relationship and that we were created by God for a personal relationship with him.Calling God Father does not insinuate that God is male. God has no body, since by nature God is Spirit. The Holy Scriptures reveal God as a living God beyond all sexual distinctions. Scripture uses diverse images for God, female as well as male. God the Father is “Almighty” as the God who is love—a holy love that is powerful beyond measure. God is omnipotent—he can do anything he wants to do. We understand the love and power of God most clearly through Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ life of compassion, his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead, we see how vast God's love for the world is a love that is ready to suffer for our sakes, yet so strong that nothing will prevail against it. God called heaven and earth into being out of nothing by the power of his Word. By that same power, all things are upheld and governed in perfect goodness, righteousness and wisdom, according to God's eternal purpose.
The Son of God is the second Person of the Trinity, eternally begotten of the Father. Like the Father, there never was a time when the Son did not exist. The Son is the eternal Word and the express image of the Father. The Father created all things through the Son, and the Son sustains all things by his Word. He was sent by the Father to be God revealed in the flesh for our salvation, Jesus Christ. No one else will ever be God incarnate. No one else can reconcile God and humanity in his own Person. No one else can make us true sons and daughters of God except the Son of God. No one else will ever die for the sins of the world, judge all sin, and overcome all evil and the death it brings. Only Jesus Christ is such a Person and the only true mediator between God and humanity. Being born of a woman, Jesus was truly a human being and His incarnation was a supernatural, holy event, brought about solely by the Holy Spirit, surpassing any human possibilities. His unique origin joined his divine nature with human nature in the womb of Mary, all to accomplish our salvation. As true God, Jesus is the proper object of our worship as God and the Savior of the world. Being truly human, Jesus entered fully into our fallen situation and overcame it from within. By his pure obedience of faith in his Father, he lived in unbroken unity with God, even to the point of accepting a violent death. The mystery of Jesus Christ's divine-human unity surpasses our understanding; only faith given to us by the Holy Spirit enables us to affirm it. When the Bible depicts Jesus as someone with divine power, status and authority, it presupposes his humanity. When the Bible depicts Jesus as someone with human weakness, neediness and mortality, it presuppose his deity. Though we cannot understand how this could be, we can trust that the God who made heaven and earth and fashioned humanity according to his image revealed in his Son, is free to become God incarnate and thus to be God with us in this wonderful, awe-inspiring way.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity, eternally proceeding from the Father through the Son. The Holy Spirit is the comforter promised by Jesus Christ, who unites us with the Father and the Son, and transforms us into the image of Christ. The Holy Spirit has the attributes of God, is equated with God and does work that only God does. The Holy Spirit is eternal, is everywhere present, and knows everything. When the Holy Spirit does something, God is doing it. When the Holy Spirit speaks, God is speaking. The Spirit always has something to do with the Father and Son. So, when speaking of the Father or the Son we do not exclude the Spirit, because the Spirit’s the Spirit of the Father and the Son. Jesus’ whole life was lived in intimate communion with the Holy Spirit. He was conceived by the Spirit in the womb of Mary, baptized with the Spirit, and on the cross fulfilled his sacrificial ministry to the Father in the Spirit. Jesus now ministers in the world by sending the Spirit who ministers in accordance with the finished work of Christ. The Holy Spirit was at work at creation and in the history of the world. The Spirit’s ongoing ministry will eventually bring all creation to full maturity, harmony and perfection. He is the Lord and the giver of life. Apart from the Spirit, our Lord Jesus Christ can neither be known, loved or served. The Holy Spirit is the personal bond by which Jesus Christ unites us to himself. He is the teacher who opens our hearts to Christ, and the comforter who leads us to repentance. He is the liberator who frees our enslaved wills, empowering us to live joyfully and freely in Christ's service. By the working of the Spirit, our love, knowledge and service of Christ are inseparably related. We receive the Spirit by receiving the Word of God. As the midwife of the new creation, the Spirit arrives with the Word, frees us to hear, accept and trust in it as the Word of God, brings us to rebirth and assures us of eternal life. The Spirit nurtures, corrects and strengthens us with the pure spiritual milk of the Word. By the Spirit, we are conformed to the character of Christ, growing in faith, hope and love in personal and responsive relationship with the Father through the Spirit.