Bible Society of South Africa

Trinity – 9 September 2020

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

The Baptism of Jesus

21After all the people had been baptized, Jesus also was baptized. While he was praying, heaven was opened, 22and the Holy Spirit came down upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my own dear Son. I am pleased with you.”

Luke 3:21-22GNBOpen in Bible reader

The three great religions with their roots in the Old Testament are the Christian faith, Islam and Judaism. Although Islam recognises Jesus as an important prophet, it rejects the idea of Jesus being the Son of God. Even their greatest prophet, Muhammad, is not seen as the son of Allah. There is nothing about the idea of a Holy Spirit in their teachings. Orthodox Judaism does not recognise Jesus and still awaits the Messiah. Although the Spirit is mentioned in the Old Testament, he is not seen as we see Him. Islam and Judaism find Christianity’s belief in the Trinity incomprehensible and unacceptable.

To us, as Christians, belief in the Trinitarian God is fundamental to our faith, but to explain the concept is one of the most difficult of all theological questions. The very word “Trinity” is nowhere to be found in the Bible and it was only in the third century after Christ that the patriarch, Tertullian, coined it.

The concept of the Trinity is however found in many places in the Bible, chiefly in the New Testament. You can look it up in the following texts: Matthew 28:19, Luke 1:35, John 14:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 12: 4-5. In what is known as the Belgic Confession, we find the following in part eight: “The Father was never without the Son, nor without the Holy Spirit, since all these are equal from eternity in one and the same essence. There is neither a first nor a last, for all three are one in truth and power, in goodness and mercy.”

I clearly remember when we, as teenagers, were studying the Bible in preparation to become members of our church. We peppered our minister with questions about many things and especially the concept of the Trinity. He was a wonderful person and good theologian, but I never really could grasp the concept of the Trinity as he explained it. I still find it difficult to understand. By the grace of God, I eventually realised that it was not something that I had to understand through reason. All that was needed, was that I had to believe in the Trinity with all my heart as He revealed Him to me in His Word.

In the next few weeks, we will look at how God meets us as Father, as Son and as Holy Spirit.

Prayer: I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for revealing yourself to me as Father, as Son, and as Holy Spirit to guide me through all aspects of life. Amen

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