Dive2023-0504 – The Triune God



Welcome to We Believe — a resource that assists adults and older teens in studying the core beliefs of our Christian faith.   We Believe is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and expressive of GCI’s statement of beliefs and incarnational Trinitarian theology.  We Believe draws on similar documents from other Christian denominations and utilizes key statements from the historic Nicene Creed (referred to in We Believe as “the Creed”).  Here is the text of the Creed, adapted from the translation in The Book of Common Prayer (1979):  

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one Being with the Father.  Through him all things were made.  For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.  For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy, all-embracing and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Following the trinitarian structure of the Creed, We Believe begins by addressing the triune God, answering the question, Who is the God Christians worship?   That section is then followed by ones addressing each of the three Persons of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit).    

We Believe is a teaching tool designed to be used by pastors, Sunday school teachers, youth ministers, parents and others in instructing adults and older teens in the core beliefs of the historic, orthodox Christian faith.  It utilizes a Q&A format to encourage dialogue among participants in baptism and confirmation classes, classes for new believers and new members, Sunday school and discipleship classes, small groups, workshops for preachers and teachers, and instruction within families.



THE TRIUNE GOD – What the Bible Says



  1. The doctrine of The Triune God is one of the most (if not the most) misunderstood doctrines in the Church.
  2. That is bad … because It is, I believe, the most important doctrine in the Church.
  3. Why is the doctrine of the Triune God SO important?
  4. Let Joseph Tkach explain …

Learning more about the nature of God has dominated my Bible study for the last decade. I find it to be more and more fascinating. Having the correct perspective of who God is cannot be overestimated. Viewing his sovereignty over eternity and the nature of his being orders all of our doctrinal understandings.

I love the following quote from Charles Had­don Spurgeon, England’s best-known preacher for most of the second half of the 19th century:

The highest science, the loftiest spec­ulation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity.

I am sometimes asked, “What’s so special about Trinitarian theology—don’t most orthodox churches believe in the Trinity?” Yes, they do. Belief in the Trinity is considered the hallmark of authentic Christian doctrine. It was our acceptance of the Trinity that brought our denomination “in out of the cold,” allowing us to break free from being considered a cult.

As I studied what various churches believe about the Trinity, I observed that while most consent to the doctrine, it does not have a central role in their faith. Many consider the Trinity to be an abstract idea, of interest to theologians but not of much use to the rest of us. This is sad because when the Trinity is not at the center, shaping all other doctrines, strange ideas and distortions arise. For example, those who proclaim a health/wealth/prosperity gospel tend to view God as a divine “vending machine.” Others tend to view God as a mechanistic version of fate who has determined everything from before creation—including who will be saved and who will be damned. I find it hard to accept a God who creates billions of people just for the purpose of condemning and damning them for eternity!

Trinitarian theology puts the Trinity at the center of all doctrinal understanding, influencing everything we believe and understand about God. As theologian Catherine LaCugna wrote in her book God for Us:

The doctrine of the Trinity is, ulti­mately…a teaching not about the abstract nature of God, nor about God in isolation from everything other than God, but a teaching about God’s life with us and our life with each other. Trinitarian theology could be described as par excellence a theology of relationship, which explores the mysteries of love, relationship, personhood and communion within the framework of God’s self-revelation in the person of Christ and the activity of the Spirit. [Note: While I appreciate much of what is in this book, I don’t agree with all of it.]

We know of this triune life of God from Jesus, who is God’s self-revelation in person. It should be our rule that anything we say about the Trinity must come from Jesus’ life, teaching, death, resurrection, ascension and promised return.

Read the entire article here at ... What's So Special About Trinitarian Theology? - Grace Communion International (gci.org)


Q & R – Food For Thought

According to the doctrine of the Trinity, which of the following statements is TRUE?

  1. The Trinity is one God.
  2. The Trinity is three Gods.
  3. The Trinity is three Beings.
  4. The Trinity is three Persons.
  5. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are the same Person.
  6. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three separate persons.
  7. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three separate beings.



  • Mark 12:29   And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
  • Deuteronomy 6:4   Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:
  • Deuteronomy 4:35,39    Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him … Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.
  • Isaiah 45:21   Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me
  • Isaiah 46:9    Remember the former thing s of old: for am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me
  • 1 Corinthians 8:4-6   As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but oneFor though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.  



  • Genesis 1:26   And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
    • Who are the “us” and the “our” referring to? 
    • Genesis 1:1-3   In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.


Isaiah 48:16

Zechariah 12:10   How can an immaterial God be pierced?



  • God the Father … God the Son … God the Holy Spirit



  • John 1:1-2,14     In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was GodThe same was in the beginning with God . . .  14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
  • John 10:30 30 I and my Father are one.
  • John 10:31-33   Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? 33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
  • Hebrews 1:8  But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O Godis for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.



  • Genesis 1:2   And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
  • Psalm 33:6   By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.



  • John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
  • John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
  • Acts 5:1-4 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
  • Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.



  • John 14:9   Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?  he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
  • Hebrews 1:1-3  God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
  • John 10:30    I and my Father are one.
  • John 17:11   And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
  • John 17:21-22   that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:



  • Matthew 28:19   Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
  • Acts 20:28   Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
  • 2 Corinthians 13:14  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghostbe with you all. Amen.
  • 1 Peter 1:2    elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.




According to the doctrine of the Trinity, which of the following statements is TRUE?

  1. The Trinity is one God.
  2. The Trinity is three Gods.
  3. The Trinity is three Beings.
  4. The Trinity is three Persons.
  5. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are the same Person.
  6. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three separate persons.
  7. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three separate beings.



  1. IF the Trinity is so important … THEN why is “Trinity” not found in the Bible? … but concept is … just as omnipresent, omniscient is not in the Bible
  2. IF John 17:3 says that God is the only true God … THEN how can Jesus be God? Remember John 1:1
  3. IF John 14:28 says that the Father is greater than Jesus … THEN how can Jesus be God? … in some sense … in personal sense (in Personhood, NOT in Being) … NB: He doesn’t say God is greater than Me, but the Father (one Person)  … Cf. Philippians 2 … Christ did not consider equality with God something to be grasped B/C He was equal to God
  4. IF Jesus is God, THEN why did He pray to God?Did Jesus pray to Himself? … as a Person, NOT as a Being …
  5. IF God is the Father of Jesus, THEN How can Jesus be God … IF God is His Father? … B/C He is a different Person, even though NOT a different being.
  6. IF, according to Colossians 1:15, Jesus is the firstborn of the creation, THEN that implies He was created … so how can He be God IF He is a created being? cannot be God does not say He is created, but that He is the exact image … Firstborn is not about creation, but about position … Colossians 1:16 shows He is the uncreated Creator B/C He created all things
  7. Why didn’t Jesus just say He is God? … He did, which is why Jews tried to stone Him.



The Triune God

1.1 Who is the God Christians worship?

In accordance with the testimony of the Holy Scriptures, the God we worship is one divine Being in three eternal, co-essential, yet distinct Persons — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

(Mark 12:29; Matt. 28:19; Acts 20:28; 2 Cor. 13:14; Heb. 10:29; 1 Pet 1:2)

1.2 What does being triune tell us about God’s nature?  

That God is the eternal communion of holy love shared by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

(John 14:9; 1 John 4:8; Rom. 5:8; Titus 2:11; Heb. 1:2-3; 1 Pet. 1:2; Gal. 3:26)

1.3 Does that mean there are three Gods?  

No. The triune God is one God who exists eternally as three distinct Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The triune God is one in being and three in Persons.

1.4 How can God be both one in being and three in Persons?  

Though we cannot know exactly how God’s being functions since we are mere creatures, 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.


1.5  Are the three Persons of the Trinity three different ways God acts towards his creation, or three roles the one God plays?  

No, in the being of God there is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who know, love and glorify each other for all eternity. There never was a time when God was not triune.

1.6 Is one of the Persons of the Trinity the origin of the others, and thus superior?

No, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are equally eternal and divine and share the same authority and power, and have the same mind, will and purpose in all things.

1.7 Does the equality of the three divine Persons mean that they are interchangeable with each other?  

No, the divine Persons are not interchangeable “parts” of God. Each has a unique relationship of holy love to the other two, and each has an eternal name that reveals their real personal distinction.

1.8 What are the unique relationships in the being of the triune God that are not interchangeable?  

The Father eternally begets the Son, the Son is eternally begotten by the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and through the Son.

1.9 Do the three divine Persons act independently of each other towards creation?  

No, all the works of the triune God toward his creation are indivisible since God is one in being and of one mind, will, authority and holy love.

1.10 Is there no difference, then, in how the three divine Persons relate to creation?  

There is a difference, for though the acts of the divine Persons are undivided, each contributes uniquely to the perfectly united works of the one triune God.

1.11 How can we speak of the unique contributions of the three divine Persons without separating their works?

We could say that one of the Persons initiates, or takes the lead, in one or another of the distinct and gracious acts towards the triune God’s creation, while the others perfectly follow in complete harmony with each other.

1.12 What are the primary acts of the triune God towards creation?  

The Father is most associated with creation, the Son with redemption, and the Holy Spirit with bringing all things to perfection.  However, all three of the divine Persons are involved in all the works of the one triune God.

1.13 Why did the triune God create?

Because the triune God is a living, loving and generative God who creates for the sake of communion and holy love with his creation.

1.14 Why did the triune God redeem creation?  

From the beginning, God’s human creatures, in distrusting God, have alienated themselves and sought to live autonomously from their good, faithful and life-giving Creator.  But because the triune God is a faithful and loving God who does not give up on his creatures, God himself made a way for them to be reconciled to him and thus return to fullness of communion with him as their Lord and Savior.

1.15 Why does the triune God now work to perfect the creation? 

Because the triune God is a communion of perfect holy love who created us to share in the triune God’s love and life for all eternity and in that way give glory to God.

1.16 How can we finite creatures know, love and trust the triune God?  

The triune God has the desire, will and ability to make himself known to his human creatures who do not have the desire, the will, or the ability to know God on their own.  That revelation, which culminated in the Father’s personal self-revelation in Jesus Christ, has, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, been preserved for us in the Holy Scriptures.


1.17 What do the Holy Scriptures say about the triune God? 

The Bible records Jesus’ teaching concerning the eternal names of the divine Persons of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) 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.

(Luke 10:22; Matt. 11:27; John 1:18; 17:25; Matt.28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14)


1.18 What do Christians understand from the Holy Scriptures about the character of the triune God revealed by Jesus Christ? 

We learn that the character, mind, purpose, will and heart of the triune God is identical to what we see and hear in Jesus Christ, demonstrated by what he accomplished in his earthly ministry.  Those who have met and seen the Son have indeed met in him the Father. We know the Father by knowing the Son.  They are united in such a way that they have the same nature, character, heart, mind, will, authority, power and purpose.

(John 10:30; 14:9; 17:11, 21-22; 1 John 2:23)

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