- Mysteries of the Trinity
Cracking the Trinity Code
Genesis 1:26-27; 3:22; 11:7; Deuteronomy 6:4;
Galatians 4:6; Matthew 28:19
One of the joys of a good mystery novel or movie is progressively getting to know the characters. We don't know if a character will turn out to be a hero or a villain. Therefore, as
the story progresses, we are motivated to look for clues. Progressively we see the personality of the characters disclosed, all the while enjoying the mystery and wanting to
In a similar way, the Bible progressively reveals God's character. Abraham knew more than Adam, but not as much as Moses. Peter knew more than Moses, as did John and Paul. By the end of the Bible, many great mysteries of God's personality and nature are revealed.
The Trinity is one of the high points of discovery about God.
Who could have known the complexity of God in the beginning? Did Adam contemplate a God who is three in one? Did Abraham meditate on the Holy Spirit coming to make His home inside each Christ-follower?
Some of the best stories - in the theatre and in literature - have a plot that takes an Intriguing turn and leads you to an unexpected destination.
1. Name a favorite movie or book that had a surprise twist in the story.
2. Describe a time in your life when you experienced an unexpected turn of events that led to better results than you anticipated.
In the world there are many illustrations and shadows of the Trinity. A father is a shadow of the Trinity because he is at once dad, husband, and son. Time is a Trinitarian shadow with past, present, and future. Space is defined by height, length, and width. In music there is melody, harmony, and rhythm. Water can be in liquid, solid, or vapor form. None of these are perfect analogies to God who is three persons, each fully God, while being only One. Nevertheless, it is likely that God who made the world put into it hints of His own nature and being.
Cracking the Code Clue #1:
The Trinity in Genesis
Remember the three defining truths for the concept of the Trinity: (1-) God is three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (2) Each is fully God. (3)There is only one God.
These truths are revealed and explained throughout Scripture. In the Book of Genesis, we catch our first glimpse of the Trinity through the description of creation.
Read Genesis 1:26; 3:22; and 11:7
2. Why is there an "us" in these verses? why is this significant?
Read Genesis 1:27
4. Why do you think this verse says "His own image" and not "Their own image"? Which part of the definition of the Trinity does this illustrate?
Cracking the Code Clue #2:
The Oneness of God in Deuteronomy
In the Book of Genesis, God gives us our first look at the three different persons in the Trinity. Then, in the Book of Deuteronomy, He affirms Their oneness.
Read Deuteronomy 6:4
This verse is recited three times a day by religious Jews in prayer and is called the Shema (shuh-mah). Jesus included it in His answer to the question, "What is the greatest commandment?" Mark 12:29 says, "'The most important one,' answered Jesus, 'is this: "Hear O lsrael, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.""'
Deuteronomy 6:4 is foundational to the Bible's progressive revelation of God's nature. In fact, this very verse literally changed the world. Before the Bible revealed God's oneness, virtually the whole world believed in many gods, a view called polytheism. Through Judaism
and then into Christianity and lslam, the concept of one God, monotheism, became the majority view of the world.
5. Have you encountered people or writings espousing polytheism? Describe your experience and anything you learned.
6. Why is it important to understand that the three persons of the Trinity are all one God?
Cracking the Code Clue #3:
Jesus Affirms the Trinity in the New Testament
The Trinity is not described just in the Old Testament. There is a unique affirmation directly from Jesus in the following verse. This is the only place in the Bible that so closely couples the words "Father," "Son," and "Holy Spirit." Galatians 4:6 comes close, saying, "God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father."'
Read Matthew 28:79
Matthew 28:79 comes to the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and teaching of His disciples. As He is leaving this world to sit at the Father's right hand, Jesus says more clearly than any other place that God is three in one.
Even prior to the events of Matthew 28:19, Jesus had hinted about the Trinity, so that by the time He ascended, the disciples understood what He meant. For example, numerous times Jesus said things like, "The living Father sent me and I live because of the Father" (John
6:57). He clearly honored the One He called "the Father." He also said in numerous places things like, "The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things" (John 14:26, also Luke 11:13, Luke 24:49, and others). Another amazing explanation Jesus gave was when He described the Father saying, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father."
7 . How does the Holy Spirit teach us?
8. Have you experienced baptism done in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? At the time, what did those three names mean to you, if anything? what do those names mean to You now?
Piecing Together God's Unfolding Mystery of the Trinity
In the progressive story of God, there are many clues to the Trinity; some have to be dug out' Even in Deuteronomy 6:4,the pivotal verse revealing God's oneness, there is a hint about the Trinity. The Hebrew word used for "one" in the statement, "The Lord is one," is the same word used in Genesis 2:24. In that verse, speaking of marriage, God says that a man will leave his father and mother to be with his wife and "they will become one flesh."
There is another Hebrew word God could have used that means "strictly one." The word He actually used in Deuteronomy 6:4, however, can refer to a unified oneness of several persons.
9. Why do you think God provided a progressive revelation of the Trinity, rather than revealing this truth immediately in Genesis?
10. How can you be more sensitive to clues about God's nature in the Bible and in the world He has created (not just concerning the Trinity but on any topic)? Be specific with ideas.
When we read the Bible there is both information and inspiration. Reading only for one or the other will cause us to miss opportunities to grow. The Trinity is a perfect example of the Bible's progressive revelation of the God-story.
With the Trinity in the Bible we find both inspiration and information. Sometimes the Bible inspires with statements about the love of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son, or the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Other times the Bible informs with statements about the oneness of God and hints of the multiple unity of God.
11. Which area of Bible reading do you seek out more: inspiration or information? Explain how you focus on one or the other.
Take time to pray specifically for each other in areas where you need deeper insight into the information and inspiration of the Bible concerning God's triune nature.