GOD IS ONE IN BEING AND THREE IN PERSONS
A. First, there is only one God.
1. The Trinity is NOT the teaching that there are three gods.
a. Is. 43:10; 44:8
b. What is a Being? Being (or essence or substance) is what makes something what it is, and distinguishes it from everything else.
c. A human is a being: a human being. Angels are a certain kind of being different from humans. God is the only divine being. He alone possesses the being of God. No creature can share in the being of God. That being is spiritual, personal; transcendent and immanent.
2. We see the oneness of being in the oneness of name. The Trinity has only one name – shares the one name – in the baptismal formula.
a. Matt. 28:19, “baptizing in the name (not “names”) of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” All three Persons of the Trinity have the name of God.
b. The Father is called God, the Son is called God, the Spirit is called God; the Father is called Lord, the Son is called Lord, the Spirit is called Lord. Yet, there is only one God, only one Lord (Deut. 6:4).
B. Second, within the one Being of God are three Persons.
1. What is a Person?
a. A person is that which in an individual says, “I.” The person is the subject (the one doing) of all the activity of an individual. From the beginning of your life to the end and into eternity, you will have the same person. Much changes; your person does not. Also, a person is self-conscious and conscious of that which is outside of himself. Thus, human beings are also human persons. You say, “I.”
2. We are one being and one person, but God is one being and three persons. There are within the being of God three distinct individuals who say, “I;” Three who know themselves and know others; three active, living, willing, thinking individual Persons.
a. The Father knows Himself, and He knows the Son and the Spirit and He says, “I.”
b. The Son knows Himself and He knows the Father and the Spirit and He says, “I.”
c. The Spirit knows Himself and He knows the Son and the Father and He says, “I.”
3. But, remember, these are THREE distinct persons.
a. The Father is not the Son, nor the Spirit. The Son is not the Father, nor the Spirit. The Spirit is not the Father, nor the Son.
b. And yet, they can never be without one another or separated from one another.
c. This is contra Modalism: Modalism teaches that there is one Person in the Godhead who manifests Himself in different modes at different times. Sometimes, God is Father; sometimes, Son; sometimes, Spirit, but there is only One Person, not three.
4. How would you prove the Trinity from Scripture?
a. First, there is no verse that proves the Trinity by itself. Matt. 28:19 and II Cor. 13:14 come close.
b. Second, prove it along these lines: The Bible ascribes the names, attributes, worship and works of God to each of the three Persons.
All analogies fail. But we know why they fail: God is infinite; we are finite. The body/soul/spirit analogy, or father/son/husband analogies are heretical because they are modalistic.