Before reading this article about God the Father, sovaldi Son, and Spirit, (Trinity) and then doing the suggested Teachable Moment, please note that this may take two or even three sessions to carry out with your family. Take your time for this may be the most important article of the twenty-four listed in this section.
When I was young child, just beginning to understand the world around me, two of the continuous burning candles in my life were my grandparents, Mem and Pap, as I called them. I loved being around Mem and Pap because they were so loving to me. Never once did I question whether they would always be there for me; I just simply took it by faith they would. And they never disappointed me, not even when I entered the difficult adolescent years. They each played different roles in loving me; Pap was always the initiator and planner. For instance on a vacation, he always planned it out, paid for it, and drove the whole way. Mem on the other hand, made food, bought me new toys to take along, and constantly entertained me along the way. It’s been many years now since they passed away, yet I still think about them often. It is their oneness of spirit in loving me and each other which stands out the most.
In a parallel way, Mem and Pap are a picture of what I believe God the Father, Son, and Spirit are to those who put their trust in Him. Three aspects of God will be discussed, first the different roles the Father, Son, and Spirit played in saving mankind, second the love and respect shared between them, and lastly their oneness as the Trinity, being wholly God together, and wholly God in each of their persons.
There are different roles God the Father, Son, and Spirit played in loving and saving mankind. The Father’s role in the Trinity is more that like that of a planner, setting the agenda and designating responsibilities for the two others. According to Scripture it is He who sent both the Son and Spirit to earth to do what they did to win over mankind. In short, His role is very much like that of a good father today who loves and takes care of his family in the best possible way. This is perhaps one reason why the Bible calls Him God the Father throughout. (John 16: 28; John 17:18-19; John 5:26-27)
“ Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You’” “ ‘ even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.’” “This is eternal life that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.”
“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.”
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”
In the role of the Son, Jesus’ responsibility in winning over mankind was to teach them first who God was, what He looked like, and how they were to respond to Him. After that, His most important role was to give His life up on the cross so that all who repented and believed could be saved. (Luke 13:2-3; John 3:16)
“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.” “Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You;” “ for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.”
“And while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;” “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”
I Peter 2: 23-24
The Spirit’s role is to continually influence the thoughts, minds, hearts, and feelings of all believers who trust Him. In doing so, He empowers them to do what God puts on their minds to do. He reminds them of the truth they need to consider when making decisions. He convicts them of their sins, so they will abandon these bad habits and behaviors, for a life filled with doing what’s right. Unlike the Old Testament, everyone in the New Testament and beyond received the Spirit upon belief, and got a permanent measure of His presence. Those in the Old Testament had all they needed to grow in their faith, but a permanent gift of the Spirit’s presence they didn’t receive. There is likely more than one reason for this, but perhaps the most evident is that God simply expects more in reaching this world from the generations after Christ than before Him. So to help them a permanent gift of the Spirit was given. And as the old saying goes, he who is given much is expected to give much in return. (Luke 12:48; I Samuel 11:6; I Samuel 19:20; Psalm 51:10-11)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”
“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
I Corinthians 12: 7
Finally, the Spirit’s work today is very much like that of a loving mother, in that a lot of what He does is behind the scenes: building up, comforting, helping, and strengthening all who have put their trust in Christ. And like a mother who does all she can to teach her children how to do what’s right, and avoid what’s wrong, so does the Spirit in the life of every believer. He does this by continually convicting them of their own sins, comforting them when they are hurting, and empowering them to be right with God in everything. (I Peter 1:1-2; Romans 8:12-14; Ephesians 3:16; I Thessalonians 1:5)
“So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.”
Love and Respect between the Father, Son, and Spirit
The relationship between God the Father, Son, and Spirit is remarkable to say the least. All three love and respect each other beyond compare. Even though each is God, and all three are also God, they lead and serve each other without any measure of competition or rivalry. There has never even been the smallest hint in Scripture that either Jesus, or the Spirit desire to take over the leadership roll of the Father. Each is completely content to do what He does, even when that means humbly serving the other. And when it comes to receiving the glory for what they’ve done, without hesitation they hand it off to the other. (John 15:26; John 15:1; John 16: 13-14; John 17:24)
“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.”
“Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You.”
“Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened,” “and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.’”
Luke 3: 21-22
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”
II Corinthians 13:14
Lastly, the unity, togetherness, and love demonstrated by the Father, Son, and Spirit, should be an example how all believers should look when relating to those in their own family. If they did, then fathers, moms, and children alike in their family would experience the full measure of all that God has planned for them while on earth. And if all Christians were also to do the same with each other, then there would be far less friction and division in the church. What a message this would be to a world in desperate need of the Lord and all that He is.
“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;” “I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”
The Oneness of the Trinity
The Trinity is often the term used to describe God the Father, Son, and Spirit in the Bible. It is not a word used in the Bible, but it is still the best description of God. The actual definition means three in one, not three separate Gods working together, nor one God split up into three different parts.1 Each of the Trinity is wholly God, and the three together are also wholly God. There is nothing in this world like the Trinity, not anyone, nor any group. Therefore you and I will have to wait until we get to heaven to fully grasp God being three and one at the same time. But this doesn’t mean you can’t have a very good partial understanding of the Trinity, which can be easily explained and translated to your children. The Scriptures help with this because they present God as one and in three persons from Genesis to Revelation. Here are a few conclusions that come from some of the Scriptures. First of all the three persons of the Trinity are equal, none is greater than the other. It is only because of our sin nature that you and I try and put a value of one over the other because of their differing roles. For instance, the Spirit is no less greater than the Father because His work on earth is that of a helper, supporter, and comforter. Second, together the Trinity is one God, and has operated so from the very beginning when creating the world, the angelic realm and mankind. The Scriptures bear this out. (Genesis 11:7; Isaiah 6:8)
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. “Let us make man in our image, after Our likeness”
Genesis 1:1, 26
The third and last point is that even though they have different roles, the Trinity is not three parts of one God, for each is wholly God within Himself. If they were three different manifestations of one God, then they’d never have talked with each other as they did. Nor would one have been doing one ministry, while another something completely different at the same time. So God is one, yet in three persons, not one greater or more equal than the other
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. (John 1:3; Colossians 2:9; I Corinthians 8:6; I Peter 1:2; John 1:32-34; Matthew 26: 39)
“Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”
I Corinthians 8:6
“ There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;” “one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” “one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”
This Teachable Moment includes three activities, because one simply can’t cover all that God the Father, Son, and Spirit are. The first one is a candle that illustrates the different roles of the Father, Son, and Spirit. The second includes a family that demonstrates love and respect for each other while carrying out a mission of outreach. The third deals with what the Trinity is not and also what it is.
In this illustration, have your children set up an unlit candle somewhere in your home, perhaps a room that is dark. The darkness represents the world without God. Then ask your children to light the candle. While they are doing this, tell them about God in His three persons, who does different things to win mankind back to Him. When the light is lit, identify the candle as Christ who comes into the world to show clearly what God looks like and is like in every way. Tell your children, that the light of Christ will never fade for those who have believed in Him, it is like a candle that can never bur
Then ask your children to put their fingers near the candle, but not too close, you don’t want them to burn themselves. Tell them that the heat they feel is like the ministry of the Holy Spirit, in that they can’t see Him, but can always feel His presence. Compare the Father to the match that lit the candle, and the oxygen that allowed it to stay lit. His role in very much the same for He is the one amongst the Trinity who sets things in motion, and keeps them going from His position in heaven.
A loving family
In this illustration, sit down with your family and pick a project to do together that will help someone else, particularly a person in need. Perhaps this might be someone in your church that is very lonely, or without a family. Invite them over for dinner one evening, but as you prepare, give each in your family something to do to make this happen. Perhaps one can issue the invitation, while others can help prepare the food, setting the table, or cleaning up afterward. Other things can also be done like buying a gift or card for this guest or guests, giving kind and assuring words during the meal, and praying for them before and after they’ve left.
After you’re done, meet together and give respect and love to each in your family for what they did. Then compare this to the respect and love God the Father, Son, and Spirit continuously give each other. Remind your children, that just as the Trinity never put one of themselves and what they did over the other, neither should they with their brothers or sisters.
Use this illustration to explain what the Trinity is not, and then what it is. Take an apple and have your children cut it into three equal parts, if they are old enough to do so without cutting themselves. Tell them this is not a picture of who God is; He is not a God divided into three parts. Then cut another apple with each slice a little bigger than the other. Tell your children this is also not who God is either, for the Father, Son, and Spirit are equal in all ways. Finally take three apples, and put them side by side in a cellophane bag, and title the bag apple, not apples, but apple. Teach your children that this is most likely what God is, three whole apples by themselves side by side, in a bag titled apple, for God is both three and one at the same time.
John 16:28 “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.”
John 17:18-19 18 “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.”
John 5:26-27 26 “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.”
Luke 13:2-3 2“And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? 3 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.’”
John 3: 16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
Luke 12:48 but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.
I Samuel 11:6 “Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul mightily when he heard these words, and he became very angry.”
I Samuel 19: 20 “Then Saul sent messengers to take David, but when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing and presiding over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul; and they also prophesied.”
Psalm 51:10-11 10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.”
I Peter 1:1-2 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.”
Romans 8:12-14 12 “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
Ephesians 3: 16 “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”
I Thessalonians 1: 5 “for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”
John 15:26 “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.
John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
John 16: 13-14 13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.14 “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.
John 17: 24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
Genesis 11:7 “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”
Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I, Send me!”
John 1:3 1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.”
Colossians 2: 9 “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form…”
I Corinthians 8:6 “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things
and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist
I Peter 1: 2” according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.”
John 1:32-34 32 ‘John testified saying, ‘I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit. 34 I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.’”
Matthew 26: 39 “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.’”
1. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994),