A knowledge of “god” is common to all people. The knowledge of the only true God is not. Christians describe God as Triune (three-in-one) in order to confess the only living God in contrast to endless guesswork by fallen man’s reason.
Since the Fall into sin natural man can know God only by what can be observed in creation. Human reason will acknowledge a “god” who rewards the good, punishes the evil, protects when called on, and generally acts just like . . . man!
Everyone wants “god” to be on his side. Search the history of man for a description of a common “god” and we can expect to find as many differences among the “gods” as there are among people.
This is what happens when the creature attempts to describe the Creator God. Surrounded by pagan beliefs in a generic “god,” we face the same need of divine revelation as when Paul wrote about human corruption: “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man– . . . who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator . . .” (Rom. 1:22,23,25).
We humbly turn to the holy Word of God to know the only true God. The Lord used language we might understand by faith. The terms triune and trinity do not appear in the Bible. But the Holy Scriptures reveal this truth about God.
God’s Word clearly teaches there is only one true and living God. “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deut. 6:4) “There is no other God but one” (1 Cor. 8:4).
God’s Word also reveals God is three persons in one Being, each co-equal and co-eternal. The Lord Jesus Christ commissioned His followers to baptize and to teach in the name of the Triune God when he said: ” . . . baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Mt. 28:19-20).
The Trinity is beyond human logic. Although much may be said about God as Triune, in the end this mystery can be held and confessed by faith alone.
Christians Confess The Triune God
Jesus taught how serious this confession is when He said, “That all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (Jn. 5:23).
It is not enough for anyone to say he believes in a “god.” There must also be a confession of the only true–Triune–God. The 1932 Brief Statement simply declares that all who “deny the doctrine of the Holy Trinity are outside the pale of the Christian Church.”
All Christians confess the Apostolic (p. 12, The Lutheran Hymnal), the Nicene (p. 22, TLH), and the Athanasian (p. 53, TLH) Creeds. The Athanasian Creed says in part: “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic (that is, universal, Christian) faith. Which faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity . . . . “
Some may accuse those who cling to such a confession as relying on an outdated document. Others might suggest that such a confession is archaic and no longer to be held by modern man. Reducing God to the size of man’s understanding has resulted in views that God does not punish, or that all people will eventually get to some sort of a “heaven” regardless of what is believed.
May the only true God–God the Father who created us, God the Son who redeemed us, and God the Holy Spirit who sanctified us–protect us from any denial of the Triune God. Let us heed the warnings of God’s Word in an age which rejects faith and obedience to God.
To the glory of God may we receive the blessing of our Lord when He prayed: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn. 17:3).
–Pastor Rick Grams