“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
“I and the Father are one."
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
Throughout Scripture, we see that God is one and that He alone is to be worshiped and exalted. We see clearly that God does not allow the worship of other gods—it’s the first commandment! God inflicted His greatest punishments for idolatry. This is a serious matter to any faithful student of Scripture.
For this reason, Charles Octavius Boothe spoke with “more fear than usual” regarding the “God, who is one in substances and one in character, [and] exists in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”. We should likewise speak most reverently of matters which are the most difficult for us to grasp. Humility is a path we must follow closely.
Cautious Treatment of Scripture
On this side of the New Testament, it is easy to say that we see the Trinity throughout all of Scripture. Boothe is cautious not to use Scriptures that don’t provide definitive evidence of the Trinity. Rather, he runs straight to the clear New Testament passages which teach us that God is, in fact, three-in-one.
For example, Matthew 3:16-17 shows that when Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended on Him as a dove, and His Father spoke of being well pleased with His Son. Jesus also points to the triune nature of God when he calls His disciples to make disciples, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
These passages—and many more—forbid us from ever calling the Holy Spirit a “mere influence”. Furthermore, Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as a person rather than something impersonal (John 16:26). We also see Paul refer to the grace of Jesus, the love of the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14). Finally, it is through Jesus that we have access to the Father, by the “one Spirit” (Ephesians 2:18; John 14:17,26; 16:7-15).
In Scripture, we see each person of the Trinity, in union with each other, carrying out tasks according to their various roles. We see the Father sending Jesus into the world (John 17:18; 20:21; Isaiah 9:6). We see Jesus cleansing us from sin through His redemptive work on the cross (Hebrews 1:3). Finally, we see the Holy Spirit, sent in the Son’s name, teaching all things, bringing them to remembrance, and comforting the waiting church (John 14:26; 16:7; 3:8).
This only scratches the surface of such a vast doctrine, but what is clear is that God exists in three distinct persons who are united in substance and purpose.
Plain Theology, Pure Devotion
Boothe is confident that “No doctrine of the Christian faith is more plainly taught than that there are three persons in the Godhead.” This is not to say that there aren’t other doctrines that are easier to grasp. However, we see from Genesis to Revelation that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work in every aspect of history from the creation to the second coming of Christ. Boothe is also humble enough to admit that “we cannot comprehend [the doctrine of the Trinity], but we can accept it as the truth, and wonder, worship, and wait for the time in which we shall know as we are known.” Notice the two elements of his call to respond to this rich doctrine:
1. We must accept it as truth. Some truths are difficult to grasp but must be humbly believed in our lack of knowledge. Some difficult truths prove to be extremely repulsive to the unsaved soul. The doctrine of a triune God will repulse those who refuse to acknowledge the deity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit due to a faulty reading of the Old Testament. They will claim the doctrine is man made, though we have seen verse after verse prove this claim to be false. While the Bible doesn’t use the term Trinity, the triunity or three-in-one nature of God is undeniable.
2. We must respond in worship. Boothe says we should “wonder, worship, and wait” until we know God as we are known by Him. To worship a god other than He who has revealed Himself in Scripture is idolatry. The fact that God exists in three-in-one fellowship and has done so for eternity is awe-inspiring. We ought to lament our human knowledge. Who are we to think we can fully grasp such a mighty, holy, and all-wise God? Yet who are we to deny what is plainly revealed in God’s Word?
Who Can Know The Mind Of God?
As we read through Scripture, we will inevitably run into passages which challenge our faith and stretch our minds. We may find ourselves asking, “How can this be?!” At this point, we must pray for deeper faith to believe God as He revealed Himself. We must say with Paul in Romans 11:33-36:
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
If you're reading through, let me know what you think!
Be sure to check out the rest of the series here! I highly recommend that you purchase a copy of the book and work through it slowly, prayerfully, and meditatively. It’s a short volume and perfect to read in small chunks throughout the month.