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Knowing God More through the Trinity


by Tara-Leigh Cobble

 

Spending time to better understand the Trinity is a mystery to even the most studied professionals, and everyone knows it can’t be fully understood. But it can be more understood by those willing to study it. So while we will never fully understand the Trinity—at least not in this life—we can understand more than we currently do.

 

If we know we can learn more about the Trinity, and we know that joy is promised on the other side of our learning, then why do people tend to brush over it instead of dig in? What makes this doctrine so challenging?

 

There are a few things that contribute to our collective confusion and difficulty with the Trinity.

 

1.     Simplified Explanations

If you’ve ever been part of a Bible study or class that talked about the Trinity, you’ve likely heard analogies of shamrocks and H2O. Every analogy of the Trinity breaks down at some level simply because there’s nothing else in existence quite like God. Simplified explanations fall short of being enlightening or fulfilling in our relationship with God.

 

2.     Selfishness

My selfishness was one of the biggest hurdles that kept me from digging into the Trinity. I preferred to focus on God’s promises to me and all the things He could do to benefit me, so I was content to stop short of looking for who He is. I tuned out when someone mentioned the Trinity—not because I already knew all the details but because I didn’t yet know enough. I was in for a real surprise when I did begin to study the Trinity. It isn’t just a theological concept; fundamentally, it’s a relationship. To have a healthy, functioning relationship, you have to look beyond yourself and get to know the other person involved.

 

3.     The Bible Never Uses the Word Trinity

However, that doesn’t mean the triune God is not addressed in Scripture. The idea of the Trinity is found throughout the Bible, starting in Genesis 1:1. Jesus talked about it in the Gospels, and the apostles affirmed it throughout their New Testament letters. Still, the early church struggled to summarize it until a theologian named Tertullian created the word Trinity to succinctly reference Scripture’s teaching about God.[1]

 

Without the Trinity as the core of our beliefs, every other doctrine of our faith starts to come unhinged. You cannot have the Christian faith without a triune God. Every other Christian belief is built on this foundation.

 

It’s tempting to diminish the importance of the Trinity and to seek a false peace by simply “focusing on the Word of God.” But that’s shallow at best and foolish at least. In fact, God has given it to us so we can know Him in greater depth. People who truly know God have always wanted to know God more—both for their own sakes and for the sake of being able to talk more clearly about Him and His love with others. God loves to be known and understood and loved, just like you love to be known and understood and loved.

 

[1] “History of Trinitatian Doctrines,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessed April 21, 2021, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/trinity/trinity-history.html.

 

Excerpted with permission from The Joy of the Trinity by Tara-Leigh Cobble. Copyright 2024, B&H Publishing.

 

Tara-Leigh Cobble’s zeal for biblical literacy led her to create D-Group (Discipleship Group) International, a network of Bible studies that meet every week in homes, churches, and online. She also writes and hosts a daily radio show called The God Shot, as well as a daily podcast called The Bible Recap which unpacks the richness of Scripture alongside the chronological one-year reading plan. More than twenty thousand churches around the world have joined their reading plan to know and love God better. Her book The Bible Recap: A One-Year Guide to Reading and Understanding the Entire Bible aims to help people not only read and understand Scripture but love it too!

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