Over the years, I’ve had plenty of questions about Scripture and issues of faith. One of the deepest questions I’ve experienced concerns the nature of God—specifically God as Trinity. I think one of the reasons for these questions is that the doctrine of the Trinity is both fascinating and mysterious.

Illustrations have been applied to assist us in explaining the Trinity: the egg (shell, yoke, white) or water (ice, liquid, steam) or a person (husband, dad, employee). These illustrations lack because they fail to justly explain the nature of God. They fall incredibly short because when we talk about the Trinity because we are talking about the nature of God himself: One God in three Persons.

The Bible affirms several truths about God’s nature as revealed in the Trinity.

First, God is One. Christianity is monotheistic. There is only one God.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

Deuteronomy 6:4

Second, God the Father is God. Jesus teaches us to pray to God the Father as holy and Sovereign.

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”

Matthew 6:9

Third, God the Son is God. When Thomas saw the risen Jesus, he called Jesus Lord and worshipped him. Only God can be worshiped. Jesus himself affirmed that only God can be worshiped.

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

John 20:28

Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

Matthew 4:10

Fourth, God the Holy Spirit is God. When Annanias and Sapphira lied about how much they sold their property for, Peter said they lied to God.

But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?  While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”

Acts 5:3-4

Fifth, God is One, yet in three persons. God is Trinity as the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. At Jesus’ baptism, each person of the Trinity acted in the event uniquely (Matthew 3:13-17). This is an important distinction that reflects the Trinity.

In Jesus’ own baptism, there are not simply three names but three actors—the Father who speaks (“This is my beloved Son”), the “beloved Son” who is baptized, and the dove who hovers above Jesus, suggesting reference to the Sprit hovering over the waters in creation and concurring with the benediction on all that God has made.

Michael Horton, The Christian Faith, 275.

Trinitarian heresies of a variety of sorts have risen throughout church history. Arianism taught that Jesus was not God. Modalism taught that God revealed himself in different modes at different times. For example, God revealed himself in the Old Testament as Father, in the Gospels as Jesus, and now to the church as the Holy Spirit. These heresies, along with others, misconstrue the truths of the Trinity affirmed in the Bible in order to try to make sense of the Trinity. But instead of trying to wrap our finite minds around the mystery of the Trinity, we need to believe what the Bible affirms and accept that the mystery of Trinity means God is greater than we can understand.

With Augustine, we must say, “I believe in order that I may understand.” 

The Trinity is a staggeringly practical and important doctrine. Even as it may be difficult to fully understand, we can clearly understand the implications of the doctrine for our Christian experience.

Without the Trinity our salvation according to Scripture would not be possible. Take a look at Ephesians 1:3-14 and note how each person of the Trinity participates in our salvation. The Father planned our salvation, the Son accomplished our salvation, and the Spirit convicts us to salvation (John 16:8-12) and assures us of salvation.

Without the Trinity our prayers would be meaningless. We pray to the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit. We don’t talk to the Father on the evidence of our own goodness, but we talk to the Father based on the righteousness given to us by Christ. And it is the Holy Spirit that both prays for us (Romans 8:26) and empowers our prayers.

Without the Trinity, we would not have a God who is love. When John affirmed that “God is love” (1 John 4:7), he used the Greek word agape for love. Agape is love that is other-oriented, relational, selfless. But God has always been, and there was a time when only God existed. So how could God be love? He could only be love in the definition of 1 John 4:7 if God is Trinity, existing eternally in the Persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Tim Keller explains this concept beautifully.

If God is unipersonal, then until God created other persons there was no love, since love is something that one person has for another. This means that God was power, sovereignty, greatness from all eternity, but not love. Love then is not the essence of God, nor is it at the heart of the universe. Power is primary.

Tim Keller, The Reason for God, 225.

Be thankful that the God whose greatness and nature in Trinity is greater than our understanding, yet gracious enough to condescend to be our Savior and Friend.

1 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame!
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
    incline your ear to me, and save me!
Be to me a rock of refuge,
    to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.

Psalm 71:1-3

In the ancient world, villages, peoples, and armies sought protection in a refuge or a fortress. If you’ve read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, or seen the movies, think Helm’s Deep. The fortress was a place of retreat and defense. It was a shelter.

The psalmist affirms here that the Lord is our refuge, our rock, our fortress.

It is easy for our circumstances and situations in life to overwhelm us. Cancer, covid, catastrophes, raising teenagers, job difficulties, death, disease, interpersonal conflicts, or any number of other events and circumstances can trouble us.

In David’s case, he spent years wandering from rock to cave hiding out from King Saul who wanted to take his life. And David sought the Lord’s protection, and the Lord protected David. Time and again David trusted in the Lord, and the Lord delivered.

Whatever your frustration or concern, your worry or fear, your enemy or your challenge, take refuge in the Lord. But how can we seek refuge in the Lord?

  • Seek refuge in the Lord’s Words. When you make time to read, study, meditate, memorize, and apply God’s Word, you are taking in God’s thoughts. Much of our frustration, worry, and fear derive from a worried mind and burdened thoughts. So dwell on God’s thoughts. Think on his promises. Find refuge in his Words.
  • Seek refuge in the Lord’s presence. Many of us like to solve problems. We like the challenge of navigating a situation, figuring out the next steps, and planning for success. But often we remain stressed and frustrated because we are seeking refuge in our own answers. Pray. Bring your situations to the Lord specifically and intentionally. Seek his presence through prayer.
  • Seek refuge in the the Lord’s people. While our final and ultimate hope cannot be in others and must be in God alone, God did not create us to be alone. God created us for community. He created us to encourage and support one another. Find a friend you trust who is spiritually maturing and share your burden with them. Just someone else aware of your burden and praying for you can aid you in finding refuge in the Lord. Also, intercessory prayer for each other is a heavenly means of experiencing refuge in the Lord.

When we are in need, we need to find refuge in the Lord. Our situations and burdens are not for us alone. God grants them to us or allows us to experience them precisely because he wants us to seek refuge in him. He also wants to use our experience of seeking refuge in the Lord as a means of testimony to others.

Note how the psalmist closes this hymn:

17O God, from my youth you have taught me,
    and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
18 So even to old age and gray hairs,
    O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
    your power to all those to come.

19 Your righteousness, O God,
    reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
    O God, who is like you?
20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
    will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will bring me up again.
21 You will increase my greatness
    and comfort me again.
22 I will also praise you with the harp
    for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre,
    O Holy One of Israel.

23 My lips will shout for joy,
    when I sing praises to you;
    my soul also, which you have redeemed.

24 And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long,
for they have been put to shame and disappointed
    who sought to do me hurt.

Psalm 71:17-24 (emphasis mine)

After David sought refuge in the Lord, he promised to testify of the Lord’s goodness to the next generation (v. 18), to praise the Lord’s faithfulness (v. 22), to respond with praise and song (v. 23), and to tell of the Lord’s righteous help “all day long” (v. 24).

When God comes through, we don’t need to remain silent. This is another important reason for God’s people to be apart of our search for refuge. They are witnesses to our situations as well as witnesses to God’s provisions. God’s people are also part of our audience for declaring his praises and his interventions.

So, think back to how God has been your refuge. Share that praise with someone! And by all means, seek the Lord for refuge today.