Last week we said what the Trinity is not. God is not three gods, nor is he like superman, changing his appearance from the Father to the Son to the Spirit. These beliefs are common misconceptions, but they are also dangerous heresies. Let’s begin to think about what the Trinity is. God is one God, he has one nature or essence that is in three distinct persons. That means the Father is God, Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the spirit. They are separate persons. The danger in calling them persons is that we think of human persons with human personalities and human characteristics. This is not what we are talking about when we say the person of Christ or the person of the Holy Spirit. C. S. Lewis said he is beyond personality. That is a good way of thinking about how God is three. He is super-personal. If we focus on the person of Jesus as a self contained independent personality like we would a human person, we can quickly lose sight of the unity within God. See, without the Father and the Spirit, the Son ceases to exist. That is very different from human relationships. Unlike humans, the persons of God are grounded in His unity. They are in perfect, eternal communion and undivided union.
There is so much we could say about all of this, but an ancient theologian named Gregory of Nazianzen (there will be a test later) has said it beautifully in 381AD, “No sooner do I conceive of the one than I am illumined by the splendour of the three; no sooner do I distinguish them than I am carried back to the one. When I think of any one of the three I think of him as the whole, and my eyes are filled, and the greater part of what I am thinking escapes me. I cannot grasp the greatness of that one so as to attribute a greater greatness to the rest. When I contemplate the three together, I see but one torch, and cannot divide or measure out the undivided light.”