26Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
Genesis 3:22 (New American Standard Bible)
22Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"--
Matthew 28:18-20 (New International Version)
18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Now this is a hard one to wrap my head around, but it is essentially the most important doctrine that defines Christianity. Essential, because how you treat this subject determines whether you believe in truth or a heresy. Understanding this essential of Christianity determines whether or not you are following the truth that saves you, or an inerrant doctrine that condemns you. Wow! That is pretty strong, but it is so important that know the difference between truth and error when it comes to the nature of God.
What I am talking about is the doctrine of the Trinity or Tri-unity of God. For Christians this is probably a term you have heard about, and you may have a limited understanding of the concept. Since I have complete confidence in the inerrant and in fallible word of God found in the Bible, the verses I give above settles the question for me. In every translation and the original languages the contexts are the same. Our Triune God was present at Creation, and Jesus as the second person of the Trinity commanded all disciples top baptize in the names of all three persons of the Godhead.
In trying to explain how the Trinity exists, and I hope you will excuse me in noting this, but I have always used the very weak and simplistic analogy of a chicken's egg (How can you really explain the complex and inexplicable nature of our awesome God?). A chicken egg has three distinct components (actually you might divide an egg even further, but hang with me on this one), the outer covering of shell and shell membrane, the egg's white, and the egg's yolk. Each of these components are separate and essential to the egg. All co-exist together and together they are the egg.
Ben Rast with Contender Ministries puts it this way in an article he writes on the ministry's website,"We may never fully understand the nature of God until we get into heaven. God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and eternal. Our finite created minds are unable to fully grasp these characteristics of God." He further states, "The doctrine of the Trinity can be summed up as follows: Within the one Being that is God, there exist eternally three coequal and coeternal Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In order to prove this doctrine we must prove the following, there is only one God, the Father is God, Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God, and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons."
This doctrine is upheld in the Nicene Creed which we studied a few days ago, and you may want to take a look at the creed and study it further. I have also provided the links to study further the proofs for the Trinity. You will also find information on various cults that call themselves Christian, but do not believe in the same nature of God as we do. These include Mormonism, Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witness, and what I believe is the very dangerous Oneness Pentecostalism, Jesus Only or Holiness Churches.
In fact many well-intentioned evangelical pastors today embrace Oneness pastors, which has been the criticism of T.D.Jakes, and I am concerned that many new Christians may be led astray if they do not fully understand the differences. Before embracing the teaching of any pastor or church, you need to examine their beliefs in reference to orthodox Christian theology. If you have any questions, please be sure to study the links and to send me any questions that you might have.
Bottom line is this, to be a true Christian, you need to believe that our God is a Triune God, and within the one Being that is God, there exist eternally three coequal and coeternal Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Any other doctrine out there should be considered as incorrect. Photo of Adoration of the Holy Trinity, by Albrecht Durer,1511,Oil on panel,Vienna, Kunshistorisches Museum