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Grasping the Infinite

  • August 2016 Issue
Today with Paul Nyquist
Is it possible for a human being to understand God, to grasp the infinite? Just step outside on a dark night and gaze up at the stars. We can see only about 5,000 stars, but scientists estimate as many as a septillion stars exist in the visible universe, that’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. That’s infinitely more than our minds can possibly comprehend.

In the same way, perfect, complete knowledge of God surpasses our ability to understand fully. Yet, grappling with the concept of His character as displayed in the Trinity is essential for the believer today.

Belief in the Trinity, the co-existent relationship of the three persons of God, distinguishes Christianity from other religions. Followers of Islam sharply criticize it, saying the Trinity denies the oneness of God. They ask, “How can One God be three distinct persons?” It is a worthy question, and I have yet to find a satisfactory illustration for the Trinity (such as the egg or ice). For me, they all fail to completely capture the unity that exists within the Godhead.

And, if you search for it, you will not find the word Trinity in Scripture. The early church created this term to help us articulate the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Yes, putting the mysteries of the Trinity into mere human words is like trying to hold the stars in our hands. But we learn important things, and we can know more about God by studying His three persons.

In the description of creation, we are introduced to the plurality of God’s character, “Let us make man in Our image” (Gen. 1:26). The word translated here as “us,” Elohim, is plural. Throughout Scripture, we see all three members of the Trinity. In the account of Jesus’ baptism in the Gospels, all are present as Jesus is immersed in the water, the Spirit of God descends as a dove, and the voice of the Father speaks (see Matt. 3:16, 17).

Understanding the Trinity also helps us better understand who God created us to be. In Genesis 2:18, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Here God reflects His character in us. We are made in God’s image, created to live in relationship. The three persons of God offer us a model of community, purpose, and love.

As John Calvin put it, “Without knowl- edge of God there is no knowledge of self.” The three persons of the Trinity reflect God’s desire for us.

BY Dr. Paul Nyquist, President of Moody Bible Institute

Dr. Paul Nyquist is the ninth president of Moody Bible Institute and featured speaker on Moody Radio’s program “Moody Presents.” With his theological training, pastoral heart and global focus, Nyquist is leading Moody to go across the globe, cultures and generations to equip people with the truth of God’s Word, using new technology, in an agile and innovative community. He and his wife, Cheryl, have been married for 30 years, have four grown children, and are proud grandparents of three grandchildren.

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