The Trinity and Creation
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”- Genesis 1:1–2
Central to the theology of the Reformation is its doctrine of God. The Protestant Reformers worked to recover the fullorbed biblical understanding of redemption, the heart of which is our Savior’s claim that “this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). To know God truly is to know His salvation, so when we are dealing with the doctrine of the Trinity, we are dealing with matters essential to our being redeemed.
Because of the distinction between the Creator and His creation, we can know God only as He reveals Himself. With Scripture, both the early church fathers and the Protestant Reformers teach us that God reveals Himself through His work in the world, particularly through His acts of creation and redemption. The way in which the Bible describes these activities help us to have a better understanding of our Maker both in His oneness and His threeness.
Today, we will look at the revelation of our triune God in His work of creation. Note that Scripture attributes creation to each of the three persons. In Genesis 1:1–2, for example, we read that the Spirit of God—the Holy Spirit—hovered over the primordial waters at the moment of creation, pointing to His intimate involvement in the seven-day process of making the earth and filling it with life. John 1:1–3 refers to God the Father and the Son (“the Word”) at the beginning of creation, indicating that the Father made all things through the Son and that nothing was created apart from the agency of the Son.
In many places, Scripture attributes the work of creation particularly to the Father (see Eph. 3:9, for instance). However, the references to all three persons of the Holy Trinity and Their involvement in creation show us that while the work of creation may reveal the Father in particular, creation is something all three persons do in common. This must be so, for if God is one, then each person of the Godhead must be involved in everything that God does. When the Father acts, the Son and the Holy Spirit act as well. Father, Son, and Spirit are identical in Their attributes, so if the Father exercises His omnipotence to create, the Son and the Spirit do so as well because the omnipotence of the Father is the omnipotence of the Son is the omnipotence of the Spirit. Traditionally, this coworking of the three persons of the Godhead is known as the doctrine of inseparable operations.
Because the three persons of the Trinity work in common, God is never at odds with Himself. One person does not coerce the others, but all three work in tandem to achieve Their common purposes. As His bride, we who form His church should strive for such unity of purpose that we might reflect His perfect unity to the world around us.
Passages for Further Study