(The following account is a narrative of the event recorded in Matthew 3:13-17, John 1:31-34 KJV).
As a crowd of Jews stood watching, Jesus stepped into the Jordan River to be baptized. He had traveled from Galilee to where John the Baptist was preaching and baptizing. At thirty years of age, Jesus was ready to begin His public ministry and to fulfill His divine purpose on earth. As He waded out into the water, John began to protest: “I am not worthy to baptize you.” Yet, God had appointed John to introduce the Messiah to the world.
John the Baptist took hold of Jesus and lowered Him back, immersing Him in the water. As they came up out of the river, water draining down the face of Christ, the heavens were opened. The Spirit of God descended in the bodily form of a dove and rested upon Jesus. The voice of God the Father spoke from Heaven for all to hear: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The crowd stood in shock and amazement at this miraculous revelation of God. John the Baptist bare record that truly “This is the Son of God.”
The fullness of God was manifest at the Jordan River that day. The triune God, as three distinct persons, was clearly represented. The person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was baptized. The person of the Holy Spirit descended like a dove. The person of the Father spoke out of heaven. The Godhead was distinctly present as three persons and yet was singular in purpose as one God.
The Trinity is the doctrine that describes the nature of God. It signifies the union of three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—in the Godhead. In past centuries, this subject has been a source of much theological controversy. Even today, there are professing Christian movements that deny the veracity of the Trinity. The Trinity doctrine asserts the following:
There is one and only one God.
God eternally exists in three distinct persons.
The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father, the Father is not the Spirit, etc.
The Ante-Nicene Fathers (pre 325 AD) asserted Christ’s deity and referred to the “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Tertullian, in 215 AD, is supposedly the first theologian to use the word “Trinity” to explain that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are “one in essence—not one in person.”
Controversy about the deity and incarnation of Christ raged throughout the third century. In the fourth century, Arius promoted a false teaching that the Father existed prior to the Son. He contended that Christ was not by nature God nor was He eternal. Arianism held the belief that Christ was the highest of all created beings. This doctrine began to spread rapidly.
When Constantine ascended the imperial throne and made Christianity the religion of Rome, he convened the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD to settle the doctrinal disputes over the nature of Christ and to define the relationship of the Son to the Father. Athanasius of Alexandria was the leader of those contending for the divinity of Christ and His equality with the Father. While there was already much apostacy in the church at this time, the majority of the 250-318 bishops in attendance took a stand against the Arian heresy and reaffirmed the biblical truth that Christ was divine, eternal, and part of the Godhead. The Council of Nicaea adopted the Nicene Creed which described Christ as “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.”
It is foundational to the Christian faith that there is one God that exists as three distinct persons. If the divinity of Christ is denied, there is no redemption from sin as His blood would have no more power than that of bulls and of goats. Thanks be to God the Father who sent His Son Jesus to this earth to die for our sins that we might be saved and be a temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell within.