@Chance, your question offers the opportunity for some really deep diving into who God is and how the wholeness of God is understood with the three persons of the Trinity. I don’t think it’s a topic that theologians will ever exhaust.
The contributions thus far have added rich dimension to the dialog. It’s a topic I think on a lot and I’d like to join the discussion, hopefully I will add some value.
To me the Trinity is a mind-blowing area of truth. Just about the time I think I’m getting to a deeper, fuller understanding I realize I’ve yet to scratch the surface. It’s kind of like having something take shape in your mind and seeing it vanish into vapor! But in the process my understanding is going deeper and my faith is all the richer for it. So as a topic I commend you to keep diving deeper into it.
We exist in the physical world (or realm), but all around us is the spiritual realm. This can be an important concept to keep in mind as you contemplate these things. What may not be literal in the physical realm may well be literal in the spiritual realm.
What do I mean by this? Consider in John 1:14 when it says: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. Jesus is the Word…the Logos. What may be metaphorical in a physical sense may be quite literal in a spiritual sense, that through the word (scripture) we come to dwell with Jesus and the fullness of His truth and grace, and He in us. In John 15:4 Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you.”
When we accept Christ “into our hearts,” (and I don’t see anything wrong with this language for helping people understand the process of salvation) the operations of God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit have already been at work with you and in you to enable that salvation. God has provided the means by which we can be saved, Christ has fulfilled the requirements by which we can be saved, and the Holy Spirit has enabled our “yes.” All of this is the gift of grace–John Wesley would call it prevenient grace. That “yes” invites the permanent indwelling of the Trinity through the operation of the Spirit.
You can see this in the prayer that Jesus offers in John 17 (I have added the italics).
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
We are in them and they are in us. Think of this corporately with the fellowship of believers and personally in your relationship with God.
Even today I asked my pastor is the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” distinct from “the baptism of the Holy Spirit”. The basic answer is yes. The indwelling enables our “yes” to go deeper in our desire to have all the gifts that God will bless us with in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It certainly can mean speaking in tongues, but it is not exclusive to that gift. My pastor then quoted our former pastor who liked to say, “It is not how much you have of the Holy Spirit, it’s how much of you does the Holy Spirit have?”
Contemplate not just the unity and “oneness” of the Trinity, but that we (and the church) abide in that oneness, also.
If you have an interest in the Trinity I recommend reading and contemplating the various creeds that required the church fathers to spend years trying to craft the words that best express the Trinity. I found the Athanasian Creed to be most helpful in understanding the Trinity with language that expresses what it is AND what it is not. https://www.ccel.org/creeds/athanasian.creed.html
Thanks, Nate for such a great question. Thank you everyone for such thoughtful replies. It’s an easy topic to stray into heresies, if I’ve misrepresented anything with ill considered language, please let me know. Though I’ve spent a lot of time on this topic, I am not a trained theologian and I do think it’s an important area to be sure to “color within the lines.”