More About The Trinity
MORE ABOUT THE TRINITY
A. Introduction: We have begun to deal with who God is, or the nature of God.
1. There are key reasons why we need an accurate (Biblical) understanding of who God is.
a. First, following the wrong God will take you to hell. And, today, more than ever, there is an attack on who God is -- especially who Jesus is.
b. Second, we were created to know God, to love God, and to be His son or daughter. Anything we can know and learn about God will enrich our lives. II Pet 1:2; II Cor 13:14
2. In the last lesson, we began to look at the doctrine of the Trinity -- the fact that in the Bible God has clearly revealed Himself as one God. Yet, He has also revealed Himself as the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Ghost.
3. We want to continue that discussion in this lesson.
B. If we are going to look at who God is, we must first consider how He shows Himself to us, because, obviously, we can't see Him with our eyes.
1. God has chosen to reveal Himself to us in the Bible.
a. The Bible does not prove God exists, it presumes or assumes it, and then reveals Him. b. One way God reveals Himself in the Bible is through various names for Himself. These
names tell us something about His nature, His character.
2. The most frequently used name for God in the OT is Jehovah. It is most often translated Lord. a. Jehovah means the Self-Existent or Eternal One. The name tells us that God is independent and eternal.
1. We think of eternity as a really long time. But, eternity is a “way of existence that does not involve a progression of events and moments”. (James R. White)
2. God has no beginning or end, and He dwells in the ever present now.
3. God is infinite --without limits of any kind (neither time nor space). Ps 90:2; 102:25-27; Jer 23:24; II Chron 6:18
b. He is self-existent in Himself -- dependent on no one, needing nothing.
c. Yet, as we pointed out in the last lesson, God has invited us into His realm. We have been invited into relationship and fellowship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. John 17:20-23; 14:20; I John 1:3
3. Ex 3:14--God further expanded His name to Moses. This name means I am who I am, I shall be whom I shall be. It emphasizes His unchangeableness.
4. John 4:24--God is a Spirit = invisible, immaterial, and powerful. (Vine's dictionary).
a. Because we are created beings who are limited by space, currently living in time, we cannot get a mental understanding of God.
b. There are definite limits as to how much understanding we can have of God at this point in our existence. I Cor 13:12
c. But, that doesn't mean we shouldn't study. It means we don't have to try to understand what we can't understand. We can, must simply accept what God says about Himself.
5. Now, this brings us to a very interesting point. God is incomprehensible -- He cannot be understood by the human mind. Yet, God is knowable, and He has chosen to reveal Himself to us so we can know Him. Jer 9:23,24; John 17:3
a. This Being has chosen to interact with us, to covenant with us, make us His children, listen to us, bless us, receive our praise.
b. Isa 40:28-31--In the midst of declaring Himself to be God Almighty (Isa 40-48), this awesome Being who is God extends Himself toward us.
C. One of the most remarkable things God reveals to us about Himself in the Bible is that He is three persons in one God. He is a Trinity, a Triune God = three in one.
1. The Bible does not prove that God is Triune, it presumes it. In other words, that is how we see God pictured when we read the Bible.
a. The word Trinity is not found in the Bible. It comes from two Latin words (TRI and UNIS = three and one). But the doctrine or teaching is clearly found in the Bible.
b. There is no one verse which says God is three persons in one, yet as we read the Bible (OT and NT), we clearly see that there is one God.
c. However, as we read the Bible, we also clearly see three persons who are God -- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
d. And, all three possess and demonstrate qualities, characteristics, and abilities of God -- omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, holiness, eternity, truth. In other words, they
all are and do only what God is and can do.
2. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit cannot be three separate Gods because the Bible clearly states that there is only one God. Deut 6:4; Gal 3:20; I Tim 2:5; James 2:19
3. It also cannot be that God is one God who expresses Himself in three ways (sometimes He acts like a father, sometimes a son, and sometimes a spirit) because in the Bible all three persons
clearly refer to each other and speak to each other. John 14:16; 15:16; 16:7-16; 17:1-26
4. Based on what the Bible reveals to us about God, we can state a definition of the Trinity.
a. “Within the One Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” (James R. White)
b. “There are three persons within the Godhead -- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are One God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.”
(Westminster Confession of Faith)
5. The difficulty with using language to describe God is that it is inadequate.
a. To us, person means one who is limited and separate from another. But, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not separate individuals.
b. These definitions use the word person in the sense of each being aware of the others, speaking to them, loving them, etc.
6. There are those who deny the doctrine of the Trinity.
a. They say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all the same person who acts differently at different times. Or, they say the Father is God, but Jesus and the Holy
Spirit are not.
b. But, they all make a critical mistake. They look at a few scriptures which they believe disprove the Trinity (we'll get to them), rather than look at the sum total of the Bible.
c. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are found from Genesis to Revelation.
D. We want to once again take a brief Bible survey of the Trinity.
1. The Bible opens with Creation -- and we see the Trinity at work.
a. God created the earth and man (Gen 1:1; 2:7). Yet the Holy Spirit created the earth and man (Gen 1:2; Job 33:4). Yet the Son created all things (John 1:3,10; Heb 1:2).
b. How is that possible? It was the United One -- God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit who created all. Gen 1:26; Deut 6:4
2. The doctrine of the Trinity isn't as clearly revealed in the OT as in the NT.
a. However, we can see numerous appearances of the Son before He took on flesh at Bethlehem. Gen 18:1-33
b. The Son was and is the visible manifestation of the Invisible God, OT and NT.
3. Josh 5:13-15--After Israel entered the promised land, Joshua was sizing up the first city they had to fight, Jericho. There, he met the Son, Preincarnate Jesus.
a. Jesus identified Himself as the captain of the host of the Lord = commander-in-chief of the Lord's army. (Living)
b. Notice these clues to His identity. Lord = Jehovah = God.
1. Joshua calls Him Lord, worships Him, and He accepts it.
2. The number one commandment God had given to Israel up to this point was: don't worship anything, anyone, but Me.
3. Joshua was told that the very ground was holy. Ex 3:5
c. This is the Son, Jesus, captain of the Lord's army. Rev 19:11-14
d. Joshua saw God, the Son (coequal, coeternal) and lived. John 1:18; Ex 33:20
4. In numerous places in the OT we see God and the Holy Spirit mentioned in the same passages. Ex 31:1-3; II Chron 20:14-18; Ps 51:11
5. When we come over to the NT, in the gospels, we find the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit mentioned together. Luke 1:26-38; 3:21,22
6. The first Christians would never have questioned the concept of the Trinity. They heard the Father speak from heaven. They saw and walked with the Son for three years. They were indwelt by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
7. In the epistles, we see an acceptance of the Triune God who is three persons in one Being. Rom 14:17,18; 15:16; I Cor 2:2-5; I Cor 6:9-11; II Cor 1:21,22; II Cor 13:14;
Eph 2:18; 3:14-17; Eph 4:4-7; I Thess 1:3-5; II Thess 2:13,14
8. In the Book of Revelation we see the same thing. Rev 1:1,2; 4,5; 2:11; 11:15; 22:1-4; 16,17
E. Although we cannot adequately explain it or understand it, the Bible is very clear. There are three persons, all of whom are God, but there is only one God.
1. There is one Godhead (Deity) with three persons in the Godhead (one what, three whos).
2. As we study the Bible, we find that God divided up the work of salvation.
a. The Father planned salvation and sent the Son. Eph 1:3-5; Rom 8:29; Rev 13:8
b. The Son came to earth and worked out salvation. Heb 2:14; Phil 2:7,8; John 10:17,18
c. The Father and the Son sent the Spirit to apply the results of salvation. John 14:26; 15:26; Rom 8:10,11; I Cor 2:12
3. Here is a key point to remember when considering the Trinity. Difference of function does not mean difference in nature.
a. Because the Father sent the Son does not mean the Son is less than the Father.
b. Because the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit does not mean He is less than the Father and the Son.
c. Nature and function are two different things. And, the Bible is very clear that although the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have different functions in salvation, they all have the same nature. They are all fully God.
d. And there is a unity amongst the three as they perform their different functions.
John 14:10; 16:13; II Cor 5:19
4. Those who say there is no Trinity generally say that Jesus is a created being, not God, and that the Holy Spirit is a force, not a person.
a. In order to properly study the Trinity, we must consider the deity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
b. We'll begin to deal with that issue in the next lesson.
F. Conclusion: The main point we want to stress for now is this: If your only source of information was the Bible (the whole Bible, with all verses taken in context), you could never reach any conclusion other than the fact that God is three persons in one.
1. The doctrine of the Trinity is a mystery. It is a mistake to try to figure it out because it is beyond comprehension.
a. Attempts to explain it do injustice to it -- i.e., someone can be a father, a son, and a brother at the same time. The Trinity cannot be grasped with the mind.
b. All we can do is see that the doctrine of the Trinity is definitely stated in the
Bible, accept it, and then admire God as He is, in awe and worshipful reverence.
Rom 11:33-36; I Tim 1:17
2. One reason for studying God's nature is to enlarge our picture of God.
a. The Psalms speak over and over again of magnifying God. (Magnify = to make large, as in body, mind, estate, or honor.) Ps 34:3; 35:27; 40:16,17; 69:30; 70:4
b. Ps 40:17--Yet the Lord takes thought and plans for me. (Amp)
c. Ps 40:17--Yet the Lord is thinking about me right now. (Living)
3. As we allow the Bible to enlarge our picture of God, we can rejoice with grateful hearts that we have been invited to fellowship with this wonderful Being -- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.