Friday, August 13, 2021

Affirming the Trinity or Tri-Unity of God

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. -1st John 5:7 *

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counseller? -Romans 11:33-34

        On this side of eternity, we see through a glass darkly and much of the spiritual realm remains a mystery.  One such mystery is the triune nature of God that's affirmed in His Holy scriptures.  The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit-- the three in one are all tethered together in their divinity and yet are three distinct persons.  So long as our feet walk upon the earth our finite minds are capped from fully understanding the nature and personage of God.  This has caused many to deny the trinity in the Holy Scriptures, mislabel those who believe in God's triune nature, and has lead to the spawning of false doctrines on who God really is.  The scriptures in context not only affirm the trinity, it completely dismantles the critics who say otherwise.  

What Trinitarians are not:

    Growing up I was taught that Christians who affirm God's triune nature believed in modalism, that is God is manifested in three forms, e.g. the idea that Jesus is God the Father in the flesh. This is not what Bible-believing Christians affirm.  It also is not affirmed that they are three parts, or three separate gods (tritheism).  The Bible affirms unity in that there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4), and yet also explains the diversity in three persons as we will begin to see in Genesis 1:26.

 The Trinity: In the beginning

 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness -Genesis 1:26

Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. -Genesis 11:7

    In turning over the first leaves of scriptures, we see God referring to himself in a plurality of persons. Elohim in Hebrew is a noun in plural form, it is not singular.  When God decided to create man, all three persons of the trinity worked together to form him.  Many in the Jewish faith have held that this plurality refers to angels, but this is not the case.  Only man was made in God's image, the angels were not.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. -John 1:1

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. -John 1:12

     John's language mirrors what was written in Genesis 1:1.  "In the beginning."  Those within Judaism would understand that John was alluding to the time of creation.  "In the beginning" denotes the spawn of time, space, and matter.  Jesus was there in the beginning, he was God, and was with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.   Christ is referred in Greek as the logos, because all things through Him were made (Colossians 1:16), all things were made by Him (John 1:3).  Christ spoke all things into existence, one of the many reasons he is called the Word. 

 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. -Revelation 19:13

 John writes in Revelation that Christ is called The Word of God, after all, the Bible is centered around Him.  He is the Truth and the Truth is found in His Word.  The Word of God speaks of His power, His Truth, and His Divinity. Christ is the son foretold in scripture, the 2nd person in the Trinity, making intercession for all who place their trust in Him.

The Trinity in Creation

But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. 1st Corinthians 8:6

Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. -Psalm 104:3   

    God the Father, God the Son, & God the Holy Spirit, were all present and involved at the time of creation (Colossians 1:16-17; John 1:3, Revelation 4:11).  Before God there was no God formed, neither shall there be after (Isaiah 43:10), this is why he is called the "I Am" (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58), he was always present, he is, he was, and always will be. God is distinct from man (Numbers 23:19) and there is none other like him (Isaiah 46:9). God created time (in the beginning), space (the heavens), and matter (the earth, Gen 1:1).  It is by Him alone that all things consist (Colossians 1:17).

 The Trinity: Foreshadowed in the Psalms & Isaiah

 A Psalm of David.The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. Psalm 110:1

      It is important to know that God has progressively revealed himself.  What was concealed in the Old Testament is now revealed in the New Testament, e.g. the brazen serpent (see my previous article, The cross foretold..). Above is the famous passage that Jesus quotes to the Pharisees in Matthew 22:44.  He first asks the Jewish authorities whose son is the Christ?  They respond by saying the Son of David (2nd Samuel 7).  Jesus then asks the Pharisees why does David speaking by the Spirit call Him Lord? By which they offer no response.  How can the Messiah be called the Lord if he is the son of David?  The answer lies in the incarnation.  Jesus Christ, the second Lord referred to in this Psalm is also the second person of the Godhead, existing from eternity past.  Jesus' entire point here is to drive home the fact the Messiah would be more than a mere man, he was in fact David's Lord and of his seed. Christ pulled no punches in asserting who he really was. The Father was speaking to the Son who sits at His right hand. It's also interesting to see Christ mentioning David speaking by the Spirit, Christ recognized the 3rd member of the trinity, the Holy Spirit to be the true author of God's infallible Word. 

Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me. -Isaiah 48:16

    This scripture affirms the three in one foretold by the prophet Isaiah: the Lord GOD (God the Father), and his Spirit (The Holy Spirit), hath sent me (God the Son Jesus Christ).

God the Son, God the Father, God the Holy Spirit all affirmed as God

Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) -Galatians 1:1

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. -Titus 2:13

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ -2nd Peter 1:1

But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. -Acts 5:3-4

    Those who deny the trinity never really dispute God the Father as God, but it is still important nonetheless to make the point that the scriptures affirm Him as God.  Jesus is affirmed as God several times in the scriptures (John 1:18, John 20:28, Acts 20:28, Hebrews 1:8, Rev 1:7-8), Titus 2:13 makes it abundantly clear that He is the great God and the Savior of mankind.  The Holy Spirit is clearly affirmed as God in Acts 5:3-4, lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God.  Most of the controversy concerning the Holy Spirit is his personage.  Some make the false claim that the Holy Spirit is just some type of impersonal force.  Scripture does not affirm this but rather that the Holy Spirit is a person. The Holy Spirit has a mind and will (Romans 8:27). He is a Comforter (John 14:16), he is a teacher (John 14:26), can make judgments (Acts 15:28), can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), and illustrates his humility in glorifying Jesus Christ (John 16:7-14). 

Illustration of a Tri-Unity God

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.-Psalm 19:1

    My brother and I have often talked of our favorite illustration of God's triune nature.  It is by no means perfect, but by it was can see God's fingerprint on creation as a reflection of his triune character. Reality as we know it... creation... the universe, is made up of three things. Time, space, and matter.  All three are stitched together in unison to create the picture of reality as we experience it:

Time: Past, Present, Future
Space: Length, Width, Height
States of Matter: Solid, Liquid, Gas

Reality stands on these three, and yet they are separate. Take one away and our reality would cease to exist.  

Personage of Christ

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. -Colossians 1:13-20

    Jesus Christ is called the firstborn, which does not denote that he was the firstborn of creation but rather expresses His preeminence over it.  Firstborn is not always used to denote time, but also is used as a title, you can see that this was the case with King David.  David was appointed as God's firstborn (Psalm 89:27), and yet he was not the firstborn of his father nor the oldest.  We see here that David is given a position of all kings over the earth.  Christ is distinguished as the firstborn in this way, He is the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and much more than David is preeminent over all creation, life, and death. Furthermore, the following verse states by Him all things were created.  Let God's Word be true and every man a liar, it is a lie to suggest that Christ was created, as he is the creator, and the great I AM, by Him all things consist (John 8:58). Christ came down, as God in the flesh, humbled himself as a servant, and lived a perfect life fulfilling His holy law (Matt 5:17). All men have broken God's Holy Law, the 10 commandments (Romans 3:10; 3:23).  Christ came as the foretold unblemished Lamb of God to die for your sins (Isaiah 53). His blood on the cross has made a way for man to be made right in his creator's eyes.  All God requires is your trust in Him (John 3:16-17).  Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be saved from the penalty of your sin (Romans 10:9), and will graciously receive an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11) in the realm of God the Father, God the Son, and God The Holy Spirit.  By believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit will find a permanent place in your heart the moment you believe (Ephesians 1:13), Christ's death has satisfied the Father (1st John 2:2).  In accepting Christ today he will intercede for your sins (Romans 8:34). You will be made righteous before God for time and all eternity, after have God's Word on it.

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. 1st Timothy 3:16

*The Johannine Comma is divinely inspired see here.

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