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Back to the Basics: Theology Proper #7 The Truth of the Trinity!

11 Mar

The belief in one God eternally existent as three persons is taught in the Bible and should be embraced and acknowledged by all genuine Christians.  Explain the Trinity? We can’t even begin. We can only accept it—a mystery, disclosed in Scripture. It should be no surprise that the triune Being of God baffles our finite minds. We should be surprised, rather, if we could understand the nature of our Creator. “He would be a two-bit deity, not the fathomless Source of all reality.” (Vernon Grounds)

“God, to keep us sober, speaks sparingly of His essence.” (John Calvin)

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)

“But the word ‘Trinity’ isn’t even in the Bible!” said the nicely dressed young Jehovah’s Witness who was standing on my front porch. Perhaps you’ve had the same thing happen to you. Why do we Christians believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, and does such a controversial belief really matter?

We believe in God’s unity or oneness and therefore reject any notion of more than one God in the universe. Christians are not polytheists (a belief in more than one God). But doesn’t the doctrine of the Trinity sound like a belief in three gods?

First of all, it must be said that we affirm the doctrine of the Trinity despite the fact that the term does not occur in the Bible. Other terms important to us do not occur in the Bible either, such as “theocracy” (government by God—a favorite term of Jehovah’s Witnesses, by the way), “theodicy” (a defense of God’s goodness in the face of evil’s reality) or “Sunday school” (we all know what that term means!). The issue is not whether the word itself appears in the Bible, but whether the concept is a biblical one.

The great scholar Tertullian coined the term “Trinity” to explain the biblical data that asserts God’s oneness (“unity”) and His plurality (“threeness”). What is the evidence of His “threeness”? Traditional references include Genesis 1:26 (“Let us make man in our image,” emphasis added), Matthew 3:16-17 (the baptism of Jesus), Matthew 28:19-20 (the Great Commission), as well as benedictions or blessings, such as Second Corinthians 13:14 (which mentions Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and Jude 20-21.

The fact of the matter is that the Bible indicates that the Father is God (Deuteronomy 6:3), the Son is God (John 1:1; 20:28) and the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4)—yet there is only one God! The burden is on the one who denies the doctrine of the Trinity to explain such passages, and, believe me, the Jehovah’s Witnesses certainly try! For them only Jehovah is the almighty God. Jesus is God’s first creation (actually, they believe He is Michael the archangel, who gave up His angelic nature to become man) and the Holy Spirit is neither divine nor a real person (He is Jehovah’s “active force”). Such explanations support one kind of strict monotheism, but do little justice to the clear evidences of both Christ’s and the Holy Spirit’s full deity (subjects we will examine more closely when we discuss the doctrine of Christ and the doctrine of the Holy Spirit).

Such theological questions seem completely irrelevant to the world around us. But if we are dealing with the very nature of the living and true God, we must take the biblical material seriously. The doctrine of the Trinity explains, for example, how God could love before He created the world. He did not need to create in order to love. There was love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit before this world came into existence.

“Father, I don’t understand Your essential being, and I shouldn’t expect to. I want to believe what Your Word teaches. Help me to worship You, to proclaim Your Son’s finished work, on Calvary and to enjoy the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.’

Having the wrong view of God means having the wrong view of Jesus. And that is spiritually lethal.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 11, 2018 in doctrine of God

 

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One response to “Back to the Basics: Theology Proper #7 The Truth of the Trinity!

  1. Gerry T. Neal

    March 11, 2018 at 11:32 pm

    It is unfortunate that many who consider themselves to be orthodox Trinitarians get that there is one God, and that there are three Divine Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – Who are that one God – and think that this is where the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity ends. So you end up with a popular evangelical pastor, radio Bible teacher, and seminary president who for over twenty years maintains that Jesus became the Son of God in His Incarnation, but thinks he is an orthodox Trinitarian and is defended as such by most of the big names in Reformed evangelical theology. Or a man who devotes his ministry to warning people about the false doctrines of heretical sects and yet teaches the same thing. The Scriptures clearly identify the Holy Spirit as the agent in the Incarnation. If Jesus was eternally the Word of God, but only became the Son of God in the Incarnation, the inescapable conclusion is that the Holy Spirit must be His Father. This is Sabellianism, the confusion of the Persons. Which is why the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son from the Father has been considered an essential part of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, as important as the essential unity of God and His Threeness in Person, since the early church, and is enshrined as such in the most important and authoritative faith confession the Christian Church ever drew up, the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.

     

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