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Discussing the Trinity

Published: 30 June 2018 (GMT+10)

It may surprise some to learn that we have supporters who like our work on biblical creation, but disagree with central Christian doctrines which we hold and strongly defend. Bruce B., Australia, wrote,

For my rejection of the false belief of the Trinity, I need only to rely on history, and just one Bible reference although there are many. That reference is Mark12:29-34. Here Jesus defends the Shema, which every Jew learns when he first learns to speak, and repeats each morning. This was an ideal time for the Lord Jesus to teach the Trinity. But he did not. Why?

With 8 or so texts that tell you Jesus has a God, and it is the Father, Who is omnipotent, (Micah 5:4; Matt 27:5,6; John 20:17; Ephes. 1:3; v. 17; 2 Cor. 11:31; Heb 1:8-9;Ps 45:7; 1 Pet 1:3; Rev 3:12) how can you persist in your spiritual blindness? You are still using the term “God the Son, which is a term you will never find used in the Bible, NOT even once. You will find Son of God. Why do you persist in adding to the Scriptures? (Deut. 4:2)

I have studied this topic on and off for 50 years. I wouldn’t dare to accept your delusion. Why don’t you re-study it? You work for Creation Ministries, which talk a lot about checking things out. The tremendous work you do is marred by this fallacy. It’s TIME TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

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Lita Sanders, CMI-US, responds:

I regard the Trinity as a most beloved doctrine, and so I am happy to explain to you why I believe that God is One Being consisting of Three Persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These three exist eternally, equal in power, glory, and deity. Before creation, God existed eternally in a state of perfect fellowship and love within Himself. Each of the three Persons acted in creation, in redemption, and will have roles in the coming restoration.

The Father is God. This is undeniable, and we likely agree about this.

The Son is God. John called Jesus the monogenes theos, or “one and only God” (John 1:18). Paul refers to Jesus as “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). In John 12, John cites Isaiah 6 and explained, “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him” (John 12:41). Whose glory did Isaiah see? “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of his robe filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1) and “And I said, Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, Yahweh of Hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5). John identifies Jesus as Yahweh whom Isaiah saw—how much more clearly could John have made his claim for Jesus’ deity?

Jesus Himself accepted worship (John 9:38; 20:28; Luke 24:52; Matthew 2:11; 14:33; 28:9; 17). It is proper for God to accept worship, but even the most exalted creature must refuse worship and give glory to God (Revelation 19:10, 22:8–9), and God severely judged Nebuchadnezzar and Herod for not giving due glory to God (Daniel 4:28–33; Acts 12:20–23). In accepting worship, Jesus does not leave us any middle ground. Either He is God Himself in the flesh and the proper recipient of our worship, or He is not God and is guilty of great blasphemy and was deserving of death for it under the Mosaic law. There is no third option. I could multiply many such proofs of Jesus’ deity from the Scriptures.

The Holy Spirit is God Himself, distinct in personality from the Father and the Son. The Spirit of Yahweh appears often in the Old Testament, equipping God’s people for His service. John records Jesus’ promises to His disciples regarding the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that the Spirit would be “another comforter” like Jesus—which would imply that the comforter is a divine Person, like Jesus is (John 14:16–17). Furthermore, the Spirit will teach and remind them (John 14:26), bear witness (15:26), convict the world (16:8), guide into truth (16:13), and many other things that only persons can do.1

Paul also makes comments about the Spirit that clearly show that He is a divine Person. Paul says, “The Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10–11).2

There are places where the three Persons of the Trinity appear together in the same narrative. At Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit descended like a dove and came to rest on Jesus, while a voice from Heaven (the Father) said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16–17). Also, Jesus commanded the disciples to baptize in the name (singular) of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Paul says “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone (1 Corinthians 12:4–6). See how the three Persons of the Trinity—the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus, and God the Father, are used in this construction?

And finally, consider the doctrine that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). How can God be love, that is, how can He have love as one of His attributes in and of Himself without needing anyone else to love? Because the Father loves the Son and the Spirit, the Son loves the Father and the Spirit, and the Spirit loves the Father and the Son.

How does it work that God is One Being existing in three Persons? It is a mystery that no one can completely understand, but we can apprehend the truth that is revealed in Scripture, even if it is beyond us to plumb its depths.

References and notes

  1. Peterson, Robert A., Salvation Applied by the Spirit, Crossway, 2015, pp. 296–297. Return to text.
  2. Ref. 1, p. 298. Return to text.

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