21 September 2017

HOW DOES GOD EXPRESS HIMSELF

FATHER, SON, HOLY SPIRIT.

THE TRINITY

It is of interest that the actual word ‘trinity’ does not occur in the Bible. Because of this some people object to its use in the context of theology.

Although the term is not ‘written’ in Scripture we would say that the doctrine is woven into the Scripture in such a way as to make the doctrine implicit throughout the entire Bible. Whether Christians use the word ‘trinity’ or not they are trinitarian, at least in some understanding of the term.

THE 3 GREAT FACTS

There are three great facts, not to be completely understood but to be accepted as they are presented to us in the Scriptures.

1. God is one. Or there is one God. “Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord.” Deut. 6: 4. “Hear O Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

There were many polytheistic religions among the nations of Old Testament times but the Jews were a totally convinced monotheistic people. They believed in and worshipped the One Lord, the Creator of the universe.

Although the Jews were always deviating in their worship in the creation of images and idols, they never seemed to deviate in their conviction that God is one.

2. Each of the three Persons of the Trinity is fully God. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are God. The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God.

The Father is God but God is not the Father.

The Son is God but God is not the Son.

The Spirit is God but God is not the Spirit.

3. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons, God in three Persons. For example at the Baptism of Jesus the distinction between the Persons is relatively clear.

Matt. 3: 13-17.

The Son was present as the Incarnate Christ. The Spirit of God was present as He descended “like a dove” and came on the Son. The Father was present as a voice – “This is my Son whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”

How then can we understand that God is one and yet the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three distinct persons? Daniel Webster was once asked, “How can you reconcile the doctrine of the Trinity with reason?” The statesman of great intellect replied, “Do you expect to understand the arithmetic of heaven?”

Augustine was walking along a seashore when he came across a young boy who was digging a trench. The great theologian asked the boy what he was doing only to be told that he wanted to “empty the sea into his trench.” Augustine then said to himself “Am I not trying to do the same thing as this child in seeking to exhaust with my reason the infinity of God and to collect it within the limits of my own mind?”

Professor J Kenneth Griden says, “Off with your shoes, please, for the Holy Trinity is holy ground – here logic and mathematics do not suffice. The need is rather for a listening ear, an obedient heart, rapt adoration, a careful engagement with the Holy Scriptures.”

The Trinity in the Scriptures.

While the doctrine is evident in the New Testament, it is much more concealed in the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament the Trinity is hinted at.

I. In the Hebrew word for God ‘ELOHIM’ – Here we find that God has given Himself a plural name. Elohim allows for the doctrine.

II. A somewhat stronger indication of the Trinity is found in Genesis 1:26. When it is recorded of God that God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” With whom was God talking? Also in Is. 6:8 the Lord asks the question, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” There is implied this plurality in the Godhead.

The Trinity in the New Testament.

(a) At the baptism of Jesus. Matt.3: 13-17. Mark 1: 9-11.

(b) In the Great Commission. Matt.28: 19. “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” John 14: 16-17. “And I will ask the Father and He will give you another (Comforter) Counsellor to be with you for ever – the Spirit of Truth.”

Jesus, God the Son, is to ask God the Father to send another Counsellor, God the Holy Spirit.

ALL THREE PERSONS CLEARLY IN VIEW.

Paul’s Writings – 2nd Cor. 13: 14.

Paul so often uses the words of what we call the “grace.” “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

ALL THREE PERSONS CLEARLY IN VIEW.

Peter’s Writings – 1st Peter 1: 2.

“Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect ……….. who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father through the sanctifying work of the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His blood.”

ALL THREE PERSONS CLEARLY IN VIEW.

The New Testament has the doctrine of the Trinity both in specific references to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and in specific passages that emphasize teaching on one of the Persons of the Trinity.

SUMMARY

I. There is one God.

II. God is in three Persons.

III. Each Person is fully God.

Throughout the history of the Church there have been attempts to explain, to reconcile and to understand these three statements. Any weakening of any one of the statements surely leads to a denial of one of these great truths.

The Eternal Trinity

At creation:-

God the Father spoke – Gen. 1: 1. And God said “Let there be light.”

God the Son was the agent in Creation – John 1: 3. “Through Him all things were made.”

God the Spirit was active – Gen. 1: 2. “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

All three Persons have existed from all eternity. None preceded the other. No-one is less than God. All three are equally and fully divine.

“In the confession of the Trinity throbs the heart of the Christian religion” – Athanasius.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS GREAT DOCTRINE.

Unless Jesus is fully and completely God He could not atone for the sins of the world; He could not be a Saviour nor could He receive worship.

BUT JESUS IS LORD.

We should glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by acknowledging His full Deity and by trusting only in Him as Saviour and by serving Him as Lord.

Let’s say with Thomas when he saw the nail pierced hands of Jesus “My Lord and my God.”

John Matthews