Friday, November 19

The Holy Trinity (Part One)

The triune identity of God is something that Christians seem to put a lot of emphasis on. What is the reason behind it? Why insist that God is three, yet he is one? Is there a biblical basis for this, or is it all based on man's fallible ideas? (Photo credit to: RPE)

The word "trinity" is not actually found in the Bible. It is because of this that critics believe it is made up. "Trinity" is merely an extra-biblical word we use to describe the Godhead. There is nothing non-biblical about that. The word was first used by Theophilus, the man whom Luke wrote Luke and Acts to.

The basic idea of the Trinity is this: That God is one, that there is only one true God, that God the Father is a distinct personality, separate from Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It entails that Jesus Christ was truly God, yet at the same time is also distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit, and that the Holy Spirit is distinct from the Father and Jesus. (For more on the Holy Spirit, see entry, "The Nature of the Holy Spirit")

Is there a biblical basis for any of this? Yes, actually - there is much to support the idea of a Trinity. The very first book of the bible introduces us to the Trinity. Genesis 1:1-2 says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God - the Holy Spirit makes his first appearance in the second verse of the Bible.

We take a look at Genesis 1:26, "Then God said, 'Let us make human beings our image, in our likeness..." Notice the usage of the phrases, "us," and "our." He could not have been talking to his angels, which were made sometime in the first six days, because human beings were not created in the image of angels, but of God - he was speaking with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. How do we know that Jesus Christ was around from the beginning?

Colossians 1:15-20 says, "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones of powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him, to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross."

Jesus too, has been here from the beginning. In fact, as we are told, "in him all things were created." Everything was created in him and for him. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit are all God, yet all distinct personalities. The concept of the Trinity is "profoundly realistic in both universal experience and in the scientific understanding of the cosmos." (Christian Answers)

Does the Bible refer to the Godhead in such a way as to describe it? Colossians 2:9, "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form." Romans 1:20 says, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." The Trinity has always been.

God tells us continually that he is Lord. There is One, yet Three. Think of it like a computer. You have a computer, but without a monitor or electricity, they are virtually useless to you. But when you have all three, everything works. Without Jesus, The Holy Spirit and the Father would not be whole, and the converse is also true.

Isaiah 48:16 says, "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." Who is the speaker? It is not Isaiah, he is quoting someone. Jesus is the speaker. He tells us that his Father has sent him and endowed him with his Spirit - the Holy Spirit. The Trinity at work.

Jesus says in John 15:26, "When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to your from the Father - the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father - he will testify about me." Matthew 28:19 tells us to be baptized "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." It appears evident that these three personalities are at least closely intertwined, as in a tapestry, or an orchestra where each instrument plays together in harmony. They are the Trinity.

Did Jesus ever actually claim to be God? Many times, he referred to himself as "the Son," the Son of Man," referring to God as his "Father," and claimed to be the promised Messiah. But did he declare he was Lord? Actually, yes. Now of course, he discussed this with Pilate. "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place." (John 18:36)

"'You are a king, then!' said Pilate. Jesus answered, 'You say that I am a king. In fact, the very reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." (John 18:37, See entry: "What Is Truth?") Yet, the question remains: has Jesus implcitily stated that he is God? Yes.

Jesus says in Revelation 1:8, "'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'" Jesus, before showing John over 1,900 years into Earth's future, said this to him. What about the Holy Spirit? Jesus says in John 16:13-15, "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own: he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you."

Authors Henry Morris and Martin Clark put it this way, "The Father is the unseen, omnipresent Source of all being, revealed in and by the Son, experienced in and by the Holy Spirit. The Son proceeds from the Father, and the Spirit from the Son. With reference to God's creation, the Father is the Thought behind it, the Son is the Word calling it forth, and the Spirit is the Deed making it a reality. We “see” God and His great salvation in the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, then “experience” their reality by faith, through the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit." 

In this mini-series, we will continue to take a look at the Holy Trinity - but we will be looking at the appearances of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in the Hebrew Bible, followed by God's appearances to people throughout the Bible (theophanies), and consummated in Incarnation of Christ. Thank you for taking the time to read this entry of, "The Truth."

Troy Hillman

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