September 2, 2018 Trinity

 

 

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;[1]

 

[I. Introduction] The great apostle prayed for the Colossians. He wanted them to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. He desired for them to have wisdom and spiritual understanding. Why? So they would live worthily, pleasing God. This must be the desire of every follower of the Lord Jesus – to live a worthy life, pleasing God! Paul then tells us what this looks like. Practically, walking worthily and pleasing God means bearing fruit and increasing in the knowledge of God.

 

We have been speaking much about bearing fruit in the past months. Today, we will provide a foundation for increasing in the knowledge of God. The more we know of God, the more we will love Him. Hear what God say about Himself:

 

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,

the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. [2]

 

God desires us to love Him more than he desires sacrifice. Notice something about this verse. It exhibits parallelism. Parallelism is a common feature in the Bible. It occurs when two lines say very similar things, usually one after the other. In one kind of parallelism, one finds an obvious, synonymous meaning in words or phrases that appear.

 

Here, it is easy to see that sacrifice and burnt offerings are synonymous expressions. Now look at the fist part of each of these two lines. The terms steadfast love and the knowledge of God are parallel. This means that they are linked to one another. When we have a knowledge of God, we will have a steadfast love of God! Indeed, there are many places in Scripture where the word know is used in the sense of love.

 

The more knowledge of God that we have, the more we will love Him!

 

God has revealed something about Himself that, if understood, will draw us closer to Him in love. What he has revealed is that He is Triune. The word triune is an adjective. He is the Triune God. The word triune means three-in-one. You may be more familiar with the noun that is used to identify God. That noun is the Trinity. God is the Trinity.

 

[II.] We must believe in the Trinity because the more we understand the Trinity the more we will love God. We have already seen that the more knowledge we have of God the more we will love Him. Therefore, if God has revealed that He is Triune, then we must believe this about Him in order to love Him more fully.

 

Those who deny the Trinity, most often, do not understand it. They think they do, but they don’t. 

 

Hence, let us begin with a definition of the Trinity.

 

Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.[3]

 

The entire doctrine of the Trinity rests upon the truth of the first few words. There is only one God. God has one Being. That is, He is one, unique, undivided, and indivisible.[4]

 

The definition also states that there are three divine persons in the one Being. There are not three beings in one being, nor are there three persons in one person. That would be nonsense, yet this is the notion that some of the cults have, such as Jehovah Witnesses or Iglesia Ni Cristo. (Many, if not most, of the cults deny the Trinity.)

 

One radio Bible teacher[5] has explained these first two truths in this way: We need to realize that that we speak of one what and three who’s. The one what is the Being or essence of God. The three who’s are the Father, Son, and Spirit.

 

Then we see in our definition that the relationship among the persons is eternal. There never was a time when there was not the Son. There never was a time when there was not the Spirit. They have always been in relationship with one another. And, they are coequal as to their divine nature. The Father is not 1/3 God and the Son is not 1/3 God and the Spirit is not 1/3 God. Each is fully God.

 

The Trinity then has three foundations.

  • There is only one God.
  • There are three divine Persons.
  • They are coequal and coeternal.

 

These foundations will begin to cause us to love God more.

 

[III.] We must believe in the Trinity because it is a truth of Scripture. It is what God has revealed. It is neither of philosophical origins nor is it mere speculation. As Dr. James White simply puts it, it is “a revealed truth.”[6]

 

A common objection of the cults who deny the Trinity is that the word “Trinity” is not in the Bible. This is actually a silly objection. It doesn’t matter whether a word is in the Bible. It matters whether what the word means is in the Bible.

 

  • After all, the word “Bible” is not in the Bible. But the truth of an inspired book to guide us and teach us is in the Bible. That book’s name is the Bible.
  • The word “inerrancy” is not in the Bible, but the teaching that the Scriptures are without error is.
  • The word “Incarnation” is not in the Bible, but that Christ pre-existed and came to the earth in a human body is.
  • The word “monotheism” is not in the Bible, but the truth of there being only one God is.
  • The word “rapture” is not in the Bible, but the teaching that those who are alive when Jesus comes will meet him in the air is.
  • The phrase “Kingdom Hall” is not in the Bible, but the cult that often raises the objection uses it all the time.

 

The three foundations of the Trinity are all taught in Scripture; that

 

  • There is only one God.
  • There are three divine Persons.
  • The Persons are coequal and coeternal.

 

And, since they are, the Trinity is a revealed truth and must be received. Let us see.

 

[A.] There is only one God. Every faithful Jew for millennia was required to recite the Shema. The Shema is the statement from Deuteronomy chapter six which became a prayer:

 

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. [7]

 

Jews and Christians for thousands of years have always believed that there is only one God because this is God’s revelation of Himself. This separates the Jewish faith and the Christian faith from the other religions of the world. The only other major religion that is monotheistic is Islam, but the god of Islam is so different from the God of the Bible that he is a different god altogether. Allah is a false god.[8]

 

There is one God.

 

[B.] There are three divine Persons in the one, true God.

 

[1.] The Father is God. When people hear or read the word “God” they most often think of the Father. Even when the word God appears in the Bible it very often refers to the Father. And, this is a point that we must keep in mind in helping us to understand the Trinity. When the word “God” is used in the Bible it sometimes refers to the Father. It sometimes refers to the Son. It sometimes refers to the Holy Spirit. And, it sometimes refers to God in his trinity. The cults, not understanding this, will point to verses in the Bible that refer to the Father as God and the Son as “the Son,” or even a man (because Jesus was fully human as well as fully God), and think that this shows that only the Father is God. But this is nothing more than assuming that God can be only one Person. That is what the cults assume before coming to the biblical texts. The Father is God. Even the cults know this.

 

[2.] The Son is God. Here, some cults like the Jehovah Witnesses and Iglesia Ni Cristo, object. Let us see the testimony of Scripture on this matter.

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.[9]

 

Here, the first appearance of the word “God” refers to the Father. Then John writes that the Word, who is Jesus Christ, “was God” in the beginning. In this one verse both the Father and the Son are both called God.

 

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.[10]

 

All things were created through Christ. The Creator, of course, is God. I like the way the NASB translates this verse:

 

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.[11] [Show illustration]

 

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”[12]

 

Thomas calls Jesus his Lord and his God! I like the comments that James White makes about this incident because they are so to the point:

 

There is no reproach of Thomas’s description of Jesus as his Lord and God. No created being could ever allow such words to be addressed to him personally. No angel, no prophet, no sane human being, could ever allow himself to be addressed as “Lord and God.”[13]

 

Jesus not only accepts the words of Thomas but pronounces the blessing of faith upon those who believe s he does:

 

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” [14]

 

In speaking about the Israelites Paul says:

 

To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. [15]

 

Christ is plainly is named “God over all.” It cannot be much clearer!

 

waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. [16]

 

Again, Jesus Christ is called “our great God and Savior.”

 

There are more passages as these, but these should suffice. The Son is God.

 

[3.] The Holy Spirit is God.

 

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”[17]

 

In verse 3 Peter says to Ananias that he lied to the Holy Spirit. In verse 4 he says that by doing this he has lied to God!

 

Even more telling that being called God is what the Holy Spirit does. He

 

  • When he speaks, God is speaking (2Peter 1:21).
  • He gives new life, that is, he brings about the new birth (John 3:6).
  • He is omnipresent (Psalms 139:7).
  • He is omniscient (1 Cor 2:10).
  • He knows and understands the thoughts of the Father (1 Cor 2:11).
  • He is active in the creation of the universe (Genesis 1:2; Psalms 104:30)

 

These attributes are only possessed by God. The Holy Spirit is God.

 

[C.] The Three Persons are coequal and coeternal. Time precludes us from examining the passages of Scripture that prove this. One should keep in mind, though, that differences in function do not indicate an inferiority of nature. For example, in the wonderful design of redemption, the Father plans and directs; the Son accomplishes; and the Spirit applies. Just because each person has a different role in our salvation does not mean any is inferior to the other. In God’s design, the wife is to submit to her husband but this does not mean that she is inferior to her husband. They are equal in life and nature. So it is with the Godhead.

 

We must know that God is triune because it is the truth of Scripture and we have seen this.

 

Now we come to the most important aspect of the Trinity. That is our experience of the Triune nature of God. We have reviewed the points that make up knowledge of the Trinity. In order to most appreciate anything we must go beyond knowledge and experience it.  So it is with the Trinity.

 

[IV.] We must believe in the Trinity because believing is the door to experience. What is the experience of the Triune God?

 

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. [18]

 

With respect to mankind, God is three-in-one so that He can dispense Himself into us and so that we can enjoy Him now and forever![19]

 

The love of the Father is the source. The grace of Christ the Son flows from the love of the Father. The fellowship of the Holy Spirit is the flowing into us of the grace of the Son, together with the Love of the Father, for us to enjoy.

 

One way to express this is to say: The Love of the Father is the source, the grace of the Son is the expression of the Father’s love, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit is the transmission, making the grace of the Son and the love of the Father real to us!

 

This way the Triune God becomes our enjoyment!

 

If a person exercises genuine faith and repents of their sins then they belong to Christ and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within them. But do not think that only the Spirit is within you. The New Testament reveals that all of the Triune God is within you. The Father is in us (Ephesians 4:6). The Son is in us (Colossians 1:27). The Spirit is in us (John 14:17). The Persons of the Godhead are not separate. They are distinct, but not separate. They love together, live together, move together, and do all together. If you have the Spirit you also have the Son. And if you have the Son, you have the Father. Oh! This is glorious! There is nothing like it in the natural realm.

 

Let me say a final word about the Spirit because the Spirit is the key to experiencing the Triune God. You may have heard this saying: “Christ is in the Holy Spirit.” This expression is not in the Bible. No verse says that Christ is in the Holy Spirit.

 

The New Testament says that the Father is made known through the Son and the Son who comes into us is the Spirit. Therefore, “Christ is in the Holy Spirit” is a traditional saying, while “Christ is the Spirit” is the scriptural expression.

 

Doesn’t this cause a love for God to rise up within you? This hearkens back to our very first reason for believing in the Trinity. As we understand Him it causes our love for Him to increase! This becomes our experience.

 

Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.[20]

 

The “last Adam” is Jesus Christ.  He became the life-giving Spirit! Today, the Lord whom we enjoy is the Spirit. It is the Spirit of Christ that we have!

 

Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. [21]

 

We not only enjoy Christ as the Spirit, but we experience freedom too.

 

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. [22]

 

This, then, is the experience of the Triune God coming to us as the Spirit.

 

  • We enjoy God.
  • We love God.
  • We experience freedom from the condemnation of the law, freedom from our own sins, and the freedom of power to live for the Lord.

 

We must believe in the Trinity because believing is the door to experience.

 

[V. Conclusion] We have seen three reasons to believe in the Trinity.

 

  •  We must believe in the Trinity because the more we understand the Trinity the more we will love God.
  • We must believe in the Trinity because it is a truth of Scripture.
  • We must believe in the Trinity because believing is the door to experience.

 

Once we see the Trinity we experience the love, grace, and fellowship of God more fully! Enjoyment and freedom become our legacy now! Do you wish to have more enjoyment and more freedom? Then see the Tri-unity of God. Know the love of the Father. Experience the grace of the Son. And sense the fellowship of the Spirit. “Praise our God the Three in One!”[23]

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Col 1:9–10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ho 6:6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity (Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House Publishers, 1998), 26. [TFT, henceforth]

[4] Ibid, 27.

[5] Hank Hanegraaff

[6] TFT, 28.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Dt 6:4–5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[8] The name “Allah” does appear in Arabic versions of the Bible as the name of God in Arabic. But when Muslims use the name “Allah” to describe their god it conveys their belief in the god of Muhammad, not the true God as revealed in the Bible. Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God!

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 1:1). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[10] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 1:3). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[11] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Jn 1:3). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[12] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 20:24–28). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[13] TFT, 70.

[14] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 20:29). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[15] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 9:5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[16] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Tt 2:13–14). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[17] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 5:1–4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[18] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 13:14). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[19] What follows is from the short book, Concerning the Triune God – the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, by Witness Lee.

[20] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Co 15:45). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[21] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 8:9). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[22] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 3:17). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[23] From the hymn, Glory, Glory to the Father.