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Archive for August 8th, 2014

trinity

  • EXPLAINING THE “TRINITY”
    • [Introductory words]:
      • Because the Trinity has often been misconstrued, it is imperative to provide the foundational elements of the Trinity.  Although the word Trinity does not appear in the Bible, it does not mean the Trinity is prevented from being taught.  The concept of the word Trinity is rooted and anchored in Scripture.  Central to its concept is how God can be both one revealed as three.  Many in the early church had to grapple with this concept.  Many did not want to lose sight of a monotheistic faith that many of the Jewish believers in the Bible adhered to and followed.  However, the Trinity is the fountain head of our faith.  It is the fountain head that adheres to the monotheistic faith of the believers in the Bible.
    • [Snapshot from church history]:
      • Many tried to redefine God in their own perspective and rationalism, which resulted in myriads of heresies such as dynamic monarchianism, modalistic, monarchianism, subordinationism, unitarianism, tritheism, etc.
      • Some of the most familiar heresies are unitarianism, sabellianism, and tritheism.
        • Unitarianism is the belief that the Father is the Creator, the Son is a creature, and that the Holy Spirit is impersonal.
        • Sabellianism (also known as modalism) is the belief that God takes on three different modes rather than seeing them as three eternal distinct persons.  In other words, in the OT, you had the Father, and in the NT, you had the Son, and the now in the present, you have the Holy Spirit.
        • Tritheism carries the notion that there are three gods rather than one God.
        • The church understood the importance of defining God biblically.  In an effort to preserve the Trinity as taught in Scripture, the pre-nicene church (A.D. 33-325), the council of Nicea (A.D. 325), the council of Constantinople (A.D. 381), etc. tried to reserve the biblical teaching of God.
        • Here is one famous historical battle to take mental note (2nd-4th centuries AD).
          • Arian controversy and Athanasius’ (Bishop of Alexandria) exile.   An exile of Athanasius that was due to his acceptance of homoousios (“same substance”) and his denial of  homoiousios (“similar substance”).  The difference was over one Greek letter; and it was enough to have him exiled for over 16 years.  For Athanasius, he understood that in the incarnation of Christ, the Son was subordinate to the Father in function, but ontologically, he was equal to the Father in essence and substance, not similar.  His deity was not divested at His incarnation.
    • [Illustrations and Analogies]:
      • Oftentimes, people will try to use illustrations and analogies in explaining the Trinity, but I think that is a defeated cause.  I don’t think you can use illustrations and analogies when trying to explaining the one in three and the three in one.  This particular  truth concerning God is a transcendent revelation.
      • Some have tried to use the construction worker who wears three hats, the  gas, liquid, and solid, the apple, and Starbucks (multiple franchises).  However, all of those illustrations can lead to a negative misrepresentation (i.e. modalism) and implications of the Trinity if one is not careful.
      • The best way to explain the Trinity is through the Scripture,
    • [Foundational elements]:
      • God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4; 20:2-4; 3:13-15; 1 Timothy 1:7; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; James 2:19), but reveals Himself as three distinct persons.  One God, but three distinct persons.
      • The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father, the Father is not the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is not the Father, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Son, etc.
      • Each of the persons in the Godhead is Deity.
      • Each person in the Godhead are eternal.
      • Each person is the same in essence and attribute and neither of the Godhead are inferior or superior to one another.
      • Each person in the Godhead is not made, has no beginning (John 1:1), nor has an end, and without division of nature, essence, or being.
      • The Trinity cannot be rationalized in accordance to the human perspective.  It is transcendent and incomprehensible.
        • As Job states so clearly when it comes to God, “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” (Job 11:7; cf. Psa. 145:3, Rom. 11:33).
  • WHY THE NEED FOR THE TRINITY?
    • [Incomprehensible]:
      • Without the Trinity, we as finite human beings would not be able to comprehend God.  Moreover, the revealing of the Godhead allows us to have a personal relationship with the Holy God of this world.  His ultimate revelation was His Son in the OT and the NT.  The ultimate revelation was His Son’s incarnation.  The Son who explained immortal and invisible God in great ways (John 1:18).
    • [Relationship to the Creator]:
      • Because of Christ, we are able to understand and appreciate greatly concerning God’s holiness, justice,  grace, mercy, love, and other truths about Him.
      • Christ willingly revealed Himself to us.  If He did not reveal Himself, we would not know God fully.  For example, you can’t know the Godhead of the Bible by just looking at creation.  God has to reveal Himself. And He revealed Himself to us through His Word.  His Word confirms how he is revealed in creation, our conscience, and His Son.   His Word reveals that there is a plurality in the Godhead, personality in the Godhead, and deity in the Godhead, equality, and essence and attributes in the Godhead.
  • PLURALITY OF PERSONS
    • Verses that point to the plurality of the persons:
      • Psalm 2:7; 1 Peter 1:2; John 1:17; 1 Cor. 8:6; Phil. 2:11; Ps. 2:7; Heb. 1:1-13; Ps. 68:18; Isa. 6:1-3; 9:6; Matt. 3:16-17; Gen. 1:1-2; Exod. 31:3; Judg. 15:14; Isa. 11:2; Acts 5:3-4; 2 Cor. 3:17.
      • Plural pronouns point to plurality:
        • Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’” (NASB).
      • The use of the singular word “name” that is used in reference to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit points the inviolableness of the oneness of God within the three persons of the Godhead.
        • Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”
  • THE PERSONALITY OF THE TRINITY
    • The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not things, they are persons that have a will, senses, works, to name but a few.
      • Father:
        • He has a will: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21).
        • He has senses such as being able to see (Matt. 6:4) and speak (Matt. 3:17), does not forgive (Matt 6:15-16) or send off (1John 4:14).
      • Son:
        • He has a will: “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26:39).
        • The Son, namely Jesus is able to see (John 9:1), speak (Matt. 5:2), forgives (Mark2:5) or send off (Matt. 28:19).
      • Holy Spirit:
        • The Spirit can see or witness (Acts 5:32), speak (Acts 8:29), guides (John 16:13) and send off (Acts 13:1-4).
        • The Spirit does things that no inanimate objects can do.  He loves: “I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” (Romans15:30).
  • THE ESSENCE: ATTRIBUTES OF THE TRINITY
    • In their essence, we see that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit shares the same attributes.
      • Father:
        • Eternality: Psalm 90:2, “Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
        • Power: 1 Peter 1:5, “Who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
        • Omniscience: Jer. 17:10, “‘I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.'”
        • Omnipresence: Jer. 23:24“’Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?’ declares the Lord.  ‘Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?’ declares the Lord.”
        • Holiness: Rev. 15:4, “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name?  For You alone are holy;
          for all the nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed.”
        • Truth: John 7:28, “Then Jesus cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, ‘You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know.'”
        • Unchangeable: Psalm 33:11; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 1:12; Hebrews 6:17-18; James 1:17
        • Benevolence: Rom. 2:4, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
      • Son:
        • Eternality: John 1:2, “He was in the beginning with God.”  Rev. 1:8, 17
        • Power: 2 Cor. 12:9, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
        • Omniscience: Rev. 2:23, “And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.”
        • Omnipresence: Matt. 18:20, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
        • Holiness: Acts 3:14, “But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you.”
        • Truth: Rev. 3:7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this.”
        • Unchangeable: Psalm 33:11; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 1:12; Hebrews 6:17-18; James 1:17
        • Benevolence: Eph. 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
      • Holy Spirit:
        • Eternality: Heb. 9:14, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
        • Power: Rom. 15:19, “In the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”
        • Omniscience: 1 Cor. 2:11, For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.”
        • Omnipresence: Ps. 139:7, “Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from Your presence?”
        • Holiness: Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
        • Truth: 1 John 5:6, “This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
        • Unchangeable: Psalm 33:11; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 1:12; Hebrews 6:17-18; James 1:17
        • Benevolence: Neh. 9:20, “You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, and You gave them water for their thirst.
  • THE EQUALITY OF THE TRINITY SEEN WITH DIFFERENT ROLES
    • In the midst of their active roles, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are equal.
      • Father:
        • Creation of the World: Ps. 102:25“Of old You founded the earth,and the heavens are the work of Your hands.”
        • Creation of Man: Gen. 2:7, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”
        • Baptism of Christ: Matt. 3:17, “And behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’”
        • Death of Christ: Heb. 9:14, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
        • Gospel: Romans 1:1, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.” Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
        • Salvation: 1 Peter 1:2, “According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.”
        • Judgment: Hebrews 9:27; Hebrews 13:4; Revelation 6:16; Romans 1:18; 1:24-28
      • Son:
        • Creation of the World: Col. 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.”
        • Creation of Man: Col. 1:16
        • Baptism of Christ: Matt. 3:16,  “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him.”
        • Death of Christ: Heb. 9:14, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
        • Gospel: Romans 1:1; Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
        • Salvation: 1 Peter 1:2
        • Judgment: John 5:22; Hebrews 9:27; Hebrews 13:4; Revelation 6:16; Romans 1:18
      • Holy Spirit:
        • Creation of the World: Gen. 1:2, “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Job 26:13, “By His breath the heavens are cleared.  His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent.”
        • Creation of Man: Job. 33:4“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
        • Baptism of Christ: Matt. 3:16
        • Death of Christ: Heb. 9:14, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
        • Gospel: Romans 1:1; Romans 1:16
        • Salvation: 1 Peter 1:2
        • Judgment: Judges 3:10; John 16:5-11; Acts 5:1-6;Hebrews 9:27; Hebrews 13:4; Romans 1:18
  • THE DIETY OF THE TRINITY
    • The Bible portrays the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as God.
      • FATHER:
        • He is called God in Galatians 1:1, Phil. 2:11 and 1Peter 1:2
        • He is prayed to (Matthew 6:9), eternal (Romans 1:20), worshiped (Phil. 4:20) and we can have fellowship with anywhere (1John 1:3; Deut. 6:13; cf. Matt. 4:9-10; Ps. 97:7; Isa. 45:23; Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9
      •  SON:
        • He is called God: See John 8:58; 20:28, Titus 2:13
        • Jesus, the Son is eternal (John 1:1), involved in Creation (Col. 1:16), worshipped (Matt. 2:2, 11; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9, 17; Phil. 2:10-11; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 1:17; 5:14) and we can have fellowship with Him anywhere (1John 1:3).
      •  SPIRIT:
        • He is called God: See Acts 5:3 in light of Acts 5:4; Hebrews 9:14
        • The Spirit is eternal (Hebrews 9:14), searches the things of God (1Corinthians 2:10), involved in Creation (Genesis 1:2), worshipped (2 Cor. 13:14 [prayer addressed to God]) and we can have fellowship with Him anywhere (2Corinthians 13:14).
          • Loraine Boettner says 2 Corinthians 13:14 “Is a prayer addressed to Christ for His grace, to the Father for His love, and to the Holy Spirit for His fellowship” (Studies in Theology, p. 92).
          • Prayer is a form of worship.  The prayer is addressed to the Godhead.

 

 


*Some notes and concepts were adapted from SLIMJIM and David Miller’s notes on the Trinity.

 

 

 

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