December 31, 2010
Last month, we studied the truth that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is also God the Son and the Second Person of the Trinity, fully God.
We saw that in the very Scripture where the angel Gabriel announced Jesus’ coming birth (Luke 1:35), all three Persons of the Trinity are present. If you haven’t seen that study, you can find it on this page to your right under “Recent Bible Studies.” This month, a continuation of that study, we again look deeply into the Trinity.
The concept of the Trinity is so basic that if you miss it, you miss all of Christianity. The doctrine of the Trinity is the great Christian distinctive. It separates Christianity from all other beliefs. Not just other religions, but even those faith systems that claim to be “Christian,” like Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses, which do not hold to the doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity is the dividing line between true, orthodox Christian faith and aberrations from the faith.
Before we begin, take a moment and write your definition of the Trinity. If someone asked you to explain it, what would you say? At the end of the study, see if your understanding has changed.
When someone is asked “What do you mean by the Holy Trinity?” they sometimes answer, “There’s God, then Jesus, and then the Holy Spirit.” No. There’s God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Last month we looked at a number of Scriptures that clearly proclaimed Jesus Christ to be God…God the Son. If you missed that, you may want to review it now.
Some factions say that the Holy Spirit is merely a force. Sometimes believers get a little removed from the Person of the Holy Spirit and refer to the Holy Spirit as an “it.” He is not an “it.” The Bible teaches that He is a person, just as much a person as God the Father and God the Son. Indeed, He has all the characteristics of a person. Let’s look at some of these, and as we do, fill in the blanks from these Scriptures:
A. He speaks. See Acts 13:2 “…the Holy Spirit ________.”
B. He is self-aware. In this same verse, Acts 13:2, what pronouns does the Holy Spirit use to refer to Himself? _______ and _______
C. He has feelings and can be saddened. See Ephesians 4:30. “And _______not the Holy Spirit of God….”
D. He loves. See Romans 15:30. “Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the _________ of the Spirit….”
E. He has a will. See 1 Corinthians 12:11. “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He ______.”
F. He can be offended. See Hebrews 10:29. “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and ___________ the Spirit of grace?”
G. He can be lied to. See Acts 5:3 “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to _____ to the Holy Spirit…?”
In this same story of Ananias (Acts 5) , in the next verse (v. 4) Peter says, “You have not lied unto me, but unto _______.” The Holy Spirit is ________. Read verses 3 and 4 together to see this clearly.
How often on Sunday morning have you sung, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, God in three Persons, blessed Trinity,” and not understood the implications of what you were singing?
We’re going to look in both the Old and the New Testament and see the Trinity.
The only way we can know about the Holy Trinity is by divine revelation. You will never understand the Trinity by human investigation, logic, philosophy, or science. Don’t get the idea that on your own you “discover” the Trinity. The only way you can know about the Trinity is what God says in His Word. John Wesley, a great man of God, said, “How can a worm understand a man, and how can a man understand God?”
When we say there’s a divine Trinity, one God in three Persons, some people say, “Well, that’s contradictory to logic. That sounds like you’re worshipping three Gods.” No. There are a lot of things we don’t understand about the one true God.
If you think about it, those things are absolutely contradictory to logic, and yet they are true. God never had a beginning, and God is everywhere. That’s not logical, but it’s certainly true.
You say, “Well, I have some questions about the Trinity.” Friend, a five year old child can ask questions that no one can answer. It doesn’t matter that you can’t understand it. Do we understand infinity? Do we understand eternity? Of course we don’t. The doctrine of the Trinity rises or falls on divine revelation. Don’t try to dissect it. You cannot take it apart like the parts of a watch, lay it all out on a table and say, “Ah, now I understand.” Just accept what the Bible says.
Some people try to prove or disprove the Trinity with illustrations. But you cannot. Because there’s only one God, there’s nothing you can compare Him to. We can compare one book to another or one church to another, but there’s only one God. Turn to Isaiah 40:18.
“To whom then will ye liken God? Or what likeness will ye_____________ unto Him?”
You can’t say God is “like” anything. God is not like anything.
Some have tried to explain the Trinity by saying, “A man can be a father, a son, and a brother all at the same time, and that’s like the Trinity.” No.
Or you may have heard, “The Trinity is like the three forms of water: ice (solid), water (liquid) and steam (vapor). God can be three different forms.” No.
You’ve just wandered into the heresy known as “modalism.” God doesn’t “morph” Himself into three different forms—He is three distinct Persons.
If you say, “Well, it doesn’t make sense to me,” frankly, I’m glad it doesn’t make sense either to you or me. We don’t want a God we can understand. Turn in your Bible to Isaiah 55:8-9. God is speaking:
“For My thoughts are not _______ ____________, neither are your ways _____ ________________, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways _____________ than your ways, and My thoughts ________ your thoughts.”
It ought to give us comfort that we don’t understand the Trinity. God is bigger and greater than we are. A wise man once said,
It is Bible doctrine. The only reason we believe it is because the Bible teaches it.
You say, “I can’t put any faith in something I can’t understand.” Well then, don’t turn on the lights. You don’t understand electricity. You may say, “Oh, I understand electricity. I’m an electrician.” Einstein said he didn’t understand electricity. He said he hoped before he died he could understand electricity And he never did. Vance Havner added, “I don’t understand it either, but I’m not going to sit in the dark until I do.”
Don’t think you have to define or explain God. The Trinity is a sublime mystery.
As you open the Bible, you see the Holy Trinity at work in history:
What we see are reflections of the Trinity, but not illustrations of the Trinity, in so much that God has created…
Time is past, present, and future. That’s a trinity. The past is not the present; the present is not the future; and the future is not the past. All three are distinguishable, all three are inseparable, and you can’t have one without the other.
Space involves height, width, and depth. Height is not width; width is not depth; depth is not height. All are distinguishable, but all are inseparable. They all exist together. You can’t have one without the other.
Man. Man is body, soul, and spirit. Yet you’re one person.
In Creation of the Universe. On the very portals of the Bible, you’ll find the Holy Trinity.
Turn to Genesis 1:1.“In the beginning _____ ___________ the heaven and the earth.”
The word for God there is the Hebrew word Elohim. It ends with the letters “im,” the plural ending. Literally the original language says, “In the beginning Elohim [Gods, plural] created [singular] the heaven and the earth.”
In the Creation of Man. You’ll find the same thing in the creation of man.
Continue to Genesis 1:26. “And God, [Elohim, plural. Literally you could translate, “…and Gods”] said, Let Us [not let Me, but let Us] make man in Our image….”
God is speaking. Who is He speaking to? He’s speaking with Himself. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit create man in the image of God.
In the creation of the Word. How did the Bible come about? From the Holy Trinity.
1. The Bible is inspired by God the Father. Turn to 2 Timothy 3:16
“All Scripture is given by __________________ of ________….”
Every verse in the Bible is God-breathed.
2. But God the Son also wrote the Scripture. Turn to 1 Peter 1:10-11.
“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or by what manner the ___________ of _________ which was in them did signify…”
Who was in the prophets? The Spirit of ___________.
3. But also the Bible was inspired by God the Holy Spirit. Turn to 2 Peter 1:21
“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the ________ _____________.”
In the Great Commission. Just as Jesus Christ left this earth, He gave the Church its commission for continuing His ministry. Here again we see the Holy Trinity. Turn to Matthew 28:19-20.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the __________, and of the ________, and of the________ ___________ .”
Let’s pause in our “Digging Deeper” for this month. It’s a rich subject, and there is much to ponder here. We are really just getting “warmed up.” There is so much more. Next month, we will conclude this thoughtful examination of the Trinity and what it reveals about the nature of our great and truly unfathomable God.
Look back now at your original description, written earlier, about the Trinity. Do you see some points you would like to change? Or add?