Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The Trinity; is it biblical?
The doctrine of the Trinity, simply stated, is as follows: The Bible teaches that there is one eternal God who is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He is the only God that exists. However, within the nature of this one God are three persons, or three centers of consciousness - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three Persons are co-equal and co-eternal. They are also distinguishable or distinct from one another. These three distinct Persons are the one God. Everything that is true about God is true about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. While the Bible teaches that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Spirit is God it is wrong to say that God is the Father, God is the Son, or God is the Spirit. God's nature consists of three distinct Persons. Therefore it is incorrect to limit God to one particular member of the Trinity.
We find all three members of the Trinity at the baptism of Jesus.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased". Mat 3:16, 17
God the Father acknowledged God the Son, while God the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus.
The doctrine of the Trinity was not clearly formulated until after the New Testament was written. However there are anticipations of the doctrine in the Old Testament. A hint of the doctrine of the Trinity can be found in the first verse of the Bible. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Gen 1:1 The Hebrew word for God is Elohim. Elohim is a plural noun but it is used here with a singular verb bara. In the remainder of the Old Testament, when Elohim speaks of the true God, it is always used with a singular verb. The conclusion to be drawn is that in some sense God is both singular and plural. The doctrine of the Trinity states this – within the nature of the one God there are three eternal persons. We find a further hint of the Trinity in Genesis 1
Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth" Gen 1:26
The phrase "let us" again gives the idea of plurality. The word "us" cannot refer to angels because angels do not create.
Therefore, in the first chapter of the Bible we have a hint of the Trinity with the plural title Elohim used with a singular verb and God speaking and saying, "Let us."
The words "let us" is used elsewhere of God speaking in Genesis. After Adam and Eve sinned the Bible records.
Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever." Gen 3:22
At the incident at the Tower of Babel we read God saying.
"Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another's speech." Gen 11:7
Isaiah the prophet recorded God saying.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me" Isaiah 6:8
There is one statement in the Old Testament that gives a fairly clear indication of the Trinity.
"Come near me and listen to this: "From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; at the time it happens, I am there. "And now the Sovereign LORD has sent me, with his Spirit. This is what the LORD says - your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go." Isaiah 48:16, 17
In verse sixteen, God the Son is speaking. He identifies the Father [the Sovereign Lord] and His Spirit as having sent Him. In the next verse, the Son is clearly spoken of as the Lord. Consequently these verses identify three distinct Persons who are God without denying the fact there is only one God.
The concept of the trinity is clearly taught in the Bible, there are many more verses in the OT and of course in the NT where the trinity is more explained. People that try to deny the triune nature of God, do so to diminish Jesus and His deity. The baptism of Jesus mentions all three, Father Son and Holy Spirit. When Thomas who was doubting that Jesus had risen wanted proof. Jesus appeared to him: "Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" John 20:27, 28
Thomas clearly calls Jesus God. In Acts we find Peter calling the Holy Spirit God when he confronted Ananias about his deceit: "But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? "While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." Acts 5:3, 4
Peter clearly calls the Holy Spirit God. There is one more example, in the account of Steven who was the first martyr we read this: "But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" Acts 7:56, 57
Here we can clearly see that the Holy Spirit was indwelling Stephen, God the Father on the throne and Jesus standing on the right side of the throne to receive Stephen.
The trinity or triune nature of God is clearly taught in the Bible and was not made up later as some claim, there are some religions like Islam, Cults and even some Christian denominations who would deny the trinity. I personally can not see why anybody would or can deny the trinity given the overwhelming evidence in the Bible about the triune nature of God.