The Trinity
Defending the Trinity of God
Class Session 1

By Pastor Ron Jones, www.titusinstitute.com

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Introduction:

There was a Christian college student whom the Lord provided the opportunity to go to the Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA. along with a group of other Christian college students and share Christ with those at the parade.

During that time the Lord brought him into contact with a member of the Hare Krishna's. When he began sharing with the Hare Krishna follower, they started discussing their views. It only took a few minutes before the conversation began to end over the fact that they were on opposite ends of the spectrum in their beliefs about God.

However, the Hare Krishna follower didn't want to accept that they had opposite viewpoints and finally in frustration summed up their discussion by asking, "Do you believe in God?" The Christian said "yes." Then the Hare Krishna follower said, "I do too. We worship the same God just with different names." And he began to walk off.

As he walked off, the Christian college student declared, "But my God does not recognize your God!"

This true story illustrates the central issue concerning the difference between Christians who worship the God who has revealed himself in the Bible and the Hare Krishna's and all others who do not worship God as He has revealed himself in the Bible.

We do not believe in the same God as they do.

This is the distinction that God Himself makes.

Isa.43:10-13
v.10 "You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.”
V.11 “I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.”
v.12 “I have revealed and saved and proclaimed - I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses, declares the Lord, that I am God.”
v.13 “Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?”

God clearly revealed Himself to the Jews. He called them for this purpose.

They were to have a relationship with Him. They were to know, believe, and understand him and then be His witnesses to the world, sharing with the world who he was, the true God.

In fact, the Jews in ancient times were the major nation that held to monotheism, the belief in only one God. Most of the other nations, if not all, were polytheists and held to many gods.

God sent the prophet Isaiah to the Jews to remind them who He was and His superiority to the false foreign gods of the nations around them because they had fallen into idolatry, idol worship.

That is how God revealed Himself to the Jews. He was absolutely different than all other false gods. Then to give man a fuller revelation of Himself God sent forth His Son.

Heb.12:1-2
v.1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
v.2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.

Through Jesus Christ, God's Son He revealed that His nature was far different than anything that could be experienced in the finite world.

Jesus Christ revealed that God was a being unlike any of his creatures. God was three in one. Within the one being of God there are three distinct persons. Jesus taught that the Father was God, that he himself was God, and that the Holy Spirit was God. Yet Jesus taught there was only one God.

In the pages of the Scriptures, God has revealed Himself as three persons in one God. And that Jesus Christ was the second person of the triune God who became a man and died on the cross for us.

It is this truth in the triune God and the full deity of Jesus Christ that separates true Christians from false religions and false Christians.

False religions do not recognize Jesus Christ. They are Hinduism, Buddhism, and the like.

False Christians speak of Jesus Christ, but do not give him his proper place in the Trinity. These groups include the Moslems, the Unitarians, the Mormons, the Jehovah's witnesses and a whole host of other groups who talk about Christ, but do not accept him as he has revealed himself in the Scriptures.

Example:
A Pastor told the story of a college student who came into his church to try to understand the differences between Christians and other "Christian" groups who supposedly receive their beliefs from the Bible.

The Pastor told him that he needed to focus his search on three key questions:
1. What is the nature of God as a Trinity?
2. How does one receive salvation or go to heaven?
3. How does one get rid of sin in his or her life?

The central truth about God that he has revealed about himself is the Trinity, for in the Trinity is the proper identity of the God of the universe and Jesus Christ, God who became a man.

Our salvation hangs on a proper understanding of God and Christ. You cannot accept a false Christ and receive eternal life from Him.

So this is what we want to look at in this lesson.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, could you defend the truth of the Trinity?

Could you take someone to the proper Scriptures to show that the Bible clearly teaches that God is three in one and that Jesus Christ is God?

In this lesson, we want to look at how the Bible teaches that God is actually three in one. This is the Biblical doctrine of God.

Understanding how the Bible teaches that God is three in one is exactly how we can defend the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity and share with others the teaching of the Scriptures about it.

We want to look at two key points:

I. The Unity of God
II. The Triunity of God

The Bible teaches the doctrine of the Trinity by teaching that there is only one God, and yet calling three persons God, declaring that they are one, and having them appear together as equals.

There are two preliminary points we need to remember:

1. The doctrine of the Trinity can be explained, but the Trinity itself is impossible to explain.

We are attempting to explain what the Scriptures reveal regarding the Trinity, but the whole concept of one being with three persons is simply beyond our understanding.

We are dealing with an infinite being - the only infinite being that exists. We are using finite words and so we need to realize that we don't have to understand how it all works out. There is nothing in human existence like our triune God.

2. Because the word "Trinity" is not used in the Scriptures does not mean it is not a Biblical concept.

God did not write the Scriptures as a theological dictionary, but as a revelation handed down in the context of the lives of human beings. And the fullness of that revelation came in Jesus Christ who revealed the doctrine of the triune nature of God to us. The Scriptures do not define it by choosing a word, but by teaching the concept. We choose the word “Trinity” to make it easier to speak about it.

Let's begin with a definition:

The Trinitarian nature of God: "There is only one God, but in the unity of the Godhead, there are three co-equal persons, Father, Son and Spirit."

In the human realm, "persons" refer to distinct and separate beings, but with God as an infinite being, "persons" means a distinct person who can think, choose, and feel, and yet is in absolute unity of being with the other two.

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit each have an intellect, will and emotions, which are distinct. Yet, within the unity of their nature and being they are in absolute agreement at all times.

In order to understand what this definition means, we need to understand what it does not mean.

1. It does not mean there are three separate gods.

2. It does not mean that there is one God who shows himself in three ways (three different masks) or has three different roles.

There is not one person, who has three different names or has revealed himself in three different ways. This is an ancient heresy called Sabellianism.

3. It does not mean that God has three parts.

God is one means that God is undivided and indivisible.

Truth: There are three persons in one God. God is one being, with one essence or nature.

I. The unity of God

The Bible teaches clearly that there is only one God and that God (the divine nature) is undivided and indivisible.

Deuteronomy 4:35
You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other.

Deuteronomy 6:4
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Jesus supported this statement in Mk.12:29.

Mark 12:29
“The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: `Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one’”.

Jesus believed in only one God. This is what God revealed about Himself in the O.T. Scriptures.

Isa.43:10 (We saw this earlier.)
v.10 "You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.”

Key statement:“Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.”

Isa.44:6-9
v.6 "This is what the Lord says - Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.”
v.7 “Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come - yes, let him foretell what will come.”
v.8 “Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."
v.9 “All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame.”

Key statements:
“I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.”
“Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."

Isa.45:5-6
v.5 “I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me”
v.6 “so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.”

When God spoke in this passage, he was saying that they were to either worship him as he is or not worship him at all because he was the only God that existed. You cannot get clearer than that.

The apostles also taught that there was one God.

1 Corinthians 8:4
So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one.

1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

Romans 3:30
Since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.

Yet, they also, at the same time, call three persons God, claim their unity of essence and nature, and show them together as equals.

II. The Triunity of God

A. Three persons are called God.

1. The Father is called God.

John 6:27
“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."

Galatians 1:1
Paul, an apostle, sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead…

Both Jesus and Paul speak about a person called the Father who is God. This person is a distinct person from the Son mentioned in these verses along with the Father.

2. The Son (Jesus) is called God.

John 20:28-29
v. 28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
v. 29 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Here, Thomas who is a Jew and a monotheist calls Jesus “God.” Jesus who is also a Jew and a monotheist accepts this title and praises those who will believe the same thing in the future.

Remember, Jesus was never accused by the Jewish leaders for teaching polytheism. He was accused of claiming to be the messiah, the Son of the living God. (Matt.26:62-65)

Titus 2:13
While we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ

In these verses, Paul calls Jesus Christ, “Our Great God and Savior.” The title “God” has to be referring to Jesus because he is the only one that will appear to man at the second coming.

3. The Holy Spirit is called God.

All throughout the Bible the Spirit appears as a distinct person from God the Father and yet is called the “Spirit of God.” This shows he is God for he cannot be called the “the Spirit of God’ if he didn’t partake of the divine nature of God.

Gen.1:2
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.

Matt.3:16
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.

1 Cor.16:11
And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

B. The three persons are all one.

1. The Father and Son are one.

John 10:27-33
v.27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
v.28 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”
v.29 “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.”
v.30 “ I and the Father are one."
v.31 Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him,
v.32 but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?"
v.33 "We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."

Jesus was saying, “Whatever is in my hand, is in the Father's hand because we are one in essence and being.”

The Jewish leaders understood this meaning because they immediately accuse him of blasphemy for claiming to be God.

John 14:7-11
v.7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
v.8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."
v.9 Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father'?
v.10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
v.11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.

In this passage, Jesus describes his essential unity with the Father in the words, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” This unity was in essence and nature. That is why Jesus could also say, “Anyone who has seen me, you have seen the Father.”

2. The Son and the Spirit are one.

The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Jesus Christ. This demonstrates the essential unity of the Son and the Spirit.

Acts 16:7
When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.

Romans 8:9
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

Phil.1:19
for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

3. The Father and the Spirit are one.

The Holy Spirit is called the Father’s Spirit by Jesus. Also, Paul calls the Spirit, the “Spirit of God.” When “God” is used in Paul’s epistles of a distinct person in the same context as Jesus, it refers to the Father. This demonstrates the essential unity of the Father and the Spirit.

Matt.10:19-20
“But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”

Romans 8:9
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

C. The three persons appear together in the Bible as equals.

1. The Trinity appears in the Old Testament

The Trinity is revealed in the O.T., but not fully until the Son of God came.

a) The Trinity in the book of Zechariah

Zech. 2:10-13
v.10 "Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you," declares the Lord.
v.11 "Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.”
v.12 “The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem.”
v.13 “Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling."

Who is speaking in this passage? v.10 – The Lord Jehovah

The Lord declares that he will live among the people in v.11, and then there is a switch to the personal pronouns “my” and “me” differentiating between the Lord and someone else? Who? Who will the Lord Jehovah send so that the Jews will become his people? He is the Son of God.

Charles Feinberg, Former Professor of Semitics and Old Testament at Talbot Theological Seminary, writes about the meaning of this passage in his commentary on Zechariah (p.50):

“The rejoicing is to be over the presence of the Lord and his glory among them. A comparison with Zech. 9:9 shows the person is none other than the messiah himself.”

Zech.9:9
“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Later in Zechariah the Holy Spirit is mentioned as the Lord’s Spirit.

Zech. 4:6
So he said to me, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: `Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty.

All three persons of the Trinity are mentioned in this book.

2) The Trinity in the book of Isaiah

Isa.11:1-2
v.1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
v.2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord

Isa.61:1-2
v.1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
v.2 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn

These two passages are prophecies of the messiah who would be anointed with the Lord’s (Jehovah’s) Spirit. Thus, all three persons of the Trinity are mentioned.

2. The Trinity appears in the New Testament

a) The Trinity mentioned by Jesus in the book of Matthew

Matthew 28:19
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

Notice, three persons are mentioned, but “name” is singular. “Name” in the OT when used of God described his essence and nature.

Charles Ryrie, Professor Emeritus at Dallas Theological Seminary writes in his book, Basic Theology (p.61):

“Matthew 28:19 best states both the oneness and threeness by associating equally the three Persons and uniting them in one singular name.”

Matthew 3:16-17
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."

b) The Trinity is mentioned by Paul and Peter in their letters

2 Corinthians 13:14
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Gal.4:6
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."

1 Pet.1:2
who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:

3. The Trinity at work in creation

At creation, God the Father, Son, and Spirit were all involved.

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Isa.42:5 Jehovah Elohim created
This is what God the Lord says - he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it

Eph.3:9-11 God the Father (in same context as Christ) created.
v.9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.
V.10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,
v.11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Colossians 1:16 God the Son created.
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

Job 33:4 – God the Spirit created.
The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

4. The Trinity shares the glory of God, which is for God alone.

Isa. 42:8
“I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols”.

Isa. 48:11
“For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another”.

Yet in Mat.28:19 the Father, Son and Spirit share one singular name and are honored equally at the baptism of every believer.

Also, in Rev. 5:13-14 below both God the Father who sits on the throne and God the Son who is the Lamb of God are glorified and honored and praised together equally.

Rev.5:13-14
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"

Summary:
The only way that you can explain all these verses from the Bible to be truth, consistent with each other, and without contradiction, God must be a Trinity.

Conclusion:

The best way to show the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity is to show that the Bible
teaches that:

1. There is only one God

2. Yet three persons are called God, are one, and appear together as equals.