Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Does the Bible Say About The Trinity?







Can You Please Explain About The Trinity Of God?



Question : Can you please explain about the Trinity of God?

Answer : Greetings to you in Jesus wonderful name! The Trinity means God is three persons, each person is divine in their make up and yet because of the unity in their essential attribute they are only one God. In Short, the Trinity is one God existing in three Persons. The word 'Trinity' cannot be found anywhere in the Bible. The word “trinity” is not found in Scripture because it is a term coined to contain the above concept expressed and therefore used by theologians to deny heretics from misrepresenting the God of the Bible who is fully revealed in the New Testament. It is a word used by Christians to express the doctrine of the unity of God as consisting of three distinct Persons. This word is derived from the Greek word
trias, first used by Theophilus (A.D. 168-183), or from the Latin trinitas, first used by Tertullian (165-220 A. D), to express this doctrine. If we were to use math, it would be, 1+1+1=3 to represent the persons and to express the essence of their character it would be 1x1x1=1 which clearly points to one God who is a triune God.


"Tri" meaning three, and "Unity" meaning one, Tri+Unity = Trinity. It is a way of acknowledging what the Bible reveals to us about God as one in essence of the substance and character, yet three in "Persons" who have the same attributes of the deity. God the Son (Jesus) is fully, completely God. God the Father is fully, completely God. And God the Holy Spirit is fully, completely God. Yet they are one God based on the unity of their substance that they are in their make up. Each has a will, loves, and says "I", "We", "You" and "Us" when speaking (Gen 1:26; 11:7; 12:2; Heb 7:21; 10:5-7). The word "person" denotes individuality and self-awareness. Within the single divine essence are three individual subsistences [i.e. something that has a real existence] that we call persons according to our limited human understanding. This doctrine of the Trinity distinguishes Christianity from all other religions which professes both monotheism [belief in one God] and polytheism [belief in many gods]. Trinity is a strict monotheism which is the teaching that there exists in all the universe a single being known as God who is self-existent and unchangeable, and at the same time the being of God is said to be threesome unified in one (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8; Deut 6:4; Isa 48:16).

Trinity Of Persons

Basis of the Doctrine of the Trinity - (1)
Matt 3:13-17 (2) Matt 28:19 (3) 2 Cor 13:14 (4) Gen 1:26

There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. The doctrine of the Trinity is a matter of truth, which cannot be known except by Divine revelation. In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences [i.e. something that has a real existence], the Father, the Word (or Son) and the Holy Spirit, of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided, all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar, relative properties and personal relations. The Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and our comfortable dependence of Him.

Trinity Explained By Comparison Of The Known

If we are to discuss trinity in the natural three-dimensional world, a person cannot actually be the same as another person in everything and yet are distinct individuals. God, however, lives without the limitations of a three-dimensional universe and is a spirit being who is infinitely more complex and yet complete in Himself than we are (John 4:24; Job 4:15-17). Certain illustrations may give us a picture of the Trinity, yet the picture is not entirely accurate. An infinite God cannot be fully described by a finite illustration. So the apple illustration of saying that the trinity are like the seed, flesh and skin of one apple yet three individual things contained in a single entity and egg illustration of trinity saying that it is like the shell, white and yoke are three different things of the same entity known as egg cannot hold for much good because Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are not parts of the same God but they are each God in themselves unlike an apple or an egg. Also giving illustration saying that trinity is like a human spirit, soul and body also cannot hold much good to explain to people because though they are three unique things that exist in humans relatively, yet they are seen as a single person collectively. The water illustration is many times compared to explain trinity is also not good enough though it is a little better than other illustrations definitely. Many would like to point out that Liquid, vapor, and ice are three different and unique things, but yet it is a forms of a single entity called water.

When it comes to trinity, they are not just forms of God, but each of them is God yet they are one God in their Characteristics. People also would like to compare and explain trinity using sun. They would say that sun is a single entity in it entirety, yet it expresses itself through being an object of fire, light and heat which are three different ways we come to experience it. In relation to it, the Scripture reveals that "God is light", and so light in being compared to the source essence of God, the red heat rays, yellow light rays and blue chemical rays are compared by many as the three expressions of the one God. In the same way, a three leaved Shamrock plant is also given by certain people as an example of trinity. Though this plant have three leaves branched out, yet they are one leaf that branch out with the same essence to the end of it. In the same way, though trinity is one God in three persons, the point is that they have branched out as three persons with the very same essence of God-ness in all of them.

Yet all these illustration is not good enough because Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are not just one person expressing themselves through three different characteristics of personhood, but three individual persons all having the equal divineness of essence, attributes and substance in their entirety, yet all the three work as one God in essence of their working of mind, purpose, agreement, desire and intent. This is the reason God the Father can be the same in essence of the Character of completeness and yet be a uniquely different person from God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The same applies for both God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, "God is Love" (1 John 4:16), because there are three persons in trinity, they are able to share their love among themselves. Or else God cannot be love if He is just a person who cannot share it with others within Himself. Thus one God three in personhood is the trinity.

The Apostolic Belief In Trinity And Their Defence

In fact in the first century after the apostles began to spread the gospel after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, many heretics began to question about the validity of the divine origin of Jesus Christ as God the Son and began to spread false information saying that he was the creation of God the Father, and through the Divine power given to Him, he created the world. These people increased in strength even before the departure of the last apostle John which was at the very end of first century AD. He has clearly told in his epistle to those who denied the deity of Jesus Christ the Son of God saying, "22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also." (1 John 2:22-23) and also to those who questioned that God cannot become man in Christ Jesus, apostle John replied saying, "2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world." (1 John 4:2-3).

Then for those heretics who denied the three personage of God, he said to them, "7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one." (1 John 5:7-8). In the above verses, John the apostle clearly have shown that there are three persons in heaven who bear witness to everything that the Bible reveals in both the Old and the New Testament. These three persons are one in essence and substance of their Character. The same divine essence or substance flows in all of trinity is a fact which means that they are as a person individually are equal in power, equal in eternity, equal in majesty as each person possesses the one divine essence. So when the apostle clarified the Trinity of God, the Church followed them with all their heart (Acts 2:32-33, 42-43).

We see from his epistles that Apostle John fitly replied to all the heresies by pointing to the truth God has revealed to him. These were the type of errors in doctrine that crept in to the theology of the Church to destroy the faith of the saints within it.

The people who followed apostles doctrine by tradition, once the original twelve apostles of Jesus and Paul along with a few others who wrote the New Testament by the revelation of God died, these Christians began to discuss how to make the people of faith not to shaken in their faith when such false doctrines came through deceiving spirits which operated in false prophets and deceivers who wanted to weaken the believers and the growth of the Church consistently.

By the first two and half century AD, theologians of the Church consistently spoke about the tri-unity of God and in these times Tertullian coined the word 'Trinity' to express the tri-unity of God. Respected theologians like Justin Martyr [who died about 165 A.D], Irenaeus [who died about 200 A.D], Clement of Alexandria [who died about 215 A.D], Tertullian [who died about 230 A.D], Hippolytus [who died about 235 A.D] and Origen [who died about 250 A.D], all spoke about the concept of belief in the trinity.

Thus apostles and their followers have clearly made distinction between Father, Son and the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:4-6; 2 Cor 13:14; 1 Pet 1:2; Eph 4:3-6) and affirmed the divinity of each person (1 Cor 8:6; John 1:1; 8:58; Tit 2:13; Matt 1:23; John 4:24; 2 Cor 3:17; Acts 5:3-4).

The orthodox doctrine of trinity was formulated in a series of debates and councils. It was the council of Constantinople (381 A. D) that there emerged a definitive statement of the doctrine of trinity based ont eh views of Athanasius (293-373 A. D). The formula which expresses the position of Constantinople is, "one 'ousia' [Gr. substance, essence and nature] in three 'hypostases' [Gr. person]". Athanasius said that "we worship one God in trinity and trinity in unity", neither confounding three persons nor dividing the substance. For the person of the Father is one, of the Son another, of the Holy Spirit another. But the divinity of the Father, and the Son and of the Holy Spirit is one, the glory equal, the mystery equal. Such is the father, such also is the Son and such also is the Holy Spirit. Thus the Father is God, Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet there are not three God's but one God only.

During the medieval [i.e. 6th to 14th century] and reformation period [i.e. 15th to the present time of 21st century] there was no significant development in the doctrine of trinity, the orthodox formulation of the doctrine was accepted as the official position of the Church.

Subordination Within The Trinity

There is, apparently, a subordination within the Trinity regarding order but not substance or essence (Matt 28:19; 1 Cor 11:3; 15:27-28; John 16:13-15). We can see that the Father is first, the Son is second, and the Holy Spirit is third. The Father is not begotten, but the Son is (John 3:16), but this is anthropomorphic [i.e. described or thought of as having a human form or human attributes (Php 2:6-8)] in its origin and it is in no way tells or conveys the essence of the divineness and its substance of Christ anything less than the Father. The Father sent the Son (1 John 4:10). The Son and the Father send the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26). Yet the Holy Spirit Himself is never proclaimed as anybody less than God in his essence by the apostles (Acts 5:3-4). So the order of the trinity is in relation to the position that they themselves have agreed to take for themselves in relation to His creation who are humans made in His own image. But the order of the trinity never changes the essence of God in them to become inferior or lessened in any way. For example, just because a woman is less in order of God in creation than man does not make them any less of a human being (1 Cor 11:3). In the same way the Son is equal to the Father in his divinity but inferior in his humanity which was the role order played by Him in relation to His own creation (Heb 2:9; John 1:11; Col 1:13, 15-18).

Another example to see is, a king and his servant both share human nature. When a king sends his servant to a far inhabited country to live for a while doesn't make him any lesser human being than the King Himself. This is what Jesus did when he made himself to become a servant of the Father being found in appearance as one among humans after his incarnation (Heb 5:8; Php 2:6-8), the Father God sent Him to earth on a mission to redeem His creation (John 6:38). But the difference from this example we have seen is, Jesus was already the prince and the King of Jews, and also of all creation, which He testified before all humans (Matt 27:11; John 8:58). Critics of the Trinity will see this subordination as proof that the Trinity is false, but what they say is not logical as they have not fully understood its concept. Just because a wife sends her husband to buy bread doesn't make him any lesser human than her. In the same way the fact that the Father sent his Son to the earth on a mission does not make Jesus any lesser in his essence of divineness as God. In Jesus who is nobody other than the Word [the Son of God and eternal God] (John 1:1-3), dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily human form after His incarnation of becoming a human on earth (Col 2:9).

Unique Functional Role Of Each Person Of Trinity

The Father has taken the role of a CEO in the trinity by his willing choice, Jesus Christ the Son has taken the role of a MANAGER by his willing choice and the Holy Spirit have taken the role of an EXECUTIVE by his willing choice (John 10:29; 10:17-18; Rom 15:30). The persons of the trinity have different primary functions in relating to the world, IN CREATION - Father, Son (Word) and the Spirit are involved in three different ways in the act of creation (Gen 1:2-4; John 1:1-3). IN INCARNATION - God promised it, Holy Spirit empowered it and the Son fulfilled it. IN REDEMPTION - the Father planned it, Son accomplished it and the Spirit implements it. But all the persons of the trinity eternally existed as One in fellowship, love and purpose. Just because a person in the trinity does a subordinate role, it is in no way makes them inferior in any way to their God-ness of equality among themselves. All three are equally God and just their roles are different in relation to his creation.

Does Old Testament Teach About Trinity?

Some people say that Trinity was some pagan idea that came in to Christianity after the apostles left the Church by their demise. But it is a heresy to say like that when the Scripture clearly reveals the concept of trinity right from the Old Testament.

a. PLURALITY IN LANGUAGE

"Let us make man in our image - and God created man in His own image." (Gen 1:26; 3:22; 11:7). "Whom shall I send who will go for us" (Isa 6:8). Such a language points us to the interpersonal conversation within trinity, and it also reveals the combination of both singularity and plurality in God. In other words, it is the same one God referring to Himself in a plural form, which concretely points to the fact that God is one but plural in His being.

b. DISTINCTION MAINTAINED BETWEEN THE THREE PERSONS OF THE GODHEAD

For example, at the time of creation God being the Creator through the agency of the Word while the Spirit was moving over the surface of the water things proceeded into existence is clearly portrayed in the Scriptures (Gen 1:1-3; John 1:1-3; Psalm 45:6-7; 110:1; Hosea 1:7; Isa 48:16; Heb 1:8).

c. PRE-INCARNATE APPEARANCE

We see the appearance of the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament that are nothing but the pre-incarnate appearances of Christ in human form [i.e. anthropomorphism]. In these appearances Christ is identified as the LORD and some times distinguished from the LORD as the head of the Angelic host or captain of the Army of the Lord God which points to the unity of Christ within Godhead as God and diversity in his role towards his creation in the Trinity as the servant of God (Gen 16:9, 13; 17:1, 15, 18, 22; 18:1, 13-14, 33; 22:11, 15; 26:24; 28:12-13; 32:24, 28-30; 35:9-11, 13-15; Exo 3:2, 4, 6; 6:2--5; 23:20-21; 33:11, 20; Num 11:25; Josh 5:13-15; Jud 2:1, 4-5; 6:11-16, 20-24; 13:16-21, 22). Personification of wisdom in the book of Proverbs is none other than Christ in his pre-incarnate state, because in that book we see the person of wisdom saying "...mY delight was with the sons of men" (v. 31). Wisdom in itself cannot express emotion of delight unless it is a personality who has will, and so this is a concealed identity of Christ in the Old Testament in which He is also proclaimed as the Son of God (Prov 8:12-31; 30:4-5; Psa 33:4, 6).

d. GOD IS IN INTERNAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HIMSELF

There are crystal clear indications of God having dialogue [i.e. trialogue] with Himself (Heb 1:8-9; Psa 45:6, 7). In other cases, when God is the speaker He mentions about the Messiah and the Spirit (Isa 11:1-2; 34:16; 42:1). And when the Messiah is the speaker He mentions about God and Spirit (Isa 48:16; 61:1; 63:9, 10).

Having seen the footprints of Christ in the Old Testament so clearly, we can also see in the New Testament an explicit picture of trinity at the birth of Jesus Christ where God sends His Son who is born in the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:31-32, 35), at the time of Jesus' baptism where Jesus was baptized on earth, Father's voice came from heaven and the Holy Spirit of God descended like a dove and alighting upon Him (Matt 3:16-17), at the mount of transfiguration Father's voice was heard, Holy Spirit overshadowed them and Jesus was present with the disciples (Matt 17:1-2, 5-6, 7-8) and finally Jesus at the end of His earthly life commissioned His disciples in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit which is the clearest indication of trinity in the Godhead (Matt 28:19-20)


In fact the trinity acting in unity can be seen in all parts of the Bible from creation to resurrection, without it Christian life can no more lived with real meaning behind the words we read in the Bible. We see trinity acting in unity in Creation (Gen 1:3; John 1:1; Gen 1:2; Job 26:12, 13), in the Incarnation (John 3:16; Luke 2:11; 1:35), in Redemption (Heb 9:14), in Salvation (Luke 15:22, 4; Eph 1:13), in Communion (Eph 2:18; 2 Cor 5:19), in Prayer (John 16:23; Rom 8:26), in Glory (1 Cor 15:24; Php 3:21; Rev 22:17), in Departure from earthly life (Acts 7:55-56) and in Regeneration (Luke 10:20; Eph 1:7; John 3:3-6).

Can We Fully Understand Or Fathom Trinity?

The story is told of St. Augustine that, on one occasion, when his mind was engaged in the contemplation of the doctrine of the Trinity, he was walking by the sea, and saw a child filling a shell with the water, which it then carried and poured in to a cavity in the sand. "What are you doing, my boy, with that water?" asked Augustine. "I am," replied the child, "going to put all the sea in to this hole." Augustine smiled and walked on when suddenly a voice seemed to say to him, "And thou too art doing the like, in thinking to comprehend the depths of God in the narrow limits of thy finite mind." This is also an answer from God to us who fully want to grasp and explain the truth of trinity, we know that the Bible does teach the unity of the Godhead by ascribing all if the divine attributes equally to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The bottom line is, though the Trinity cannot be fully understood or fathomed it can be affirmed by faith.

The Bible is the self-revelation of an infinite God, only when a human can fully comprehend and point out what is infinity in its numerical value, then he will be fully able to understand God. Until then maximum we can do is to understand the concept of infinity using a symbol which all mathematicians do to calculate and know the result. Until then let us learn what this great God has revealed about Himself in His word and serve this incomprehensible God who exists in all places at all times. The Trinity is, to a large extent, a mystery. After all, we are dealing with God Himself, so let us learn thoroughly what has been revealed to us and let go of what has been concealed from us by God
(Deut 29:29). Never subject God's word to your own reasoning and end in error as a cultist.


Much Blessings....




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