Believe in the Trinity

Understanding God is very important for properly understanding the Christian faith. First let us remember that God is a mystery. There is no way the finite, created mind can fully comprehend its infinite Creator. However, it is not beyond belief to accept what God has chosen to reveal to us.

The Trinity existed before the creation of the universe but is only hinted at in the Old Testament. In that time, pagans worshiped many gods. When God began revealing himself to His people, it was first necessary to establish a monotheistic belief system. There is but one God, and that had to be established before the full revelation of the Trinity (to avoid any notion of there being three gods), which occurred after the Incarnation.

Let’s start “in the beginning.’ In Genesis 1:26, what did God say? “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Us? Our? If God is a single person, why does He speak in the plural? Because there are 3 persons in the one God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Again, the plural is used in reference to God, in Genesis 11:7 (the story of the Tower of Babel). God said, “let us go down….”

The Holy Spirit appears in various places in the Old Testament. Just see the many verses that say something to the effect of “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him.” The Holy Spirit speaks through the prophets. There are many times that the prophets said “thus saith the Lord.”

Let’s go to the New Testament where the Trinity is fully revealed. Does the language in Luke 1:35 sound familiar? The angel says to Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.” That’s right! I just mentioned the same phrase in the last paragraph.

But let’s combine creation and the Incarnation. John writes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God….” I’ll pause here for a moment. “The Word was with God.” Before creation, there was only God, but this Word was WITH Him. Continuing: “…and the Word was God.” So the Word was with God, and the Word IS God. There seem to be two entities of some sort here, in a supernatural way. The Word was WITH and IS God. Continuing: “The same [the Word] was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him.” The Creator is God, so God made all things by (some translations say “through”) the Word. John 1:14 answers a mystery: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Ah! The Word is the only begotten, the Son, of the Father! These would be two persons of the Trinity. So far, it’s very clearly stated. There is a Father and Son. Two persons and both are God. But notice, “God” is always in the singular. There is only one God.

In Matthew 1:18, the Incarnation is described as such: “she [Mary] was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” It takes a person to make another person pregnant. In this case, a person of God.

When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth and greeted her, “the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.” –Luke 1:41 The Son of God is in Mary’s womb. The Holy Spirit fills Elizabeth and informs her that Mary is carrying the Son of God.

Let’s jump to the baptism of Jesus, mentioned in both Matthew 3:16-17 and Mark 1:10-11. The Spirit of God descended as a dove and came upon Jesus, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Voila, all three persons of the Trinity, individually present in the same place. Jesus exits the water, the Holy Spirit descends over Him, the Father speaks from the heavens. This is abundantly clear. It takes real mental gymnastics to find a way to dismiss or deny the Trinity.

But let’s not rest on this. At the presentation of Jesus in the temple Luke 2:25, “the Holy Ghost was upon [Simeon],” and Jesus, the Son of God, was in Mary’s arms.

In Matthew 4:1, Mark 1:12, and Luke 4:1, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. One person of the Trinity was led by the another person of the Trinity.

When we read the gospels, we see Jesus prayed often to the Father. Surely, Jesus wasn’t talking to Himself. For example, when Jesus prays to the Father “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Jesus prays to His Father, not to Himself. Jesus received love from His Father. To interpret that as Jesus received love from Himself is nonsensical.

In Luke 10:21, Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit and prays to the Father.

Read Luke 10:16 where Jesus says to His disciples, “He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.” Someone sent Jesus: the first person of the Trinity, God the Father.

We see something similar in “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.” –Matthew 10:40.

Later, before Jesus leaves His apostles, He tells them “as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” The Father sent Jesus, and now Jesus sends his followers. And in Matthew 28:19, Jesus tells them to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (the Trinity). These are the words from the mouth of God Himself; therefore, these are the words to say in order to have a valid baptism and to become a Christian.

Several places in John (14:26, 15:26, and 16:7), Jesus says He and the Father will send the Holy Spirit: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” It just doesn’t make sense for Jesus to leave, go back to Himself, and send Himself back to his disciples.

In Hebrews 9:14, Christ offered Himself by the Holy Spirit to God.

As I mentioned earlier, God first had to establish a monotheistic belief with His people who lived in an era of multiple pagan gods before He could reveal the Trinity. He wouldn’t want them to think there are three gods after all. But that’s no different than what Jesus said to His disciples in John 16:12: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”

It seems clear that there are three individual persons but always one God.

I’ll end with a few quotations from the early Christians:

Letter of Barnabas (Saint Paul’s friend) (AD 74): “And further, my brethren, if the Lord [Jesus] endured to suffer for our soul, He being the Lord of all the world, TO WHOM God said at the foundation of the world, ‘let us make man after our image, and after our likeness,’ understand how it was that He endured to suffer at the hand of men.’”

Ignatius of Antioch (who was a disciple of the Apostle John) (AD 110): “Jesus Christ…was with the Father before the beginning of time, and in the end was revealed…Jesus Christ…came forth from one Father and is with and has gone to one [Father]….”

Polycarp of Smyrna (who also learned from the Apostle John) (AD 155): “I praise you for all things, I bless you, I glorify you, along with the everlasting and heavenly Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, with whom, to you and the Holy Spirit, be glory both now and to all coming ages. Amen.”

Justin Martyr (AD 155): “But this offspring who was truly brought forth from the Father, was with the Father before all the creatures, and the Father communed with him.”

Athanasius (AD 359): “[The Trinity] is a Trinity not merely in name or in a figurative manner of speaking; rather, it is a Trinity in truth and in actual existence. Just as the Father is He that is, so also His Word is one that is and is God over all. And neither is the Holy Spirit nonexistent but actually exists and has true being. Less than these the Catholic Church does not hold, lest she sink to the level of the Jews of the present time, imitators of Caiaphas, or to the level of Sabellius.”

Fulgentius OF Ruspe (AD 515): “See, in short you have it that the Father is one, the Son another, and the Holy Spirit another; in Person, each is other, but in nature they are not other. In this regard he says: ‘I and my Father are one.’ (John 10:30). He teaches us that one refers to their nature, and we are to their Persons. In like manner it is said: ‘for there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost:  and these three are one.’ (1 John 5:7). Let Sabellius hear we are, let him hear three; and let him believe that there are three Persons. Let him not blaspheme in his sacrilegious heart by saying that the Father is the same in himself as the Son is the same in himself and as the Holy Spirit is the same in himself, as if in some way he could beget himself, or in some way proceed from himself. Even in created natures it is never able to be found that something is able to beget itself. Let also Arius hear one; and let him not say that the Son is of a different nature, if one cannot be said of that, the nature of which is different.”

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Published in: on February 2, 2013 at 04:14  Leave a Comment  

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