The Forgotten Trinity

Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Mt 22:37)




I love the trinity! How can a professing Christian be passionless for what is supposed to be the central doctrine of the faith? The Trinity is an essential Christian doctrine, but these days it seems to be all but forgotten. People who claim to be Christian no longer seem to think it is important yet the very Gospel of our salvation is trinitarian. Note that Dr. White states clearly that the denial of it is to apostatize from the Christian faith: to deny the trinity is a denial of the Gospel. Dr. Norman Geisler says the same here. If you doubt this, you need to listen to this lecture carefully. If you have no doubt, then God bless, this lecture will greatly encourage you.

The doctrine of the Trinity is based on three foundational biblical truths:
1) Monotheism: The Bible teaches there is one and only one true God.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”(Dt 6:4)

“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.“(Is 43:10) Jesus applied this text from the Septuagint to himself: “I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.”(Jn 13:19)

2) Three Divine Persons: There are three distinct persons who are God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

  1. The Son speaks to the Father (John 12:28). He is a distinct person.
  2. The Father speaks to the Son (Matthew 3:17). He is a distinct person.
  3. The Holy Spirit also speaks (Acts 13:2). He is a distinct person.
Each has all the basic elements or powers of personhood: mind, will, and emotion.

Son: The three elements of personhood all are attributed to God the Son. The Son can communicate and teach (John 7:17) as only persons do. He has intelligence and knowledge – mind- (John 2:25):“and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.(Jn 2:25); emotion (John 11:35): “Jesus wept”; and will (John 6:38): “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”(Jn 6:38). The personal pronoun “He” is used consistently of the Son.
 
Father: The three elements of personhood all are attributed to God the Father. He has the power of intellect to know (Matt. 6:32):“your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”; the emotional faculty to feel (Gen. 6:6): “And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.”; and the power of will to choose (Matt. 6:9–10): “Our Father in heaven … your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In addition, personal attributes, like the ability to communicate (Matt. 11:25) and teach (John 7:16–17), are also attributed to the Father.
 
Spirit: All the elements of personhood are attributed to the Holy Spirit in Scripture. He has a mind (John 14:26): “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you.” He has will (1 Cor. 12:11): “All these are the work of one and the same spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines”; and He has feeling (Eph. 4:30): “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

Personal pronouns (“He” and “His”) are attributed to the Holy Spirit: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”(John 16:13, emphasis added).

The rules of grammar dictate that personal pronouns have an antecedent within the context of the pronoun[1], it is not within the proper use of language to claim that “he” in John 16:13 is referring to anyone other than the Holy Spirit.
 
3) Co-equal and Co-eternal: The three divine persons are co-equal and co-eternal. Because very few people deny the deity of the Father, most of the attacks center on denying the deity of Christ and deity and personhood of the Holy Spirit. (video: 11:14-11:16)

  1. The Father is called God (Phil. 1:2).
  2. Jesus is called God (John 1:1,14).
  3. The Holy Spirit is called God (Acts 5:3-4).

 

Father: Yahweh (YHWH) is the name given by God for Himself in the Old Testament. It is the name revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14, when God said, “I am who I am.”

 

Jesus: The strongest claim Jesus made to be Yahweh is in John 8:58, where He says, “Before Abraham was born, I am!” This statement claims not only existence before Abraham, but equality with the “I am” of Exodus 3:14. The Jews around Him clearly understood His meaning and picked up stones to kill Him for blaspheming (cf. John 10:31–33). The same claim is also made in Mark 14:62 and John 18:5–6.

 

Thomas saw Jesus’ wounds and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Paul wrote, “Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!” (Rom. 9:5). He calls Jesus the one in whom “all the fullness of Deity lives in bodily form” (Col. 2:9). In Titus, Jesus is “our great God and Savior” (2:13), and the writer to the Hebrews says of Him, “Your throne, O God,” The New Testament opens with a passage concluding that Jesus is Immanuel (“God with us”), which refers to the messianic prediction of Isaiah 7:14. The very title “Christ” carries the same meaning as the Hebrew appellation “Messiah” (“Anointed One”). In Zechariah 12:10, Yahweh says, “They will look on me, the one they have pierced.” The New Testament writers apply this passage to Jesus twice (John 19:37; Rev. 1:7) as referring to His crucifixion.

 

Holy Spirit: Attributes of God such as life (Rom. 8:2); truth (John 16:13); love (Rom. 15:30); holiness (Eph. 4:30); eternality (Heb. 9:14); omnipresence (Ps. 139:7); and omniscience (1 Cor. 2:11) are ascribed to the Spirit. Particular acts are associated only with God; both God the Father and the Son are said to perform these acts, and so is the Holy Spirit. These include the act of creation (Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30); the acts of redemption (Isa. 63:10–11; Eph. 4:30; 1 Cor. 12:13); the performance of miracles by His own power (Gal. 3:2–5; Heb. 2:4); and the giving of supernatural gifts (Acts 2:4; 1 Cor. 12:4–11).

 
These are the three foundations that all Christians should know in order to give a meaningful defense of the Christian faith. If someone worships a non-triune God, they have constructed a false god. It is not the same God as the God of the Bible.  It is not just a simple doctrinal disagreement because we are not even worshiping the same God. It goes against the first commandment. It is blasphemous. It qualifies as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit to say that the person of the Holy Spirit does not exist, is just a force, or is not God. I hope those of you who claim to love God will love him as the triune God who exists with all of your mind as well as your heart (Matthew 22:37).

 


[1] “Pronoun”, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology, Michael S. Heiser, (Logos Bible Software, 2005).

About Cris Putnam
Logos Apologia is the ministry of Cris D. Putnam. The mission of Logos Apologia is to show that logic, science, history and faith are complementary, not contradictory and to bring that life-changing truth to everybody who wants to know.

Comments

  1. Ursula says:

    I do not understand how anyone could deny the Holy Trinity. How could people not know based on the bible. Thank you, Chris for addressing this.

    • Chuckles says:

      Ursula, you’re thinking as one who holds God’s written Word above her/his own “feelings” (as do I).

      But, if you examine some of the previous threads on this blog dealing with the Holy Spirit–particularly regarding His person-hood–you’ll see some text book cases of Trinity-denial. Their convoluted and sometimes circular “arguments” serve as vivid examples of fallen human rationalizing.

      I guess that’s one of Cris’s reasons for posting Dr. White’s video.

      And for that I thank you too, Cris.

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