What the Bible Says About the Trinity Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Title: What the Bible Says About the Trinity Part 1
Series: What the Bible Says About....
Text: For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one (1 John 5:7)
Scripture Reading: 1 John 5:7
The doctrine of the Trinity is a distinctive mark of Christianity. Though there are “triads” (a set of 3) of divinities in many of the world’s religions and philosophies, none of these carries any similarities to the Christian teaching concerning the Trinity.
It must be understood, however, that it is not possible to “prove” the Trinity from the standpoint of human reason. The Trinitarian nature of God comes to humans by divine revelation.
It is interwoven throughout the Old and New Testaments.
Therefore, the Bible presents God as a rational Spirit being who is unlimited in His characteristics of love, holiness, wisdom, peace, majesty, justice, truth, and goodness. It also presents Him as one who exists outwardly in three persons yet is still one in substance and in purpose.
Our text for today is 1 John 5:7, “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.”
It is very simple to state the two main points of our lesson:
First, there is one God.
Second, the one God exists as three persons.
Let’s begin by examining the Christian belief that: There is one God.
In the Old Testament God is revealed in the Shema. The “Shema” is the recital of Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Every service in every Jewish synagogue was opened by the people reciting these two verses. This is what they would say publicly, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
God was also revealed in the Ten Commandments. The very first commandment is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exod. 20:3).
The prophets of the Old Testament also revealed God. He is revealed in every one of the prophetic books. For example, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “I am the Lord, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me, That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other.” (Is. 45:5-6)
In the New Testament God is revealed in the words of Jesus. In John chapter 10 Jesus said, “I and My Father are one” (Jn.10:30). It can’t be made any more understandable than that; they are one in their fundamental nature, and they are equal in power and glory.
James wrote in his epistle, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19). It’s not enough to just believe that God exists, for that doesn’t even distinguish a person from Satan’s demons: but we must give ourselves to God as the Gospel directs, and love Him, and delight ourselves in Him, and serve Him, which the demons will not do, and cannot do.
When Paul wrote his first letter to the believers in the Corinthian church he said, “Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world and that there is no other God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live” (1 Cor. 8:4-6). He is described as the Father “of whom are all things.”
We Christians are better informed than other religions because we know that there is only one God, the source of life, the author of all things, the maker, preserver and governor of the whole world. And in Acts, He is described as the one in whom “we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
In Him we live, that is, ultimately it is God who provides for all our needs and we could not live unless He supplied the air, the water, the gravity, the sun, and everything that human life depends upon.
In Him we move; it is by God’s divine involvement that our thoughts run the course of a thousand subjects, and we could not move a hand, or a foot, or our tongue unless He moved them first.
In Him we have our being; not only because He gave us live, but we have it still because He continues to care for us and to be good to us.
Adam and Eve believed in one God, but their sin gave birth to polytheism, the worship of many gods because in his guilt, man manufactured gods whom he could appease. Sinful humans feared demonstrations of natural power, so they worshiped the wind, the sun, fire, and so on. Today, material things often become gods in people’s lives. Some are devoted their jobs, others worship their children, and still, others make wealth, fame or knowledge their god. But all these things fail to satisfy the basic needs of individuals, because what every man, woman and child needs is a Savior.
We have seen that the Scriptures teach that there is one God, but:
The one God exists as three persons.
The first suggestion of the Trinity is found in Genesis 1:1 when Moses used the plural form of the divine name for God: “In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth.” The Hebrew word that was used for God is “Elohim,” which is plural and conveys the idea of one Supreme Being, who is the only true God, and who is in some sense plural. Our God is so great in His being and in His qualities that to limit Him to one expression or appearance of Himself is to ignore His majesty and power.
Several passages use more than one Hebrew word for God, making a distinction between God the Father and God the Son.
Jesus is called God in Psalms 45, “…Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness…” (Ps. 45:7). And in Psalm 110:1, God speaks directly to David’s Master when He says, “The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool” (Ps 110:1). Other remarkable passages refer to the Angel of the Lord.
In the sixteenth chapter of Genesis is the story of Hagar, who was the handmaiden of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. There was strife and jealousy in their home because both women competed for Abraham’s attentions, so Hagar fled into the desert to save her life and the life of her child. The Bible records that, “The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the desert…” (Gen. 16:7). The angel of the LORD appears here for the first time in Scripture.
The context of the verses shows that when the angel speaks, it is actually Yahweh who is speaking. Since the New Testament indicates that no man has ever seen God the Father (I Tim 6:16), it only seems reasonable that the appearance of the angel of the Lord is, in fact, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. In chapter twenty-two of Genesis it says, “But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Gen. 22:11-12). This is the story of Abraham and Isaac; Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son in obedience to God, but God the Great Redeemer and comforter brought a happy conclusion to the trial, by supplying a lamb to take Isaac’s place on the altar.
A little further along in Genesis we read about Moses’ call to serve God, “And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed” (Ex. 3:2). The angel of the LORD appeared unto him. This was no mere created angel, but the Messenger of Jehovah, Christ Himself, and that becomes evident from the framework of the passage.