The spiritual condition of America, politics, culture, and current events, analyzed through the lens of Scripture.
Welcome to the Alex McFarland Show. One of the most misunderstood of all Bible doctrines concerns the teaching about God's nature. That is the Trinity. Hi, Alex McFarland here, and we're going to begin a series on the nature of God. And this is one of the questions that we get a lot.
We get a lot of correspondence, not only on live radio, but by email. People want to know about Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Is that really how God is, and how can three be one? And then, of course, periodically we'll get correspondence from Muslims who believe that Christians are polytheists and believe in three gods. But let's talk about this, the Trinity. Christians believe in one God, but many secularists and those of other religions accuse Christians of worshiping an irrational idea of God, or worshiping three gods, or setting forth some form of polytheism.
And granted, this is a deep subject, and I believe one that the human mind, the finite mind of a human being, cannot fully comprehend. But throughout church history, great minds have pondered the mystery of the Trinity. And maybe your church, as part of your worship service, you recite the Apostles' Creed, which contains the line, quote, I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost. Now, this ancient church creed affirms the Trinity, ascribing equal position to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Later, there was a creed called the Athanasian Creed, named after a fourth-century man. He was a great defender of Christianity. His name was Athanasius.
And the content of the creed goes all the way back to the early church, but the Creed of Athanasius states, quote, we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance or essence. Now this is difficult stuff, I'll grant you. Confounding the persons, in other words, the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father, the Holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son, but their essence or nature or substance, what God is, if we could say the stuff that is God, is not divided or separated. Now I will grant you one God, one nature, one essence, and yet eternally existent in three centers of consciousness, three persons, Father, Son, Holy Ghost. I do not understand it, but I definitely believe it. Now what I would like to do in this program, and in a couple of others that we're going to do, is to approach this topic. And we'll do it biblically, as God has revealed himself, we'll do it reasonably and rationally, but we will not fully apprehend. You know, in thought they talk about to apprehend or comprehend something is to fully grasp it. I don't think we can fully grasp it, just like there are many things from which we benefit, but that we don't fully, fully grasp.
Medicine, no doubt, even a pharmacist or biologist might understand much about human physiology or even pharmacology, but look, when you're sick, you take the antibiotic or the medicine and you get better, praise God, but you can benefit from it without fully understanding it. And the Trinity is difficult to comprehend, no doubt, and the creeds of the early church do their best to set forth the Bible truth of a certain issue, the incarnation or the deity of Christ, and in the case of the Trinity, one God yet manifested in three persons. Now, what we're really asking is what is God like? And this is especially relevant for Christians today to be aware of, because while, you know, it's been said that God made man in his image, well man often makes God in his image.
And we often say, and I've had so many people during open Q&A or on the radio, they say, well, what I think is this, or what I think is that, or if I had done it, I would have done it this way or that way. We've all got speculations and opinions, but when it comes to the nature of God, it is imperative that we accept God as he has revealed himself. And I believe not only Scripture but the words of Christ themselves, and nature, like Psalm 19 says that the heavens and earth bear witness to the glory of God. And we'll talk about some examples, how reality itself points to the triune nature of God.
So we're approaching, as best as humans can, we're approaching the topic, what is God like? Now there are many erroneous views of God that exist in our day, many unscriptural views of God that are currently competing for the allegiance of people. For example, there's really kind of the spiritualistic New Agey idea that God is based on pantheism, meaning that everything is God, the prefix P-A-N, pan, all. Well, pantheism assumes that everything is God. I recently heard Stephen Colbert on his program, and he professes to be a Christian, but he said that every human being is Christ.
Well, that's not true. Now, we are made in God's image, and life is a sacred gift, but that doesn't mean that we are God. And so we've got to, in addition to embracing truth for our own selves, knowing truth, proclaiming truth, a part of the job of every believer is to refute error. Now, the Bible's depiction of God's nature is opposed by the viewpoint of God held by Islam. Now Islam agrees with Christianity and Judaism in saying that God is one, but in Islam God is so singular as to not have, really, personality. Now, the Islamic conception of God was very much influenced by the views of a philosopher named Plotinus.
Plotinus lived in the second century A.D. Plotinus's ideas were influential during the Middle Ages, and as you may know, Muhammad was born around 571, and Islam really got started about 622. But Muslim theology, many historians believe, was influenced by the philosopher Plotinus, the oneness of God, that God is rigidly, strictly this one thing. And this is so insisted upon by Muslims that God is undivided, and we know that the nature of God is eternally uniform and undivided and unchanging, but God, in Islamic thought, is removed of all personality, all relatability. In fact, for the Muslim, for all the talk about Allah and the 90-plus names of Allah, really in Islamic theology God cannot even be known in a personal way.
And of course this is in direct contrast to what God has revealed about Himself to humanity through Scripture and through the Savior. Now we're going to take a break, and when we come back we'll continue to look at some false views about the nature of God and the true revelation of God, who God is, how He has shown us, and how we can know Him. Stay tuned. Alex McFarland here will be back right after this.
Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert. Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this. What are you doing next summer?
Hey, how about this? I want to invite you to join me in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, August 6 through 11, 2023, for the Faith and Family Retreat. It's going to be awesome. We'll talk about foundational things. What does it mean to be a disciple?
How can you defend your faith? Family time, concerts, renewal of wedding vows. It's going to be great. Then fun, a trip to Dollywood.
Who wouldn't like that? And then faith in action. There will be a mission outreach, talking to people about Christ. So again, August 6 through 11, 2023, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Go to faithandfamilyretreat.com. I hope to see you there. He's been called trusted, truthful, and timely. Welcome back to the Alex McFarland Show. Welcome back to the program.
Alex McFarland here, so honored that you're listening. We're talking about the nature of God. God the Trinity.
Father, Son, Holy Spirit. You know, in the Bible, Deuteronomy 6, 1 through 4, the Shema, the great Jewish declaration of God. Here, O Israel, the Lord our God is one. Now, the word monotheism is one God.
But throughout God's revelation in Scripture, and even before we get to the New Testament, we are shown that God is Father, God is Holy Spirit, and God sent his Son to be our Savior. We'll unpack that more in just a little bit, but I want to talk about another false view of God that's in our culture today, and this comes from the Mormon Church. Now, the Mormon Church calls itself Christian.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, LDS, which was started in the 19th century. But while the Mormon Church calls itself Christian, its theological teachings frequently oppose Bible doctrines that are very central to Christianity. Now, Mormonism teaches that gods are eternally giving birth to new gods, and this is polytheism. This is polytheism, P-O-L-Y.
Poly means many. And it contradicts the Bible in the biblical truth about who God is. Clearly, a strong understanding of the Trinity is something that each Christian should make a priority in this age of distorted views of God. But earlier in the program, I mentioned Psalm 19, and really, much can be known about God just by looking at the world around us. The Bible says in Psalm 19, verse 1, that the heavens and earth declare the glory of God.
Now, in another program, I'm going to talk about Thomas Aquinas, one of my heroes, and his views about the Trinity. But nature itself, Aquinas believed that the effects we see all around us speak out for a first cause. And the creation point to a Creator. And there are contingent things all around us. The leaf is contingent on the tree, and the tree was contingent on a seed.
But the seed, the acorn, had to come from an oak. And a world of contingent things that are all dependent on something else. They speak to the necessity of a first being. A being that is not contingent at all.
And we'll get to that in a future show. I want to talk about Aquinas. But let's talk about what Scripture tells us about God. Because God, in Scripture, has shown us much about his nature. And, you know, Scripture doesn't tell us everything that we might want to know, but God has very graciously, in Scripture, revealed to us what we need to know. Theologians call the Bible and Jesus Christ special revelation. The Lord has revealed to mankind many things about himself through this special revelation, things that could not have been deduced from human reason alone. And among the truths of God's special revelation is the teaching that God's nature consists of three persons.
Equal in power, equal in glory, equal in might. Each person within the Godhead is equal to the others and entitled to the same worship, devotion, trust, and faith. Now, here's what the Bible says about the nature of God. Father, Son, Holy Spirit, each fully God, each showing forth the divine nature. The three members of the Trinity are distinct, and we mention that in the first segment. Now, the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and so forth, yet all three are of the same essence or nature. Now, it's very interesting that among the persons of the Godhead, the Father and Son converse with each other. And Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17. The Father spoke from heaven about the Son at Jesus' baptism, Matthew 3, 15-17. The Spirit of God was present at the same time, demonstrating that the three are distinct persons, but coexisting simultaneously. Now, one God, yet the members of the Trinity have separate titles and special functions. The Bible teaches that all exist eternally. The Father did not create the Son and Spirit. The Son and Spirit have always existed as has God the Father. And again, I'll grant you, this is deep.
This is complex. But let's talk about for a moment what the doctrine of the Trinity does not mean. This is not tritheism, TRI. This is not three gods. This is not polytheism. Many gods. And this is certainly not pantheism, that all is God. Trinity, the word Trinity means there's one God, three persons within that one nature.
And you know, people very often ask, they'll say, well, what is a good illustration? I really don't think there is a completely adequate illustration of the Trinity. You know, egg is shell, yolk, yellow, or the egg white. But those are different parts. And God is not made of parts. Scholars will often talk about God being a simple being. But we don't mean simplistic, as in not intelligent. But it means not divided.
In philosophical terms, simple means undivided. And certainly God is undivided. And God is not ever in conflict with himself. God is not in disagreement within himself. And God is not ever in contradiction against his revealed truth.
That's why, you know, nowadays there's so much discussion about sexuality and morals and gender. God does not contradict his word. That's in Psalm 132. God says that he has elevated his word even above his name. And so God is not going to be in conflict with his nature, his plans, his purposes, his revelation. And so we've got to trust who God is, and we've got to trust what God has said. Now let's talk about some common objections about the Trinity. And we get this objection. People say, well, the Bible does not teach the doctrine of the Trinity.
Well, that's false. The Bible does. And in fact, throughout Scripture we see the Trinitarian nature of God. I think about Matthew 3, 16 and 17. It says, Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water, and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon him.
Verse 17 of Matthew 3. And lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. So Jesus is God the Son, the second person of the Trinity. And here it is baptism. We see all three persons of the Trinity present and active.
And this same instance is clearly presented in the other Gospels, Mark 1, Luke 3, and John 1. Well, we've got to take a break, but we're going to come back and talk more about the Trinitarian nature of God. God the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, when this edition returns. Alex McFarland here. Stay with us.
We'll be right back. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert. Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this. Over the last several decades, it's been my joy to travel the world talking with children, teens, adults, people of all ages, about the questions they have related to God, the Bible, Christianity, and how to know Jesus personally.
Hi, Alex McFarland. I want to make you aware of my book, The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity. You know, we interviewed hundreds of children and parents and families to find out the questions that children and people of all ages are longing to find answers for. In the book, we've got practical, biblical, real life answers that they have about how to be a Christian in this modern world.
My book, The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask, you can find it wherever you buy books or at resources.afa.net. He's been called trusted, truthful, and timely. Welcome back to The Alex McFarland Show. Welcome back to our discussion of the Trinity. Maybe in church you've sung that wonderful hymn, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.
I love the refrain that says, God in three persons blessed Trinity. Well, we'll resume our talk about this in just a moment, but I want to give God the glory for all of the wonderful, amazing things that the Lord is doing through our ministries these days. If you would go to my website, which is alexmcfarland.com, for one thing you can see my travel schedule and places that we are doing events around the country. We've got several very notable things coming up in 2023. For one thing, April 21-23, we will be in Paris, Tennessee, right? Not too far from Nashville, not too far from Memphis. Just a great church that's been a friend of this ministry for many, many years, TVCC, Tennessee Valley Community Church. And I'll be there with our national conference we do, Truth for a New Generation. All around the country we've done these, and we'll be in Tennessee, April 21-23. The theme is Truth Matters.
Boy, does it ever. Truth Matters, confronting the issues that will shape our future. Along with me will be attorney and pastor Abe Hamilton III, Will and Miki Addison from the nationally syndicated radio show airing the Addisons.
So much that is a part of this, you can check this out at Truth for a New Generation. Also, I'm very excited, my longtime friend and co-host of Exploring the Word, Bert Harper, will be with us also at the Tennessee event. And then I'll be at the Cove, the Billy Graham Training Center in western North Carolina, July 7-9 at the Cove.
I'll be finishing up my two-year series on 1 and 2 Peter. The theme of that is Thriving Till He Comes. Also, we've got our youth camps. We're doing seven youth camps in the summer of 23 for middle school, high schoolers, biblical worldview, fighting, wokeness. It is imperative that we teach young people truth about God and country. The website for our summer camps is EquipRetreat.org.
EquipRetreat.org. And then finally, I want to make everybody aware of the faith and family retreat that we're doing in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This is August 6-11. We'll be there at Dollywood. We'll be there with Big Daddy Weave and so many great things, renewing our vows at Dollywood. I'll be helping do a ceremony of renewing of marriage vows, and there'll be Trudy Cathy, the daughter of Truett Cathy of Chick-fil-A. She'll be there. Lots of great music, lots of great things for kids.
The hotel where everybody will stay has a water park there, plus all the great things to do around Pigeon Forge. And I'll be speaking on apologetics and biblical worldview. I'll also do my seminar on answering the tough questions children have about God, but the faithandfamilyretreat.com, that's going to be in Pigeon Forge, August 6-11. So much more I could say, but please pray, and I want to say thanks to all the people that financially support all that is going on to win the lost and equip the saved. One last thing for which I solicit your prayers, our youth campus clubs all around America, we're helping charter clubs.
The clubs are called Viral Truth, like, you know, videos go viral. Well, we want the truth to go viral, and folks, it is so imperative that we equip kids, obviously, number one, to know Jesus, to be saved. But to stand for America and not fall for wokeness or socialism, you can go to the website viraltruth.com to learn about the clubs that we're helping kids start, and we're equipping middle school, high schoolers, college kids to present and defend not only Christianity, but the truth about our blessed nation, our constitutional republic.
We are not to be a socialist police state. Look, we were founded on biblical principles, and we've got to do what we can to help preserve those principles. And together we're doing it.
For your prayers and financial support, I say a sincere thanks. But with the time we've got left, I want to continue our talk about the nature of God, and Father, Son, Holy Spirit is the person that we see in the Word of God. Now, passages like Genesis 1-26, where God said, let us make man in our image after our likeness. In the Hebrew language, the plural name for God is Elohim. By the way, the word Elohim appears 2,570 times in the Bible. Elohim refers to God's power and might. Now, interestingly, in the Genesis 1-26 passage, this plural noun is joined to a singular verb.
Fascinating. Indicative of the fact that God is one. Singular in nature, yet plural in personality. In this verse, Genesis 1-26, God was not talking to angels, because the angels did not help God create anything. When God says within himself, let us make man in our image, this is conversation, fellowship, thought within the persons of the Godhead. Now, we're made in the image of God. In fact, in 1 Thessalonians 5, it says that man is body, soul, and spirit.
There's a triune nature to human beings. Even though we're not God, we are not deity, we will get a glorified body in heaven. That doesn't mean that we become the nature of God. But we get a glorified body, the born-again believer who goes to heaven, but we see that the creation, even human beings, reflect the nature of the Creator. Now, we see conversations within the Trinity in scriptures from Isaiah. Isaiah 6, verse 8, Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
This is amazing. Whom shall I send? Singular.
And who will go for us? That's plural. The Holy Spirit, Father, and the Son, are all referred to in Isaiah 61, verse 1. The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me. And Jesus quoted this and appropriated this verse to himself, of course, in Luke chapter 4, when he was making his ministry public, and really his identity, his messiahship. Now, as the second person of the Trinity, God's anointed Savior and the only person who has ever or could ever conquer the grave, Jesus' authority is established beyond question. Now, some deny the Trinity, or they really pervert the biblical revelation about the nature of God.
But on what authority do they base their unbelief? Well, Jesus was de facto affirming the doctrine of the Trinity. And by virtue of his bodily resurrection from the grave, Jesus' authority to speak as God, and to speak for God, is established as beyond all question. Now, in John 5.17, Jesus references God the Father. Jesus says, quote, My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.
First Peter 1, verse 2 makes reference to God the Father, and also to the other two Persons of the Trinity, saying that the believers are elected by God the Father, set apart by the Spirit of God, washed clean in the blood through Jesus, the Son of God. Well, we've got a whole lot more to say, and we will, no doubt, in future broadcasts do this. In the meantime, on my website, alexmcfarland.com, there's a tab, What Does God Say? And the full title of this tab that you'll see, What Does God Say About My Relationship With Him, we've got a book that several hundred thousand people have gotten this already, this little booklet, What Does God Say About My Relationship With Him, and we've got not only an explanation of the Gospel, but also a basic intro to defending the Christian faith. I want to encourage you in your walk and witness, as Adrian Rogers once said, more hangs on your obedience than you could possibly imagine. So keep standing for truth. Keep standing with and for Jesus Christ. Know that we're here to help you and encourage people of all ages to know the truth and to make truth known.
May God bless you as you do that, and thank you for listening. Alex McFarland Ministries are made possible through the prayers and financial support of partners like you. For over 20 years, this ministry has been bringing individuals into a personal relationship with Christ and has been equipping people to stand strong for truth. Learn more and donate securely online at alexmcfarland.com. You may also reach us at Alex McFarland, P.O. Box 10231, Greensboro, North Carolina 27404, or by calling 1-877-YES-GOD and the number 1. That's 1-877-YES-GOD-1.
Thanks for joining us. We'll see you again on the next edition of the Alex McFarland Show. Christian author and speaker Alex McFarland is an advocate for Christian apologetics. Teaching in more than 2,200 churches around the world, schools and college campuses, Alex is driven by a desire to help people grow in relationship with God. He arms his audiences with the tools they need to defend their faith, while also empowering the unchurched to find out the truth for themselves. In the midst of a culture obsessed with relativism, Alex is a sound voice who speaks timeless truths of Christianity in a timely way. With 18 published books to his name, it's no surprise that CNN, Fox, the Wall Street Journal, and other media outlets have described Alex as a religion and culture expert. To learn more about Alex and to book him as a speaker at your next event, visit alexmcfarland.com or you can contact us directly by emailing booking at alexmcfarland.com.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-31 04:06:18 / 2023-01-31 04:16:55 / 11