There is one true God, with only one essence, who eternally exists in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
These three persons are each fully and equally God, and equally deserve worship and obedience, yet these three persons are only one God. The Trinity never has one little word so roiled the waters of human theology. Heresies have been committed over it.
Cults have been formed in opposition to it. But while the Bible doesn't use the word Trinity explicitly, it most certainly does teach what it stands for as indisputable Christian doctrine. And that's what Pastor Don Green will underscore today on the Truth Pulpit.
Hi, I'm Bill Wright, and Don's here to set the stage for us. Well, friend, today on the Truth Pulpit, we tackle a question that is beyond our comprehension. What is the Trinity?
You know, in my younger days, I really struggled with this question because I had come under the influence of false teaching that directed me away from biblical truth. And I'm sure that my experience is that which maybe some of you are going through today. Here's my encouragement to you. Patient study of the Bible can take you from confusion to understanding on this most vital issue. Let's get started today on the Truth Pulpit.
Let's do that, Don. Friend, have your Bible handy as Don teaches God's people God's word in the Truth Pulpit. Turn as an introductory text to Isaiah 55. Isaiah 55, to just kind of give us a place to start as we consider the doctrine of the Trinity. The greatness of God should bring us to repentance. The greatness of God should cause us to seek Him. The greatness of God should help us humble ourselves before Him. Look at Isaiah 55 verse 6.
We'll start there. A word of invitation given to Israel as Isaiah preaches to them. A similar word of invitation given to those of you who are still outside of Christ.
Those of you who are in the darkness of sin. This call, this command, this invitation comes to those who do not know Him. Seek the Lord, verse 6. Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near.
The time's brief. The time is passing and here He is revealing Himself to us through His word. Call upon this God while there is still time, while He is near. Don't squander the opportunity to seek Him and to call upon Him.
And what would you do as one outside of Christ? Verse 7, you would repent. Let the wicked forsake His way and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return to the Lord.
Why would I do that? You might say it's because of this promise of love and grace and compassion. The one who will turn from sin will find this to be true in verse 7. And this Lord, this Yahweh, He will have compassion on Him.
Turn to our God for He will abundantly pardon. My friend, if you're here today and you're outside of Christ, you're still under judgment, here's what you need to understand. Here's what you need to realize and recognize is that you are in that condition of judgment, not from a lack of invitation and grace of God. God is gracious, He calls and extends and promises His compassion and His mercy upon you. And says, come, seek me, I'll have compassion on you. Those who hear those words from the scriptures and nevertheless turn away and find themselves in eternal judgment will have no one to blame but themselves.
There's no excuse. There's nothing about the gospel invitation to turn away from. There's no reason to reject the Lord Jesus Christ except for your own selfish, sinful ways. My friends, look at verse 7 again.
Look at the end of verse 7. He will have compassion on Him. Our God will have compassion on the one who turns to Him. Why would you reject that compassion? Why would you reject mercy?
There's no excuse. Scripture teaches that there is no excuse for turning away. And so we see that even as we enter into our consideration of the Trinity that we're approaching a God who is compassionate and merciful and calls and welcomes sinners who will come to Him.
Now, that was all preliminary. Verse 8 here, as we're talking about the incomprehensibility of God and the fact that we should expect to find in God's nature things that go beyond our understanding, look at verse 8. God is speaking and He says, for My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. And so as we come to this God, as we approach Him in His Word, as we approach Him to study His character and attributes, our fundamental presupposition is that we're going to find things that go beyond our ability to grasp. That's the starting point.
That's what we expect to occur. And when a ministry or a pastor or whatever gives you things that you can always understand and feel like you completely grasp and never gives you something that stretches you beyond the bounds of your own mental capacity, it's extremely unlikely that they're telling you truth. Because there has to come a point where we bow before this One who is greater than us. And as we consider the doctrine of the Trinity, that's exactly what we find. Charles Spurgeon said this in conjunction with the teaching of the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. He said, and I quote, We can never understand how Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can be three and yet one. I have long ago given up any desire to understand this great mystery, for I am perfectly satisfied that if I could understand it, it would not be true, because God from the very nature of things must be incomprehensible.
End quote. And so as we come, we come with hearts that are humble, we come expecting things that transcend our understanding, and we come in reverence bowing before this majestic God. What is the Trinity? Here's a definition. I'll go through this a time or two to give you time to write it down in your notes. What is the Trinity? Here's a definition. There is one true God, with only one essence, who eternally exists in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I know some of you are trying to take it down, so I'll slow down just a touch here. There is one true God, with only one essence, who eternally exists in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three persons are each fully and equally God.
These three persons are each fully and equally God, and equally deserve worship and obedience, yet these three persons are only one God. It took the early church, in the early centuries after the Apostolic Age, a great deal of work and effort and fight against heresy in order to nail this down for all of time in terms of the declaration of the doctrine. We realize, understand, and freely acknowledge the fact that the word Trinity appears nowhere in Scripture. But, we teach the doctrine of the Trinity because what the word represents is the fullness of the teaching of Scripture about the character of God. We use the word Trinity because that is the only word that gives justice to the full weight of the teaching of Scripture about the nature of God. And this is a doctrine that has stood the test of time, the test of heretics that have tried to undermine it by denying the deity of Christ and such other things.
And so, the question is not whether the word itself is found in Scripture, but whether the doctrine that it represents is found in Scripture. And that is what we're going to see here today. We're going to break it into three principles and give supporting Scripture here. So as you're taking notes, this would be your first point.
And we'll go through some of these fairly quickly. First of all, first point number one, there is one true God. There is one true God. And this is a point that the Bible repeatedly emphasizes.
And if you want to jot down this first reference, Deuteronomy 6-4. Deuteronomy 6-4 says, Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. The Lord is one. In 1 Corinthians 8, verse 4, the Bible says, There is no God but one. Deuteronomy 6-4, 1 Corinthians 8-4. James 2-19 says, You believe that God is one.
You do well, the demons also believe and shudder. One God. There are no competitors. The immense eternal Spirit who is the creator of heaven and earth. There is no other. He is alone in his deity. He is alone in his Godhead.
He is alone, the only true God. And that is the teaching of Christianity. Christianity teaches that there is only one God. Contrary to the misrepresentations that are made by Jews and others, that we proclaim three gods, no, that is not the case. That is not what we teach. The Bible teaches that there is only one God and that is what we believe.
Period, end of sentence, end of paragraph. There is only one God. Now, keep that in mind. Point number two today. That one true God eternally exists in three persons. God eternally exists in three persons. Now, as you go through the Old Testament, we won't take the time to prove the point that I'm about to make.
We'll save that for another time. But as you go through the Old Testament, which is so clearly monotheistic in its teaching, as you go through and consider the teaching of the Old Testament, you will find that it anticipates a diversity within the one unity of God. There are plural references to God in the Old Testament.
The very word that is used to describe God in Deuteronomy 6-4 is the Hebrew word echad. It has the idea of one, but there's a diversity in the oneness, just like you hold up a bunch of grapes. You have one bunch of grapes, but there is diversity within that oneness. There's the stem, and there are the different grapes that are there. There is a diversity there, and that same word that would describe a bunch of grapes is used to describe the one true God.
One, but with a sense of diversity. You read through the scriptures, and you see it talking about the angel of the Lord, and then it describes that angel of the Lord as being God himself. There are other things like that.
Plural references. And so even in the Old Testament, where the teaching of the monotheistic nature of God is first put on display, there are glimpses, there are hints, there are indications that it's more than a simple, absolute oneness, that there is a measure of diversity within that oneness, even as the Old Testament teaches. Well, here's the thing, beloved. Here's the thing. As you come to the New Testament, what is hinted at in the Old Testament is brought into clarity. Let's put it this way. The nature of God has always been the same. It has never, ever changed. It is what it is. But the way that God made himself known was progressive in nature. He revealed portions in the Old Testament and then brought the New Testament.
It was brought to greater light. Think about it this way. When I take my glasses off, and I look out at you, I see forms, but I don't see your faces very clearly. It's all blurry to me. But you're there. You are completely there right now without my glasses on, exactly as you are. And then I come along and I put on my glasses, and oh, there is clarity that wasn't there before. Well, here's what you must understand about the nature of the Bible and the way that God has made himself known over the centuries. In the Old Testament, everything that we believe was there.
Nothing changed between the Old and the New Testament. But they were looking at this without the glasses on. When Jesus Christ came, when he revealed the nature of God more fully, and when the apostles expounded on that, the glasses were put on so that what was always there was now seen with greater clarity.
It's not that the Old contradicts the New any more than my view of you without my glasses contradicts what it is with the glasses on. We just go from hints and forms and peering, as it were, into a great veil of darkness in some ways, where there is some light but not enough. In the New Testament you come and the light is there for all to see. And there's just, there's clarity added to what was hinted at in the Old Testament.
That's what we're about to see as we come to this second point. There is one true God, but point number two is that this God eternally exists in three persons. Now, there was a reason why we started with answering the question, why do we believe the Bible?
That's the cornerstone of everything. That's why we started there, and so we received this as the word of God. We believe what the Bible says.
Now, follow me here. As we read and study the Scriptures faithfully over time and in conjunction with the men who have gone before us, we're not starting all over here. We're building on, we're standing on the shoulders of men who have studied Scripture in the centuries before us, that we are the recipients of the work of great and godly men who have gone before us. We want to be faithful vertically to God, first of all, but we also want to be faithful to the inheritance and the stewardship that's been handed down to us from generation to generation.
We're not trying to start new things and new thoughts here. Just as Paul said in 2 Timothy 2, these things entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others. We've received it from faithful men. We want to be faithful and pass it on so that others will be faithful too. We see ourselves in a historical continuity.
We're not trying to make things up and be new and fresh and unique. We just want to be faithful to what Scripture says and what's been taught before us. Well, as we do that, the Bible itself compels us to accept the doctrine of the Trinity. There's no way around it. You can't deny the Trinity without denying the Bible, because the Bible teaches that there is one God, and as it teaches that, side by side, without apology, it teaches that there are three persons who are God, that this one God exists in three persons. All right?
That's what we're going to look at right now. And so first of all, and this is a subpoint, God eternally exists in three persons, subpoint A. The Father is God. The Father is God. Turn in your Bibles to John 6.27. John 6.27.
We won't spend much time here. This is not a contested point, really. But in John 6.27, Jesus said, do not work, and by the way, I'm just giving you representative texts. We're not trying to be exhaustive. This is a survey message.
We're just trying to point things out without being exhaustive in any way here. We're just trying to lay the foundation so that we have something to stand on and build from in future days to come. John 6.27, Jesus said, do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, watch this, for on him, that is, on Christ, the Father, here comes the appositive, God has set his seal. Jesus says the Father is God, and God has set his seal on the Son of Man. The Father is God. Now we don't need to spend much time on that point because hardly anyone would dispute it.
Maybe a group like the United Pentecostals would try to fuss about that and dispute that point. But in the general discussion of Christianity, this is assumed, and it is what Scripture teaches. The Father is God.
Now, keeping those things in mind, everything that we've said so far, we come to subpoint B here, and that is this. The Son is God. The Son is God.
Now, I realize that if you go too fast on this, someone's head's going to pop open, so I want to slow down and not go too fast here. The deity that belongs to God is a single undivided essence. If you wanted to put it this way in crass terms, the stuff that makes up God belongs fully to the Father, and the stuff, the essence, that makes up God also belongs fully to Jesus Christ the Son. The complete essence that belongs to God the Father also belongs to Jesus Christ the Son. Stated differently, the deity that belongs exclusively to God the Father also belongs to Jesus Christ.
I'll state it differently. Every attribute that God the Father has, Jesus Christ has also. There is no distinguishing.
There is no separation. There is no diminishment of deity as you go from the Father to the Son. The full deity of the Father is also found in all of its inexpressible majesty also in Jesus Christ. You're in the Gospel of John. Turn back to John chapter 1, the very first verse of John chapter 1. This verse is a message in itself also. John chapter 1, verse 1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Look at, focus on, let's go from the back to the front of this verse. The Word was God.
It's a statement of quality. Whoever this Word is, whoever the Word is, is said to be God himself. It's not that the Word was a God. If you've been influenced by Jehovah's Witnesses and are confused on that point, let me know.
I can clear that up for you in another setting. That is a demonstrably deliberate falsehood propagated by Jehovah's Witnesses that is obviously refuted and there is no dispute about it. It is a deliberate deception for them to try to say that this Word was a God and therefore is not the true God. The Word was God is what it says. By very quality, by very essence, he was God. Now look at it though.
This starts to go beyond our capacity of comprehension. The Word was with God. Somehow God was with God. Somehow there's this one essence, but there is somehow a distinction in persons sharing that one indivisible essence so that the Word could rightly be described as God and also somehow being described as being with God.
We wouldn't talk about ourselves that way, at least not without realizing that they'd probably put a white coat on us and carry us off. I'm Don and I'm with Don. What?
Why would you want to be with him? In the nature of God, this can be properly said without apology. The Word was God and he was yet with God.
Who was this Word? Look at verse 14. It's what the whole Gospel of John is about. This Word became flesh, a clear reference to Jesus Christ. So Christ was with God, he was God, and he became flesh. Turn over in your Bibles to Colossians, the book of Colossians, chapter 2, verse 8. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception.
It's going to sound good, but it's actually going to be wrong. What about this Christ, Paul? Verse 9. For in him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form. In Christ, perfectly consistent with what is said at the beginning of the Gospel of John, this is saying the same thing in a slightly different way, that the full essence of God is found in the person of Jesus Christ.
When Jesus Christ walked on the earth, men saw God in human flesh. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, with part one of his message called, What is the Trinity? Part of the series, Key Questions Answered. Don will have part two for you next time, so join us then on The Truth Pulpit. You know, you can hear any part of this series again at your convenience when you visit our website, thetruthpulpit.com.
You can download podcasts or find out how to receive CD copies for your personal study library. Plus, you'll find the link Follow Don's Pulpit. It will take you to Don's full-length weekly sermons, not subject to the time editing needed for radio broadcasts. Again, that's all at thetruthpulpit.com. And, may we also say thank you for your support of this ministry. Without you, this program would not be possible. I'm Bill Wright, and we'll see you next time as Don Green continues to teach God's people God's word from The Truth Pulpit.
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