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What Is the Trinity? #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
January 16, 2023 7:00 am

What Is the Trinity? #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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January 16, 2023 7:00 am

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The word Trinity appears nowhere in Scripture, but 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 so glad you've joined us for this edition of The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, Founding Pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hi, I'm Bill Wright. Today's lesson is part of a larger series titled, Key Questions Answered, in which Don is tackling many of the big questions of our faith. Last time, Don began a message titled, What is the Trinity? And he showed us that the one God exists in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. At the same time, each person is fully and equally God. It seems kind of hard to grasp, but then we shouldn't expect that finite creatures can fully understand everything about an infinite God, this side of heaven at least.

Anyway, Don will help you sort it out a little bit, starting right now, as he teaches God's people God's word from The Truth Pulpit. Jesus said, If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you know Him and have seen Him. That is an absolute statement of deity. That can only be true if Jesus Christ himself is perfectly God, because if there is any difference, if there is any distinction, if there is any diminishment of deity in Christ, then you could never say that you have seen the essence of God the Father when you look at Him. Jesus says, If you've known Me, you know My Father. From now on, speaking to those who are there in front of Him, who saw Him in the flesh, from now on you know Him and have seen Him.

What a staggering statement! Jesus is saying to people who were raised on the idea that there is one true God, He says, When you see Me, you've seen Him. Philip is grasping after that in verse 8, and he said to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it's enough for us. And Jesus, as it were, kind of scratches his head, not because he didn't understand, but it shows that Philip doesn't understand. That very question betrayed a fundamental ignorance about the character of God and the character of Christ.

In verse 9, Jesus said to him, Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, Show us the Father?

How can you say that in light of who I am? Don't you see that when you see Me, you are seeing undiminished deity veiled in human flesh? What you see in My character, Philip, is exactly what God is like, and that's because I'm God. The Son is God. Now there is no way to start to piece that together apart from the doctrine of the Trinity. One essence, three persons. One essence, three persons.

Father and Son. The Bible calls Jesus God. He does the works of God. He has the name of God. He has unity with God the Father. That can only be true if He's God, if He has the very essence of who God is. Scripture says all of that essence is found in Christ. And so, Beloved, that's why we treat the name of Christ and the person of Christ with such holy reverence.

It's unthinkable to us to use His name as a curse word and trample on His name as if it were a common curse word. We're talking about the very essence of God when we name the name of Christ. And you see, this isn't an abstract theoretical discussion. This is what humbles our heart and drives us to worship. That this one who walked on the sod of earth was the God of heaven and earth. And so as we consider the doctrine of the Trinity, we are giving definition and substance to the object of our worship. We are seeing Him and receiving Him and honoring Him for who He is. The Father is God and the Son is God. Thirdly, for the third person, the Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit is God. There are those groups, I'll leave them unnamed for now, that will talk about the Holy Spirit as an abstract force, as a neuter kind of being. That's not the scriptural teaching of the Holy Spirit at all. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is God. He is a person with intelligence, will, and emotion. When we say that the Holy Spirit indwells us, we're not saying that there is some kind of spiritual power in us, as if electricity had somehow been encapsulated and put into the members of our flesh. No, no, we're saying that there is a person that indwells us.

A person who is intelligent, who has his own volition, who has even emotion, scripture describes. And this Holy Spirit is clearly identified as God. Look at the book of Acts, chapter 5. A familiar passage, but it's familiar for a reason.

It's familiar because what it teaches is so central and crucial. It's at an early worship service in the early church. In chapter 5, verse 1, a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property and they kept back some of the price for himself with his wife's full knowledge and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles' feet. They make a public display of the gift that they're about to say and we're handing it all over.

We're giving it to you. But Peter wasn't having any of it. He said, and watch what he says here, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? Okay, now, you can tell a lie, but if you're telling a lie to the force of electricity, it's not a personal offense. You could go up to the outlet and say, I'm the most handsome man that ever walked on the face of the earth. It would be a lie, but the outlet isn't going to be offended by that because it's an impersonal object.

Not so with the Holy Spirit. He was lying to a person. And who was that person? Verse 4, while it remained unsold, did it not remain your own?

And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God. Look at verse 3 again. Ananias, why did you lie to the Holy Spirit?

Verse 4, you've not lied to men but to God. Lying to the Holy Spirit is equated with lying to God. That can only be true if the Holy Spirit is God himself. And so scripture teaches us clearly, even in this brief survey that we've made here, that there's one true God, only one, and yet this God exists in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Now, most of you will be familiar with ways that people have tried to illustrate the Trinity to make it fit within our minds. Some people will say that the Trinity is just like water, that the same water can be ice, liquid, and steam, as if that illustrates it and gives us an idea of the incomprehensibility of God. And you say, oh, well, water, yeah, then if God's just like water. But that's not true. That's not a good example at all. God eternally exists, simultaneously exists, always and forever, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

All three simultaneously. The same measure of water does not do that. The same water is not simultaneously ice, liquid, and steam. Water doesn't exist. The same water does not exist in all three forms at the same time. Water only illustrates the false doctrine of modalism, which says one God appears in three different forms, but at different times. Water's not a good example. And beloved, let's go back to our starting point.

This is really important. This goes to the way that we think about God. I don't like the terminology that I'm about to use, but this goes to us letting God be God, letting God be greater than who we are. Would you really be driven to worship a God who could be fully and accurately compared to a glass of tap water? Is that an object of worship?

Is that a right way to think about God as something that could be poured into a glass? No. No.

No. Remember where our starting point was at the very beginning of this message, that there's an element of incomprehensibility about who the true God is. If we could comprehend it by simply looking at a daily element of H2O and say, that exhausts it, that covers it, that's the exact equivalent. We just turned God into tap water.

We can't do that. That's not right. We don't bring down God to a physical element that he himself created. The illustration is well intended, but it's completely wrong.

It teaches us, that conditions us to look for, in the one true, living, eternal, immense God, things that we can easily understand. That's an entirely wrong way to think. The very presupposition is wrong.

No. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are simultaneously 100% God in one indivisible essence. That brings us to our third point. We said that there is one true God. We said that God eternally exists in three persons. And now thirdly, these three persons are one God.

Point number three, these three persons are one God. And as we look at this ever so briefly now, here's what I want you to think about. The majority, if not the vast majority of you are here today because you're a born again Christian. You rejoice in the reality of your salvation. You are conscious of the forgiveness of sin. You're conscious of new life within you. You rejoice in the scriptures and you rejoice in your salvation.

What we are about to see here gives you insight into the nature of what that is like. We get to see, as it were, the veil pulled back, and we get to see this one eternal God eternally existing in three persons acting on your behalf for your salvation. The most precious thing we have, our eternal soul, as it were, that which is the abiding aspect of our existence, it is this triune God that redeemed it, and this is what we get to see here. Point number three, these three persons are one God.

Here's what I mean by that. That these three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are repeatedly placed on equal standing in the scripture. Turn over to the Gospel of Matthew chapter three. They are repeatedly placed on equal standing in the scripture.

We see them doing the work of God in individual ways simultaneously. In Matthew chapter three, we're going to see this, first of all, at Jesus' baptism. Verse 16, you remember the story? He came to John the Baptist to be baptized.

John protested because Christ had no sin from which he needed to repent. Jesus said, permit it, we need to fulfill all righteousness, and John baptized him. Now watch in verse 16. And after being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water, and behold the heavens were open, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on him, and behold a voice out of the heavens said, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. From heaven the Father speaks.

Jesus is in the water. The Spirit of God has descended upon him. They are distinguished in this historical moment, but they are existing simultaneously with one another. Part of what we see here is that these persons within the Trinity have different functions.

They have relationship with one another. The Father is speaking. The Spirit is descending. The Son has been baptized. All of them independently, as it were, in one sense, having their own function, but acting in perfect harmony to give testimony to the fact that the one who was in the water was the very Son of God.

The three of them on equal standing acting together. Turn to the end of the gospel. We see it not only in Jesus' baptism, but in the Great Commission. Matthew 28 in verse 19. And it's fascinating to see, even in the English text, how the unity and the diversity of the triune God is preserved in a single verse. You can see this clearly.

The only reason it doesn't jump out to us more is that we tend to read carelessly and too quickly. Jesus is giving commission to his disciples. He's about to ascend into heaven. He says, here's what I want you to do when I leave.

Verse 19, go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Wait! What's expressed here is a grammatical impossibility. It doesn't make sense in one superficial, casual reading of it.

Look at what it says. This is very clear in the original language as well. Jesus says, baptize them in the name. One single name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Why not three names? If there's three persons there, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we can count. Yet it says one name.

Do you see? Jesus carefully said, in the name, one God. And then notice that the grammar preserves the distinction between the persons because each one has its own separate article. The name, one name of the Father and the Son, the repeated article indicating a distinction, and the Holy Spirit. If it was three gods, it would be the names, but it's not.

If it was one God without any distinction whatsoever, there wouldn't be three individual articles there applied. And so in the very nature of the Great Commission, watch this, at the very fountain of what the church is to do is a clear affirmation of the triune God. The heart of what we do finds its origin in the nature of the triune God. We go and we make disciples and we baptize them in the triune name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. It's the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

There's a triune reason why we do that. One name, three persons. One essence, three persons. Now, some people, other people over the course of time have tried to use an egg as an analogy of the Trinity. They'll say, God is three in one like an egg. There's the egg shell, there's the yolk, and there's the white of the egg.

Those three in one egg. You know what? I know you don't believe that to be an accurate representation of the Trinity.

You know how I know that that's true? Because I know that if you're ever eating eggs and you find a piece of an egg shell in it, you will pick it out and remove it because the essence of the egg shell is not the same as the other two edible parts of it. The essence of the egg shell is not the essence of the yolk, it is not the essence of the white. The essences are different. That is not what we're teaching about the Trinity. An egg is not like God.

Honestly, do we even have to say that? What are we thinking? And I want you to see what all of those well-intentioned things that superficially sound plausible, but actually illustrate heresy, I want you to see what we're doing. We're trying to bring God down to something that we can hold and have control over, that we can define in our mind without remainder.

Look, that's never going to happen. You're never going to truly teach the nature of God and find that there aren't things that go beyond what you're able to understand. You're not going to be able to teach God without remainder.

It's going to spill over and go beyond the limits of your finite mind. And only when we begin to appreciate that, only when we begin to embrace that and defend it and proclaim it, are we really going to have a sense of the consciousness of the fact that we are serving and worshiping one who utterly transcends us and then go about our service with a proper sense of humility, anchored deep in our souls. The great theologian Louis Berkhof put it this way, and I quote, he says, all analogies fail us. The Trinity is a mystery far beyond our comprehension. It is the incomprehensible glory of the Godhead, end quote.

Now I'm almost done here. Listen to me carefully. When we say that there is one God who exists in three persons, we are not engaging in a contradiction. This is not a contradiction. God is not one in the same way that he is three. He has one essence existing in three persons, fully shared by three persons. And so we're not saying there's one God and there are three gods. We're saying there is one God who exists in three persons.

That's obviously different, even though we can't get our minds fully around all that that means. Final thing where we see this displayed in scripture. Turn to 2 Corinthians as we close.

1 Corinthians chapter 13. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. The blessings from God of grace, love and fellowship are coming from three persons on an equal basis at the same time.

One God, three persons dispensing his goodness to believers. See, beloved, this goes to the very core of who we are as Christians. This shapes our worship. The Holy Spirit, who is God, has united us with the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God, who redeemed us with his own blood, and now, because the Spirit has joined us with Christ, who died for us, now we are joined to God the Father and have communion with him. This incomprehensibly great doctrine of the Trinity defines who we are. It helps us understand and grasp something of the magnificence of our salvation. It drives us to gratitude and to worship. And when we're there, when we're in that spirit of worship on our knees, contemplating, thinking about, meditating on this one who is so much greater than us, then we're driven a little closer to the proper kind of worship that we should be offering to God in response. Jesus said, God is spirit and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. Part of our worship is acknowledging him to be this great triune God of which Scripture so clearly testifies.

Well, while the subject of the Trinity will no doubt continue to confound some, we as believers can trust Scripture's clear teaching. Our hope is that you've come away with more clarity on the issue today on the Truth Pulpit. Next time, Pastor Don Green moves on to another key question of our faith and that is, who is Satan? Please plan now to join us.

Right now though, Don's back in studio with a special invitation. Well, friend, if you are anywhere near the Cincinnati area and you don't have a good church home, I invite you to visit us at Truth Community Church. I'm in the pulpit almost every Sunday and we have a loving congregation that would simply be thrilled to meet you and welcome you to our body.

We are striving to manifest the principles that you heard taught today. Why not come and see us? Bill will help you find us on our website. Just visit for directions and service times. There you'll also find a link to Don's Facebook page. Once more, that's And thanks for your support of this ministry. Now for Don Green, this is Bill Wright, inviting you back next time when Don teaches God's people God's word from the truth pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-16 10:57:39 / 2023-01-16 11:05:57 / 8

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