Heavenly Father, we thank you for the privilege of coming here tonight. We thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to worship you. We pray, Heavenly Father, that you would receive our worship, that, Lord, you would be blessed by our worship.
Father, we know that in our own strength and the flesh we have no idea how to worship you in spirit and in truth, so we would ask, Father, that you help us, that we might worship you and that we might develop a deeper understanding of the depth of who our God really is. Heavenly Father, I pray for Kenny Simpson tonight as he is in the hospital and still just hanging on. I pray, Heavenly Father, that you would be with him. I pray, Heavenly Father, that you would preserve his life. I pray, Heavenly Father, that you would be with his wife, Karen, and strengthen her and encourage her.
Let her know, Lord, that her husband is in your sovereign hand. Father, I pray for Nicole Lowe as she is going to the hospital Wednesday. She's going to have a procedure done on her heart. They are going to try to determine if she needs a new defibrillator or if they just need to go in and do a battery change.
But, Lord, whatever it is, I pray that you would give her her doctor's wisdom and discernment, that they might know exactly how to go about it and that it might be done and that it might be extremely helpful for her and that she would not have the problems, Lord, that she's had to deal with over these last couple of weeks. Lord, we just want to thank you most of all tonight for Jesus who loved us when we were so unloving, who gave his life that we might have life and have it abundantly. Be with us now.
Keep my lips from error. Help me to preach your Word in a way that would bring you honor. And it's in Jesus' holy and precious name that we pray. Amen.
You may be seated. As we have been studying through the book of 1 John, we have seen that John is giving us a list of tests to take to help us to determine whether we're genuine believers or not. We've already seen several of those tests. One of them is if you're a true Christian, you're going to be walking in the light. If you're a true Christian, then you are going to love your brothers and sisters in Christ. If you're a true Christian, then you're going to have compassion on those who are needy.
If you are a true Christian, then you are going to have a desire in your heart to be obedient to the commands of God. But in the passage that we're looking at tonight, we have a theological test. This is something where we are forced to deal with what we believe. Folks, what you believe is extremely important. It determines who you are, and that will determine what you do. Now this is extremely important for us today because we are living in a society that rejects the concept of absolute truth. We are living in a society that embraces relativism. They say it doesn't really matter what you believe as long as you're sincere, and as long as you are not just sincere, but you're tolerant of the beliefs of others.
John is saying to that, baloney. It does matter what you believe, and it matters everlastingly in some things that you believe. Today we're going to be studying the doctrine of the Trinity. Now that may not get you excited, and you may not want to do cartwheels down the aisle. You might not want to swing on the chandeliers, but I'll tell you what. If we really understood the depth and the profoundness of what is being taught concerning the Trinity of God, it would make us want to do cartwheels.
It is tremendously exciting. John Calvin said this about the Trinity. He said, if you try to figure the Trinity out, you'll lose your mind. But if you deny the Trinity, you'll lose your soul. Where is the word Trinity found in the Bible? It's not found in the Scripture. But the concept of the Trinity just permeates the entire Bible.
And let me say this. What we know about the Trinity could never have been obtained by our own wisdom. We can't know the Trinity through natural revelation.
Now what do I mean by that? Well, there are some things you can know about God outside the Bible. We can know about God that there is some supreme being that just put this together.
We can figure that out. There is some supreme being that put order to this universe. The sun comes up in the morning, goes down at night. There are four seasons of the year that take place every 365 days. Babies are born and old men die.
The rain comes and plants grow. And now through the detailed molecular study of our DNA, we know that chromosome patterns in a human being absolutely prove that there had to be intelligent design. As you study that, you'll find it's statistically impossible for all this to take place without someone that put this thing together. We know by nature that someone a whole lot wiser than us, someone a whole lot more powerful than us, put this together. We also have a God consciousness, and a God consciousness down inside of us that is different than what the animals have. We feel approved when we do that which is right. We feel disapproved of when we do that which is wrong.
We know that our Creator, our Creator convicts us of sin. Animals don't have that. We used to have a dog named Calvin. Calvin's dead now, but he used to be around. And I'll guarantee you Calvin didn't waste any night's sleep worrying about getting me in the doghouse when he took a bite out of Seth and Julie's wedding cake. Didn't bother him at all. He didn't like the scolding I gave him for that.
But I'll tell you what, if he had another wedding cake to bite, he'd do it again. He felt no accountability to God whatsoever. Folks, we're different than the animals. We have a God consciousness that dogs don't understand. So I've said all that to say this, there are a lot of things that we can know about God through natural revelation. We can know that He is wise, that He is powerful, that He is good.
But what I want you to know tonight is this. What we know about the Trinity, we could have never gotten through natural revelation. It is so profound, it is so deep, it is so glorious that no matter how smart we might think we are, we would have never figured it out. God had to reveal it to us through His precious Word. Let's look at verse 6 to see John's teaching on the Trinity. Verse 6. This is who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water only, but by the water and the blood.
And the Spirit is the one who testifies because the Spirit is truth. Now what is all this talk about water and blood? Almost all the scholars that I've studied believe that the water is a reference to the baptism of Jesus by John and the blood is a reference to the cross of Christ. So what's being talked about here is the public ministry of Jesus Christ that started when Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River and lasted all the way to His crucifixion and then resurrection. John is proclaiming the validity of Jesus' ministry and His purpose on earth. He came to this earth, was born of a virgin, and then He lived a perfectly sinless life, fulfilling all the messianic prophecies.
He healed the sick, He cast out demons, He raised the dead, He taught truth, then He died on the cross to pay our sin debt, was resurrected from the dead to break the power of death. And how do we know that this is true? Verse 6. And it is the Spirit who bears witness because the Spirit is truth. The Holy Spirit who inspired the Word of God testifies to all of this. And what is the Holy Spirit testifying to? Go back to verse 5. Who is He who overcomes the world but He who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? The Holy Spirit testifies to the deity of Christ.
The one who was baptized by John in the Jordan River, the one who was nailed to a cross as our Passover Lamb is none other than Almighty God Himself. Now look at verse 7. Before I read this verse, I probably need to say this. I realize that some of your Bibles are going to have a statement or two that are deleted or left out. If you have an ESV or an ASV, then you're not going to see a couple of statements that you're going to see in the King James Version.
Why is that? The reason for that is the ESV and ASV were translated from earlier manuscripts, manuscripts that were a lot closer to the writing of the original autographs. And so the King James Version was written later. And in the King James Version, you have these statements that are added in here.
Now did the King James Version writers, did they just decide to stick them in there because it sounded good? I don't think so. I don't think that happened at all. I think that that did not take place. I think that what took place there was this. There was a scribe that was copying down the scripture there, and when he was copying it down, he wrote up in the little margin a footnote, wrote that footnote down, and then over time as people were copying it, they didn't know it was a footnote, and they copied it right into the scripture. I don't think that a translator would have dared added or subtracted anything from the Word of God purposely, because they knew what Revelation 22 says about adding or subtracting to the Word of God.
So I think it's what was called a scribal gloss. It was added in there as it was copied, and it wasn't purposely done. Now, are those statements false statements?
No. They are absolutely true. In fact, they are very good statements. I just don't think they were in the original manuscripts that were written that we see in the ESV and ASV.
Well, what are the words? There are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. Now, it may not be part of the actual text, but let me tell you something. That is a great Trinitarian statement. It states that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all Jehovah God. The problem that is always faced when dealing with the Trinity is that we're going to get accused of something, and what are we going to get accused of if we preach the Trinity? We're going to get accused of polytheism. You talk to a Muslim about our God, and they'll say, Well, you're polytheists. We're monotheists. We believe in one God. You people believe in three gods.
No, we don't. We are not polytheists. We are monotheists, and we believe there is one God who manifests Himself in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We, like the Jews, can affirm the truth of the Shema, which you find in Deuteronomy 6, verses 4 and 5. It says, It says, In the New Testament, Paul says it this way in 1 Corinthians 8, verse 4. There is no God but one. Then James said in James 2, verse 19, Thou believeth in one God, Thou doest well. The demons also believe and tremble. Now, in the Shema, the Hebrew word for one is not the normal word for one.
It is the Hebrew word ekkad, and it means one as in a cluster. So, like, you've got a cluster of grapes. In that cluster, you have all these different individual grapes.
But if you break them open, what you will see is this, that they have the same kind of peeling, the same kind of meat inside, they have the same kind of juices. The substance and the essence of each grape are the same, but they're all these different individual grapes. There's a Greek word that is used to describe this, and that's the word homoousis, and that word means one being or one in substance. The idea is that the three persons of the Trinity have distinct offices and functions, but they have the same substance and essence. They are the same in feeling, in purposes, in knowledge, in will, in attributes. They are all the same, and they are never, the three persons of the Trinity are never at cross-purposes with each other. Now, we have earthly illustrations to try to help us to understand the Trinity, but they're earthly illustrations, and they always end up coming short. Like this, I am a father, I am a son, and I am a husband.
I'm a father to Jake and Beth and Mitch, I am a son to Dutch, and I am a husband to Cindy, but I can't be Cindy's husband and father and son. It doesn't work that way. So that illustration is a little helpful, but it doesn't really give us the whole truth. Then we can take the illustration with water. Water can take three forms. It can be steam, it can be liquid, or it can be ice, but it can't be all three at the same time.
It's got to be different temperatures for them to be steam, ice, or water. So there's no human or earthly illustration that can perfectly define the Trinity. I don't think that's by accident. I think that was intended by God. I think it's intended by God because He doesn't want us to think that we're wise enough to figure it out. He doesn't want us to think that we can understand who He is completely. I think He wants us to have some mystery in understanding of the Trinity.
I think He wants us to be left in just wonder and absolute astonishment. So first of all, the doctrine of the Trinity does not teach polytheism. Second, it does not teach modalism. Now what is modalism? Modalism is a doctrine that the oneness Pentecostal groups believe. It is a doctrine that is taught by those who call themselves Jesus-only people. They say there's just one God and He functions as all three different persons. It's kind of like an actor who runs around on a stage putting on different masks. Same person, but he's acting in different roles.
That's what the modalists believe. The oneness Pentecostal people have a lot of trouble dealing with the baptism of Jesus. In the baptism of Jesus, Jesus is there in the Jordan River. John the Baptist is baptizing Him.
And what happens? The Father speaks from heaven and says this is my beloved Son in whom I'm well pleased. And then the Holy Spirit descends upon Him like a dove. Now if the oneness Pentecostal people believes were right, then how in the world do you explain that? Is Jesus a ventriloquist? Was He down in the water and He's speaking actually the voice from the Father that's coming to Him? And how is it that the Holy Spirit descends upon Him? How does that work?
Well it doesn't work. But let's look at the doctrine itself. Is the Trinity a New Testament doctrine or did we have it in the Old Testament as well? Well it is more plain, it's more embellished in the New Covenant, in the New Testament, but it's certainly there and permeates the Old Testament as well.
Let me give you a few examples. In the book of Genesis, one of the primary names from God is the name Elohim. The word El in the Hebrew is God, but the suffix I-M is a plural suffix that is telling us that this great name of God, that our God is a God who is a plurality.
He is one God manifest Himself in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Genesis 1 26, listen to what the scripture says. And God said, let us make man in our own image after our own likeness.
Who are the us? Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Genesis chapter 11 verse 7, the story of the Tower of Babel. God said, let us go down and there confound the language that they may not understand one another's speech.
Isaiah 6 8, Isaiah said, and I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send and who will go for us? Let me give you a few quick references from the New Testament. We need to see that this is Bible. That this is not just some church's idea. That this is not some teaching from just some denomination. But this is what the Bible says.
That's what matters. Let me go back once again to Luke 3 and the baptism of Jesus. What happened there? What do we see? We see the three persons of the Trinity. We see Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist. And then all of a sudden the Father speaks from heaven.
This is my beloved Son in whom I'm well pleased. And then the Holy Spirit descended upon him right there together in one picture, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Matthew chapter 28 verses 19 and 20, the Great Commission. Jesus said, go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.
And lo, I will be with you always, even to the ends of the earth. The benediction in 2 Corinthians chapter 13 verse 7. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Amen. 1 Peter 1-2, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Here you see the Trinity again. 1 John chapter 5 verse 7. If you've got a King James it says this. It says, for these are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and they three are one. That might be a scribal gloss, but I'll tell you it's a wonderful Trinitarian statement. So the Old Testament and the New Testament are filled with references to the Trinity.
But the question is, can we prove that each person of the Trinity is equally God? How many of you have had Jehovah Witnesses show up on your front door? A lot of us. And what do they do? They come and they hand you first a watchtower magazine. And then they try to persuade you to let them come into your house so they can sit down and they can share with you the beliefs of the Jehovah Witnesses.
What should you do? These people are cultists. They claim to know God, but they do not know the God who reveals Himself to us in Scripture. They do not believe in the Trinity. They believe in annihilation. They believe that when an unbeliever dies that he is judged and he is burned up.
Body, soul, and spirit, and at that point he ceases to exist. They do not believe in the deity of Christ. They do not believe in the Trinity.
They are lost, and despite their belief in annihilation, they are headed for an eternal hell. So what should you do? Should you shoo them away?
Should you kick them off your front porch? Here's a novel approach. Tell them the truth in love. And the first truth you need to talk to them about is the Trinity. Folks, once a Jehovah Witness comes to see the truth of the Trinity, everything else in his religion falls apart. That's the way to go.
Now why should you do that? You should do that because they are lost. And if they continue in their cultish beliefs, they will spend forever in an eternal hell.
Should we not care for that lost soul? At least enough to give them the truth. Now I'm going to give you some scripture right now that will prove that God the Father is Jehovah God, that God the Son is Jehovah God, and that God the Holy Spirit is Jehovah God. And if you can lovingly, discerningly give that to a Jehovah Witness, God may very well take that truth, plant it in their heart, make it grow, and save that person for all of eternity.
Here's what I want to prove. The Trinity says that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are eternal. Now what does that mean? That means that God the Father did not create Jesus. That Jesus and the Holy Spirit have been here forever. They are eternal beings just as God the Father. All three persons of the Godhead took part in the creation.
And they also took part in redemption. Now let's look at the Father. Let's use the law of transitivity. It says if A equals B, and B equals C, then A equals C. If God is Jehovah, and if the Father is God, then the Father is Jehovah. Is God the Father Jehovah? Let's know what Jesus said in John 17. What is John 17? That's a high priestly intercessory prayer. Where Jesus before He goes to the cross is praying to His Father. And He says this, Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may also glorify God, as you have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as you have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. Jesus prays to God the Father, and says, you are the true God.
In 1 Timothy 1-2, Paul said to Timothy, Peace to you from God our Father. Okay, now the question is, did God reveal Himself as Jehovah? I'm going to go to Exodus chapter 6, verse 3. And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty. But by my name Jehovah, I was not known to them. God tells Moses that He is Jehovah, the great I AM, who is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Psalm 83, verse 18. That men may know that you, whose name alone is Jehovah, are at the most high over all the earth. Those verses prove that the one true God is Jehovah, and that Father is God. Thus, the Father is Jehovah.
All right, what about the Son? Is the Son Jehovah God? In Titus chapter 2, verse 13, the scripture says this, We are looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
There He is called God. In John chapter 8, verse 58, the Pharisees are arguing with Jesus, and they say, Do you think you are greater than our father Abraham? And Jesus said to them, Abraham, rejoice to see your day, and saw it, and sought to see my day, and saw it, and was glad.
And they said, Wait a minute, you're not even 50 years old yet. Abraham died 2,000 years ago. How can you say that Abraham saw your day? What did Jesus say to him? Jesus said to him, Before Abraham was, I am.
It's the Greek word ego ami, I am. It means Jehovah. He said, Before Abraham was, I am Jehovah God. In John 1, 1 through 3, we have the prologue to the Gospel of John. And in the prologue, the words sound very, very much like the prologue to the book of Revelation. I mean the book of Genesis.
And what does he say? He says this, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.
Colossians 1, 15 through 17, For He, Jesus, created all things, and by Him all things consist. John 10, 30, Jesus said, I and the Father are one. Now listen closely to this, especially if you're concerned about your Jehovah Witnesses, friends. Isaiah 44, 6, Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts, I am the first and the last, and beside me there is no God. You ask any Jehovah Witness, who is he talking about there? And they'll tell you very quickly, he's talking about Jehovah. As soon as he says that, take him right to Revelation, chapter 22, and read to him verses 12 through 13, and then verse 16.
Jesus says, And behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. So if Jehovah is the first and the last, in Isaiah 44, verse 6, and every Jehovah Witness will tell you, yes it is, then you go immediately to Revelation, chapter 22. And what does Jesus say about himself?
I am the first and the last. I am the Alpha and Omega. So what is he saying? Jesus is saying, He is Jehovah God.
Number three, is the Holy Spirit Jehovah God? Acts 5, 3 through 4. This is a story of Ananias and Sapphira who were lying and being hypocritical.
And let me share with you what happened. The scripture says, But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? Who did Ananias lie to? He lied to the Holy Spirit. Listen to verse 4. While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was soul, was it not in your own control?
Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God. Verse 3 says, He lied to the Holy Spirit. And verse 4 says, He lied to God.
What is the conclusion? The Holy Spirit is God. Folks, the Holy Spirit is not a force. He is not a power.
He is not an influence. He is a person. The Holy Spirit is Jehovah God. He is not an it. He is a he.
So put all that together and you have this. God is one God, and God is Jehovah. The Father is Jehovah, the Son is Jehovah, and the Holy Spirit is Jehovah.
The Trinity teaches us there is one God who manifests himself in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Now why did I go to all the trouble to give you all these verses and share all that with you? Would it not be better for me just to share practical stuff with you, like how to be a better dad, how to be a better mom, how to forgive someone when they hurt you terribly, how to turn the other cheek, how to go the second mile? Those things are greatly important, but those things don't mean anything if we get God wrong. What is the most important thing that you can do here on this earth?
The most important thing that you can do is worship God. And the more you know of God, the better you're going to be able to worship Him, the sweeter your worship will be. I want to close by reading you a statement by Jonathan Edwards, and it's a statement about an experience that Jonathan Edwards had with God. He said, Sometimes only mentioning a single word caused my heart to burn within me, or only seeing the name of Christ or the name of some attribute of God, and God has appeared glorious to me on account of the Trinity. It has made me have exalting thoughts of God that He subsists in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The sweetest joys and delights I've experienced have not been those that have arisen from a hope of my own and good estate, but in a direct view of the glorious things of the gospel. Once I rode out in the woods for my health in 1737, having alighted for my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly has been, to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view that for me was extraordinary of the glory of the Son of God as mediator between God and man and His wonderful, great, full, pure and sweet grace and love and meek and gentle condescension. This grace that appeared so calm and sweet appeared also great above the heaven. The person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent with an excellency great enough to swallow up thought and conception, which continued as near as I can judge about an hour, which kept me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears and weeping aloud. I felt an ardency of soul to be what I know not otherwise had to express, empty and annihilated, to lie in the dust and to be full of Christ alone, to love Him with a holy and pure love, to trust in Him, to live upon Him, to serve and follow Him and to be perfectly sanctified and made pure with a divine and heavenly purity.
I have several other times had views very much of the same nature and which have had the same effects. That's why I spent so much time on these verses. I want to know God like that. I want to be able to worship God like that. I want to be able to understand God like that. And the better I know the Trinity, the better I'm going to have that understanding.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we come before you tonight just humbled as we think about your greatness and your glory and your goodness. Father, as I read the words from Jonathan Edwards, I just hungered after what that man had. Lord, he knew you in such a special and wonderful way, and he knew you, Lord, because his mind stayed in the Word of God day and night looking for truth, hungering for a better understanding of who you are. May that be true of everybody at Grace. May we so love you, Lord, that we can't be satisfied with a superficial. May we so love you that our lives would be changed and conformed in the image of Christ. Guide us and direct us this week, Lord, that we might be concerned about those who don't know you, that, Lord, we might be a witness to those, not just with our lives, that's so important, but also with our tongues, that we might share the truth of the Gospel with our friends and our acquaintances, those that we work with, that we might tell them that Jesus and Jesus alone is our answer. Lord, we love you. We thank you and praise you for your love and goodness to us, and we ask this prayer now in your precious name. Amen.
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