The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – The Trinity

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Have you ever questioned the complexity and validity of the Trinity? God’s truth is simple yet God is vastly more complex than our limited understanding can ever know. You may be thinking, “If God is so hard to understand, why should I believe that you do understand him? Well, the answer to that question is, my understanding of God is limited to what He has given to us to know Him by, the Holy Bible.

Even with the Holy Bible my understanding is still limited due to my humanity. To help me better understand I also look to people who have done a lot more study on topics and compare their works to the Holy Bible to make sure that what they are saying is correct per what is taught to us in the Holy Bible. Using the works of two men who have done a great deal of Bible study and teaching (James R. White and Ron Rhodes) along with my research and study, this article goes over the validity of the Trinity.

I believe that Jehovah is God. Jehovah is the only true God and there are no other gods. I believe also in the Trinity because the Bible teaches us the doctrine. It does not specifically use the word "Trinity," however it does teach the three pillars that make up the doctrine of a Trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit make up the, Trinity.

First, there is only one true God, Jehovah, Creator of all things. I believe Jehovah as the only one true God is the first pillar of the Trinity.

Second, I believe that there are three divine Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I realize Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe the Holy Spirit is a person, but a Jehovah Witness would agree that the Father and the Son are not the same person.

Finally, the third pillar, is the point on which a Jehovah Witness and I are in direct disagreement, is the Bible’s teaching of the full equality of these divine persons. This would include the deity of Christ and the personality of the Holy Spirit.

Note that I am not asserting that there are three persons that are one person.

I am also not saying that there are three beings that are one being.

I am differentiating between the terms “being” and “person.”

The Bible teaches that all things have being, but only God, humans, and angels are personal.

I as a human being am one person, Victor Pearson. My being makes me human, my personality differentiates me from all other human beings.

Since my being is finite and limited, only one person can properly subsist in it, namely, me.

But since God’s being is infinite and unlimited, it can be, and is, shared by three persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We have now differentiated between a being and a person. I’ll illustrate the Trinity from Scripture in just a little while. Let’s first define a couple of terms, explicit and implicit. Explicit refers to that which is “fully and clearly expressed; leaving nothing implied”; implicit, by contrast, refers to that which is “implied or understood though not directly expressed.” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed., s.v. “explicit,” “implicit.”)

Explicit truth from the Bible, refers to truth that is fully and clearly expressed in the Bible. An example of this is the truth that God created the heavens and the earth (as explicitly stated in Genesis 1:1). Implicit truth from the Bible, by contrast, refers to truth that is implied in the Bible. An example of implicit truth is the truth that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are a Trinity—three persons in one Godhead.

Implicit truth must be built on the foundation of explicit truth.

The word ‘Trinity’ is not in the Bible however the concept is taught implicitly within its pages. The Trinity may be beyond reason, but it is not against reason. God’s truth is simple yet God is by far more complex than our limited understanding can fully comprehend. The Trinity does not entail three Gods in one God, or three persons in one person. Such claims would be illogical. There is nothing contradictory, however, in affirming three persons in one God.

A Jehovah’s Witness and I would both agree that the only true God is Jehovah. I believe the term ‘Jehovah’ refers to the very divine being, the eternal God, who created all things. Where a Jehovah Witness and I disagree is on this: I believe the Bible says that Jesus Christ is Jehovah, and the Spirit is also Jehovah. Each of the three persons shares the one divine name, Jehovah.

I’d like to show you one of the places where the Bible teaches us that Jesus is Jehovah.

Please open your Bible and look up these passages in order:

First please turn to Hebrews 1:3, which speaks of Christ as the "exact” representation of his nature.

Please follow the context down through verse 8, which begins, "But with reference to the Son…."

Who is being told about all through this? The answer is plainly the Son. The citation that begins in verse 8 finishes in verse 9, following which the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation (NWT) says, "And: ‘You at [the] beginning, O Lord, laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are [the] works of your hands.’" By its use of quotation marks in the text, the NWT clearly indicates that we are dealing here with a citation of the Old Testament.

Please read through verse 12.

Who is being described here? The "the Son" is the only possible answer. Hebrews 1:10-12 is still making reference to the Son. Note that the NWT begins verse 8 in the same way it begins verse 10, with a colon followed by a quotation. Verse 8 is about the Son. Verse 10 continues the citation of passages about the Son from the Old Testament. The NWT gives no indication of any kind of break between verses 9 and 10.

Which passage is the writer to the Hebrews is quoting? In NWT reference editions, it is Psalm 102:25-27. Wait.

Please start reading Psalm 102 at verse 1 of Psalm 102 and identify the individual being addressed in this passage. The NWT begins, "O Jehovah, do hear my prayer."

Please skip down to verse 12 and note that Jehovah remains the subject of the psalm.

Note that Jehovah continues to appear in Psalm 102 verses 19 and 20.

Note there is no reason to think that anyone other than Jehovah is being addressed by the psalmist in Psalm 102:25-27.

Please realize I just showed you the first of many passages in which the New Testament writers take an Old Testament passage originally about Jehovah Himself and apply it to the Lord Jesus Christ. The psalmist is speaking of the immutability, eternal nature, and creative power of Jehovah God, yet the writer to the Hebrews predicated all these things of Jesus Christ.

For doctrinal studies, serious students of the Bible collect bits of scriptural evidence from throughout the entire Bible. They compare, classify, and correlate these bits of evidence, and then draw theological inferences from them. The doctrine of the Trinity emerges from following such a procedure.

The doctrine of the Trinity, an implicit truth, is built on explicit truths found in the Old and New Testaments:

1.   There is only one God. This is the consistent emphasis of Scripture (Deut. 6:4; Isa. 44:6; John 5:44; 1 Cor. 8:4; 1 Tim. 2:5; James 2:19).

2.   The Father is God. The Father is explicitly called “God” throughout Scripture (John 6:27; Rom. 1:7; Gal. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:2).

3.   Jesus is God. Jesus is explicitly called “God” (Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8), and He (Jesus) claimed to be “the first and the last” (Rev. 1:17), the precise name God used of Himself in Isaiah 44:6. The divine names “Yahweh” and “Elohim” are used in reference to the Messiah who is Jesus (Isa. 9:6; 40:3; cf. John 8:58 and Exod. 3:14). He performs works that only God can do, such as creating the universe (Col. 1:16; cf. Isa. 44:24).

4.   The Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of God” (Gen. 1:2; Exod. 31:3; Ezek. 11:24; Rom. 8:9, 14; 1 John 4:2) and possesses the attributes of deity, including omnipresence (Ps. 139:7‑9), omniscience (1 Cor. 2:10–11), and eternity (Heb. 9:14). He does things that only God can do, such as participating in the creation of the universe (Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30), begetting Christ in Mary’s womb (Luke 1:35), resurrecting Christ (Rom. 8:11), and inspiring Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21).

From these explicit truths we can infer the implicit truth that within the unity of the one God are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But how are we to understand this? Are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit modes of manifestation of the one God, or are they distinct persons within the Godhead? These questions point to the importance of the next principle:

Implicit truth must not contradict any explicit truths—or other legitimate implicit truths—found in the Bible. We encounter two further truths in Scripture that set definite limits on our understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity:

5.   The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are persons. The Bible does not explicitly identify them as persons, but it is reasonable to infer that they are persons based on explicit affirmations in Scripture. The Father engages in personal relations (John 3:35), and has the attributes of personality: intellect (Matt. 6:8), emotions (Gen. 6:6; Ps. 86:15), and will (Matt. 12:50). The Son engages in personal relations (John 11:41–42), and has the attributes of personality: intellect (John 2:24–25), emotions (Matt. 9:36; John 11:35), and will (Luke 22:42). The Holy Spirit engages in personal relations (Acts 8:29), and has the attributes of personality: intellect (Rom. 8:27; 1 Cor. 2:10–11), emotions (Isa. 63:10; Eph. 4:30), and will (1 Cor. 12:11). The personality of each of the three is therefore implied in Scripture.

6.   The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are distinct from each other. The Father and the Son know each other (Matt. 11:27), love each other (John 3:35), and speak to each other (John 11:41–42). The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at His baptism (Luke 3:22), is called another comforter (John 14:16), was sent by the Father and Jesus (John 15:26), and seeks to glorify Jesus (John 16:13–14).

In keeping with the methodology enunciated earlier—compare, classify, and correlate various bits of evidence, and then draw theological inferences from them—we conclude that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who together comprise the one God, are distinct persons and not modes of manifestation. To come to any other conclusion would necessitate contradicting one or more explicit or implicit truths found in the Bible. This brings us to the next principle:

Implicit truth is legitimate to the extent that it accurately embraces and explains all the relevant biblical facts. Were we to ignore the doctrinal truth regarding the distinct personhood of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we would end up with the false doctrine of modalism. Were we to ignore the doctrinal truth regarding God’s oneness, we would end up with the false doctrine of tritheism. I therefore cannot overstress the importance of giving consideration to all that Scripture teaches on this issue: there is one God; the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God; and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are persons who are distinct from each other. Since the implicit doctrine of the Trinity explains all the relevant scriptural facts, it is just as legitimate a doctrine as those explicitly stated in Scripture.

Implicit truth must be congruent with accurate interpretation of biblical texts. Consider Matthew 28:19 as an example. After Jesus resurrected from the dead, He instructed the disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (NASB). The word name is singular in the Greek, thereby indicating God’s oneness. Notice, however, the definite articles in front of each person: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Greek scholar Daniel B. Wallace tells us that the definite article is often used to stress the identity of an individual.1 Theologian Robert L. Reymond thus observes:

Jesus does not say, (1) “into the names [plural] of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” or what is its virtual equivalent, (2) “into the name of the Father, and into the name of the Son, and into the name of the Holy Spirit,” as if we had to deal with three separate Beings. Nor does He say, (3) “into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” (omitting the three recurring articles), as if “the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” might be taken as merely three designations of a single person. What He does say is this: (4) “in the name [singular] of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” first asserting the unity of the three by combining them all within the bounds of the single Name, and then throwing into emphasis the distinctness of each by introducing them in turn with the repeated article.2

Implicit truth should be able to withstand objections. It is sometimes objected that Jesus is a lesser deity than the Father, and hence the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be true. Make sure you have not based your view on a radically biased and gravely defective translation of Scripture or that you have imposed your own predetermined meaning onto verses.

The Trinity (“three in one”) is not illogical. The Trinity may be beyond reason, but it is not against reason. The Trinity does not entail three Gods in one God, or three persons in one person. Such claims would be illogical. There is nothing contradictory, however, in affirming three persons in one God.

In his book The Forgotten Trinity, James R. White asks, “If I believe everything the Bible says about topic X and use a term not found in the Bible to describe the full teaching of Scripture on that point, am I not being more truthful to the Word than someone who limits themselves to only biblical terms, but rejects some aspect of God’s revelation?”3 This is an important question—one that the Jehovah’s Witnesses would do well to ponder.

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Primary References

Effectively Sharing the Deity of Christ with Jehovah’s Witnesses – DJ703 – James R. White: in the Effective Evangelism column of the volume 20, number 2 (1997) issue of the Christian Research Journal

The Trinity: A Case Study in Implicit Truth – JAI003 – Ron Rhodes: in the Practical Hermeneutics column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 29, number 1 (2006).

For more reading on the Trinity:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v3/n1/the-trinity

http://www.clarifyingchristianity.com/trinity.shtml

http://www.equip.org/articles/loving-the-trinity

Footnotes

1. Daniel B. Wallace, The Basics of New Testament Syntax: An Intermediate Greek Grammar (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 94.

2. Robert L. Reymond, Jesus, Divine Messiah: The New Testament Witness (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1990), 84.

3. James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity (Minneapolis, Bethany, 1998), 29.

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Answers to questions received by someone who is honestly and truly seeking to know the truth about the Trinity:

Q: How does God/Jesus create himself? At least two scripture clearly say Jesus was created: Col 1:15

A: Col 1:15; is one of the strongest statements about the divine nature of Jesus found anywhere in the Bible because it not only saying that Jesus is equal to God (Phil 2:6) He is God (John 10:30, 38, 12:45, 14:1-11). As the very image of the invisible God, Jesus is the exact representation of God.

Q: If Jesus was God who resurrected him?

A: Jesus as God the Son, willingly submits to God the Father while Jesus was on earth. At the proper time, Christ Jesus physically resurrected from death.

http://www.equip.org/articles/i-believe-in-the-resurrection-of-the-flesh

Q: Why did Jesus pray to himself?

A: Jesus as God the Son, willingly submits to God the Father while Jesus was on earth giving us perfect examples of how we should pray.

Q: Mark 15:34; Why did Jesus say when He was on the cross, "Why have you forsaken me?" How can God forsake Himself?

A: Jesus did not ask the question in surprise or despair; He was quoting the first line of Psalm 22; the psalm which gave prophecy expressing the deep agony of the Messiah’s death for the world’s sins.

Q: 1 COR 15:24-28; How can Jesus hand the kingdom back and subject himself to himself?

A: God the Father and God the Son being equal each has a special work to do and an area of sovereign control. Jesus Christ is not inferior to the Father but His work is to defeat all evil on earth.

Q: Phil 2:9 If; Jesus is God how can he be exalted to a superior position? Is there a position higher than God?

A: At the last judgment event those people who are condemned will recognize Jesus’s authority and right to rule as God the Father opens the eyes of the condemned. People can choose now to regard Jesus as Lord as a step of willing and loving commitment, or be forced to acknowledge Him when He returns.

Q: Pro 8:22-30

A: This may have been what Paul and John alluded to about wisdom to describe Christ Jesus’ presence at the creation of the world (Col 1:15 – 17, 2:2-3; Rev 3:14)

Q: John 14:28 – Jesus while on earth said that the Father is greater than He was?

A: Jesus as God the Son, willingly submits to God the Father while Jesus was on earth where He submitted to many of the physical limitations of His humanity.

Q: 1 Cor. 11:3

A: In this verse, “head” is not used to indicate control or supremacy but rather, “the source of.”

2 Comments

  1. I HATE Jehovah and convert the religious
    If you are going to criticize someone’s writing, you need to point out to them what can be improved. You stated that my Dawkins articles are poorly written yet I noticed that you incorrectly used the word “then” instead of the correct word “than” in one of your sentences. So if the only criticism of my article you can come up with is my writing, please give to me examples of what I can improve in it.
    As for comment about my grasping Dawkins’ book, how as an atheist would you know that anything could be grasped? Is not your belief on the beginning of life start with abiogenesis and include Darwinian Evolution? Both of these concepts involve randomness as the foundation of everything so how could random chemical reactions grasp the meaning of anything in your viewpoint? What logical thinking can come from randomness beginnings as that of abiogenesis and Darwinism?
    Obviously you have not done any honest study of Christianity. I suggest that prior to you making statements as what you did in your comment, that you study and understand exactly what it is you are doing so that you are not ignorant of what you are doing. Remember, ignorance is not something you can claim as a defense so I suggest that you be wise and do some honest study.
    You can start your honest study here: https://findingtruthtoday.org/FAQ.aspx Yet I do suggest that you don’t just use that site, go through the links on it as well.
    Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for [you] is for [your] salvation. (Romans 10:1)
    Beyond Doubt – Christianity is True – Atheism is False http://bit.ly/5vtvvF

  2. Your Dawkins articles are poorly written at best. Your arguments are backed by far far less then Dawkins would ever dream of and based on your arguments I can’t help but think that you didn’t grasp the book.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNf-P_5u_Hw welcome to the real world your religion is the [profanity] child of just about every fairy tail that preceded it
    P.s I deny the holy spirit without fear

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