Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Trinity

God is one, yet exists as three distinct persons. That is revealed in the Bible from beginning to end.

The Old Testament Expresses the Plurality of the Godhead in its Opening Words

Genesis 1:1 - “In the beginning God." The Hebrew word translated “God” there is Elohim. The plural suffix, im, means it’s plural and presents a singular God who is expressed as a plurality. Genesis 1:26 also presents the plurality of the Godhead which it says, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’” Genesis 3:22 also uses the plural in the Godhead when it says, “Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.” When the Lord was about to destory the Tower of Babel, He said in Gen.11:7, “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.”

Distinctions Between Members of the Trinity are Apparent in the Old Testament

Genesis 19:24 says, “Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens.” Charles Hodge says, “We . . . find throughout the Old Testament constant mention made of a person to whom, though distinct from Jehovah as a person, the titles, attributes, and works of Jehovah are nevertheless ascribed. This person is called the angel of God, the angel of Jehovah, Adonai, Jehovah, and Elohim. He claims divine authority, exercises divine prerogatives, and receives divine homage. . . .Besides this we have the express testimony of the inspired writers of the New Testament that the angel of the Lord, the manifested Jehovah who led the Israelites through the wilderness and who dwelt in the temple, was Christ; that is, the angel was the Word . . . who became flesh and fulfilled the work which it was predicted the Messiah should accomplish (Systematic Theology, p. 177). Numbers 6:22-26 says, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 23 "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, 'This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: 24 "The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace." '

Distinctions Between Members of the Trinity are also Apparent in the New Testament

Notice several passages of Scripture that mark the distinctions: Matthew 3:16-17—As Jesus is being baptized by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove. The Father replied, “is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (v.17). We see the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together in the same scene. John 14:16-17—Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 says, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14 says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” 1 Peter 1:2 says, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.”

Who Can Comprehend the Trinity? God is Three in One, and One in Three-An Eternal Mystery

J.I. Packer wrote: “Here we face the most dizzying and unfathomable truth of all, the truth of the Trinity. . . . What should we make of it? In itself, the divine tri-unity is a mystery, a transcendent fact which passes our understanding. . . .How the one eternal God is eternally both singular and plural, how Father, Son, and Spirit are personally distinct yet essentially one . . . is more than we can know, and any attempt to "explain" it-to dispel the mystery by reasoning, as distinct from confessing it from Scripture-is bound to falsify it. Here, as elsewhere, our God is too big for his creatures' little minds (I Want to Be a Christian [Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale, 1977], pp. 29-30). We cannot comprehend this Triune God, but we do know that He is a Father who loves us, a Son who died for us, and a Spirit who comforts us.

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