1. THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD. (UNITY OF THE GODHEAD)
Deut. 6:4 “the Lord our God is ONE Lord"
Isa. 44:6 '"Thus saith the Lord . . . beside Me . . . no God"
1 Cor. 8:4 “an idol is nothing . . . none other God but one"
1 Tim. 2:5 "there is ONE God" James 2:19.
2. THIS ONE GOD IS A PLURALITY OF PERSONS.
PLURAL PRONOUNS ARE USED OF GOD.
Gen. 1:28 "God said, Let us make man in our image. . ."
Gen. 3:22 "God said. . . The man is become as one of us.”
Gen. 11:7 "Go to, let us go down . . ."
Isa. 6:8 "the Lord, saying. Whom shall I (singular) send, and who will go for us (plural)!"
THE NAME OF GOD IS PLURAL IN FORM.
The Hebrew word “Elohim” (God) is a plural name. Whom used with reference to heathen deities it is translated "gods" (Ex. 20:3). The same plural name is used when referring to the ONE true God, as in Deut. 6:4 "the Lord our God (Elohim: Gods) is one Lord"
3. THE PERSONS IN THE GODHEAD ARE LIMITED TO THREE.
To only three Persons are the titles and qualities of Deity ascribed: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These three together and they alone, compose the Godhead. Several times in Scripture they are mentioned together:
Isa. 48:12, 16 "the Lord God, and His Spirit, hath sent Me"
Isa. 63:7-10 "Lord. . . Angel of His presence. . . Holy Spirit"
Luke 1:35 "the Holy Ghost. . . the Highest. . . the Son of God"
Matt. 28:19 "the name of the Father. . . Son. . . Holy Ghost"
II Cor. 13:14 "the Lord Jesus Christ. . . God . . . Holy Ghost"
Eph. 2:18 "through Him (Christ) . . . one Spirit. . . Father"
Matt. 3:16, 17 All three persons manifested in action.
4. EACH PERSON OF THE TRINITY IS GOD.
There are not three Gods, but the THREE are ONE God.
EACH ONE IS CALLED GOD.
Father: John 8:54 "My Father. . . your God", also John 20:17.
Son: Heb. 1:8 "unto the Son He saith . . . 0 God"
Spirit: Acts 5:3-4 “lie to the Holy Ghost … unto God"
EACH ONE HAS THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD.
Each is eternal, almighty, all-wise, omnipresent.
Father: II Tim. 1:9; Mark 14:36; Matt. 24:38; Acts 17:27.
Son: Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:18; Col. 2:3; Matt. 18:20.
Spirit: Heb. 1:14; Rom. 15:11; I Cor. 2:10-11; Ps. 139:7-10.
EACH ONE PERFORMS THE WORKS 0F GOD.
In creation: In redemption:
Father: Rev. 4:11 "created all" 1 John. 4:14 “sent the Son"
Son: Col. 1:16 “all. . . by Him" Gal. 3:13 "redeemed us"
Spirit: Job 33:4 “Spirit. . . made" Heb. 9:14. “thru Spirit.”
The study of the doctrine of the 'Trinity' is both complex and controversial. We shall therefore endeavor to make this study as simple as possible, yet we must make it complete and understandable. In so doing we shall omit many scripture references. which might be considered duplicates of some we will use. As far as being 'controversial' is concerned we will not deal with this subject for it is not controversial to those who believe the Bible; and unless one is willing to base his entire argument upon the Scriptures, there is no need of discussing the matter.
Devout and careful Bible students throughout the Church centuries have been convinced that the plain teaching of the Bible is that, in the 'unity' of the Godhead there exists a 'Trinity' of co-equal Persons (Beings).
The doctrine of the 'Trinity' cannot be rationalized because it is superior to human reason. It is one of those truths that must be apprehended, although, by our finite wisdom it cannot be fully comprehended. It is next to impossible to illustrate this truth. We can only confine ourselves to the statements, of God's Word and believe them, whether or not we can explain them. However, we believe we might more clearly understand the 'Trinity' if we will think of a 'triangle' as representing the 'Trinity', with each point of the angle representing Father, Son, and Holy. Spirit; and whatever work God may be doing, that particular point would be in the foreground, yet, the other two points would always be present, for the three are 'one' and cannot be cut apart or separated. In other words, when Jesus is doing a miracle, the Father and Holy Spirit are also present in the background; and when the Father is speaking to Moses at the burning bush, the Son and the Holy Spirit are present in the background, because the three are 'one'.
Unfortunately, the theorizings of men throughout the ages on this subject, have resulted in certain systems of philosophy such as Polytheism, Pantheism etc., which find their way into many modern cults, all because men have attempted to prove the existence of God apart from the scriptures. But the child of God must turn away from these human arguments to divine revelation for the answer in truth. Thus we find in the Old Testament a trend and emphasis on the 'unity of the Godhead' in particular; while in the New Testament, the emphasis is on the 'Trinity' - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in particular. In the Old Testament we find reference to Deity by various names; these may refer to the Father, or Son, or Holy Spirit as may be implied by the context; but usually they involve the three in one (Trinity). Now if all this seems incomprehensible, it is only because the finite mind is unable to grasp infinite truth.
But it is important that the believer settle this question in his own mind so that he can properly worship God. Either the doctrine of the 'Trinity' is true or it is not true. If it is not true those who worship the Son and the Holy Spirit are idolaters and redemption is reduced to nothing. But the Scripture is clear in its teaching of the following:
1. The Bible teaches that there is but one God.
2. The Bible uses plural pronouns in speaking of the one God, thus indicating a plurality of beings in the Godhead.
3. The Bible always limits this plurality to three distinct beings - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
4. The Bible invests each of these three with the attributes and titles, ascribes to them the actions, and pays to them the worship that is due only to Deity. The balance of the Lesson will be devoted to the development of these points.
1 - THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD (UNITY OF THE GODHEAD).
Deut. 6:4 -"HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD".
From this text we can only conclude that early Israel must have believed in the Tri-unity of the Godhead for it is so clearly stated, as our analysis will show: This portion of scripture is called the 'Shema' and is carried by the old school orthodox Jew in a small case strapped around the wrist, or to the forehead, or nailed to the door post. If we would use the original Hebrew words in the sentence we would immediately see the true meaning, namely, "JEHOVAH our ELOHIM is ECHOD JEHOVAH". Literally translated it would read: 'The Lord our Gods is one Lord'. The word 'Echod' means 'one' in the sense of compound unity, but implies the plurality of the Godhead, compounded into one unit. This is certainly a revelation of the Tri-unity of the Godhead. The same combination of words is found in Josh. 22:22 and 24:23. Jesus Himself confirms this by repeating this text in Mark 12:29-31, thus planting this truth into the New Testament economy.
lsa. 44:6 -"THUS SAITH THE LORD THE KING OF ISRAEL, AND HIS REDEEMER THE LORD OF HOSTS: I AM THE FIRST, AND I AM THE LAST: AND BESIDES ME THERE IS NO GOD". The Lord Jesus Christ is the one in the Godhead who operates as 'King' and 'Redeemer', hence this text clearly declares that He (which includes the rest of the Trinity), is the only God (Deity) in the universe. All other deities are false and phonies, and this would include all the larger religious systems who worship Budda, Confucious, Mahomet, as well as multitudes of smaller systems. When we realize the truth of this, we can then appreciate the 'spirit of Missions', because all outside of Christ are lost. If this text is not strong enough for you let us look at another text:
Jer. 10:10-12 -"BUT THE LORD (Jehovah) IS THE TRUE GOD, HE IS THE LIVING GOD (all others are dead), AN EVERLASTING KING (Messiah); AT HIS WRATH THE EARTH SHALL TREMBLE (shake--earthquakes), AND THE NATIONS SHALL NOT BE ABLE TO ABIDE HIS INDIGNATION (judgement). (11) THUS SHALL YE SAY UNTO THEM, THE GODS THAT HAVE NOT MADE THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH, (includes all other gods), THEY SHALL PERISH FROM THE EARTH, AND FROM UNDER THESE HEAVENS. (12) HE HATH MADE THE EARTH BY HIS POWER, HE HATH ESTABLISHED THE WORLD BY HIS WISDOM, AND HATH STRETCHED OUT THE HEAVENS BY HIS DISCRETION". Our God did these things, not any other god, yet multitudes today reject Him in preference for either heathen gods or man's philosophy, all of which our Lord must destroy as this text states, before we can expect to have a Millennial age where our God will be all in all, and all mankind will then be submissive to Him. There cannot be a Millennial age without: ONE God, ONE religious system, ONE form of government, and a universal submissiveness of all mankind.
1 Cor. 8:4 -"'AS CONCERNING THEREFORE THE EATING OF THOSE THINGS THAT ARE OFFERED IN SACRIFICE UNTO IDOLS, WE KNOW THAT AN IDOL IS NOTHING IN THE WORLD, AND THAT THERE IS NONE OTHER GOD BUT ONE". This is New Testament confirmation of what we have said before from the Old Testament. Thus this truth is identified with the present dispensation of the Church and is as contemporary as tomorrow. Let us face the facts, all other religions outside of Christianity are false and belong to this world-system and will pass away (1 John 2: 15-17).
1 Tim. 2:5 -"FOR THERE IS ONE GOD, AND ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS". A clear declaration of truth confirming the fact that there is only ONE GOD in this world for all people, because He is the one who created all people, these other gods created nothing. Yet people today say that Christianity is a 'secular' religion, which is untrue, it is the other religions which are 'secular', Christianity is a universal, world-wide religion, and one day it will be so, namely, in the Millennial age. James 2:19 makes the same claim, except that it declares that even 'demons' believe this truth, 'but tremble', because they know what is eventually ahead for them.
May we conclude this portion of the Lesson by suggesting that we believe the facts as recorded and revealed in the Bible, namely, there is only one God in this world, and He is the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Eternal One. We cannot humanly explain this, for any attempt at a philosophical conception of the Tri-unity of God would be an attempt to put the facts of infinite being into forms of finite thought and of necessity this can be only partially successful.
2 - THIS ONE GOD IS A PLURALITY OF PERSONS.
We have already partially covered this point, but we add the following scripture evidence to give further support to what we have already said.
(a) - PLURAL PRONOUNS ARE USED OF GOD.
Gen. 1:26 -"AND GOD SAID, LET US MAKE MAN IN OUR IMAGE, AFTER OUR LIKENESS: AND LET THEM HAVE DOMINION OVER THE FISH OF THE SEA, AND OVER THE FOWL OF THE AIR, AND OVER THE CATTLE, AND OVER ALL THE EARTH, AND OVER EVERY CREEPING THING THAT CREEPETH UPON THE EARTH". There are various ideas as to the meaning of this plural usage, but all are of the wildest speculation except those who see in this the Tri-unity of the Godhead. For example, God made man in His image, i.e. He made man a trinity: Body, Soul and Spirit (see our tract-Man his creation and his destiny.).
Gen. 3:22 -"AND THE LORD GOD SAID, BEHOLD, THE MAN IS BECOME AS ONE OF US, TO KNOW GOOD AND EVIL: AND NOW, LEST HE PUT FORTH HIS HAND AND TAKE ALSO OF THE TREE OF LIFE, AND EAT, AND LIVE FOREVER:"
Gen. 11:7 -"GO TO, LET US GO DOWN, AND THERE CONFOUND THEIR LANGUAGE, THAT THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND ONE ANOTHER'S SPEECH".
ISA. 6:8 -"ALSO I HEARD THE VOICE OF THE LORD SAYING, WHOM SHALL I SEND, AND WHO WILL GO FOR US (Tri-unity)?
(b) -THE NAME OF GOD IS PLURAL IN FORM.
In the King James Bible, wherever the word "ELOHIM" appears in the Hebrew text, either alone or compounded with Jehovah, it is translated into English by this English word: 'God' (capital 'G', small 'od'). This is one of the several names for God in the Old Testament and is used principally in connection with His creative acts. In Hebrew the 'im' ending of the word denoted plurality and would normally be translated 'gods'. The word is first used in Gen. 1:1 and in many other verses. We referred to it in Section No. 1 - Deut. 6:4; and we also see it used in Exod. 20:2-3 -"I AM THE LORD THY GOD (Elohim - gods). . . . . . . (3) THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS (Elohim) BEFORE ME".
3 - THE PERSONS IN THE GODHEAD ARE LIMITED TO THREE.
We arrive at this conclusion because in the scripture we find that the titles and qualities of Deity are ascribed to only three Persons. namely, Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who are mentioned both individually and collectively as the following reference indicate:
Isa. 48:12 & 16 -"HEARKEN UNTO ME, 0 JACOB AND ISRAEL.. MY CALLED: I AM HE: I AM THE FIRST, I ALSO AM THE LAST". Compare this verse with Rev. 1:8 and 17 for identification. Now observe lsa. 48:16 -"COME YE NEAR UNTO ME, HEAR YE THIS: I HAVE NOT SPOKEN IN SECRET FROM THE BEGINNING; FROM THE TIME THAT IT WAS, THERE AM I: AND NOW THE LORD GOD, AND HIS SPIRIT, HATH SENT ME". By a very careful analysis of this text you can see the Father (the same who spoke from the beginning and did not speak in secret); and the Spirit (here spoken of as one distinct from the Father); 'hath sent ME' - the Son. Thus we see the Trinity in action; note, whom God sends, the Spirit sends. Some may think that the one sent is Isaiah, which is also true, but Isaiah here appears as a type of the Son. The language all through lsa. 48 uses the personal pronoun 'I', and while Isaiah may have been the mouth-piece for the message the 'I' was definitely God speaking, therefore Isaiah merely represented the Son in the scene. This condition frequently occurs in scripture, for example, David often inpersonates the Lord in the Psalms.
lsa. 63:7-10 -"I WILL MENTION THE LOVINGKINDNESS OF THE LORD, AND THE PRAISES OF THE LORD, ACCORDING TO ALL THAT THE LORD HATH BESTOWED ON US, AND THE GREAT GOODNESS TOWARD THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL, WHICH HE HATH BESTOWED ON THEM ACCORDING TO HIS MERCIES, AND ACCORDING TO THE MULTITUDE OF HIS LOVINGKINDNESSES. (8) - FOR HE (Lord) SAID, SURELY THEY ARE MY PEOPLE, CHILDREN THAT WILL NOT LIE: SO HE WAS THEIR SAVIOUR. (9) - IN ALL THEIR AFFLICTION HE WAS AFFLICTED, AND THE ANGEL OF HIS PRESENCE SAVED THEM: IN HIS LOVE AND IN HIS PITY HE REDEEMED THEM, AND CARRIED THEM ALL THE DAYS OF OLD. (10) - BUT THEY REBELLED, AND VEXED HIS HOLY SPIRIT: THEREFORE, HE WAS TURNED TO BE THEIR ENEMY, AND HE FOUGHT AGAINST THEM". Again we may see the Trinity at work in this text, for where one is, all three are. Note in this text the words: 'Lord, Saviour, Angel of His presence, Holy Spirit, saved them, redeemed them'; from this it is very simple to resolve the presence of Jehovah the Father, Jehovah the Son, and Jehovah the Holy Spirit. The 'angel of His presence' is to be understood to be the Lord Jesus Christ; He is the angel of the covenant, God's messenger to the world - Mal. 3:1; He is the angel of God's face, for He is the express image of His person, and the glory of God shines in the face of Christ.
Luke 1:35 -"AND THE ANGEL ANSWERED AND SAID UNTO HER, THE HOLY GHOST SHALL COME UPON THEE, AND THE POWER OF THE HIGHEST (Father) SHALL OVER-SHADOW THEE: THEREFORE ALSO THAT HOLY THING WHICH SHALL BE BORN OF THEE SHALL BE CALLED THE SON OF GOD". The Trinity is obvious in this text.
Mat. 28:19 -"GO YE THEREFORE, AND TEACH ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST". Again, the Trinity is obvious, limited to three in the Godhead.
2 Cor. 13:14 -'THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND THE LOVE OF GOD (Father) AND THE COMMUNION OF THE HOLY GHOST, BE WITH YOU ALL. AMEN". The three names of the Godhead are here mentioned, and proves the doctrine of the Gospel, and is an acknowledgement that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are three distinct beings, yet but one God; and that they are the fountain of all spiritual blessings. It likewise intimates our duty which is to have an eye by faith to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to live in continual regard to the three persons in the Trinity, into whose name we were baptized, and in whose name we are blessed.
Eph. 2:18 -"FOR THROUGH HIM (Christ) WE BOTH HAVE ACCESS BY ONE SPIRIT UNTO THE FATHER... Another reference to the Trinity. confirming the doctrine of the Bible on this subject.
Mat. 3:16-17 -"AND JESUS, WHEN HE WAS BAPTIZED, WENT UP STRAIGHTWAY OUT OF THE WATER: AND, LO, THE HEAVENS WERE OPENED UNTO HIM AND HE SAW THE SPIRIT OF GOD DESCENDING LIKE A DOVE, AND LIGHTING UPON HIM: (17) AND LO A VOICE FROM HEAVEN, SAYING, THIS IS MY BELOVED SON IN WHOM I (Father) AM WELL PLEASED...”
Here we see all three persons in the Trinity in action; The Holy Spirit manifested Himself in the likeness of a dove; but God the Father by a voice (similar to the giving of the law Deut. 4:12).
4 - EACH PERSON OF THE TRINITY IS GOD. . YET THE THREE ARE ONE.
EACH ONE IS CALLED GOD
FATHER: John 8:54 - JESUS ANSWERED IF I HONOR MYSELF, MY HONOR IS NOTHING: IT IS MY FATHER THAT HONOURETH ME: OF WHOM YE SAY, THAT HE IS YOUR GOD:" (The same idea is contained in John 20: 17).
SON: Heb. 1:8 –“BUT UNTO THE SON HE SAITH, THY THRONE, 0 GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER: A SCEPTRE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THE SCEPTRE OF THY KINGDOM”. (We have a detail Lesson on the Deity of Christ in Series 2 Part 2 Lesson No.9; and on Christ's Humanity in Series 2 Part 1 Lesson 8).
SPIRIT: Acts 5:3-4 -"BUT PETER SAID, ANANIAS, WHY HATH SATAN FILLED THINE HEART TO LIE TO THE HOLY GHOST, AND TO KEEP BACK PART OF THE PRICE OF THE LAND? (4) WHILES IT REMAINED, WAS IT NOT THINE OWN? AND AFTER IT WAS SOLD, WAS IT NOT IN THINE OWN POWER? WHY HAST THOU CONCEIVED THIS THING IN THINE HEART? THOU HAST NOT LIED UNTO MEN, BUT UNTO GOD." Here the Holy Spirit is referred to as 'God', because He is God, a part of the divine Trinity.
EACH ONE HAS THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD. (Eternal, almighty, all-wise, omnipresent.)
He is Eternal: 2 Tim. 1:9 - before the world began...
He is Almighty: Mark 14:36 - all things are possible...
He is All-wise: Mat. 24:36 - my Father only knows...
He is Omnipresent: Acts 17:27 - not far from all of us.
He is Eternal: Heb. 13:5 - I will never leave thee...
He is Almighty: Mat. 28:18 - All power is given unto me...
He is All-wise: Col. 2:3 - In Him are hid all . . . wisdom...
He is Omnipresent: Mat. 18:20 - Where two or three are gathered ... I am in the midst...
He is Eternal: Heb. 9:14 - The eternal Spirit. . .
He is Almighty: Rom. 15:19 - Through signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit...
He is All-wise: 1 Cor. 2:10 - Spirit searcheth all things.
He is Omnipresent: Psa. 139:7-10 -Whither shall I go from thy Spirit...
EACH ONE PERFORMS THE WORKS OF GOD (In creation and in redemption)
In creation: Rev. 4:11 - Thou hast created all things...
In redemption: 1 John 4:14 - Father sent the son...
In creation: Col. 1:16 - By Him all things created...
In redemption: Gal. 3:13 - Christ hath redeemed us...
In creation: Job 33:4 - Spirit hath made me...
In redemption: Heb. 9:14 - Blood… thru the Spirit purges…
CONCLUSION: Whatever the difficulties of reconciling the true humanity and essential Deity of Christ, whatever perplexing points raised in some passages of Scripture, the evidence of the Trinity of the Godhead is so striking and numerous that one cannot deny it and still profess to hold to the Scriptures.
God the Father is Deity in its source. Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit are Deity in its outflow. Though our brains are puzzled, our
hearts may well rejoice that it is so, for the Triune form of God has made possible a way of access to His creatures. The subordination of the Son to the father should not confuse us, because it is only in
'OFFICE', not in ‘NATURE’.