(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
The featured Scripture is the very first verse vin the Bible – Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Hebrew word for God in this opening verse is אֱלֹהִים (Elohim or Elohiym – pronounced el-o-heem’). Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions tell us it is a “plural intensive [word with a]…singular meaning.” The note on Genesis 1:1 in the New Scofield Reference Bible says, “Elohim…, the first of the names of Deity, is a plural noun in form but is singular in meaning when it refers to the true God.” The Genesis 1:1 note goes on to direct one to consider Genesis 1:26 and 27, explaining these verses thus:
- Genesis 1:26 – “And God ]Elohim[ said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness….” Scofield notes, “Emphasis in Genesis 1:26 is on the plurality in Deity….The plural form of the word suggests the Trinity…,” as do the words ‘us’ and ‘our’ in verse 26. Some say that these plural pronouns refer to a conference between God and angelic beings! But this view may just reveal a prejudicial mindset against the concept of the Trinitarian God!
- Genesis 1:27 – “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” This verse emphasizes the One true God, “…the unity of the divine Substance.” (Scofield).
Is it any wonder that even the brightest of Bible scholars cannot fully explain the concept of “…One God in three Persons”! And cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) deal with the issue by denying that the true God even exists as a Trinity!
The Encyclopedia of Gods by Michael Jordan (not the basketball player!) lists 2,500 dieties! But the number is far greater! The Shinto religion alone claims there are eight million gods (kami – spirits of ancesters and spirits behind elements of the landscape and forces of nature) who can influence natural and human events! But there is revealed from three sources that there is one God in plurality!
✡ Psalm 19:1-4 (International Standard Version) – “The heavens are declaring the glory of God, and their ex- panse shows the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they reveal know- ledge. There is no speech nor are there words—their voice is not heard—yet their message goes out into all the world, and their words to the ends of the earth.”
Saint Paul takes this statement from Psalm 19 to reveal just how explicit is this ‘general revelation.’ In Romans 10:9, he gets very specific: “…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Then he goes on in Romans 10:14 and 15 to address the problem of those who have not heard the good news of Jesus. But Paul makes a startling statement in verse 18: “But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed….” And then he quotes part of the ‘general revelation’ Scripture from Psalm 19: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”
I interpret it this way: All creation, if we will hear it, is shouting out the news that Jesus Christ is the risen Lord, in whom we must confess our saving heart faith!
✞ Romans 1:18-20 – “...the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”
In other words, no one can stand before God and say, “I never heard! No one ever told me about Jesus!” They are without excuse!
- Scripture: There is no revelation more specific and detailed than that which God has given to man to be written in our Bible! As it says in II Timothy 3:16 and 17:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profit- able for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruc- tion in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
- The testimony of the redeemed: While this is the most subjective of the three proofs, it can a be very powerful ‘proof ’ of God’s work among, in and through human beings!
✡ Psalm 9:14 – “...that I may tell of all Your praise....” ✡ Psalm 26:7 – “...that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of Your wonderful works.” ✡ Psalm 39:4 – “...that I may know how frail I am.” ✡ Psalm 56:13 – “...that I may walk before God in the light of the living.” ✡ Psalm 106:5 – “...that I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance.” ✡ Psalm 119:17 – “...that I may live and keep Your word.” ✡ Psalm 119:18 – “...that I may see wonderous things from Your law.” ✡ Psalm 119:73 – “...that I may learn Your commandments.” ✡ Psalm 119:125 – “...that I may know Your testimonies.” ✡ Psalm 142:7 – “...that I may praise Your name....” ✞ Romans 1:11 – “...that I may impart to you some spir- itual gift....” ✞ Romans 15:32 – “...that I may come to you with joy....” ✞ Ephesians 6:19 – “...that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mysteries of the gospel.” ✞ Philippians 3:10 – “...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if...I may attain to the resurrection of the dead.” ✞ Philippians 3:12 – “...that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” ✞ II Timothy 1:4 – “...that I may be filled with joy....”
So how important is it to believe there is One God in Three Persons?
- God the Father – When Christians refer to ‘God,’ most often they are thinking of God the Father! Here is what the writer of Hebrews says about this First Person of the Trinity in Hebrews 11:1 and 6:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen....But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is ]that He exists[, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
This does not mean that the Father is the primary God! Theologically, the three Persons of the Godhead are described as being ‘co-equal ’! For instance, in Philippians 2:6 (God’s Word to the nations), “Although He [Jesus] was in the form of God and equal with God, He did not take advantage of this equality.”
- God the Son – When He ministered upon earth for three and a half years, Jesus was in total subjection to the Father! He said the same in John 8:28 (International Standard Version): “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM, and that I do nothing on My own authority. Instead, I speak only what the Father has taught Me.”
Even into eternity, Scripture tells us that Jesus will be in subjection to the Father! Here is I Corinthians 15:24 through 28:
Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father; when He puts an end to all rule and authority and power. For He must reign, till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For “He has put all things under his feet.” But when He says, “all things are put under Him,” it is evi- dent that He [the Father] who put all things under Him [the Son] is excepted. Now when all things are made sub- ject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him [the Father] who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
When I was a pastor in my first church and without a lot of experience, I was interacting with a young man who was a new follower of Jesus. But he did not believe that Jesus was God! I was preparing to correct him when an older man, who had for some years believed in the Lord, cautioned me to leave him alone! “At least he is following Jesus,” was the advice I received. I regret that I followed his leading! Why? Because of what Jesus Himself said in John 8:24 (Jubilee Bible): “Therefore I said unto you that ye shall die in your sins, for if ye do not believe that I AM, ye shall die in your sins.” (see Exodus 3:14, 15 where God introduced Himself to Moses as I AM). He was saying, “If you don’t believe that I AM the very God of the Old Testament, you will not have eternal life!
It is only the sinless God who could offer Himself to be the perfect sacrifice to pay for [to expunge] our sins!
- God the Holy Spirit – The Bible presents Him as a Person – and as God! For He has the same thinking and emotions both as a person and as the Father and the Son!
✞ Ephesians 4:30 – “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” He can be grieved! ✞ Acts 7:51 – “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” He can be resisted! ✞ Acts 5:3, 4 – “Annias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit....You have not lied to men, but to God.” He can be lied to! ✞ Luke 12:10 – “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven.” He can be blasphemed! ✞ I Thessalonians 5:19 (Good News Bible) – “Do not restrain the Holy Spirit.” He can be restrained! ✞ I Corinthians 2:10, 11 – “...the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God....no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” He searches the mind of God! ✞ I John 2:27 (Good News Bible) – “But as for you, Christ has poured out His Spirit on you. As long as His Spirit remains in you, you do not need anyone to teach you. For His Spirit teaches you about everything, and what He teaches is true....” He teaches believers! ✞ Romans 8:26 (English Standard Version) – “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” He searches our minds and prays for us! ✞ John 6:63 – “It is the Spirit who gives life....” He gives us Spiritual life! ✞ Ephesians 1:13, 14 – “...having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased pos- session....” He is our seal that we are God’s! ✞ John 14:16, 17 – Jesus said, “...I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper [another just like Jesus], that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth....” He is just like Jesus, so much so that the Lord could say, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you....” (John 14:18).
The Holy Spirit is not like that which is taught by…
- …the Jehovah’s Witnesses who teach in their book, The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life, page 24:
As for the 'Holy Spirit' the so-called ' third Person of the Trinity,' we have already seen that it is not a person, but God's active force. John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize with holy spirit even as John had been baptizing with water. Water is not a person nor is the holy spirit a person ....(the apostles) all became filled with holy spirit. Were they 'filled' with a person? No, but they were filled with God's active force.
- Mormonism teaches that “Jesus Christ, a little babe like all the rest of us have been, grew to be a man, was filled with a divine substance or fluid, called the Holy Spirit” (Key to Theology, Parley P. Pratt, p. 38).
True Christianity teaches the reality of the Trinity, God in three Persons – Elohim!
God the Father!
God the Son!
God the Holy Spirit!-