It was apparently the English preacher Robert South (1634-1716) who claimed, "If you deny the doctrine of the Trinity, you could lose your soul,
but if you strive too hard to understand it, you could lose your wits." Nevertheless, the principle found in
requires us to seek to understand what God has revealed of Himself.
We should do so with great humbleness. 1
What is the basis for our belief in the Trinity?
There is but one True God -
Isaiah 44:6; James 2:19,
There are 3 Persons that the Bible reveals to be True God (i.e. God by nature). We
are therefore driven to the conclusion that God is a Trinity. It is not something that we
have dragged in from Paganism or the Roman Catholic Church as some who attack our Church
like to suggest. The Trinity is a Biblical doctrine and we believe it and teach it
because this is so. We are compelled by Scripture to accept that the Father, Jesus, and
the Holy Spirit are all God but there is only One God by nature.
No one disputes that He is God so we will not investigate His credentials further.
Jesus is identified as God in both the Old and New Testaments:
Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13, 14; Hebrews 1:8; Philippians 2:6,
Jesus claimed the Divine Name "I
AM" which Yahweh used when He revealed
Moses at the burning bush:
John 8:58 compare Exodus 3:14.
In Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily:
Jesus is "The Alpha and the Omega, the First and the
Last, the Beginning and the
- Revelation 22:13 compare Isaiah 44:6; 48:12.
Jesus shares the glory of God:
John 17:5; Matthew 16:27 compare
Isaiah 42:8; 48:11.
Jesus is the Creator:
Yahweh says He made everything by Himself - Isaiah 44:24. The New Testament states clearly that Jesus was the
Creator and that He made everything for Himself - Colossians 1:16;
John 1:3; Hebrews 1:10. Quite clearly Jesus is Yahweh God.
Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords:
Revelation 17:14; 19:16
compare Deuteronomy 10:17 and 1 Timothy 6:15.
Jesus is Eternal:
Hebrews 7:3; Micah 5:2 compare Psalm 90:2;
Jesus accepts worship:
Worship is for God only - Exodus 34:14; Matthew 4:10; Acts 10:25, 26; Revelation 19:10;
22:8, 9. Jesus accepted worship - Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:50-52;
Hebrews 1:6. To "call upon the name" is related
to worship - Genesis 4:26; 12:8; Psalm 116:17; 79:6; Jeremiah 10:25;
Zephaniah 3:9; Joel 2:32. This phrase used with reference to Jesus -
Romans 10:13; Acts 9:14; 9:20, 21; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Acts 22:16; 2 Timothy 2:22.
Jesus hears prayers:
Acts 1:24; 7:59, 60; 2 Corinthians 12:8, 9;
John 14:14; Revelation 22:20.
Jesus is Omnipresent (Everywhere present at the same time):
Jesus reveals God to us:
John 1:18; 14:9; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews
1:3. No mere man can reveal God - only God visible could reveal the
invisible God. Jesus was both God and man - John 1:1, 14.
A comparison of some NT and OT passages showing that Jesus is
Hebrews 1:8-12 with Psalm 102:24-27
John 12:36-41 with Isaiah 6:1-3, 10
1 Peter 3:14, 15 with Isaiah 8:12, 13.
he who searches hearts and
Revelation 2:23. "you (Yahweh) alone know the hearts of all men" - 1 Kings 8:39, see also Psalm 7:9.
First fruits were offered to God
but in Revelation 14:4 they are
spoken of as offered to God and the Lamb.
Saved people will be priests of God and of the Lamb:
Some, influenced by people such as "Jehovah's Witnesses,"
have been led to believe that the New Testament reveals that Jesus was less than the
Father by nature. A close look at the texts concerned reveals that Jesus was less in
We must not fail
to notice that the Trinity is revealed to us in the context of the plan of redemption
(covering the whole Bible). Jesus accepted a subordinate position to the Father as the
Messiah. The above evidence clearly shows that He was not less than the Father by
(His Divinity was veiled while He was a man - He did use it on occasions - but never for
His personal comfort or purposes).
The Holy Spirit is a Person
We do not learn much of His personality in the Old Testament, however, revelation is
progressive (Romans 16:25, 26; Ephesians 3:5, 6) and the Old Testament also leaves us in
doubt as to the nature of "the Word" (e.g.
Psalm 33:6) but the New Testament makes it quite clear that He is a Person and is in fact
God - John 1:1-3, etc. We cannot understand much about the
personality and nature of the Holy Spirit for He is far different to us. However, the
following references insist upon His personality.
He performs personal actions in association with other persons:
Matthew 28:19; Acts 15:28; Revelation 22:17 -
The Holy Spirit is a separate person from the Father and Jesus -
Matthew 28:19 etc.
He takes the place of Jesus:
John 14:16. Could an impersonal force
take the place of the Divine Jesus on earth? The Greek word translated "Comforter," "Helper," or similar here is
This New Testament Greek word is never applied to
other than persons.
In John chapters 14-
16 Jesus many times over deliberately
broke the rules of Greek Grammar and referred to the Holy Spirit as
Noted Theologians such as
Leon Morris and J. I. Packer have pointed this out. Our own Scholar Wooldrow Whidden, on
page 71 of
Review and Herald Publishing
Association, Hagerstown, 2002, says, "
we should observe that
while the word
(Greek pneuma) is in
the neuter gender in
Greek, the personal pronoun ekeinos
clearly used to refer to the neuter
Spirit) is in the masculine gender. It is this grammatical fact that has led the
translators to render the other personal pronouns called for in
these passages as
The Greek word
for "Spirit" is a neuter word and therefore
should rightly be referred to as "it" but a
perusal of Bible translations will confirm that because of what Whidden has stated Bible
translators feel compelled to translate various pronouns as "He" etc. We must either accept that Jesus did
this in order to make it clear to us that the Holy Spirit is a Person, or, we have to
accept that our perfect Jesus made a number of uncharacteristic blunders.
He exhibits qualities which evidence personal existence:
- Romans 8:27; 1 Corinthians 2:10,
- 1 Corinthians 12:11,
- John 16:13,
- Acts 1:16,
Commands and Forbids
- Acts 8:29; 11:12; 13:2, 4; (In these verses just mentions He
refers to Himself as "me" and "I.") 16:6, 7; 10:19, 20,
- Acts 20:28,
- Isaiah 63:10; Ephesians 4:30,
- Acts 2:4; 8:39,
Can be insulted
- Hebrews 10:29,
- Romans 15:30.
The Holy Spirit is God
Most, even those who deny the personality of the Holy Spirit, will admit that He is
God in some way.
He is clearly referred to as God:
Acts 5:3, 4. Compare 1 Corinthians
3:16, 17 with 6:19 and also 2 Corinthians 6:16. Compare 1 Corinthians 12:11 with
The Holy Spirit is Yahweh:
Jeremiah 31:33, 34 with Hebrews 10:15-17.
Psalm 95:7-11 with Hebrews 3:7-11.
Isaiah 6:9, 10 with Acts 28:25-28.
2 Samuel 23:2 with 2 Samuel 23:3.
The Holy Spirit is Eternal:
Because the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all the One God in Triunity
(Trinity), what one does has the value of them all doing it. When the Holy Spirit comes
to us it is the same as the Father coming to us, or of Jesus coming to us, or of the
whole Three coming to us. The Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as the Spirit of
Christ - Romans 8:9, 10; Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19, etc. Luke
21:15 says Jesus will tell His followers what to say in time of trouble while Mark 13:11
says it is the Holy Spirit Who will do this. This is where some dissidents have become
confused. They think that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the same Person or that the Holy
Spirit is some force that comes from Jesus and the Father. The truth is that Jesus and
the Holy Spirit are the same God - not the same Person. Remember the
baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19, 20 where they are spoken of as separate Persons.
John 14:18 tells that Jesus will come to His followers - Verse 23
says that both the Father and the Son will make their abode with believers. Verse 26
indicates that this will be through the Holy Spirit - see also verse
28 first part. There is no need for confusion - there are Three
Persons all working in perfect harmony as One God.
What might we expect God to be?
An Amoeba is a
microscopic single cell creature. There is a great gap between an Amoeba and a human made
up of millions of cells. We would expect the gap between a human and the Infinite God to
be enormously greater. We would expect God to be vastly more complex than we are. See
Isaiah 40:18, 25.
We believe a lot of things we donīt really understand
For example, light. Some say it is made up of particles, others say it is composed of
waves. Yet others say it is a combination of both. We might not understand it but we
believe it. We don't know how could God always have existed? - How can He know the end from the beginning? Christians
don't understand these things but we believe them.
Do we expect God to explain Himself fully?
God is like a very
tall man who stoops down and lisps in a little child's ear. John
century Reformer) referred to the Bible as
God's "baby talk." God
meets us where we are and reveals Himself to the degree that suits His purpose and to the
degree that we can understand. Remember
expects us to seek to understand what He has revealed of Himself.
God has revealed Himself to us
God has revealed Himself to us in what is termed
economy of the plan of redemption.
In other words, the terms "Father," "Son," and "Holy
Spirit," are suitable to help us understand the Heavenly Three and
their relationship to One Another in the plan of Redemption (This is what the Bible is
We do not know how each of the 3 Persons would be described apart from the plan of
Some other Biblical models are:
Psalm 23:1; Hebrews 13:20
Jeremiah 3:19; Matthew 6:9
Isaiah 9:2; 1 John 1:5
); 4. Rock (
18:2; 1 Corinthians 10:4
These models help us to understand what God is like.
Godīs revelation to us of the plan of redemption
s revelation to us of the plan of redemption,
including an understanding of Him, is progressive.
The Holy Spirit was only fully revealed when Jesus was about to return to heaven.
Jesus ministers for us in the Heavenly Sanctuary and the Holy Spirit ministers for us on
the earth. God has revealed Himself gradually - it would be too much
for us if a full presentation were given all at once
God has not revealed all about Himself
Let us not forget that a complete understanding of God is beyond us. As St. Augustine
rightly said: "
If you can understand it, it is not
We can see only one tenth of an
Iceberg. Likewise there is much more to God than our finite minds can possibly understand or
A bucket of salt water, sand, and sea
weed cannot help us understand all about an Ocean. Likewise, what we know of God is no more
than a small part of what could be known of Him.
The doctrine of the Trinity is an adequate
definition of what has been revealed in Scripture.
How then shall we describe the Three?
This system claims that Jesus and the Spirit are lesser deities. Some say
that God the Father created them.
claims that God just manifests Himself in one of three ways on various
Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three separate deities (a form of
Father created Jesus who created the Holy Spirit.
Jesus was born from the Father in the mystical past. The Holy Spirit is not a
person but is the Spirit of the Father and the Son. All shades of Arianism have been
condemned as heretical when they have popped up down through the Christian centuries.
Today some confused Seventh-day Adventists have been fooled into accepting the system. If
you want to be an Arian you have to accept that there is a Big God (the Father) and a
little god (Jesus). This is quite unacceptable and is a miniature form of Polytheism. Sin
is an infinite problem. It has affected the whole of creation. How could any sacrifice
which was of less than of Infinite value pay for the sin of the whole world? If Jesus
could die in His Divinity He would have to have been of something less in substance than
the Father - yet semi-Arians say He was born from the Father. Would
they say that God brought forth from Himself something less perfect than He was? Their
greatest problem is that they have not understood the Greek word
which the King James Version wrongly translated as "Only Begotten" when referring to Jesus, but as "only" when referring to others. The word has
been translated something like "unique" in
modern translations. My paper
Jesus as Monogenes
needs to be
studied on this matter.
are three Persons in One Substance or Essence. God is Three as to Persons but One as to
Substance.This must be true if there is only One True God for the Father is God, Jesus is
God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Only the Trinity doctrine is faithful to Scripture.
Imagine the great howl of protest that would have arisen in the 1
Christians preached three gods to the strictly monotheistic Jews.
presents Three Persons all in the One Name. See also
Mark 3:16, 17; 2 Corinthians 13:14
, etc. A very good statement
on the Trinity is found on page 367 of Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe,
, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Mich. 1992: "
God is one in
but three in
God has one
That is, there is only one
in God, but
there are three
There is one
This is a mystery, but not a contradiction. It
would be contradictory to say God was only one person, but also was three persons. Or
that God is only one nature, but that He also had three natures. But to declare, as
orthodox Christians do, that God is one essence, eternally revealed in three distinct
persons is not a contradiction.
The Trinity doctrine helps us to see the full dimension of God's
love. He didn't send an innocent Third Party to die for us - He came Himself in the Person of Jesus and died for us. What
greater exhibition of love could we have than this? See 1 Corinthians 2:8; 2 Corinthians
5:19; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 2:14, 15.
God is complete in Himself. The Trinity teaching makes this clear to us. Before He
created anything else, He was able to express and experience love within the confines of
the Godhead. He didn't need to create in order to be able to express
love as some have erroneously claimed.
It hardly needs to be pointed out that the above is but a very brief indication of the
Scriptural evidence, which requires Bible believers to accept that God is a Trinity. God
is far above us and beyond our comprehension. To understand all about God we would have
to be God. God has revealed certain things about Himself in His Word and we should be
prepared to accept this information with gratitude and leave it at that. I would suggest
to those wanting to gain a much clearer understanding of the doctrine that they should
Understanding the Trinity.
It is available at
Seventh-day Adventist bookstores.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. He made us, He has maintained responsibility
for us, He loves us, He died for us, and He is coming again soon to restore for us that
which was lost through sin. How can we do other than love, adore, worship, and serve Him?
If we lift Him up we can be sure that He will never let us down. I, for one, can testify
that this is true.
To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in one,
Laud, honor, might, and glory be
From age to age eternally.