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The Bible and the Trinity Part 2
The Mystery of the Three in One
In our last article we went over some false views of the Trinity. Now let us look at how the Bible portrays God. We stated the last time that there is one God, eternally existing in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Many people have used different illustrations to try to explain this mystery, but all are inadequate, for God is a unique being. We may balk at the fact that God is not fully explainable. But the truth is there are other mysteries in the universe that haven't been fully explained either.
To illustrate this let us look at light. We see and use light every single day, yet physicists have never finally and perfectly explained the nature of it. Millard Erickson, in his book Christian Theology , says this:
One theory says that it is waves. The other says it is quanta, little
bundles of energy as it were. Logically it cannot be both. Yet to
account for all the data, one must hold both simultaneously. As one
physics major put it: "On Monday, Wednesday and Friday we think of
light as waves. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday we think of it as
particles of energy." Presumably, on Sundays, physicists do not
concern themselves with the nature of light.
In order to show what the Bible says about the nature of God it must be established that it indeed sees Him as one and as three. Though the word 'Trinity' is not found in Scripture, the concept certainly is there. Indeed the word is what theologians have come up with to explain what has obviously been set forth.
I. The Oneness of God
The Old Testament teaches very plainly that there is only one true God. A major passage which teaches this is Deuteronomy 6:4. It states: "Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." Though the Old Testament recognizes that other nations worship various gods, it makes it clear that the Lord is the only true God. The others are merely idols. For example, Psalm 96:5,6 says to us: "For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens."
The New Testament also teaches the oneness of God. Ephesians 4:4-6 lets us know that: "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Also, the book of James says: "You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe and tremble" (2:19).
These are a few examples, but this should give you some idea of the biblical teaching.
II. The Threeness of God
Though there is only one God, the Scriptures teach that three persons are God. The Old Testament stressed the oneness of God, because Israel, His chosen nation, had come out of an idolatrous culture. The Lord had to establish the worship of the one true God. Yet, though His oneness is emphasized in the Old Testament, we see the seeds of the Trinity there as well. These ideas come to maturity in the New Testament.
The plural name Elohim is used for God (e.g. Genesis 1:1,26). There are also some references to God having a Son who was also divine (Psalm 2:7,12 ; Proverbs 30:4). If we look at II Samuel 23:2 and Isaiah 48:16, there is some reference that the Holy Spirit is a person and is God. And of course, there is a hint of the threeness of God in Isaiah 6:3 where He is said to be Holy, Holy Holy. But in the New Testament all three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are called God.
The Father is called God 175 times in the four Gospels alone. In the Pauline Epistles, we see it 45 times. Indeed the Father's deity is so well documented that it is not usually denied. What we need to look at in the next two articles is how each of the other two members of the Trinity are seen. As we look at the Son and the Spirit, it will become increasingly clear that they are both God and equal in every way with the Father.
The all powerful, all knowing, all present God is definitely one of a kind. We can never completely understand Him. All we can do is read and learn from His self-revelation that He has given us in the Word of God. It is in this self-revelation that the Lord reveals this unique understanding that He is indeed a Trinity. It is an unfathomable mystery, but one that must be believed in order to know the true God. And as believers in Christ, we will spend an eternity getting to know Him in all His glory.