Archives For Trinitarianism

Any employee that has had more than one supervisor knows the confusion that can occur when trying to follow instructions from several people and trying to please several people. It never works well. Consider trying to please multiple gods. That too, would not work out well. Thankfully, Christians worship one God, follow instructions from one God, and try to please one God. Let’s take a look at the one God the Bible describes. 

Trinitarianism - God Is One

Photo Credit: “Holy Trinity” by Hendrick van Balen

TRINITARIANISM
God Is One

I. GOD IS ONE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

When reading the first five books of the Old Testament it is good to remember who wrote the books, to whom they were written, and what was the historical context of “god” at that time. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible (Deut 31:9; Luke 24:37; Acts 3:20-23) between 1446 and 1406 BC after the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. At that time there were numerous gods throughout the Ancient Near East: gods of fertility, water gods, grain gods, and many many others. Moses was God’s chosen leader to take the people out of Egypt, and he wrote the first five books of the Old Testament as a way to communicate to the Israelites who they were and who their God was.

One of the main points that Moses wanted to make in the first five books of the Bible was that there is one God.

A. “God” Created the Earth, Not “gods”

1. The Israelite Creation Account Continue Reading…

When I graduated high school and began college I was placed in some classes that were called “remedial” classes. They were classes designed for freshman college students that scored low on entrance exams. English was one area I was deemed to be low in according to college standards. I started reading and writing to improve my English skills. Part of that meant I needed to improve my vocabulary. I began reading books and kept a dictionary close at hand. If I came across a word I did not recognize I would look it up in the dictionary, write the word down in the margin of the page, and write the definition next to it so that I could reference the word later on in the book if I came across the word again. One of those words I remember looking up was the word “paradox.” A paradox as I now know is “a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true” (Dictionary.com). When new Christians begin to study the Bible and learn about the Trinity sometimes they think that the doctrine is a paradox that does not make sense: three unique persons united in one essence.

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: “Holy Trinity” by Hendrick van Balen

Now that we have studied the attributes of God, how God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I now want us to look at how the three members of the Godhead exist in community and relationship with each other. I’d like us to look how the members of the Godhead relate to each other and how the three persons exist as one essence. The book, Two Views on the Doctrine of the Trinity, is not a book I would recommend reading but I did come across a helpful quote about how the relationships among the Trinity exist.

Fatherhood and Sonship are relational terms, and so are neither substantial nor accidental. The claim here runs as follows: Father and Son are two existences of the same simple essence, distinguished by the relationship of begetting, and by that relationship only; that relational distinction is their difference from each other—the Father is not the Son—but it does not compromise the simplicity of the divine essence. Similar arguments can be made about the Father and the Spirit and the Son and the Spirit ~ Stephen Holmes, “Classical Trinity” in Two Views on the Doctrine of the Trinity, 37.

First, let’s examine how the three persons exist as one essence.

TRINITARIANISM
Relationships within the Trinity

I. THREE IN ONE

Now let’s look at how these unique persons can exist as one essence. 1

A. God Is One

Moses was writing at a time when there were many many gods and often people worshiped all the gods they knew. With that background Moses declared that God (not “gods”) created the world (Gen 1:1), there was only one God (Exod 20:2-3), and that the LORD was one (Deut 6:4). Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. “God, the cause of all, is One. This One is light and life, spirit and word, mouth and speech, wisdom and knowledge, joy and love, the Kingdom of Heaven and Paradise, the heaven of heavens, just as He is called the sun of suns, God of gods, day without evening, and whatever other good things you might cite from the visible world. And, if you seek beyond all that exists, you will find this One Who is, and is alone properly and substantially called Good. That One is not such as are visible things. Rather, He transcends incomparably and inalterably all the visible world.” (St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses, vol. 1, The Church and the Last Things, p. 122).

God the Father is clearly revealed throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament places the focus on our Savior Jesus Christ. So often it is easy to forget that the Holy Spirit is here with us now on earth. He baptizes us, indwells us, and guides us. In effect, the Holy Spirit is be the most real person of the Godhead that we interact with and experience. Let’s take a look at the third member of the Godhead: the Holy Spirit.

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: “Holy Trinity” by Hendrick van Balen

TRINITARIANISM
The Holy Spirit

I. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD 1

First, I want to show you how the Holy Spirit is God. Similar to the doctrine of Jesus Christ, there is direct evidence and indirect evidence that the Holy Spirit is God.

A. Direct Evidence in the Old Testament

1. Specific Mentions of “Holy Spirit”

There are three specific mentions of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. There are many other references to him as “the Spirit of God,” “God’s Spirit,” or “the Lord’s Spirit”, but the words “Holy Spirit”, only occur three times in the Old Testament. Those three occurrences are in Psalms and Isaiah. In Psalm 51 David acknowledged his sin with Basheba. In the process of confessing that sin to God he asked God, Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. This outline on the Holy Spirit is adapted from some notes I received from J. Scott Horrell while I was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary

When I was twenty years old I read in a couple of books and heard it taught at a couple of conferences that Jesus Christ was the greatest leader to have ever lived. I thought to myself that if he was the greatest leader that ever lived and if I want to be a great leader, then I should study him and see what I could learn.

I began to read the Gospels to learn about who Jesus was and what he did. On my journey I had a New Living Translation Student Bible that my mom had given me several years earlier. I had not read it much. Honestly, I don’t know if I had ever opened it. But, when I was ready to read the Bible it was available so I opened it and began to read the Gospels about the greatest leader who ever lived.

Trinitarianism - Jesus Christ Son of God

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: “Holy Trinity” by Hendrick van Balen

My eyes were opened as I read story after story of this man who walked the earth doing miracles, teaching, and mentoring his disciples. I began to realize is that Jesus was not just a great leader, he was the Son of God.

Today’s post looks at how Jesus Christ was fully God and fully human. Whole books have been written about Jesus Christ, therefore this blog post barely scratches the surface. I hope it can serve as a spring-board for future study of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

TRINITARIANISM
Jesus Christ Son of God

I. THE DEITY OF JESUS CHRIST 1

Most conversations about Jesus affirm that he was a real human being that lived on earth. However, the one doubt a lot of people in the world have is if he was God. The fact that Jesus was God was clearly explained in Jesus’s own words, by the Gospel writers, and by the authors of the New Testament letters.

A. Explicit Testimonies

1. Jesus’s Own Words

During one of Jesus’s teachings in the Gospel of John he was telling the people about how Abraham looked forward to Jesus coming as Savior of the world (John 8:56). The people responded to Jesus that he was a young man and asked Jesus how he could have seen Abraham (John 8:57). Jesus answered them: Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. This outline on Jesus Christ Son of God is adapted from some notes I received from J. Scott Horrell while I was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary

Our God is Triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three unique persons in one essence. In this post I want to focus on the first member of the Godhead: the Father. 

Trinitarianism - God the Father

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: “Holy Trinity” by Hendrick van Balen

It was Father’s Day a few years ago as I was working at a part-time job in addition to the church I worked at. Some of my coworkers and I gathered in a common “open office” every day to do some administrative work on the computers located there. As I walked into the room one of my coworkers who had a Catholic background and who knew that I worked part-time as a pastor said, “Happy Father’s Day to you.” I was a little surprised because I was not a dad at that time. I looked at my coworker and smiled saying, “Thanks but I’m not a dad. You are a dad. Happy Father’s Day to you.” Then my friend replied, “No, you are a man of the cloth-a ‘father’-happy Father’s Day.” I then realized what he was trying to say. I appreciated him wanting to be kind, but with my protestant evangelical roots I could not resist correcting him. I smiled and said, “Well thank you. But in my opinion, in the Christian faith there is only one true father-The Lord of heaven. I am a pastor but I am not a father to people.”

Let’s look at the Father described in the Bible.

TRINITARIANISM
God the Father

I. TO WHOM IS GOD THE FATHER 1

A. Israel

God is the father of the nation of Israel. God revealed this to the nation of Israel shortly after they had left Egypt by saying, “Israel is my firstborn son” (Exod 4:22, NLT).

B. Christ

There are at least three passages that make it clear Jesus is the Son of God, and God is Jesus’s Father. The first is a prophecy from God to David. Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. This outline on God the Father is adapted from some notes I received from J. Scott Horrell while I was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary

As an introduction study to the topic of Trinitarianism, in today’s post we are looking at the communicable and incommunicable attributes of God. These might be new terms for you, but they basically mean two things:

  • Communicable Attributes – These are the things that God shares with humans to some degree.
  • Incommunicable Attributes – These are the things that God does not share with finite humanity.

Sometimes, in our effort to understand God we “shrink” God. For example, we might see God as a policeman, ill-humored parent, grand old man, heavenly bosom, or distant unloving father. Based on our physical experiences here on earth we might use those “lenses” to try to understand our God. In this post I want to give a thorough and clear explanation of the being of God.

Photo Credit: “Holy Trinity” by Hendrick van Balen

TRINITARIANISM
The Being of God

I. COMMUNICABLE ATTRIBUTES

First, I would like to look at the attributes of God that we more easily can understand because we share  them to some degree. Let’s take a look at God’s communicable attributes.

A. God Is Truth

In Jesus’s prayer to God just before he was betrayed he asks God to help his disciples. He prays to God asking, Continue Reading…

Whether it is orthodox, protestant, evangelical, or catholic Christianity, all agree on the doctrine that God exists as three persons–Father–Son–Holy Spirit together as one God.

Below is a brief outline of the primary Scriptures that described the doctrine of the Trinity. 

I. INTRODUCTION

Definition of the Trinity
I believe that the one God exists as three distinct persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—each is equal in nature, equal in glory, but distinct in relationship (definition based on J. Scott Horrell and his forthcoming book on the Trinity).

II. GOD IS ONE

A. Old Testament

When reading the first five books of the Old Testament it is good to remember who wrote the books, whom they were written to, and what was the historical context of “God” at that time. Numerous hints and evidences are provided in the Bible that suggest Moses was the person who wrote the first five books of the Bible. And those first five books were written between 1446 and 1406 after the “Exodus” of the Israelites from Egypt. In this time, there were numerous gods throughout the ancient near east. Gods of fertility, water gods, grain gods, and many many others. Moses, as God’s chosen leader taking the people out of Egypt recorded the first five books of the Old Testament as a way to communicate to the Israelites who they were and who their God was.

1. Gen 1:1

Simply, one God created the world with ease and freedom.  Continue Reading…

Today’s post looks at a few elements of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. This area of theology is often called “pneumatology” considered under the topic of Trinitarianism. I’m basing my blog post off of the Evangelical Free Church of America’s statement of faith:

The Holy Spirit. Article #6. We believe that the Holy Spirit, in all that He does, glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. He convicts the world of its guilt. He regenerates sinners, and in Him they are baptized into union with Christ and adopted as heirs in the family of God. He also indwells, illuminates, guides, equips and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service. 

A Summary of the Doctrine of the Holy SpiritPhoto Credit: “Waiting for the Word” 

I. HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT GLORIFIES THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

The Holy Spirit helps us to “know Christ” (Phil 3:8), and it is through the Holy Spirit that we are “in Christ” (Eph 1:3, 4, 7; Rom 6:5; 8:1; 2 Cor 5:17). In this way, the Spirit’s role is not to magnify himself, but to bring glory to Jesus Christ (John 15:26; 16:14). He brings glory to Christ through the regeneration and adoption of sinful unbelievers.

Continue Reading…

Today’s post looks at theology based on the person and work of Jesus Christ. While this post is a brief summary, I hope that this post can be a starting point when looking at the doctrines of trinitarianism and soteriology. 

Jesus Christ. Article #4. We believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, fully God and fully man, one Person in two natures. Jesus—Israel’s promised Messiah—was conceived through the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father as our High Priest and Advocate. (This statement is from the Evangelical Free Church of America)

A Summary of the Doctrine of Jesus Christ

Interior of Santi Giovanni e Paolo (Venice) – Jesus Christ bearing the Cross

I. THE HYPOSTATIC UNION OF JESUS CHRIST
Continue Reading…

This blog post is the first of my Summer Summary Series. In these blog posts I am providing an examination of the ten articles of the statement of faith of the Evangelical Free Church of America (the organization which I hope to receive my ministry license through).

The EFCA statement of faith on God reads:

We believe in one God, Creator of all things, holy, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in a loving unity of three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Having limitless knowledge and sovereign power, God has graciously purposed from eternity to redeem a people for Himself and to make all things new for His own glory.

A Summary of the Doctrine of God

“The Adoration of the Holy Trinity” by Johann Heinrich Schonfeld (1609-1684)

I. GOD IS CREATOR

The Bible is absolutely and solemnly clear that God is the one who created the world and the universe (Gen 1:1; 14:19, 22; Exod 20:11; Neh 9:6; Pss 146:6; Acts 4:24; Heb 11:3; Rev 4:11; 14:7). God created this world out of nothing—ex nihiloin seven literal days with the appearance of age. Before the world was created only God existed with himself (John 1:1-3; Rom 4:17). Therefore, the world and universe which we live in should not be worshipped; God should be the only object of our worship. God also created heaven and those who live there (Neh 9:6; Pss 103:21; 148:2-5; Acts 4:24; Col 1:16; Rev 10:6).

II. BROAD EXPLANATION OF GOD Continue Reading…