The Doctrine of the Trinity

celtic-trinity-knot-by-kristen-fox-300x300These are the notes for my Wednesday night Bible study tonight.  We have been looking at some of the major doctrines of the Bible.  For the past several weeks we have been looking at the Doctrine of God.

The trinity is on of the most important and distinctive teachings of the Christian faith.  Generally, it is considered to be one of the most important tests of orthodoxy.  Any group that denies the trinity is considered to be heretical.  As we study this doctrine it is important to keep the following issues in mind:

  • The word trinity is never used in the Bible, but the concept is taught.
  • The doctrine of the trinity is progressively revealed through the Scripture.  The clearest teachings are in the New Testament but that does not mean that the Old Testament is silent on the subject.
  • This doctrine is not just a matter of debate for theologians; it contains practical teaching that helps us to deepen our worship of God.

The Trinity in the Old Testament

  • Genesis 1:2 “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the fact of the waters.”
  • Genesis 1:26 “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
    • Plural personal pronouns.
    • Could be a plural of majesty but this would be the only instance in the OT where a monarch used the plural of majesty.
    • Some of have suggested that this could be a reference to angels, however, there is no biblical evidence that angels had anything to do with the creation of man.
    • Seems best to understand this as a reference to the interrelationship of the trinity.
    • Plural terms are used when referencing God
      • Elohim and Adonai (two of the primary words for God) are plural
      • Exodus 33:14  and Deuteronomy  4:37 “presence” is really “presences”
      • Several instances of dialogue between the Godhead
        • Psalm 2
        • Psalm 110:1 “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
          • In Matthew 22:41-46 Jesus interprets this verse as two different people being referred to as Lord, and that this verse actually points to Him.


The Trinity in the New Testament


  • All three members of the trinity are revealed at Jesus’ baptism – Matthew 3:16-17
  • Church is commanded to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Mattthew 28:19
  •  Trinitarian formula used in :
    • 2 Corinthians 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
    • 1 Peter 1:2 “”according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for the sprinkling with his blood.”
    • Jude 20-21 “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in the your most holy  faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”


Summary of the Biblical Teaching


1.)  God is three persons–  God exists in three distinct persons.  The Father is not the Son, nor is the Son the Holy Spirit; they are distinct personalities.  It is important to keep this in mind lest we fall into the heresy called modalism,  where God is viewed as simply revealing Himself in certain times as the Father and at others either the Son or Spirit.  God exists in three distinct personalities: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

2.)  Each of the Persons in the Trinity are Fully God– this means that each of the members of the trinity are coequal in terms of majesty, power, and attributes.  They are all equally and fully divine.

  1. Jesus referred to as God:

John 1:1-2 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.”

  1. Holy Spirit referred to as God

Acts 5:3-4 “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Sprit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?…You have not lied to man but to God.”

3.)  There is one God– The doctrine trinity does not teach that there are three God, but instead teaches that there is only one God who exists eternally in three distinct personalities.  The three members of the trinity are one in essence, nature, and purpose.

  1. Deut 6:4-5 “Hear. O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
  2. Isaiah 45:5-6 “I am the Lord, and there is no other besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other.”
  3. 1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…”


Why is the Trinity Important to You?


1)   It is makes the atonement possible-  No mere creature could ever reconciles us to a Holy God, so instead Jesus the divine Son of God died to pay the penalty for our Sin.  (John 3:16)


2)   It guarantees your security as a believer-  once again, it was Jesus, the divine Son of God who died on the cross, therefore, we can be confident that all of our sins have been paid for and that our salvation is secure.

3)   If Jesus is not God, why would we pray to Him or Worship Him- we are commanded in the Scripture to worship Jesus, this would make no sense if He were not divine (Phil 2:9-11; Rev 5:12-14)

4)   The trinity makes it possible for God to reveal Himself to Us-  (John 1:18; Ex 33:20; 1 Tim 6:16)

5)   The trinity becomes a model for relationships with the body of Christ and marriage(1 Cor 11:3; 12:4-6; Eph 4:4-7)


Top Five Books on Preaching

imagesThis morning, I want to share with you a handful of books that I have found very helpful in learning how to prepare and deliver sermons. These are books that have blessed me personally and that have proven to be very helpful for those who are just learning how to preach. Here is the list with a few comments about each one of them. (Click on the titles to go to Amazon)

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1.) “Power in the Pulpit” by Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix (Moody, 1999) Dr. Vines is one of the best expository preachers that you will ever hear and he has worked with Jim Shaddix, who serves as a preaching professor New Orleans Baptist Seminary, to produce one of the most helpful books that you will ever read on sermon preparation and delivery. This is the first book that I would recommend that you buy and read. They will take you through every step of the preparation process and then offer tremendous advice on delivery. This is a must read for every preacher in my mind.

Thinking about preaching through the Beatitudes?  Please click here to check out my new book “Cultivating A Gospel-Shaped Attitude: Understanding and Living the Beatitudes.” 

2.) “Expository Preaching” by Harold Bryson (Broadman and Holman, 1995) This book will help you to develop the skills to preach through a book of the Bible. I highly recommend that you consider preaching through entire books of the BIble as the major part of your preaching ministry. You will find that over time this is the very best way to help your people develop a Biblical mindset and it will force you to deal with a range of subjects. Bryson’s book is the best manual for how to do this that I have come across.  If you are interested in preaching through books of the Bible you might want to read my article entitled “Preparing to Preach Through a Book of the Bible.”

3.) “Christ Centered Preaching by Brian Chapell (Baker Academic, 2005) Jesus is the central figure in

Cover of "Christ-Centered Preaching: Rede...
Cover via Amazon

all the BIble and all Christian preaching must, therefore, be centered upon His person and work. Chapell’s book will help you to see how to apply a Christ-centered theology to every sermon that you preach and how to find Christ in any passage.

4.) “Preaching” by Calvin Miller.  Dr. Miller just passed away a few weeks ago and I was fortunate to be able to study with him during a doctoral seminar. Miller shows in his book how to use a narrative strategy in preaching. It is one of the best books that I know of to help you learn how to preach in a way that will both honor the text and capture the imagination. Before reading the book, I would recommend you to listen to some of Dr. Miller’s messages online. Once you have heard how he preaches, you will understand the book a little better.  To read see my review of Dr. Miller’s book click here.

5.) “Planning Your Preaching” by Stephen Rummage) Once again, I had the privilege of being in a doctoral seminar with Dr. Rummage and to learn first hand about how he goes about preparing the message. This book will walk you through the steps of putting together a preaching plan for the entire year. For some, this may seem to deny the Holy Spirit but I will assure you that this method will actually lead you to a much deeper experience of the Holy Spirit working in you as you plan and prepare.  I have summarized and adapted some of Dr. Rummage’s thoughts in my post “How to Plan Your Preaching for All of 2013.”

These are the five basic books that I would recommend that every Pastor read about their preaching ministry. read each of them several times and have started to go back each year and read one of them during the month of January and another in the Summer (usually August). During the rest of the year I will usually try to read at least 2-3 other books on sermon preparation. I do this because I want to constantly be growing in this area of my life. God has called me to preach and I want to be the very best preacher that I can possible be. I hope that you will pick up these five basic books and read them.