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)

 

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Introduction to Lamentations: When Defeat Strikes…

This Sunday morning I am going to begin a new series of messages from the book of Lamentations entitled “When Defeat Strikes…”  Since Lamentations is one of the most neglected books in all the Bible, I thought that I would share a little bit of background information to help you get ready.  I hope that in addition to reading this post you will read Lamentations chapter 1 several times this week, and pray for our servi
ces this Sunday.  Specifically, ask God to speak to your heart through His Word.

Lamentations: 
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In the Hebrew Bible, the book of Lamentations is titled Ekah (how) because of this is the first word in the book (1:1) and it is also used in 2:1 and 4:1.  The word Ekah was commonly used in ancient times as the opening word of a dirge.  This use is reinforced by the Talmudic and rabbinic writers who referred to this book as Qinot (dirges).  As you might expect, therefore, this book carries with it a rather somber tone as it reflects on the suffering of the city of Jerusalem just after it had been captured by the Babylonians and its people taken captive.
The author is never named in this book but traditionally it has been thought that Jeremiah is the writer.  This tradition is based on three primary pieces of evidence:
          1.) 2 Chronicles 35:25 says that Jeremiah “uttered a lament for Josiah.”
          2.) Jeremiah was an eyewitness to the fall of Jerusalem and its subsequent suffering.
          3.) There are several similarities between the themes and vocabulary between the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations.
This tradition has a long history and was not questioned until 1712.  Since that time, the book’s authorship has been questioned by a number of Biblical studies but no solid conclusion can be made.  The simple truth of the matter is that if God has wanted us to know He would have inspired the author to include his name in the sacred text.  Since He did not, we can only conclude that who wrote the book is not essential for our understanding.
Date and Historical Setting:
 
The emotional nature of this book indicates that the author was an eyewitness to the destruction of Jerusalem.  Therefore, we can conclude that the book was written shortly after 587 B.C.  In order to properly understand the book we need to keep in mind how devastating it must have been for Judah to see the city of Jerusalem so utterly desolated.  The city itself had been no stranger to invasion and plundering (see 1 Kgs 14:25-26; 2 Kings 14:13-14, 23:33, 2 Chr 21:16-17; 2 Chron 25:22-24; 33:11), however, no previous enemy had so completely desolated the city and brought such destruction upon the Temple. The historical account of Jerusalem’s fall is recorded in 2 Kings 25:1-21, but the emotional and spiritual response is recorded here in Lamentations.  There is no doubt that the destruction of the city of Jerusalem was the most tragic and horrific event for the Jewish people in the Old Testament.  It must have felt to them like God had abandoned them, and this feeling is vividly captured in the language of this book.
Message of Lamentations:
 
Lamentations struggles with many of the same questions as the book of Job, however, Job describes deals primarily with the suffering of an individual, whereas, Lamentations deals with suffering on a corporate level.  The author of Lamentations understands Judah’s sufferings in light of Deuteronomy 28:15-68, where the Lord details the blessings that the people will receive for obedience and the punishment that God will bring for their disobedience.  This was an important message for the people because many had grown up thinking that Jerusalem was inviolable and that God’s temple could not possibly be destroyed because it was His dwelling place on earth.  To them the destruction of the city and the Temple must have seemed like God had abandoned them and thus they were experiencing a crisis of faith.  The book of Lamentations, therefore, serves the purpose of expressing these deep-seated emotions but also to turn the hearts of the people back towards God.
Outline of the Book: 
 
Lamentations has been carefully structured around five separate poems, which correspond to the five chapters that make up the English translation of the book.  These five poems use a variety of literary types including: lament, communal lament, funeral dirge, wisdom instruction, and song of thanksgiving.  Each of the chapters, however, share a common thread of pointing us towards a characteristic of God that can give us hope in times of defeat.  Therefore, the overall theme of the book deals with what to do when defeat strikes and the message is for us to remember God in the midst of our struggle with defeat.  Specifically, this books calls us to remember that:
1.)  God is righteous (Chapter 1)
2.) God is Accessible (Chapter 2)
3.) God is Faithful (Chapter 3)
4.) God is Just (Chapter 4)
5.) God is Eternal (Chapter 5)
We will explore each of these themes starting this Sunday in our series of messages entitled “When Defeat Strikes…”