Category: Columns

The persons of the Trinity: distinct, not separate

This is the 12th in a series of articles on the Trinity, excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available by contacting the MBC or through Amazon and other booksellers.

In the previous column, we examined the personhood of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While the three persons of the Godhead are distinct, they cannot be separated. That is, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are co-equal and co-eternal. They exist simultaneously, not consecutively.

So, let’s summarize this essential truth, drawing from Scripture:

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are present together at Jesus’ baptism (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23).

In the Great Commission, Jesus sends His followers to make disciples in “the name [singular] of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …” (Matt. 28:19-20).

The three persons of the Godhead work together to grant spiritual gifts to followers of Jesus: “Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord [Jesus]. And there are different activities, but the same God [Father] produces each gift in each person. A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:4-7).
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The personhood of God

This is the 11th in a series of articles on the Trinity, excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

The Bible tells us there is one true God, who exists as three distinct but inseparable persons. So, let’s briefly consider a few ways in which the personhood of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is expressed in Scripture.

The Father

God the Father displays personal attributes. To name a few, He is:

Loving: “And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him” (1 John 4:16).

Gracious: “He did not even spare his own Son but offered him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything?” (Rom. 8:32).

Made known through the Son: “No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side – he has revealed him” (John 1:18).

Merciful: Jesus tells His followers, “Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

In addition, the Father knows (Matt. 6:8); speaks (Matt. 3:17); sees (Matt. 6:4); wills (Matt. 7:21); gives or does not give (Matt. 7:11); reveals or hides (Matt. 11:25); is or is not pleased (Mark 1:11); forgives or does not forgive (Matt. 6:14-15); sends (1 John 4:14); and much more. These are the activities of a person and, as such, there should be no doubt about the personhood of God the Father.
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The Trinity and other gods

This is the 10th in a series of articles on the Trinity, excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

In Scripture, the Hebrew word elohim is used thousands of times for the singular God of Israel, but not exclusively. The biblical writers also employ elohim to refer to members of God’s heavenly council or assembly (Ps. 89:5-7); gods and goddesses of nations surrounding Israel (Judg. 11:24); territorial spirits (Hebrew: shedim, often translated “demons,” Deut. 32:17); and the spirits of deceased people (1 Sam. 28:13).

In other words, biblical writers used elohim to label any entity that is not embodied by nature and is a member of the spiritual realm.

In every case, these other “gods” are created beings, none of whom shares the unique qualities of Yahweh (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, transcendence, immutability, etc.). They owe their existence, power, knowledge, and authority to Yahweh and ultimately are accountable to Him.

So, when Scripture states there is no God but Yahweh, and also speaks of other gods, we should not see this as a contradiction. Rather, we should see it as a way the biblical writers describe residents of the spiritual realm.
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Hebrew Scriptures and the Trinity

This is the ninth in a series of articles on the Trinity, excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

While most arguments for the Trinity are grounded in the New Testament, God begins revealing His triune nature in the Old Testament. One hint at the plurality and unity of the Godhead may be found in several passages where God speaks.

For example, Genesis 1:26 reads, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.’” Here, the verb “said” is singular, but the verb “let us” is plural, as are the possessive endings of the nouns “our image” and “our likeness.” Then, in the next verse we read, “So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female” (v. 27).

Genesis 3:22-24 provides a similar clue: “The LORD God said, ‘Since the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.’ So the LORD God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove the man out …”

Other examples include:

Genesis 11:7, where the LORD says, “Come, let’s go down there and confuse their languages so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” Then, in verses 8 and 9, the LORD “scattered them” and “confused the language of the whole earth.”

Isaiah 6:8 – “Then I heard the voice of the Lord asking: Who should I send? Who will go for us?”
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The LORD our God is one

This is the eighth in a series of articles on the Trinity, excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

The Bible consistently declares there is one true and living God, the self-revealed Creator who alone must be loved and worshiped. All other gods are false. The physical depictions of these gods, as carved images or naturally occurring phenomena such as stars and trees, in fact represent demons (see Deut. 32:16-17; 1 Cor. 10:19-20).

Perhaps nowhere is the exclusivity of God stated more clearly than in the Shema, an affirmation of Judaism and a declaration of faith in one God. It is the oldest fixed daily prayer in Judaism, recited morning and evening since ancient times. It consists of three biblical passages, two of which instruct the Israelites to speak of these things “when you lie down and when you rise up.”

The best-known part of the Shema is from the first biblical passage: “Listen, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:4-5).

The prophet Isaiah echoes this cry as he calls the Israelites to return to the LORD. Isaiah 44:6 – 45:25 is a powerful reminder from Yahweh that He alone is God. Consider just a small portion of this passage:

“This is what the LORD, the King of Israel and its Redeemer, the LORD of Armies, says: I am the first and I am the last. There is no God but me” (44:6).

“I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God but me” (45:5).
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