Doctrine of the Trinity
Doctrine of the Trinity
By Dr. Ed DeVries
Dr. Ed DeVries is an evangelist out of Shady Acres Baptist Church, Houston, Texas. Brother DeVries is also the President of the School of Biblical & Theological Studies, 310 West Prien Lake Road #584, Lake Charles, LA 70601, 1-800-516-7322 ext. 1611. School of Biblical & Theological Studies (SB&TS) is to provide a vehicle by which individuals called of God into Christian service may reach their goals while receiving a solid, conservative, biblically based education. SB&TS offers diploma through doctorate in the fields of Bible, Ministry, Theology, Religious Education, and Biblical Counseling through a challenging series of home study courses. E-mail: bibleschool@Juno.com To subscribe to News of Interest e-mail newsletter, just E-mail NewsOfInterest@juno.com and type subscribe. You may view his personal web page at: http://www.myweb.net/~bibleschool/Dr.DeVries.html
Since God is a triune being, theologians use the word Trinity to represent the complex doctrine through which man comprehends His existence. Since the word Trinity is not found anywhere in the received text or in it’s offspring (the Authorized Version and other biblical translations derived from the received text), many argue that the doctrine of the Trinity is not a Biblical one. However, when a person comes to understand the theory that is embodied in the terminology they can not help but find proof of the Trinity throughout the Bible. The doctrine of the Trinity is believed by all Christian groups. Some groups profess to be Christian and do not believe in the Trinity, however, none of these groups are truly Christian because their various perversions of the gospel cause them to have, “a form of godliness but denying the power thereof” (II Timothy 3:5). The Bible went on to say we should have nothing to do with them. Why? Because they are not Christians. This does not mean we can not love them and share the gospel with them, it simply means we are not to fellowship with them as brothers in Christ. The concept of the Trinity is the very concept of the existence of God, and since God reveals himself to his children, it only makes sense that all Christian churches would believe in and defend the doctrine of the Trinity.
Since the word Trinity is used to represent God as a triune being, what is triune? Noah Webster defined the word triune to mean, “three in one.” This means that God, a singular being, exists in a plural manner. This is why the term Godhead is often used in scripture (Acts 7:19, Romans 1:20, Collosians 2:9, etc.). God’s very name implies His triune existence. The Hebrew name for God used in all known manuscriptsis ELOHIM, so Genesis 1:1 could read, “In the beginning ELOHIM created the heaven and the earth.” The word ELOHIM means three in one. The word ELOHIM has both a singular and a plural usage in Hebrew, uniquely, the two usages are always simultaneous. The word ELOHIM can never be used in the plural form without implying the singular and vice-versa. Note also, that all Hebrew letters have a numeric value, all Hebrew words also have value. ELOHIM is an interesting word in that it has two values, three and one.
The Trinity Illustrated in Nature
It is no wonder that when God, ELOHIM, said in Genesis 1:26, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” that He then created man to be a triune being. Just as God is composed of three, so is man. Man is composed of a body, a soul, and a spirit. We all know man to be one being, not three, in spite of his triune composition. The body is separate from the soul which is separate from the spirit, however they still make one man.
Man was only one of God’s many creations. God is the creator of the entire universe. Just as God created man in His own image, he had also created the universe in the same fashion. The building block of the universe is the atom. Any object in the universe when broken down to it’s smallest form has been discovered to be nothing more than a complexly designed series of atoms. The atom is a triune object. It is composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Each part of the atom is independent of the other two, yet it remains only one object, a proton can not exist without an accompanying neutron and electron and vice-versa.
We understand ourselves, how we exist. Through science we are learning of our environment and how the things around us exist. So man has always understood the concept of the Trinity, and this understanding is what helps us to understand the existence of God.
The Trinity Illustrated in the Bible
The concept of God being triune can be illustrated in the Bible just as easily as it can be illustrated in nature. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This shows God to exist in two forms. The word God in this passage refers to ELOHIM, or to God as a whole. The word Word refers to God the Son, who is Jesus Christ. This is shown in verse fourteen, “and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory…as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
Having established that God is a singular being with a plural existence, and understanding that the term “Word” (capitalized to represent deity) in John chapter one refers to God the Son who is the Lord Jesus Christ, let us read I John 5:7, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, The Father, The Word, and The Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”
Thus we have proof: His name ELOHIM (meaning three in one) is proof, the design of nature is proof, and in scripture there is proof. God is a triune being composÍed of God the Father, God the Word or God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost who is often referred to as the Holy Spirit. They are each independently divine, they are each a separate aspect to the overall personality of God, yet they are combined to make one singular being.
How The Members of the Trinity Function
The members of the Trinity work together in complete unity, totally dependant and yet totally interdependence of each other. God the Father is the sovereign ruler of the entire universe, everything operates because of and to fulfill his eternal plan. God the Son takes this plan out of eternity and brings it into time, administering the various aspects of the plan. God the Holy Spirit makes this eternal plan, the will of God, real to men. These functions can be illustrated many times in the Bible.
The Function of the Members of the Trinity in Creation
In his omnipotence, God the Father had already created the universe somewhere in eternity past before the existence of time as we know it. Even though the universe did not physically exist in time, it did in eternity (remember, eternity has no concept of time). God knew He would create everything, and in eternity already had ( our future is already God’s past). The theory of omnipotence and God’s eternal existence could not be adequately understood if I were to write a million pages on the subject, so I will not. It will be left to the reader to research the subject of God’s omnipotence and eternal existence independently of this paper (it is of course assumed that all who read this work will already possess adequate understanding of these concepts). Let us just summarily say that God the father had willed and fulfilled creation somewhere in eternity past. This is why Genesis 1:1 says, “In the Beginning (present tense) God created (past tense) the heaven and the earth.” God was doing in time what He had already done in eternity.
God the Son brought creation into time. The creation had been the will of God for all eternity, all that was needed to bring that eternal reality into the reality of time was the spoken word. John chapter one teaches that God the son is the Word, and verse three says, “all things were made by him”, meaning the Word who is God the Son. The word was given in Genesis 1:3, “and God said……..” This spoken word of God the Son introduced the Father’s eternal plan to time.
The Holy Spirit was waiting upon the face of the earth to fulfill the Word, this is found in Genesis 1:2. As soon as Jesus spoke the word, the Spirit fulfilled the word, making it real to man.
The Function of the Members of the Trinity in the Old Testament
Just as in creation, it is God the Father who has sovereignly determined the course of the universe in eternity, God the Son who as the Word brings the will of God into time, and it is the Holy Spirit who makes God’s will real to man.
In God the Father’s perspective, Noah had built the Ark before ever the earth was formed, so also had Moses and the Children of ÆIsrael crossed the Red Sea, etc. This is why God in Genesis 3:15 was able to offer salvation to Adam, He knew in eternity past that Man would sin and that Jesus would be the atonement for sin (read Revelation 13:8) so Adam placing his (present tense) faith in Christ’s future act that, God had known about before the fact, resulted in salvation. Why? Because God knew it would happen so it was as good as done.
It was God the Son who brought the will of God into time. Throughout the Old Testament we read: “The Word of the Lord came unto Abram.” (Genesis 15:1), “according to the Word of the Lord, as the Lord commanded Moses” (Numbers 3:51), “The Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the Word of the Lord.” (I Samuel 3:21), ” The Word of the Lord came unto Nathan” (II Samuel 7:4), “The Word of the Lord came unto Solomon” (I Kings 6:11), etc., etc., etc.
It was then the Holy Spirit who enabled these men to fulfill the Word which God the Son had given them. A good illustration is the story of Samson. Judges 14:6 says, “and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him.” Thus, the will of the Father revealed by the Word of the Son was made real to Samson when the Holy Spirit empowered him to fulfill it.
In the Old Testament era, the Holy Spirit did not continually abide with the believer as He does now. Instead, the Spirit came upon a man in order that he may be empowered to do God’s will, then the Spirit would leave when the work was completed or when the man sinned. This is why we read that Samson, “Wist not that the Lord had departed from him” in Judges 16:20. This is also the reason King David prayed, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me” in Psalms 51:11.
The Function of the Members of the Trinity in the New Testament
The primary activity of God in the New Testament was to provide for man’s redemption and establish Local Churches to replace Israel as God’s ambassadors to the world. (Israel is still God’s chosen nation, they still enjoy the privileges of being God’s chosen. Unfortunately, Israel failed in it’s task in two ways, the first was in rejecting the Messiah and the second has been in failing to lead gentiles to the Messiah. The creation of the church does not infringe upon God’s promises to Israel as some Christians believe, it was however God’s way to in grace bestow upon us unworthy gentiles the blessing, i.e. the blessing of preaching the gospel and seeing people saved, after Israel choose not to take advantage of the opportunity.)
God the Father, knowing man would one day sin, had established redemption in eternity past. This is why Revelation 13:8 says that Christ was, “slain before the foundation of the world.” This is once again how He was able to justify Adam in the garden, and this is how the Old Testament saints were saved. Jesus brought the plan into time when He fulfilled His work on the cross (John chapters 19 and beyond). The Holy Spirit makes redemption real to men as He reveals the gospel to their soul and quickens their previously dead spirit (I Peter 3:18).
God had also established the Church in eternity past, just as He has established His entire work. The Son brought the Church into time when He spoke the words, ” Upon this rock I will build my Church” in Matthew 16:18. The Holy Spirit has made God’s will real to men by empowering them with special gifts to fulfill the work of the Church (read I Corinthians chapters twelve through fourteen).
The Function of the Members of the Trinity Today
God the Father is the Sovereign ruler over all the affairs of the universe. He is the true standard of Holiness and the judge of all that is. God the Son is the Savior, the one through whom all men may receive justification before God. Jesus also acts as an advocate to the Father on behalf of the believer. “There is…one mediator…Christ Jesus”, I Timothy 2:5. Charles Wesley best defined the present day role and relationship of God the Father and God the Son when he penned the classic hymn, Arise My Soul Arise:
Arise my soul ,arise! Shake off thy guilty fear’s;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears;
Before the throne my surety stands-My name is written on His hands.
He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood to plead:
His blood atoned for all our race, and sprinkles now the throne of grace.
Five bleeding wounds He bears, Received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers, They strongly plead for me:
” Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry, ” Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”
The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed one;
He can not turn away The presence of His Son:
His Spirit answers to the Blood, and tells me I am born of God.
My God is reconciled, His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child, I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh, And “Father, Abba, Father!” cry.
The Holy Spirit is currently engaged in the work of enabling believers to fulfil the work of the Church (I Corinthians 12-14), empowering men to preach the gospel (Acts 1:8), quickening the spirit of repentant sinners (I Peter 3:18, I Corinthians 2:10), keeping the believer secure in Christ until the Second Coming (i.e. the eternal security of the believer, Ephesians 1:12-14), comforting the believer (John 14-15), being the very essence of Christ indwelling the believer (John 14:16-18), and finally, the Spirit never forsakes the believer (I Corinthians 6:15-20).
The Modern Day Work of the Members of the Trinity in Prayer
Prayer is the primary expression of the relationship between God and the saved man, so it is to be given it’s own sub-heading.
God the Father answers all of our prayers, hence we are taught to pray to, “Our Father which art in Heaven” (Matthew 6:9). He answers our prayers on behalf of, or because of our relationship with His Son, hence we pray in Jesus name. “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you” (John 16:23). And we pray through the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 26:41) revealing our needs to the Father with the help of the Spirit, “we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Acts 8:26-27). The Holy Spirit could correctly be referred to as our prayer partner.
The proof of God’s triune existence has been plainly presented along with the mechanics of the doctrine of the Trinity emphasizing God’s relationship to His creation (primarily man). Unfortunately this does not even begin to expound on the deep truths of God. Multiplied volumes have attempted such an undertaking, however, the subject is so deep that all attempts will fail in revealing all of it’s depths. It will not be until we get to heaven and we finally see God face to face that we will comprehend the subject in it’s entirety. Perhaps the best definition which man has given for the Trinity is found in the writings of Dr. John F. Walvoord, the president of Dallas Theological Seminary, “God is one numerically, He subsists in three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit who are equal in eternity, power and glory, each possessing all the divine attributes and yet having properties which distinguish them within the unity of the Trinity.”