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Monday, February 15, 2010

All for One and One for All - a view of the Trinity

Visit any Jewish Synagogue and you will hear the “Shama”, “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Deuteronomy 6:4. Christians, of course, will also stand upon this verse, for it is a foundational principle in the worship of our Lord. How then do we justify the doctrine of the Trinity? The Trinity is the doctrine stating that God exists as three persons in one; The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Let’s examine the Biblical basis for this doctrine.

To be properly interpreted, every passage of scripture must support and align with other passages of scripture. For instance, the very first words of Scripture found in Genesis declare, “In the beginning God…” Gen. 1:1. And yet, 26 verses later we read, “And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” Gen. 1:26a. These words immediately provide a hint of the Trinity. Jesus, upon his ascension commanded that we, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” Matthew 28:19.

Throughout the Old Testament, many references are made to the Spirit of God. In most cases, these passages refer to the Holy Spirit as an extension of the Lord. For instance, in Isaiah 63:11b-121a, Isaiah writes, “Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them, who sent his glorious arm of power to be at Moses’ right hand…”.

Isaiah again in verse 10a states, “Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit.” In these passages the Holy Spirit is given a separate identity and yet also given equal status with God.

Jesus often referred to God as “my Father”. Although there are a few passages found in the Old Testament referring to God as Father, it was considered by the Jews blasphemous to claim such an intimate relationship with God. By referring to God as “my Father”, the Jews recognized that Jesus was claiming equal status with God. In John 5:18 we read, “For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” Satan himself recognized this unique status of Jesus. Satan tempted Jesus with these words, “If you are the Son of God…”. During Jesus’ transfiguration, God referred to Jesus as his Son. (Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35) Jesus never denied this divinity. He did not deny his own equal status with his heavenly Father. On one occasion, he told the Jews, “I tell you the truth… before Abraham was born, I am.’ At this they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.” John 8:58-59. Jesus’ claim as the only begotten Son of God is prophetically verified throughout the Old Testament. In the 9th chapter of Isaiah, he makes a prophetic announcement when he writes, “Unto us a child is born, to us a son is given… and he will be called Mighty God, Everlasting Father…” Isaiah 9: (portions of verse 6). Jesus told his followers, “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30. On another occasion the disciple Philip said to Jesus, “…show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” John 14:9a. Jesus answered Philip by saying, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:9b. Other passages such as this once again support the doctrine of the Triune God: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Referring once again to our Lord’s ascension; before giving us our great commission to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Jesus emphatically declares, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Matt. 28:18b. This is a great reminder to us that it is through Jesus we come to know God. Each Person of the Trinity provides everything we need in life. Through our Father we gain acceptance. Through the Son we gain forgiveness. Through the Holy Spirit we gain purpose and the power we need to live the Christian life. The doctrine of the Trinity is a solid three legged foundation upon which we can stand.

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