2004-01-07 - The Trinity
Isaiah 12:1-6, Part 1
Beginning this week, we will consider a difficult subject, the Doctrine of
the Trinity. This is a more problematical discussion because, if we are limited
on our ability to understand God the Father, we are even more limited in
our ability to understand the Triunity. Again, this relates to the infiniteness
of God and our finiteness. As you already noticed, I will be using the word
Triunity instead of Trinity, because I believe it gives a clear picture of
how we are going to discuss God.
What I won't do is give the usual illustrations provided for trying to understand
this doctrine. The reason is because they all fall so far from the reality,
that I believe they don't add to the discussion, but actually cloud it even
Also, these studies are simply introductions to the subjects. I could spend
extended amounts of time on each of these topics, but for various reasons
have chosen not to do so here. If you feel so moved, I would highly recommend
that you explore these subjects at greater depth on your own.
I will be relying to a great extent on the same resources I used last time.
These are Through the Bible in One Year and Willmington's
Guide to the Bible. 1, 2
Introduction: Let me start by quoting Mikolaski's introduction to the subject.
"Belief in the triune nature of God, in which each person of the triad is
thought of as fully personal, pervades New Testament (NT )teaching. To argue
that the doctrine of the Trinity is nowhere explicitly defined or discussed
in the NT, is to fail to recognize that other crucial doctrines are similarly
implicit in Scripture and must be developed by careful study. The total NT
presentation of salvation, and all NT teaching, rest on the trinitarian
understanding of the nature of God. Not only is trinitarian teaching strongly
evident in the NT proclamation of the gospel message, but the theological
logic of trinitarian faith fits in with other important aspects of the biblical
The NT Christians confess the two truths that God sent his Son into the world
and that God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to himself (John 3:16;
2 Cor 5:19). It was the Son, not the Father, who died on the cross. The Father
raised the Son from the dead, vindicating both. Other language concerning
Christ's ascension, his session at the right hand of God, and his promised
return means little apart from the trinitarian faith." 3
The Westminster Catechism of 1646 describes the Triunity this way:
"In the unity of the Godhead, there be three persons, of one substance, power,
and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost: the Father
is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten
of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the
The NIV Bible Dictionary defines it as follows:
"TRINITY There is one eternal God, the Lord, who is holy love. Through his
self-revelation, he has disclosed to his people that he is the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Spirit. Yet he is not three deities, but one Godhead, since
all three Persons share the one Deity/Godhead. The biblical teaching of the
Trinity is, in a sense, a mystery; and the more we enter into union with
God and deepen our understanding of him, the more we recognize how much there
is yet to know. Based on the Biblical teaching, the traditional Christian
confession is that God is One in Three and Three in One." 5
Stringfellow, Alan B., ed., Through the Bible in One Year, Vol.
3 Great Truths of the Bible, Copyright © 1981 by Virgil W. Hensley,
Inc. Publisher, Tulsa, OK, p. 25-29.
Willmington, Dr. H. L., Willmington's Guide to the Bible, Tyndale
House Publishers, Wheaton, IL, 1981, p. 591-608.
Mikolaski, Samuel, J., The Theology of the New Testament,
The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Zondervan Interactive Publishing
House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1990, Electronic text hypertexted and prepared by
Oak-Tree Software, Inc.
The Westminster Catechism, 1645, p. 58., The Master Christian
Library, AGES Software, Albany, OR, Ver-sion 6.0 © 1998
Douglas, J. D. and Merrill C. Tenney., editors, NIV Bible
Dictionary, Zondervan Interactive Publishing House, Grand Rapids,
MI, 1989, Electronic text hypertexted and prepared by OakTree Software, Inc.
Questions or comments?