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Catechism Class: LD 8 The Trinity

21/06/2021

The Holy Trinity

Text:  Matthew 3:16-17  

Catechism Reference: Lord’s Day 8,  Q/A 24 & 25 24. How are these articles divided?  Into three parts: the first is of God the Father and our creation; the second, of God the Son and our redemption; the third, of God the Holy Ghost and our sanctification.:25. Since there is but one Divine Being,(1) why do you speak of three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?  Because God. has so revealed Himself in His Word, that these three distinct persons are the one, true, eternal God. Yet to say that God is one in three and three in one is well beyond the powers of human comprehension, – it contradicts reason.  But God has chosen to reveal enough of Himself for us to know enough about him, until we meet Him in glory and when we will understand it all more fully. 1 Cor. 13:9-12  

Listen to the PODCAST

1. The Trinity in the OT.

In the Old Testament there is only one God!  Every Jewish child was taught to recite the Shema.  Deut. 6:4-7   So, we acknowledge that there is only one God, Holy, all-powerful, unchanging and ever present. BUT:-  In the Old Testament, there is more than one who is God!  Now, let me explain that.  Look at Genesis 1:1, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  The word which is translated ‘God’ in our English Bible is ‘Elohim.’  It is the plural term for God. The word for ‘created is singular!’  Singular verb with a plural noun! In Exodus 3:1-6, when Moses encountered the Burning Bush the Angel (Angel/’announcer’/’sent one’ in OT often a theophany – a pre-incarnation revelation of the Logos) of the Lord spoke to him from in the bush, but it was God that spoke! Exodus 3:2-4 So there is one God, but there are many who are God.  Now, the question is, how many?   Let’s consider the Aaronic blessing    Numbers 6:24-26   The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:  The love of God (The father?) The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The wonderful grace of God (The Son)= The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.The inward working of God upon our hearts (The Holy Spirit?) Three mentions of The Lord, and three references to his work. Three times did the seraphim in the Temple in Isaiah 6 cry HOLY!    There is only one God – but there are three who are God! Image by Philip Barrington from Pixaba

2. The Trinity in the NT1 John 5:7 

The New Testament clarifies what the Old Testament suggests and foreshadows.  

  • God is The Father.  Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, “Our Father.”  The Father is God.
  • God is the Son!  1 John 5:20 In Col. 2:9 Paul is telling us that everything that is God can be summed up in Jesus Christ, the Son.   Everything that you can say about God can be said about Jesus, the Son.
  • God is the Holy Spirit!  The Holy Spirit is a person.  We baptise people in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  When Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit, he lied to God.  Jesus said that all manner of blasphemy could be forgiven, but not blasphemy against the Holy Spirit!  You can only blaspheme against deity!  

So, in NT, God is ONE, and God is in THREE PERSONS.

3. Within the Godhead

Savoy Declaration:-  “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 Son.”

  • The father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, The Holy Spirit is not the Father.  All three speak of themselves as ‘I.’
  • They are distinguished from each other!  The Father was never begotten, and never proceeds!  Jesus is eternally begotten of the father, but never proceeds, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.  So within the Godhead there is PRIORITY but not SUPERIORITY!  So we may proclaim that within the Trinity, the three personas thereof are co-eternal and co-equal.   Theologians refer to the as The Ontological Trinity.  
  • The PRIORITY within the Trinity is reflected in all the works of God.  The father decrees that there shall be creation, the Son enacts that Decree and the Holy Spirit breathes life into it.  In salvation, God elects, gives you to Christ to be His, Christ purchased your redemption on the Cross, and the Holy Spirit applies the work to your heart, regenerating your dead spirit.

How can we understand this?  This is God! It is a glorious mystery!  All we can do in response to these things is to do what Isaiah did when confronted with the Thrice-Holy God, and that is to fall to our knees and worship Him.

4. Deviations from the Truth

Now, not everyone believes in the Trinity, and we must always beware of error.  Deviations from Trinitarianism have always existed in the church Beware of:-

  • Polytheism – a belief in many gods – Mormonism.  This is NOT Christianity, it is a CULT.
  • Tri-Theism.  A belief in three separate Gods.
  • Monarchianism. – Some dispensationalists believe in a subordination within the Godhead, – where the Father is senior to the Son and the Holy Spirit is junior to both.
  • Modalism.  Like the One-ness Pentecostals, who believe that the persons of the Trinity are simply God acting in different Modes.   
  • Unitarianism.  Like the Non-Subscribing Presbyterians, who believe that Jesus was just a good man, who died on the cross to provide us with an example by which we may live.  

5. The Importance of this Doctrine

Why should we try to understand the trinity?  Savoy. “…which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence upon him.”  If the foundation of our communion with God is removed, then our fellowship with God is totally destroyed.   If you don’t believe in the Trinity, then you can’t be a Christian, and you can’t go to heaven.  Here’s how important this is to us:-

  • In my relationship with God.  The Father is MY FATHER.  The Son is my ELDER BROTHER.  The Holy Spirit is my COUNSELLOR.
  • In my prayer life.  We pray to the Father, through the Son, who is our Great High Priest, who ever lives to intercede for us, helped by the Holy Spirit, who prompts us in our prayers – and even when we can’t pray.  Romans 8:26
  • In our attitude to the Scriptures.  It is a God-given book – given to us by our Father, to guide us and reveal Himself to us.  It is a Christ-exalting book, and a Holy-Spirit inspired book.

The Trinity is of great doctrinal importance.  It is of great personal importance to the believer.  It is a Doctrine which must be frequently preached, fearlessly proclaimed, and vigorously defended.  And it should inspire our hearts to praise.  

Bob McEvoy June 2021

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