Basic Christianity: What every Christian should know about our Christian Faith and Doctrine
Part One: The Godhead - aka. The Holy Trinity
Introduction to the Series:
A couple of years ago Aaron Kinder Evangelistic Ministries did a series on false doctrine, false religions and cults. The purpose of that series was to give our Christian readers the basic information they’d need were they to come in contract with such individuals. However, in our zeal to inform we neglected an equally important fact: you can’t combat false doctrine until you first learn correct, biblical doctrine. That is the mission of this series.
This series exist to give the believer an introduction to Christianity. Sadly, the reason that many Christians are deceived is not that they don’t know enough about the cult or false religion but that they are lacking knowledge of orthodox Christian doctrine. You don’t need to be a collage educated theologian to combat false religion but at the very least we must all have a working knowledge of our own faith. This is, by far not an exhaustive series. It can neither cover every doctrine nor will it give you every aspect of the doctrine being taught. However, we hope to present it to you as a tool to give you that primary foundation as you continue your study and spiritual formation.
Introduction to the Trinity:
Of all the Christian doctrines, I can think of none more daunting to write about than the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity is so important that our entire faith is built upon it and yet it is so misunderstood that entire false religions and cults have formed for no other purpose than to challenge it. This is possibly one of the most contentious of issues within the church. An inadequate understanding of the Trinity leaves you prey to innumerable false doctrines. However, a proper understanding can help us to grow as Christians and become so firmly grounded in the faith that we will not be tossed around by every false doctrine coming our way.
I tell you from the very beginning, I am just one man and I make mistakes. The views expressed are my attempt to explain what can be a very complex area of Christian theology. I am not perfect (only one individual could ever claim to be and I am certainly not Him) and my descriptions will be lacking. However, what I present to you is from my studies and understanding of God’s very nature based on His own Word. I encourage each of you to not simply take my word for it but to search the scriptures for yourselves.
What the Trinity is and what it is not:
Contrary to the belief of many false religionist, the doctrine of the Trinity is not the belief in three God’s. Christianity is, by it’s very nature monotheistic. To separate Christianity from it’s monotheistic basis is an impossible feat. The Trinity is the belief that the One God exists eternally as three distinct persons. The example that I often use is the once common, nuclear family.
You have father, mother and son (or daughter). Each are distinct persons. Each has a will, a mind and a personality. However they are not three distinct families but one. Likewise, they each have their own distinct roles to play within the family unit. Traditionally, the father was the provider, the mother was the homemaker and the child was the … well, child.
Much like this nuclear family, the Godhead consists of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and each have a very distinct role to play. The Father is the creator. It was from his vivid “imagination” that the very concept of humanity was first conceived. God saw His creation and said that it was good. However, He was speaking of the design itself. Humans, in their free will were flawed and disobedient. We broke every law God placed before us and because of our sin we were unable to attain a true relationship with a holy and just God.
That’s where Jesus comes in. Jesus had the distinct role of Savior. God had instituted a sacrificial system but even it was lacking. The death of some goat or sheep was a temporary fix. It could never be a perpetual sacrifice for sins because once it died on the alter, that blood that was to cover sin poured out and the animal was no more. Jesus on the other hand was perfect. He came into the flesh, living perfectly to not only the letter but the spirit of the law. He took the burden of our sins upon himself, much as the sheep and goats had done in the past and He shed His blood on the cross to atone for our sins. However, unlike the sheep, He physically rose from the dead. Therefore the blood that flowed for our sins of Calvary continued to flow in the risen Jesus Christ. In this way, His sacrifice was an atoning event that had a lasting effect. When he ascended to the Father He sent another.
The other was the Holy Spirit. He (and please do remember that the Holy Spirit is a “he” and not an “it.”) had the task of being our helpmate, our teacher and our empowerment. While He had come upon man even in Old Testament times, this would be different because He would no longer simply live with us. Now, as Jesus Christ had made us holy before the Father, He would come to live in us.
Within the Godhead, they are a united one. There is perfect harmony and no discord. These three “persons” make up only one God, in the same respect that members of a family comprise only one family.
Where do we find the Trinity in the Bible?
Let me first tell you that there is no gotcha verse in the Bible for the Holy Trinity. We do not see the Trinity explained in one simple verse. To see the Trinity we must look to the whole of scripture. This is often a point of contention among those who have wrongly rejected the trinity. They will argue that your inability to show a single verse demonstrates the falsehood of your own position. However, this argument fails miserably. When we speak of the trinity we are speaking of the very nature of God himself. That nature is not revealed in a single verse but it taught progressively throughout scripture.
The following are just a few verses that demonstrate the doctrine of the trinity:
“But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.” Jude 20-21
I will provide the others to you in a list and encourage you to look them up yourself.
The following verses make it very clear that Jesus is God:
Heb. 1:8 Isa. 9:6 Mt. 1:23 Is. 7:14 John. 1:1
1 Tim. 3:16 Col. 2:8.9 John. 20:28 Titus 2:13 Phil. 2:5,6
John 5:18 John 10:30 Col. 1:16 Mic. 5:2 Rev. 1:2,8, 11,13
The Following are simply a couple of verses that tell us that the Father is God:
John. 8:41 Eph. 4:6
The Following show us that the Holy Spirit is God:
Acts 5:3,4 Acts 28:25,26 1 Cor. 3:16
Finally, these verses make it clear that there is only one God:
Mk. 12:32 Mk. 12:29 1 Tim. 2:5 1 Cor. 8:4 Gal. 3:20
James 2:19 Ps. 86:10 Deut. 6:4,5 Isa. 44:8 Isa. 45:21
Isa. 45:22 Isa. 46:9 Isa. 45:5 Isa, 45:18 Mal. 2:10
It is through the scriptures that we find that the Father is God, Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is God. Likewise we find that the Father is not the same person as the Son, nor is the Son or the Father the same person as the Holy Spirit and yet there is but ONE God. This is the very nature of the doctrine of the trinity, in a nutshell.
Common Objections to the Trinity:
The sad fact is that many will not be willing to accept the trinity. The complexity of the doctrine turns them away because they want a God that can be easily put into their little box. That’s not particularly surprising. Most of us want to “know” God. While we can know God and be in a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ we must realize that we are seeking to understand the infinite God with the finite human mind.
Those who refuse to accept the trinity will present objections. Some objections are rather thought provoking and we don’t discourage that. We believe that the Trinity can easily withstand our scrutiny. However, many others are asinine.
“You can’t find the word ’Trinity’ anywhere in the Bible.”
That’s very true. So what? You also wont find the word monotheism or bible in the Bible. However, that doesn’t make either any less true. Trinity is simple a word that we have chosen to describe a Biblical concept. The word itself isn’t holy. However the concept that it refers to most certainly is. A word that one does find in the Bible is “Godhead.” (Romans 1:20 & Colossians 2:9) Which directly related to the trinity.
“The Trinity is teaching three God’s”
The very definition of the trinity is three persons in ONE God. Individuals who make such statement’s reveal a total lack of understanding of Christian doctrine. Christianity is monotheistic. The concept of three god’s is called a Triad, not a Trinity. A trinity differs greatly for a triad.
The two anti-Trinitarian camps:
There are two predominant anti-Trinitarian camps. The first is the pseudo-Christian cults. The following are examples of those:
The Oneness Pentecostals (also known as Apostolic or United Pentecostal) reject the doctrine of the Trinity in favor of modalism. The view of the Oneness is that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are merely manifestations of God. Therefore, it was the Father who took on flesh and died for our sins and it is now the Father who has taken on the role of Holy Spirit to live within us. This views fails miserably when presented with scripture. A prime example can be found in the baptism of Jesus Christ in Matthew 3:17. As Jesus is raised from the water a voice from heaven says “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased,” and the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus as a dove. All three members of the Holy Trinity are seen at the same time.
The Mormons or Latter-Day Saints reject the Trinity for an totally different reason than the Oneness. It is not Jesus’ divinity that they reject or even the divinity of the Father or Holy Spirit. No, the Mormons reject the Trinity because of its monotheism. Mormonism teaches that, while we worship only this God, there are in fact many Gods. Even our Father God himself was once a man just like us and likewise, devout Mormons may also become Gods in the future. This belief is monolatrism - the belief that many gods exist, while worshipping only one. Clearing this separates the Mormons from Christianity because the Christian God says, “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.” (Isaiah 45:5-6)
The Jehovah’s Witnesses take yet another spin in their denial of the Trinity. Unlike the Mormons and Oneness Pentecostal’s they reject the Trinity because they also reject the divinity of Jesus Christ. To the Witness, Jesus is simply the Archangel Michael, come into human form. This flies straight in the face of scripture. That is why the JW’s have created their own “bible,” called the New World Translation.
The second anti-Trinitarian camp is the non-Christian religions:
While Judaism accepts the Father as God, their denial of Jesus as the Messiah also denotes their denial of the trinity.
Islam claims Jesus (or Isa) as a mere prophet. Islam’s prophet, Muhammad invented a Jesus who would worship his god (Allah - the Arabian Moon God) which he falsely claimed to be the same as the Yahweh of the Jews and Father God of the Christians. The followers of Islam know that this is contradictory to the assertions of Jesus’ divinity as found in the Bible so they have been forced to claim the Bible has been corrupted, so as not to invalidate their own holy book.
As I have said in the very beginning, this message cannot address each and every aspect of the trinity. I encourage each of you to search the scriptures, as the Bereans did, to see if this message I present to you is true. A list of scriptures have been given in the above article that show the truth of the Trinity. Research them. See if you will draw the same conclusions that I and countless other believers have come to since the very beginning of our faith.