Sunday, June 9, 2013

Four Reasons Why the Trinity Makes Sense

Critics of the Trinity usually slam the teaching doctrine because they claim "it doesn't make sense." 1+1+1=3, not one. Plus the concept of a three-in-one God is hard to understand, so it must not be true. Also, the Bible doesn't have the word "trinity" in it, so of course the Trinity can't be true. The Bible also says multiple times that "the LORD is one," not three-in-one. If God were a trinity, wouldn't He have said so?

Seem like legit claims. But--believe it or not--the Bible shuts down all these refutes.

First, God is huge. He's bigger than our brains, our logic, our understanding, our brain capacity. We can't comprehend all He is. Isaiah 55:8-7 says
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. -Isaiah 55:7-8 HCSB
Of course trying to understand who God is in His rawest form and presence is going to be confusing. You're trying to compact the God who created time, the universe, the laws of physics, DNA, life, cells, this world, the world's most advanced supercomputer (your brain), everything, into a flawed human understanding that can barely fathom understanding time and the universe itself. If we have trouble understanding God's creation, how can we expect to perfectly understand Him?


Secondly, God is aloof and impersonal without the Trinity. John wrote in John 1:18 that no one has ever seen God, except the one and only Son. Jesus backed this up in John 6:46, and, addressing the Pharisees,  declared they have never seen the Father or heard His voice, at any time (John 5:37). Now, the New Testament does include multiple times where the Father speaks (usually in a booming heavenward voice; John 12:28, Luke 9:35, Matthew 3:17), so while hearing the Father speak was probably a very rare and nearly unheard of occurrence, it's likely that Jesus was speaking specifically to the Pharisees on never hearing the Father's voice. But, the Old Testament also tells us that no one could see the face of God and live (Exodus 33:20) along with 1 Timothy 6:15-16:
. . . which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. (1 Tim. 6:15-16 NIV, emphasis mine)
So if God is only the Father, then we've never seen God, never had a relationship with Him, probably never heard from God, never personally talked with God; we never had anything to do with Him. If we did, we'd either be scared to death or literally dead! And if only the Father is God, then who are Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Islam and Jehovah's Witnesses--the two religions leading much of the charge against the Trinity--each claim something different. Islam says Jesus was only a great prophet and the Holy Spirit is the archangel Gabriel; Jehovah's Witnesses says Jesus is Michael the archangel and the Holy Spirit is "God's active force", similar to holy lightning. Mormonism, another non-Christian religion, even states that Jesus, the Spirit and the Father are separate Gods that are "one in purpose." This is basically modified polytheism: the belief in multiple gods, which God specifically commands not to do in Exodus 20:3. However, there is no scriptural evidence within the Bible to back up any of these theories--none at all. In fact, concerning the Trinity, the Bible actually points in the opposite direction.


Thirdly, the Bible contradicts without the Trinity. As stated above, Jesus said the no man has seen the Father except the Son himself (John 6:46). But God appeared to and talked to Abraham many times face-to-face (Genesis 17:1, 18:1; Exodus 6:2-3; Acts 7:2). Jacob wrestled with God physically and saw Him face to face (Genesis 32:24-30, 30; Exodus 6:2-3). God appeared to Issac as well (Exodus 6:2-3; Genesis 26:23); Moses spoke to God face to face (Ex 33:11, Duet 34:10, Num 12:7-8) and at one point even the elders of Israel, among others, saw God and lived to tell about it (Ex 24:9-11).
Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and 70 of Israel’s elders, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. Beneath His feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire stone, as clear as the sky itself. God did not harm the Israelite nobles; they saw Him, and they ate and drank. (Exodus 24:9-11 HCSB)
If God is only one Person, then these verses all contradict--meaning the Bible isn't worthy to be trusted. Still on the topic of contradictions, there's also the notorious "Angel of the Lord" in the OT. He called himself God before Moses, appearing as the flame in the burning bush (Exodus 3:2,6,14-16), received worship from Joshua after they had come near to Jericho (Joshua 5:13-15), claimed that he brought Israelites out of the land he promised their forefathers (Judges 2:1-4), received a sacrifice from Gideon (Judges 6:19-24), and was acknowledged to be God by Samson's parents and various other people throughout the Old Testament (Judges 13:20-22).

Jesus also received worship from people and forgave sins: two things only God is worthy of [references]. Paul wrote in Colossians 1:16-17:
For everything was created by [Jesus], in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17 HCSB, emphasis mine)
 This is hard to take lightly if Jesus is a mere angel or prophet. Paul also wrote that, "The Lord is the Spirit" in 2 Corinthians 3:17 and 18 . In Acts chapter 5, two people died on the spot when they tried to deceive the Holy Spirit. If Jesus and the Holy Spirit aren't God and the Trinity is false, then how do we explain this? If Jesus is an angel or a prophet, then why would he receive worship from people? How could Jesus be sinless and the "perfect example for us all to follow" if he pridefully and arrogantly set himself up as equal to God when he wasn't? Isn't that exactly what Satan does? The Bible also tells us that the Holy Spirit feels emotions. He grieves (Isaiah 63:10, Eph 4:30), loves (Rom 15:30), has a mind (Rom 8:27), speaks (2 Sam 23:2, Acts 8:29, Acts 10:19; among many many others), knows (1 Cor 12:11), has awareness of goodness (Acts 15:28), can be lied to (Acts 5:3), can be tested (Acts 5:9), makes overseers (Acts 20:28), can be a witness (Acts 5:32), can be resisted (Acts 7:51); not to mention teaching (Jn 14:26, Lk 12:12), interceding (Rom 8:26), leading (Matt 4:1), giving life (Jn 6:63), and filling believers (Acts 2:4).  The Bible's description of the Holy Spirit falters if the Spirit is simply "holy lightning" or the angel Gabriel. Holy lightning would lack the consciousness needed to love, grieve, speak, know, have awareness, teach, witness, intercede, lead, be tested, make overseers, etc.; and neither an active force or angel would be called "Lord", as scripture makes it clear only God is "the Lord" (Ex 20:2, Duet 5:6). Yet above are the verses that do just that.

If by any chance you're a Muslim and reading this, I imagine you're probably thinking something along the lines of: Hey man, this is cool and everything, but I believe in the Qur'an--not the Bible--so I'm good. Well, the Qur'an considers the Bible to be a holy, incorruptible, God-inspired book as well. The Qu'ran says the Torah--the Jewish Bible (aka the Old Testament), which I made many of above references from--is the word of God in Sura 2:87:
And We did certainly give Moses the Torah and followed up after him with messengers. ... (Sura 2:87 Sahih International, emphasis mine)
The Qur'an states the book of Psalms is the word of God as well in Qur'an 4:163:
Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], as We revealed to Noah and the prophets after him. And we revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the Descendants, Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the book [of Psalms],(Qur'an 4:163 Sahih International, emphasis mine)
and states the Gospel is the word of God in Qur'an 3:3 and 5:46
He has sent down upon you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming what was before it. And He revealed the Torah and the Gospel. (Qur'an 3:3 Sahih International, emphasis mine)
And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous. (Qur'an 5:46 Sahih International, emphasis mine)
So if the Bible contradicts, then so does the Qur'an. 

Now we just have a really big mess.


My final, and arguably most important point, is that the Bible supports the Trinity. In Genesis 1, the word translated to "God" in English is the Hebrew word "Elohim." (Ex: Gen 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . .)  Elohim is a plural word, but in the context here it's being used to describe a singular subject. Why? I imagine "one God, three Persons" might have something to do with it!

There is also Biblical evidence for Jesus' divinity: HANDS.
Jesus get's God's Honors
Jesus has God's Attributes
Jesus has God's Names
Jesus does God's Deeds
Jesus sits in God's Seat.

Jesus put himself on the same level as God, expecting people to honor them as they honored the Father (John 5:23), accepting worship his disciples (Matt 14:33; 28:17) telling them to have faith in him as they did in God (John 14:1), and even inviting them to pray to him (John 14:14).

Jesus claimed to be just like the Father as well, from stating that anyone who say him saw the Father (John 14:7-11), that he would be present with his disciples whenever they prayed, as if he were omnipresent (Matt 18:20) and even that he had existed before creation (John 17:5).

Jesus described himself as "the Son", upping himself to the Father's level  (Matthew 11:27; John 5:17-18) and called himself "I AM" the very name God called Himself before Moses (John 8:24,28,58 w/Exodus 3:14). Even Jesus's title for himself, "the Son of Man," refers to prophetic Old Testament visions of a divine yet human figure (Ezekiel 1:26-28; Daniel 7:13-14). Jesus also accepted Thomas's recognition when he Jesus "my Lord and my God," in John 20:28. Critics say that Thomas was just expressing surprise when he said that, not stating Jesus was God, but you need to remember that these people lived in a strictly religious culture. Taking God's name or anything related in vain could be punishable by law. It wasn't like today, where people use phrases like "oh my God" or "G*dd*mn" without a second thought. The Jewish people in general have always been very strict and careful about the use of God's name. If Thomas said, "my Lord and my God," when he saw the risen Jesus standing before him, then Thomas meant it.

Jesus did things and claimed to do things that only God could do. He calmed a raging storm with a single word, walked on water and fed thousands of people with one boy's lunch (Matthew 8:23-27; 14:13-33). He claimed the right to forgive people of their sins (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12), said he would raise the dead (John 5:28-29; 11:25-26) and be the final judge of all humanity (Matthew 25:31-46, John 5:22-23).

Jesus claimed that he would sit on the seat of God's own thrown, the place from which God rules over His entire creation (Matthew 25:31; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42-43). That is exactly what Jesus will do there: rule over absolutely everything in creation (Matthew 11:25-27; 29:18; Luke 10:21-22).

Even the word Christian points to the Trinity, because the word Biblically means a witness for Christ (Acts 1:8). If Jesus were anything but God, the Bible (and Jesus) would contradict themselves in this simple command: Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Luke 10:27). God comes first and our loyalty is ultimately to Him, not a jealous angel or heretical prophet.

It's also interesting to note that the Father, Son, and Spirit have each been called Lord (Matthew 4:10; Philippians 2:11; 2 Corinthians 3:17); yet the Lord is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). Another Trinity reference from God's word itself.
Speaking of Philippians 2:11, which reads,
and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11, HCSB)
 the Greek word translated for Lord in that passage is kurioswhich in the context means Yahweh, God's name. ("Jehovah" is actually a mis-translation.) The Apostle Paul understood Jesus was God as well. Coupled with Zechariah 14:9,
On that day Yahweh will become King over all the earth—Yahweh alone, and His name alone. (Zechariah 14:9 HCSB)
these verses pretty much vaporize any idea that Jesus isn't God in the flesh.
Also, the Trinity answers the question of how Moses, Abraham and friends saw God when Jesus said no one saw the Father. It's pretty simple actually: they saw/talked with God but not the Father. It probably wasn't  the Holy Spirit, as he doesn't have a physical body and wouldn't be able to wrestle with Jacob. More than likely, it was probably Jesus before he went incarnate (divine being in human form). This makes sense because many people saw Jesus--God in the flesh--and didn't die. This also makes sense of the notorious "Angel of the Lord". He wasn't notorious at all; he was God as well and accepted what was rightfully his. Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 63:9  
In all their suffering, He suffered,
and the Angel of His Presence saved them.
He redeemed them
because of His love and compassion;
He lifted them up and carried them
all the days of the past.
I don't know about you, but to me that sounds a lot like Jesus! Most likely he is described as an "angel" in the text because that's the only way the OT writers could hope to describe him as. (They didn't have Bibles back then.) So not only was the God the Holy Spirit present in the OT, but also Jesus!
The Trinity makes God personal as well. Without the Trinity, God is cold, unapproachable, distant, uncaring (sending a created spirit with no freewill to die for humanity's sins?) removed, and just kind of floating up there in the sky with no real regard for our lives or day-to-day whatevers, except for an occasional "do this!" and "don't do that!"

But with the Trinity, God is everywhere!

The Spirit: He lives inside us; He walks with us. He speaks to us daily: exhorts, teaches and encourages us. He reminds of what we've heard, what we've been taught, convicts and guides us, gives us power to live he life God has called us to live and leads us on the right path and warns us of trouble of danger, although it's our decision whether to heed to it or not. He is always present and never leaves us!

The Son: He loved us enough to give Himself as sacrifice for us--not a servant or created being (which would not be the greatest form of love; Jesus said so in John 15:3). He did more than just set an example, live a perfect life. He showed us what a person souled out to God looks like. He didn't show us what do to; He put in into action and showed us how. He spoke truth in the face of adversity. He endured what we endure--the temptation, the corruptness of the flesh, the suffering and persecution--so we would be encouraged and not lose heart. He showed us where He--God--stands on the issues, where He would be if in our world today--and invites us to join Him.
Jesus is a leader. He didn't sit from his air-conditioned palace in his million-dollar chair and bathrobe eating a gourmet sandwich as his servants massaged his feet, shouting commands at us: toiling the barren land in hundred-degree heat in our rags and sweat while he watched the Miami Heat game. Jesus came down to our level and paved the way--a narrow, rocky, rugged, little dirt trail marked with the footprints of the few who traveled it. Jesus is more than a good example or just some man. He is everything, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and Omega. Either you can ignore Him or except Him, but Jesus is who He is, regardless of what you want to think. See the book of Hebrews for more on Jesus and who He was and is.

The Father: the originator and builder, the One from who all things originate. He is God in His purest and rawest form--such that we can't even be in His presence.

Some of you reading this may be wondering why I'm making such a big deal over correct theology. It shouldn't matter what the person believes about God, as long as they're sincere and live good lives, right? Well, no, that's not true. Jesus commanded that we love the Lord with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength.
Loving God with your mind means knowing and understanding who He really is--not in doubt but having understanding--and you can't do that if you believe the wrong things about Him and His word. While it may seem confusing or unnecessary, what you believe about God will determine how far you're willing to go with Him. Theology--part of loving God with your mind--is one of the pillars in your relationship with God: if it's crumbling, weak, distorted or otherwise corrupted, then the your relationship with God will suffer as well. What you believe about Jesus, the Spirit and God the Father will affect every area of your Christian life and walk with Him.
That's why it's so important to get things right theologically when dealing with God Himself--if you get that wrong, everything else will easily fall apart. You'll stress yourself out trying to be "good enough" when Jesus died and the Spirit came so that we could stop trying and He could  live through us. You'll try to earn God's favor instead of letting His grace wash over you. You'll try to be more like Jesus instead of letting His Spirit work through you. God seems to become a distant, even legalistic figurehead when in reality He is pursuing a genuine relationship with you and is always present and always among us. What you believe about God will affect everything in your life concerning Him.

When fully understood and applied, the Trinity can be the difference being a Pharisee and being a disciple. The Pharisees knew the scriptures and the prophecies, yet when God's Anointed One showed up right on their doorstep, they crucified Him. The disciples--despite their unpopular, bland backgrounds and upbringings--stood by Jesus, experienced Him, witnessed His goodness and awesomeness. I didn't write this post to try to slam people who believe differently than I do--I wrote this post to clear up the misconceptions so many have about God. I wrote this post so that--hopefully--God will use it as a vessel to open your eyes and bring you into knowledge of the truth.
I want you to experience God. And by that, I don't mean some spiritual high you reach at church or good feeling you get during daily prayer or going door-to-door or whatever it else it is you do. By experience God, I mean letting Him work through you. I mean being scared to death yet following Him anyway. I mean being up to midnight studying this Bible passage because you feel in your spirit God pulling you to that passage and know He has something awesome to show you. I mean suffering and being slandered, feeling pain, being uncomfortable and causing tension because the Spirit of God in you has made God, not people, your first priority. I mean feeling as if your world has fallen apart and everyone is out to get you, because Satan fears the fire of God's Spirit and wants to see it quenched immediately, but still feel at peace because the peace of God is guarding your heart.
I mean loving others with such a love that it feels like your heart just might explode--because the love of God has filled you to a point where you just can't contain it. These are only quick glimpses of what it means to experience God in your daily life, and I am still learning as well. But I have learned and experienced enough to say with confidence that God wants you to know Him. He knows you--He created you--but He wants you to know Him. He wants you to experience Him, to seek for Him, to listen to Him, to have an earnest relationship with Him--not ohmigosh I read a Bible verse I must have a relationship with God, but talking with God, spending time with God, bringing your problems to God, seeking God with all your heart, looking for His response, His thoughts on everything, and seeing everything from His perspective.

God wants you. Despite whatever you've been taught, God is a Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is not impersonal; God is around you and me and speaking to us constantly. God is not detached; He Himself died for us and gave His own life to free ours.To deny this is not only heretical but hurts your spiritual walk with God, too. It limits Him to one Person, one position in your life, when He is meant to be present in three. God wants you to experience Him to the fullest, the way He made you to experience and love Him.

There is so much that He has to show you, to tell you, to open your eyes to and paths to lead you down. But you have to believe it, first. And, hopefully, this post has supplied you with the material, explanations, and even confidence to do just that.

Have a great day and God bless! :]




Sources
Carm - http://carm.org/
The Qu'ran says the Bible is not corrupt - http://carm.org/religious-movements/islam/quran-says-bible-not-corrupt
Verses showing identity, ministry, and personhood of the Holy Spirit - http://carm.org/christianity/christian-doctrine/verses-showing-identity-ministry-and-personhood-holy-spirit
Has anyone seen God or not? - http://carm.org/bible-difficulties/genesis-deuteronomy/has-anyone-seen-god-or-not
Qur'an verses
The Noble Qur'an - http://quran.com/

1 comment:

  1. Its a very nice and inspirational post. Through this I have come to understand the Trinity and the divinity of the verses in a better way. It has cleared the ambiguities in my mind.

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