“Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD” (Deut.6:4).
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (1 John 5:7).
In his inspired Word, God has revealed as much of himself as he wants his people to know. The Bible reveals God to man; and apart from what is written in its pages, all is speculation.
The heathen have throughout the ages worshipped many different ‘gods.’ In stark contrast to this, in the Holy Scriptures there is an emphatic declaration, in Deut.6:4: “The Lord our God is ONE LORD.” And throughout the Bible, the fact that there is only one God, one true and living God, is made abundantly clear. “For all the gods of the nations are idols” (Psa.96:5) – not true gods, but merely the creations of unregenerate men. “The Lord our God is ONE LORD”!
The Lord Jesus Christ, himself, repeated the words of Deut.6:4, in Mk.12:29 and other places. He asserted this truth. There are not many gods; not even two gods; there is only one God. And we find this truth asserted in other parts of the New Testament as well. As Paul the apostle wrote, “we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one” (1 Cor.8:4).
But – just as certainly as the Bible asserts that there is only one true and living God – so it asserts that the one true God eternally exists in three divine persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is one God; but three persons in the one Godhead. A deep, unfathomable mystery; but a revealed truth of the Word of God, received by faith by all saints, but oh! how hated and assaulted by the enemies of truth!
We speak of the ‘Holy Trinity.’ The word, ‘Trinity,’ is not found in Scripture; and for this reason many have denied the doctrine. How foolish! The word ‘Bible’ (as we use it) is not found in Scripture either; but men understand that this word – ‘Bible’ – is a useful one, and refers to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. And in fact, there are many words which are not found in Scripture, but which we use because they have been found useful to convey some truth or other. ‘Trinity’ means, ‘the union of three persons in one Godhead.’ Whether the word is employed or not, the doctrine is true; the doctrine cannot be removed from the pages of Scripture by rejecting a word used to describe it. Indeed, we do not have to use the word at all; the doctrine of three persons in one Godhead can be expounded without it. But it can be a useful word; and there is no sin in employing it.
Think of the word, ‘unity.’ The enemies of the biblical doctrine of three divine persons in one Godhead will often readily use the word ‘unity’ – even though this word is not used in Scripture in reference to God either – but will loudly condemn the use of the word ‘trinity’ in reference to God. The reason: they hate the doctrine, and so they assail a particular word used to define it.
Let it be said again: the doctrine is true, whether we use this particular word to describe it or not. And so it is to the doctrine that we must go.
That there are three divine persons in one Godhead, is clearly set forth in Scripture; but how this is so, is not explained. Nor should we wonder at this. God is God, and we are to receive his revelation of himself, by faith. We must search, and discover, as much as he reveals about himself, in his Word; and not probe beyond what is written. If finite man could understand everything about God, then God would not be God. If we approach this great deep, expecting that our feeble minds are capable of probing beyond what is plainly revealed, we will be disappointed. Scripture says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is” (Heb.11:6) – yes, and that he is as he has revealed himself to be, in his Word – whether we can fully fathom it, or not.
Unitarians assert that God is one, but that there are not three persons in one Godhead. Sabellians assert that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three aspects of God, but not three persons. Arians assert that Christ was a created being, and therefore not God – and thus deny the biblical doctrine as well. Unitarians, Sabellians, and Arians are heretics, and do not have eternal life (Jn.17:3). These and other heresies have raised their evil heads from time to time, through the centuries. Today they continue to do so, in the various cults that have proliferated. For example, the so-called ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ are in reality Arians, and Sabellianism is seen in such groups as the Branhamites and others. The devil has much to gain in promoting such damnable heresies.
But what saith the Scripture?
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (1 Jn.5:7). There are not three Gods; there is only one God. Nor are these merely three aspects of one God; but there are three persons, three divine persons, in one Godhead. The Father is God; the Son (or Word) is God; and the Holy Spirit is God. Nor are they three parts of one God; but each divine person is fully God.
The inspired record does not attempt to explain this truth; it simply states it. It is a truth that could only ever be known by divine revelation. That there is a God, and that he is all-powerful and the Creator of all things, is a truth revealed by the creation itself (Rom.1:20); but that this one God exists eternally in three persons, is a truth that could only be known by divine revelation. And in the pages of the Bible, God has revealed it.
In Matt.28:19, Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name (singular) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” These words of the Saviour show us that there is ONE God, but that he exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
In the Scriptures, especially in the New Testament, the doctrine of the Trinity is revealed in numerous places. We will confine ourselves to just some of the many that there are; and especially to the more emphatic of these.
Firstly, we will consider various passages which reveal that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, is God. And secondly, we will consider some passages which reveal that the Holy Spirit is God. The heretics who deny this glorious doctrine do not, of course, deny that there is a God, and that he is one; and they readily accept that the Father is God. But it is against the deity of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, that they direct their attacks.
Firstly, the truth that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, is God:
In Jn.1:1 we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Here this great truth is made plain! Christ – the Word – was with God, and yet was God. This means that he was with God the Father, but was God, just as the Father was God.
Look at vs.3: “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” And yet Gen.1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Therefore, Christ is God! This first chapter of John’s Gospel is a beautiful revelation of the person of Jesus Christ. It abundantly testifies to his deity.
Let us turn, next, to 1 Tim.3:16. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh”. In their efforts to erode this doctrine from the Bible, heretics have, in many modern versions, translated this passage as “He who was manifest in the flesh.” But not only is such a reading a corruption of the true Greek text, it is also absurd! Think about it: what is so mysterious about, “He was manifest in the flesh”? This is true of all men! You and I are manifest in the flesh! Ah, but God manifest in the flesh – that is the mystery of godliness! “And the Word (the Son) was made flesh,” Jn.1:14 says. The Son, therefore, was God: God manifest in the flesh. Jesus Christ is both God and man. As God, he had no beginning, having always existed, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, from all eternity; as man, he had a definite beginning in time.
Now on to Heb.1:8. “But unto the Son he (God the Father) saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever”. In this passage, which is a quotation from Psa.45:6, God the Father calls his Son, “God”! And yet, we know, for Scripture is so plain on the matter, that there is only one true God. Then, there can be only one way to understand this: the Godhead is one, but there is more than one person in the Godhead. The Father is God, and the Son is God. And (as other Scriptures reveal) the Holy Spirit is God, as well. Is this a mystery? Most assuredly it is! And yet it is true; for God has spoken.
Jesus Christ is “over all, God blessed for ever” (Rom.9:5). And Tit.2:13 says, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” This verse is not referring to two persons, God the Father and then the Saviour Jesus Christ, but to one person, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is “the great God and our Saviour.” For it speaks of his “glorious appearing.” It is CHRIST who shall appear one day, in power and great glory, not God the Father, as many Scriptures make plain. And so we find that he is expressly called “the great God.”
“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” These are the words of 1 Jn.5:20. What do they tell us?
“That we may know him that is true” – this is God the Father (Jn.17:3).
“And we are in him that is true” – this is the Son, as is expressly stated: “even in his Son Jesus Christ.” Now note, both the Father and the Son are here described as “him that is true.” And then, removing all doubt, it says, “This is the true God, and eternal life.” Who is meant? Both the Father and the Son! Compare the passage with Jn.1:1,2.
Phil.2:5-8 is also a powerful testimony to the deity of Christ. Let us concentrate on vs.6, which says of Christ: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God”. Christ was “in the form of God.” This means he was fully God – just as when, in vs.7, it says he “took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men”, it means he became fully man. And we are told he was equal with God. And yet – who is equal with God? No created being is equal with the uncreated God! “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One” (Isa.40:25). “To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?” (Isa.46:5). No created being can be equal with God. If, then, Christ was equal with God, he must be God. And so the Scriptures declare him to be.
Finally (not because there are no more, but because what has been given is ample testimony for now), there is Acts 20:28, where elders are told to “feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” We know that Christ purchased the church with his blood; that it was he who died on the cross, and shed his blood there, and not God the Father, nor the Holy Spirit. And thus, again, Christ is declared to be God.
All these portions of Scripture, as well as numerous others, reveal the glorious truth that, as certainly as the Father is God, so the Son is God; and yet, that there is only one God.
Nor, it must be firmly asserted, do the Scriptures teach that, since there is only one God, and since the Father is God, and the Son is God, the Father is the Son, and the Son is the Father. This is an absolutely false doctrine, and as much a denial of the Trinity as is the false doctrine that the Son is not God. The Father and the Son are distinct as persons. As Jn.1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God [i.e. the Son was with God the Father], and the Word was God [i.e. the Son was God, as much as the Father was God; but the Son was not the Father].” They are distinct as persons; yet but one God. Let us go as far as Scripture, but no further. Let us adore the God who is revealed in his Word, but not attempt to delve into that which is not revealed.
Secondly, we must consider some portions of God's Word that reveal the Holy Spirit to be God, as well.
Matt.28:19 speaks of “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” – and therefore, since the Father is God, and the Son is God, it follows that the Holy Spirit is God. It cannot be otherwise; and indeed, this is how Scripture reveals him. And yet various cults deny that the Holy Spirit is God, claiming that he is no more than an impersonal force, a ‘wind,’ etc.
That the Holy Spirit is God, is revealed by the miraculous conception of Jesus in the womb of the virgin: “When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost” (Matt.1:18); “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (vs.20). The Lord Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. But now, take note of Lk.1:35: “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Although Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit, he is never once called in Scripture the Son of the Holy Spirit, but always – the Son of God! God the Father was his Father. The Holy Spirit, then, is God!
In Acts 5:3,4, we have the account of Peter's words to Ananias. Peter said, “Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost…?…thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” Peter declared that to lie to the Holy Spirit, is to lie to God! The Holy Spirit, then, is God.
Turning now to Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, we find these divinely-inspired words: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor.3:16). Here, Paul says that Christians are the temple of God. Yet in 1 Cor.6:19, we find him writing, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” Again we find that, without any doubt whatsoever, the Holy Spirit is God. Just as certainly as the Father is God, and the Son is God, so certainly the Holy Spirit is God. “These three are ONE.”
And so we return to the two equal truths: there is only one true and living God; there are not three Gods, there is only one. And this one true and living God exists in three distinct persons: the Father, the Word or Son, and the Holy Spirit. He is a thrice-holy God, for he is a trinity (Isa.6:3). So it has ever been, and so shall it ever be: “even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psa.90:2) – one God in three persons.
And this is an absolutely essential doctrine. As 2 Jn.9 says, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” He who abides in the true doctrine of Christ, is the one who abides in all the truth regarding Christ – including the truth that Christ is God, one with the Father (Jn.10:30), the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty (Rev.1:8,11,17). And he who denies these truths, does not have God the Father, nor God the Son. He is not of God; he is not born of God: “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (1 Jn.4:2,3). To confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not merely to repeat a phrase; nor is it simply to confess that Jesus Christ is a true man; but it is to confess all the truth about Christ, and to believe it with all the heart – including the truth about the divinity of Christ! For to say that a man has come in the flesh is nothing unusual. This is true of all men. But Christ is “GOD manifest in the flesh” – and this truth will be confessed by the one who is “of God.”
Those who deny this glorious doctrine are not Christians, but heretics.
THESE THREE ARE ONE.
Shaun Willcock is a minister of the Gospel. He lives in South Africa and runs Bible Based Ministries. For other pamphlets (which may be downloaded and printed), as well as details about his books, audio messages, news articles, etc., please visit the Bible Based Ministries website, or write to the address below. If you would like to be on Bible Based Ministries’ electronic mailing list, please send your details.
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