February 7

A consistent theme of false religions, cults, and heretical versions of Christianity is their persistent attacks on the doctrine of the Trinity. We can’t all come together and hold hands in unity when they are attacking the Lord our God.

But, a functionally heretical mindset many Christians have nowadays is that there are two God’s in the Bible:

  1. The harsh, judgmental, violent, scary God of the Old Testament Who kills those who refuse to follow Him, and…
  2. The loving, sweet, embracing, often feminized (thanks to European art) Jesus Who would never hurt a flea and would never do anything that we would consider to be “unloving” (you often hear people say things like, “The Jesus I believe in would never do [fill in the blank]).

Problem is, the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New. The Jesus of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New. In fact, the same Jesus who came as a Christophany (a preincarnate appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament) to judge Sodom and Gomorrah is the same Jesus Who showed up 2,000 years ago to die for our sins, and is also the same Jesus Who we read about in Revelation pouring violent judgment on the unbelieving earth.

This is why solid, biblical theology is paramount, and why we are required to submit to Scripture regardless of how it jives or doesn’t jive with our beliefs.

First off, as we’ve been repeating around here, everything! Absolutely everything is about God and His glory. When we internalize this biblical truth then all else starts to fade away, and all false doctrinal beliefs about Him disappear:

  • “The Lord our God is but one only living and true God; whose subsistence is in and of himself, infinite in being and perfection; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but himself; a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him, and withal most just and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.”—1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 2, Section 1.

Second, our sin nature continually competes for God’s glory and position. Salvation does not eradicate our sin nature, thus we are in a daily battle to allow God His rightful place on the throne of our lives. Why are we emphasizing Bible reading and prayer so much around here? Because those are two of the most powerful keys to cleansing our lives for His glory.

  • Romans 7:19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
  • Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
  • “The human heart is a factory of idols… Everyone of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols.”—John Calvin
  • “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.”—John Owen

So, speaking to both Gentile and Jewish people, the Apostle John starts his Gospel account off immediately proclaiming the Trinity. He masterfully does so in such a way that the Gentiles would comprehend that he is claiming their impersonal creator of everything, logos(word), is actually the personal Jesus. And, the Jews would understand that the God Who created by His word, isthe Word, and that Word is Jesus.

But, why is this so important? What does the Trinity have to do with being a Christian?

  1. God spoke to us through Jesus, and because Jesus is God, we have the permanent cleansing of our sins!
  • God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.—Hebrews 1:1-4
  1. Our Salvation is wholly produced and secured by our Trinitarian God:
  • “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”—John 10:27-30
  • Ephesians 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.—Ephesians 4:30
  1. Because Jesus is God and rules and reigns over all things, and because for proper discipleship to occur, we must baptize believers in the (singular) name of our Trinitarian God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and then to train them to obey Jesus’ rules:
  • And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”—Matthew 28:18-20
  1. The Bible shows that we are to pray to the Father, through the Spirit, and in the name (authority) of Jesus.
  2. And lastly, as I mentioned earlier, this is Who He is thus we need to worship, exalt, and proclaim Who He has revealed Himself to be.

Today’s questions are derived from August Hopkins Strong’s Systematic Theologyand represent a longer set of questions which you may want to work through during the weekend rather than just today.

Note: Strong’s was probably the best Baptist theological work from 1907 until Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrinewas produced in 1994.

  • “Neither God’s independence no God’s blessedness can be maintained upon grounds of absolute unity. Anti-trinitarianism almost necessarily makes creation indispensable to God’s perfection, tends to a belief in the eternity of matter, and ultimately leads, as in Mohammedanism [Islam], and in modern Judaism and Unitarianism, to Pantheism [a belief that equates God with the impersonal universe]. “Love is an impossible exercise to a solitary being.” Without Trinity we cannot hold to a living Unity in the Godhead.”
  1. Strong is asserting here that if God were not Three In One, then He would be on par with other religions as well as atheistic evolutionary science. But, most importantly, He would not be a personal, loving God because there would be no self-existing reason for this trait.
    1. Would a God without love even offer or provide eternal salvation to His fallen creatures? ___________________________________________________
      1. Think of some Scriptures that demonstrate that He is a God of love: ____________________________________________________________________________________________
      2. Think about how impersonal He would be if He wasn’t a Trinitarian God Who was relational and loving: ______________________________________________
  • “If there be no Trinity, Christ is not God, and cannot perfectly know or reveal God. Christianity is no longer the one, all-inclusive, and final revelation, but only one of many conflicting and competing systems, each of which has its portion of truth, but also its portion of error. So too with the Holy Spirit. ‘As God can be revealed only through God, so also can he be appropriated only through God. If the Holy Spirit be not God, then the love and self-communication of God to the human soul are not a reality.’ In other words, without the doctrine of the Trinity we go back to mere natural religion and the far-off God of deism,—and this is ultimately exchanged for pantheism in the way already mentioned.”
  1. Reflect on how hopeless and empty we would be if we could never begin to know God: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  • “If God be absolutely and simply one, there can be no mediation or atonement, since between God and the most exalted creature the gulf is infinite. Christ cannot bring us nearer to God than he is himself. Only one who is God can reconcile us to God. So, too, only one who is God can purify our souls. A God who is only unity, but in whom is no plurality, may be our Judge, but, so far as we can see, cannot be our Savior or our Sanctifier.”
  1. The Trinity brings a righteous, holy, judging God into the full spectrum of a righteous, loving, forgiving God. The false god of Islam is a wrathful, judging, non-trinitarian god who exhibits no personal interest in his creation, no love, and an adulterated version of grace. The Greek gods of yesteryear were viewed as cold, selfish, heartless deities too.
    1. How does the fact that God the Son coming to earth to die for you impact your life?
      1. Eternally? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
      2. Relationally with Him? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  • “If there be no Trinity immanent in the divine nature, the Fatherhood in God has had a beginning and it may have an end; Sonship, moreover, is no longer a perfection, but an imperfection, ordained for a temporary purpose. But if fatherly giving and filial receiving are eternal in God, then the law of love requires of us conformity to God in both these respects as the highest dignity of our beings.”
  1. Strong is advising us that God has always been a Father because an infinite God never gains or loses any of His attributes. Thus, He couldn’t have been a Father for eternities past if He didn’t have a Son. If He wasn’t a Father for eternities past then He could stop being a Father in the future at some given point. Similarly, the Son would then be a temporal condition and not eternal which means our adoption as children would be in jeopardy.
    1. Are you eternally secure as God’s adopted child, “joint-heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod”? __________________________________________________
    2. If so, aren’t you thankful that God has always been our Father, and Jesus has always been the Son, and that God will never cease being God? _________________________________________________________
    3. Write down some ways that this brings confidence, security, and peace in your life as His child: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Holy, Holy, Holy—Hymn by Reginald Heber

1Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!

Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee;

Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!

God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

 

2Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,

Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;

Cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,

Who wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

 

3Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,

Though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,

Only thou art holy; there is none beside thee

Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.

 

4Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!

All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea;

Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!

God in three persons, blessed Trinity!