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Why Do We Believe in the Trinity?
This past week I had an encounter with a Jehovah Witness who was trying to convince me that the belief in the trinity was incorrect and that there are only a few scriptures that support that wrong way of thinking. Let me just note here that my belief is that if there is even only ONE scripture that makes mention to a Godhead then it is biblical and not up for debate as to whether we are to believe it or not.. But this lady, who was very sweet, and though not argument but very determined based her ideas on the fallibility of the New Testament translation and on John’s fallibility. So let me see if I can explain why we as Christians believe unconditionally in the Trinity.
We are reading John chapters 1 thru 5 this week and right off the bat we see John make a bold statement:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (NKJV)
It very clearly states that the Word has been here since the beginning, was with God and IS God. Now we go a little further and read John 1:14:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (NKJV)
John again makes this clear in Revelations
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had[a] a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. (Rev 19:11-13 NKJV)
Now then, the lady I visited with made two accusations against the biblical reference of the trinity. First that the New Testament translations of today are not an accurate translation of the Greek written 2000 years ago and that there were only a few references to support the idea of the trinity. I was surprised that she did not use a common argument that I have see, that the bible never uses the word “Trinity” to refer to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Okay, so let’s look at the idea that the translation of the New Testament that we read today is a misrepresentation of the Greek that was written by the apostles and Paul. Without getting into the infallibility of the translations that have come down thru the centuries to us, I’ll give her the idea that perhaps there is some inaccuracies (this is not my belief, but for arguments sake let’s take a look at it as if it were.). What would then be the response to the opening passages of the bible?
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was[a] on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:2 NKJV [a. Words in italic type have been added for clarity. They are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic.])
Genesis is very clear that it is talking about the Spirit of God, not God. We are talking about God in spirit, The Holy Spirit.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26 NKJV)
God is very clear in His wording here ~ man is made in “Our” image not “My” image. He is also very specific in other areas of the Old Testament that there is only ONE God.
See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me (Deut 32:39)
Yahweh is God; there is no one else (I Kings 8:60)
I am Yahweh, and there is none else (Isaiah 45:18)
That is just three of the twenty-three scripture references that I came across in researching passages where God states He is the One and Only.
So if the argument, which is the one used by the Jehovah Witness, is that there are only a few scriptures to support the idea of the trinity and they are not accurately translated, then I, personally, would have to doubt everything I read in the bible. You cannot decide that one scripture, or two, or a handful are incorrect and still claim authority of the bible.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16 NKJV)
And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for thelandofSodomandGomorrahin the day of judgment than for that city! (Matt 10:14-15)
Matthew 10:14-15 are Jesus’ words to his disciples as he sends them out to preach to the lost sheep ofIsrael. Here we see Him giving authority to their preaching and teaching.
Now for just a little church history. The Creed was put together around 150 AD inRometo dispute the heresies that were starting to arise after the death of the final apostles. It was known as the “symbols of faith”. Keep in mind that the meaning for the word symbol here refers to a “symbol” or a token that a general would give to a messenger for them to show the recipient so that they would recognize the message as true. The creed was just this. It was a “symbol” used among the early Christians to know one another from the Gnostics and others who had gone a bit off course with their beliefs. The tenets of the creed come from the books that at this time were considered cannon ~ the four gospels and the letters as well as based, though only partially, on the Old Testament. If we take the date of c.a. 150 AD for the “first draft” of the creed (which is another way of saying a statement of Christian belief) we can see that the church fathers that put this together are not that far from the apostles time-wise. John was the last apostle to die in 100 AD. His student Polycarp, who actually studied with the apostle John, died in 155 AD. So we can take these ideas, beliefs, to be true to the teachings of Jesus and his apostles because the time frame is so close to the time of the apostles.
Now let’s look at the wording of the original creed that was put together in 150 AD. It was used during baptism for the candidate to answer the three questions as a proclaiming of belief. First, do you believe in God the Father almighty? Second Do you believe in Christ Jesus the Son of God, who born of the Holy Ghost and of Mary the virgin, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and died, and rose again at the third day, living from among the dead, and ascended unto heaven and sat at the right hand of the Father and will come to judge the quick and the dead? And Lastly, Do you believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy church and the resurrection of the flesh? These questions, statements of faith, ideas, set forth the basis of the trinity and are used still today in baptism as they were used at the time of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist.
When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He[c] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:16-17 NKJV)
We see here the Son, Jesus, present ~ we see the Holy Spirit present in the dove and we see the Father present as He speaks from heaven above. This is another scripture used to show the Tri-unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and based on this scripture as well as Matthew 28:19:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:(KJV)
along with the tenets of the creed we are baptized, no matter what denomination, in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
This is the creed as used today in the Lutheran church. The Catholic church, the Church of England, the Presbyterian church, the Methodist church and the Unity of the Brethern all use a form of the Creed in their services. Denominations that stem from the Baptist belief uphold it as a tenet of their faith.
Here is the version used in theLutheranChurchtoday:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Christian church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen
Why Do We Tell New Christians to Read John First?
First of all let’s look at who John was. He was the son of a fisherman, Zebedee. He and his brother James were called to follow Jesus, thus his brother James is also one of the twelve apostles (not to be confused with James Jesus’ brother). He and his brother were known as the sons of thunder ~ and are the bookends of the deaths of the apostles. James was the first apostle to die and John the last. It is believed by most that John is the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” According to the general interpretation, John was also that “other disciple” who with Peter followed Jesus after the arrest into the palace of the high-priest. John alone remained near Jesus at the foot of the cross on Calvary with Jesus’ mother, Mary, and the pious women and took Mary into his care as the last legacy of Jesus. John was the first of the apostles to believe that Jesus had truly risen.
The book of John is a great place to send someone new to the belief of Christianity bbecause the foundational truth of Christianity is the belief in Jesus Christ as Savior and God. The Gospel of John is all about the deity of Jesus. Unlike the other Synoptic Gospels, John’s writing is a supplement to and complementary of those writings. It is unique in its presentation and is the only Gospel that offers us the purpose of the text. (John 20:30-31)
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (NKJV)
If the purpose of a new believer is to come to understand Jesus as God – this is the text to use.
As we study the book of John make note of Jesus’ refernces to the trinity ~ whenever He makes reference to himself being God (John 14:8-9) or to the Tri-head idea.
Here is the study for tis coming week as we read John 6-10: