Testing the Truth of the Trinity
In order to spot error it is first necessary to know and understand the truth. In order to spot counterfeit money you study the real thing so that when a phoney is seen it is immediately obvious. You don’t study all the possible variations which might be found in a counterfeit bill. The same principle applies to Biblical truth. We must study the Word of God and hide it in our heart so that when a variation is presented to us we will spot it immediately and know if it is error. R.L. Brandt, the Executive Presbyter of the Assemblies of God, has said, “Error springs from either deception or ignorance. And deception takes advantage of ignorance.”
At this time we will deal specifically with the Trinity, which is the term we use to express the unity of three persons in the one God. Dr. Walter Martin, a renowned bible scholar, gives this definition of the Trinity. “Within the unity of the One God there are three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and these three share the same Nature and attributes. In effect then, the three Persons are the One God.”
This doctrine is often difficult to understand because it transcends our finite comprehension. Rather than blindly accepting a doctrine we must test it for ourselves. We can test the doctrine of the Trinity by answering these questions:
1. What does the Bible say?
2. What does history say?
3. What do the mainline Christian denominations say?
1. Some Bible verses pointing to a triune (3 in one) God: Gen.1:1 “In the beginning God created…” The Hebrew word used for God here is “Elohim”, a uniplural noun which means “more than one.” (The singular is “El”.) The word “Elohim” translated “God” is used in more than 2700 other places in the Old Testament. Gen.1:26 “…God said, ‘Let\us\make man in\our\image……’ “John 14:16 “….I (Jesus) will pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter…” There is a clear distinction made here between the son who prays, the Father to whom He prays, and the Holy Spirit for which He prays. I John 5:7 “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.”
2. History The Apostles Creed – A.D. 150. The Council of Nicea – A.D. 325. The Westminster Confession – A.D. 1647. The truth of the Trinity has survived all the impact of denominationalism. And has remained intact through the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the Protestant Reformation.
3. Consider the mainline, historic Christian churches – Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, United, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, etc. They all have their differences but when it comes to the doctrine on God they all agree that the Bible teaches belief in One God manifested in three ways, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinity has become the main doctrine that all the cult groups attack.
A recent aberration or deviation from the Trinitarian doctrine sees Jesus as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thus it has come to be known as the “Jesus Only” or “Oneness” movement.
In 1913 someone claimed a revelation from the Lord that “Jesus was the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” In other words there is only one person in the Godhead and that is Jesus Christ. They also claim that the doctine of the Trinity is of human origin.
According to “Oneness” theology, the term “Father” designates Christ’s deity, while “Son” designates either His humanity considered separately or His deity as manifested in the flesh. “Oneness” believers say that the Father is not the Son and Jesus is both the Father and the Son. Therefore Jesus is the Father, Jesus\was\the Son for a time on earth, and Jesus is the Holy Spirit!!!
They don’t believe in the eternal Sonship, but what about John 17:5, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”? If Jesus alone is God, and the Father and the Holy Spirit are only “manifestations” of Jesus, many passages of Scripture are meaningless and even deceptive. Did Jesus imitate His Father’s voice in Matthew 3:17, “….This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”, or the Spirit’s command in Acts 13:2, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work unto which I have called them.'”? Who said, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” in Mark 1:11? Where, might we ask, was the Son when the Father said, “Listen to Him” (Matt. 17:5 NIV)?
The very existence of an “I” – “you” relationship denotes personality; and the followers of the “Jesus Only” movement must either ignore or pervert these, and many other passages, to destroy the personal Ego of the members of the Holy Trinity. Our Lord’s great plea upon the cross, “Father forgive them,” becomes a hollow sham; His resignation to the Father’s will, an illusion – “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39 NIV); and His final words to His Father on the cross, “into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46 NIV), a pathetic fraud, if there is not a genuine Person known as the Father, distinct from the Person of the Son.
The same can be said of the Person of the Holy Spirit, who exhibits every attribute of deity and personality. The multiple references of the Holy Spirit in Scriptures in a subject-object relationship to the Persons of the Father and the Son (John 14:16,26) are positive proof that the Holy Spirit is a Person distinct from the Persons of the Father and the Son. Furthermore, Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4), and that He is no phantom, “mode”, or “manifestation” of Jesus Christ, as the “Jesus Only” movement maintains.
The first plank in the Trinitarian platform is the indivisible oneness of God. However, nowhere in Scripture are we ever told that God is one person.