By Mark Swarbrick
The Trinity and Deity of Christ are the two Christian doctrines that nearly all cults are unanimous in denouncing. These dogmas are of such prime important that Satan goes to special effort to obfuscate and denigrate them. Whether it be the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Oneness Pentecostalism or what-have-you, they all deny one or both of these biblical teachings.
Orthodox historic Christianity for two thousand years has maintained the doctrine of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ. Those who deny it are a small cultic minority. They will of course claim that all of Christendom has apostatized for these millennia and that their little group has finally got it right. When you hear that line, know that you are talking to a cultist. Jesus said, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) According to the cultist, Jesus let his Church be overpowered for two thousand years. Unscriptural and unlikely, to say the least.
Christianity, from the time of the apostles, has maintained that God consists of a trinity of persons. These personages are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and that together they compose the Godhead. That is not to say that it takes all three together to be God. The doctrine, as taught by scripture, teaches that the Father is God, Jesus is God, and the Holy spirit is God. They are each divine whether considered separately or together. In other words, God is not like a chemical composite, such as gunpowder, which is not itself unless the three chemicals of potassium nitrate, sulfur and charcoal are all combined. Rather the three persons are all divine on their own and yet God is one entity, one unit, one substance, but three persons. Furthermore, these persons are distinct: The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, The Holy Spirit is not the father, yet they are all one.
The problem people have with this is that there is no perfect match in nature that we can compare it to. It can be hard to comprehend something when there is no comparable model for a frame of reference. God is, in fact, unique, and we should expect Him so. However, there are some imperfect analogies that do help. An egg is one example. One egg has three parts: Yoke, white, and shell. If you get some of the yolk on your face, you would say you have egg on your face. You would not say you have part of an egg on your face. The yoke is egg, the white is egg, the shell is egg. All together they are one egg, but separately they are also egg.
Another example would be the demon in Mark chapter 5. Scripture reports this: “When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him.” Note it says the man had an unclean spirit. So keep that in mind, he has one demon. Jesus then asks the demon’s name. Again, the dialogue is referring to the demon in the singular. He answers, “’My name is Legion; for we are many’. And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country.” Notice how in the spiritual realm it is possible for there to be many demons congregated together as one unit, such that it refers to itself as one entity, a demon that responds with, “my name is…”
How often have we seen a science fiction film where some alien is a collection of entities into one being? Every viewer gets it: “Oh yea, it is totally different from what we know on earth. That’s why it is ‘out of this world.’” No one has a problem understanding that concept when its science fiction. But try to explain that God is so different, so far above our comprehension, that he is three-in-one, then many people get myopia and just refuse to see it.
Now the analogies above are, as I have stated, imperfect. God is not an egg or a demon, but the analogies help some to think out of the box, which is necessary when considering the Omnipotent Almighty God of the universe. The fact that the nature of his being is not plain and simple to mere humans is evidence that the God revealed in scripture is indeed mysterious and almighty. A god who was not transcendent to our total understanding would seem small and simple, as though created by the thoughts of man. The God of the Bible is anything but that, for he has revealed his true nature to be the one Triune God.
There is one God that is three in one. That is the doctrine of the trinity. Where is the proof of this? It is simply this. We believe in a triune God because of these facts: The Bible teaches there is only one God. It also teaches that the Father is God. It also states that Jesus is God, and finally it asserts that the Holy Spirit is God. It also teaches that the three persons of the trinity are distinct personages, not just God morphing Himself into various forms.
The only logical conclusion for a thinking person to make is that there is one God, a trinity, consisting of the persons of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is what the apostles believed and is what the Christian Church has asserted for over 2,000 years. From the very beginning the Deity of Christ and the Trinity were doctrines of the Church, beginning from when Jesus gave the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19)
Let us know examine the biblical evidence for all that I have said.
There is Only One God
Isaiah 43:11 declares, “Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me. ‘I, even I, am the LORD, and there is no savior besides Me.’”
Isaiah 44:6 says, “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.’”
1 Corinthians 8:6 reads, “there is but one God…”
God is a Plurality of Persons
The fact that God is a plurality is alluded to in the Old Testament.
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image…” (Genesis 1:26)
“Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil…” (Genesis 3:22)
“Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” (Genesis 11:7)
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” (Isaiah 6:8)
The cultists answer to these passages is to claim that God is talking to the angels. However, God cannot be talking to angels because in scripture God says, “I, the Lord, am the maker of all things.” The angels did not participate in the creation. Furthermore, if the “us” refers to God and angels, then God must have created man in the image of angels. But this cannot be so, for scripture elucidates further by declaring in Genesis 1:27, “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them…” If the cultist was correct this should read that God created man in the image of himself and the angels, but it does not so read.
Another cultic dodge is to claim that in these passages God is using hyperbole by speaking with a plural sense to express royalty. And as far as there being a royal manner of speaking that involves using a plural sense, well, there is no example of that in scripture, or in Jewish history. There is no record of a king ever expressing royalty by referring to himself in plural rather than singular form. The whole idea is a concocted evasion of the plain sense of scripture that no reputable scholar maintains.
The Father is God
1 Corinthians 8:6 tells us, “there is but one God, the Father…” No one really discounts that the Father is God, so this should be sufficient.
The Son is God
Everyone who knows the Christmas story is familiar with Isaiah 9:6. It is an Old Testament prophecy of the 1st coming of Jesus. It reads, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Notice that it calls Jesus “Mighty God” and “Eternal Father.”
John 1:1,14 calls Jesus God, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Titus 2:13 says that we are, “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus…”
John 20:28 is conclusive: “Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (What did Thomas believe? He believed that Jesus was Lord and God. Jesus acknowledges that Thomas is finally a believer. Jesus goes on to say that even more blessed are those who believe in Christ’s deity without having seen him after the resurrection.)
Matthew 1:23, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which translated means, ‘God with us.’
Hebrews 1:8, “But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever…’”
Colossians 1:15-19, “He is the image of the invisible God…by Him all things were created…it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him…”
“Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage…” Philippians 2:5-6
The discourse shown below between Philip and Jesus in John 14:8-10 confirms the matter beyond doubt.
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?
In the above passage, we find that Jesus is taken aback by Philip’s request to see the Father. He chides him saying, “yet you have not come to know me, Philip?” Clearly Jesus is laying claim to deity.
In the passage of John 5:18 shown below, the Apostle John writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says that Jesus was “equal with God.”
For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
Note that it does not say that the Jews merely thought Jesus was saying he was equal with God. John phrases it such that scripture agrees that indeed, Jesus was equal with the Father.
Now look what Jesus says in Mark 10:18, “And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” In this passage Jesus is not saying that he himself is not good, but he is pointing out that if He is in fact truly completely good, then he must be God. In John 8:46 Jesus challenges anyone to show that he is not good: “Which one of you convicts Me of sin?” In Hebrews 4:15 we are told that Jesus was, “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” So Jesus was completely good, and therefore God.
Scripture warns clearly that no one is to be worshipped but God alone. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” (Matthew 4:10). In the meeting between Peter and Cornelius we see again that scripture is adamant that only God is to be worshipped: “When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, ‘Stand up; I too am just a man.’ (Acts 10:25-26). In Revelation 22:8-9 we read, “I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, ‘Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.’”
It is worth noting that the original Greek word used for worship in the passage above is proskynéō. It is the same word used in the passage below where Jesus received worship. The Bible says only God is to receive proskyneo and Jesus received it many times. This is important because Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own version of the bible which alters the text and says that Jesus only received “obeisance.” They translate that word as worship when the passage talks about God the Father, but when it refers to the Son, they translate it as obeisance. This is disingenuous to translate proskyneo differently in different places according to their own preconceived ideas, as if they knew better than the plain words of scripture, thus making the Bible say only what they want it to say. They insist that Jesus only received respect in these instances. That of course, does violence to the context and the very text itself. No other reputable translation but the Jehovah Witness’ New World Translation plays so fast and loose with the words of God.
The passages below show that Jesus willingly accepted worship (proskyneo):
“All will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” (John 5:23)
“After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him.” (Matthew 2:11)
“And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!’ (Matthew 14:33)
“And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.” (Matthew 28:9)
“When they saw Him, they worshiped Him…” (Matthew 28:17)
“And he said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshiped Him.” (John 9:38)
Only God is to be worshipped and Jesus accepted worship, many times, with never a rebuke to anyone for doing so. We are left with only two choices: Jesus sinned by accepting worship or he is in fact, God.
The Holy Spirit is God
The cultist will view the Holy Spirit as some sort of impersonal force that emanates from God. However, the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a person, the third member of the triune godhead.
In Acts 5:3-4 Peter confronts Ananias and says, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit…?” I submit that you cannot lie to a force, you can only lie to a person. Peter goes on to say to Ananias, “You have not lied to men but to God.” In the context, Peter is equating the Holy Spirit with God, using the words interchangeably.
In 1 Corinthians 2:10 we see that the Holy Spirit thinks and knows, “no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” Ephesians 4:30 tells us, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…” An impersonal force cannot think or know and certainly cannot be grieved. Grief is an attribute of personhood.
Something should be said about the false doctrine known as modalism, which is an attempt to reduce the almighty invisible transcendent God into something that man feels more comfortable with. This theory states that God simply manifested himself in different “modes,” or forms. Sometimes he was the Father, other times the Son, and sometimes the Holy Spirit.
This concept is certainly easier for the human mind to comprehend, but it’s simplicity does not prove veracity. This concocted concept makes Jesus’ prayers to the Father absurd and renders much of scripture nonsensical. Consider the following passage below, found in John 17:1-12, and realize how preposterous the whole discourse becomes if Jesus and the Father are the same person.
Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. “Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You Holy Father…”
If modalism is true, numerous conundrums are created by this passage alone. How can the Son glorify the Father if they are the same person? How did Jesus glorify the Father in heaven if Jesus is the Father on earth also? How did Jesus share the Father’s glory before the world was? Also notice the constant contrast of the language between Jesus speaking of himself and of the father as two distinct persons. For example, “Everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them…” By all the rules of common grammar and the language of men, this is not an internal dialogue of Jesus talking to himself as the cultist would have us believe. The plain sense of the words, the plain English conveyed in the passage, is that the Father and the Son are distinct persons.
The importance of the Trinity is emphasized in 2 John 1:7-10:
For many deceivers have gone out into the world…Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him…”
Those who deny the Trinity do not have both the Father and the Son, and if you do not have both, you do not have God. That is what this scripture says. One of the reasons the Jewish leaders crucified Jesus was that he was claiming to be God. Jesus told them, “Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins…” (John 8:24). The deity of Christ and the Trinity are not optional. They are not side issues. They are fundamental truths of Christianity. They are two of the cardinal doctrines that delineate between cultism and true Christianity.