The Mystery of the Trinity
Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage all who desire to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. Dave, we’re going to jump right into this, picking up where we left off last week.
I quoted Jeremiah:9:24: “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord, which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” Now, for the past couple of weeks we’ve been talking about knowing God [and] understanding Him better. Dave, we said last week that we were going to address the Trinity, but we never quite got to it. This is a doctrine, certainly, that the church has held and taught since the beginning. It goes back to, we can say it goes back to Genesis. But the way I want to approach it today is: this is who God says He is, and if we’re going to know Him, if we’re going to have an intimate relationship with Him, and He has revealed His characteristics, the qualities, that He has—these are things we really ought to understand if we want to know Him better.
Dave: That’s an interesting verse that you just quoted, “in these things do I delight,” that’s interesting. God delights! He takes pleasure in those that fear Him. God loves—in fact, God is love. Of course, when you say, well, this is what God says about Himself, where are we getting that from? The Bible. But some people would say, “Well, how do we know the Bible is true?” We’ve been through that in the past; I wish we could do it every time, Tom, because so many people look anywhere and everywhere for an authority, whether it’s to their church, to some guru, whatever it is, but the Bible . . .
Tom: Or, Dave, if it’s even something that sounds not just reasonable but something that they’re interested in, no matter who lays it out—if it sounds exciting or it sounds interesting, but what basis?
Dave: But we can absolutely prove the Bible is true, and prophecy proves that in the Bible and many other things in the Bible but we don’t have time to go into that. But the Bible is our authority, and the God of the Bible is the true God. He is the only one who has given us prophecies, for example, about Israel, the prophecies concerning the Messiah—hundreds of them, which have all come true.
So, the God of the Bible, He must be a personal being. He couldn’t create us as personal beings unless He were personal Himself. We have been made in the image of God, the Bible says. In Genesis:1:26-28, it’s interesting—God said, “Let Us make man in Our image and in Our likeness.” Does that mean there are several Gods? No, the Bible makes that very clear: “I am God; there is none else.” And yet, the very first verse in the Bible, “In the beginning, God . . . ” The word there is Elohim, which is a plurality, three or more. As a matter of fact, we know from the Bible that there are three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but one God. And the Shema . . .
Tom: Now, Dave, before we get to that, there are listeners out there, quite obviously, who have never read the Bible and don’t put a lot of confidence in the Scriptures because they’ve just never been there. Can we begin with a good reason why there has to be one God, but three Persons, which we call the Trinity?
Dave: There are a number of concepts, ideas, about God out there, some of them very weird. Oh, well then, why not? Just a higher power, anything goes. Well, if God is God, I don’t think He’s happy that people have weird ideas about Him, and He certainly reveals himself very clearly. Now, why must there be one God? Well, let’s talk about polytheism on one end and monism on the other end.
Tom: Well, before we get to that, what about pantheism? Let’s not . . . That seems to be . . . More people believe in that through Eastern Mysticism, through concepts of . . .
Dave: Yeah, that God is everything.
Tom: God is everything, in everything, everything is God, and so on.
Dave: Well, if God is everything, then God is really nothing—there is really no God.
Tom: So, what’s the point?
Dave: Yeah. I mean, if God is a fly and He’s energy and you and I are God . . . That would explain why the world’s in a mess.
Tom: So we’ve reduced it to such a common denominator, that it’s meaningless.
Dave: Right, there is no distinction between God and anything else. Now, how could everything create itself? That doesn’t make sense, and we know that from the Laws of Thermodynamics.
Tom: So, this would be something that, let’s say, somebody who is either into Hinduism or Buddhism or somebody in this country who’s just into the New Age. This would be a philosophy, an idea of God, that they would hold.
Dave: I was sitting next to a lady on the plane the other day—she’s into nature, and she thinks nature is God. Well, I said, “You can’t pray to nature. Nature is rather harsh! You wouldn’t pray to a hurricane.” And, I like to kid some of these people and say, “Well, everything that’s natural is good for you, like natural disasters! [Are] you going to hug trees? The tree doesn’t know you are hugging it. How do you cozy up to an erupting volcano? I mean to suggest that nature is God—you’ve got a horrible God! Look at all the earthquakes, and the tornadoes, and so forth.”
Tom: Plus, your god is dying out.
Dave: That’s right.
Tom: The law of entropy.
Dave: If God is this universe, then He’s running down like a clock, and there is really no hope. The God of the Bible is not part of the universe; He created the universe out of nothing. Now, the universe is running down like a clock because it is separated from Him by Satan’s rebellion, man’s rebellion, and there is a penalty for sin. Separation from God cuts you off from the source of life. So, this universe is dying, as you said. So, the universe itself can’t be God. That’s not a scientific idea, and we do honor modern science, insofar as it is scientific, as it is accurate.
Tom: So, we can put aside pantheism.
Dave: Pantheism—I don’t think it makes any sense. What is the solution? Pantheism—we’ve got problems! We have such a horrible universe. On the one hand, it is beautiful; you look at the stars at night. On the other hand, you can have an asteroid come slamming into your space ship, you have the wars and the suffering and the death. If germs are God, and the white shark that is about to eat you up, is God, and so forth . . .
Tom: [If] a rolling avalanche is God, destroys villages, and floods are God.
Dave: Yeah, what is the hope? So, there is no solution to the problems. God must be something other than this, and there must be an explanation why we have these problems.
Well, then, you have polytheism, many gods. Well, you have diversity, but you have no unity. Why do we need unity? Well, there’s no one to pull the thing together; you don’t have any head god. Go back and read Greek and Roman mythology, or Hinduism, and so forth. The gods fight one another; they steal one another’s wives. The gods themselves are immoral. There’s no hope there; there’s no peace among the gods. How can there be peace on earth? That does not make any sense at all.
On the other hand, you have the idea that there is one God. Now, other than Christianity, the Bible, which has a Trinity, Judaism, for example—it’s not biblical Judaism because we have a Trinity all through the Old Testament—but Jewish people today would say God is one single individual, Yahweh.
And the Muslims, Allah is one single individual. Well, you have unity, but you have no diversity. What do we mean by that? Well, before this god, who was all alone, created any other beings, he was incomplete. He couldn’t experience love, fellowship, communion. He was lonely—he was alone.
But the Bible says God is love. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we have unity—one God; we have diversity—three persons (not three gods, but three persons). Now, interestingly, you have that all through the Old Testament. We don’t have time to look at much, but let’s take a look at, for example, Isaiah:48:16: “Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was [or, “anything was”] there am I.” Now, obviously, whoever is speaking is God. He says, you go back as far as you want, I’m there.
But notice what He says, “ . . . and now the Lord God, and His Spirit, hath sent me.” Now, you can’t come to any other conclusion than this one who speaking is the same one that John refers to in John:1:1, when he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.” This is the Word that speaks for God; this is God as He speaks. “The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” We did a newsletter a short time ago—we talked about the absolute, undeniable fact that you have to have language to have anything, and the Bible says God spoke everything into existence. And, this is the One it is speaking of here. But, this One who is God says, “but the Lord God and His Spirit sent me.” Now, this is in the Old Testament.
Tom: Isaiah, the prophet.
Dave: This would be the Son, Jesus, from eternity past; the Father sent the Son, the scriptures tell us, to be the Savior of the world. The Holy Spirit convicts . . . As the Son speaks, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of the truth of His Word, of sin, of righteousness, of judgment to come, and so forth.
Tom: Dave, let me take you back to—you just made the statement that God, in order to be love, which the Bible claims that He is . . .
Dave: He is love. Not that He just loves, but He is love.
Tom: Right, but as love, He has to have communion; He has to have fellowship; He has to have a way of demonstrating that love. And somebody could say, “Well look, that’s what He made angels for. That’s what He made us for. But that doesn’t work, does it?
Dave: Well, then, He would be incomplete before He created angels. And I don’t know that He loves angels, because the Bible never tells us that. I don’t know that angels are capable of love. Man is made in the image of God, the moral and spiritual image. God is a Spirit; He doesn’t have hands and feet and so forth. So, that is the only basis upon which we could experience love.
Tom: Right, but before you go down that road, He would be incomplete if He didn’t have an object of His love, and the object can’t just be us, because we’re finite, we’re limited. But God is infinite, and if He’s really going to have fellowship, if He’s really going to have love, in an infinite sense, the object has to be infinite as well.
Dave: So, the Father loves the Son, the Holy Spirit—they have communion, fellowship, love, one with another—complete in themselves. God did not need anyone! He was fulfilled, happy, blissful—whatever you want to say—this was what God was experiencing in Himself: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Tom: Dave, these are just good reasons, and we certainly look to the Scriptures here, but this is why we’re saying that the Trinity has to be, just from a reasonable standpoint. God cannot be singular. He’s got to be, as you say—there has to be unity and diversity for God to be God.
Dave: Well, Tom, that’s one of the many ways we know the Bible is true. I mean, there are so many others, but the Bible is so fascinating because it doesn’t make philosophical mistakes, it doesn’t make scientific mistakes, it doesn’t make logical mistakes, which you will find everywhere in the world’s religions. Read the Bhagavad Gita—I mean, this is a fairy tale. We have talked about the Qur’an—you know, “the sun gets tired and it sinks down into a slimy pond every evening,” and Alexander the Great went to see it—come on! Some of the Qur’an reads like Arabian fables.
You will find this everywhere, but in the Bible, you won’t find this. Now, one of the things we know about God, He must be God always, and we’ve talked about that. I mean, the universe hasn’t been here forever. The sun would have burned out; the stars would have burned out. There must have been a time when there was no thing because things wear out—Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Law of Entropy, which you mentioned. So, there had to be a time when there was no thing, things, matter, energy. Energy would wear out; you couldn’t have energy hanging around for a Big Bang. Okay, we know that.
There had to be a beginning. It took scientists a long time to come to that conclusion. What are the first three words in the Bible? “In the beginning. . . . ” There was no thing, but there had to be someone who could create it all out of nothing. So, the next word in the Bible is “God.” Now, this God couldn’t have come into existence at some time, we know that. It’s beyond our comprehension to understand—never was a moment without God, God always is!
On the other hand, although it’s beyond our comprehension, we know it must be. Well, how does God introduce Himself to Moses at the burning bush? “I AM that I AM.” I AM the eternal, self-existent One. Or the psalmist says, “From everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Well, the God of the Bible says, “I am God, there is none else. Is there a God beside me? I don’t know of any,” God says. There are no Gods. There has to be one God.
But then, you get to Mormonism, for example, and the gods of Mormonism did not always exist. There are many gods in Mormonism—more gods in Mormonism than in Hinduism, because there’s not only a father in heaven but a grandfather in heaven and a great-grandfather, and how many Mormon males there are on this earth. Some of them don’t go to the temple, but a large percentage of them hope to become a god, with their own little world, another Adam, another Eve, another Lucifer, another Fall, another Jesus, another cross. And the Mormon God is a man, who was redeemed on another planet by another Jesus—he was a sinner, so that does not make sense! Not only isn’t it biblical, but it won’t fly. And then, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they say “Jesus is not God. He is a god.” So, when you go to John:1:1, and you read it, it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God [big ‘G’], and the Word was God [big ‘G’ in our Bible],” but they say no, the word was a god.
Tom: In their New World Translation.
Dave: Yeah, the New World Translation. So now, let’s count the gods in this verse. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,” big “G”—who is that? Well, that’s God, that’s Jehovah, they say. “ . . . and the Word was a god,” with a little “g.” Well now, who is this? Oh, that’s Jesus.
Tom: A created god.
Dave: But wait a minute! The Bible—Jehovah says, “I am God, [and] there is none else.” All of the gods are false gods. Now, would you say Jesus was a false god?
“Well, no, you wouldn’t say it.”
Well, wait a minute then. For all your talk about one God, you’ve got two gods—a big God and a little god, and that does not make sense and it is not biblical. Furthermore, all through the Old Testament, Yahweh, Jehovah, says, “I am the only Savior. If there is salvation, it must be by Me. I am the only Savior,”
But Jesus is the Savior! The angels declare to the shepherds, “Unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” How about that? Well, if Jesus is not God, if He is not Yahweh—He said, “I and my Father are one”—if He’s not God, then He can’t be the Savior!
Furthermore, you go back to Isaiah:9:6-7, where God is speaking through His prophet Isaiah, “Unto us a child is born . . . ”—that’s the babe born in Bethlehem—“ . . . unto us a Son is given,” the eternal Son of God. Psalm 2 talks about Him. Proverbs 30 talks about the Son. “The government will be upon his shoulders . . . ”—so we know this is the Messiah. “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God. . . . ”
Now, the Jehovah’s Witnesses say, “Well, that’s mighty God but not almighty God.” Wait a minute! There is only one God, and I can show you thirty-seven verses in the Old Testament where Yahweh, Jehovah, is called the Mighty God. But then it says, “ . . . the everlasting Father.” Wait a minute! This babe born in Bethlehem who will be the Messiah, is the everlasting Father? Yes, Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.”
So, all I am trying to say, Tom, and I haven’t given you a chance to get a word in edgewise . . .
Tom: No! I’m following this . . .
Dave: . . . but all we are saying is, look, any way that you look at this—philosophically, scientifically, logically, biblically—you can’t come to any other conclusion. There must be unity and diversity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, exactly as the Bible lays it out. It fits every way you can look at this, and nowhere else do you find this concept.
Tom: Dave, a little aside here—I’m sure it’s surprising to some people if they understand the doctrine as you have laid it out and as the Scriptures say clearly, when we have, “Let us make man in our image,” over and over, we have a plurality—a term that’s used in the Old Testament. Jesus himself quoted from the psalms in David, “ . . . and the Lord said to my Lord. . . . ” Why wouldn’t this be a part of Judaism? Why wouldn’t they pick up on that?
Dave: You see, you have something strange in the Old Testament, Tom. You have a plurality on the one hand, Elohim. Genesis:1:1: “In the beginning Elohim” . . . “in the beginning, Gods—Gods—created the heaven and the earth.” Well then, why don’t they believe in polytheism? Because it uses a singular verb— “created” is a singular verb. So, at the burning bush, it’s Elohim, “Gods,” but God says to Moses, “I AM,” not “we are.” “I AM that I AM.”
So, all through the Old Testament you have a plurality and a singularity—plurality in the noun, singularity in the pronoun and in the verb, and you are driven to the conclusion that there is a plurality and singularity in God himself, which is presented to us, and it fits—so it must be so.
So, when you get to the Shema—you interrupted me way back there, Tom, I didn’t forget now, we’ve got about ten seconds. In the Shema, “Hear, O, Israel, Jehovah, our Elohim is one Jehovah,” and the word for “one” there, in the Hebrew, is echad. It doesn’t mean a singularity, it means a unity! God said, “The man and woman became one flesh,” or a number of soldiers became “one troop.” So, the Shema, which they say, “oh, that’s where it says that God is one,” but echad is a unity, and you can’t escape it.
Tom: Dave, we are going to pick up on this next time. This is really fascinating.