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Three In One

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New City Catechism  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  26:55
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Welcome!
Turn with me please to 2 Cor. 13:14
2 Corinthians 13:14 NKJV
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
The doctrinal understanding of a Trinitarian God is a most important Christian doctrine, yet one most don’t often think about.
As Kevin DeYoung puts it, “It’s absolutely essential to our faith, and yet for many Christians it just seems like a very confusing math problem.”
Although the word Trinity does not appear in the Bible. The doctrine is based on several emphatic assertions that are found throughout the biblical writings:
The doctrine of the Trinity means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This definitions express three crucial truths: (1) the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons, (2) each Person is fully God, (3) there is only one God.
In fact there are actually seven statements that go into the doctrine of the Trinity:
1. God is one. THere’s only one God.
2. The Father is God.
3. The Son is God.
4. The Holy Spirit is God.
5. The Father is not the Son.
6. The Son is not the Spirit.
7. The Spirit is not the Father.
God exists and expresses Himself as three persons. It is important to use the appropriate language in the title persons, because it speaks to the personality of the three members and their coordinate relationship with each other.
Each member of the trinity is distinct in person yet one in essence.
1. Christianity is Monotheistic (There is only one God)
Deuteronomy 6:4 NKJV
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!
Isaiah 43:10 NKJV
10 “You are My witnesses,” says the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me.
Isaiah 46:9 NKJV
9 Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,
Romans 3:30 NKJV
30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
1 Corinthians 8:4 NKJV
4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.
James 2:19 NKJV
19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!
2. This one God is seen in three persons:
The Bible speaks of the Father as God
Philippians 1:2 NKJV
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus as God
Titus 2:13 NKJV
13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
and the Holy Spirit as God
Acts 5:3–4 NKJV
3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
The one whom Jesus called “Father”
Philippians 1:2 NKJV
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
the incarnate Son
Matthew 1:23 NKJV
23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Colossians 2:9 NKJV
9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
Titus 2:13 NKJV
13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
and the Holy Spirit
Acts 5:3–4 NKJV
3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
all possess the necessary attributes of this God.
3. These three are not identical; they interact with one another and their identities are correlating with respect to one another
Matthew 3:16–17 NKJV
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He 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.”
Matthew 17:5 NKJV
5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
Luke 4:1 NKJV
1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
John 15:26 NKJV
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.
2 Corinthians 13:14 NKJV
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
They are different Persons, not three different ways of looking at God.
The persons of the Trinity are seen throughout Scripture.
Although the doctrine of the trinity relies mostly on the New Testament certain groundwork is implicitly present in the Old Testament. This does not reflect a change in the Godhead, but rather a change in how God chose to reveal Himself before the “fullness of time” (Gal 4:4).
Why does this even matter?
It helps our understanding of salvation
We see an example of this, in how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are working in complete union in our salvation.
The Father appoints, the Son accomplished, and the Spirit applies.
It helps our understanding of prayer
The Trinity has a very significant application to prayer. The general pattern of prayer in the Bible is to pray to the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18).
When you have a triune God, you have the eternality of love.
If God did not exist in three persons, He would have had to create a being to love.
But God, existing in three persons has always had this triune relationship of love. So love is not a created thing.
God didn’t have to go outside of Himself to love. Love is eternal, because God is love.
If God is three Persons, does this mean that each Person is “one third” of God? Does the Trinity mean that God is divided into three parts?
The doctrine of the Trinity does not divide God into three parts. The Bible is clear that all three Persons are each one-hundred-percent God.
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each fully God. For example, Colossians 2:9 says of Christ, “in him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form.” We should not think of God as a “pie” cut into three pieces, each piece representing a Person. This would make each Person less than fully God and thus not God at all. Rather, “the being of each Person is equal to the whole being of God” (Grudem, Systematic Theology, 1994, page 255). The divine essence is not something that is divided between the three persons, but is fully in all three persons without being divided into “parts.”
Thus, the Son is not one-third of the being of God; he is all of the being of God. The Father is not one-third of the being of God; he is all of the being of God. And likewise with the Holy Spirit. Thus, as Wayne Grudem writes, “When we speak of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together we are not speaking of any greater being than when we speak of the Father alone, the Son alone, or the Holy Spirit alone” (Ibid., 252).
One in Essence - God’s essence is his being. To be even more precise, essence is what you are.
Three in Persons - Person is something that regards himself as “I” and others as “You.” So the Father, for example, is a different Person from the Son because he regards the Son as a “You,” even though he regards himself as “I.” Thus, in regards to the Trinity, we can say that “Person” means a distinct subject which regards himself as an “I” and the other two as a “You.”
As theologian and apologist Norman Geisler has explained it, while essence is what you are, person is who you are. So God is one “what” but three “who’s.”
On how the essence and persons relate Wayne Grudem explains,
But if each person is fully God and has all of God’s being, then we also should not think that the personal distinctions are any kind of additional attributes added on to the being of God. . . . Rather, each person of the Trinity has all of the attributes of God, and no one Person has any attributes that are not possessed by the others. On the other hand, we must say that the Persons are real, that they are not just different ways of looking at the one being of God . . . the only way it seems possible to do this is to say that the distinction between the persons is not a difference of ‘being’ but a difference of ‘relationships.’ This is something far removed from our human experience, where every different human ‘person’ is a different being as well. Somehow God’s being is so much greater than ours that within his one undivided being there can be an unfolding into interpersonal relationships, so that there can be three distinct persons. (253–254)
Illustrations:
While there are some illustrations which are helpful, we should recognize that no illustration is perfect. Unfortunately, there are many illustrations which are not simply imperfect, but in error.
One illustration to beware of is the one which says, “I am one person, but I am a student, son, and brother. This explains how God can be both one and three.” The problem with this is that it reflects a heresy called modalism. God is not one person who plays three different roles, as this illustration suggests. He is one Being in three Persons (centers of consciousness), not merely three roles. This analogy ignores the personal distinctions within God and mitigates them to mere roles.
One popular and simple illustration of the Trinity is the egg. A chicken egg consists of a shell, a yolk, and an egg white, yet it is altogether one egg. The three parts create a unified whole. The shortfall of this illustration, and others like it, is that God cannot be divided into “parts.” The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are one in essence, but the same cannot be said for the shell, yolk, and white of an egg.
A similar illustration uses the apple: the fruit’s skin, flesh, and seeds all comprise the apple, just as the Father, Son, and Spirit all comprise God. This illustration has the same weakness as the egg illustration, namely, the parts of the apple, considered independently, are not the apple. By contrast, each Person of the Trinity, taken independently, is still God.
Another illustration is said to have originated with St. Patrick. As Patrick was evangelizing the people of ancient Ireland, he explained the concept of the Trinity by using a very common plant in Ireland: the shamrock, a member of the clover family with three small, green leaves on a single stem.
Picture
Closing:
The Trinity is not belief in three gods. There is only one God, and we must never stray from this.This one God exists as three Persons.The three Persons are not each part of God, but are each fully God and equally God. Within God’s one undivided being there is an “unfolding” into three interpersonal relationships such that there are three Persons. The distinctions within the Godhead are not distinctions of his essence and neither are they something added onto his essence, but they are the unfolding of God’s one, undivided being into three interpersonal relationships such that there are three real Persons.God is not one person who took three consecutive roles. That is the heresy of modalism. The Father did not become the Son and then the Holy Spirit. Instead, there have always been and always will be three distinct persons in the Godhead.The Trinity is not a contradiction because God is not three in the same way that he is one. God is one in essence, three in Person.
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