Understanding the Trinity: God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit
Understanding the Trinity is actually very easy and I will explain it to you today. I will also explain the false teachings out there on what the Trinity is not, so you can understand what you are possibly believing in and change to the correct understanding of what the Trinity is.
The Trinity is ONE God existing in three separate Persons. Now realise this just because we say three Persons does not mean there are three separate Gods, there is only ONE God. Now the world Trinity is not found in the bible, it is only a word used to describe the “trinue” Godhead, that being three co-external, co-existent Persons who make up ONE God. So it’s not the word Trinity that is of importance, it’s what it represents that’s important.
The following is what God’s Word says about the Trinity:
1) There is ONE God (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5).
2) The Trinity consists of THREE SEPARATE PERSONS. See here: (Genesis 1:1,26;3:22;11:7; Isaiah 6:8,48:16,61:1; Matthew 3:16-17,28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14).
- In (Genesis 1:1), the plural noun for “Elohim” is used (that meaning more than one). In( Genesis 1:26,3:22,11:7 and Isaiah 6:8), the plural pronoun for “us” is used. “us” denotes that there is more than one person at the same time.
- In (Isaiah 48:16 and Isaiah 61:1), Jesus Christ the Son is speaking while making reference to the God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
- Compare (Isaiah 61:1 to Luke 4:14-19) to see that it is the Jesus Christ the of Son of God speaking.
- (Matthew 3:16-17) describes Jesus Christ’ baptism. Notice in this passage that the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus Christ the Son while GOD the Father proclaims from heaven that He is happy with His Son.
- (Matthew 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14) are examples of three distinct Persons in the Trinity.
3) In the Old Testament the members of the Trinity are distinguished one from another in a number of scriptures.
- Capitalized ‘LORD’ is distinguished separately from “Lord” (Genesis 19:24; Hosea 1:4), in other words, The LORD has a Son (Psalm 2:7,12;Proverbs 30:2-4).
- The Holy Spirit is distinguished separately from the “LORD” (Numbers 27:18) and from ‘God’ (Psalm 51:10-12).
- Jesus Christ the Son is distinguished separately from God the Father (Psalm 45:6-7; Hebrews 1:8-9).
In the New Testament
- In the book of John, Jesus Christ the Son speaks to the God the Father about sending a Helper, that being the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17). This tells us that Jesus was not part of the Father or the Holy Spirit but separate.
- Remember all the occasions in the bible where Jesus Christ speaks to God the Father. Was He speaking to Himself? No. He was speaking to the other person in the Godhead, His Father.
4) Now each Person in the Trinity is God, God the Father (John 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Peter 1:2). God the Son (John 1:1,14; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:20). and God the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16). But they are not separate GODS as I mentioned earlier, they are all ONE.
5) There is actually subordination within the Godhead.
- The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit is subordinate to God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son.
- Jesus Christ is subordinate to God the Father.
This is how their relationship works and it does not deny the deity of any person within the Godhead. Concerning Jesus Christ the Son see (Luke 22:42; John 5:36; John 20:21, and 1 John 4:14). Concerning the Holy Spirit see (John 14:16,14:26; 15:26,16:7, and most importantly see (John 16:13-14.)
6) The individual persons of the Godhead have different tasks.
- God the Father is the ultimate source or cause of the universe (1 Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 4:11); divine revelation (Revelation 1:1); salvation (John 3:16-17); and Jesus’ human works (John 5:17;14:10). The Father initiates all of these things.
- Jesus Christ the Son is the advocate through whom the Father does the following works: the creation and maintenance of the universe (1 Corinthians 8:6; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17); divine revelation (John 1:1,16:12-15; Matthew 11:27; Revelation 1:1); and salvation (2 Corinthians 5:19; Matthew 1:21; John 4:42). The Father does all these things through Jesus Christ the Son, who functions as His advocate/agent.
- The Holy Spirit is the means by whom the Father does the following works: creation and maintenance of the universe (Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13; Psalm 104:30); divine revelation (John 16:12-15;Ephesians 3:5;2 Peter 1:21); salvation (John 3:6;Titus 3:5;1 Peter 1:2); and Jesus’ works (Isaiah 61:1;Acts 10:38). Thus, the Father does all these things by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Trinity of God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit
The doctrine of the Trinity has caused much division throughout the history of the entire Christian church, must of it causing Christians to fall of the narrow path and follow deceptive doctrines. The main aspects of the Godhead are clearly explained in the Word of God that being; God the Father who is a Spirit (John 4:24), God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are 3 separate Persons within the Godhead and this is the biblical doctrine of the Trinity.
Biblical Trinity vs. Catholic Trinity
Neither Catholics or Jehovah Witnesses understand the difference between 1st Century Biblical Trinity vs. 4th century Creedal Trinity and apparently neither do many Christians today who appear to be very confused on this issue.
- The Catholic Trinity denies the Bible doctrine of the subordination of Jesus Christ Christ to God the Father.
- The Catholic Trinity speaks where the Bible was silent in explaining how God is three in one.
- The Catholic Trinity goes beyond the simple Bible truths of the deity of Jesus Christ and the personality of the Holy Spirit and speculates the “mechanical make-up” of God on almost an “atomic level”.
Modalism – God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are not manifestations:
There are some false teachings out there, one in particular called Modalism or Sabellianism. Modalism is a:
Sabellius (fl. ca. 215) was a third century priest and theologian who most likely taught in Rome, but may have been an African from Libya. Basil and others call him a Libyan from Pentapolis, but this seems to rest on the fact that Pentapolis was a place where the teachings of Sabellius thrived, according to Dionysius of Alexandria, c. 260. What is known of Sabellius is drawn mostly from the polemical writings of his opponents.
Sabellius taught that God was single and indivisible, with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit being three modes or manifestations of one divine Person. A Sabellian modalist would say that the One God successively revealed Himself to man throughout time as the Father in Creation; the Son in Redemption; and the Spirit in Sanctification and Regeneration. (Because of this focus on God’s revelation of himself to man, Modalism is often confused with Economic Trinitarianism). [Emphasis added]
However, Gregg Allison explains modalism was first, tt wasn’t started by a third-century teacher from Rome named Sabellius…but
“introduced by Praxeas in Rome, articulated by Noetus of Smyrna and his disciples Zephyrinus and Callistus (both bishops of Rome), and popularized by Sabellius” — Gregg Allison, Historical Theology (p. 235).
Also known as “modalistic monarchianism,” this heretical view:
“… held that there is one God who can be designated by three different names-‘Father,’ ‘Son,’ and ‘Holy Spirit’-at different times, but these three are not distinct persons. Instead they are different modes (thus, modalism) of the one God. Thus, God can be called ‘Father’ as the Creator of the world and Lawgiver; he can be called ‘Son’ as God incarnate in Jesus Christ; and he can be called ‘Holy Spirit’ as God in the church age. Accordingly, Jesus Christ is God and the Spirit is God, but they are not distinct persons.” (Ibid., 235-36). [Emphasis added]
Since the Councils of Nicaea (325) and other councils, modalism has been understood by everyone and by every major branch of orthodox Christianity to be heretical. –
Does anyone still believe in Modalism ?
Well yes, Oneness Pentecostalism (also known as Apostolic Pentecostalism or One God Pentecostalism) refers to denominations and/or believers, all of whom believe in the nontrinitarian theological doctrine of Oneness. This movement rose up around 1914 and claims an estimated 24 million followers today.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Oneness teaching asserts that God is a singular spirit who is one person, not three divine persons, individuals or minds. “Father”, “Son” and “Holy Spirit” are merely titles reflecting the different personal manifestations of the One True God in the universe. When Oneness believers speak of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, they see these as three personal manifestations of one being, one personal God:
Father: The title of God in parental relationship
Son of God: God incarnate in human flesh; “Son” refers to either the humanity and the deity of Jesus together, or to the humanity alone, but never to the deity alone
Holy Spirit: The title of God in activity as Spirit
Oneness teachers often quote a phrase used by early pioneers of the movement – “God was manifested as the Father in creation, the Son in redemption, and the Holy Ghost in emanation.”
Oneness theology sees that when the one personal and omnipresent God manifests or reveals himself, it is in a personal way. Oneness theology sees the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one transcendent, personal, omnipresent God manifesting himself in three personal and distinct ways or forms to redeem and sanctify sinful and lost humanity, and also that all the fullness of the deity resides fully in the person of Christ. (Col. 2:1-10) — Wiki Oneness Pentecostalism
Oneness Pentecostalism teaches that God is one Person, and that the Father (a spirit) is united with Jesus (a man) as the Son of God. However, Oneness Pentecostalism differs somewhat by rejecting sequential modalism, and by the full acceptance of the begotten humanity of the Son, not eternally begotten, who was the man Jesus and was born, crucified, and risen, and not the deity. This directly opposes Patripassianism and the pre-existence of the Son, which Sabellianism does not.
Oneness Pentecostals believe that Jesus was “Son” only when he became flesh on earth, but was the Father before being made man. They refer to the Father as the “Spirit” and the Son as the “Flesh”. But they believe that Jesus and the Father are one essential Person. Though operating as different “manifestations” or “modes”. Oneness Pentecostals reject the Trinity doctrine, viewing it as pagan and un-Scriptural, and hold to the Jesus’ Name doctrine with respect to baptisms. They are often referred to as “Modalists” or “Sabellians” or “Jesus Only”. Oneness Pentecostalism can be compared to Sabellianism, or can be described as holding to a form of Sabellianism, as both are Nontrinitarian, and as both believe that Jesus was “Almighty God in the Flesh”, but they do not totally identify each other. —http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabellianism
T D Jakes is a Modalist:
T. D. Jakes is part of the Oneness Pentecostal movement.
– The Potter’s House website says this in their doctrinal statement:
“There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three manifestations: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” [Emphasis added]
– According to a 2000 article from Christianity Today, when asked about the doctrine of the Trinity, T. D. Jakes responded:
“The Trinity, the term ‘Trinity,’ is not a biblical term, to begin with. It’s a theological description for something that is so beyond human comprehension that I’m not sure that we can totally hold God to a numerical system. The Lord said, “Behold, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one, and beside him there is no other.” When God got ready to make a man that looked like him, he didn’t make three. He made one man. However, that one man had three parts. He was body, soul, and spirit. We have one God, but he is Father in creation, Son in redemption, and Holy Spirit in regeneration.” [Emphasis added]
– In a response to the above Christianity Today article (also from 2000), Jakes used this illustration to define his understanding of the Godhead:
“Though no human illustration perfectly fits the Divine, it is similar to ice, water and steam: three separate forms, yet all H²O. Each element can co-exist, each has distinguishing characteristics and functions, but all have sameness.” [Emphasis added]
Later, in that same article, Jakes denied that his use of the word “manifestations” was rooted in modalism:
“The language in the doctrinal statement of our ministry that refers to the Trinity of the Godhead as “manifestations” does not derive from modalism. The Apostle Paul himself used this term referring to the Godhead in 1 Timothy 3:15, 1 Corinthians 12:7, and 1 John 3:5-8 [sic]. Peter also used the term in 1 Peter 1:20. Can this word now be heresy when it is a direct quote from the Pauline epistles and used elsewhere in the New Testament?”
– However, many Christians were not convinced. In a 2001 article, again in Christianity Today, TD Jakes says:
“And God said, ‘Let us. Let usssssss … ‘” says Jakes, and then digresses: ” … One God, but manifest in … three different ways, Father in creation, Son in redemption, Holy Spirit in regeneration. And God said, ‘Let usssssss … ‘” [Emphasis added]
There we have it again, modalism, this is the view of those in off Oneness Pentecostals, which describes TD Jakes.
– A 2002 Christianity Today article further explained that evangelicals have always regarded Oneness Pentecostalism as being outside the boundaries of orthodox Christianity, noting that “orthodox Christian theologians believe Oneness theology is guilty of the heresy of modalism.”
– In a more recent interview – 2010 interview – T. D. Jakes suggests that he wants to distance himself from Oneness Pentecostalism. However, he is still very confused when it comes to the Trinity. After prancing around the issue, Jakes finally comes out and says says:
“I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I believe that they are three Persons. I believe that in a way that Persons is a limited word for the Godhead. And even those who adhere to that say that to be true. But I think the issue is that they are distinctive. There are things that can be said about the Father that couldn’t be said about the Son and then the Holy Spirit… I believe that. I’ve grown into that, but I came into a Pentecostal church that happened to be Oneness. They loved me at a time that my father died. I became friends with them and in covenant with them and embraced them. And though I don’t agree with everything, and they don’t agree with everything, they’re evolving as a people.’
It actually doesn’t matter what TD Jakes says, he is still a false teacher and is unbiblical on a multitude of other issues besides this issue. Another things is this, people don’t “evolve”. As a born again Christian you know the truth as the Holy Spirit tells you what is wrong and what is right and He will not lie to you about how the Trinity is comprised; that being 3 separate co-existing, co-external Persons: God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit as one God.