In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…God saw all that he had made, and behold, it was very good. Genesis 1:1, 31a
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness… Genesis 1:26a
In the beginning God…
The Bible never argues God it assumes God, and it assumes a God of tremendous majesty, magnificence, power and presence. For those of you who enjoy Philosophy check out Anselm’s Ontological Argument. To simplify this argument one can conclude that God is “a being than which nothing greater can be thought.This is a greatness, not in size or space, but in perfection — perfection of intelligence, power, truth, love, all that makes perfection is found within this being.” Therefore if you try to describe God in human terms then He must be greater than what you describe. I believe this is why so many Christians have trouble wrapping their heads around the concept of the Trinity. Let’s look at a few things that might help us with this foundational Christian belief:
In the beginning God…
- God = The Hebrew word used here is Elohim. The noun Elohim is plural but it is always used with a singular verb when it speaks of the one true God. It also denotes majesty, kingship and power. Bara is the Hebrew word used for created in Genesis 1:1 and is only used in the act of creation by God. In context, the first verse of the Bible paints a picture of God as both Triune and One in power.
- The word God (Elohim) is plural (in the beginning God), and singular (God created/bara) at the same time. This indicates a unity and diversity within the nature of God. This unity and diversity is revealed in Scripture as the doctrine of the Trinity (Matthew 28:19). Elohim shows us the Trinity working together in the active participation of Father, Son and Holy Spirit at creation, from the beginning.
- LORD God = YHWH Elohim. LORD (all caps) denotes the Hebrew YHWH, the “I AM” name of God. It is a personal and relational name, and we see it being used in the second chapter of Genesis and later by Jesus in the Gospels.
- To further define, God is one in being, three in persons. One being is what God is, three persons is who God is. Humans are one being in one person. For example, I am a human-being that is what I am, but Teri Dugan is who I am.
- The Trinity also shows us the importance of relationship. God had relationship in the God-Head before He created and God wants relationship with us as evidenced in the Garden of Eden and through the person of Jesus.
There are so many ways people try to give examples for the Trinity (ice-steam-water, three-leaf clover, the egg etc.), all of which are inadequate and rightly so because as our Creator God He should be beyond our ability to completely understand. Nabeel Qureshi struggled with the concept of the trinity, but he had that a-ha moment when he was in a college chemistry class and came across resonance molecules. These molecules are capable of being one molecule and three different at the same time. Nabeel reasoned that if something in nature can have that type of property how much more so for God.
Read Nabeel’s book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus for a complete story of a former Muslim who came to the truth Christianity by reasoning through the evidence:
J. Warner Wallace has written about the truth and triune nature of God. Check out his website Cold Case Christianity to read more on this topic. I’ve summarized some of his research on the importance of the Trinity below:
- The Trinity accounts for the description of the evidence found in Scripture for the existence of one true God with the characteristics of this God being individually attributed to the persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- The Trinity Accounts for the origin of love because it explains how God is and has been love from all eternity as evidenced in the relationship of Triune nature then shared in relationship with us.
- The Trinity accounts for the Deity of Jesus because according to the Gospels and the earliest accounts of Christianity Jesus claimed to be God and proved He was God incarnate.
Jesus was the only one who could solve the human problem of sin, suffering and death. If Jesus was anything less than perfect God in human form then the sacrifice in our place could not have been acceptable. According to Wallace, “The cross is the place where God Himself paid the price of our sin; He did not require the death of another created being, the sacrifice of one human for another. Instead, He offered Himself in our place.”
The concept of the Trinity is taught in Scripture. Wallace shows that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are 1) Omnipotent/All-Powerful: Isaiah 64:8, John 1:3, Job 33:4. 2) Omniscient/All-Knowing: 1 John 3:20, John 16:30, 1 Corinthians 2:10. 3) Omnipresent/All-Present: 1 Kings 8:27, Matthew 28:20, Psalm 139:7-10. 4) Omnibenevolent/All-Loving: John 3:16, Ephesians 5:25, Romans 15:30-31. 5) Called God: Philippians 1:2, John 1:1, Acts 5:3-4.
Note: Father-Son-Holy Spirit in that order for each point of Scripture reference above.
Wallace tells us that the Trinity solves a Biblical dilemma. The solution to this apparent contradiction of Scripture (God is one, yet three are God) is the classic formulation of the Trinity as described in the Athanasian Creed:
- ““That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.” (from Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical notes. Volume II. The History of Creeds.. Harper & Brothers. 1877. pp. 66–71.)”
In addition, Scripture tells us that: 1) There is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4, Romans 3:30); 2) The Father is God (John 6:27, 14:1-31); 3) Jesus is God (John 1:1, 20:28, Romans 95, 2 Peter 1:1); 4) The Holy Spirit is God (Genesis 1:2, John 14:5-26, Acts 5:3-5); and 5) There are three distinct persons in the Godhead (Isaiah 48:12-16, John 14:16-17).
Nabeel Qureshi details the concept of the Trinity in his new book No God But One, Allah or Jesus. Watch and listen to Nabeel Qureshi in this 18 minute clip speak on the Deity of Christ and the Trinity:
Join us next week as we continue our Case for the Creator!
You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in! Join us as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.
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