Believing Jesus as God and Man Part 2 Definition of the Trinity

Most of you will never be asked to debate someone else (see part 1).  We all have different gifts and talents and God desires to use us with what He has given us.  He just wants us to be prepared to give an answer to those who ask us for the reason for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15).  My debating the Jehovah Witnesses was stepping up and using the gifts God has given me.  My teaching others about the Trinity is also a way to utilize my gifts.

The Trinity is the foundation for understanding how Jesus could be fully God and fully man.  I will review a few key points from my Trinity series before launching into how Jesus can be one person and two natures.

Definition of the Trinity: One God subsists in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; co-equal and co-eternal.

Bible teaches the Trinity: The Trinity is established by establishing these three key truths (see Loving the Trinity part 7 and part 8)

  1. Only one God
  2. Three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
  3. Father is God, Son is God, and Holy Spirit is God

All false religions violate at least one of these premises.  Mormonism believes in many gods, which violates “the only one God” pillar.  Oneness Pentecostals violate the 3 persons pillar by saying God operates at different times in different modes, one person at a time.  They believe the Father was present in the Old Testament (no Son or Holy Spirit), the Son mode followed while Jesus walked the earth, and today we are in the Holy Spirit mode.  Finally, Jehovah Witnesses affirm the Father is God, but deny the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.  They call Jesus a “lesser god” and the Holy Spirit is not a person but more like electricity.  My suggestion is to memorize these 3 pillars or key truths.  Knowing them will help you identify false belief systems and assist you in interpreting the Bible.  One more issue needs review to provide the foundation for what follows.

Understanding How the New Testament Uses Lord and God

Once we grasp the equality of the three persons in the one God, one wonders why the New Testament seems to call the Father God much more than the Holy Spirit or Jesus.  The issue the writers faced was to how to communicate the three persons each fully God without losing the distinctions.

Wayne Grudem writes: When we realize that the New Testament authors generally use the name “God” (Gk. theos) to refer to God the Father and the name “Lord” (Gk. kyrios) to refer to God the Son, then it is clear that there is another Trinitarian expression in 1 Corinthians 12:4–6: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one.” Similarly, the last verse of 2 Corinthians is Trinitarian in its expression: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.[1] (2 Cor. 13:14)

When we read the scriptures in context and recognize the word “God” is primarily the Father, we will clear up the passages that seem to be contradictions.  The infrequent times the Son or Holy Spirit are called “God” are easily recognized by the context.  Occasionally, “God” means the Trinity.  Passages declaring the existence of only one God are not identifying one of the three persons but the entire Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  James says the demons recognize the one God in James 2:19, You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.”  Here we see a perfect example of James identifying the Triune God.  (For more information on this topic go to part 12of the Loving the Trinity series)

Go to part 3 here

[1] Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology, Zondervan Publ., 1994, p. 230.

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