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Trinity…equal or hierarchal?

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1. Given that there is God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is there a hierarchy in the Trinity?

 
The short answer is “yes” and “no.” Consider the biblical evidence.

 
Yes – there is a hierarchy in relationship within the Trinity.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:14-15, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” God is recognized honored as the One with Fatherhood.

Jesus tells us in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. ” Jesus is recognized as being the Son with the appearance of coming after the Father and with unique characteristics: part man and fully God.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 that “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” Thus the Holy Spirit knows and understands the thoughts and depths of God. And Jesus tells us in John 15:26, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.”

The Father sent the Son whose purpose was to reveal the Father. The Son sent the Spirit whose purpose was to reveal the Son.

NO- no hierarchy exists in nature within the Trinity despite the different functional roles that They play.

Creation. Each personality of the Trinity created the world.

God the Father
Psalm 102:25, “Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.”

Jesus Christ the Son
Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

Holy Spirit
Genesis 1:2, “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” 

Creation of man. Each personality of the Trinity created man.

God the Father
Genesis 2:7, “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

Jesus Christ the Son
Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

Holy Spirit
Job 33:4, “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

The Incarnation. The power of God, ministered through the Holy Spirit, resulted in the birth of Jesus Christ.

Luke 1:35, “The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”
Matthew 1:18-20, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

The Baptism of Our Lord. When Jesus Christ was baptized, the Spirit descended on Him and God the Father attested to His Son.

Matthew 3:15-16, “But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.'”

Death of Christ. Each personality of the Trinity was involved with the death of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

The Resurrection of Christ. Each personality of the Trinity was involved with the resurrection.


God the Father

Acts 3:26, “For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

1 Thessalonians 1:10, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.”

Jesus Christ the Son
John 2:19-21, “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body.”

John 10:17, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.”

Holy Spirit
Romans 8:11, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

The Provision of Our Redemption. Each personality of the Trinity is brought together in providing for man’s eternal salvation.

God the Father chose us for salvation, Jesus Christ the Son was the offering to God the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit set us apart.

Hebrews 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
1 Peter 1:1-2, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.”

Indwelling Believers. Both Jesus and God the Father dwell within Believers through the person of the Holy Spirit.

John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.”

John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.”

The Great Commission. The name of each distinct personality of the Trinity is invoked at baptism; but note that they are declared in one name.

Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'”

http://helpmewithbiblestudy.org/4Trinity/DeityEqualOrHierarchal.aspx

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Acts 2:38   Satan’s Favorite Bible Verse!  By James L. Melton

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)

The above verse of scripture is a favorite among many religious groups. One can hear it several times on Sunday morning radio programs, as well as from the pulpits of numerous groups, and it can be found in much religious literature. The verse is a favorite because, on the surface, it seemingly states that one must be baptized in order to be saved, and without baptism one is not saved. So, those who believe that water baptism is essential for salvation make it a regular habit of using Acts 2:38 as scriptural support.

The problem is that Acts 2:38 isn’t the only verse in the Bible which deals with salvation. While many claim to “speak where the scriptures speak and remain silent where the scriptures are silent,” they practically ignore most of the New Testament teaching on salvation. The only verses that such false teachers quote and reference are the ones they feel they can use to promote their “water gospel.” The fact is that most of what the New Testament says about salvation doesn’t include baptism at all! (John 5:24, John 11:25-26, John 14:6, Romans 4:5, Romans 10:9-13, Eph. 2:8-9, etc.), and the few places that do mention water baptism do not include it as part of one’s salvation. Water baptism follows salvation as one of the first steps of obedience for the new believer.

In spite of this obvious truth, the cultists remain steadfast in their heresy, insisting that Acts 2:38 sets forth water baptism as a requirement for salvation. Thus, this verse of scripture has become Satan’s favorite Bible verse. In fact, many are trusting water baptism alone for the salvation of their souls! Indeed, Satan has deceived multitudes by his perversion of Acts 2:38.

Rather than ignore Acts 2:38 by quoting “our favorite verses” instead, it is more appropriate to face this popular verse of scripture and see if the cultists are right in what they claim it teaches.

The Truth about Acts 2:38

First, please notice that verse 38 isn’t the only verse in Acts 2. In Peter’s message, a great deal was said before verse 38 came out of his mouth. In fact, he even told his listeners how to be saved before verse 38! In Acts 2:21, Peter quotes from Joel 2 and says, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” His words preceding verse 38 were so convicting that his listeners were “pricked in their heart” in verse 37. So, to use verse 38 out of its context causes a misrepresentation of God’s word. The verse does not stand alone, and, in fact, a totally different meaning is conveyed when one makes it stand alone.

Another error that many make with Acts 2:38 is the error of assumption. It is assumed that the word “for” must mean “in order to get.” That is, being baptized “for” the remission of sins supposedly means to be baptized “in order to get” remission of sins. However, a closer look at the scriptures will reveal that this isn’t the case at all.

Notice Luke 5:12-14: “And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” Jesus made this man clean in verse 13, yet in the next verse, verse 14, Jesus tells him to go offer a sacrifice “for thy cleansing” as a “testimony.” Here the word “for” cannot mean “in order to get” because he had already gotten his cleansing in verse 13! It obviously meant “because of” his cleansing. If a man goes to jail “for stealing,” then he goes there “because of” the stealing that he’s already done, not “in order to get” a chance to steal again.

Some like to argue that the Greek word “eis” means “in order to,” but this isn’t always the case. Jesus said in Matthew 12:41, “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at (eis) the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” The Greek word for “at” is “eis.” Does this mean that the men of Nineveh repented “in order to get” the preaching of Jonah? No, they repented “because of” the preaching of Jonah. So, even “the Greek” doesn’t demand the popular interpretation of Acts 2:38. The word “for” can be used different ways, not just one, so it is wrong to assume that it must mean “in order to get” in Acts 2:38.

Another factor which is commonly ignored is the JEWISH factor. Every person in Acts 2 is a Mosaic law observing Old Testament Jew. In fact, they are all gathered together to observe a JEWISH FEAST called Pentecost (verse 1). A fair reading of the whole chapter (especially verses 4, 14, and 36) will clearly reveal that no Gentiles (non Jews) are present. Since this involves Jews, it involves a NATION (verse 36!!), not individuals. No one asked, “What must I do to be saved?” The question asked concerned the NATION of Israel: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (verse 37) Not, “What shall I do,” but rather, “What shall WE do?” Acts 2 presents a NATION of people who come to realize that they have murdered their blessed Messiah and they’re asking what THEY must do. It’s a question concerning NATIONAL salvation. Isaiah 66:8 says, “. . . shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” The “nation” is Israel! Romans 11:26 says, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Acts 2:38 is dealing with NATIONAL salvation. The Messianic Kingdom is still available to the Jews (until Acts 7:60 when they kill Stephen), so national salvation remains an issue until then.

This is clear from what follows Acts 7. In Acts 8, an individual from Africa is saved (before baptism). In Acts 9, an individual from Asia is saved (before baptism). In Acts 10, an individual from Europe is saved (before baptism). Why didn’t these individual conversions occur before Acts 7? Because the first seven chapter of Acts deal with Israel (1:6-8; 2:36; 3:12; 4:8-10; 5:31; 6:7-14; 7:1-60). The question of INDIVIDUAL salvation is asked and answered in Acts 16:30-31: “. . . Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Those who fail to make this distinction are guilty of violating II Timothy 2:15 where we are told to RIGHTLY DIVIDE the word of truth.

The Bible says the gospel is to go to the Jew FIRST (Rom. 1:16), so they are the FIRST to receive the gospel in the book of Acts (chapter 2), but they are not the last to receive it. Acts doesn’t end with chapter 2, so we should be cautious of anyone who develops their doctrine in Acts 2 while practically ignoring the next 26 chapters! If God didn’t stop in Acts 2, then why does anyone else? Could it be that the later chapters in Acts contain information which the cultists want hidden from us? Could it be that there are other scriptures in Acts which do not agree with the wording of Acts 2:38? Could it be that Peter himself, the one preaching in Acts 2:38, says something different when speaking to individual Gentiles like you and me? One only has to read Acts chapter 10 to get the answer. Peter is preaching again in Acts 10, except only to individual Gentiles, and something very interesting occurs. In Acts 2:38, the Holy Ghost was promised to be given to the converts AFTER they were baptized, yet in Acts 10:44 the Holy Ghost falls upon the Gentiles BEFORE they are baptized! Now, Paul tells us in Romans 8:9, ” . . .if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Having God’s Spirit is synonymous with belonging to God or being saved (John 3:6-8), so the Gentiles in Acts 10 were saved BEFORE they were baptized in water. Why don’t the Acts 2:38 cultists ever point this out? Answer: It destroys their perverted doctrine that water baptism is essential for salvation.

The fact is that Acts 2:38 is NOT the “model” plan of salvation, nor are any of the other “water verses” which the cultists use. Only by taking such verses out of their context can one teach such heresy. All of the Bible is true, not just the favorite “proof texts” of the cults. Baptism saves no one. It only serves as a testimonial picture of the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ AFTER one has believed on Christ (Acts 8:36-38). Paul said in I Corinthians 1:17 that “. . . Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” This “gospel” is defined by Paul in I Corinthians 15:1-4, and it does NOT include water baptism. The dying thief was not baptized, yet Jesus saved him (Luke 23:42-43), and John wrote that we are washed in the BLOOD of Christ (Rev. 1:5), not in the water. In fact, the saints in Heaven claim to have gotten there by the blood of Jesus (Rev. 5:9), not by water. By faith in the blood of Jesus Christ one is saved (Rom. 3:25). Water baptism only follows this faith as an outward step of obedience.

Friend, if you have fallen for the water gospel, why not repent of your sin and trust Jesus Christ alone? Acts 10:43 says, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Why not believe on Christ 100% right now and quit trusting something you DO for salvation? “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1) Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Why not right now?

Copyright © 2000 James L. Melton

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http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Doctrines/Baptismal%20Regeneration/acts_2-38.htm

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IS THE TRINITY PAGAN? Is the Holy Trinity Pagan?

Some groups (including Jehovah’s Witnesses) claim that the Holy Trinity comes from paganism; Is there really any truth, or hard evidence in this claim?

My purpose in this article and in the graph which follows it, is to show that this claim is a nonsense because, as a matter of fact, the Trinity is a very distinctively Christian belief. Following this brief article you will find a graph showing how The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit are all biblically revealed to be God. If you do not read the article at least scroll down to the Godhead graph so you will know the Scriptures to quote in any future controversy.

So What is the Trinity?

It is the Christian belief that there are Three Persons in One God. These Three Persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – are distinct from one another yet they share the same Divine Nature. Thus they are not three distinct gods, but one God; so God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit ALL (according to the Holy Bible) bear the character and attributes of God.

Some cults and sects claim that the early Christians copied the Holy Trinity from surrounding pagan religions. They are a mile from the truth. So just what is the truth? Why did the ‘Church Fathers’ find it necessary to set out this doctrine? Far from what the sects and cults teach (and they are often woefully ignorant of the facts of church history), the concept actually came from a very careful reading and inspired interpretation of the Bible, which refers to three distinct Persons as “God” yet insists that there is but one God. The ‘fathers’ were concerned that some early groups were coming to an understanding of God which did not do full justice to ALL the Scriptures about God so they found it necessary to set these things out doctrinally in order to avoid error and heresy. Many of these things were set out in doctrinal, creedal fashion in the 4th century. Much (though not all) of this was in order to refute Arius who was guilty of perverting the Scriptures which refer to God. This man, of course, came to give his name to the well-recognized heresy of Arianism – very much ‘alive and kicking’ in today’s Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Evidence of an Egyptian “Trinity”?

Before Christianity, no religion ever believed in a single Deity consisting of three persons. Detractors sometimes say that the Osirus-Isis-Horus family of ancient Egyptian mythology was a “model” for the Christian Trinity. Yet this is clearly a triad of distinct pagan deities, not a trinity in the Christian sense. The Egyptians never considered them to be three persons in one God, but as two separate gods and a goddess – among numerous other divinities such as Hathor, Ptah, Neith, Set, Nut, Geb, and Basht, to name a few. The highest deity in their pantheon was the sun god Ra, so they didn’t even consider the Osirus-Isis-Horus triad to be supreme among the gods!

A Triune Goddess Among the Celts?

Some point to “triple goddesses” worshipped by the pagan Celts as forerunners of the Christian Trinity. Yet these were either triads of mother goddesses or a single goddess with three “aspects” or “modes of being”. The Holy Trinity isn’t one Divine Person with three “aspects” or “modes”, for the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are personally distinct from one another. Thus the “triple goddess” is merely a threefold deity, not a true trinity in the Christian sense, thus could not be the origin of the Holy Trinity.

The problem is that when people go looking for pagan ‘divine triads’ they might well find them, but so would they find ‘divine quartets’, ‘divine septets’ or almost anything else! It depends what the researcher is looking for! We must realize that in India alone it is claimed that over 1,000,000 deities are worshipped (according to the region and the particular strain of religiosity one prefers)!! – in such a huge number we might find almost anything! However, if it could indeed be shown that there are many pagan divine triads (probably highly dubious), is it not possible that Satan himself could have fashioned this on his knowledge of God as the former Lucifer? It would “prove” nothing.

Hindu Trimurti = Trinity?

Other critics within the cults claim that the Hindu “trimurti” – Brahma, Vishnu and Siva – was another model for the Christian Trinity. Yet scholars tell us that this “trimurti” only appears in Hinduism during the 4th-7th centuries AD. By that time the Christian understanding of the Holy Trinity was becoming fairly well-established! If the Holy Trinity concept predates the Hindu trimurti (which certainly appears to be the case), the former could not have been copied from the latter. In fact, given Hinduism’s tendency to absorb concepts from other religions, and the fact that Christianity reached India in the first century, it is very likely that the Hindu teachers developed the trimurti along the lines of the Trinity-concept professed by Indian Christians!

Yet the former is not an exact copy of the latter. Hindus do not consider Brahma, Vishnu and Siva to be three persons in one God, but three distinct gods who each manifest part of Brahman, the impersonal Absolute. Some even add a fourth god, Ishvara, to this group, and claim that he is the first – antecedent to the other three! This demolishes the threeness which might seem to parallel the Trinity.

Moreover, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva each have a goddess consort – Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Sakti respectively. That would make not three but six. Add Ishvara and his consort, Maheshvari, and you now have eight primary manifestations of Brahman! Yet these are only eight among millions of divinities in the Hindu tradition, all of which are considered various manifestations of the Absolute.

Thus any alleged Hindu parallel with the Trinity quickly dissolves into a modalistic polytheism and finally a monistic pantheism, in which all diversity in the universe merely manifests an underlying spiritual Unity (a concept which has no place at all in orthodox Christianity, although it certainly appears in New Ageism).

CONCLUSION
(But please check out the graph AT THE ARTICLES SITE before you leave this article!)

It is only too clear that those cults and sects which reject the Trinity do not even correctly understand it so it should not surprise us that they think they can find the Trinity in polytheism or modalism when those concepts are absolutely anathema to the doctrine of The Holy Trinity. So the Christian concept of the Trinity is quite unique to world religions, not copied from another faith but progressively revealed by God in Holy Scripture. Undoubtedly some Christians believe that various pagan triads and threefold deities may have originated in a primitive revelation of – or memory of – the Triunity of the One True God. This is also quite possible. Perhaps the memory traces back to our first parents, who walked with God at the dawn of humanity. Or maybe God revealed something of the Divinity to “righteous pagans”, Gentiles of centuries past who genuinely sought the Most High God (the Bible certainly appears to suggest that such people have existed). These memories or revelations may have seeped into the legends of the human race, and soon became myths of divine triads and deities with three “aspects”. For every religion has an element of truth in it; perhaps this is one such element. This may show that God has not left the human race in complete ignorance of Divine Truth throughout the ages. But many other Christians, including myself, are somewhat sceptical that divine triads can be found in paganism any more than any other shape or number of “divinities”.

Thus if we do locate pagan religious notions which might bear a slight resemblance to biblical truth, they would frankly prove nothing, and most certainly they would not prove that early Christians copied these concepts. Why would the early Christians do such a thing when we have a record which shows how determined they were in their fight against paganism? In fact, we have a very clear record from church history which tells us why ‘the fathers’ were concerned to outline the Trinity: It was a concern that biblical truth about God should be carefully preserved.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/robin.brace/1THEGODHEAD.html

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Dr. Pyuwarmer flipped the chart closed, took off his reading glasses, and let out a long sigh. “John, there is a procedure that can save your life. I’d like you to consider it.

John Skeptich rubbed his temples and looked up. “Well, is it an invasive procedure?”

“Well, that’s hard to answer, John. Yes and no.”

“You call that an answer, doc?” John’s frustration was beginning to show. “Either it is or it isn’t.”

“Well, it’s kind of both. I’m sorry, but it’s hard to describe. It’s a very advanced procedure, and I don’t really understand it fully myself. However, I think you should have it done.”

“Do you have any literature that can explain it?”

“Well, yes, but it’s not very clearly spelled out. You kind of have to read between the lines. It’s all in there though.”

John could no longer hide his frustration. He stood up, grabbed his coat, and fixed Dr. Pyuwarmer with a hard look. “Look doctor. You’re asking me to submit to a procedure you don’t understand and can’t explain. With all due respect, I’ll take my chances!” With that, John swept out the door, slamming it so hard that Dr. Pyuwarmer’s medical school diploma fell from the wall.

Putting yourself in John’s shoes, it’s easy to see how hard it would be to put your faith in something that your doctor didn’t even understand. Just as in this analogy, Christians must be prepared to explain our faith with nonbelievers. There are few things more important for Christians to understand than the nature of God. Many of the differences between biblical Christianity and cults occur within the context of variant understandings of the nature of God. If we are to worship God in truth (John 4:24) and share the truth with others, it is vitally important that we have an understanding of what the Bible says about God.

Perhaps the single most misunderstood doctrine regarding the nature of God is the doctrine of the Trinity. Believers and nonbelievers alike have a difficult time comprehending God’s triune nature, and those that do understand have a difficult time explaining it. As critics of the Trinity are quick to point out, the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, and no single verse provides a summary of the Trinitarian doctrine. In an email we received, LDS apologist D.L. Barksdale said, “The homoousion Trinitarian dogma is heretical to anyone who cherishes the Bible. It is an unbiblical doctrine…”

Complicating the issue are various misconceptions about the Trinity within Christianity as well as from without. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons disregard the Trinity, believing that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct gods, with the Father being a greater God than the other two. Jehovah’s Witnesses especially emphasize the subordination of the Godhead, believing Jesus to be Michael the Archangel – a created being, and a lesser “god” than Jehovah. Mormon doctrine is polytheistic (worship of multiple gods), though some Mormons will stress that their belief is henotheistic (belief in multiple gods, but worship of only one). Mohammad’s misunderstanding of the Trinity was apparently affected by the hyperdulia veneration of Mary seen in the Eastern and Roman Catholic churches, as the Qur’an accuses Christians of believing the Trinity to be composed of God the Father, Jesus, and Mary. Indeed, the doctrine of the Trinity can pose a stumbling block for some people. A Jehovah’s Witness sent us an email that included the following (the English is poor, but you’ll see the point): “And when I can not find in any Bible that I read that there is a 3 headed god that will resurrect anyone on this earth, both now or ever. If this 3 headed god is your belief? I have never read about such a god in any Christian Bible that I have ever read!” As I told this man, we agree that the Bible does not teach of a three-headed god. That sounds more akin to the hydra of Greek mythology. Yet this illustrates the extent of the misunderstandings. Even Christian churches have been victimized by erroneous doctrines such as modalism, particularly Oneness theology.

We may never fully understand the nature of God until we get into heaven. God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and eternal. Our finite created minds are unable to fully grasp these characteristics of God. However, it is possible to have a basic understanding of the triune nature of God, and to be able to defend this doctrine with the Word of God. In this article, we’ll assess the Scriptural evidence and put the pieces together until they form a full picture. A triune God will be the only possible verdict based on an objective analysis of the Scriptural evidence.

The doctrine of the Trinity can be summed up as follows: Within the one Being that is God, there exist eternally three coequal and coeternal Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.[1] In order to prove this doctrine we must prove the following:

There is only one God

The Father is God

Jesus is God

The Holy Spirit is God

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons.

Each point above is very important, and we will clearly illustrate each. Heresy arises when these distinctions are blurred. For instance, modalism (also known as Oneness theology) would agree with items one through four, but item five is where modalism fails. However, as James White said in regards to the doctrine of the Trinity, “For some reason many feel that there is a hierarchy of ‘error’ when it comes to the Trinity…. We are to worship God in spirit and in truth, and two-thirds of the truth is not a valid substitute, no matter which one-third of His truth we choose to reject.”[2]

There is a treasure trove of Scriptures to support each of the points we’ll be studying. To keep this article at a reasonable length, where there are several relevant verses, I’ll limit the full verse quotation to two verses (in NIV, unless stated otherwise), and give the Scripture references for the rest.

1. There is only one God:

Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are known as the big three monotheistic religions. You won’t find many arguments among Muslims, Jews, and Christians that there is more than one God, except perhaps among some aberrant sects. Nevertheless, let us establish this Scripturally before we move on to areas where disagreements will arise.

A. There is only one God:

“You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.” – Deuteronomy 4:35

“This is what the LORD says- Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.” – Isaiah 44:6

Other Old Testament Verses: Deut. 4:39; 32:39; 2 Sam. 22:32; Isa. 37:20; 43:10; 44:6-8; 45:5, 14, 21-22; 46:9.

“How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” – John 5:44

“…since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.” Romans 3:30

Other New Testament Verses: Rom. 16:27; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; Gal. 3:20; Eph. 4:6, 1 Tim. 1:17; 2:5; James 2:19; Jude 25.

B. There is only one true God:

“But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath.” – Jeremiah 10:10

“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true–even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” – 1 John 5:20.

Other verses: 2 Chron. 15:3; John 17:3; 1 Thess. 1:9.

C. All other so-called “gods” are false gods.

“For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.” – Psalm 96:5

“So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one.” – 1 Corinthians 8:4

Other verses: Deut. 32:21; 1 Sam. 12:21; Isa. 37:19; 41:23-24, 29; Jer. 2:11; 5:7; 16:20; 1 Cor. 10:19-20.

The verses above are clear evidence that there is only one God. This is known as monotheism. Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are known as the three great monotheistic religions. However, Islam and Judaism will fall off as we continue our support of the Trinity.

2. There is a plurality to God.

The Hebrew word for God is el in its singular form. The most common form used for God is elohim, which is plural in form. How can there be plural form used for only one God? Some suggest that the answer is found in the three persons of the Trinity. Others contend that the plural construct denotes a fullness of deity as opposed to plurality. I submit that both interpretations are correct. I’m getting ahead of myself now though. Rather than look at all the verses that use the plural elohim, let’s look at other verses that point to a plurality within the one God.

“Let us make man in our image” – Genesis 1:26, emphasis added.

“God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us…’” – Genesis 3:22, emphasis added.

Some would say that God could be speaking to the angels in these verses, but that’s simply not correct. God was speaking to co-creator(s) in these verses (“Let us make man…”). Who could be a co-creator? Not the angels. The answer is found later in this article.

3. The Father is God.

This isn’t really an item that is in question. While God the Father is only known as the Father in the New Testament, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and pseudo-Christian cults understand that the Father in the New Testament is the Yahweh of the Old Testament, though some disagree with the characterization of “Father”. However, it is important to establish that the Father of the New Testament is the true God referred to in the Old Testament, known often as Yahweh, or “Jehovah”.[3]

A. The Father is God.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,” – 2 Corinthians 1:3

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” – Ephesians 1:3

Other verses: John 17:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; 1 Peter 1:3; (Note: Some verses seem to indicate that Jesus is not God at first glance. These will be explained later).

B. The God of the Old Testament is known as Yahweh/Jehovah (“The LORD”).

“You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other…. Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.” – Deuteronomy 4:35, 39.[4]

“Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” – Psalm 100:3

Other verses: Gen. 9:26; 24; Exo. 3:14-18; 4:5; 2 Sam. 7:22, 25.

From the verses above, it is clear that Yahweh/Jehovah in the Old Testament is the one God. It is also clear that the Father in the New Testament is that one God. Now, let’s look at whether Jesus Christ is God. Remember, there is only one God. There is also a mysterious plurality to this one God. We have established that the Father is Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament. We now explore the plurality in the one true God.

4. Jesus is God.

There is a great deal of Scriptural evidence that Jesus Christ is God. The evidence is comprised not only of specific statements, but also in prophecy fulfillment and his attributes. Let’s first look at some of explicit Scriptural evidence. In this section, we won’t limit ourselves to only giving the text of two verses.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” – John 1:1

“Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” – John 20:28

I want to pause just a moment to discuss the verses above. The Greek word for God is theos. In John 1:1, we read that the Word (Jesus) was with theos and was indeed theos. Jesus was (and is) God! This is a very powerful statement! The word theos is used not only in John 1:1, but also in verse 18 and in John 20:28. Theos is used in the New Testament in reference to Jehovah/Yahweh God. Theos is also used in reference to Jesus. We’re beginning to see the plurality found within the one God.

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” – Revelation 4:11 (the words of the 24 elders to Jesus).

“…Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” – Acts 20:28

Once again, in the verses above Jesus is referred to as theos. In Acts 20:28, we know that Jesus shed His blood for the church, and as one person of the triune God, this action is the action of God. Now let’s look at some common compound references to Jesus:

“…the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” – Titus 2:13

“…To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours” – 2 Peter 1:1

In the passages above, both “God” and “Savior” are used in reference to Jesus Christ. There is no division of the clause. Scholar Robert Reymond writes, “The two nouns [‘God’ and ‘Savior’] both stand under the regimen of the single definitive article preceding ‘God,’ indicating…that they are to be construed corporately, not separately, or that they have a single referent.”[5] In other words, attempts to divide this clause into a reference to God and a separate reference to Jesus as Savior flies against the Greek grammatical construct. These verses provide additional powerful and clear evidence that Jesus is Jehovah/Yahweh God. Let’s now turn our attention to more verses that reveal Jesus to be Jehovah/Yahweh.

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved…. for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” – Romans 10:9,13. Note: Paul reveals Jesus to be the same “Lord” referred to in Joel 2:32, which he quotes. In Joel 2:32, “LORD” is Jehovah/Yahweh.

“…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:10-11. Note: “Lord” = Jehovah/Yahweh.

“…now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” – 1 Peter 2:3. This verse is taken almost identically from Psalms 34:8, where “Lord” is Jehovah/Yahweh. From the verses that follow verse 3, it is clear this is a reference to Jesus.

Another way we know that Jesus is Jehovah/Yahweh comes from the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy. Zechariah 12:10 says, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” This verse is part of an oracle given by Jehovah/Yahweh. This passage starts off in verse 1, “This is the word of the LORD concerning Israel. The LORD, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares…” Jehovah/Yahweh prophesies that He will be pierced. It is widely accepted among scholarly circles that this was fulfilled in the crucifixion and spearing of Jesus Christ. This is confirmed in Revelation 1:7 wherein we read concerning Jesus, “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.” This is important enough to go over again. In Zechariah 12:10, Jehovah/Yahweh prophesies that He (Jehovah/Yahweh) will be pierced, and people will mourn for Him. Jesus Christ is pierced through his hands and feet at his crucifixion, and pierced through the side with a spear while on the cross. Revelation 1:7 confirms this fulfillment of prophecy. Conclusion? Jesus Christ is Jehovah/Yahweh!

Another evidence that Jesus is Jehovah/Yahweh comes from His role as Savior. Isaiah 43:11 says, “I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.” Yet Jesus is referred to many times in the New Testament as our Savior (Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 13:23; Eph. 5:23; Phi. 3:20; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2 Tim. 1:10; Tit 1:4; 2:13; 3:6; 2 Pet. 1:1,11; 2:20; 3:2,18; 1 John 4:14).

Jesus caused no small uproar among the Jews of the day because He accepted praise and worship – blasphemous if He were not God! As we have seen, only God is the savior of men. Matthew 21:1-11 describes Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He came riding in on a donkey, in fulfillment of an Old Testament messianic prophecy (Zec. 9:9). As Jesus rode in, we find the crowds that surrounded him shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!” Webster’s 1913 dictionary defined Hosanna as “A Hebrew exclamation of praise to the Lord.” The word is derived from a Hebrew word that meant “Save us,” in a prayer directed to God. This shows that the crowd viewed Jesus as God and Savior. It is important to note that Jesus did not rebuke the crowd for this praise. In verse 15, we find that the chief priests and Pharisees were outraged and indignant at this (because, as we said, this would be blasphemy for a mere man). Children had followed Jesus in to the temple are and were still shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” In verse 16, they asked Jesus if He could hear what the children were saying. No doubt they were shocked that he would not have straightened out the blasphemy of these little urchins. But Jesus did not rebuke the children. Instead, He answered, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?” Additionally, in John 9:35-39 we read the following exchange:

35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36″Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
37Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
38Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. [emphasis added]
39Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

Jesus accepted worship. This is not adoration of a mere prophet, but praise and worship due only to God. Jesus was either God or He was crazy, and there is ample evidence against the latter and in support of the former. Further evidence comes from the fact that Jesus has many of the attributes of God:

Creator (John 1:3, 1 Cor. 8:6; Col 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2; Rev. 3:14)

Unchanging (Heb. 1:10-12; 13:8)

Eternal (John 1:1; 8:58; 17:5; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:2)

Omniscient (John 16:30)

Omnipresent (Matt. 18:20; 28:20; John 3:13; Eph. 1:23; 4:10; Col. 3:11)

It is clear from the Scriptural evidence above that Jesus is God. He is the LORD (Jehovah/Yahweh) of the Old Testament, and therefore is the one true elohim or theos. He shares this role as God with the Father. As we are about to see, He also shares this role with the Holy Spirit.

5. The Holy Spirit is God

Less Scripture is dedicated to the Holy Spirit, but there is enough to conclude that He too is God. In Acts 5:3-4, we see the Holy Spirit being equated with God:

“Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.’” [emphasis added]

Paul clearly and explicitly equated the Holy Spirit with God:

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

Additional evidence of the deity of the Holy Spirit comes from the shared attributes of the deity. The Holy Spirit is:

Eternal (Heb. 9:14)

Omniscient (1 Cor. 2:10-11)

Omnipresent (Psa. 139:7)

Savior (Rom. 8:1-27)

In addition to the attributes above, we find the Holy Spirit was involved in creation (Gen. 1:2; Psa. 104:30), the incarnation (Matt. 1:18,20; Luke 1:35), and the resurrection (Rom. 1:4; 8:11). This is ample evidence to show that the Holy Spirit is God. We have now proven Scripturally that there is only one God. We have also proven that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can each lay claim to being God. However, one can believe in all this, and still subscribe to the erroneous belief of modalism.

Modalists believe that there is only one God, but believe God to be comprised of one Person who simply manifests Himself at different times through Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. In other words, modalists believe that God is one in substance as well as essence – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not distinct persons. As we shall see, modalism fails because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are indeed three distinct persons.

6. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons.

A. Jesus is not the Father: First, let’s turn our attention to Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. The grammatical construction of this verse is very revealing with regards to Trinitarian doctrine. First, each person of the Trinity is identified individually with use of the definite article preceding each (the Father…the Son…the Holy Spirit). The use of the definite article for each person of the Trinity identifies each as unique and distinct from the others. Yet at the same time, this verse groups each into a singular entity by use of the singular form “the name of”. What is this name? The singular name of God is Yahweh/Jehovah, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit share that name. Other verses identify the Father and the Son as two separate persons (John 3:17, 35; 5:22-23, 31-32; 8:16-18; 11:41-42; 12:28; 14:31; 17:1-26; Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 15:24-28; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; 4:4; Eph. 1:2; 6:23; Phil. 1:2; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1-2; 1 Tim. 1:1-2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Tit. 1:4; Phm. 3; James 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:2; 1 John 4:10; 2 John 3).

B. Jesus is not the Holy Spirit: The first evidence of this is discussed in detail in the preceding paragraph – Matthew 28:19 identifies the Son and the Holy Spirit as separate persons, using definite articles preceding each. Next, Jesus tells us that He would send the Holy Spirit (“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.” – John 15:26). This verse is revealing in that each person of the Trinity is mentioned as separate individual persons. Key elements in this verse include 1) Jesus will send the Holy Spirit, 2) from the Father, 3) the Holy Spirit will go out from the Father, 4) and will testify about Jesus. Another verse that identifies Jesus and the Holy Spirit separately is John 16:7, “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” Here we have two important elements: 1) Jesus will go away, and 2) send the Holy Spirit. Since Jesus arose and ascended in his physical human body, the Spirit He sends is not Jesus Himself. Another important verse is John 14:16, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever” (emphasis added). Once again, the elements are here to show that Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are separate. Jesus said He would ask the Father. If Jesus were simply a manifestation of the Father, then He would be asking Himself, which sounds neurotic rather than orthodox. The verse also refers to the Holy Spirit as “another Counselor” separate from Jesus.

C. The Father is not the Holy Spirit: Once again, the first bit of evidence is given in Matthew 28:19 as discussed before. John 14:16, and 15:26 also remain as evidence that the Father and Holy Spirit are distinct persons. As we delved into each verse in the preceding paragraph, we won’t do so again. We also find Paul describing in Romans 8:26-27 that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with the Father. If the Holy Spirit were the same person as the Father, he would not need to intercede with himself.

Now let’s address another Scripture that makes it clear that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three different persons. Luke 3:21-22 covers the baptism of Jesus Christ, “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’” Each person is described separately here. First, note that Jesus was praying. If Oneness theology were correct, Jesus would be praying to Himself. Once again, that smacks of neurosis. Instead, Jesus was praying to the Father. As He did, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in a physical manifestation like a dove. The voice of the Father was then heard from Heaven, speaking to the Son. This highlights that each person of the Trinity is unique and separate.

7. Conclusion:

It is clear from a reading of the Bible that there is only one God, known in the Old Testament as Yahweh/Jehovah. It is clear that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each God (Yahweh). It is also clear, in contrast to Oneness theology (Unitarian modalism), that each person is separate and distinct from the other. One God in three persons – the Biblical Trinity.

Ontology is important in understanding the Trinity. Ontology is the study of “being.” As James White said, “It is vitally important that we recognize the difference between the words Being and Person…. Being is what makes something what it is. Person is what makes someone who he or she is…. when speaking of the Trinity, we speak of one what (the Being of God) and three whos (the three divine Persons). Most cultic rejections of the Trinity focus on blurring the distinction.”[6]

Are you still having a difficult time comprehending the triune nature of God? That’s understandable. The laws to which we are bound define our comprehension. God’s nature transcends these laws. If we could fully comprehend God’s nature, he would cease to be Almighty God. He would be lesser than He truly is. I am a devotee of analogies. One analogy I like to use with regards to the Trinity is my computer. My computer consists of input devices (mouse and keyboard), output devices (monitor, printer, speakers), and the central processing unit. These different components form my one computer. This analogy fails to capture the full complexity of the substance of God, but it can help someone to grasp the basic relationship.

It is true, as so many Mormons, Muslims, and Jehovah’s Witness are inclined to point out, that there is no concise, clear teaching of the Trinity in the New Testament or Old Testament. However, by such reasoning, there is also no clear teaching regarding smoking or illicit drug use. Yet by examining Scripture in its greater context, it is clear that our body is the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19) and Paul urges us to purify ourselves from things which contaminate the body (2 Cor. 7:1). Similarly, by examining the sum of Scripture in immediate and greater context, it is clear that God is triune. He is one God, eternally existent in three divine persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We must be able to defend this biblical doctrine if we are to effectively contend for the truth of the gospel.

 

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The Pentecostal movement was from its inception Trinitarian. It was from the revival at the Azusa Street Mission from 1906 to 1909 that the Pentecostal experience spread throughout the world. When this modern day revival had first occurred with the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, it was upholding Trinitarianism.

Their message of Oneness was first delivered to the Pentecostals that fateful day on 1913 in a camp meeting in Arroyo Seco, California, where hundreds of preachers were attending. The truth of the Oneness of God was given accompanied by the new revelation of baptism in the name of Jesus. Evangelist R.E. McAlister was selected to preach on the subject of water baptism. He began with the accepted baptismal message and spoke on the different modes of baptism, mentioning trine immersion by which the candidate was immersed three times face forward. He summed it up by “they justify their method, by saying that baptism is in the likeness of Christ’s death, and make a point from scripture that Christ bowed his head when he died.” that to them, it was necessary to baptize once for each person in the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost). He concluded his message abruptly by saying that the Scriptural answer to this was that the Apostles invariably baptized all their converts once in the name of Jesus Christ. He ended by stating the words Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were never used by the early church in Christian baptism .

McAlister introduced in 1913 a “new thing,” a Jesus name baptismal formula–  that had no mention of the Father and the Holy Spirit.  McAlister was taken aside at the time and told not to preach the this new theory about the “baptismal formula.”     

However, many hearing McAllister speak received the new revelation of the name Jesus.  Three important men attended and were influenced by this new revelation, these were Frank Ewart, G.T.Haywood, Glenn Cook.

By the spring of 1914,Ewart accepted the “new found truth “became one of its leading advocates. Ewart reached the conclusion that the singular “name” in Matthew 28:19 was Jesus Christ. He came to believe that the one true God who had revealed himself as Father, in the Son, and as the Holy Spirit was none other than Jesus Christ. To support this view, he pointed to Colossians 2:9, which states that in Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Ewart explained his discovery to other Pentecostal ministers, some of whom rejected his teaching, but others enthusiastically embraced it. On April 15, 1914, Ewart rebaptized Glenn A. Cook, his assistant and a veteran evangelist of the Azusa Street Mission, in the name of Jesus Christ, and Cook rebaptized Ewart. This would set in motion an issue that would divide the Pentecostal movement between the Trinitarians and the Jesus Name only, or Oneness, believers. After Ewart and Cook were rebaptized, they began to rebaptized thousands of Pentecostals with the shorter  new found formula “in Jesus name.” Claiming those baptized with Mt.28 were not valid, it must be “in the name of Jesus” (only). Anyone baptized in the threefold name of “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, must renounce that baptism and be rebaptised with the right words said over them, before they can be regarded as biblically baptised.   Today it is added one must speak in tongues to have salvation.

This evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit (i.e. speaking in tongues) must be present or they are not born again, and they cannot enter the Kingdom of God.Frank Ewart stated of this message it was “the shot had been fired, and its sound was destined to be heard around the world, as Christendom would soon be shaken by this new doctrine (p.106) But it was hardly new, it was a revived ancient heresy of Sabellian. Not unlike the Campellites and Kip Mckean, who also stated of his discovery in restoring the ancient Gospel of salvation by water, what a revelation !
When the new baptismal formulae was promoted and accepted it opened the door to the Sabellian heresy that was dealt with so long ago in the early Church. All these conclusions were arrived by a method of interpretation, that used only a “part” of Scripture not the “whole” teaching in Scripture.  In other words they made the whole bible to “fit” the new baptismal formula.This movement began to sweep through the church’s, especially the newly formed Assembly’s of God. The issue of baptism in Jesus name was debated at the general council in 1915.Trinitarians within the Assembly of God stood their ground, opposing the new doctrine and embraced the traditional formula. A “Statement of Fundamental Truths was drawn up adopting a Trinitarian statement in 1916 as a basis for membership. With this stand it severed 156 ministers from the 585 which were in the organization. From this the Oneness denomination was formed. The Pentecostal Church officially Incorporated in 1945 separating with the Assemblies. In January 1918 the General Assembly of the Apostolic Assemblies merged with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, a Pentecostal organization that be in Los Angeles in 1906 (Golder, 1973, 31)

According to Oneness, they were promoting false doctrine and were not saved because they did not follow the prescribed formulae of being baptized in Jesus’ name “only,” nor did they renounce the Trinity. But Oneness wouldn’t even know there was a baptism of the Spirit or the gift of glossalia if it were not for those Trinitarians who received it first. Considering  the Oneness position that is held today, we would have to believe that those who first had the evidence of the gift of tongues (but were Trinitarians) were unsaved and practicing paganism.

So they trace their own beginnings to Trinitarian’s, then turn around and claim they alone have the truth, being the one true Church. So the Church was refound 85 years ago by a new revelation and an experience. What started as a new baptism formula actually became a restoration of a lost gospel — salvation by water. It was not salvation in Jesus name but specifically salvation by baptism in Jesus name. They then took the position of being the “only church” who preaches the true “Apostolic doctrine” the same as the first church.” Up until this time all the people that loved and served the Lord were all lost, not having the Spirit or truth, because of an improper baptism and no tongues. The truth of the matter is that most agree it was they who departed from historic Christian doctrine. By isolating themselves and thinking that they alone hold to the true Apostolic doctrine apart from the Christian church, they have joined with many others that have preceded them to lay their claim to restoring the truth. The Mormons, 7th day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians, the Campellites     ( today’s Int. Churches of Christ) and those who came afterwards like Iglesia ni Cristo, ad infinitum.

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This  is from Bob Ross’ “The Trinity and the Eternal Sonship of Christ.” a defense against “Oneness attacks on Historic Christianity. (1993)

Observations:

(1) The “baptism of the Spirit and speaking in tongues” had been experienced about thirteen years before the introduction of the new “baptismal formulae” in 1913.

(2) Up until the new formula was introduced in 1913, the movement was Trinitarian in doctrine and in its baptismal formula, except for Parham’s abortive effort, if in fact this was true [Foster, p.121].

(3) Following the acceptance of the new baptismal formula, changes were made in both interpretation of Scripture and in theological concepts so as to “fit” the new baptismal formula.

(4) The hermeneutic,” or method of interpretation, was therefore “inductive,” from a “part” to the “whole”. Or, in simple terms, they made the whole bible fit their one theory on the formula for baptism, even to the denial of the trinity.

(5) This interpretation not only revised their interpretation of every verse in the Bible that has to do with the Godhead, so as to bring these passages “into line” with the new baptismal idea, it also implied or expressly stated that all of the past Christian history was “paganistic” in its doctrines, practices, and interpretations relating to the trinity .

All of the denominations, such as Baptists, the Presbyterians, the Methodists the Episcopalians, the Congregationalists, the Lutherans, the Reformed churches, and any other Trinitarians, were wrong on the Godhead and their Confessions of Faith were filled with the false doctrine of paganism. Outstanding Christian leaders, such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, the Puritans, John Wesley, George Whitfield, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Andrew Fuller, C.H. Spurgeon and a galaxy of other similar names were wrong and were advocates of “paganism.”

The men who translated the Bible, such as Wycliff, Coverdale, Tyndale, the King James translators, and the like, were also wrong and were advocates of “paganism.”

The only people in history that the “Oneness” movement can identify with are heretics such as the early post-apostolic “Modalists”– like Noetus, Praxeus, Sabellius, later on the heretic Servetus who was famed for his blasphemy of the trinity, and “clairvoyant”, Emmanuel Swedenborg, none of which we covet for our own theological “family tree”. They also are in the habit of quoting agnostics, “monotheistic” [Christ-rejecting] Jews- – perhaps anyone- – who rejects the trinity on some grounds.

(6) The fallacy, therefore, was not only one of basic doctrine, but the route pursued in the arrival at the ultimate “oneness” theology was faulty. The proper method of biblical hermeneutics (interpretation) is deductive – – that is, you draw the truth from the text; you do not force theories upon or into the text. You do not come to the Bible with a theory, an axiom, a principle, and force the entire Bible to conform to that particular view. To quote an old, old saying, Let the Bible say what it says.”

Every heretical movement is marked by what might be called “all kinds of fancy twistings and turnings,” as a gentlemen once said of a piece of hand-crafted furniture. A great deal of “hacking-and-hewing” must be done to make the passages fit the “hobby-horse” of its advocates. We see this in Campbellism, in Russellism, in Adventism, in Romanism, and in all the sects and cults that have peculiar notions to maintain. It calls to mind the idol of the Philistines, Dagon: the creation of their own minds and hands becomes the predominant hobby of all their energies, They read the Bible with this hobby constantly in mind, bending every statement into a distortion to keep from decapitation the idol.

(7) The ultimate discrepancy of the “Oneness” movement is the fact that their current “baptismal formula” calls for “baptism in Jesus’ name for the remission of sins and baptism with the Holy Ghost, with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues,” yet when this “gift” was supposedly “restored in 1901,” none of those who “received it followed this immutable “formula”! The “new revelation” did not arrive on the scene until thirteen years after the original “restoration” (1913)! And it was even later still that the “new truth” was finally developed into the full-fledged “Oneness” system that it is today, represented by such writers as Bernard.

http://www.letusreason.org/Onenes21.htm

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HOW ANCIENT IS THE TRINITY DOCTRINE? by Wesley P. Walters

As different as para-Christian groups or cults are from each other, most have one thing in common: they hate the biblical teaching of the Trinity. They want their God to be simplistic, uncomplicated, and less complex than the world He created. They want a God reduced to terms they can get their finite minds around.

Modern advances in science have shown that the created world is an extremely complex mechanism. Those who work in nuclear physics or molecular biology are continually discovering the complexity of the world God has created.

In fact, some complex, seemingly contradictory data has yet to be fitted into a rational system that explains the relationships. A simple thing like “light” is known to move like “waves” yet strike like “particles.” Atomic physicists are still struggling to put together a theory that can fully explain this apparent contradiction.

Those who work in the complex mathematical equations of quantum mechanics are told by their instructors that “If you think that you really understand quantum mechanics and how it applies to reality, that proves you do not understand it.” One of the basic theorems is that if the speed of a particle is known, then its location can not be known, and the more accurately you know its location, the less accurately you know its speed. This does not seem very logical to the average person, but it works very well in atomic physics, in which scientists get very close to the essence of matter.

Thus, while scientists are continually learning more about how complex and even apparently contradictory the world of created reality is, cults that reject the complexity of the God who made this reality are proliferating. They, along with Moslems and modern Jews, taunt Christians, saying: “How can there be just one God, and yet the Father be God, the Son be God and the Holy Spirit be God? Is He the Son of Himself and the Father of both?”

Even though Christ Himself taught that the name [singular] of God in which we baptize is Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), all cults falsely assert that the doctrine of the Trinity is a teaching that grew out of fourth century paganism. So unified are the cults in this assertion that they appear to be using the same erroneous Church history book and parroting one another.

The truth is that by the time of Christ, the first century A.D., the Jews themselves, on the basis of the Old Testament, were coming to an understanding of the complexity of Yahweh.

The Teachings of The Targums

When the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity 450 years before the birth of Jesus, they had adopted Aramaic as their native language. Although it is a dialect of ancient Hebrew, Aramaic is about as different from it as modern Italian is from its classical Latin ancestor. Consequently, during the first and early second centuries A.D., Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Old Testament were made.

These translations, called Targums, were The Living Bibles of their day, an interpretive paraphrase of Scripture. They help us see how these first-century Jews understood their Old Testament.

One of the striking things these Targums show is that first century Jews had come to understand the phrase “the Word of God” as referring to a divine entity within God Himself, yet distinguishable at times from God. J.W. Etheridge, in the introduction to his translations of the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, has given us a number of examples of this Jewish understanding of the term, “the Word” (Aramaic: Memra).

In Genesis 18:1, where the Hebrew Bible says Yahweh (Jehovah) appeared to Abraham, the Targum says, “The Word of the Lord appeared to Abraham.” Further on, where the Hebrew reports “Yahweh rained down upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yahweh out of heaven,” the Targum states that “the Word of the Lord sent down upon them sulphur and fire from the presence of the Lord out of heaven.” (Genesis 19:24)

In Genesis 16, when Hagar sees “the Angel of the Lord,” the Targum says she saw “the Word of the Lord.” After seeing this “Word” (Memra) she says, “Here has been revealed the glory of the Shekineh of the Lord.” Then, according to the Jerusalem Targum, “Hagar returned thanks and prayed in the name of the Word of the Lord, who had appeared to her.” Thus the Word not only is regard- ed as the presence of deity, but is in some manner personally distinguishable from the Lord.

In Genesis 28:20 the Targum of Onkelos paraphrases Jacob’s vow, “If God will be with me… then Yahweh will be my God” with the words, “If the Word of the Lord will be my help… the Word of the Lord shall be my God.” Again, the Angel of Yahweh who spoke to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14) is designated by the Jerusalem Targum as “the Word of the Lord.”

The distinct personality of this Divine Word is seen pointedly in Jonathan’s Targum of Isaiah 63:7-10. There, where the Hebrew text speaks of Yahweh being their Savior, the Targum reads, “the Word (Memra) was their Redeemer.” (vs. 8) When the Israelites continued to disobey, then “His Word (Memra) became their enemy, and fought against them” — an action ascribed to Yahweh in the Hebrew text. Again in Isaiah 45:22 the Targum of Jonathan exhorts, “Look unto My Word and be saved.”

While this personalizing of the Word was being expressed in Palestine in the Targums of Jesus’ day, Philo, an Egyptian Jew and contemporary of Jesus, was expressing similar thoughts in even more distinct words. In his essay “On the Creation,” Philo states that man was not made in the image of some creature, but in the image of God’s own uncreated Word. He wrote: “for the Creator, we know, employed for its making no pattern taken from among created things, but solely, as I have said, His own Word.”

Philo continues: “Man was made a likeness and imitation of the Word, when the Divine Breath was breathed into his face. (“On the Creation,” XLVIII: 139, Loeb Edition I, pp. 110-111)

In his work on Noah, Philo again expresses the teaching that man is made by “the First Cause” (that is, God) in the image of “the Eternal Word:” “Our great Moses likened the fashion of the rea- sonable soul to no created thing, but averred it to be a genuine coinage of that dread Spirit, the Divine and Invisible One, signed and impressed by the seal of God, the stamp of which is the Eternal Word.”

He continues: “…man has been made after the Image of God (Genesis 1:27), not however after the image of anything created… man’s soul having been made after the image of the Archetype, the Word of the First Cause.” (“Noah’s Work as a Planter,” I:18-20, Loeb III, pp. 222-223)

Thus, the eternal Word is in some sense distinguishable from God, and yet at the same time is, like God, uncreated, rational and the bearer of the divine image. This comes very close to the teaching of the New Testament that the Word was distinguishable from God, and yet was God. As John 1:1 expresses it, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” It also appears similar to Paul’s teaching that the Son is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15); and the writer of Hebrews statement that the Son “is the exact representation of His being.” (Hebrews 1:3)

Philo, however, goes further. He says that God is the king and shepherd of all creation, but rules and controls it through his eternally existing Word, whom Philo calls God’s “First-born Son.”

His “hallowed flock” of created things God directs by his divine laws, setting over it His true Word and first-born son, who shall take upon Him its government like some viceroy of a great king. (“On Husbandry,” I:51, Loeb III, pp. 134-135)

Philo has God expressing Himself in this manner: “I alone… sustained the Universe to rest firm and sure upon the Mighty Word, who is My viceroy.” (“On Dreams,” I:241, Loeb V, pp. 424- 425)

Therefore this eternal Word, God’s first-born Son, is the upholder of the whole creation, “the everlasting Word of the eternal God is the very sure and staunch prop of the Whole. He it is, who extending Himself from the midst to its utmost bounds… keeps up through all its length Nature’s unvanquished course, combining and compacting all its parts. For the Father who begat Him constituted His Word such a Bond of the Universe as nothing can break.” (“Noah’s Work as a Planter,” I:8-9, Loeb III, pp. 216-217)

This reflects the same thought that Paul expressed about the Son as being the one “in whom all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17) It also reminds also reminds us of Hebrews 1:3, which depicts the Son as “sustaining all things by his powerful Word.”

Philo continues his discussion of the Word by maintaining that to those incapable of seeing the supreme cause, God Himself, He appears to them in the form of His Angel, the Word: “For just as those who are unable to see the sun itself, see the gleam of the parahelion and take it for the sun, and take the halo round the moon for that luminary itself, so some regard the image of God, His Angel, the Word, as His very self.” (“On Dreams,” I:239, Loeb V, pp. 422-423) This sounds very similar to the teaching tha t the Son is “the radiance (or outshining) of God’s glory” (Hebrews 1:3), the only part of God’s nature that people are allowed to see. This is true because “no one has ever seen God,” but “the only begotten God… He has made Him known.” (John 1:18) Thus, Jesus, the Son, can say, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

Philo further explained that God, being light, is “the archetype of every other light.” As such He is “prior to and high above every archetype.” Thus He holds the position of “a model of a model,” that is, He is the model for His Word, which Word becomes the model for creation. The Word, therefore, contains all the qualities of God. As Philo expressed it, “the model or pattern was the Word which contained all His fullness — light, in fact.” (“On Dreams,” I:75, Loeb V, pp. 336-337) Paul expressed a similar thought when he wrote that in the Son all God’s fullness dwells. (Colossians 1:19; 2:9)

To Philo, therefore, the Word of God is the eternal, uncreated Word containing all the fullness of God and bearing His image. That divine image which the Word bears is the image in which man was created. The Word is further the sustainer, upholder and ruler of the world, carrying on the governing of all things, as God’s viceroy, and containing all God’s fullness.

While the Word is not a created thing and carries on all the functions of God, Philo is clear that there are not two gods — although he does not attempt to explain how this can be. Philo’s teaching is, therefore, very close to the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Philo reached his conclusions without the aid of the New Testament and certainly without deriving his ideas from pagan notions of deity. The Old Testament teaching that the Angel of Yahweh is really the presence of Yahweh Himself seems to have strongly influenced Philo’s ideas.

To relegate the doctrine of the Trinity, therefore, to a fourth- century adaptation of paganism is to ignore the conclusions that several Jewish theologians and teachers had reached four centuries earlier, from God’s revelations given to Israel before the time of the coming of Christ. At the very time that the Word was becoming flesh (John 1:1, 14), Jewish writers were already beginning to see that God’s Word could in some way be distinguished from God the Father Himself, yet have all the fullness of God contained in Him.

http://www.barr-family.com/godsword/trinity.htm

How2BecomeAChristian.info TRINITY PAGE 1   TRINITY PAGE 2

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