“THE BLESSED TRINITY”

Second Corinthians 13.14

EXPOSITION:

1.   Please turn to Second Corinthians 13.14.  When you find that verse, please stand for the reading of God’s Word:  “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.  Amen.”

2.   This last verse written to the Corinthian congregation is a Trinitarian formulation.  We see in this verse that “There is a distinction in the Divine nature; or there is the existence of what is usually termed Three Persons in the God-head.  If not, why are they mentioned in this manner?”[1]

3.   A. T. Robertson comments about this statement of Paul’s, “This benediction is the most complete of them all.  It presents the persons of the Trinity in full form.”[2]

4.   As you might have guessed from these opening comments, this morning I’m going to preach on a subject that may have caused more controversy among religious groups than any other single issue that has ever risen to the attention of people who down through history have read the Bible.

5.   Notice that I said that controversy arises among those who have read the Bible.  I am careful to phrase my comment in this way because the subject about which I preach today has never been disputed among genuine Christians, but is frequently disputed by those read the Bible.

6.   The subject about which I will deal is the blessed Trinity.  This subject is of utmost importance to the child of God who seeks to understand God’s Word, who seeks to appreciate Christ’s salvation, who seeks to know the one true and living God.

7.   We shall find out this morning that the Bible teaches God to exist as one essence, and at the very same time to also exist as three distinct persons.  Notice, I said distinct persons, not separate persons.  My exposition is devoted to engaging in two proofs to confirm the reality of the holy Trinity.

8.   Allow me to read the Scripture references very quickly, too quickly for you to turn to.  I suggest that you close your Bible at this time so you can listen attentively, and in the bulletins that have been handed out are a list of Scripture references I will refer to so you will have them for later reference. 

9.   I will not go through all the verses in the Bible that hint of the Trinity, for there are far too many to have time for today.  Just some verses which will prove that the Bible teaches the one true God to exist as a trinity.

 

1A.   PROOF #1 WILL CONFIRM THE EXISTENCE OF ONLY ONE GOD, JEHOVAH.

1B.    God, at the burning bush, Exodus 3.14:  “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”

The statement “I AM THAT I AM” refers to the fact that this God of Israel Who spoke to Moses is completely self-sufficient and independent of all other beings.

2B.    In Exodus 20.1-5, a portion of what we call the Ten Commandments:

1      And God spake all these words, saying,

2      I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3      Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4      Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

5      Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me

 

Two things we learn from these verses. 

1C.   First, the name of the God of Israel is Jehovah.  That is the Anglicized Hebrew word which the translators of the King James Version translate into the phrase “the LORD.”  

2C.   Second, this Jehovah is a jealous God, Who will not tolerate the worship of any other.   Remember that very important point.

3B.    Moses speaking to the nation of Israel, Deuteronomy 4.35:  “Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.”

This verse points out that there is no other God beside Jehovah.  This establishes the fact that monotheism, or the belief in only one God, is required to be in line with God’s Word.

4B.    Deuteronomy 6.4:  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.”

This is the famous shema that Jews everywhere recite.  Their belief in a single God instead of many gods greatly distinguished them from their pagan neighbors in olden days.

5B.    Isaiah 44.6-8:

6      Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

7      And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people?  and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them.

8      Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it?  ye are even my witnesses.  Is there a God beside me?  yea, there is no God; I know not any.

 

Verse 8 is the verse where the Jehovah’s Witnesses cult gets their name.  They maintain that Christians believe in three gods instead of one.  To witness to them effectively you must seize the initiative and aggressively assert your belief in the one true God of the Bible.

6B.    First Corinthians 8.4:  “As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.”

So, we see that the New Testament, as well, strictly reinforces monotheism as orthodox Biblical doctrine.

7B.    First Timothy 2.5:  “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

Each of these passages I have read to you, from both testaments, show that Christians ought to believe in only one true God.  The existence of only one true God is thus confirmed in the Bible.  So, we believe in one God.  We worship one God.  We serve one God.

 

2A.   PROOF #2 INVOLVES HARD EVIDENCE TO SHOW THAT THERE ARE THREE DISTINCT PERSONS WHO ARE GOD.

Developing three points, and restating some of the things I pointed out to you last week, will prove this.

1B.    It must first be pointed out that the Father, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit of God are all persons.  This must be done to counteract the heretical teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses and New Agers who deny that the Spirit of God is a person.

1C.   There is no problem establishing the truth that the Father is a person.

1D.   Jesus Christ addresses Him several times during prayer as “Father,” and He refers to Him in conversation with others using the term “Father.”

2D.   Additionally, New Testament writers address the Father in several places in the New Testament.

3D.   It is so obvious that I simply maintain, with no need to prove from the Bible, that God the Father is a person.

2C.   Next, Jesus Christ is also a person.

1D.   He conversed with other men and women who thought of Him as a person.

2D.   He had all of the symptoms of humanity, except sin.  But so did Adam at one point in time before the Fall.  By symptoms of humanity, I mean that Jesus felt pain, fatigue, hunger, thirst and heartache.

3D.   He was born, though I would be careful to maintain that His existence did not begin with His conception, He matured physically, and He died.

4D.   He was then buried and rose from the dead on the third day, a resurrected person.  He maintains His personality to this very day and has never ceased to be a person.  Who, then, can reasonably deny that Jesus is a person?

3C.   Third, that the Holy Spirit is also a person is a bit less obvious, but it can be proven.

1D.   The reasons for this difficulty lie with a proper understanding of the Holy Spirit’s mission among men. 

2D.   Listen to the Lord Jesus Christ’s words about the Holy Spirit, in John 16.13-14:

13     Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

14     He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

 

3D.   So you see, the Spirit of God inspired this precious Word and focused attention upon Christ, not Himself.  Little wonder, then, that information about His personality is not so obvious when the Bible is read.  Amen?

4D.   Here are two passages which show that the Holy Ghost is a person:

1E.    Acts 13.2:  “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.”

In this verse the Spirit of God does two things which only a person could do.  He speaks to men and He calls to service.

2E.    Acts 16.6-7:  “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.”

Paul and his team wanted to preach the Word of God in Asia but the Holy Spirit would not allow it.

3E.    “But pastor, you made this same argument last week to establish the personality of the Holy Spirit.”  Yes, I did.  It is an unassailable argument that I will continue to use, because it is both a persuasive and an accurate argument.

5D.   There are other verses that show the personality of the Holy Spirit, but I think everyone here understands that He is a person.  He is rational, intelligent and able to communicate.  So, three persons are being considered when the Godhead is in view.

2B.    It must now be pointed out that all three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are recognized as Deity, or as God.

1C.   That the Father is God requires little proof.

1D.   John 17.1-3:

1      These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

2      As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

3      And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

 

This is Jesus Christ allowing that His Father is God.

2D.   Ephesians 1.2:  “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Thus, Paul declares the Father to be God.

3D.   Enough said about the Father, I think.  Do you not agree that the Father is God?

2C.   That the Son of God is also God is seen in Scripture.

1D.   Isaiah 7.14:  “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Now, if a baby is given a name which means “God with us,” might it begin to occur to you that this baby with us might somehow be God?  Something to consider, at least.

2D.   Isaiah 9.6:  “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Do you remember that Jehovah said that beside Him there is no God?  Well, His prophet Isaiah predicted the birth of a child Who will be “The mighty God” and “The everlasting Father.”  Pretty strong evidence that Jesus is God, wouldn’t you say?

3D.   In John 10.30-33 we read what Jesus says about Himself:

30     I and my Father are one.

31     Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.

32     Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?

33     The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

 

Now even the Jehovah’s Witnesses admit that Christ was sinless.  And yet He makes Himself God, if the reaction of the Jews is any indication.  Wasn’t that Satan’s great sin, trying to be like God?  It would be a sin for Jesus Christ, too, . . . unless, of course, He is God.

4D.   John 1.1, 14:

1      In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

 

14     And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

 

Verse 1 is all mutilated in the JW translation, but these two verses really do point out that Jesus Christ is God.

5D.   John 20.28:  “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.”

Does God allow anyone besides Himself to receive worship?  We saw in the Old Testament that the answer to that question is “No.”  But Jesus did not refuse or stop Thomas’ worship of Him in any way, did He?  Why not?  Because Jesus is God, that’s why.

6D.   This is perhaps the most conclusive proof of all Bible passages that Jesus is God.  Please take your Bible and turn to John 19.37:  “And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.”

7D.   Now turn to Zechariah 12.10 while you hold on to John 19.37:  “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”  This comparison of two verses, with the knowledge of the fact that Jehovah is speaking in Zechariah 12.10, shows us beyond any doubt that Jesus Christ is Jehovah God.  Bow before Him, one and all.

3C.   That the Holy Spirit is God can also be seen in Scripture.

Please set your Bible aside again.

1D.   Acts 5.3-4: 

3      But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

4      Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

 

Lying to the Holy Ghost is lying to God.  Amazing.

2D.   Job 33.4:  “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.”

Here Job’s creation is attributed to the Holy Spirit.  I need not remind you that only God can create life.

3D.   Romans 8.9:  “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.  Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

To abide in every believer’s heart the Holy Spirit must needs be omnipresent, or everywhere present.  This is an attribute that only God has.

4D.   So, it is clear to an open minded person that the Holy Spirit of God is, in fact, God.

4C.   We have seen Three who are persons.  We have seen Three who are God.  But there is only one God.

3B.    The third point has to do with the fact that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are distinct persons of the Godhead.  Please take up your Bible again and turn to John chapter 20.

Our observations here are made to show that when Jesus was praying to His Father He really was doing what He appeared to do, and was not acting or committing fraud by only pretending to pray to Another distinct Person.  I also make these observations to counter the growing tendency on the part of evangelical Christians, and even fundamentalists, to confound the persons of the Trinity in their prayers and in their preaching, as they depart from historical Trinitarianism and slide into apostasy and modalism.

1C.   Notice, first, that the Father is distinguished from the Son, in John 20.21:  “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”

The Father is the sender while Jesus is the sent one.  They are clearly distinguished.

2C.   John 15.26:  “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”

Here Jesus, the speaker, clearly distinguishes the Father from the Spirit.

3C.   John 14.16:  “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”

Again, the three persons of the Godhead are each distinguished by Jesus from each other.

 

CONCLUSION:

1.   We have seen that God’s Word establishes the fact that there is only one and true God, the God of Israel, Jehovah.

2.   Further, we have showed Bible proof that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are each distinct persons, and are each God.

3.   Yet, somehow, They must be one God.  How can this be?  I do not pretend to know or understand.  Neither do I ignore the fact or try to make Biblical truth comprehensible to my puny mind, as some do.

4.   I merely accept by faith that somehow my God is one God, Who is shown by revelation to exist as three persons; Father, Son, Holy Ghost.

5.   Is the Trinity important to me?  Yes, it is.  How much greater is my Father’s love for me for Him to send God the Son to die for me, instead of some creature of His making?

6.   How much greater is my Lord Jesus to me when I realize that my Creator endured the shame of the cross for me, suffered the torture of unholy reprobates for me, and experienced the wrath of the Father for me.

7.   How comforting it is to realize that that Holy Spirit Who lives inside me, Who teaches me, Who comforts me . . . IS ALMIGHTY GOD.

8.   Is the doctrine of the Trinity important?  Is God important?

9.   Let’s stand as brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a hymn before my sermon.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1.   I’ve brought before you the doctrine of the trinity because it’s a doctrine that is profoundly important, because it’s a doctrine that is tragically ignored by those who claim to be Christians, and because it’s a doctrine that is under subtle attack in these last days.

2.   Understand, however, that the doctrine of the trinity is not a truth that anyone needs to be able to verbalize in order to be a Christian.  Neither is it something that an unsaved person necessarily needs to be exposed to in order to get saved.

3.   There are some essentials related to your personal salvation and the deliverance of your soul to heaven someday, but a working knowledge of the doctrine of the trinity is not one of those essentials.

4.   I think the doctrine of the trinity is a truth that is believed by people once they become Christians, rather than believing in the trinity in order to become a Christian.

5.   Let me tell you some necessary things you need to grapple with if you want to be saved.

 

1A.   First, YOU HAVE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR SINFULNESS

1B.    The Bible declares that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  So, it’s a given that you are a sinful person.  But it’s oftentimes very difficult for someone to understand what sinfulness is because your tendency is to consider sinfulness in isolation.  You consider sinfulness by itself.

2B.    But sinfulness cannot rightly be understood in isolation.  Sinfulness has to do with violation of law.  Sinfulness has to do with rebellion against an authority figure.  Sinfulness has to do with disobedience.  So, sinfulness cannot be appreciated without some understanding of both God and yourself.

3B.    From God’s Word we have seen that there is only one God, Who exists in the form of three Persons, Father, Son and Spirit.  But what about the moral nature of God?  We also learn in Scripture that God is holy and righteous and good.  When sin is understood to be a striking against this One Who is holy and righteous and good, then the criminality of sin is seen.

4B.    My friend, unless and until you see and are horrified by your own sinfulness, unless and until you are appalled by your rebellion against the holy One, the righteous One, the good One, until you see the wickedness of your every act, you will not be saved.  You cannot be saved.

5B.    Let me press it home a bit.  A good and holy God has given you physical life and opportunities galore.  But do you thank Him?  Do you worship Him?  Do you praise Him?  No, you do not.  Instead, you lie and cheat and sleep with someone you are not married to and serve your own self and, generally, ignore Him and go about your life as if God did not exist and had done nothing for you.  That, my friend, shows your sinfulness, your wickedness.

 

2A.   Next, YOU HAVE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR SENTENCE

1B.    It’s a terrible thing we see parents doing to their children these days, raising them to think there are no consequences for their thoughts and actions.  Why do you think kids in gangs think they can kill people and get away with it?  They have not been raised by parents and in a society that drives home the reality that there are consequences.

2B.    But in God’s dealings with mankind there are consequences.  Having shown you from God’s Word that you are a sinful being, you need to also know that there are consequences that you must face as a result of being sinful.  The Bible states it in this way:  “the wages of sin is death.”[3]  In other words, the consequences of being a sinner is spiritual death.

3B.    But what is spiritual death?  Spiritual death is Hell, and then the lake of fire, for ever and ever and ever.  The consequence of sinfulness is not annihilation, wherein a person dies and just ceases to be.  No.  There are consequences for sinfulness.  Neither is the consequence of sinfulness purgatory, wherein the hopeful Roman Catholic suffers torment for minor sins for a period of time before going to heaven.  No.  There is not one hint or suggestion of such a thing as purgatory in God’s infallible Word.

4B.    You must understand that it is wrong to commit sin against the holy God.  And when God is sinned against by such as you He is outraged, He is offended, He is angered, and He will exact punishment for the criminal wrongdoing of sinning against His august majesty.  Die in your sin and God will judge you for your offenses against Him and you will suffer the torment of God’s wrath forever and ever and ever and ever.

5B.    What can you do to avoid God’s wrath?  Nothing.  Nothing at all.  Since you are dead in trespasses and sins you are incapable of remedying your problem in any way.  You are quite helpless, and your situation is quite hopeless.

 

3A.   Third, YOU HAVE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR SAVIOR

1B.    It is a fact that you are a sinful person.  It is a fact that your deeds are evil.  It is a fact that you are not good, since God says there is none that doeth good.  And it is a fact that your heart is desperately wicked, Jeremiah 17.9. 

2B.    Next, it is a fact that the very nature of the God you have sinned against demands that punishment be meted out.  God, as determined by what He is, cannot and will not overlook sin and pretend, either now or in the future, that what happened did not happen or that what you did you did not do.

3B.    Is there, then, no mercy with God?  Yes and no.  With sin there is no mercy.  Sin must be punished.  Sin must be dealt with.  Justice, in the form of punishment against sin, must be satisfied.  But with sinners there can be mercy.  That’s the reason God sent His Son.

4B.    Jesus, the Son of God, came and offered Himself on Calvary’s cross so that God might be merciful to sinners while at one and the same time unmercifully and justly punishing sin.  God made Jesus to be sin for us, Jesus who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ.[4]  To put it another way, Jesus suffered and bled and died for us, the Just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.[5]

 

4A.   KNOWING THOSE THREE THINGS IS NEEDFUL AND CRITICAL TO BEING SAVED, BUT KNOWING THAT YOU ARE A SINNER, AND KNOWING THAT YOU ARE CONDEMNED BY YOUR SIN, AND KNOWING THAT JESUS SUFFERED AND BLED AND DIED FOR YOU, IS KNOWING JUST ENOUGH TO SPEND ETERNITY IN HELL.

   1B. Consider, my friend, that every Roman Catholic on earth knows and believes these three great truths.  But because Roman Catholics also believe that salvation is something that sinners must work for, and that salvation is found by those who come to the virgin Mary, they have so distorted the gospel that it is no longer the gospel by which sinful men’s souls are saved.

2B.    Consider, also, my friend, that every evangelical and fundamentalist in the United States knows and believes these three great truths.  But because evangelicals and most fundamentalists strive to be saved by believing in God, or by the works righteousness of a sinner’s prayer, or by getting baptized, they too have distorted the gospel so much that it is no longer the gospel by which sinful men’s souls are saved.

3B.    What, then, is missing?  What is missing is faith in Jesus Christ.  My friends, it is one thing to know what Jesus did for you, but it is quite another thing to actually respond in faith believing and come to Him for salvation.  It’s one thing to be historically correct, but historical accuracy didn’t die on the cross for you.  Jesus died on the cross for you.  Jesus died on the cross for you.  Come to Him and be saved.

4B.    Don’t attempt to come the Father to be saved.  He sent His Son to be your Savior.  Don’t attempt to come to the Spirit of God.  He was sent to point men to Jesus.  If you want to be saved from your sins you need to come to Jesus.

 

CONCLUSION:

1.   Do you profess to be saved, to be a Christian?  Think back.  Was there a specific time when you got saved?  If you got saved there was a definite time.  If not, you are likely still unsaved.

2.   How about your sinfulness?  Are you basically good?  If you think you are basically good you aren’t saved.  Saved people are those who know they are not good, but are sinners with a Savior.

3.   How about your Savior?  Are you one who knows about the Savior, but has never actually come to trust Him?

4.   Many, many people claim to be believers, claim to be saved, claim to be Christians, who are not.  And you’re not really sure, are you?  Not as sure as you let on to others, I’ll bet.

5.   Let me invite you to call our Church office and make an appointment to meet with me, so I can guide you to Jesus Christ, the only Savior of sinful men’s souls.


[1] Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ NT Commentary, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), [email protected]

[2] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol IV, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1931), page 271.

[3] Romans 6.23

[4] Second Corinthians 5.21

[5] First Peter 3.18

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