Letters From Lucy Question #5 Answered
Question #5 The Trinity
The Trinity – this one really confuses me. Especially because in the Bible the verbiage says Jesus is the Son of God. But the Trinity says that Jesus IS God descended from heaven in human form. Lots of people say Mormons aren’t true Christians because they believe God the Father, Jesus his Son, and the Holy Spirit are three separate beings with one purpose.
Lucy: the Trinity is probably the most difficult concept of Christian doctrine to understand and yet it is the most beautiful description of God. This is going to take some time and thought – but here we go.
First: Christians should be able to defend the Trinity from the Bible. To start, Christians need a platform from which to build – and here it is.
“Within the nature of the one true God exists three persons co-eternal and co-existent.” Let’s talk about each segment of this platform.
What is the nature of God?
John 4:24: “God is spirit, and those who worship Him, must worship in spirit and truth.” So what does this mean – God by nature is spirit.
Jeremiah 23:24 helps. “Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him? Declares the Lord. Do I not fill the heavens and the earth declares the Lord.” God uses [first person singular] when He says “I fill heaven and earth.” In other words, God by nature is spirit which means he is Omnipresent – He is everywhere present at the same time. There is no place God is not present.
2 Chronicles 6:18 “Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee;”
Luke 24:39 sheds more light. “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself, touch Me and see; for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
OK so far we have learned that God is spirit by nature and that He is everywhere present at the same time and God does not have a body of flesh & bones.
Keep in mind Jesus is totally God and totally man at the same time. This happened at the Virgin Birth of Christ and is called the Incarnation, where God became flesh. Jesus, as the second person of the Trinity, is an exception because He added to his nature – flesh.
Jesus said “For where two or three have gathered together in My name,there I am in their midst.” (Matthew 10:28) You can have Christians gathering at the same time all over the world and Jesus is present at every meeting. Not only does this display the Omnipresence of Christ but also shows that this is the True Church. Whether Christians are in unity and worshipping together in a barn or a basement, this is the True Church because the authority the Spirit of Christ is present.
Mormonism teaches two things:
“God has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man” and “As man is, God once was, as God is, man may become.” These two phrases are definitely not in harmony with what the Bible has just taught us about God.
The One True God
Lucy; the world is full of “gods” but are they God by nature?
Galatians 4:8 says “However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.”
Isaiah 44:6 “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, The Lord of hosts; I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God beside Me”
Isaiah 45:18“I am the Lord, and there is none else.”
Isaiah 43:10 “Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.”
Lucy, I could go on and on but I think you get the picture. There is only ONE TRUE GOD by NATURE and this All Knowing (Omniscient) God does not know of any other gods.
This flies in the face of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young who taught that “we have got to learn how to become gods ourselves” – by going through the temple and keeping the laws and ordinances to achieve exaltation.
The Word “ONE”
Lucy; the Jews had two words and two meanings for the word “one”
[Yachid] meant singular one, like one pencil, one book, one house etc.
[Echod] meant a “compound unity of one” Genesis 2:24 Adam and Eve came together to become “one” flesh. Genesis 1:5 the combination of evening and morning became “one” day. Ezra 2:64 speaks of “one” assembly but it comprised 42,360 individuals. Ezekiel 37:17 the two sticks are combined to be “one” stick.
Thus, in the minds of the Jews – The singular God, was also a compound unity.
US & OUR
Genesis 1:26-27 “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Genesis 3:22 “Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.
Genesis 11:7 “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”
Lucy; do you see the interplay within these verses. When it speaks of God it is in the singular and yet the Lord says “Let Us” & “Our Image” “Our Likeness.” The Jews had no problem with this because they also held to the “compound unity of one.”
Deuteronomy 6:4 is one of the most treasured verses in Judaism. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! The word one here is [Echad] a compound unity of one.
The problem most Mormons have with the concept of the Trinity consists in multiple theological hurdles they must jump before the doctrine can be appreciated and believed.
- What is a person?
- Do you need a body to be a person?
- Jesus is just the “son” of God he is not “God”
- Jesus is a separate being
- Jesus had a beginning
OK let’s tackle these.
First & Second – What is a person & do you need a body to be a person?
A person is a being that exercises intellect, will and emotion. This is what distinguishes a “being” from a “person.” A rock has the being of being a rock. A tree is being a tree. An idol is being an idol. BUT a rock, tree, or idol do not have the capacity to exercise intellect, will or emotions, but persons do. WHY because we are made in the image of God that exercises intellect, will, and emotions.
Do you need a body to be a person?
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 says “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord, for we walk by faith and not by sight, we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”
Philippians 1:21-23 says “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better.”
Even the devil, in Mormon theology, exercises intellect, will and emotions but he will forever be denied a body.
The Apostle Paul say that to die and be with Christ is gain and far better – why?
In heaven, without his body, Paul will be exercising his intellect, will, and emotions. Therefore… You do not need a body to be a person.
The Holy Spirit is a person and He does not have a body. The Father is a person and He does not have a body (despite what Mormonism teaches.) The only person, of the Trinity, who does have a body is Jesus – because he added a body to his nature when he was born of the Virgin Mary who became pregnant by the Holy Spirit, not by any man.
Third: Jesus is just the “son” of God
Lucy, let me ask you a question; was the Bible written to you or for you?
Well – the Bible was not written to you. The New Testament was written 2000 years ago to people who lived in Israel and surrounding regions who spoke Hebrew and Greek and Latin. So we have to continually ask the question: what did this Scripture mean to those people back then. Take a look at the word “gay.” When I was a kid it meant happy, joyful, gleeful and excited. This one little word has sure taken on a whole different meaning today, even in the same culture and within the same English language.
So what did the word “SON” mean to those people back then, we know what it means to us today – our progeny, our offspring. This is why we look at Jesus as just being the son of God – lesser or inferior.
Acts 4:36 “And Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means, Son of Encouragement).”
Mark 3:17 “And James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, ‘Sons of Thunder’).”
Isaiah 14:12 “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn!”
Psalm 89:22 “The enemy will not deceive him, Nor the son of wickedness afflict him.”
Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”
Lucy, as you can see – Son of, in that culture can mean “Of The Nature Of.” Context determines the use. Just as the Bible speaks of the “Son of death,” “Son of the prophets” “Son of poverty.”
Now you can see the importance of this background before contemplating John 19:7 which reads:
“The Jews answered him, ‘we have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made himself out to be the Son of God.”
How did Jesus make himself out to be the Son of God…? I’m glad you asked.
John 10:30- 33 “I and the Father are one. The Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father, for which of them are you stoning Me? The Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone you, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a man make yourself out to be God.”
The Jews understood very clearly that Jesus, by referring to Himself as the Son of God was saying that by nature he is God. This is why they tried stoning him for Blaspheme – by claiming to be God. Jesus had three titles “Son of Man,” “Son of David,” and “Son of God” and all three titles refer to his NATURE.
Jesus, before coming to earth as a man was the WORD, along with many other titles. The term “only begotten son” does not mean he had a beginning or was inferior. The term means Jesus is UNIQUE. Of all mankind on earth He is the unique Son of God by nature and no other human could claim this title of Deity.
Fourth: Jesus is a separate person
Lucy, the Trinity is three persons, who are all spirit, and all of the same value and nature and these three persons comprise the One True God.
OK hard to comprehend.
Let’s take you for example – look at 1 Thessalonians 5:23
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord.”
Lucy, as a believer in Christ, that has been born again and washed clean by the blood of Jesus, you will be sanctified entirely and this includes your spirit, your soul and your body. There are three components that make up Lucy – and yet there is only one Lucy. This is a rough analogy but you get the idea.
Lucy, you can take three candles and light them and hold the flames together. You have 3 candles but only one flame. You have light, energy, and heat, yet one flame. Once candle cannot boast that it is more important than the others.
Fifth: Jesus is separate being & Jesus had a beginning
Ok we have already discussed that a person has intellect, will, and emotion so YES Jesus is a separate person from the Father and the Holy Spirit. They too exercise intellect, will, and emotion. So within the BEING of God there are three separate and distinct persons – one by nature BUT – they have different purposes. (Hebrews 13:8) says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, yes and forever.” The prophecy of Jesus, found in Micah 5:2 says“His goings forth are from long ago, from thedays of eternity.” Jesus always existed but was known as the Word in the Old Testament(John 1:1)“In the beginning (before the beginning began) was the Word andthe Word was with God and the Word was God.
Father can mean originator, source, and fountainhead in certain contexts.
John 8:44 Satan is the father of lies
James 1:17 God is the father of lights
2 Corinthians 1:3 God is the father of mercies
Ephesians 1:17 God is the Father of glory
Look at this concept of God being the Father of Glory in Isaiah 42:8
“I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give MY glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.”
“For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act: For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.”
God does not share His glory with anyone.
OK – Let’s check out John 17:5 “And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.”
Jesus as the Son of God shared the same nature as the Father before the foundation of the world.
Unity, in diversity, works in complete harmony.
The role of the Father is found in Ephesians 1:3-14. He chose us and blessed us, He predestined us to adoption, He made known the (a) mystery of His will, (b) the pleasure of His will, and (c) the purpose of His will. He is the conductor of creation and salvation. We may consider him the Quarterback of the Trinity.
The role of the Son is seen as the means and the agent and the instrument that the Father uses to carry out His plans & purposes. He would be considered the Running back that makes the touchdowns.
The role of the Holy Spirit is found in Ephesians 1:13-14. He is a seal and a deposit. The seal shows ownership and preservation and a deposit guarantees more to come. He is called the “Holy” Spirit because He sanctifies the Church. He brings to completion the work planned by the Father. He completes and furthers the work done by the Son. He is the Cheerleader of the Trinity. He keeps us excited and in the game.
Lucy, I asked you to read Romans 8:9-11 A careful reading of this passage shows that all three persons of the Trinity play a role in your salvation and all three persons of the Trinity dwell within you as a believer.
I think this is a good note to end on. I hope you can appreciate that books have been written on the topic of the Trinity so obviously I am just skimming the surface of a very deep, rewarding, and enriching subject. I hope this helps.
God Bless You: Don