Sun, Jul 01, 2001

THE TRINITY? MATTHEW 3:13-17

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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THE TRINITY?
MATTHEW 3:13-17
 


Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 3 as we look at the concept of the Trinity, fact or fiction? And, as you may have guessed, this is not an easy or non-confrontational subject to talk about as the following story shows us.
Miss Thompson had a tough task. Her Sunday School lesson plan called for teaching her primary class about the Trinity. It was difficult enough to hold their attention with stories and creative object lessons, but when it came to keeping them interested in the identity, attributes, and purpose of the Father, Son, and Spirit...well, that was next to impossible.
While thinking through her lesson, she had a creative thought: she would use a big, thick pretzel, with its three holes in the middle. Perfect!
When Sunday morning came she stood before her class, holding the pretzel high in the air, explaining how it was made up of one strand of dough but was so intricately interwoven that there were three distinct holes, each one having its own special shape.
She pointed first to the hole at the top, "Children, this is like God the Father. Think of this hole as your heavenly Father." She then pointed to the second, explaining slowly and carefully, "This is like God the Son. Think of the hole here on the right as Jesus, your Savior." The class of fresh little faces seemed to be following her with keen interest, so she continued, "And this third hole is the Holy Ghost. Just as this one pretzel is made up of three separate holes, so the Trinity is one unit made up of three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."

Miss Thompson had the children repeat those names aloud: "Father...Son...and Holy Ghost." Again and again she had the class say the names.
Hoping to cement this concept in their minds, she singled out little Jimmy, sitting close to the front, and asked him if he could repeat the names of the "holy" members of the Trinity for the rest of the class. Though reluctant, he slowly stood to his feet and took the pretzel she held out to him.
"This here is God...God the Father," he said pointing to the first hole. (Miss Thompson smiled with delight.) "And this one is Jesus." (Again she beamed over his excellent memory.) "And this third one is...uh...the Holy Smoke."
- Charles R. Swindoll, Flying close to the flame

You see, a difficult subject to teach on. Now some like to argue that the word "Trinity" is not found in the Bible and thus it should not be taught. Well, that is true, that word is not found in the Bible, but neither is the word "missionary" and yet we do see the concept in the Scriptures and that is why we send missionaries out to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. And the same is true of the Trinity. It may not be a word that is found in the Scriptures, but it is a concept that the Scriptures teach, and I believe it is a very clear concept!

Now before we get into our text this morning, let me give you the Orthodox definition of the Triune God or the Trinity: One God revealed in three separate persons. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It means that God is revealed as existing eternally as three distinct persons, and these three persons make up one God. Please understand that this is a foundational belief of Christianity. Not three Gods, but one God manifested in 3 distinct persons: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
With that said, let's look at our text in Matthew chapter 3, beginning in verse 13, and we will see this concept come flowing from these passages. The word Trinity may not be found in the Scriptures as I have said, but the concept comes shining through as you will see this morning!

MATTHEW 3:13-17


Here we see Jesus going down to the Jordan River to be baptized by His second cousin, John. And as Jesus comes up out of the waters of Baptism, the Holy Spirit comes upon Him, empowering Him for the work of the ministry. Jesus, as our example, is telling us that we need to have that power, the baptism with the Holy Spirit to do the work of the ministry. Then, from heaven, we hear the Father say, "...`This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'"Matthew 3:17.

Now for some, like the Jesus Only people, they believe that Jesus is the Father and the Holy Spirit, but this is a difficult passage to swallow if you believe that. But, if you look at what is being said, you can clearly see the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all working at the same time. Now I would not build a doctrine from this one passage of Scripture alone, and I don't have to. The Scriptures are full of references to one true God who is revealed or manifested in three separate persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
And please understand that this is not a New Testament idea, but in the very first verse of the Bible we see the Trinity expressed. In Genesis 1:1 we read "In the beginning God createdthe heavens and the earth." The word used for God here is ELOHIM in the Hebrew. And that is in the plural form. The singular form is EL, but that is not what God used here. In fact, the Holy Spirit takes the plural noun "ELOHIM" and puts it next to the verb "created" which is in the singular form in the Hebrew. Now that is grammatically incorrect, but it is God's way of communicating His Tri-unity to us!

Also, in Genesis 1:26 we are told, "Then God said, `Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'" Who is God speaking of when He uses the words "Us" and "Our"? It was the Godhead speaking to each other, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit who were all actively involved in the creation process! In Psalm 33:6 we see the Father involved with creation, "By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.In Colossians 1:15-17 we see Jesus actively involved with creation, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist."And in Job 33:4 we see the Holy Spirit involved with the creation of life, "The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life."
First of all, they were not only all involved with creation, but the Scriptures refer to them as God. We see in I Peter 1:2 that Peter speaks of the Father being called God. In this portion of Scripture, Peter is referring to the saints who are the "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father..."

Next, the Scriptures tell us that Jesus is God. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, He appeared to Thomas, who said in seeing the risen Savior, "...`My Lord and my God!'" John 20:28. Also, after Jesus expressed to the Jews that He is God, they picked up stones to stone Him, and Jesus asked them why they were doing this. And in John 10:33 we are told, "The Jews answered Him, saying, `For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.'" And lastly, in Hebrews 1:8 the Father said of the Son, of Jesus, "But to the Son He says: `Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.'"
And lastly, the Holy Spirit is spoken of as God in the Scriptures and not some impersonal force. In Acts 5:3-4, when Ananias lied to Peter, we are told "But Peter said, `Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.'" You see, he lied to God the Holy Spirit by his actions!
So, without a doubt, the Scriptures speak of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The only time people have a problem with this is when they negate what the Scriptures say and listen to what other writers or authorities say, or their own personal bias. And that is a dangerous thing to do!

Now please understand that we are not talking about three different Gods, but one God that is manifested in three distinct persons, and as we have seen, the Scriptures are absolutely clear on this. In Deuteronomy 6:4 we see a passage of Scripture that the Jews call the SHEMA, a portion of Scripture they would repeat several times a day. And the word "SHEMA" means "hear". And a portion of the SHEMA goes like this, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!"
Now that does seem to indicate that there is only one God, that God is only one! And yet we have seen that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were all involved in creation and they are all called God! It would seem that the Scriptures are contradicting themselves. But, as you shall see, they are not. Let me explain.
The Hebrew word that is used for "one" is ECHAD, which literally means a "united one" or a "compound unity." It is the same word for "one" used in Genesis 11:6, which says "And the LORD said, `Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.'" You see, it does not mean they are physically united into a single being but these individuals still retained their personal identity and distinct personage. Thus, here and in Deuteronomy 6:4 the word "one" implies a "compound unity."
Now if the writer of Deuteronomy was to speak of one and only one, he would have used the Hebrew word YACHIYD. This Hebrew word means "only one" or a "solitary one." Thus, here in Deuteronomy we see God in three distinct persons; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and all of them being God and yet they exist as one being and function in perfect harmony.

And it does not end there. Let's look at some of the attributes of God and how they are all found in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, making them all God!
The first attribute is that God is present everywhere or He is omnipresent. It is as Jeremiah 23:23-24 says of the Father, "`Am I a God near at hand,' says the LORD, `And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?' says the LORD; `Do I not fill heaven and earth?' says the LORD." Then, in Matthew 28:20, Jesus speaks and says "`teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' Amen." And finally, the Holy Spirit is spoken of with this Godly attribute in Psalm 139:7-10, "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.
The next attribute given to God alone is that He is all-knowing or omniscient, and, of course, man is not. Thus, in Psalm 139:1-4 we see this in God the Father, "O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; you understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether." We see this attribute in Jesus in John 21:17 where we read of Peter saying of the Lord, "...`Lord, You know all things...'" And of the Holy Spirit we read in I Corinthians 2:10, "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God."

Another attribute of God is that He is all-powerful or omnipotent. Of the Father we read in Jeremiah 32:27, "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" Of Jesus, we read in Matthew 28:18, "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, `All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.'" And of the Holy Spirit we read in Romans 15:19, "in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ."
Also, we see eternity ascribed to each person of the Godhead. In Psalm 90:2 we see of the Father, "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God." We see this of Jesus in Micah 5:2, "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." We also read of Jesus in John 1:1-2, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God." This speaks of time before it began! And of the Holy Spirit we read in Hebrews 9:14, "how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"

And the last one we will look at is the immutability of God or that God is unchanging, and we once again see this in the Godhead. Of the Father we read in Psalm 102:25-27, "Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end." And in James 1:17 we read of the Father, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." In Hebrews 13:8 we read that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.Now for the Holy Spirit we read in John 16:13-14,"However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you."
As I begin to rap up this subject this morning, I want to expound on this idea of Three-in- oneness in the Godhead and I am going to share with you out of a book by Ron Rhodes regarding this subject. 
In The New American Standard Bible, Matthew 28:19 reads: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and theHoly Spirit" (italics added). It is highly revealing that the Word "name" is singular in the Greek, indicating that there is one God, but there are three distinct persons within the Godhead - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Theologian Robert Reymond draws our attention to the importance of this verse for the doctrine of the Trinity:

Jesus does not say, (1) "into the names [plural] of the Father of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," or what is its virtual equivalent, (2) "into the name of the Father, and into the name of the Son, and into the name of the Holy Spirit," as if we had to deal with three separate Beings. Nor does He say, (3) "into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," (omitting the three recurring articles), as if "the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" might be taken as merely three designations of a single person. What He does say is this: (4) "into the name [singular] of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," first asserting the unity of the three by combining them all within the bounds of the single Name, and then throwing into emphasis the distinctness of each by introducing them in turn with the repeated article. 
Very clearly, then, the Scriptures affirm that there is one God, but within the unity of the Godhead, there are three coequal and coeternal persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
- Ron Rhodes, The Complete Book of Bible Answers, pp. 70-71

Now I do have to admit to you that with my finite mind I can't comprehend, I can't understand how this can be. But does that make it wrong or untrue just because I don't understand it or you don't understand it? Of course not! Human reasoning does have its limitations. How can we as finite beings understand a infinite God? Only by the Holy Spirit opening up the Word of God to the man of God! Then we must believe it by faith!

You see, Paul said in Romans 11:33, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" And in Isaiah 55:8-9 we are told, "`For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the LORD. `For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'" Just as young children can't understand everything their earthly father says, so we as God's children can't understand everything about our heavenly Father. And if I could understand everything about God, how big of a God would He be? Not very big, I did not do too well on my ACT's or SAT's! You see, I trust what God says in His Word, I believe it by faith and as Paul tells us in I Corinthians 13:12, "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." And we all await that day!
It is as John Wesley said, "Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God!"
Never try to arouse faith from within. You cannot stir up faith from the depths of your heart. Leave your heart, and look into the face of Christ.
- Andrew Murray

As I think about the Tri-unity of God, I marvel that in their oneness for eons, for eternity, if time can be measured out with God, that they created man in the first place! What love, what Agape love God had in doing that and all He desires of us is that we would return that love to Him. As Isaiah 45:5 says, "I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me..." There is no other God like Him; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!

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