04 Oct God in Three Persons
“ You Christians are a lot of hypocrites – you pour scorn and judgment on the Hindus because they worship more than one God and all the time you are worshipping and preaching about three Gods of your own!” It was a Moslem student who was speaking, with a gleam of triumph in his eye. He thought he was very clever to find such a fool proof argument against believing in Christianity. Besides it went strongly against his own monotheistic beliefs to be told that he had to believe that Jesus is God as well as believing in his own God of Abraham and Mohammed.
There is no doubt that we Christians present our belief in a three-personal God to unbelievers in a way which causes them to stumble unnecessarily. The Christian is as staunchly monotheistic (believing in one God) as the Jew and the Moslem and all three of them believe equally strongly in the great self-descriptive affirmations of God in the Old Testament such as Is. 43 : 11 “ I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no Saviour “ and Deut
6 : 4, “The Lord our God is one Lord “. It is the same Old Testament which introduces us to the three Personal God in Isaiah 61: 1. “ The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me “. It is the willful blindness of the Jew and the Moslem which makes him refuse to see this verse as a reference to the person of Christ and therefore to ignore this plain indication even in the Old Testament, that God is three persons.
Spiritual things cannot be grasped by sinners without the gracious help of the Spirit of God (See 1 Cor 2: 12-14). On the Day of Pentecost Peter did not give the Jews a logical presentation of the doctrine of the Trinity, instead he commanded them to repent of their wrong attitude to Christ He told them to accept Christ as God because of what God had done in and through Him and especially because of the supreme authority and position God had given to Him. (See Acts: 2: 22 and 35). We should not therefore attempt to argue for the doctrine of the trinity with unbelievers; rather, we should present Christ in all his divine authority and moral purity and trust in His spirit to convict the sinner of his need (See John 16: 8)
The precious truth of a three Personal God is grasped in our experience of God. God is a PERSON and we must firmly reject the De-Personalization of God heresy which is being popularized today. Paul Tillich tells us to find God in the ground of our being. Hindu philosophers tell us that our greatest experience is to be absorbed into the supra personal spirit of the universe. Both these concepts are connected with the current trend of “ meaninglessness – in our civilization. When we deny that God is an objective person with whom we can have personal communion we declare invalid all the wonderful transforming experiences of the men of the Bible and of Christians through the ages
Let us now look at the two explicit statements of the doctrine of the Trinity in the New Testament. The word is not used but the doctrine is plain in 2 Cor 13: 14 and Matthew 28: 20. In the first passage Paul is concluding his letter to the believers at Corinth. He wants to convey to them his desire that they should continue in, and grow in the knowledge of God who has shone into their hearts (2 Cor 4: 6). He naturally thinks of the gracious work of the three Personal God who is already at work in them They would never have been saved if the Father had not willingly loved the world (John 3: 16). They would never have been saved if the Son had not willingly given Himself (1 Tim 2: 5, 6). They could never have been saved if the Spirit had not willingly purified their hearts and brought then to new birth (Titus 3: 5). Therefore, it is natural for Paul to pray that the gracious activity of the three Personal God should continue in their lives. In the second passage it is not surprising that Christ commands his disciples to baptize in the name (note the singular) of the Father, Son and Spirit. It is the result of the super abounding love of God that sinners are saved. Salvation is an activity involving all three persons of the Godhead. God is LOVE and our experience of His love is revealed and experienced through Father Son and Spirit.
A few hours before He went to Calvary Christ shared with His disciples some of the mysteries of the unity of Father, Son, and Spirit. In John 14: 16-18 Christ says that the Comforter the Spirit of Truth will dwell in the disciples and that this will happen when He that is Christ comes to them. It is plain from these verses that Christ was teaching His disciples that the Spirit would continue in them spiritually what He had been to them physically as well as spiritually. What the incarnate Son of God was to the disciples the Holy Spirit of God is to us because He is the Spirit of Christ, let us experience this wonderful truth.
But there is an even more wonderful truth in these chapters which the Devil succeeds in hiding from many believers. This truth brings us nearer to the heart of the three Personal God than any other part of scripture. This truth describes the unity and oneness between Father and Son more explicitly and plainly than volumes of theological explanations. What is this truth? Look at John 17: 21-23. Jesus is praying to His Father about His disciples. The prayer concludes in a glorious climax, summing up all that has gone before. Christ prays that “ the LOVE wherewith thou hast loved ME may be in THEM and I in THEM (V 26.) God is LOVE. The unity between the separate persons of the Godhead is a unity of LOVE, a unity of MIND, WILL and PURPOSE. Christ prays that this same Unity will exist between His disciples, not a Similar oneness but the SAME oneness. Is this not the most blessed and wonderful experience any believers could wish for? What does it mean? It means that if we want to understand the mystical, dynamic unity that eternally exists between Father and Son we must experience it in our relationship with our fellow believers certainly we must worship God for such a wonderful revelation of divine truth. Let us walk in the light (1 John 1: 7) and experience the JOY of this unity. In other words, if you want to understand the doctrine of the Trinity, LOVE your Fellow believer with Calvary love.
The great man of God, Dr. John H. Martin served as a missionary staff of UESI. He was instrumental in founding the UESI Bible Study Centre.
Reprint from THE EVANGELICAL STUDENT, A Christian Journal of the Union of Evangelical Student of India, Vol. XVI September – October 1969