One God in Three Persons
Christians believe in the Trinity because there is only one God. “Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord.” Deuteronomy 6:4. “Before Me there was no god formed, neither shall there be after Me.” Isaiah 44:6
Because the Bible clearly teaches that the Father is God, that the Son is God and that the Holy Spirit is God, Christians are compelled to accept that God is eternally existent in three Persons. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity states that there is only one God, eternally existent in three Persons.
Who is Jesus Christ?
During His ministry on earth, our Lord Jesus Christ performed acts that only God could do. Jesus Christ commanded the forces of nature, stilling the storm, walking on water, turning water into wine and multiplying a handful of food to feed thousands (Matthew 8:23-27; 14:22-33; Luke 8:22-25). Jesus Christ forgave sins (Mark 2:1-12); He claimed to be superior to the Sabbath Law (John 5:17-18); and He gave life to whomever He pleased (John 5:19-23). He raised the widow’s son to life (Luke 7:11-15), He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:25-44).
The Apostle Paul taught that God purchased the Church with His own Blood (Acts 20:28).
Paul also declared that the rulers of this world had unwittingly crucified the Lord of Glory (1 Corinthians 2:8). “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Colossians 2:9
“God who at various times and in various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person and upholding all things by the Word of His power…” Hebrews 1:1-3
In so many ways, our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated the attributes of Deity:
“For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20
“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 of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 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.” Matthew 28:18-20
“All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Matthew 11:27
“I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.” Revelation 2:23
“Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’” John 8:58
“I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.” John 16:28
“And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” John 17:5
“Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? ...For with authority He commands even the unclean spirit and they obey Him!’” Mark 1:27
“So the men marveled, saying, ‘Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?’” Matthew 8:27
“For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.” John 5:21
The holiness and perfection of Christ’s life confirms His Deity. The Scriptures clearly state: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. Yet our Lord Jesus Christ could say: “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” John 8:46
Jesus Forgave Sins
The Old Testament makes it clear that only God has the power to forgive sins, yet during His earthly ministry the Lord Jesus forgave sins. To the paralytic lying on his bed the Lord Jesus declared: “Your sins are forgiven you.” Matthew 9:2
Jesus declared to one woman: “Your sins are forgiven.” Luke 7:48
To the woman caught in adultery Jesus declared: “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” John 8:11
The very Name of Jesus means Yahweh Saves. “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His Name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
“I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no Saviour.” Isaiah 43:11
“…And there is no other besides Me, a just God and a Saviour; there is none besides Me. Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:21-22
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
Both God’s role, and His Name as Saviour, are attributed to Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Our Lord Jesus claimed the power to forgive sins (Mark 2:7-10; Luke 7:48) and He is the Saviour of sinners (John 3:17; Acts 4:12; Gal 1:4; Hebrews 9:26). He raised the dead (Mark 5:35-43; Luke 7:11-17; John 11) and He gives eternal life to all who now believe in Him (Mark 10:21; John 3:16; 5:24; 1 John 5:11-12).
“Our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us...” Titus 2:13
The Eternal Judge
In the Old Testament Yahweh alone is the Judge (Daniel 7:9-10; Psalm 99; Deuteronomy 32). Yet Jesus Christ claimed this uniquely Divine function in the New Testament (Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:22-30).
“For we must all appear before the Judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10, (Matthew 25:31-32; John 5:22-24; Revelation 19:11-16).
Yahweh alone is the Creator of all things (Genesis 1; Psalm 33:6-9; Isaiah 42:5). The New Testament reveals that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:1-5
“For by Him all things were created that are in Heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible… All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Colossians 1:16-18
Yahweh alone is worthy of worship and to worship anyone other than the Lord God would be the worst and most fundamental of all sins (Exodus 20:3-6; Deuteronomy 6:4-16). Yet, prayers are addressed to Christ (Acts 7:59; 9:13; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Revelation 22:20); doxologies are ascribed to Christ (Romans 9:5; 2 Timothy 4:18; 2 Peter 3:18; Revelation 1:5-6); Old Testament worship passages are transferred from Yahweh to Christ. For example: Isaiah 8:13-15 in “Behold I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Romans 9:33
The disciples worshipped Jesus (Matthew 28:17; Luke 24:52). When Thomas declared to Jesus: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28), far from rebuking him, the Lord Jesus merely suggested that he should have believed earlier.
The Book of Revelation presents the most unambiguous worship of Jesus Christ: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:12-14
The name of Yahweh is ascribed to Christ. The sacred Name of God, YHWH, by which God revealed Himself to Moses in the Burning Bush, occurs 7,000 times in the Old Testament. In the Greek New Testament Yahweh is translated Kyrios (Lord). This exalted Name of Yahweh is attributed directly to Christ. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
Certainly the title Lord of lords cannot be interpreted in any other way that Jesus Christ is God incarnate (1 Timothy 6:14-15).
“These will war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings.” Revelation 17:14
There are many occasions where the New Testament applies Old Testament passages concerning Yahweh directly to Jesus: For example Psalms 110:1 in “The Lord said to My Lord, sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” Acts 2:34-35 (Romans 8:38; Hebrews 10:12-13; 1 Peter 3:22).
Isaiah 45:23 in “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of those in Heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
Joel 2:32 in “For whoever calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13
Psalm 68:18 in “Therefore He says: when He ascended on high, He led captivity captive and gave gifts to man.” Ephesians 4:8
Isaiah 40:3 in “For this is He who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.’” Matthew 3:3 (Mark 1:3; John 1:23). These passages unmistakably refer to Yahweh Himself.
Of great significance is Jesus’ self-designations as the I Am(John 6:35; 8:12, 24, 58; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5; 18:5). These are deliberate identifications with God’s revelation of Himself in Exodus 3:14 as “I Am.”
When Phillip asked Jesus to show them the Father, Jesus replied: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Phillip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” John 14:8-11
When the high priest questioned the Lord Jesus under oath: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus answered, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the power, and coming with the clouds of Heaven.” Mark 14:61-62
When the Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy He responded: “… believe the works that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me and I in Him.” John 10:36-38
“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20
The Holy Spirit is God
The Bible clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit is God. “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?…you have not lied to men but to God.’” Acts 5:3-4
“…Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-17
There are more than 60 Bible passages which mention the three Persons of the Trinity together. For example: “When He had been baptised, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were open to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove that alighted upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from Heaven saying ‘This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’” Matthew 3:16-17
“For there are three who bear witness in Heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are One.” 1 John 5:7
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one Faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4:4-6
“But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward men appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” Titus 3:4-6
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” 2 Corinthians 13:14
God with Us
The very Names of Jesus (Yahweh Saves), Messiah (God’s anointed one), Son of Man (Daniel 7:13-14), Emmanuel (God with us) and the Son of God, point to His Deity. His uniquely perfect and sinless life, and His teaching – which is unsurpassed, in authority, clarity, insight and power. All of this is conclusive, and the accumulative proof of all these evidences of the Deity of Christ is overwhelming. Yet even further proof could be sought in the Resurrection: “And declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the Resurrection from the dead.” Romans 1:4. The empty tomb, the eyewitness accounts of those hundreds who saw Jesus alive again (1 Corinthians 15:4-8), the transformation of the disciples and even the existence of the Church worldwide, can only support the Biblical claims for the Deity of Christ!
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and shall call His Name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
Holy, Holy, Holy
The Trinity can also be seen in Isaiah’s vision of the Lord, in Isaiah 6 the angels were singing: “Holy! Holy! Holy! is the Lord of Hosts.” The Deity of Christ, the incarnation, the personality of the Holy Spirit, regeneration, justification, sanctification, the meaning of the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection cannot be understood rightly without understanding the doctrine of the Trinity. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3
The glorious truth of the Incarnation is that God has made Himself known personally, specifically and fully by taking our human nature unto Himself, by coming amongst us, yet without ceasing to be the infinite, transcendent and eternal God.
God in Christ has taken upon Himself the responsibility and penalty for the sins of the world. Yahweh has borne the brunt of suffering and evil by subjecting Himself to its cruelty and horror.
The Incarnation reveals the reality, depth and costly nature of His love, holiness, justice and mercy. Jesus is the eternal Son of God, who became incarnate to reveal God to us and to reconcile us to Himself. He is the second Person of the Trinity. God revealed in human form. Jesus is God, and so we have a full and final Revelation and Redemption in and through Him.
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
The above article has been adapted from the book Answering Skeptics by Peter Hammond. The book and MP3 Audio Boxset Answering Skeptics are available from Christian Liberty Books, PO Box 358, Howard Place 7450, Cape Town, South Africa, tel: 021-689-7478, fax: 0861-551-7490, email: firstname.lastname@example.org and website: www.christianlibertybooks.co.za.
Answering Skeptics is also available as an E-book.