Many religions use the Bible. But not every religion who uses the Bible believe in the same God. For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses use the Bible, though it is a specific translation for them, they do not believe in the same God. It would seem that they believe in the Jehovah that we read about in the Old Testament, but they don’t. This is made possible by a few strategic changes in the translation of the Bible, but it is not the same God. Also, the Mormon Church calls itself The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It appears since they use the King James Version of the Bible in their worship that they are worshipping the same Jesus that Christians worship, but this is not true. Their Jesus is not our Jesus.
For both religions and others like them, the name is the same, but the nature of God or Jesus is different from what Scripture teaches. The difference is found in the doctrine we refer to as the Trinity. Most people have heard this term and they know that we believe in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but few Christians actually understand the nature of God and why it is important to know and understand. They don’t understand how it changes our life. I am going to be focusing on the doctrine of the Trinity this week. I hope you will share these with others. This is such an important understanding that every believer needs to have.
The word ‘trinity’ is not in Scripture anywhere. This term did not develop until much after the death and resurrection of Christ. It came about as a result of groups such as the Gnostics who began to teach that Jesus was not God. Today, there are mainline religions who run closely parallel to Christianity, but they deny this doctrine. The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is the Son of God and they believe in God, the Father. However, they do not believe that Jesus, the Son and God, the Father are unified in any way. And they believe the Holy Spirit to be a force, but not a life-form of any kind. The Mormons or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints also believe in Jesus, but they believe that Jesus was conceived by a celestial father and mother. In addition to this, they believe that any of us can become gods and then, in the afterlife, if we were married at the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, we can have children who will populate a planet of which we can be a god. The Trinity is a doctrine that is unique from every other religion.
The early Christians, including the writers of Scripture, were so in tune with the doctrine of the Trinity that there was no need to develop an apologetic stance to critics. It was simply the way it was explained to them by Christ and the Holy Spirit and it was how they explained it. Consider this passage from the letters of Paul to the church in Corinth:
2 Corinthians 13:14
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (NIV)
Here we see Paul speaking a blessing upon the church in a way that specifically lays out the three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who are unique, yet together make up the One True God. He speaks of the grace of the Son, the love of the Father, and the fellowship with the Spirit. Other religions would call Christianity polytheistic claiming that we believe in three gods and not One God. But the doctrine of the Trinity is One God, made up of three separate persons or essences-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Our belief in one God is clear. Over and over again, we are told to love God. We are never commanded to love our God, but to love God. And throughout the Scripture, the writers reinforce this belief in one God. Christianity has but one God.
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that —and shudder. (NIV)
Yet, when the writers spoke of this God, they interchangeably speak of God as the Father, God as the Son, and God, as the Holy Spirit-three in one. Three unique entities who together make up one God. Look at the following passages where each entity is referred to as God:
Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (NIV, emphasis added)
Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. (NIV, emphasis added)
Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” (NIV, emphasis added)
From the very beginning, the Lord established the plurality of His singleness. Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning was God…” The word for “God” here comes from the Hebrew word Elohim which is plural for Eloha. Eloha means deity or God. But as the Holy Spirit inspired the written Word, He chose Elohim, plural for a deity, to describe a God who was singular. This is a difficult concept for our finite minds, but the One God in which we believe as Christians is trinitarian. He is God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Our God is not their god. Our Jesus is not their Jesus.