The author must state at the onset of this article, that this writing is being approached with great trepidation, fear and trembling (Is 66:2, 5). For God is the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments (Dan 9:4, also Nah 1:3). His Word has been commanded to a thousand generations (1 Chr 16:15). Whose sight was so terrible, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake (Heb 12:21). Nahum 1:5, “The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.” Fear before Him, all the earth (1 Chr 16:30). For the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed (1 Sam 2:3). Hebrews 10:31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
The author read an article that maintained that the doctrine of the Trinity (Trinitarianism) was a corrupt teaching that came out of the corrupted church in the Constantinian era in Rome. The author did not agree with the particular premise or the use of scripture within the article. However, there is no doubt that there was a great corruption of the church during and after the time of Constantine. Many false doctrines, false teachers, wrongful thought and religious organizations resulted and evolved that persist even to this day (Acts 20:29-31). During this time there was much debate and contention concerning just who God is. No doubt, the devil worked from within to sow error, confusion and deception. The devil seems to sow his greatest strife within the “details.”
Shouldn’t this assertion/proposition (declaration, subject to be considered) at least give one pause for thought and possibly concern? Could a church/era with so much corruption and lack of righteous judgment actually produce “revealed” or “discerned” truth (James 3:11-12)? On the other hand, perhaps God specifically intervened to establish or maintain a basis (foundation) of truth so that man could not totally corrupt the Lord’s purposes? In any case, the Lord will only be found by those who sincerely seek Him. No doubt, this sincerity of heart will be tried and tested (1 Thess 2:4, 1 Chr 29:17).
Many conflicting doctrines about the Being and nature of God were being put forth after the persecutions in Rome had ended. During these persecutions, men were too busy looking to God than to look to self. The persecutions had focused man’s attention and reliance upon God alone. When man depended solely upon God, the church was immovable and all hell could not prevail against it (Mt 16:18). This is because the Lord’s church depended upon the Holy Spirit and not man. The persecutions also tended to produce a more genuine and sincere body of followers. Persecution quickly separates the true from the false.
Satan changed his tactics. Rather than attack from without, he attacked from within. The persecutions ended and man’s dependence upon God began to diminish (wane). Man began to look to self and his religion for answers and authorities. Man had much time for thought. Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (also Pv 16:25).” Leaders rose up who were not servants to all, but rather Lords over God’s heritage, exercising authority over them. These men were certainly not examples to the flock (Lk 22:25, 1 Pt 5:3). Privilege (freedom, honor, favor, benefit) was traded for compromise. A church that had tired from persecution began to look to man rather than to God.
Religious man responded to his new found freedoms or privileges by calling for ecumenical religious councils and then developing creeds, statements of faith, and theologies (what one must believe, observe and do). Most of these early councils concerned the issue of who God is. The Holy Spirit was no longer needed to teach and lead (Jn 14:26, 1 Jn 2:27); man was seemingly doing quite well through “self.” Whichever group prevailed in authority and belief pronounced the other groups as heretics. The persecuted became the persecutors – but under a covering of serving God.
Many persecutions between groups arose due to these matters (1 Jn 3:15). They killed thinking that they did God service (Jn 16:2). Those who violated Christ’s commandment of love only proved that they were not His disciples (Jn 15:12, 17, Lk 6:27-29, 35). John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Those who persecute others (irregardless of circumstance) do not walk in love. Jesus said of such: John 16:3, “And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.” We must not be led away from our God by the error of the wicked (2 Pt 3:17). God’s purposes are never accomplished through hatred, envying and strife (Js 3:16). The Lord does not desire a forced outward adherence, but rather a change of heart from within that manifests outwardly in actions.
God is still calling and drawing the meek and humble to Himself. God is still resisting the prideful (self exalting) – even the religious prideful (Mt 23:12, Lk 14:11, 18:14, Lk 11:42-52, 20:46-47). The Lord God is teaching the meek His ways (Ps 25:9). The Lord is still leading His people (Ps 5:8, 23:2-3, 25:5, 27:11, 31:3, 43:3, 139:24, 143:10, Is 48:17, Jn 10:3-4). John 17:3, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
The Lord’s true people (church) are not those of a certain religious persuasion (belief, theology), but rather those who are humble and receive His Word (truth) and apply it to their lives. These are a people of faith who are not found in man’s standards, but rather in God’s. In other words, they are led by the Spirit of God to walk in the will of God.
Jesus Christ is still the head of His true church which is filled and led of His Spirit (Eph 1:22, 5:23, 1:18). Whereas religious man often seeks his way in disregard of the Spirit, the true church follows in God’s way in disregard of religious man (and this sets up trouble). Ephesians 2:18, “For through him (Jesus, not man) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Jesus sought only God’s will, yet was constantly challenged by religious man. We must understand that Christ’s followers will also be confronted by religious man.
Religious man always resisted God’s purposes by continually opposing and withstanding Jesus Christ – God’s Son. Jesus resisted religious man in doing the Father’s will – the works He did and the things He said. Religious man killed Jesus and actually accomplished God’s purposes, but not for their glory (Lk 22:53, Ps 35:15-26, 37:12, Acts 13:27). The religious leaders and the people said: “let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God (Lk 23:35).” However, Jesus was too focused upon saving others (mankind) than to save “self.” Christ said: John 12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” We can come unto Jesus or we can come unto religious man (Ps 118:8, Mt 24:5, Mk 13:6, Lk 21:8) – to whom will you be drawn?
You must seek God to find Him amidst all this religious error and confusion authored by man. Just who is God?
The Approach – To Know God
We must each individually, fervently and fully seek out the Lord God to understand the truth. The Lord desires that we know Him: Jeremiah 9:24, “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” The Lord says: Jeremiah 29:13, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart (also Deut 4:29).” Paul stated: Acts 17:27, “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.” The Lord says: “I am a God at hand and not a God afar off (Jer 23:23). We must “know God” and understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph 5:17).
Scriptures also state: James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (also Pv 8:17, Lk 11:9-10, Acts 17:27).” We are told that Christ is come and has given understanding that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true (1 Jn 5:20). We are further exhorted to: “increase in the knowledge of God (Col 1:10).”
We must consider to what extent we have been influenced by others (man), rather than having searching out God and His truth for ourselves. Have your beliefs developed through relationship with God or through association with religious man? Luke 11:35, “Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.” To truly know someone, to have relationship, you must walk as they walked. God came to the earth as a man and walked His expectations and then invited us to “follow” Him (Mt 16:24, Mk 8:34, Mk 10:21, Lk 9:23, Jn 12:26).
However, you must realize that you cannot just approach God with the intent of validating your favored doctrine or preconceived notions. Otherwise the Lord may answer you according to the multitude of your idols (Ez 14:4) – which are those stubborn (immovable) ideas that you place above the truth and will not release. Truth cannot be rejected just because it is contrary to your expectations. Nothing is so easy as to deny that which is not agreeable to your own desire. Isaiah 5:21, “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” You must genuinely, sincerely and willingly accept and live what God reveals to you. Walk in the light (truth) of the Lord (Is 2:5). It is also wise to be in a continual state of examining of one’s own heart and study and application of God’s Word (2 Cor 13:5, Ps 26:2, 139:23-24). You do not change God to your image, but rather God conforms you to His image.
We have been given the Holy Ghost to comfort and teach us – “He shall teach you all things (Jn 14:26).” Rather than seeking committees and councils of men, you must seek the Spirit of God. 1 John 2:27, “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” Religious man hates the truth of that verse! – it lessens his influence and control. God is “truth” and those who genuinely seek to “know” Him and to “walk” in His ways can only be found in truth. The Spirit and the Word will always agree. The Spirit will make known (unfold, open eyes, reveal mystery) the Word (Mk 4:11). Those who do not genuinely seek God will never understand these mysteries (Mk 4:12) – for they are as foolishness to them (1 Cor 1:18, 2:4).
The first of God’s Ten Commandments is” Exodus 20:3, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” In order to place no gods before the one true God, we must know who God is. Many people (religious people) have made a god of their own image, of whom they think God should be. Many will serve this image of their mind and sentiments until the day they die. However, are you interested to learn if your “image” of God matches the truth of who God really is as thoroughly searched out in God’s Word with a full and sincere heart?
Many will serve a god of their own making – maybe in their image. Perhaps this god was constructed of carefully selected scriptures or of doctrines and traditions of man (Mt 15:9, Mk 7:7-9, Col 2:8)? Those who sincerely and fully seek the truth will find it – God will lead them in the way of the truth for He is “the Way” and “the Truth (Jn 14:6).”
Just what can man know of God? All that man can know of/about God is what the Lord has chosen to reveal to man about Himself through His Word. The secret things belong unto the Lord our God (Deut 29:29) and He revealeth the deep and secret things (Dan 2:22). Even so, how can a puny worm of a man even begin to comprehend/fathom the glory of God’s Majesty – the awesomeness, power and omnipotence of God (Is 41:14, Ps 93:1)? Job and his friends entered into such a conversation, but didn’t get far. God quickly revealed to Job that he had no understanding of simple things much less greater ones (Job chaps 38-41).
Who can contend with, instruct or reprove God (Job 40:2)? The LORD of hosts is exalted in judgment, and God that is holy is sanctified in righteousness (Is 5:16). To go beyond God’s Word or twist it to your liking is to enter into your own imagination and seek that which is right in your own eyes – idolatry (Gen 6:5, Deut 12:8, 29:19, Jdg 17:6, 21:25, Ps 36:2, Pv 3:7, 6:18, 12:15, 16:2, 21:2, 30:12, Is 5:21, Jer 3:17, 7:24, 9:14, 11:7-8, 13:10, 16:12, 17:16, 18:11-12, 23:17, Rm 1:21).
How can man in his limited little mind comprehend a God that has always existed (has no beginning, Heb 7:3, Pv 8:23), has no end of life (Ps 90:4, 93:2, Heb 1:12, Rev 10:6), and is completely self contained (has need of nothing) having life within Himself (Jn 1:4, 5:26)? God calls that which is not into being by His very Word (Heb 11:3, Ps 33:6, 9, 148:5, Is 45:11-12). The Lord’s Word always brings about His very purposes (Is 55:11). God is not limited (having unlimited power and authority)! How can man, whose created spirit dwells within houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, understand such things (Job 4:19, Ps 30:9, 103:14, 104:29, Eccl 12:7)? These things are to wonderful for man to understand (Job 42:3).
God gives man what He considers to be the essential facts of Himself, but no doubt this is limited knowledge and of such as man can comprehend (Job 26:14, 37:5, 38:1). God is infinite in power, wisdom, judgment and existence. Job 14:1, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.” The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Cor 1:25). LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him or that thou art mindful of him (Job 7:17, Ps 8:4, 144:3, Heb 2:6)? Man – who are you to seek your “own” way and disregard your Creator? How will your rebellion profit?
So, the author approaches this subject only with regards to what God has chosen to reveal about Himself through His Word. This writing has been undertaken with prayer and study of God’s Word, but even so, there are many things just beyond human understanding and comprehension. The Lord’s primary concern for man is that he “know” and “walk” in God’s nature. This is only accomplished as man yields to and obeys God’s Word (will/truth/commandments) and is led of His Spirit (Rm 8:14, 2 Tim 3:16). God hath deemed it so. Otherwise, there is only blindness, deception and confusion of flesh.
Moses was given a glimpse of God’s glory – His back parts (no man could see God’s face and live, Ex 33:18-23). Exodus 34:6-7, “And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” Notice that God was revealing His nature more than His physical features. This event made quite an impression on Moses: Exodus 34:8, “And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.”
Understanding the nature of God is such a worthy subject and one is well advised to pursue it. Man generally follows his flesh (lusts and desires) in things temporal, but completely neglects those things eternal. To do one is to forsake the other. It is only when one is humbled (perhaps through tragedy, illness or loss) that eyes begin to turn to God.
Now the purpose of this writing is not so much to validate the doctrine of the trinity, but rather to seek who God is – what can be known through God’s Word. As mentioned, we must not approach God in order to just meet our expectations or preconceived notions. Historically, the problem has been that man seeks his will rather than submitting to God’s will. Man has been tailoring God to serve man’s will for centuries. However, this is not truth and will not stand. We must desire to know the truth whatever it may be. We must desire the truth above anything we know or possess. We must be willing to receive the truth at great personal cost (Mt 13:44-46).
The doctrine or teaching regarding the trinity essentially states that there is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance (essence), but distinct in subsistence (life) and perfect in harmony. These are the Father, the Son (Word), and the Holy Ghost (1 Jn 5:7). They are three distinct Persons; yet, they are all the one God. “Tri” means three and “unity” means one, which combines to be “trinity.” The distinctions can never become so precise as to arrive at a plurality of gods nor so vague as to exclude the distinctions.
The doctrine of the trinity is never specifically addressed in God’s Word as such. The word “trinity” is not even found in scripture. This understanding must be derived or arrived at through the totality of scripture. In other words, the things that God reveals about Himself throughout His Word make known (divulge) a certain understanding about who He is.
The various truths that God reveals about Himself throughout His Word paint a sort of picture of who He is; the sum of the parts arrives at a whole. This has been termed a “revealed” doctrine. Granted, that this “picture” or “summation” still requires faith (acceptance beyond fleshly ability) on the part of man because God does not appeal to nor elevate man’s flesh (Heb 11:6, 1 Cor 1:29). So, this could never be a complete, comprehensive, or conclusive understanding of God, but the Lord certainly does not hold man responsible for that which God does not reveal to man or that which man cannot comprehend.
The word “Godhead” is included in scripture. Scripture reveals concerning Jesus: Colossians 2:9, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (also Col 1:19, Rm 1:20, Acts 17:29).” This scripture certainly reveals a God more inclusive than Christ alone. In other words, Jesus alone is not the complete fullness of God, yet the fullness dwells within Him. Fullness is completeness; the state of something where nothing is wanted; perfection.
A Progressive Understanding
Throughout the Old Testament and into the New Testament, God increasingly reveals His greater purpose for man. Many events in the lives of individuals and the nation of Israel were foreshadowing events of greater things that were subsequently revealed or later understood. For example, God’s dealings with Pharaoh (Rm 9:17), Egypt, Israel and the Promised Land were a foreshadowing of God’s dealings with Satan, the world, followers of Christ and the kingdom of God.
Another example would be the Passover celebration and the significance of the unblemished lamb as it later related to Jesus Christ and His sacrifice of love (Jn 1:29, 36, Heb 10:5, 1 Pt 1:19-20, Rev 5:6-13, 7:14, 13:8). The many prophecies concerning the coming of Christ were not understood until Jesus actually fulfilled them (Lk 24:44-45, Acts 3:18, 13:29). There is more clarity in hindsight rather than foresight.
One last example would be how God filled Moses with the Holy Spirit and used him to lead His people (Is 63:11-13). Moses was a foreshadowing of Christ who was also filled with the Holy Spirit and led God’s people (Is 61:1-3). Hebrews 3:1-6, “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”
Moses lifted up the brazen serpent in the desert such that all who looked upon it would not die from the poisonous venom of the fiery serpents (Num 21:8-9). John 3:14-15, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”
In a similar way, God seems to have progressively revealed more about Himself in His dealings with man from the Old Testament to the New Testament. God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were all present in the Old Testament, but were not as understood as in the New Testament (names were different).
For example, Jesus was the rock that the children of Israel drank from in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:4, Ps 105:41). The Holy Spirit is the living water that Jesus gives (Jn 4:10, 7:38-39, Rev 7:17, 22:17, Jer 17:13). Jesus compared Himself with the manna that the children of Israel ate in the wilderness and said He is the bread of life (Jn 6:31-58). When Moses asked God His name, the Lord referred to Himself as “I AM (Ex 3:14).” Jesus later revealed the same when He said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am (Jn 8:58).” Jesus was always present because He is inseparable from God.
Christ’s disciples did not even have full understanding of God’s purposes when Jesus walked in their midst. Acts 1:6, “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” They were looking for an earthly kingdom, but did not understand the spiritual restoration that first had to occur (take place). The kingdom of God is within you as His Holy Ghost works God’s purposes (Jn 17:21, Php 2:13). The literal physical kingdom on a new earth comes later (Lk 21:30-31, Is 65:17, 22).
When Jesus tried to tell the disciples of His impending death, they just did not understand. Mark 9:31, “For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him (also Mt 16:21, Mk 8:31, 10:32-34, Lk 24:7-8).” The gospel of Luke says: Luke 9:45, “But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.” Peter even tried to persuade Jesus otherwise and was strongly rebuked (Mt 16:23, Mk 8:33).
God reveals His purposes through His names that the Lord reveals to man; and through men that God chooses; and the circumstances these men are placed in. Events in some men’s lives foreshadow greater events to come and greater revelation of the Lord’s purposes. This is very structured and detailed; simple, yet complex. The depth that God weaves into the creation of the world, the way things work, the design, whom He calls, how He deals with man, prophecies and their fulfillment, and future events is incredibly astounding. Certain men, circumstances and lands are merely epitomes that reveal similar purposes on a much greater level to come. This is the great mystery of God through the ages (Rev 10:7). There is so much for man to understand if he will fully seek God.