Tell me the name of His Son if you know! -Proverbs 30:4
The Quran says
O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son.”
Our summer series is titled “Knowing God.” Our aim is to know God better through a closer study of His attributes. We have seen God is Self-Existent, Eternal, Infinite, and Holy. Many Theists would not take issue with those attributes of God. Today, however, we come to perhaps the most distinct and therefore most attacked doctrine of the Christian faith: the belief that God is a Triune God. The Quran goes on to rebuke us Christians and says:
Indeed, he who associates others with Allah – Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire…They have certainly disbelieved who say, ” Allah is the third of three.”…The Messiah, son of Mary, was not but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him.
Muslims are in league with Atheists against the Trinity. To help express his disgust with the idea of a Triune God, Richard Dawkins in his famous book “God Delusion” quotes Thomas Jefferson – our own Founding Father and author of the Declaration of Independence. It is well known Jefferson rejected the doctrines of the Christian faith – the resurrection, the deity of Jesus, the Trinity and so on. However, he did admire the moral teachings of Jesus, which led him to famously, carefully, painstakingly, cut out all Jesus’ teachings from the NT with scissors and glue them into a notebook. Jefferson’s words are presented by Dawkins to help bolster his criticism of the Trinity:
“Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against the unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks [swindlers] calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”
When you have a Jehovah Witness on your door you have someone who also denies that God is a Triune God. JW’s are actually theological descendents of a more ancient sect led by a man named Arius. Arius rejected the idea that Jesus was God and that God was a Triune God.
Islam, Dawkins, Jefferson, Jehovahs Witnesses, ancient Arius, and any non-Biblical thoughts about God for that matter, will all agree that God is not a Triune God. It is irrational. It is not what the Bible teaches.
What is meant when we say “God is a Triune God”? Or when we refer to the “Trinity”? The Bible does not use the word “trinity” or “triune”, but, that is just a term we use referring to what is taught about God in Scripture. Trinity means One God, Three Persons. It’s not 3 gods, its not 1 god who changes into 3 modes, its not 1 god and then eventually Jesus became God too. The Bible presents God as a Trinity which means that God eternally and simultaneously exists as 3 distinct, equal, divine Persons. Those three Persons are the Father, the Son and the Spirit. All three have always been, there has never been a time when any of them were not. All three are equally God. All three are distinct divine Persons who are the One God.
Let me offer two thoughts here. First, The Bible makes no apologies or attempts to rationalize the Trinity to our finite minds. This is a hard concept to understand but it should not be hard to accept as true. Think about it: God is transcendent and He is not like us. He is outside our reality and not limited by the created laws that we are limited by. He does not live “in the box” we live in. I would argue that the Trinity is not irrational, but, supra-rational. It doesn’t go against rationality, but goes beyond it. It has to because it’s God’s being we’re contemplating. Once we accept that, we can accept the reality that God transcendently exists as one God but 3 persons.
A second thought I want to mention is that the apparent absurdity, or irrationality of this doctrine, is almost an argument against it being invented. Who would think it up and how would you get so many people to buy into it? It had to be “given” to us. In other words, the teaching that God is a Triune God had to be revealed to us by that Triune God. Anyone know where that revelation might be found?
It is clearly in Scripture. Christian apologist David Wood says, “We are forced into believing God is a Trinity.” Why are we forced? Because reading the Old and New Testaments will lead us to that conclusion. In other words, reading the Old and New Testament will demand that we think of God as One God, Three Persons, and those three Divine Persons are Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
GOD IS ONE
Lets first start off by establishing that the Bible does not reveal a plurality of gods. There is one God and there is none other than that one God.
- Turn to Deuteronomy 6:4, the famous “Shema”, one of the most basic and core confessions of faith in Judaism: “Hear, O Israel, The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”
- Turn to Exodus 20:3, where we find the 10 commandments given. The first commandment speaks clearly to the uniqueness of God as the Only God: “You shall have no other gods before me”. You’re not allowed to worship another so-called god because there are no other gods and the sin in that is to give the glory that belongs to the one and only God to a false god that is not god.
- “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols!” (Isa 42:8). “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal? Says the Holy One (Isa 40:25) “I am the LORD, there is no other.” (Isa 45:18) “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.” (Isa 46:9)
God is One God. The only God. There is none other besides Him. Yet, we see there is some kind of “plurality” in this One God.
THE OLD TESTAMENT SHOWS THE PLURALITY IN GOD
In the OT we see God presented in some way as a plurality. Turn with me to Genesis 1:1, the very opening of Scripture.
- The word “God” is the word “Elohim” in Hebrew. It is written in the plural form. Not the singular. Now this is never understood to mean many gods, but, the plural form is meant to emphasize the majesty of God. However, this plurality lays the foundation for later revelation that we’ll see that gives us more detail about what God is like as One God, Three Persons. In other words, while we don’t “get” the Trinity in this verse, when we get it later we see that it doesn’t contradict what we had earlier in Genesis.
Which brings up an important point about the Bible you need to understand: it is Revelation from God, but, it is Progressive Revelation. In other words, God revealed things progressively, sequentially, over time. He didn’t dump all of His revelation out at once. That’s why the Bible was written over a period of more than 1500 years. God revealed bits and pieces, parts here and parts there. He revealed some to men in the beginning, and then some more to men who came later, and more to men even later and so on. This is called progressive revelation. What this means is the further back in time you go the less revelation from God you have. What God revealed earlier was true, but, now, today, with the accumulated collection of Inspired Scripture, we have far more detail from God about who He is and what His will and plans are. They had “true” revelation in earlier times, but they didn’t have as detailed or as complete a revelation as we have now.
Back to Genesis: the first chapter in the Bible actually gives us more.
- Notice verse 2 we have “the Spirit of God”. If all we had were verses 1 and 2 we have the reasonable possibility that there is “God” and there is also “the Spirit of God”. We need more though.
- Coming to verse 26, “Let US, make man in OUR image, in OUR likeness…” Who is God talking to? He is talking to Someone who is both distinct from Him and yet like Him. This “Other Someone” is hearing God speak so there are two “Persons” here. But that other Someone also shares something that God has. It strongly implies Deity because man is not said to be made in “my image”, but “our image”. “Let US…in OUR image..” God and this Other Someone share in some quality and together they are going to create man and man is going to be made in the image of both of them. Not one of them, but both of them. Fascinating. Mind boggling. Awesome!
- Then turn to Genesis 3:22. After Adam and Eve sinned, God decides He needs to prevent them from eating from the tree of life. Listen to His comment in 3:22, “..become like one of US…” God is speaking again to that other Someone.
- Fast Forward and Turn to Genesis 11:7 with me. Here we come to the famous scene of the tower of Babel. Remember this is the civilization that developed after Noah’s flood. They are building the tower at Babel and the Lord comes down to check it out. Start in verse 5 with me….. “…” Consistent with what we’ve seen so far, God is speaking to someone again and that someone seems to be equal to or near equal to Him. Yet we keep seeing so far also that God is one. So Scriptures are presenting us with a God who is the One and Only God, and yet, somehow there is a plurality of Persons going on. What do I mean by that? Well, God is not speaking to someTHING, he is speaking to someONE. Someone who can hear Him, who has a mind to understand what He’s saying, and apparently is superior to creation since this other Person God is speaking to has been with God since before the beginning, participated in creating everything and so on.
Genesis is giving us a lot isn’t it? At this point, if this is all we had, it would not be unreasonable to believe that there is One God, and that One God is simultaneously at least 2 Divine Persons who communicate with each other, and this God created the heavens and the earth, made man in their image, man became like them knowing Good and evil, and they also went down to see the tower that man was building. If this is all we had there could might be debate over whether there is one God or two Gods, but, there is definitely the foundation of God being both One and Plural of some sort. A mystery for sure!
Is that all the OT has though? Is this the only revelation in the OT regarding the unity and plurality of God? Absolutely not. So we’ve been seeing God speaking to this Other Someone. This Other Someone seems to be eternal since they are with God in the beginning and helping to create. This Other Someone also seems to share in some Divine quality since man is to be made in this “Other Someone’s” image along with God – remember God said “Let us make man in our image”. God didn’t say, “I’ll make man in my image and you just watch”. He enlists this Other Someone, and, this Other Someone shares something
- Turn to Daniel 7:13-14 with me. READ. Here we have the Ancient of Days, clearly that is God. Then we have “one like a son of man” who is approaching the Ancient of Days. Notice again that it says this Person will be a King and “all peoples, nations and men of every language WORSHIPPED him.” Whoa. Wait. That’s going beyond just a king. Only God is worshipped. But here we have a distinct individual coming into the presence of the Ancient of Days, welcomed by the Ancient One, all while being worshipped by men. This is significant because God does not share His glory with anyone. He will not tolerate giving worship that belongs to Him to false gods. But this scene shows clearly that God is approving of this other Person who is getting worship from the world. Could this be the “Other Person” we were seeing in Genesis?
- Turn to Psalm 2. Look at verse 2, 7 and 12. What does this Psalm add to what we are learning so far? What is the relationship between God and this “Other Person” who seems to be God also? Well, it tells us that there will be God’s Anointed One whom God will install as King over the whole earth. And now even more fantastic is this Anointed World Ruler is God’s Son. Notice how the speaker in the Psalm is the Son telling us what His Father said to Him, “He said to me, You are my Son, today I have become your Father”
- So add this all up so far: God is One God but somehow there are at least two Divine Persons: both were there at the beginning, causing the beginning, creating everything else, creating man in their image. We learn that One is a Father and the other is His Son, and the Son somewhere will appear “like a son of man”, meaning he will appear human. Then we see the Father is going to make His Son king over the whole earth and His Son will be worshipped by the whole earth. And this is just the OT so far! With this base we see other OT passages reinforcing this picture:
- Psalm 110:1 shows us God speaking to His special anointed ruler Son, “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’” Here David says THE LORD (the Father) says to “MY Lord” (God the Son).
- Or Psalm 45:6-7, “Your throne O God…” the Psalmist is speaking to God about God’s throne. Then watch what he says in verse 7, speaking still to God teh Psalmist says, “..therefore God your God has set you above your companions…” Whoa! The enthroned One has an eternal throne and is called God by the Psalmist and that throne is given to Him by “God your God”. Two Divine Persons again, just like Daniel 7 and Psalm 2.
- Isaiah 9:6 says, “To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders” Notice again A Son and A Ruler. “He will be called….
- But there is more than the Father and the Son we see. We see a 3rd Divine Person. Another One called the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of the Lord
- Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me…” The Spirit (one), of the Sovereign LORD (two), is on ME (three). We have 3 here. Just like 48:16, “And now the Sovereign LORD has sent me, with His Spirit.”
- The Holy Spirit is presented to us as a 3rd Person. Turn to Isaiah 63:10, “Yet they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit” The Holy Spirit speaks and here we see the Holy Spirit can be grieved by the rebellion of Israel. This is not some abstract, impersonal Force or power of God. The Holy Spirit has Personhood – Divine Personhood.
- This may be why the Holy Seraphim cry out around the throne of God in heaven Holy Holy Holy. Three Times they declare Holy. it may just be that they cry out one for each of the Persons of the Holy Trinity.
Proverbs 30:4 speaks of God’s Son, “Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and the name of His Son? Tell me if you know!” What is God’s Son’s name?!
Oh to know the name of the Anointed, Son-King who would come from God! What is His name? The OT never reveals it. But it has been revealed. The angel told Joseph, “You will give Him the name Jesus” Why will that be His name? Because the angel said, “He will save His people from their sins!”
Do you know the name of Jesus? You’re saying, “Yes, yes, I know the name of Jesus.” No, I’m not talking about having heard His name and being aware of all the claims about Him. I’m asking “Do you know the name Jesus as your salvation?”
There is only one name given to men under heaven by which we must be saved.
Believe on the name of the LORD Jesus Christ
Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow
So I ask you again, Do you know the name Jesus? Do you know the name that is above every name? The name that every tongue will confess? Do you know the one and only name by which you can be saved? Jesus is His name. To all those who received Him, to those who believed on His name, He gave the right to become children of God.