Peter Ditzel was a writer for the Worldwide Church of God for 10 years, leaving in 1991. He is an authority on Herbert W. Armstrong's teachings, and, through Word of His Grace Ministries (http://www.wordofhisgrace.org), is a proponent of New Covenant Theology, a belief system that emphasizes the freedom and unconditional love believers have in Jesus Christ. I believe that Peter has done an admirable job of laying out the reasons why most Christians believe that there is a trinity.
What Scriptural evidence is there for the Trinity? Many sects say there is
none because the word Trinity is not found in the Bible. The Jehovah's
Witnesses claim that the Trinity is unscriptural. Oneness churches, such as the
Another example of those who deny the Trinity are the Armstrongites. Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God (and, by extension, its many splinter groups), wrote, "The Trinity doctrine limits God to a supposed three Persons. It DESTROYS the very gospel of Jesus Christ!" Armstrong believed the Trinity doctrine destroyed that Gospel by limiting the Godhead to three Persons.
In Armstrong's words, "The sole value of human life lies in the human spirit and the potential of being begotten of God, later to be born VERY GOD, a child in the GOD FAMILY." And, "The false Trinity teaching does limit God to three Persons. But God is not limited. As God repeatedly reveals, his purpose is to reproduce himself into what well may become billions of God persons. It is the false Trinity teaching that limits God, denies God's purpose and has palpably deceived the whole Christian world."
The purpose of this short article is not to debate Armstrong's teaching that man can become God (we plan to address that in another article), or to address the Jehovah's Witnesses claims that the Trinity is of pagan origins or is a fourth-century invention (a good starting article exposing the lies of these assertions is found at The Watchman Expositor). Instead, this article is going to prove that the Bible definitely teaches that God is a Trinity.
The Scripture most often cited as proof of the Trinity is Matthew 28:19–20. It is the Great Commission Jesus gave to His apostles: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Notice that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all three mentioned in the baptismal formula, yet all three have one name.
Passages where one Person of the Trinity is spoken of or to by another Person of the Trinity show the distinctness of the three Persons. Jesus often speaks of and prays to the Father (as a small example, see Matthew 10:32–33; 11:25–27; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:29, 42; 23:34, 46; John 5:17–23, 26, 30, 36–37, 45; 6:27, 32, 37, 44–46, 57, 65). The Father speaks of Jesus as His Son (Psalm 2:7; Matthew 3;17; 17:5; Mark 9:7). Jesus and the Holy Spirit are seen as not identical in that the Holy Spirit descends on Him (Luke 3:22), and He is filled with the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit into the wilderness (Luke 4:1). Jesus also speaks in a way that distinguishes the Holy Spirit from Himself and tells His disciples of the coming of the Comforter, or Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:32; John 15:26; 16:7–16.
Scriptures that show that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all God support the one, indivisible essence of the Trinity. In John 6:27, Jesus calls the Father, "God the Father." In John 17, Jesus is praying to the Father, whom He describes as "the only true God" (verse 3). This establishes the Father as God, but might leave some doubt as to whether the Son and Holy Spirit are also God. But in Hebrews 1:8, God says to the Son, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." In Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23, Jesus is called Emmanuel (or Immanuel), which the Bible itself interprets as meaning "God with us." In Colossians 2:8–9, Paul says that in Christ "dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."
The Bible also calls the Holy Spirit God. In Acts 5:3–4, Peter says to Ananias, "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?... thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." By lying to the Holy Spirit, Ananias was lying to God. In Isaiah 6:8–10, we read that Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord (see verse 5 where the Lord is called the "King, the Lord of hosts"—obviously God) speak to him. In Acts 28:25–27, Paul quotes what the Lord spoke to Isaiah, but says it was the Holy Spirit who spoke. So the Bible says the Holy Spirit is God. Those who claim that the Holy Spirit is not a Person should see "The Personality of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament." (See below)
Why do Christians believe in the Trinity? Even this short article presents ample evidence to answer, Because the Bible teaches that God is a Trinity of three Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.
Contrary to those who claim the Holy Spirit is only an energy or force, the Bible clearly shows that the Holy Spirit has the attributes of a Person. In the New Testament, the Bible says that the Holy Spirit :
· Is a member of the Godhead (Matthew 28:19; Acts 5:3-4; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18;
13:14; 1 Peter 1:2)
· Convicts the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8)
· Guides Christians to all truth (John 16:13)
· Speaks (John 16:13; Acts 1:16; 10:19; 13:2; 20:23; 21:10-11; 1 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 3:7; Revelation 14:13; 22:17)
· Hears (John 16:13)
· Tells what is yet to come (John 16:13)
· Brings glory to Jesus by taking what
is Jesus' and making it known to Christians (John 16:14)
· Uses the personal pronouns
"me" and "I" to refer to Himself (Acts 13:2)
· Can make decisions (Acts 15:28; 1
· Appoints overseers or bishops (Acts
· Communicates to God the words we
cannot express (Romans 8:26-27)
· Has a mind (Romans 8:27)
· Teaches spiritual truths (1
· Can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30)