Although the term "Trinity" is not scriptural, the concept it expresses is certainly Biblical. In the Scriptures we note that there are three distinct persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Trinity, or Godhead (Acts 17:29; Col. 2:9), is not three gods but one God in three persons. "The Lord our God is one Lord" (Deut. 6:4) is a truth not only taught in the Old Testament but in the New (Mark 12:29; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; Eph. 4:4-6).
This doctrine is certainly inscrutable, yet not self-contradictory. It represents God not as three distinct gods (tritheism), or as three persons united in one person, or as a trinity of forms or manifestations that are not necessary in an eternal trinity in the divine nature, as Sabellius taught, but it represents God as three distinct persons that are one in nature. This triune monotheism is incomprehensible to finite beings because there are no analogies to it in the human experience. Man, poor finite man, can never fully fathom the Infinite, whether in his concept he be a solitary Being or a triune God as revealed in the Bible. Here again it should be reiterated that the doctrine of the nature of God is not to be discussed from the viewpoint of what is comprehensible to man, for man cannot comprehend the Omniscient One, but rather from what is revealed.
The words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:14, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen," known now as the apostolic benediction, together with the words of Jesus, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. 28:19), provide the most complete, explicit, and clear summary of the doctrine of the Trinity. These "three living persons of the heavenly trio" (Evangelism, p. 615), the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are spoken of in the Scriptures as distinct persons, each of whom is recognized as God, each of whom is eternal and possessing the same attributes, and yet they are one in essence and are equal. The following are some verses substantiating this:
John 6:27: "Which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed." Here the Father is named God and is distinguished from the Son.
John 1:1: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (cf. Gen. 1:1). Here the Father is distinguished from the Son and is called God. The Son also is called God. They are both equal and eternal.
Psalm 2:7: "Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee." Father is distinct from the Son.
John 14:16, 17: "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth." Here the three are spoken of as distinct persons.
John 14:9, 11, 18: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father"; "I am in the Father, and the Father in me"; "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you [by the Holy Ghost]." Here the three persons are spoken of as one. (See also John 17:21.)
Psalm 139:7: "Whither shall I go from thy spirit?" and the following verses. The Spirit is represented in this verse as omnipresent, an attribute of God.
1 Corinthians 2:10: "The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." The Spirit is omniscient, also omnipotent. (See Rom. 15:19; Zech. 4:6; Job 33:4.)
John 1:4; John 14:6; John 5:26: "In him was life," "I am . . . the life," "hath life in himself." The Son is self-existing and self-existent.
Matthew 28:19: "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Here the spiritual gifts are attributed equally to the three persons of the Godhead, who are distinct from one another.
Acts 5:3, 4: "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost? . . . Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." The Holy Spirit is identified as God, not rhetorically and figuratively as mortal men are identified. (See Ex. 4:16; 7:1; Ps. 82:6, 7.)
Philippians 2:6: "Being in the form of God, . . . equal with God." Father and Son are equal.
Colossians 1:17: "He is before all things." The Son is eternal.
Revelation 22:13: Jesus says, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end, the first and the last." Jehovah says in Isaiah 41:4, "I the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he." This shows also that the Son is eternal.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6: "The same Spirit. . . . The same Lord [Jesus Christ]. . . . The same God [the Father]." Here the equality of the three is indicated.
Matthew 11:27: "No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son." Here is seen the equality of the Father and Son. This verse compared with 1 Corinthians 2: 11, "Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God," shows the three persons of the Trinity to be equal and each objective to the other.
John 5:23: "That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father." Persons receiving equal honor are equal.
John 14:1: "Believe in God, believe also in me," indicates two distinct persons who are equal.
John 10:30: "I and my Father are one," one not merely ethically.
John 14:11: "Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me." Christ invites us to believe His oneness with the Father. Not only is the Father in Him but He is in the Father.
These are just a few of the verses that express and imply the triune nature of God.
"What Think Ye of Christ?"
Christ is God in the highest sense. He and the Father are two distinct persons, both are self-existing and self-existent, a fact that is inscrutable. They are not, however, two distinct persons and at the same time one person—that would be self-contradictory. Christ is one with the Father "in nature," "in character," "in purpose," "in power," "in authority," "in substance," and possesses "the same attributes" as the Father. (See Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34; The Great Controversy, p. 495; and the Signs of the Times, Nov. 27, 1893, p. 54.)
Because Christ is God He applied to Himself the name "I AM" of the self-existent, self-existing God. He said, "Before Abraham was, I am," thus applying to Himself the same name of the self-existent God who said to Moses that His name was "I AM THAT I AM" (John 8:58; Ex. 3: 14).
Christ claims absolute oneness with the Father. He said, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30). Because of this oneness John enunciated three great truths about Jesus in the first verse of his gospel. He emphasizes Christ's eternity, personality, and divinity. He said, "In the beginning was the Word." That is in the absolute conception of anteriority of time the Word then was,. not that He became, or was created, but He eternally was in existence. "And the Word was with God," a separate personality eternally with God. "And the Word was God," not was a God, but was in the absolute sense God. "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."
"The world was made by Him, 'and without him was not any thing made that was made' (John 1:3). If Christ made all things, He existed before all things. The words spoken in regard to this are so decisive that no one need be left in doubt. Christ was God essentially, and in the highest sense. He was with God from all eternity, God over all, blessed forevermore."— Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 247.
In the first verses of the Gospel of John is to be found conclusive proof of Christ's divinity. It is of interest to note that Martin Luther, alluding to John 1:1, says, "'The Word was God' is against Arius; 'the Word was with God' is against Sabellius." Arius of Alexandria (a.d. 325) held that Christ was created and was younger than the Father; Sabellius of Ptolemais in Pentapolis (a.d. 250) taught a trinity of forms or manifestations—not that the Trinity was eternal in the divine nature, but that God merely manifested Himself in three different ways.
The use of the word "all" in several verses with reference to Christ establishes beyond contradiction the deity of the Son. There is unmistakable assertion that He is associated with God upon equal footing, does the works of God, is omnipresent, and is worshiped as God. Note the word "all" in the following verses:
John 5:23: "That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father."
John 1:3: "All things were made by him."
Colossians 1:16: "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible . . . all things were created by him, and for him."
Hebrews 1:3: "Upholding all things."
Ephesians 1:23: "The fulness of him that filleth all in all."
John 16:30: "Knowest all things."
Hebrews 1:6: "Let all the angels of God worship him."
Colossians 2:3: "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
If "all" the wisdom and knowledge is hid in Christ—all of it—and if it is accepted that the Father has hid in Him also all the wisdom, then we have conclusive proof that Christ must be divine and one with the Father. Here is unmistakable evidence of His divinity. Similarly, it must be concluded that if Christ knows everything, created everything, is worshiped by all, He must be the Supreme Being—one with the Father. No created being can be thus qualified, for between God and the highest created being there is infinite difference. Either we accept this conclusion or the absurd conclusion that the Father does not have "all" in Him and therefore is inferior to the Son, a conclusion that has all evidence against it. However, accepting Christ's divinity and oneness with God sheds light on the words of inspiration: "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." This fullness can never be divided; therefore Christ must be one with the Father "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15), "God blessed for ever" (Rom. 9:5).
Christ said, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." None other than God could reveal God. No created being can do that; for God is infinitely higher than the highest possible creature. Only the Infinite can reveal the Infinite. It took Jesus to reveal the Eternal One to us. This is what makes Christianity the complete and final revelation, not merely one of the conflicting competing systems, each advocating only a portion of the truth but never all of it.
It is this that makes Christianity the only religion that has no error, for it was revealed by Him who is the truth.
What a great revelation that is for you and me, and what a sacrifice it took to make it possible. Like Thomas, and writing this from Alexandria, Egypt, where the Christians sang in the second century, "One only is holy, the Father; One only is holy, the Son; One only is holy, the Spirit," I glory in saying to Jesus, "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28).