WitnessForChrist 3 _ 2010
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19, NIV)
This is the message of baptism in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The foundation of Christian faith is based on the trinity in unity of God’s nature. The Trinity of personal names is obvious because the three names are preceded by the word 'and' (Greek: kai) which indicates personal name distinct from the other names.
Many texts in the Bible (written in the first century AD) lead to the impression of the plurality and unity of God, despite the claim that the doctrine of the Trinity was invented by the church in The Council of Nicaea (325) as raised such as by the movie 'The Da Vinci Code.’
XIX CENTURY SECTS
Since the beginning, the churches in general confess with confidence what is known as The 'Trinity' i.e. 'One God in three persons, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.' But in the course of history arise from time to time sectarian groups who reject the doctrine, and the same sects reappear in the nineteenth century.
In regard to the nature of God, there were three nineteenth-century concepts, i.e. (1) Trinitarian believed by most churches; (2) Mystical/Monism, who reject the personal God; And (3) Non-Trinitarian who reject the Trinity and replace it with the concepts of Sabellian, Binitarian, or Arian.
First, Adventism pioneered by William Miller (which emphasis the End of the World) and 7thday Adventist (Ellen Gould White, which and the end time emphasis with the keeping of the Sabbath), and Pentecost (which emphasis the gift of tongues), all three continuously believe the backbone of Christian conservatism faith in the Trinity, and even Pentecostalism has refreshed the faith of churches in the Holy Spirit as a person;
Second, Mormon and Christian Science reject the personal triune God and replace it with Mystical/Monism that believe that god is all and all is god (pantheism). In the first article of faith of the Mormon Church (The Church of the Latterday Saints) it is mentioned that they believe in the Trinity, but is to be understood in a mystical sense. God is seen as a superhuman, every person born of the spirit of God is like Jesus, and the Mormons with their believe in free will use their own power to reach the status of God or become like God. For Christian Science reality is only one God who is spirit and the human spirit that is part / expression of God's spirit. God is all good and all, but to distinguish it with the New Thought mysticism, the concept of mysticism associated with the Christian Science understanding is called 'theomonism.’
Third, Sects that reject the Trinity and is emphasizing the need to restore the name YHWH (Sacred Name Movement / SNM). The first is Jehovah Witnesses which embraced Arianism that Jesus was a created being lower than God and the holy spirit is only an active power. JW also restore the name YHWH and spells it as Jehovah. JW is also a Unitarian who believe that God is only one and the name is Jehovah. Unlike the Mormons, Christian Science, 7thday Adventist, and JW with a solid organization and followed by many, out of Adventism emerged Sacred Name Movement (SNM) which was further divided into many sects caused by differences in the interpretation of the spelling of the name YHWH and their various non-trinitarian doctrines.
From the Adventist group emerged Church of God, 7thday (Distinct from the Church of God the Trinitarian oldest Pentecostal church). COG, 7thday adopted Binitarian concept, i.e. that there are two persons of God, the Father and the Son, the Son is lower than the Father in rank, and following the JW’s believe it also believe that the holy spirit is considered the inner power of God. COG, 7thday has not questioned the name of YHWH but from this sect splits many sects that emphasis restoration of the name YHWH started by Assembly of Yahweh. Beside Assembly of Yahweh which believe in Binitarianism, some SNMs adopted Modalism / Sabbelian (Sabelius teaches that YHWH in the Old Testament is called the Father, the Son in the New Testament, and after the day of Pentecost is called the Holy Spirit), and some followed the JW’s Unitarian / Arian believe (YHWH is one and Jesus is a created being and lower than YHWH, and the Holy Spirit is the God’s active force). In addition breakaways streams from the different interpretations of how to spell the holy name YHWH, i.e. Jahve, Jahavah, Jahovah, Jahaveh, Jahveh, Yahveh, God, or Yahweh, even one of its holy scripture 'The Scripture' rejects the use of the spelling of Yahweh and choose to use the original Hebrew words tetragrammaton.
Modalism / Sabellian believes that YHWH is one, and the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are only modes of YHWH. This school of thought neglects the fact that in the Bible the three names are often referred to as different persons, who are sometime presented at the same time (in the baptism of Jesus) but also often at different places, and interact with each other, including expressed in the Lord’s Prayer. Stephen saw Jesus on the right side of the Father in Heaven and the Holy Spirit guided him on earth (Acts.7 :55-56), and if 'Yahsua is really YHWH' Himself the problem arises that YHWH had been crucified and died on the cross. This is in opposite with His Almighty character, and is not in accordance with His word (John.1: 18) and his omnipotence existence.
Binitarian differ from the Trinitarian, and even accepts Jesus as a person and God, Jesus is still regarded lower than the Father in rank, and the holy spirit of God is only a spiritual power. We should be aware that although in the Bible 'Ruach' is often interpreted as a strength / power of God, the Bible also suggests that 'Ruach' often means' personal Spirit, as in the phrase ‘God is spirit.’
Unitarian / Arian believe that Jesus is a created being and is lower than Jehovah, and the holy spirit is God’s active power. JW used to alter Bible translation such as by adding the word 'a' (John.1: 1) then created a strange doctrine that Jesus was created and promoted to be son and co-worker of God, and Jesus is the incarnation of the angel Michael. Likewise, The Incarnation of Jesus as a human being is considered eternal that God is greater than him (John.14: 28). In the Bible there are lots of texts that show the three persons of the one God (1Cor.8: 4), namely Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, equally from eternity to eternity, are equally glorified, and are equally powerful.
The ‘Trinity’ term is not found in the Bible and the teaching of the Trinity was not created by the church or determined in The Council of Nicea (325 M)! When we read the Old Testament (OT) and especially the New Testament (NT) which was written in the first century, the picture of 'One God with three personalities the Father, Son and Holy Spirit' already exists ‘de-facto’ even if not formulated ‘de-jure.’ Because of the many descriptions of three persons in the unity of God, then the name of the Trinity is addressed to God.
In the second century AD, in his writing, Theofilus of Antioch referred God as 'Trias' (Greek), then it appeared in the writings of Tertullian in the form of Latin 'Trinity. 'In the third century AD, in the writings of 'Origen,' Trinity is the term often mentioned, even his student Gregory Thaumaturgus wrote the term 'Trinity' in his credo 'Pisteos test Ekhthesis.' It seems that since the beginning the concept of three persons in one God as implied in the Old Testament and New Testament is referred to as Trias (Greek) or Trinity (Latin) already existed though not as a credo, which described the faith of the Christian community in general. Since then, the praise "Glory to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit" becomes common as was seen in the writings of Clement (I Clement: 58.59) and Justinus (Apologia, I.67). Another praise before Nicene spoken by the Fathers of the Church was: "Glory be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."
As a doctrine, the Trinity can be found in the third century writings of the apologists as of Justinus (Apologia I, vi) and Athenagoras (Leget: pro Christ, n.12). Similarly the writings of Irrenaeus (Adversus Haeresis I, xxii, IV, xx .1-6) reject the Gnostic who consider that the Logos was emanated from the Father and is lower than the Father. The doctrine of the Trinity is also expressed in the writings of Clement (Paedagog, I, vi) and followed by Gregory Thaumaturgus as already mentioned above. Before the third century there were also deviations from the belief of the Trinity, and was pioneered by Noetius from Smyrna which was refuted by the local synod in 200 AD and is known as Modalism i.e. God is the only one that changed His appearance in three ways at the same time (simultaneous modalism). Sabellius claimed that God in the Old Testament appeared as the Father, in the New Testament as the Son, and since the day of Pentecost appeared as the Holy Spirit (later known as the Sabellian[ism] doctrine or successive modalism (Sabelius was excommunicated in the year 220 AD).
But, why is the Trinity often linked to The Council of Niceae in 325 AD? In the fourth century AD, Arius (Arian[ism] is derived from the name ) an elder in Alexandria was influenced by the Gnostic and Neo-Platonic teachings that argued that since the Logos (Jesus) was begotten by the Father before he was born he was not existed and is not the same substance as the Father and lower than the Father. Controversy sparked the Council of Niceae, and then among the 300 bishops who attended the council, 90 percent rejected the view of Arius and defended the confession of the Church Fathers before Niceae and produced "Credo Nicaeum" re-affirming "godly equivalent of Jesus and the Father." The spirit of Niceae was later expanded in 'Credo Athanasius' which is: "We worship One in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance." The Creed is mentioned in the letter issued by Council of Constantinople (381 AD), and then confirmed in the 'Council of Chalcedon' (451 AD). So, the Nicene doctrine is not created at Niceae council, but it is a rejection of the non-trinitarian doctrine raised by Arius (Arianism / Unitarianism), while the subsequent councils only provide a formulation of the Trinitarian creed which has long believed since the beginning of Christianiry.
God is One in Plurality
In the Old Testament the Jews should hear (Shema) that "LORD is One!"(Ul.6: 4). The word used in this sentence in Hebrew is 'Ekhad' and it becomes the backbone of monotheism belief of the Jews. Ekhad means one, but even though some regarded it as single, ekhad in the OT also means 'composite plural' as seen in the sentences e.g. 'both become one flesh ' (Gen.2: 24), 'become one nation ' (Gen.34: 16), and 'the whole congregation becomes one (ekhad)' or ‘join together into one stick’ (Ezk.37: 17). In Hebrew the word used to state 'the absolute single' is 'Yakhid' (Gen.22: 2). The verses mentioned implied the existence of plurality in the unity of the LORD. This fact is also evident in the words of the Jewish philosopher Maimonides in his '13 Confessions of Faith’ in which he replaced the word Ekhad with Yakhid to explain the nature of the One God.
Although in the Old Testament the word Trinity is not mentioned, there are clues that lead to the meaning of plurality of unity of the LORD. The first name used in the Old Testament was 'Elohim' (Gen.1: 1; in the Old Testament are used 2500 times) which form the majestic plural even though in Hebrew there is the singular form 'Eloah' (De.32 :15-17; Hab.3: 3; in the Old Testament are used 250 times). Elohim was also expressed in plural phrase: "Let Us make man in our image and likeness" (Gen.1:26), even YHWH / Elohim is also called in plural phrase: "the man has now become one of Us" (Gen.3: 22) and YHWH says: "Come, let Us go down" (Gen.11: 7). Is.6: 8 also mentioned "Who will go for Us?" This examples are not explicitly talk about the Trinity but implicitly suggesting that there is plurality in the unity of YHWH / Elohim.
Three Persons In Unity
In the Old Testament (OT) the plurality of God is not explicitly expressed as in the New Testament, but is implicitly seen that there are other persons i.e. 'Malak YHWH' which is distinct to the angel in general (Gen.16: 7.13; 22:11-12; Ex.23 :20-23) as well as 'Ruach Elohim / Ha-Kodesh' (Gen.1: 2; 6:3; Job.33:4; Ps.51:13; 139:7; Is.11:2), both often represent YHWH himself. In Is.48:12-16 and 63:7-14, the three persons are mentioned together. Malak YHWH is often expressed Himself as human being, He met Hagar (Gen.16) and says in His own name and is called 'El-Roi'. 'He struggled with Jacob and claimed to be God ' (Gen.32:28-32). When the first person who is the 'Father' was never shown his face to mankind (Ex.33: 20), Malak YHWH as the second person often led the children of Israel as an angel figure who identifies Himself in the authority of YHWH and His face can be seen (cf. Jn.1:18), such as 'Halt Abraham kills his son Isaac' (Ex.14) and 'appears to Abraham' (Kej.17, 18), 'Instructs Gideon' (Jdg.6),' prophesies the birth of Samson' (Jdg.13), 'Tells Elijah to go to the mountain Horeb ' (1Ki.19), and 'Tells David to build the Temple in Jerusalem' (2Ki.19: 35). He also declares himself a 'The judge that advocates Israel' from the enemy (Nu.22 :22-35; 2Ki.19:35).
Although in the Old Testament there is an impression that the meaning of 'ruach' is inner strength, 'Ruach Elohim' also means 'Personal Spirit'. Regarding the 'Holy Spirit' many verses in the Old Testament shows His 'Godliness' and ‘Personality.’ 'The Holy Spirit presented in the beginning of Creation' (Gen.1: 2) and also 'He is the creator' (Job.33:4), He is also actively be presented in the End Times (see the Book of Revelation).
Trinity in the New Testament
In the New Testament revelation of the 'Trinity' of God is clearer. In the baptism of Jesus we see the three witnesses 'Father, Son and Spirit' and it then becomes a witness of baptism in the spreading of the gospel where we find the three names mentioned as three separate persons but in One God:
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased".” (Matt.3:16-17, NIV).
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt.28: 19).
Apostle Paul greetings in the Trinity God:
"May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." (2Cor.13:13; cf. 1Cor.12:4-6)
Likewise, the Apostle Peter said:
"who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood." (1Peter.1: 2).
Another verse also implies God as 'Trinity' in the sight of Stephen as 'The Son is on the right side of Father in heaven and the Holy Spirit is with him in the world' (Acts.7: 55).
The 'Son' as God is mentioned in many verses, the prophet Isaiah foretold as the 'Mighty God' (Is.9:5) called 'Immanuel' (Is.7:14, God is with us, Matt.1: 23). 'Jesus is God' with 'Father' from the beginning (John.1:1.14; Col.2:9), He refers to himself as 'God' (Matt.13:13.14), 'Jesus confessed 'ego eimi' which is the confession of the Father (John.8: 58, cf. Ex.3: 14 [LXX]). Both Son and the Father are called 'Alpha and Omega' (Rev.1:8;21:6;22:13) and the 'Beginning and End' (Rev.1:17;2:8;21:6;22:13). Salvation is in the name of the 'Father' (Joel.2: 32) and also in the name of the 'Son' (Acts.4: 12).
'Holy Spirit' is also found in many verses in His personality and 'Deity'. Deceiving the 'Holy Spirit' is regarded as 'lying to God' (Acts.5:3-4), 'He raised Christ' (Rm.8: 11). Holy Spirit (Spirit of Truth) is the 'Person who will accompany the faithful' (John.14-16). 'Blaspheming the Spirit will not be forgiven' (Luke.12: 10, Jesus was considered 'blasphemous' therefore He was crucified). 'The Holy Spirit will teach us. (Luke.12: 12), and the 'Spirit of the Father will speak in the people' (Matt.10:20). Even in the verses above as if only the Father and the Son are involved as Alpha / Omega and the Beginning and End, we can see the presence of the Holy Spirit also from Alfa / Beginning (cf. John.1:1 with Gen.1:1-2) until the Omega / End in heaven (Rev.14: 13; 22:17).
In contrast to the view of the Sabellianism (successive modalism) which states that in the Old Testament God revealed himself as the Father, in The New Testament as the Son, and after the Pentecost reveals himself as the Holy Spirit, the Bible indicates that they have expressed themselves all the time like in the baptism of Jesus, and differ from simultaneous modalism who thinks that God is one that turns at the same time to reveal himself in three modes, the Bible mentions that they are often present together in isolation and interact with each other as in the events of Jesus' baptism and the vision of Stephen.
The Bible clearly shows that at the time of the NT the 'Son' sent by the 'Father'as Lord and Savior, and after Jesus' ascension into heaven, the Son of God sent the 'Holy Spirit' as the 'paracletos' (helper), but it was just a special event in general because all three also work every time according to God's own needs in carrying out His plan. Apparently the difference between the three persons located in his function, though many other roles carried out jointly by the three 'persons’ of God. At the End Times, according to the vision of the apostle John in the book of Revelation, we can see that the three 'personal' God, that is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, are working together actively according to the function that carries by each. ***
With Love from Yabina ministry www.yabina.org
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