God: One or Three? (Part 4)

One of the most difficult issues in understanding the nature of God is understanding the number of God.  Is God one or three?

Let’s review.  In lesson one, it was concluded that there is one God.  In lesson two, it was concluded that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not identical.  There is a distinction in identity.  In lesson three, it was concluded that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are referred to as “God” in the Scriptures, and possess Divine qualities.

Let us continue our study –

Triune God

There is one God.  This one God has related and manifested Himself in three persons, and these three persons are distinct.

How can we understand this?  Many imperfect illustrations have been set forth.  (1) Some have compared God to a three-leaved shamrock (three leaves, one plant).  (2) Some have compared God to an egg (shell, white, and yolk – but one egg).  (3) Some have compared God to an apple (skin, flesh, and seed – but one apple).  (4) Some have compared God to water’s form [solid (ice), liquid (water), and gas (vapor) – but still H20].  (5) Some have compared God to a triangle (three sides – but one geometrical figure).  (6) Some have used the triquetra to illustrate God (three interwoven arcs – but one figure). (7) Some have compared God to a three cord rope (three intertwined rope – but one rope). There are problems with some of these illustrations, and none of them is perfect.  It is possible that man will not fully understand, this side of heaven.  John Wesley said, “Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, then I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God.”  (www.christianquotes.info).  J.J. Turner and Edward Myers write, “The doctrine of the ‘Trinity’ has rightly been called a mystery.  The existence of three persons in one essence is beyond human comprehension.  We must admit, also, that this doctrine is one of the deepest to be found in the Bible; and in final analysis, it must be accepted by faith.  This doctrine is not provable from natural theology or empirical observation.  Man would never know of the trinity of God without revelation from God” (Turner, Doctrine of the Godhead, p. 40).

Some have ridiculed the use of the word “Trinity.”  Walter Martin has written, “Jehovah witnesses take great delight in pointing out that the word ‘trinity’ does not appear as such in the Bible.  They further state that since it is not a part of Scripture, it must be of pagan origin and should be discounted entirely.  What the witnesses fail to understand is that they very word ‘Jehovah,’ which they maintain is the only true name for God, also does not appear as such in the Bible, but is an interpolation of the Hebrew consonants YHWH or JHVH, any vowels added being arbitrary.  Thus it is seen that the very name by which they call themselves is just as unbiblical as they suppose the Trinity to be” (Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, p. 61, footnote 14).  The truth is a concept may be Biblical, even though the wording does not appear in Scripture (e.g. God’s providence, God’s plan of salvation, God’s sovereignty).


Let’s consider creation.  (1) God planned creation (Genesis 1:3; 1:6; 1:9; 1:11; 1:14; 1:20; 1:24; 1:26).  (2) The word, the pre-incarnate Jesus, executed the plan (John 1:1-3, 10, 14; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:1-2).  (3) The Spirit was also active in creation (Genesis 1:2; Psalm 104:30).

Let’s consider the plan of salvation.  (1) God, the Father, was the source of the plan (John 5:36; 6:38; Luke 22:42; 1 Corinthians 2:7-9; Ephesians 3:8-11; Hebrews 10:7).  (2) God, the Son, was sent to execute this plan (John 3:17; Galatians 4:4).  (3) God, the Spirit was also active in the plan revealing and confirming this plan (John 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:7-11; Hebrews 2:3-4; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

“Holy, holy, holy!  Lord God Almighty!  Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee. Holy, holy, holy!  Merciful and mighty, God in three persons, blessed Trinity!”                (Song: Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty by Reginald Heber)

“O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,  Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made;  I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,  Thy power throughout the universe displayed\

When through the woods, and forest glades I wonder,  And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees. When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur And hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze\

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing; Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;   That on the cross, My burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin\

When Christ shall come, With shout of acclamation, And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart, Then I shall bow, in humble adoration, And then proclaim: ‘My God how great Thou art!’\

Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,  How great Thou art! How great Thou art!Then sings My soul, My Savior God, to Thee, How great Thou art!  How great Thou art! (Song: How Great Thou Art, by Carl Boberg)

 This series will continue next time.

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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