God the Trinity

2 Corinthians

God the Trinity

July 1st, 1956 @ 10:50 AM

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.
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GOD THE TRINITY

Dr. W. A. Criswell

2 Corinthians 13:14

7-1-56    10:50 a.m.

 

 

You’re listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled God the Trinity.  In our preaching through the Bible, last Sunday evening we were supposed to have finished.  I said that I was bringing the last message in the second Corinthian letter, the thirteenth chapter, and that this Sunday we would begin the following letter which is the letter of Paul to the churches of Galatia. 

But as I read through the Bible preparing for this Lord’s Day services, the last verse of the second Corinthian letter, 2 Corinthians 13:14, the last verse stayed in my heart.  It is the familiar benediction that you have heard all of your life, that your fathers and your forefathers have heard all their lives.  It is the usual and the familiar benediction that has been said in the churches of Jesus throughout their many, many generations.

I say that verse stayed in my heart.  It is this: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen" [2 Corinthians 13:14]. 

So instead of going to the next page, the letter of Paul to the churches in Galatia, I tabernacled – I dwelt – with that verse.  And as God should help me, I committed myself to preaching a sermon on the Trinity: the grace of Jesus the Lord, the love of God the Father, the communion of the Holy Spirit – the Trinity of God. 

I never preached on it in my life.  Dr. E. S. James [Ewing Stanford James, 1900-1976], who was here at the morning service at which time I told the great host of people there that I would speak at this hour on the Trinity, said to me after the service was over, he said, "I’ve never heard a man preach on it in my life."  And he said, "I prepared a message on it and preached on it one time myself and," he said, "nor could I find where any other man had ever preached on the Trinity of God." 

Now, I am most limited and mortal and finite, and I say to you before we begin that we shall but look.  That’s about all.  There is an unfathomable, incomprehensible, inscrutability about the Person of God that goes far beyond what any little finite mind could ever grasp.  We shall just look.  We shall look in two places.  We shall look in the Bible, and we shall look in our own hearts – in our own experience.

The Trinity of God: God is one in essence, but God is three in subsistence.  He is three in modes of being.  He is three in personality: three Persons co-eternal, co-equal, one in substance, in essence.  There is one God, but He is three in personality.  How could such a thing be? 

It has been a battleground for philosophical theology for uncounted years all the strife that has been engendered between different warring sects over this doctrine: Arianism and all of those Christological controversies – Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Eutychianism; the arguments over monotheism – Unitarianism, Trinitarianism, Tritheism. It has waged through the centuries. 

As we come to look upon it ourselves, our first admission would have to be that the human mind could in no wise encompass, much less give birth to, a doctrine like this.  It has to come through the self-revelation of God.  It must come through the self-disclosure of God.  A man by his mind could never find it out.  He could never search for it and discover it.  It would be as easy for a clod to emit light from itself and become a sun as for a man to discover the tri-personality of the one God.  It must come through the self-disclosure, the self-revelation, of God or a man could never know it.

But as I approached the inscrutability and the incomprehensibility of it, I would say that I could hardly have expected anything else.  Would you have thought that God would be simple?  Would you have thought that a finite mind could encompass the infinite, the Almighty?  Is it not true that the higher the organic matter, from inorganic to organic, the higher the stage, isn’t it true it becomes more complex?  Here is a rock.  That’s the rock.  Here is a tree – higher, but it’s more complicated.  Here is an animal, still more complicated, higher.  Here is a man, still more complicated, higher.  Here is the Almighty God.  Shall I expect Him not to be more incomprehensible and more complicated? 

Our approach shall be not at all in any sense that we shall understand this mystery upon which now we look and do adore.  If I cannot understand the great works of the Almighty, how is it that I could ever have been persuaded that I might understand God Himself?  I repeat, all we can do is to look upon, to see, to worship, to bow down, to adore.  That’s all we can do before the great mighty acts of God.  No man can understand them nor can any man enter into them. 

I suppose there’s not a more common thing in us, around us, about us than gravity – gravity.  But it’s an incomprehensible, inscrutable mystery.  What is gravity, the pull of matter for matter? 

And every work of God is in the same category, much less the character, the personality, of God Himself.  Everything that God does has in it that same inscrutable incomprehensibility.

This last week, a dear, blessed family invited us to their home out in the country.  It’s built by a little dam beyond which is a pretty little lake.  And I, in the quietness of the evening, I went over there and was standing on the retaining wall looking down.  There at the edge of the waters were some high cattails growing up.  And as I looked down in quietness and meditation, enjoying the evening – as I looked down, there right in front of me in the cattails, a bird had made a nest in the most ingenious way that I ever saw a nest made.  That bird had taken the stems of those cattails, had pulled them together, and built a nest that looked kind of like an ice cream carton, a pint ice cream carton.  It was perfectly round; it was deep like a woman’s purse – just about like a little ice cream carton. 

And that bird had taken those flags, the stems of those cattails, and pulled them together and had ingeniously woven that nest so that when the cattails swayed, the nest swayed, but the cattails never pulled apart from it, nor did it overturn, nor did it spill – just beautifully made: one of the finest pieces of engineering I ever looked upon. 

And I thought, "If I had to do that, how very difficult with my hands. But that bird made it with her feet and her nose.  What if I had to make it with my feet and my nose out there swaying in the water, in the breeze – that ingenious contrivance?" 

Then I began thinking, "Who taught that bird how to do that?"  Oh, you did.  No, you did.  No, you did.  No, he – she learned that at Harvard.  Yes.  Yes. 

God taught that bird how to do that.  God did it, and it’s an inscrutable, incomprehensible mystery.

Why, that’s just one out of a multitude of things around us, but that doesn’t mean that it is self-contradictory.  That doesn’t mean it’s not so.

I could imagine a little ant way out there in the deserts of Arizona.  I could imagine that little ant saying to another ant, "Did you know that right over there are some great steel rails and there comes thundering down those steel rails a monster so big?"  And that ant had tried to describe it: "And it puffs, and it – and it blows, and it breathes, and it goes at a furious rate!"  

And I can see his fellow little ant saying, "Sir, you – you have lost your reason.  You just not balanced.  There just couldn’t be any such thing." 

And the other little ant says, "You come and see." 

So there the two little ants and they standing there by those steel rails a-watching.  And pretty soon, down those steel rails comes the most huffing, puffing, thundering monster you ants ever saw in their lives!  And they look at it bug-eyed.  Oh, my, such a thing.  How could it be?  And that little old ant would say, "I don’t understand that.  I can’t see that.  That’s such a thing." 

Well, that’s right.  I could imagine that one of these IBM calculating electronic machines to a little ant.  No to me even.  It’s just beyond anything in this earth.  Yeah, but that doesn’t mean it’s self-contradictory nor does it mean that it isn’t so. 

Some things are contradictory.  If I were to stand here and say a circle is square, now, that obviously is not so.  If I were to stand here and say a triangle has four sides, that violates my reason.  I just wouldn’t believe any such thing. 

But there are great truths that are of the nature of the self-disclosure of God that though I may not understand them in my finite mind, cannot grasp them, yet are they the truth of the very Almighty God Himself.  So with the Trinity, the love of God, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the communion of the Holy Spirit, the Three in One.

Now, I say, we shall look in the Bible.  We shall look in our hearts.  We shall find the truth of the great doctrine of the Trinity of God. 

When I open my Bible, on the first leaf of the first page of the first sentence, there is a passage of Scripture that all of these boys that go to the seminary, they all learn it.  Bere’shith bara’ Elohim ‘eth hashshamayim we’eth ha’aretsBere’shith – "in the beginning"; bara‘ – created; Elohim – the singular for God is El, the plural for El is Elohim, plural. 

The first thing I see in the Bible when I open the Book: "In the beginning God," plural, Elohim.  A seraph is singular; seraphim, plural.  A cherub is singular; cherubim, plural.  The Hebrew ayim – im is plural; ElohimBere’shith bara’ Elohim. ‘Eth – that’s the sign of the accusative; hashshamayim, the heavens; we’eth, the accusative again; ha’arets, the earth.  "In the beginning God," plural, "created the heavens and the earth" [Genesis 1:1]. 

Then the next sentence, "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God . . . " [Genesis 1:2].

Why, I face it in the second sentence: "and the Spirit of God."  In the first sentence, "God" – plural – and in the second sentence: "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" [Genesis 1:2]. 

Evidently there’s more to God than just that single entity that some people might think for, for when I open the Bible, I meet it, and I never get away from it.  I turn the leaf of the Bible: "And God," Elohim – plural – "and God said, ‘Let us’" – "let us," plural – "Let us make man in our" – plural – "image."  "And God" – plural – Elohim, "said, ‘Let us’" – plural – "make man in our image" – plural [Genesis 1:26].

Turn the page again, and here in the third chapter, God said – the twenty-second verse – "And the Lord God," Yahweh Elohim again – Yahweh, "the Lord."  That’s where you got your name "Jehovah."  They took the vowel pointing for the word for "Lord" – Adonai – and placed it to that word Yahweh, and made Jehovah. "And Jehovah Elohim, God." 

"And the Lord God" – plural – "said, ‘Behold, the man is become as one of us’" – plural – "to know good and evil" [Genesis 3:22].  "The man has becometh one of us." 

Turn again in the eleventh chapter when the Lord God looked down there at the man making the tower of Babel, and God said: "Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language" [Genesis 11:7]. 

Clear over there into Isaiah: "And the Lord God said, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’" [Isaiah 6:8]  I meet it the first thing in the Bible.

All right, I meet another marvelous something here in the Bible as I turn to begin.  I meet another marvelous thing and that is there He is – a personage, a sublime personage.  There is a glorious Somebody that you will meet all through the Old Testament.  He is called "the angel of Jehovah," but He is identified with Jehovah God.  Others identify him as Jehovah God, and He receives the worship of Jehovah God.  To me, He is a pre-incarnate epiphany of God Himself, of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He’s another Person.  Listen to this, and I’ll go through it rapidly. 

In the ninth verse of the sixteenth chapter of Genesis, this is Hagar who is being cast out.  "And the angel of Jehovah . . . said unto her" [Genesis 16:7-8].  Now look in the eighth – look in the thirteenth verse: "And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her . . . ‘Thou God seest me’" [Genesis 16:13].  But in the story, it was "the angel of the Lord," but she called it "Thou God seest me." 

Take again over here in the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Genesis, there is the story of the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, his father.  And when Abraham lifted up the knife to slay his son, Isaac, "the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven" [Genesis 22:11]. 

"And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh" – God will provide [Genesis 22:14].  But the one who spake to him, whom he called God, was the angel of Jehovah [Genesis 22:11]. 

All right, look at it again in the same – the fifteenth and the sixteenth verses: "And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, ‘By Myself have I sworn,’ saith the Lord" [Genesis 22:15-16].  In the fifteenth verse, He is called the angel of Jehovah.  In the next verse, the angel of Jehovah speaking, says, ‘"By Myself have I sworn,’ saith the Lord" – says Jehovah [Genesis 22:16].  The angel speaks, but when He talks, he calls himself Jehovah. 

Look again in the thirty-first chapter of the Book of Genesis.  Jacob, Israel, is speaking – 31:11 and 13:

"The angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, ‘Jacob’:

"And I said, ‘Here I am.’ 

"And He said, ‘. . . I am the God of Bethel’" [Genesis 31:11-13]. 

"The angel of God spake unto me saying . . . ‘I am the God of Bethel who appeared unto thee" – this other Person, this One who is constantly appearing in the Old Testament [Genesis 31:13]. 

Turn again over here to the forty-eighth chapter of Genesis, the fifteenth and the sixteenth verses.  And Jacob "blessed Joseph, and said, ‘God before whom my father Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long . . . the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the children . . ." [Genesis 48:15-16].  He calls that angel, that epiphany of Jehovah God, he calls him God Himself.

Turn once again in the third chapter of the Book of Exodus.  You have the story of Moses at the burning bush.  Look at that story – the third chapter of Exodus, the second and following verses:

 

And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned, but it was not consumed.

And Moses said, "I will step aside, and see this thing . . ."

And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and . . .

He said, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob."  And Moses hid his face . . .

And the Lord said, "Take off your shoes from your feet, the place where you stand is holy ground."

[from Exodus 3:2-6]

 

But the story begins with, "The angel of the Lord appeared unto him in the flame of fire" [Exodus 3:2].  And when that angel spake, He said, "I am the God of thy father . . . Take off thy shoes.  It is holy ground" [Exodus 3:6, 5].

All right, look again at that same thing. In the fifth chapter of the Book of Joshua, there’s another one of the appearances of that Somebody other.  "And it came to pass" – the thirteenth verse – Joshua 5:13:

 

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with a sword drawn in His hand: and Joshua . . . said, "Art thou for us, or against us?" 

And He said, "Nay; but as the captain of the host of Jehovah am I now come."  And Joshua fell on his face . . . and did worship, and said, "What saith my Lord to his servant?"

And the captain of Jehovah’s host said to Joshua, "Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy."  And Joshua did so.

[Joshua 5:13-15]

 

And that’s all.  You have nothing more – just the appearance of that marvelous Somebody that here calls Himself the "captain of the hosts of heaven," and Joshua calls Him, "Lord," and worships Him [Joshua 5:14].  And that Captain says, "Take off your shoes, the place you stand on is holy" [Joshua 5:15]. 

I heard that before. The Lord that spake to Moses out of the bush said: "Take off your shoes, the place whereon you stand is holy" [Exodus 3:5].

May I just take one other?  "Then Nebuchadnezzar" – this is in the third chapter of the Book of Daniel:

 

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake and said to his counsellors, "Did not we cast three men –

Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego –

did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?"  They answered and said to the king, "True, O, king" –

three men.

And he answered and said, "Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

[Daniel 3:24-25]

 

There He is again.  All through that Old Testament story, there’s a Somebody else.  There’s God epiphany: God appearing, God in the likeness of a man.  And He appears, and He speaks, and He commands, and He’s worshiped as God. 

I say that’s Jesus before the incarnation, back there in the beginning, the Elohim: "Let us make man" [Genesis 1:26] and "the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters" [Genesis 1:2].  And the Angel of the Lord spake and said, "I am the God of thy fathers" [Exodus 3:6]. 

Now, it is no different in the prophecies, the great prophecies of the Bible.  Listen to these two – listen to these three.

One in Isaiah 7:14, the other in Isaiah 9:6 and following. "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and they shall call his name ‘Immanu’ – with us, ‘el’ – God" [Isaiah 7:14] – "with us, ‘El’ – God." 

"El" is the singular; "Elohim" the plural of it. "Immanu," with us, "el," God: "And they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is ‘God with us’" [Matthew 1:23]. 

All right, look again from the great prophecies: "For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given: and the government shall rest upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" [Isaiah 9:6].  The prophet back yonder 750 years before Jesus was born said He is to come.  Micah said He’s to be born in Bethlehem [Micah 5:2].  He is to come a child and His name shall be called "The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" [from Isaiah 9:6]. 

Just one other prophecy here in Malachi 3:1: "Behold, I send My Messenger, and He shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord" – Jehovah God and Jehovah – "whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant . . ." 

I say, back there in the Old Testament, when I open the Book and read through the pages, there and there and there and there again, I find the revelation of God, and He’ll be plural.  It’ll be the one God, the Father.  It’ll be the Holy Spirit of God brooding on the face of the deep [Genesis 1:2].  It’ll be the epiphany of God speaking to Moses [Exodus 3:2-6], speaking to Joshua [Joshua 5:13-15], in the fiery furnace with Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego [Daniel 3:19-25].

When I turn to the New Testament – when I turn to the New Testament, the first thing that will meet me, and all through the passages of the Scriptures, there the three are again. 

At the baptism of the Lord Jesus: when He was baptized went up straightway out of the water, and the Spirit of God descending upon Him like a dove, and a voice from heaven saying, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" [from Matthew 3:13-17].  There the three are again: God speaking from heaven, Jesus baptized, and the Holy Spirit is a dove lighting upon Him. 

You see it again in the last chapter of the Book of Matthew: "Go into all the world, make disciples of the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" [Matthew 28:19].  There the three are again. 

Turn the page of the Book, and in Luke 1 in the story of the conception in the womb of the virgin Mary: "And the angel answered and said unto her, ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; and that Holy Thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" [Luke 1:35] – the Holy Spirit coming upon; the power of the Highest, God Himself, overshadowing; and the Holy Thing born of the virgin, the Son of God, Christ Jesus Himself.  And the whole New Testament is built around that configuration. 

Take in the fourteenth and the fifteenth chapters of the Gospel of John: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name" [John 14:26].  There the three are again; the Holy Spirit, the Father, in the name of Jesus. 

Turn the page and in the sixteenth chap – in the fifteenth chapter in the twenty-sixth verse, the same thing: "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth . . . He shall testify of Me" [John 15:26] – "The Father, the Spirit, and Me, the Lord Jesus Christ."

Turn again, so rapidly, here in the fourth chapter of the Book of Galatians.  I’m trying to show you that in this language of the New Testament, the three are always woven in and out where you do not look for it. "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father’": Galatians 4:6 – God, the Spirit, and the Son. 

Take once again in First Peter as he begins his letter: "Peter, an apostle to the Diaspora scattered throughout all the provinces of Asia Minor, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" [1 Peter 1:1-2].  There they are just in the introduction of the letter: the knowledge, the foreknowledge, of God; the sanctification of the Spirit; the blood of Jesus Christ. 

In these last verses of Jude, listen to him: "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ" [Jude 1:20-21].  There it is again: praying in the Holy Spirit, looking to the Lord Jesus Christ in the love of God.

And just one more.  Here in the Revelation, the first chapter: "John to these Asian churches, from the seven spirits" – that’s the plenitude of the Holy Spirit – "and from Jesus Christ who hath made us kings and priests unto God the Father" [from Revelation 1:4-6]. There the three are again.  Just through the Bible, all through it, that manifestation: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

You will bear with me as I say just a word of that doctrine in human experience, in our hearts.  "Pastor, how do you know God?  How do you sense God?  What is your experience with God?" 

In all sincerity, may I answer?  May I humbly answer that I know God by experience as I find Him revealed here in the holy pages of the Book?  My experience corroborates the revelation that I read in the Bible.  I know God.

The psalmist says: "The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God’" [Psalm 14:1].  I know that I know there is a God.  It is innate.  It is congenital.  It is primary.  It is primordial.  It is fundamental.  No man can escape that.  To me, an atheist is one in language only.  He is not made that way in his heart, in his soul.  "The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God’" [Psalm 14:1]. 

I know God.  I know Jesus Christ as the revelation of God [Hebrews 1:1-3], as God of the New Testament, as God Jehovah of the Old Testament.  If He is not one of the Trinity, then He does not know perfectly God, and if he does not know perfectly God, He could not perfectly reveal God.  And if the Christian faith is not a perfect revelation of God, then it’s just one other competing system of so many systems – full of truth, yes, full of error also, yes. 

If we have any great, final revelation in our faith, it lies in the Godhead and the deity of Jesus Christ, the Son.  I know God in Jesus, our Savior [John 14:9].  I know God, the Holy Spirit.  He’s in my heart [2 Corinthians 1:22].  He’s in your heart: God present in us.  We feel His presence.

Two days ago, for example, I sat down in my study with a little boy.  I said, "Son, you’re such a fine-looking fellow, a handsome boy.  How old are you, buddy?"

And he said, "I’m ten years of age – ten years of age."

"And why have you come to talk to me?"

He said, "I’ve come to talk to you about giving my heart to Jesus."

I said, "Son, do you feel in your heart God called you?"

And the little boy – ’cause he’s like I was and like all of us are. We feel it’s unmanly to cry – the little boy struggled hard with his tears, but they came unbidden anyhow, anyway.  And the little boy said, "Yes, I feel God called me in my heart."

That’s, I say, the experience all of us feel.  It’s God’s inside us.  We know God.  The experience of God comes to us like that: our Father and our Savior and the pull within our souls, the Spirit of God within us [Romans 8:15-16].

And may I – may I take time to say I know that in prayer.  "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit maketh intercession with groanings that cannot be uttered.  And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" [Romans 8:26-27].

When you pray, you have that experience. "Our Father in heaven, our great God, in the name of Thy Son and our Savior, Lord, Lord, remember Thy people."

And the Bible says and it is the Spirit – it is the Spirit that teaches us how to pray.  And when we can’t say the words, and we can’t put in language what we feel in our hearts, and the sentence won’t bear the weight of the intercession, then the Spirit maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered: going to the Father in the name of the Son, taught and helped in our infirmities by the Holy Spirit [Romans 8:26].

I ought to quit and shall.  When we come to one of these great doctrines of the Christian faith, it is very easy to say, "Now, that’s not reasonable.  That’s not reasonable, and I turn aside from it.  I am utterly unconvinced."

What we ought to do is to say, "Oh, the vast plenitude of the mysteries of God!  His works, I do not understand them.  I just see them. And God Himself, the plenitude of the fullness of His being, I do not understand it, but I observe it. I look upon it and it brings adoration and love in the Spirit of worship to my heart.  And I bow down before God Most High, and in the name of Jesus praise His name forever."

Like the benediction: "And now – and now, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and may the love of God our Father, and the fellowship and communion of the Holy Spirit be with you now and forever.  Amen" [2 Corinthians 13:14].

The revelation, the self-disclosure of God: one God, one in essence, the triune God in personality, in revelation as we read Him in the Book, as we know Him in life and in human experience.

Now, we sing our song.  While we sing it, while we sing it, somebody, anybody, God’s open door – while we sing the song, somebody you, give your heart to the Lord.  Trust Him as your Savior.  Would you come?  Is there a family here to put their lives with us in the church?  Is there one somebody you to put your life with us in the church?  While we tarry here for just this while and our people stand and prayerfully sing the hymn of appeal, would you come – anywhere, you, while we stand and while we sing?

GOD THE TRINITY

Dr. W. A. Criswell

2 Corinthians 13:11

7-1-56

 

I.          Introduction

A.  The Trinity – God who is one in essence, but three in subsistence

B.  Battleground for uncounted years

1.  Warring sects over this doctrine

C.  Doctrine had to come through self-disclosure of God

1.  How could we expect personality of God to be other than inscrutable?

2.  If we cannot understand the great works of the Almighty, how is it we might understand God Himself?

3.  All we can do is look, observe, discover and wonder

a. Gravity

b. Bird building his nest in the cattails – who taught her?

c. An ant in the desert of Arizona watching the Santa Fe rail going by

D.  Inscrutable, unfathomable, but not self-contradictory

 

II.         The doctrine of the Trinity in the Bible

A.  The Old Testament

1.  Meet it in the first leaf of the Bible

a. Elohim – God plural(Genesis 1:1)

b. The Spirit of God(Genesis 1:2)

c. "Let us make man…" (Genesis 1:26)

d. "Man…one of us" (Genesis 3:22)

e. "Let us go down…" (Genesis 11:7)

f. "Who will go for us…"(Isaiah 6:8)

2.  The Person appearing all through the Old Testament called "the angel of Jehovah" – an epiphany of God

a. To Hagar (Genesis 16:7-9, 13)

b. To Abraham as he lifted the knife to slay Isaac (Genesis 22:12, 14-16)

c. In a dream to Jacob (Genesis 31:11-13, 48:15-16)

d. To Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:2-6)

e. To Joshua as the captain of the hosts of heaven (Joshua 5:13-15)

f. With the three Hebrew children in the furnace (Daniel 3:24-25)

3.  In the prophecies(Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, Matthew 1:23, Micah 5:2, Malachi 3:1)

B.  The New Testament

1.  At the baptism of Jesus(Matthew 3:16-17)

2.  In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19)

3.  In the story of the conception (Luke 1:35)

4.  Entire New Testament built around this configuration(John 14:28, 15:26)

4.  In the language of the New Testament, the three are woven in and out where you do not look for it (Galatians 4:6, 1 Peter 1:2, Jude 20-21, Revelation 1:4-6)

 

III.        The doctrine of the Trinity in human experience

A.  My experience corroborates the revelation I read in the Bible

1.  God above all(Psalm 14:1)

2.  God incarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ

3.  The Holy Spirit in my heart

B.  In prayer we come to know the three Persons(Romans 8:26-27)