The doctrine of Trinity, which declares that God is Triune, is fundamental to the Christian faith. We must believe this grand doctrine because it is clearly taught in the Scriptures. But it is a doctrine that defies human logic. It is beyond man’s ability to fathom and explain.
Why is this doctrine so incomprehensible? God is infinite; and hence He is beyond human reasoning. We can know Him only because He has revealed Himself to us by His Word. Whatever He has revealed concerning Himself in His Word must be received by faith and with humility. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
The word “Trinity” is derived from the Latin word Trinitas, meaning “threeness”. It is not found in the Bible, but it has been historically used by theologians to define and defend the divine mystery that is revealed in the Holy Scriptures.
Very early in the church history, the truth of the Trinity has been studied and affirmed. Trinity was the designation for the uniquely Christian monotheistic understanding of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit as tri-unity. The church fathers vehemently defended the Trinity against those who denied it with their heretical teachings. In AD 325, a church council that met in Nicaea (now Iznik in Turkey) affirmed this eternal truth concerning God; and it has been known as the Nicene Creed.
Our Westminster Confession of Faith defines the Trinity thus: “In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost: the Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son” (Chapter 2, Paragraph 3).
Truths affirmed by the Doctrine of Trinity
There is only one true God who must be worshipped and loved exclusively. The doctrine of the Trinity does not teach tri-theism, but monotheism. The Scriptures firmly declare in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD. And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Our Lord Jesus also reaffirmed this truth in Mark 12:29-30.
The essential oneness of God is taught by the biblical statement: “The Lord is one”. The Hebrew word for “one” (echad) denotes “compound unity” or “united one”. Here, both the uniqueness of God and the unity of God are underscored. God is a unity of three divine Persons—the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. God is one in essence and three in person.
Christians are monotheistic in their theology. “The LORD he is God; there is none else beside him” (Deuteronomy 4:35; cf. Isaiah 44:6,8; 45:5-6).
All three Persons are coequal and coeternal. God eternally exists as three persons, and each person is fully God. They are equal in authority, power, glory and all the divine attributes. None is lesser than the other; they are coequal and coeternal, each partaking of the full divine essence.
Jesus’ words “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30) clearly give evidence that they are equal in essence and authority. The Baptism formula (“in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” – Matthew 28:19) which mentions the Holy Spirit along with the Father and the Son, testifies to their equal divine authority. Moreover, Paul’s well known benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14 includes the Holy Spirit as the object of our worship – “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”
The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Ghost is God!
All three Persons are distinct, but not separate: There are three distinct Persons in the Godhead. It means that the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father. But the great mystery of the Trinity is that though the three Persons are distinct, they are not separate, but one in their essential being. The divine essence is not divided among the three Persons.
Furthermore, the designations – the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost – do not indicate inferiority among them, but their eternal relationship within Godhead. The three Persons are distinguished by certain personal distinctions: the Son is eternally begotten of the Father, and the Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son.
The three Persons of the Trinity do not act independently of one another. This was a constant theme of Jesus in rebuffing the charges of the Jews. Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19; cf. John 8:28; 12:49; 14:10).
Trinity is triunity! This is one of the great mysteries of faith, and as such, it is far beyond our human comprehension. The Trinity must be acknowledged as a biblical doctrine. The clearest of all Scriptural passages on the Trinity is 1 John 5:7 – “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”
Sometime ago, I posted a brief article in my blog (pastorkoshy.info) on “Should a church borrow money to do God’s work?” I noticed last week that there was a response to that article (http://pastorkoshy.info/?p=128&cpage=1#comment-3833). Basically, there are three major claims in that response. Firstly, the blogger says that if it is possible, borrowing from financial institutions to fund a church’s project should be avoided. Nonetheless, he claims that it is alright to borrow from sister churches and from its members. Secondly, he argues that my insistence on not borrowing for church projects limits the church from undertaking bigger projects and hence, it is being narrow-minded. Thirdly, he urges that the church must encourage the members to go on a “journey of faith” and make “faith pledges” to provide for the big projects of the church.
Here is my response:
I am glad you take the position that as much as possible, one should avoid borrowing from the marketplace’s financial institutions to fund a church’s project. I would go one step further to say “No” to borrowing for church ministries. I am aware that several B-P churches have borrowed heavily from financial institutions. Instead of following their worldly wisdom, I would rather heed biblical wisdom on this matter. God’s wisdom declares in Proverbs 22:7 – “the borrower is servant to the lender.” What tragedy it is that the church becomes a servant to its lender! Being financially obligated to anyone can bring about many impediments to the progress of the ministry. For instance, it can slow down other important Gospel work which the church should carry out. So let us be wiser to heed divine wisdom in Romans 13:8 – “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another.”
From the second paragraph of your response to my article, it is apparent that you have wrongly concluded that I “limit the scale of a project or timing of a major undertaking on the basis that the money must first be available”. Please be assured that such a notion about me is far from the truth, especially if the project is perceived to be truly of the Lord. By the grace of God, I have taken leadership in my church to plan and begin several projects even before the church had sufficient money to start them, let alone complete them. In such a case, we sought the Lord in prayer, even with fasting, for all the funds we needed. We thank God that our faith has increased as each of those projects was completed. In those situations, our faith was firmly placed in the Lord who promises to provide for all our needs as we seek His kingdom and righteousness (cf. Matthew 6:33). Not once did we trust in financial institutions, sister churches or any wealthy Christian! This is not to say that sister churches and fellow Christians did not help. Many of them gave very sacrificially and generously to support our ministries; and we continue to receive their cheerful support with thanksgiving to God. But no one was a lender to Gethsemane B-P Church, neither was the church a debtor to anyone, except God.
I also take the view that asking members of the church to “make pledges upfront” is an unwise practice. I am aware that many a church calls their members to pledge funds which they do not have in hand or in their banks. They call it “faith pledge”. In fact, Scripture only teaches us to give from what we have received from the Lord. We only need to encourage members and friends to give from what they have. Certainly, it is wrong to teach people to vow to give what they do not have. Ecclesiastes 5:5 says, “Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay” (cf. Deuteronomy 23:21).
On several occasions, I have met Christians who felt very guilty because they could not give what they “pledged by faith”. They presumed that if they pledged “by faith”, they would surely be able to give. Once, I met a man who lost his job and income after pledging a large sum to the church, and as a result, failed to fulfil his pledge. It is so frustrating when pastors and leaders of the church go after the members who “pledged by faith”, saying, “Keep your vows.” Instead, let such churches teach people to give willingly and cheerfully when the Lord provides. If the members pledge to give what the Lord has provided, then it is biblically acceptable. But to urge them to pledge what they do not have, and then hold them responsible for not giving that sum is not a biblical practice.
You charged me with narrow-mindedness and a lack of faith by saying, “I find some of your statements a bit too sweepingly ‘narrow’ and less faith-based.” If you think it is narrow-mindedness to be biblical, then I am. I have no intention to lead my church through the unbiblical broadways of many modern churches. I also believe that prayerful obedience to God’s Word will help us to fulfil all that He wants us to do for Him. As it is said, “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies”. We only want to do all that God wants us to do – nothing more, nothing less. We also believe that without faith in the promises of God, nothing – big or small, can be done for Him. Faith teaches us to abide in the Word, and do all His will. It is not faith to do big things in an unbiblical manner. It is not the magnitude of a project that manifests our faith, but doing all things, big and small, according to God’s Word. May God increase our faith in His Word to attempt great things for Him according to His will.
Sixth Anniversary of The Gethsemane Care Ministry
August 9, 2011, (Tuesday), 5.30 PM
Auditorium, 5th Level, SingPost Centre, next to Paya Lebar MRT
Have you been keeping up with the Bible reading program? I am glad to hear from some that they are keeping up with the reading program that I have given out. That is wonderful! Of course, every one has to overcome different kinds of hindrances – laziness, sickness, tiredness, busy school and work schedules, etc. Some have testified that when they have fallen behind the schedule, they took more time during the weekends to catch up with the schedule. That’s real determination and perseverance! “No pain, No gain.” Right?
Here are some tips for you to catch up, if you have fallen behind the schedule.
- Pray for greater discipline; and seek the Spirit’s help to keep your heart excited toward the truths of God’s Word (cf. Ephesians 1:16-18) .
- Start reading again from today’s reading. Then whenever you can find time, especially weekends or on Sundays read the portions that you have skipped.
- Make Bible reading your daily priority. Have a fixed time everyday. It will be good if you can read more on weekends (If possible, be ahead of the schedule, so if you become sick or overly tired in the future, you would not lag behind)
- Do not procrastinate. Have a “do it now” spirit.
- Eliminate unnecessary activities to create more time to read the Bible. Cut out certain daily activities which are not important like light reading, TV, video games, internet chats, etc.
- Get connected with others who are also following the same schedule, and build up mutual accountability. In fact, you can do that by just coming to this blog each week and sharing what you have learned. At least you can indicate your thankfulness to God for the help received in reading the Bible according to the schedule. Or you may request prayers from others, when the going gets tough. Let us encourage one another.
About those who delight in the Word of God, Psalm 1:3 says that “And he shall be like a tree plantedby the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
What a beautiful illustration of the perpetual verdure and fruitfulness! When a man feeds on God’s Word, he receives nurture and vitality from the ever fresh wisdom and truth of God. He is then sustained and refreshed by the wonderful words of life, like the tree whose roots are refreshed by never-failing streams of living water. This nourishment invigorates the whole tree – its roots, trunk, larger branches to the tiniest twig, leaves and fruits. What wholesome piety would pervade the life of a man who delights himself in the Word of God! Because his source of strength can never fail, his life will exude with vigour, verdure, and fruitfulness. Like the tree “planted” by the rivers of water, are we “planted” by the living water of the Word?
If your life does not bear “fruit in his season,” it is obvious that you have not been planted by the living water. Every person who is nurtured by the Word of God will produce the appropriate spirit fruit in his season. Childhood has its fruits; youth has its fruit; and old age has its fruits too. The Lord expects you to bear fruit in your peculiar season that He has appointed to you. Just stay by the living water of His Word.
Meditating on God’s Word is a Christian duty. Every godly individual take pleasure in this daily practice. Thus he becomes conversant with Holy Scriptures.
How do you approach the Holy Scriptures? With what sort of feelings do you view it? Let joy be your first emotion when you think of God’s Word. You must read His Word and yield to its counsels with great enthusiasm. In Psalms 119:47-48, the psalmist declared, “And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.” Likewise, the prophet Jeremiah affirmed, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16).
He who rejoices in God’s law will be greatly affected by its wisdom and power. “He shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season” (v.3). His life shall be rooted in the richest of soils; he shall never lack resources; his soul shall delight itself in divine favour and great fruitfulness. In Psalm 119:92, the psalmist testifies, “Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.”
So may we also say, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8).
Hope that you are keeping up with your Bible reading plan. If you have fallen behind the reading plan, you can try to catch up during weekends, especially on the Lord’s Day. After one’s worship of the Lord and church activities, taking time to read God’s word is an appropriate and blessed way to spend the rest of the Lord’s Day.
I would like to include an advice from a response posted by Bro. Danny Seng:
“Make it a habit . . . reading one chapter before you start the day, and end the day with one more chapter before you retire to bed. If time permits, read an extra chapter so that on days when one is bombarded with extreme work schedule he can still catch up and not be left too far behind.”
Certainly this is not something that one can receive in his sleep. It takes much effort. It requires more than reading through the Bible. It requires careful meditation and diligent study of God’s Word!
We will do well to take heed to the Apostle Paul’s counsel that we “give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13). Consider his words to Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
My dear brethren, we must be mighty in the Scriptures, which is our infallible manual concerning faith and practice. God has prepared and preserved it for us for our profit (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Let us seek to be thoroughly furnished by God’s Word.
Commit yourself to a daily devotion of God’s Word. Make full use of the many opportunity available to you for your growth in biblical knowledge. Be mighty in God’s Word!
(Attend Sunday Bible Study. Join Tuesday night Bible study and prayer meeting. Be part of at least one of the fellowship groups in the church, which meet regularly for the study of His Word. Enrol in FEBC’s night courses).
Come! Let us journey through the Bible if the Lord grants us another full year. Without a doubt, it is going to be an awesome experience. Sure, there will be many obstacles to overcome, of which the most difficult will be our own sluggishness and indiscipline. But trusting in His grace, let us venture into this vast treasure land of precious divine truths.
If there is one book that you should read from cover to cover in this New Year, it is the Bible. No other book can refresh, renew and revive your soul like the Bible! Reading the Bible will open us to the absolute truths that no man should miss. God has revealed His truth that His people might read it, know it and live by it.
Will you, as a child of God, remain content without reading the book that God has placed in your hands? Can you afford, as a servant of God, not to know His revealed will that you must know? How can we ever neglect to read the Bible?
We must be well acquainted with His Holy Word. Therefore, we must read all that are therein with great diligence and care. We must seek to know everything in the Bible thoroughly. So let us have a commitment to read through the Scripture.
If you are reading through the Bible for the first time, many things that you will find in it might appear to be difficult to understand. That is not too surprising as it is normal with all who are reading through for the first time. Even though I have been studying the Bible daily for more than two decades, yet today when I read it, I am made aware that there are many more wonderful truths for me to glean. Even though you have read through the Bible many times before, if you read it again, you will notice many things that you have never noticed. Moreover, reading through the Bible will also assure us even more of the things that we have already learned.
(Click below for the Bible reading plan)