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Theology 101: The Trinity


Theology 101: The TrinityI was thirty years old before I actually encountered anyone who called themselves Christians and denied the Trinity. I had heard that such people existed, but outside the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I didn’t know who they were. Then, when we moved to this small town in North Dakota, we met a character who had recently left the same church that we began attending. He was a self-styled teacher with a very overpowering personality who had managed to gather a small group of very committed disciples and formed his own “church,” renting a church building in a neighboring town. A few years ago, this little cult built its own facility just a few blocks up the street from our house.

This post is, in a nutshell, what I told one of them when I had the occasion to discuss it, along with a few comments to Trinitarians who explain it badly.

There is one true God, eternally existent in three persons.

There is only one God. In no sense are there three.

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4, and quoted again by Jesus in Mark 12:29). “Has not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10). God is always spoken of as singular. God is always “he,” never “they.” He reigns over the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of the gods. In Luke 18, Jesus is addressed as “Good Teacher.” His reply: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.”

God is three distinct persons. In no sense are they one. All three exist simultaneously and eternally.

The Father is God.
The Son is God.
The Holy Spirit is God.
The Father is never the Son or the Holy Spirit.
The Son is never the Father or the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is never the Father or the Son.

The Trinity is revealed in Scripture from the very beginning. In Genesis 1:2, “the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Farther along in verse 26 we find God talking to himself: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” Who was God talking to? Why the plural pronouns? Four thousand years later, John the Apostle wrote of Christ: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1–3). The Son was present in the beginning, and participated in creation.

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ . . . And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ’My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.’ . . . He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.’” (Matthew 26:36, 39, 42). Who was Jesus praying to? Was he putting on an act, going through the motions of prayer in order to set an example for his disciples, as some have said? If so, what does that tell us about him? If true, it tells us that God is an actor, a deceiver, a manipulator who plays with our minds like faith-healers and “revival” preachers. No, Jesus, being God, is incapable of any kind of deceit. He was praying to his Father, as one distinct person to another.

The Trinity is probably most clearly demonstrated at Jesus’s baptism: “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’” (Matthew 3:16–17). Jesus was in the Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended upon him, and the Father spoke from Heaven—three distinct persons in three distinct places—simultaneously.

God does not appear at different times and places in different roles or modes. His triunity may not be compared to the way in which we fill different positions yet remain one person, as one man may be a son, husband, father, grandfather, employer or employee, etc., all at once. That is the Modalist heresy.

God also cannot be described as many Trinitarians have attempted to describe him:

The Trinity is not like an egg—yolk, white, shell.
The Trinity is not like an apple—skin, flesh, seeds.
The Trinity is not like water—liquid, solid, vapor.
The Trinity is not like time—past, present, future.
The Trinity is not like space—height, depth, width.

The Trinity is not any other metaphor you’ve thought of. I know, some of you can’t stand not having an explanation for everything. You are very creative and imaginative and love thinking these things up. Well, stop it! You almost persuade me to become a modalist. The Bible tells us quite clearly that God is triune. It does not even begin to tell us how that is so.



Posted 2006·11·22 by David Kjos
TrackBack URL: http://www.thirstytheologian.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/276
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23 Comments:


#1 || 06·11·22··11:29 || Steve Weaver

David,

Great post! I agree with Tim, you should post more of your own stuff. Thanks, though, for sharing the wealth with your regular links to my page!


#2 || 06·11·22··11:44 || Dave B

there is no such thing as the trinity. it is a lie that the catholic church started to confuse its members. there is a god family that , at present comprises two beings. God the Father and God the Son. I personally look forwaed to one day, after the return of Christ and the setting up of God's kingdom here on earth to be a part of that God family.


#3 || 06·11·22··11:49 || Nathan

I remember a conversation I had with a coworker at a Mexican restaurant. He was some flavor of modalist, but not well indoctrinated in his beliefs. When I suggested the example of Christ praying to the Father in Gethsemane, he looked like he'd just been hit by a bus. A big Trinitarian bus.

Wish I'd had the maturity at the time to follow up with the gospel. Of course, that applies to more events in my life than I care to admit.


#4 || 06·11·22··12:56 || David

Dave B,

There is no such thing as a Jehovah's Witness...


#5 || 06·11·23··08:40 || Libbie

I'm always amazed that we've been given the amount of insight into the 'inside' of the one true God as we have. I don't even want to try and figure out a neat metaphor for it. I don't want it to be neat. I just want to go 'Wow'.


#6 || 06·11·23··12:05 || Dave B

David,
If you are implying that i am one then I must let you know that I am not.I wish i could agree with you but they seem to keep coming to my door and attempting to bring me to the false god that they follow. I am a bible believing Christian that will not follow the ways that have been created by man in order to gain control over the group whose ear they have.


#7 || 06·11·23··13:00 || David

Dave,

Whatever you are, you are clearly not a Bible believing Christian. The Trinity so plainly declares the triune nature of God that it can only be denied by the most willful sophistry. To deny the Trinity is to deny God and the Gospel, which is inherently trinitarian. Whatever you are, your god is as false as the god of JWs and Mormons.

Much more serious is your contention that the Father and Son are members of a god family that you will one day be a member of. You certainly did not find that in the Bible you claim to believe.

I pray that you will come out from under the control of whoever has your ear, search the Scriptures, and finally meet the God of the Bible.


#8 || 06·11·23··16:49 || Johnny T. Helms

Isn't it odd that Dave never mentions the Holy Spirit in his heretical viewpoint? He does sound like a JW. His background, however, may be the Pentecostal Holiness church, or perhaps he is a Mormon. Anyway, he is a little bit paranoid ("gain control over the group whose ear they have"). Dave, if you read this will you tell us where you go to church, not the location, but what kind of church do you attend? And what kind of Bible do you read? Also, I would like to ask you if you believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh? Dave, do you not believe that you are a part of God's family right now? You do confess that Jesus is the Son of God, you have that much going, but these other questions could help you and us understand where you are coming from.

In Christ and for His glory.


#9 || 06·11·24··21:57 || Dave B

Johnny, in response to your post, I at present do not belong to any church and have never been a mormon or JW. I was however a catholic for a very short period of time untill i read the Bible and realized that they are the biggest cult out there. I now gather with my family on God's Sabbath in our homes. We use the King James Bible mainly but will use other translations when we are studying as well as a concordance to get the truest meaning of what is being said in God's word. I have no doubt that Jesus has already came in the flesh and that he died for all my past sins. I also believe that he sits at the right hand of the Father as an advocate for me for every other sin that i commit from the day i was baptized forward. As for the Holy Spirit, i believe that it is God's spirit that lives inside of us to help us in our lives. You might find it interesting that not once does Christ ever mention the Holy Spirit when he talks to his Father in prayer or when he is talking to his disciples about the Father. Christ calls the Holy Spirit the comfortor in the book of John and when the Bible calls the Holy Spirit "he" it is a mistranslation.The word is gender neutral and should read "it" making it not a part of the so called trinity. My question for you is how does a triune god split into three and one third of it die without the other two parts being hurt. or how does 1/3 of it stay with us while the other two parts are sitting in two different thrones in heaven. To me, a God family seems a lot easier to wrap my head around than a mystery that can not be explained. By the way, in Genesis 1 during the creation, the word God(Eloheem) is a uniplural word just like team or family which makes it easy to see why Eloheem(the God family) said "Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness"

In Christ's love


#10 || 06·11·25··10:05 || Johnny T. Helms

Dave, thank you for your answers. You are certainly right about the Roman Catholic church; it is the biggest and richest cult in world history, clearly contradicting the sufficient and finished work of Christ on the cross. Home churches are great and a great source of training up one's children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And with the corruption being exposed in so many of the organized religious groups they (home churches) can be one's way of guarding the truth in your family's lives. Like you I use several differnt versions of the Bible including the KJV and the New KJV. I also use concordances when I cannot remember where a verse or word is found plus I have several Greek and Hebrew lexicons, dictionaries, word studies, and commentaries to help me in my studies of the original texts. I was privileged to be able to go to a Bible college and seminary when I was younger (some of that was good, some wasn't). I'm glad that you confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (1Jn.4:1-3), so you are not "anti-christ," (ha ha), and that He is your Savior and Advocate. However, on the matter of the Holy Spirit I do disagree with you on a couple of points. You for some reason limit Christ's speaking of the Spirit to when He is praying to the Father and speaking to the disciples about the Father as though this could be the only time the Spirit could be referred to as a "person" and not merely an emanation from the Father. I don't know how you read Mt.28:18-20, but I read it as the first clear statement on the Trinity. And in the context the Lord is speaking to His disciples about the authority that has been given to Him obviously from the Father and then He tells the disciples to "Go...baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." This seems to me to be referring to three distinct Persons rather than to two Persons and an emanation or "spirit" as you put it. And the Lord mentions the Father and the Holy Spirit in the same breath to the disciples. And Dave, you might find John 14:15-18,25-28;15:26-27;16:5-15 interesting. These Biblical references are the historical account of Jesus speaking to His disciples about the Holy Spirit and the Father all at the same time. And, to whom does the Lord say He will pray and ask for the Comforter or Helper? I would assume that the Lord did exactly what He said He was going to do and pray to the Father to ask that the Holy Spirit be sent to the disciples. Dave, your arguments still sound very JW.
Your interpretation of the spirit as being "neutral" or "neuter" will still be your biggest concern even with these passages of Scripture, of course, and that is understandable. The word "spirit" is neuter and can be translated as "wind" or "breathe" or "it" or human spirits or "disembodied human spirits" or "evil spirits" or "angels," depending on the context (Jn.3:8;Mt.27:50;Lk.8:55;Mt.3:16;Mt.10:1Ph.1:19;1Tim.4:1;Heb.1:7, 14;Mt.8:16;Mk.8:24;Heb.12:23). And the fact that the greatest theologians and pastors and laymen in church history have chosen to translate or interpret pneuma as "Spirit" when used in a context that they believe refers to the Holy Spirit as the "third person of the Trinity," and that millions of Christians in there own Bible study choose the same interpretation doesn't make it true. The argument that these witnesses support the doctrine of the Trinity is a great argument but not necessarily a convincing one for everyone. However, you are taking quite a responsibility upon yourself by dogmatically declaring your position as the correct one while everyone else uses the wrong translation. That is quite a statement, Dave. Are you the only one who has correctly translated pneuma? Are you the only one who correctly understands the Word of God? I don't think so. Your arguments and questions consistently sound JW. Do you believe that isolating you and your family while you read the KJV and interpret the Word for yourself and by yourself using no more than a concordance and what boils down to your own opinion is spiritually healthy? Dave, are you that proud? Are you so secure about what you are doing that you can reject the godly influence of men of God who labor diligently in order to "rightly divide the word of Truth?" Do you honestly believe that your "private interpretation" of the inspired Word of God is Biblical? (2Pet.1:19-21).But you must admit that the use of the word in reference to "evil spirits" does seem to make the neuter argument a little shakey. Do you believe in evil spirits? Do you believe in a literal devil? Do you believe that the devil is a literal being? The devil is a literal being who schemes and roams and seeks (Eph.6:10-12;1Pet.5:8) and yet he is a "spiritual" being. Also, Jesus describes the Father as "spirit," but that doesn't make the Father neuter or neutral, "God is Spirit" (Jn.4:24). God, like the Holy Spirit, is indeed "Spirit" and just as God is not neutral or neuter because He is Spirit neither is the Holy Spirit. Context is the key for understanding Biblical words because they can be used and applied in different ways depending on the context without ever robbing them of their essence. Spirit (pneuma) is used in many different ways but as you can see by the Biblical references I provided above the context will dictate its meaning, whether it is used in reference to a human being's spirit or an evil spirit or the wind or an "it" or to the person of the Holy Spirit. The gender of a word is important but the context is equally and often more important. If we ignore the context in favor of gender then we are in danger of taking a word or passage or verse out of context and possibly making it say something it isn't actually saying. The word pneuma is neuter because the word pneuma is neuter; how else can one say "spirit" without it being neuter? The word pneuma wasn't chosen because it is neuter, it is simply the word for spirit which happens to be neuter. It is like saying "I rode my bicycle to the store," why do I call the thing I rode to the store a "bicycle?" Because that is what it is called and that is what it is. The term "Holy Spirit" is used because that is what is meant without neutering the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is indeed God's Spirit as you say (1Cor.6:11) and He certainly does dwell within the believer (Rom.5:5) to help the believer (Rom.8:26). But my question for you now, Dave, has to do with the Holy Spirit's role in the new birth. Do you believe that He has a role other than just helping believers? How do you read John 3:1-8? Or John 6:63? Or Titus 3:3-7? Or Romans 8:1-14? I realize that it is possible to read these passages and all passages refering to the Holy Spirit and still interpret pneuma as neuter. It is wrong and a poor interpretation of Scripture, but it is possible; the JW's do it every day. The most important question or concern you have as I see it is with the question the JW's always ask and that is why I thought that maybe you were one (sorry about that); How can the Triune God "split into three and one third of it die without the other two parts being hurt? Or how does one third of it stay with us while the other two thirds are sitting in two different thrones in heaven?" By "hurt" I take you to mean "damaged," rather than hurt emotionally. Well, if God is "triune" then there wouldn't be any problem with this "split," would there? A split in that case would not be necessary in the first place. If there are as we teach and believe, three equal but separate persons of the same essence in the God-head, then for one of them to die is very feasible and reasonable; that would leave two separate but equal divine beings in heaven or where ever they might be at the time of the death of the other. If God is "one" as you believe this split would present a problem and an impossible problem. If God is one as you and others believe then He could not possibly split Himself without doing some damage. On the other hand, He is God and can do anything. But anyway your falling back on something that is "easier to get your head around" than the concept of the Trinity is another sign of your taking things out of context and making it say what is convenient for you, something that is easier to understand. But, Dave, you are more intelligent than you give yourself credit for being. And, if the Holy Spirit does indeed dwell within you then you have "the mind of Christ" "that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God" (1Cor.2:9-16). This is not flattery, Dave, it is an exhortation to dig deeper than you have done thus far, relying on the Holy Spirit whom the Word of God clearly teaches is our teacher (even if the pneuma is neuter). If you are Christ's then you do have the "mind of Christ" who "searches all things, yes, the deep things of God." I am assuming that you are married, I don't know of course and it isn't important if you are or not. The point I want to make is that when the Word of God refers to Christian marriage it declares that the husband and wife become "one flesh" (Gen.2:24;Eph.5:22-33). The Bible also says that "God is One" and that there is "one God" (Jas.2:19;Eph.4:1-6;1Cor.8:6;Deut.6:4). But in the same way that being "one flesh" in marriage does not reduce the marriage couple to one literal person, neither does there being "one God" or God being one reduce God to one literal person. The concept of the Trinity is taught throughout Scripture beginning with the Hebrew you point out, Elohim. It is a "team" word or a "family" word and is the word used more in the Old Testament than any other in reference to our God. However, it is also used in reference to false gods, idols and other forbidden objects of worship (Ex.22:20 and too many to list). This is why context is so important. Context is vital in defining a Biblical word or in interpreting a verse or passage of Scripture. Historical context, grammatical context, etc., are necessary in rightly dividing the Word of truth. And the context of the Word of God whereby we interpret Scripture with Scripture by using the entire Word of God for our interpretation is absolutely necessary. Dave, I believe that you would be greatly benefited through reading the works of godly men who have written on the Trinity and other difficult passages. That is just my suggestion. Your arguments are too similar to the JW's and too similar for a brother in Christ to ignore as I read what you believe. In Christ and for His glory.


#11 || 06·11·25··15:30 || David

Johnny T,

Thanks for well written comments. You remind me a bit of a certain J. Theodore Helms I read; must be a coincidence.

There is very little I could add to your comments, but I will add this in answer to Dave:

Dave,

You say the Trinity is too hard to understand, you can't see how one member could die without hurting the others.

Welcome to the club. I don't get it either; it is way beyond my understanding. But consider a few other things I don't understand:

How could God come to earth in human flesh?
How could he be fully man, yet remain fully God? (Col.2:9)
How could he die, and rise from the dead?

Are not all these things beyond understanding? I don't get it, yet that is exactly what Scripture says. I am not free to invent a theory that I can understand. I have to trust that what Scripture says is true, knowing that I presently see through a glass darkly what I, one day, will see clearly; what I now know only in part, I will know even as God knows me (1Co.13:12).


#12 || 06·11·25··18:26 || Dave B

I am really enjoying this discussion with you, and please believe me that the JW's hve not influenced any of my beliefs. I am however a little bit confused about your belief of the trinity. if i am correctly understanding what you are writing, then you believe that there are three seperate beings within the trinity. this goes against the common belief that the trinity consists of three beings in one body, not one family. this is similar to my belief except that i see the Holy Spirit as being the spirit of the God family(the Father and the Son). was it not the Holy Spirit that impregnated Mary and yet Christ calls God his Father as is shown in Matt.1:20 and Luke 1:35. i do want you to understand that before we come to any conclusion on any topic there is a great deal of study of God's word and looking at what other people are teaching. We(my two brother's in law and myself)look at all the facts and come up with the conclusion that we see in God's word. We always begin with an open mind and let the Bible interpret the Bible. We always take here a little there a little and build precept upon precept to see what the Bible says.Calling the Holy Spirit neutral is not the foundation of my argument but i do believe that it is important to know. The Holy Spirit does guide us and it teaches us and leads us to God's truth. As for the passage in John 3:1-8, the way i see it is that we are converted in this life when God calls us to repentance. We then make the choice to follow God and keep his commandments, this is the race and the wrestling match that we as Christians must partake in as Paul had described. We are only born again when we are changed and we actually enter into the Kingdom of God and are become part of the God family. 1 Cor 15:48-54 show that we, the saints, are all transformed and changed at the last trump at which point we inherit the kingdom. this signifies that we will be a part of that family of which Christ is the first born of many brethren(Rom 8:29)Christ will be our older brother which will make God our Father and we will be a part of His family, the God family.
I look forward to your reply.
In Christ's love


#13 || 06·11·25··19:53 || Jim

David, great post! I never realized the subtlety of modalistic thinking before. Perhaps it is simply man's attempt to explain the mystery of our triune God.

Dave B,

While it is true that we are Christ's brothers, the Bible presents an even greater picture; that of Christ and His bride, the Church. That is indeed a great mystery, that God would prepare a bride for His Son from created beings. Indeed we could spend a lifetime trying to figure out these wonderful realities and never fully describe them.


#14 || 06·11·25··22:39 || Johnny T. Helms

My friend Dave, I too am enjoying our exchange especially now that you have said you are enjoying it. The Trinity has never been a teaching that anyone can say is easy to understand or, in some cases for some people, to believe. You are correct in at least part of your understanding of what I believe; there are three individuals, "three separate beings within the trinity." The word "Trinity" of course, means "three," referring quite obviously to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The word was coined by a "church father" in the 4th century AD who was seeking a term that would summarize and solidify what the church believed in the beginning because they saw the Trinity as being clearly taught in the Word of God. The doctrine needed to be formulated into a system that would help unify the body of Christ in its understanding of the nature of God in the face of a heresy prevalent in that day that denied the deity of Jesus Christ (remember my question about Jesus Christ coming in the flesh?). The word certainly is not found in the Bible but does adequately describe the concept the church has held for almost 2,000 years about the God-head. And, by the way, the fact that the word "Trinity" does not appear in the Bible does not automatically dismiss it as a vain, man-invented term. We sing "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so" knowing full well that the Bible never literally says "Jesus loves me." But it is true, isn't it? The Bible does indeed teach me that "Jesus loves me" without stating it in those precise words. Your confusion about what I believe as compared to what you say is a "common belief that the trinity consists of three beings in one body not one family" is strange to me. This is not a belief that is as common as you may think. When you say "body" are you referring to a physical body or a spiritual body? Three beings in one body sounds quite bizarre and totally unbiblical. Three "beings" in one "family," however,is a little more reasonable, biblically speaking. I personally do not refer to the Trinity or the Triune God as a "body." Your references to the "God family" are obviously based on something you have heard or read or maybe have come up with on your own. The "God family" is a bit puzzling to me as you use it. It is not a description I am familiar with when talking about the Trinity or God in general. I am not saying it is a bad description or in error, just that it is not one I have run across in my studies. I see how you use it in reference to the Father and the Son being that these are familial terms. But it seems to me that the fact that the word "spirit" is neuter does play the biggest role in your theology concerning the idea of the Trinity. Your understanding of the neuter gender leads you to portray the Holy Spirit as a "force" (not your words of course, purely my choice to describe what I see you saying. I am not putting words in your mouth. You have not once used the word "force") from God the Father rather than a "person" working in cooperation with the Father; an emanating power rather than a divine person. If the Spirit is indeed neuter, not a member of the Trinity as a "person" equal to the other two and of the same essence, then it is difficult for me to imagine "it" getting anyone pregnant. But it did, didn't it, if the Spirit is indeed neuter and if the Bible teaches that it was the neuter Holy Spirit who impregnated Mary? Of course, holding to the idea of the Spirit being neuter would not have any effect on one's believing that it got Mary pregnant because that would then be what the Bible teaches. If the Bible teaches that the neuter Spirit got Mary pregnant then that is what we should believe because that then is the truth. However, as you well know, that is not what I believe the Bible teaches. I have already explained the importance of context in both defining and interpreting the Word of God. Take for instance, Acts 5 where Peter confronts Ananias for lying about the amount of money he received for the sale of land. Peter tells Ananias that he has lied "to the Holy Spirit" (v.3) and "not...to men but to God" (v.4). Is there any doubt that Peter equated God and the Holy Spirit? If you lie to the Holy Spirit you lie to God. It is again difficult for me to imagine someone being struck dead for lying to an "it." But, if one can persist in believing that the Holy Spirit is neuter in the sense that the Spirit is not a person and that God did indeed strike Ananias dead for lying to an "it," then at least one is being consistent in one's theology. But we still have to answer the question "why did Peter use the words God and Holy Spirit interchangeably?" Could this imply that Peter views both as being neuter? Or, could it imply that Peter views both as being God? After all, Peter did indeed use the two words interchangeably. We cannot conclude that Peter used the two words interchangeably yet one is neuter and one is masculine (ho theos) without contradicting ourselves. Would Peter ascribe to the Holy Spirit the same status as he does to God if the Holy Spirit is an "it" and not a person of equal holiness and power? If the Bible refers to God as "holy" and the Spirit as holy, and it certainly does, then how are we to understand a "holy it?" Can an "it" be grieved as the Holy Spirit can? (Eph.4:30). Can an "it" speak as the Holy Spirit does (1Tim.4:1)? I realize that you can say yes to each of these questions, Dave, but it is completely illogical and unbiblical for you to do so. And the Bible is a logical book, isn't it? Not logical as man determines logic but logical in that it is perfectly arranged and flows with perfect precision from cover to cover without error. Dave, it is 12:40 in the morning here and my eyes are burning from sitting in front of this computer. I hope to finish this in the morning early.


#15 || 06·11·26··12:18 || Johnny T. Helms

Now, where were we? "Calling the Holy Spirit neutral is not the foundation of my argument but I do think it is important to know." There is in the study of the Greek of the New Testamnet a matter that we call "syntax" which has to do with the relationship of words in a text. Syntax is important in every language, and in studying the ancient language of Biblical Greek it is key. Syntax is not something new, it was employed and employed perfectly in the construction of the New Testament text. This is one of the reasons we can say with confidence that the Word of God was perfectly recorded by men filled with and led by the Holy Spirit (2Pet.1:16-21;2Tim.3:16-17). It is important to note that the Word of God is not only spiritually without error but also grammatically without error as well. This ancient rule of syntax comes to play an important role in our understanding of gender as used in the New Testament. Dave, this is important. I am not trying to "show off" or be "really smart," or impress you with any so-called "knowledge." You are giving serious thought to the Word of God and that I appreciate, so forgive me if I go into something that you might find boring or unnecessary. "The sex of a Greek substantive (meaning nouns like "Spirit" in our case), however, does not always correspond to that of an English substantive, and in Greek gender is more a matter of grammar than sex" (Syntax of New Testament, Brooks and Winberry, p.1-2). That is what I was referring to earlier when I said that "spirit" is neuter simply because the Greek word for spirit, pneuma, is neuter. The use of the neuter gender in the Greek text has nothing to do with its sex or lack of sex; context must determine that. And the context of the neuter word "Holy Spirit" in relationship (syntax) to God, a masculine noun, and the Lord, another masculine noun, demands that it be translated as masculine, "He," not "it." Of course, you are right about the Holy Spirit impregnating the virgin Mary. The "hows" of that will certainly remain a mystery until we get to glory. But it is nevertheless true. Your reference to Mt.1:20 and Luke 1:35 provides clear proof of the holiness of the child Mary would give birth to, that child being "of the Holy Spirit." The obvious reference to the holy conception of the child being born through a virgin chosen by God and "conceived in her" by the Holy Spirit also demands a masculine understanding of the Holy Spirit rather than a neuter one. In the case of the word pneuma being used in reference to demons or evil spirits it is safe to say that there the context demands the understanding of neuter beings who cannot reproduce themselves nor can they have sexual relations with a human (Mt.8:16;12:43;Acts 5:16). And since the same word is used in reference to the Holy Spirit that is used in reference to evil spirits it seems terribly inappropriate to equate the two in any way. I know you are not doing this but it is an important observation to make. Context determines the sex of the word in the Greek text more so than the gender of the word itself. You must decide if context makes them all the same or if it doesn't; if it makes a difference or if it doesn't. And in the case of the Spirit, it makes a difference, always. And the difference between the neuter evil spirit and the masculine Holy Spirit is infinite and one not only of degree but of essence, one is evil, the other is Holy, one is of Satan, the other of God. Dave, your theology of forgiveness seems to say that you are not forgiven of present sins or future sins ("and that He died for all my past sins" in your first entry above). While you do acknowledge that Jesus "has came in the flesh" and died for your past sins, do you see some other way for your present and future sins to be forgiven? Are they only forgiven as you confess them? Is forgiveness of sins based on confession or grace? Is your "justification" based on your confession of your sins or on the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross which is the gospel of grace? If only your past sins are forgiven then you are in a dilemma of eternal proportions for you have the rest of your life to live in this world and in this age that are under the dark rule of the "god of this age" (2Cor.4:4;1Jn.5:19). If only your past sins are forgiven and not your present and future sins as well then you could logically lose your salvation at any moment because you continue to sin and if you were to die with unconfessed sins that could mean eternal damnation, if that is what you believe. This is a left-over of your brief visit with the Catholic cult; flee from such nonsense. Confession of our sins, as believers, is vital, but not as a matter of us gaining or maintaining our salvation (1Jn.1:5-2:2). The "we" in 1 John chapter 1 is referring to believers and John uses it as a way of identifying himself with the readers of his epistle (v.1-4). The "we" means that we all sin and that we cannot deny it (6,8,10). The "Advocate" in 2:1 and the "propitiation" in 2:2 assure the "we" of chapter 1 that our justification is not dependent on the "we" of chapter 1 but on the "Advocate" and the "propitiation" of 2:1 and 2. The verb "confess" of 1:9 is a "present tense" verb and informs us that confession for the child of God is an on-going act of obedience because there is on-going sin in the life of every believer. God never gives us permission to sin but He does make provision for our sins. John writes, "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you man not sin." The word "may" in my translation has to do with the absence of permission to sin rather than the ability to totally avoid sinning. These things which John has written thus far in his epistle are exhortations to a holy life, not a life of "sinless perfection" which is a myth and a lie. Holiness for a Christian does not mean sinless perfection. It does mean living in a manner that is worthy of the calling with which we have been called (Eph.4:1;5:1-7). The Christian life is a life of continually "putting away what is earthly" in us. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ by which He and the Father paid for our sins was a "once for all" kind of sacrifice. The Roman cult teaches that each time a catholic takes communion the Lord Jesus is sacrificed again, the "once and for all" substitutionary death of Christ is mocked in their so-called sacrament. The Word of God says this, "For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise, you also, reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom.6:10-11). Dave, this is where we are right now and forever. These two verses teach us that the death of Christ to sin included us in His death (6:1-7), that is how we can "reckon" ourselves "to be dead to sin, but alive to God." It is a fact of redemptive history that we who by the grace of God have come to faith in Jesus Christ are alive in Him and dead to sin; that is just the way it is. The phrase "once for all" means that His sacrifice cannot and will not be repeated and this sacrifice was for all sins for all time for all believers. "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts" (v.12). Paul plainly says that sin is present in the believer but not in such a way as to have dominion over the beliver. Sin will always be present while we are in this "mortal body" but it will never again have dominion over this sinful mortal body soley because we "are not under law but under grace" (v.14;7:24-25;8:10-11). Christ's sacrifice was a "once and for all" kind of sacrifice. 1 Peter 3:18 says this, "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He migh bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit." The writer of Hebrews says "For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself" (7:26-27). Christ's sacrifice was once for all sins for all time for all believers. The Christian's sins are forgiven, past, present, and future. The writer of Hebrews says that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (13:8). His sacrifice, the "once for all" sacrifice, is included in this phrase "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." It is because of this once for all substitutionary death that Jesus Christ is now our once for all Advocate with the Father and "the one Mediator between God and men" (1Tim.2:5). And listen to this, "For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another, He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeard to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself...so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many" (Heb.9:24-28). Do you see what this powerful passage is saying? All the saints from all time since the "foundation of the world" are forgiven by the sacrifice of Christ. This means that their sins as are our sins were forgiven past, present, and future. The once and for all sacrifice covers the sins of all people who have ever lived who by the grace of God looked forward or back to the Messiah, "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (Jn.1:29, 36). For the Old Testament saints like Noah and Abraham and Isaac and Moses and David the sins of their lives were forgiven by One who had not yet come, but the One they knew was indeed coming to take the place of the animals sacrificed each year in the Tabernacle and the Temple, whose blood was sprinkled on all things and then in the Holy of Holy's. Their sins were covered, all their sins were covered. The fact that the Messiah's coming was in the future for the OT believers necessitates that we understand that their future sins were covered by the same blood as ours are covered. The sacrifices that were offered year by year could never bring an end to the need for blood; but the sacrifice of Christ could, and did. The sacrifices that were offered year by year did not bring forgiveness of sins, the faith of the sinners making the sacrifices in the One whose death and sacrifice these animal sacrifices symbolized and pointed to, saved them. Our sins, Dave, are forgiven us in the Messiah, the Lamb of God, past, present, and future. I hate my sins, but Christ covers my sins. My hatred of my sins doesn't save me, in fact, if my hatred of my sins interferes with my trusting the grace of God whereby my sins are forgiven, then to the degree that I am not trusting in God's gracious sacrifice for me on Calvary, it is to that degree that I am miserable and wretched (Rom.7:25, "I thank God"). Who will deliver me? Who has delivered me? Heb.10:9-10, "'Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.' He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." If His sacrifice is not for our sins, past, present, and future, then that makes it necessary for Christ Jesus to continually suffer for our sins (Heb. 9:25-26). This is Pharisaical legalism and Roman Catholic heresy. I don't believe this, do you Dave? My sins are forgiven, past, present, and future. The Roman heresy expressed in their "communion" does teach this continuing sacrifice of Jesus; Christians do not. Finally, Colossians says this about this idea of once for all and our sins being forgiven past, present, and future, "And you, being dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us. And He has taken it out of the way having nailed it to the cross." By saying that God has "wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us" he is saying that we are no longer under the law but under grace. And being that we are no longer under law but under grace means that somehow the law was fulfilled and removed from hits reign over us and that that fulfillment has been applied to us just as though we had fulfilled the law ourselves. That, Dave, has to do with what is known as "imputation." The righteousness of Christ which is perfect since He never sinned, has been "credited" to us, that is imputation. This imputation is ours due to the fact that God has "justified" us by His grace by drawing us to His Son that we might believe and be "born again." Justification doesn't make us righteous, justification is the act of God whereby He "declares" us righteous because we have trusted in the One who lived the sinless life and fulfilled the law of God. Our being declared right with God by God makes us right with God and yet we are still sinful saints. Why? Because it is not about our righteousness or lack of our own righteousness; it is all about Jesus. And because we have been justified even when we were the "ungodly" (Rom.4:5;5:6) and the righteousness of Jesus Christ has been "written down on our account in heaven" (imputation) we are also presently and eternally "reconciled to God" (5:9-11). Dave, I am secure in my God-given relationship to my heavenly Father, knowing that the sacrifice of Christ for my sins is once and for all. And knowing that it does not depend on me to earn salvation or to keep my salvation; it is dependent on the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross. My faith is a "gift" (Eph.2:1-10) and the "gifts and calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom.11:29). Dave, your use of the word "family" and "God family" sound a bit like Mormonism, not entirely, but a little bit. It is your belief about this that makes me wonder what you have been exposed to. The Bible teaches a "present adoption" into the family of God, not a future one. Romans 8:15-17 says "For you did not receive the spirit (neuter according to context) of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out,'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself (sounds masculine to me) bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." There is a future completion to our familial relationship with God (vv.20-25) but there is also a present familial relationship. We are now "children of God" but we will not realize the full glory of that relationship until we are in His presence in glory. In Ephesians 2:17-19 the Word of God says, "And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God." There is a future completion to the life that has begun in the believer now (Phil.1:6) as there is also the fact that there is for the believer at the present a "present completion" in Christ (Col.2:6-10).


#16 || 06·11·26··17:35 || Johnny T. Helms

Dave, I must apologize to you for misreading your belief that your sins are forgiven only in the past. But putting my beliefs in print was exciting anyway. Please forgive me.


#17 || 06·11·27··13:33 || Johnny T. Helms

Dave, should you ever return to our dialogue, there is one more brief argument (argument does not mean that an exchange between two or more people is done in the heat of anger; it is a dialogue)I would like to offer on the Trinity along with some Trinitarin passges of Scriptures. First, when the Lord Jesus said in the gospel of John that "I and My Father are one" (10:30), He meant just that. They are one in essence, one in purpose, one in power and authority, one in mind, one in will, one in holiness (of course). They are eternal and have always been together (that will blow one's mind). When the Bible declares that there is "one God" and "God is one" there is no contradiction whatsoever with the words of the Lord Jesus Christ as found in this gospel. The Lord Jesus told His disciples that having seen Him they had seen the Father (Jn.14:8-11). So, thus far we know that there are at least two beings of eternal essence; not two gods, but one God who exists in at least two eternal "beings." Jesus said in the gospel of John and chapter 17, verse 5 "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." And, as you are familiar with, Dave, the gospel of John begins with the absolute factual declaration of the deity of Jesus Christ who is called "the Word." We have no problem so far between us on the deity of both God the Father and God the Son and the Biblical truth that there is one God. Remember that being one in the Biblical sense does not reduce that one to being literaly one actual being, as in marriage when the "two shall become one flesh" does not reduce the marriage to one literal person. And as if this isn't confusing enough, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:17 "Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty." Here is that neuter word again, Dave, directly linked with the Lord and in fact said to be the Lord. But notice also, "the Spirit OF the Lord." The phrase "of the Lord" serves two functions, it reveals the source of the Spirt, He is from the Lord, and it describes the Spirit, He is an "of the Lord" kind of Spirit (Jn.15:26). What kind of Spirit is Paul speaking of here? A "Spirit" who comes from the Lord and is like the Lord and in fact he says "the Lord is the Spirit." In the Trinitarin concept of the nature of the Triune God this simply means that they are one. "The Word was God" is the same idea. Jesus and the Father being one is the same idea. My being one spirit with the Lord is the same idea. The husband and the wife being one is the same idea. The Biblical truth that "the Lord is the Spirit" should tell us everything about the use of the neuter word. Dave, once again referring to the importance of rules of language in the inspired Greek text (bear with me, please) and the truth that context has more to do with gender than sex, the context here demands that we understand the word Spirit to be masculine. Why? Because when a sentence uses what we call a non-transitive verb as it does here (the verb "is" is non-transitive, meaning that it does not and cannot take a direct object but must take an object that is in the same form as the subject, which means that since "Lord" is masculine then "Spirit" is masculne as well. The word Spirit is always neuter in form but not in gender, the context determines the gender and this context makes it masculine to make it equal to "Lord" [o kurios] as it must). All of this says and proves, Dave, that the Spirit, the Holy Spirit is indeed a "person," a "He" and not an "it." I have been around for quite a while and know that no one has to accept this argument and some never will. But there it is. There is a teaching that says that God is one and therefore when the Bible speaks of the Son or the Spirit it is simply referring to God "manifesting" Himself in different forms. Sometimes He manifests Himself as the Father, sometimes the Son, sometimes the Spirit. This is an ancient idea that flies in the face of Scripture and has been condemned as heresy; it is called "modalism." And if one studies this heresy one will discover that it is even more difficult to defend then the Trinity. Well, this hasn't been very brief, has it? My saying I'll be "brief" is like the preacher looking at his watch during his sermon. What does it mean? Nothing. Here, Dave, are several Scripture verses that I and historical Christianity have considered Trinitarian. Mt.28:18-20;Jn.14:15-18, 23;16:5-15;1Cor.6:11;12:3, 4-11;Eph.4:4-6;5:18-21;1Jn.5:6-8.


#18 || 06·11·28··16:48 || Rey

Good thoughts on the Trinity by the way. I have a few posts that I would have linked to over here but it was way too self promotional.


#19 || 06·11·29··21:02 || Dave B

hello again,
i definitely have a lot to read and answer your post so please bare with me. I guess my first comment would be concerning the fathering of Christ by the Holy Spirit. Would this not make the Holy Spirit the father of Christ instead of God the Father.I think that you may miss what I was implying by calling the Holy Spirit an "it". If you look at the Holy Spirit as being the spirit of both God and Christ(essentially making the Holy Spirit an it) through which everything is done then it seems to make more sense. God the Father is now the Father of the Christ child. All things are possible through Christ. In Acts it is possible to lie to the Holy Spirit because it is God in the sense that it is how God accomplishes what he wills.i have no doubt that the Bible is the perfect word of God but the problem is in the translations into the various languages around the world. How many different versions of the Bible are there in the English language alone with variations in each and every one. well this is enough for tonight but I will continue tomorrow


#20 || 06·11·30··05:50 || Johnny T. Helms

Dave, good to see you back. I don't think I or anyone else reading your references to the Holy Spirit as "it" would miss what you mean; you mean "it." Even your argument above in your latest response returns to the "it" you say you do not mean. There is only so much "it" can mean. Further, your continuing defense of the Holy Spirit as "neuter" also tends to make me interpret your "it" as "it." I don't think I "missed" your usage and meaning at all. Also, your rejection of the Trinity is due in part to the fact that you believe that God's name is "God;" it isn't. God comes from the common Greek word for "god" (theos) and in the NT is used to refer to false gods as well as the true God (2Cor.4:4;2Th.2:4). We refer to Him as God not because that is His name but because that is who He is and He is the only true God. Theos is to the New Testament what Elohim is to the Old. His names are multiple and they are multiple because each word or name reveals something to His creatures about His nature. His name is revealed in the New Testament as Jesus Christ and it is Jesus Christ whom we worship (Phil.2:10;Jn.20:28-29). Notice that Thomas says, "My Lord and my God." Lord and God aren't His names but who He is. Paul writes in Ephesian chapter 1 (as he does elsewhere) "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (v.3). He is the "God" of our Lord Jesus Christ and the "Father" of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is who He is, not His name. Notice that the Word of God says directly and plainly that God the Father is the Father of Jesus Christ, not the "Holy Spirit is the Father" as you are arguing would be the logical description if the Holy Spirit conceived the Child in the virgin, who in fact did conceive the Child (we have previously gone over the Christmas passages concerning this) and yet is never once called the Father of Jesus. You are rejecting what the Bible clearly teaches while defending your position with nonsense. Dave, this is not meant to be insulting, even though it may be, it is meant to be a Biblical rebuke and correction to your faullty thinking. You do have a lot to read and a lot to think about. I don't know who has influence in your life but I'm afraid they are not a healthy influence. Your thoughts and responses are still cultish and they come from more than a brief visit with the Roman cult. Paul commands the Corinthians to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith (2Cor.13:5) and you need to heed his word. Mt.7 tells us that many false Christians will be rejected on the day of judgment. Paul writes of the danger of false apostles in 2 Corintians and "savage wolves" in Acts 20 and "false brethren" in Galatians 2 and Peter writes of false teachers in his second letter. This is my last entry, Dave. I will not return to this dialogue. The Bible teaches the Trinity from Genesis to Revelation. The Trinitarian nature of God is taught in the Word and if it is missed one will fall into error as you have. The Roman church did not invent the Trintiy as you assert to confuse its already confused and deceived people. Following your logic could lead one to the conclusion held by the JW's that Jesus is not God in spite of what you may say in objection. They also believe that the Holy Spirit is an "it" because they do not understand the nature of God as revealed in Scripture (that is why they had to come up with their own). I simply do not care to continue arguing with one who has made up his mind not to believe what the Word teaches.


#21 || 06·11·30··11:22 || Dave B

I must ask you something which i am sure will get your back up but that is not my intention at all. the typical holidays of Christianity, mainly christmas and easter, are once again fables of the catholic church. I have done a lot of research into this and have no doubt about my conclusions. The catholic church is infamous for taking a pagan religious holiday and "christianizing" it. As you are probably well aware that Christ was not born at the end of December but sometime in the fall. The christmas celebration too closely resembles the festival of Saturnalia, the mistletoe, holly, the yule log and even the image of the great false god that children worship,Santa have their origins with the Norsemen and Celtic druids of old. Christ himself warns about obeying the commandments of men instead of God, Mark 7:6-9 among many other verses. Christ, the God of the old testament, changes not and is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Sunday worship is also another little trick devised by the catholic church. In the 19th century there was a cardinal in the catholic church by the name of Gibbons that many times admitted there is no Biblical proof in keeping Sunday as opposed to God's Sabbath. God commands us to worship him the way he has set forth. That includes keeping His Holy days and His Sabbath. I still see no reference to the Holy Spirit being a person of the trinity. Any verses that remotely infer the trinity are weak at best and the one verse about babtism has been altered from the original Greek by the trinitarian believing translators in the 1600's. We are baptized into God's family, possible only through Christ's sacrifice which allows us direct acces to God and the way this is completed is by God's Holy Spirit. I am asking you to truly study this topic with an open mind and not the preconceived notions that have been taught for many, many years.Old testament proof of the trinity must also be disallowed because the Jews wanted to kill Christ for the blasphemy of calling himself the Son of God. John 10:30 I and my father are one (no Holy Spirit) Romans 1:1,7-9,1 Cor.1:1,3, 2 Cor 1:1-3, Gal 1:1-3, Ephesians 1:1-3, Philippians 1:1-2, Colossians 1:1-3, I Thessalonians 1:1, II Thessalonians 1:1-2, Philemon 1:1,3, Titus 1:1,4, not once did Paul ever give a greeting to a church from a trinity. Paul, who knows all mysteries, was not making a greeting from the Holy Spirit because it is not a person, it is the Spirit of God and of Christ.More ommisions of the Holy Spirit from the family of God include Luke 10:22, John 17:3, John 17:11,20-22, John 20:17, John 1:18, I Corinthians 8:6, I Corinthians 11:3. Once again, please study the concept of the trinity versus the God family consisting of only two beings with an open mind and I hope you will see what the Bible truly teaches.
In Christ's servive


#22 || 06·12·05··11:38 || Johnny T. Helms

OK, I can't let this pass without a final final word to our deceived friend, Dave. Dave, if you are not a member of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, you should be; your beliefs are in lock-step with theirs. And like your fellow JW's, you have been judaized; you are being justified by keeping the law; you have fallen from grace. Have you been circumcised recently? And, finally, and I mean finally this time, not a thing you have written has gotten my back up. I have found the conversation to be interesting and stimulating. And finally, finally, finally, why didn't Paul say "grace and peace to you from God the Father, Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Holy Spirit?" Because the Holy Spirit is in the believer. Dave, you are trying to be justified by keeping the law, by keeping the Sabbath and the commandments and the "Holy Days." Have you ever read the letter to the Galatians? You have fallen from grace because you have never been saved in the first place.
Titus 3:10


#23 || 06·12·17··07:07 || Dave B

I am not here to continue this blog and this will be my last post as well.Your derogatory jabs at calling me a JW are not becoming of a Christian. God commands us to obey his commandments(please re-read the fourth)and when God says jump, i say how high. and you are right that it is by grace that we are saved but "our faith without our works is dead". As for the Holy Spirit, you are partially correct. God's Holy Spirit is in us, but wouldn't Paul at least make mention of it if it is part of a triune Godhead. To me it still seems that the world has been deceived by the whore(read catholic church) who rides the beast and her harlot daughters who came out of her.


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