Lesson Thirteen • Trinity
Dr. Randy T. Johnson
I have heard it said, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery.” It can be fun watching a child naturally mirror their mom or dad by how they walk or what they say. As a coach, I remember seeing young basketball players stick out their tongues (like Michael Jordan) when making a layup and golfers wearing red shirts (like Tiger Woods) in tournament finals.
1. Have you experienced or noticed any cute imitations?
Although imitation can be taken as a compliment, it is not always positive. Think of some of the synonyms used for imitation: fake, forgery, dupe, counterfeit, mockery, phony, sham, copycat, and wannabe.
2. Have you ever been tricked into purchasing an imitation?
Unfortunately, imitation is even seen at the highest level. The book of Revelation records that Satan (definitely a wannabe) has created his own version of the Trinity. Before examining the mockery, I want to examine the Holy Trinity.
• The True Trinity
The Godhead eternally exists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are one God, having precisely the same nature, attributes, and perfections. God the Father is fully God. God the Son is fully God. God the Holy Spirit is fully God. The Bible presents this as fact. It does not explain it.
3. Which one do you relate to most or best? Why?
Four words into the Bible (“In the beginning God”), we already have the Trinity implied. The Hebrew word used for “God” (Elohim) is in the plural form which seems to refer to a triune God. God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) created the heavens and the earth.
C.S. Lewis makes an interesting observation, “All sorts of people are fond of repeating the Christian statement that ‘God is love.’ But they seem not to notice that the words ‘God is love’ have no real meaning unless God contains at least two persons. Love is something that one person has for another person. If God was a single person, then before the world was made, He was not love.”
4. Explain either point in your own words.
Liberty University declares, “We affirm our belief in one God, infinite Spirit, creator, and sustainer of all things, who exists eternally in three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These three are one in essence but distinct in person and function.
We affirm that the Father is the first person of the Trinity and the source of all that God is and does. From Him, the Son is eternally generated, and from Them, the Spirit eternally proceeds. He is the designer of creation, the speaker of revelation, the author of redemption, and the sovereign of history.
We affirm that the Lord Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity, eternally begotten from the Father. He is God. He was conceived by the virgin Mary through a miracle of the Holy Spirit. He lives forever as perfect God and perfect man: two distinct natures inseparably united in one person.
We affirm that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, proceeding from the Father and the Son and equal in deity. He is the giver of all life, active in the creating and ordering of the universe; He is the agent of inspiration and the new birth; He restrains sin and Satan; and He indwells and sanctifies all believers.”
5. What are the responsibilities of God the Father?
6. What are the responsibilities of God the Son?
7. What are the responsibilities of God the Holy Spirit?
Matthew 28:18-19 says, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’”
8. What is implied by having all three Persons of the Godhead listed?
John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Verse 14 adds, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
9. Who was (and is) the Word? Does this relate to the topic? Why or why not?
Matthew 3:16-17 describes events that happened at the baptism of Jesus, “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’”
10. How were all three Persons present and involved at the baptism of Jesus?
2 Corinthians 13:14 adds, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
11. How does this verse add to the discussion of a triune God?
12. Why are the different traits (grace, love, and fellowship) associated with each Person?
The belief in the Trinity is essential, but that does not mean we have to fully understand it. John Wesley said, “Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God.”
• The Unholy Trinity
Satan has his own trinity. Revelation 16:13 says, “And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs.” There is the dragon (Satan), the beast, and the false prophet.
David Jeremiah points out, “This beast is the False Prophet, the right-hand man of the Antichrist. As Satan continues his malicious masquerade, he will complete an unholy trinity. Just as God is a trinity, so will Satan be. His program will counterfeit God’s program. Satan’s answer to the Son of God will be the Antichrist.” He continues, “The Holy Spirit’s counterfeit is the second beast, or the False Prophet. The Holy Spirit has one main objective, and that is to glorify Jesus Christ. The False Prophet has one objective, and that is to cause people to worship the first beast.”
In his article “Satan is No Myth” (Moody, 1975), J.O. Sanders points out several areas where Satan is a counterfeit of the true God.
• He has his own church – “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9).
• He has his own ministers – “For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough” (2 Corinthians 11:4).
• He has his own sacrificial system – “No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons” (1 Corinthians 10:20).
• He has his own communion service – “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons” (1 Corinthians 10:21).
• He has his own throne – “And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority” (Revelation 13:2).
• He employs false teachers – “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1).
• His ministers proclaim his own gospel – “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-9).
13. What is the true Gospel?
Hope Bolinger made a powerful conclusion, “It should come as no surprise to us that Satan steals from God’s original work. Satan never creates anything. He only twists what already exists.”
Two passages show the demise of the three separate entities of the unholy trinity:
“And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.” Revelation 19:20
“And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Revelation 20:10
14. What three entities are listed here?
15. What is the last chapter of their biographies?
Chuck Swindoll’s statement shows a great distinction between the Holy Trinity and the counterfeit one, “Emmanuel. God with us. He who resided in Heaven, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, willingly descended into our world. He breathed our air, felt our pain, knew our sorrows, and died for our sins. He didn’t come to frighten us, but to show us the way to warmth and safety.”