BATTLE OF THE GODS: HOW THE TRINITY CHANGES EVERYTHING by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Introduction: Today we’re starting a brand new series in our ongoing study of the Life of Christ. It’s called “BATTLE OF THE GODS: HOW THE TRINITY CHANGES EVERYTHING.” We’re going to deal with a critical battle that is taking place over the doctrine of the Trinity (God is Father, Son, Spirit, three and yet one). And don’t think for a moment that this will be some deep theological discourse, hard to follow. Each message will be very applicable for our salvation, our church, our marriage, our family, and our world.
John 5 18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.
Bridge: Have you ever been misunderstood or misrepresented by somebody? How did you feel? Annoyed, angry, and even amused. It happened to me some time back. I had seen this person many times around town. She was always friendly towards me. We had even talked briefly several times through the years. Then one day our conversation went beyond the pleasantries and she said something about my job at the hospital! I replied – “No ma’am. I work at a church in town.” All this time she assumed that I was a doctor at the local hospital. She thought she knew me but she didn’t. There is one person who is constantly misunderstood and misrepresented more than anyone else in this world. He is God. Even those who claim to believe in Him and talk with Him from time to time don’t really know that He is the Triune God – three persons in one essence. In this series we’re going to learn about this cardinal doctrine of Christianity, the Trinity.
Question: What do you believe about God? When you pray, which God are you praying to? Some Supreme Being or the Triune God? Someone might say – “I really don’t care. God knows my heart even if I don’t have it right.” Would you say that to your spouse or your best friend – “I don’t care to know who you are”? Are you saved? You don’t have to understand the Trinity to be saved but if you are saved, you will believe in the Trinity.
Today’s message is to help us understand the nature and the significance of this Battle of the Gods. 3 questions we will seek to answer:
I. WHY IS THERE A BATTLE OF THE GODS?
18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.
Background: Monotheism, belief in one God, was a cardinal doctrine of the Old Testament. The first of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:3 says, “You shall have no other gods before Me” and the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” Throughout the Old Testament God repeatedly reminded His people Israel to remember that He is one. Isaiah 45 says, 5 “I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me, 6 That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.” Zechariah 14:9 says, “And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be—‘The LORD is one,’ And His name one.” When you read all these passages it makes sense why the Jewish people were angry with Jesus. He not only broke the Sabbath but He clearly referred to God as His Father, making Himself equal with God. In their minds this was a direct assault on the Ten Commandments, the Shema, and their entire Old Testament faith. The only solution for such a crime was the death penalty.
Were they right for wanting to kill Jesus? Of course not. Even though the doctrine of the Trinity is not found in the Old Testament, many passages in the OT tell us that God exists in more than one person.
- In Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”
- In Genesis 3:22 God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.”
- In Genesis 11:7 God said, “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language.”
- In Isaiah 6:8 Isaiah hears the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?”
- In Psalm 45:6-7 the psalmist says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever….Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness….”
- In Psalm 110:1 David says, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’”
The fact that God is one and yet more was always there in the Old Testament.
Here’s a deeper question: Why didn’t God just lay out the doctrine of the Trinity from the beginning? This way there wouldn’t be any battle. 2 reasons why didn’t:
#1. The people of God were not ready for the full exposure of the doctrine of the Trinity. Think about a newborn baby. He/she needs food and nourishment, starting with mother’s milk or bottle milk and then gradually moving up to baby food, which can be nasty. Why don’t we just give the baby a nice juicy steak, with a fork and a knife? The baby is not ready for it. It will even hurt himself/herself. So also the damage the people of God may have done to the doctrine of the Trinity, the Incarnation of Christ, and the Holy Spirit. In His divine wisdom, God knew that they were not ready for all that information. In His divine mercy, He chose to reveal it slowly and carefully.
#2. God reveals Himself gently and progressively.
I heard someone once say – “Be careful of someone who shares everything about themselves in the first five minutes of your encounter.”
II. WHICH IS THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BATTLE?
Here is the doctrine of the Trinity in three statements:
- God is three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- Each person is fully God.
- There is one God.
I don’t have the time to go through every verse on each point. Error in understanding comes when any of the three statements are denied.
Error #1 God is three separate gods. That’s definitely not true.
Error #2 God is just one person who appears to us in 3 different forms. That’s a heresy called Modalism or Sabellianism.
Error #3 The Son or the Spirit or both are inferior to the Father.
- The heresy of Arianism claimed that the Son was created by the Father and was not divine.
- The heresy of subordinationism claimed that the Son was eternal and divine but not equal to the Father in being and attribute. The Son actually derived His being from the Father.
- The heresy of adoptionism claimed that the Son was not eternal but just a man that God adopted at the baptism. He was not divine.
- The heresy over the Holy Spirit that claimed that the Holy Spirit came only from the Father. Later it was fixed as the Filioque clause to say that He also came from the Son.
Application: Which side of the battle are you on? Do you have the right view of God?
III. DOES THE BATTLE OF THE GODS MATTER?
It absolutely does!
- If Jesus was not fully God, then how could He as just a man bear the wrath of God against all our sins?
- If Jesus was not fully God, then we can place our faith in just some human being for our salvation?
- If Jesus was not fully God, then how can we worship Him and pray to Him? Yes we can pray to Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:2 “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” 2 Corinthians 12 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
And yes you can pray to the Holy Spirit because He is God as well.
- Because of the Trinity
- We know that God can relate with us because He has related within Himself since the beginning of time.
- We understand the unity in a marriage where two come together and become one flesh.
- We understand the unity in a church where many come together and yet we are one body.
- We understand the unity between Christ and His church.
Do you know the living and true God? Do you know the Triune God? God wants us to know Him for who He really is