Category Archives: Doctrine

What Does the New Testament Teach About the Trinity?

TrinityWhile I was in seminary, one of the classes that unexpectedly changed my life was Trinitarianism taught by Dr. Scott Horrell. To my shame, I’d long confessed the Trinity, but I’d never really given much thought to the eternally mysterious three-in-one.

During that semester, the Lord opened His Word to me in a way I’d never experienced before. Until then I’d missed the way the Father spoke of the Son and the delight the Son showed toward His Father. I’d glazed over the Spirit’s quiet adoration of the Son and the Father’s gracious giving of His Spirit.

God used the study of that doctrine to turn the Scriptures from black-and-white to color in just a few short months.

What follows are a few basic truths about the doctrine of the Trinity and then a run through the New Testament that highlights all (I think) the places the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are shown together. As  you read through these Scriptures, ask the Lord to warm your heart to delight in our eternally glorious God.

The Trinity 101

1. The word Trinity is not found in the Bible. In this sense, the doctrine isn’t explicitly taught, but it’s implicit instruction is nearly impossible to miss.

  • Tertullian (155-220 AD) was the first to describe the relationship of Father, Son, and Spirit as “Trinity.”

2. The One true God eternally exists as three distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit.

  • The Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God. But, the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father, Spirit not Son. The picture at the top is of the the Shield of the Trinity (sputum fidei) which summarizes this portion of the Athanasian Creed.

3. Our God is the only one true God. (Deuteronomy 6:4–5, Isaiah 44:6–8, 45:5-7, 45:22; John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; James 2:19)

  • Allah, Buddah, Krishna, Zeus, Hermes, and all other supposed gods are idols, imposters, and imitators.

4. Father, Son, and Spirit are presented together in about 117 places in the NT, in 23 of 27 NT books (not Philemon, James; 2 John, 3 John), and by 8 of 9 NT authors.

  • James did not present Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in his epistle, but he was present at “the Jerusalem council” in Acts 15:6-11 where each of the members of the Trinity were discussed. He didn’t oppose the idea of the Trinity at that time.


A Few Further Clarifications

1. The Father, Son, and Spirit are not three different gods who work for the same purpose. (as in the polytheism of Mormonism)

2. God is not one person, the Father, with Jesus as a created being and the Holy Spirit as a force. (as in the errant monotheism of Jehovah’s Witness)

3. The Father, Son, and Spirit are not one person who merely appear as three different persons. (as in the mask-wearing god of Modalism)


Father, Son, and Spirit – As Revealed In the New Testament

What follows are the places we see Father, Son, and Spirit revealed together. The underlined Scripture is accompanied by a brief explanation.

Matthew – 1:18-32; 3:16-17; 4:1-4; 12:15-18; 12:28-32; 22:41-45; 28:16-20

  • Believers are to baptized in the name (singular) of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (three distinct persons).

Mark1:9-12; 12:35-37

  • Jesus the Son was anointed by the Holy Spirit to do the work of the Father who affirmed Him.

Luke1:30-35; 1:41-45; 1:67-79; 2:25-32; 3:21-22; 4:1-12; 4:16-19; 10:21-22; 11:13; 12:8-12; 23:46

  • God the Father sent word to Mary that Jesus the Son, who would rule as the king of Israel, would be born to her through the power of the Holy Spirit.

John – 1:32-36; 3:5-6; 3:34-35; 4:21-26; 6:61-66; 14:8-31 (23-26); 15:26; 16:7-15; 20:21-22

  • As Jesus prepared to go to the cross and back to the Father, He promised His disciples He would send the Holy Spirit to give them understanding and peace.

Acts – 1:4-8; 2:14-24, 2:32-38; 4:8-10; 4:24-31; 5:29-32; 7:48-56; 8:14-21; 8:35-39; 9:17-20; 9:27-31; 10:38-48; 11:15-17; 15:7-12; 16:6-10; 20:21-28; 28:23-31

  • The Holy Spirit has appointed leaders to shepherd and protect God’s church which He purchased with the blood of Jesus.

Romans – 1:1-6; 5:1-8; 7:4-6; 8:1-11; 8:14-17; 8:26-30; 8:39-9:5; 14:17-18; 15:12-21; 15:30

  • We have peace with God the Father through Jesus His Son which we know because the Holy Spirit reassures us of His love.

1 Corinthians – 2:1-5; 2:8-16; 3:10-17; 6:10-11; 6:15-20; 12:1-7

  • God purchased His people by the blood of Jesus and united us into His body through the Holy Spirit. This should lead us to flee from sexual immorality because we belong to the Father who keeps us in His Son by the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians1:21–22 ; 3:3-5; 3:14-18; 5:1-10; 13:14

  • God gives us assurance and security in Christ by sealing our hearts with the guarantee of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians – 2:21-3:5; 3:10-14; 4:4-6; 5:21-24

  • God the Father fulfilled His plan of salvation by sending Jesus to redeem us and make us His sons which now leads us to cry out “Abba” to Him by the Holy Spirit He has given us.

Ephesians1:3-14; 1:17; 2:11-22; 3:2-5; 3:11-17; 4:3-6; 4:30-32; 5:18-20; 6:10-20

  • Our salvation is completely Trinitarian.  The Father chose us and predestined us in eternity past (v3-6), the Son redeemed us through His blood and grants us forgiveness of sins (v7-12), and the Holy Spirit seals us as a pledge that God will fulfill His promises (v13-14).  All is done for God’s glory (v6, 12, 14).

Philippians2:1-6, 3:3

  • Because of our fellowship in the Holy Spirit, we should imitate Jesus’ humility which He displayed in not clinging to His position of glory with the Father.

Colossians 1:6-8

  • Epaphras, a minister of Jesus, had shared the Gospel of God the Father’s grace with the Colossians and testified of their love in the Holy Spirit.

1 Thessalonians – 1:1-6; 4:2-8; 5:18-23

  • Believers are called to obey God’s will in Christ Jesus by being thankful and not quenching the Holy Spirit.

2 Thessalonians – 2:13-14

  • God chose His elect to be saved by the truth of the Gospel and the power of the Spirit which results in sharing in the glory of Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy – 3:15-4:1

  • God’s church is called to uphold the truth about Jesus and heed the Spirit’s warnings about false prophets.

2 Timothy – 1:7-14

  • Timothy is encouraged not to be cowardly in his witness of Christ but rather to suffer faithfully in the power of God as he guards the Gospel by the power of the Spirit.

Titus – 3:4-6

  • God acts as our Savior by regenerating us through the Holy Spirit whom He gave us through Jesus Christ.

Hebrews – 2:3-4; 3:4-7; 6:4-6; 9:14; 10:1-18; 10:29-31

  • The Holy Spirit (v15) testifies that Jesus is the fulfillment of God the Father’s New Covenant promises.

1 Peter – 1:2; 3:18; 4:12-16

  • Christians can rejoice in the midst of suffering because God has given us His Spirit as a mark of His glory.

2 Peter – 1:16-21

  • Apostles made known the power of Jesus Christ (v16) through the Scriptures which were inspired by the Holy Spirit spoke from God the Father (v21).

1 John3:21-24; 4:2-3; 4:9-14; 5:5-10

  • We have confidence before God the Father (v21) because we believe in and obey His Son Jesus (v23) and continue to abide in Him by the Holy Spirit (v24).

Jude1:17-25 – Father (7); Son (7); Spirit (2)

  • Believers persevere in the love of God as they wait for Jesus to return by praying in the Holy Spirit.

Revelation – 1:4-8; 2-3; 14:12-13; 21:9-11; 22:16-21

  • We have the great hope of one day seeing the face of God the Father (v4), but until that day the Spirit and the Son call for unbelievers to come and drink of the water of life (v17).

My hope in setting these Scriptures before us is that we will be stirred to draw near to the God who has eternally dwelt in a perfect relationship of love, and now calls us to enter in as well. If a study of the Trinity seems too deep or overwhelming, remember that childlike faith is never turned away by our heavenly Father. Come and delight in God who mercifully calls us to the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit to enjoy Him forever. 

Here’s a few helpful books to help your study of our great God.

Delighting in the Trinity – Michael Reeves

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – Bruce Ware

Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective – Fred Sanders, Klaus Issler, Scott Horell

Making Sense of the Trinity – Millard Erickson


Picture courtesy of Sean Gerety who blogs at 

Rebel Roll Call – Should We Publicly Call Out False Teachers?

wolf-in-sheeps-clothingJoel Osteen. Creflo Dollar. Benny Hinn. T.D. Jakes. Joyce Meyer. Paula White. Fred Price. Kenneth Copeland. Robert Tilton. Eddie Long. Juanita Bynum. Paul Crouch.

“I know they popular but don’t let them deceive ya” – Shai Linne

Track 10 on Shai Linne’s album Lyrical Theology has drawn much attention over the past year because in it he publicly calls out some household names as being false teachers. Shai also put out a brief video explaining why he chose to write the song and how he prepared to write it. I encourage you to check out the song and the video if you haven’t already.

I am currently preaching through 2 Peter 2 and have chosen to publicly mention the names of people our elders feel could be dangerous influences on our flock.

What I’d like us to consider is should I, should Shai Linne, or should any of us, ever publicly point out someone we believe to be a “false teacher?” To help us answer this, let’s consider a few questions about Model, Method, Motive, and Message.

Is There a Biblical Model for Name Dropping?

Yes. In the Old Testament God regularly warns Israel that the lies of false teachers defame His name and defile His people (Num. 12:6; Deut.18; Jeremiah 23:18-22; Lam. 2:14-15; etc.). Though there aren’t many false teachers listed by name in the Old Testament Scriptures, Jannes and Jambres (Exod. 7:11; 2 Tim. 3:7) and Baalam are later exposed as being deceivers (Num. 22-23, 31:16; 2 Peter 2:15; Jude 11; Rev. 2:14).

In the New Testament, name dropping becomes a bit more regular. Jesus called out the Pharisees and Sadducees throughout His ministry (Matt. 5:20, 16:6, etc.) as well as other false teachers when He speaks to John about the 7 churches of Revelation (Rev. 2-3). Paul publicly named Hymenaeus twice (1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:17), Alexander (1 Tim. 1:20), Philetus (2 Tim. 2:17), and the formerly faithful Demas (Col. 4:14; Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:10) as having abandoned the truth. The Apostle John also mentions Diotrephes (3 John 9). This brief survey shows that there certainly is a biblical model of outing false teachers by publicly stating their names.

Is Our Method Dignified?

Though there is a biblical model for name dropping, we should make sure that if we choose to call people out, that we have a dignified method in doing so. Because we are each made in God’s image, we must strive to aim attacks at what people say rather than how they say it, what they look like, or anything else we might be tempted to focus on. We want to guard against mocking people or using them as props to make a point. Our goal must always be to make the Gospel clear, not make ourselves look good at the cost of others.

I have been a poor model of this at times in my own ministry. I once imitated Joel Osteen in a sermon and another time poked fun at Mormon missionaries’ bikes and badges during a seminar on the Gospel. These were ungodly and unloving decisions of which I’ve repented. I was helped in seeing my sin by a gracious couple who told me that they had almost brought a Mormon friend to the seminar I was teaching and were thankful they hadn’t because I might have driven them further from Christ because of my mocking. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I’m eternally grateful for the couple who pointed out my sin.

When we name drop, we must strive to uphold the dignity of those we publicly expose. So if you name names, keep the focus on the teaching as much as possible and treat them as you’d want to be treated if you were being called out (Matt. 7:12). One way of doing this is being slow to speak about people’s motives. God certainly knows the motive of false teachers (Mic. 3:11; Ezek. 22:25; Titus 1:10-11; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 3:1-9; 2 Pet. 2:2-14) but we should be slow to speak about people’s motives because, in the end, only the Lord knows the heart (Jer. 17:10; 1 Cor. 4:3-5).

What Are Our Motives?

As with anything we do, we must always examine our motives (Matt. 5:28; Acts 8:22; Heb. 4:12). If we’re going to publicly accuse someone of being a false teacher, we should ask some close friends to help us examine our heart by asking questions like:

Is it necessary to expose this person?

Am I sure that they are a false teacher?

What am I hoping to gain from doing this?

Is there a chance I can speak with them personally first?

Do my fellow pastors think I should do this?

These are good questions to ask as we pray the prayer of David in Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

If after prayer and wise counsel we trust that our motive is to uphold the truth of the Gospel (Jude 3) and to make sure that people are not led astray into error (James 5:19-20), then we should feel free to name drop for the glory of God and the good of His people. If you need help discerning whether someone is indeed a false teacher, Colin Smith’s article (here) is a great read.

What is the True Message?

Calling out false teachers is certainly necessary to guard the flock from following after their teachings. It is even more necessary for us to make the true Gospel clear. Tearing down false gospels is only good if people are able to see the true Gospel for what it is.

This is clear throughout the New Testament and, I am thankful to say, is abundantly clear in the music ministry of Shai Linne. We must first and foremost be people who are about the Gospel because it is the power of God for salvation to all who believe, even those who were once formerly false teachers.

So if we are going to call out people who teach falsely, we must make sure to clearly show what it means to trust in the true Christ. Show clearly where the false teachers are wrong and display clearly how much infinitely greater the true Christ is. May we be a people who love Christ publicly with both grace and truth  that,  as Shai says “Jesus is not a means to an end, [but] the Gospel is He came to redeem us from sin.” Amen and Amen.

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