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Trinity

These are notes (with amendments) of a sermon preached on Sunday 1 October 2017. They have not been proofread. This is the last part of a short series of sermons on the Bible compared to a plough. The subject of this sermon is the significance of the twofold message of the Bible—the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace.

In his farewell speech to the bishops at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul divided his counsel under two headings: First, a review of his labours and ministry (Acts 20:17-27); Second, a charge to the bishops at Ephesus (Acts 20:28-35). Looking only at the review of his labours and ministry (Acts 20:17-27), Paul reminded the bishops of his past labours at Ephesus—“Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews.” (Acts 20:17-19) He also informs them of his future labours at Jerusalem—“And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the…

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As it is difficult to understand that nature which belongs to each of God’s creatures, so there is a mystery about the nature of God, the Creator of heaven and earth.

1. Indirect Inferences that there is a Nature in God.

That a “Nature” may be predicated of God is inferred by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 4:8, where these Christians are described, prior to their conversion, as serving idols, who “by nature, were no gods”—as these false gods were assumed to have a nature, so the one true and living God must have a Nature. A similar inference is made by the Apostle Peter in…

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That there is but one God is the first principle of the Christian faith. It is the chief commandment given by God, on which all religion, doctrine and faith depend (Mk 12:28-30). He that says there is more than one God is as much a fool as he that believes there is no God. Indeed, Tertullian observed, “If God is not one, He is not at all.” This premise is a most certain truth, and most surely to be believed, as it is affirmed by the voice of reason and revelation.

1. The Light of Nature.

As the light of nature teaches men there is a God, so it also teaches them there is but one God. This is observable even among those nations which neglected the true God and chose not to retain Him in their knowledge—having been given over to a reprobate mind, or to judicial blindness, to believe the father of lies—they were led by degrees…

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Having proved the unity of the divine Being, and explained the sense in which it is to be understood, it is proper to enlarge on the subject of the plurality in the Godhead. The scriptures reveal the true and living God exists in three Persons in the unity of the one indivisible essence. Now, there are some who refuse to identify the Godhead by terms such as Essence, Unity, Trinity and Person. It is argued that since the Bible does not refer to God by these terms, so it is illegitimate language if used when identifying the nature of the Godhead. However, as the purpose of words is designed to accurately convey ideas, so these aforementioned terms exist to identify those concepts of the Godhead revealed in the scriptures. From this standpoint, it is perfectly acceptable to use extra-biblical terms to identify and explain biblical truth.

I shall treat of this subject under two heads: First, I shall prove that there is a plurality of Persons in the one Godhead; Second, I will identify the Three Persons in the one Godhead.

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As there are three distinct Persons who are the one God, there must be something which distinguishes them from each other. Let it be stated from the outset, that the distinction between the three Persons is not merely nominal or modal. For instance, the Sabellians believe God is one Person, having but three names, or modes of expression. However, if this were true, then there is actually no distinction at all between the Father, Son and Spirit. Just as a man with three names is no more distinguished by one than the other, so if the three Persons are merely names by which God is identified, He is no more distinguished by one than the other.

Rather, the distinction between the three Persons in the Godhead is real and personal. The three Persons are not merely three modes, but three distinct Persons in a different mode of subsisting. They are distinct from each other, so that the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father, nor the Holy Spirit either the Father or the Son. (1) As God is a spirit, and therefore indivisible in His Being, so the fulness of the Godhead is…

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It has already been shown in the previous chapters, not only that there is a distinction of Persons in the Godhead, but also wherein lies that distinction. It is now proper to illustrate and confirm these distinctions by considering each of the Persons in order. I shall begin with the personality and deity of the Father.

I. The Personality of the Father.

1. Affirmed by Formal Definition.

Personality has been defined by some as, “An individual that subsists, is living, intelligent, is not sustained by another, nor is a part of another.” If this statement be accepted as a formal definition of a person, then it is true of each of the three Persons in the Godhead—Father, Son and Spirit. Of particular note, we shall consider the…

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Having considered the distinct personality and deity of the Father, attention is now given to that of the Son.

I. The Personality of the Son.

1. Affirmed by Formal Definition.

Personality has been defined by some as, “An individual that subsists, is living, intelligent, is not sustained by another, nor is a part of another.” If this statement be accepted as a formal definition of a person, then it is true of each of the three Persons in the Godhead—Father, Son and Spirit. Of particular note, we shall consider the personality of the Son: (1) “An individual…”—He is an individual, distinct, though not separate from…

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Having considered the distinct personality and deity of the Father and of the Son, attention is now given to that of the Holy Spirit.

I. The Personality of the Holy Spirit.

1. The Holy Spirit is a Real Person.

That the Holy Spirit is a Person, and not a mere name, power or attribute of God, appears most evident under the following heads:

(1) Affirmed by Formal Definition.

Personality has been defined by some as, “An individual that subsists, is living, intelligent, is not sustained by another, nor is a part of another.” If this statement be accepted as a formal definition of a person, then it is true of each of the three Persons in the Godhead—Father, Son and Spirit. Of particular note, we shall consider the personality of the Holy Spirit: (1) “An individual…”—He is an individual, distinct, though not separate from the divine nature, which He has in common with the Father and the Son; (2) “…that subsists…”—He subsists of Himself in that nature…

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1. Who is the only self-existent Being?

2. What is God?

3. Are there more Gods than one?

4. How many Persons are there in the Godhead?

5. How can there be three Persons in one Godhead?

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The Triune God.

The glorious, yet incomprehensible mystery of the Trinity is to be seen in every Book of Scripture. The earliest writers, after the Apostolic age, when they propose to give a summary of the faith, proceed no farther than the doctrine of the Trinity. Athanasius, for instance, says: “The whole sum and body of our faith is comprised in the words “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,”—not mere characters and offices or mere names and titles, but expressive of…

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