The Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Is it essential that I understand the Trinity to be saved?
Recently, I had a Jehovah’s Witness visit me on my doorstep.
I never turn them away, I love to engage them in conversation concerning the Gospel. Over the years, I have noticed a lot of changes in visiting JW’s.
Thirty or forty years ago a JW would not admit to Jesus dwelling in their heart by grace alone through faith alone. They would never admit that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone apart from works.
However this particular lady was saying all the right things, that Jesus dwelt in her heart by faith and that Christ alone is Saviour, that she was saved by faith apart from works and on the surface one could begin to believe that she was a true Christian.
I asked her about assurance of Eternal Life and this is where the conversation took its normal turn.
No assurance, no guarantee of Heaven, of eternal life, only a vague hope of inheriting the earth based on her works.
The conversation then turned to the Trinity and Deity of Christ, of course this lady argued against the teaching of the Triune Godhead or that Jesus is God. The thrust of her argument was based on the Colossians 1 verse, “ He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of creation”. She said that Christ is simply the image of his father in the same way that I am the image of mine. Also pointing out that Christ was a created being.
Needless to say, her argument went downhill from there.
This is where the litmus test proves whether one is truly born again or if they are simply professing Christians.
The doctrine that all false heresies have in common is the denial of the Trinity and the unbelief that Jesus is in fact God.
There are many that would argue that the scriptures do not mention the word “Trinity”, that Jesus never said “I am God”, or “I am the second member of the Trinity” or the statements, God is a Trinity” or “There are three persons in the one God,” or something else that would prove the doctrine.
This is true and the Bible does not tell us that we need to use words like Trinity or phrases like three persons in one God. These do not appear in the Bible.
On the other hand, we are expected to make a faith commitment to the three persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as is evident from the words “make disciples by “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).
Notice: Name not names.
Someone who denies that the Son is a divine person or who refuses to honour the Son with religious devotion, reverence, and worship, is giving evidence that he or she has not made that faith commitment and so has not yet come to a genuine relationship with the Son. Jesus himself stated,“Unless you believe that I am [he], you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
This means, minimally, that we must accept Jesus for who he really is, if we are to be assured of salvation. So, if Jesus is indeed God incarnate, as the Bible does in fact teach, then we need to know and accept this truth about his identity.
Those who are saved as Christian believers, then, will have faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as God, although they may not be able to grasp this in a doctrinal way at first.
As they come to understand what the Bible says about this subject in conversation with the rest of the church, such believers normally will assent to the doctrine of the Trinity as the church’s historic and best explanation of the divine nature and relations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Rom 8:11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.
This is the indwelling of the Trinity.
If a person rejects the doctrine of the Trinity, that person has cut himself off from the church.
As pointed out earlier, it is interesting to note that all of the major, (and as far as I know all of the minor) heretical religious versions of Christianity agree on one thing: they all reject the doctrine of the Trinity. This does seem to be the crucial, decisive theological issue separating orthodox from heretical forms of Christianity.
Galatians 1:8-9 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Whilst it would not be accurate to say that belief in the doctrine of the Trinity is essential for salvation. Doctrinal accuracy on any theological subject is in any case at most, a litmus test or guideline of the genuineness of a person’s salvation, not a prerequisite for receiving the gift of salvation. There is no scripture test on which a person needs a passing score before God will accept that person’s trust in him for salvation. We are saved by God’s grace through faith, that is, through our trust and reliance on God’s free gift of salvation in Christ.
Rom. 3:24; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption is the gift of God: that is in Christ Jesus:
Eph. 2:8,9; For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Tit. 3:5-8). Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
On the other hand, anyone that would argue with any sound Christian doctrine, can be evidence that a person is either immature in faith. (like Apollos)
Acts 18:25-26 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
It can also be a sign that one has not genuinely come into a saving faith relationship with Christ.
Rom. 16:17-18. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
Resistance to doctrinal correction based on scripture, would generally be a tip off that there is a problem with that persons experience. What then must we believe to be saved?
The first thing that we must believe is that God is.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
We need to believe that God is a holy God and that we are sinners, separated from Him by our sin.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
If we are to be brought back into a relationship with God, we need a saviour.
The Gospel is this “ 1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
Psalm 49: 7 says that "no man can pay a ransom for another man".
A few verses later, in verse 15, it says God will pay the ransom. “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah”.
So, we must believe that God came into the world to redeem men. Of course this is exactly what He did in “Emmanuel” (God with us”)
Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
God the Father was manifest in the flesh, in Jesus.
You also must acknowledge what Jesus did. He lived the perfect life. I don't think you can believe that Jesus sinned and still be saved. Because then the sacrifice made for you was not what God required, and you aren't believing in what God did for you. So Jesus is the sinless Son of God and he gives himself up to die in my place.
Jesus came to fulfill the law of God. The Father requires a sinless offering for sin.
Leviticus 1:3 If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.
Speaking of Jesus:
Hebrews 4, "We have a high priest who was tempted in every point like we are, yet without sin."
2 Corinthians 5:21 Yes, "he who knew no sin was counted as sin in order that we might become the righteousness of God."
So he knew no sin. We need to know that Jesus took our place on the cross of Calvary to save us from the Wrath of a Holy God and that only He was able to do it.
Do we need to understand the meaning of words that explain the death of Christ, words like Substitution, Atonement, Redemption, Propitiation? No! this is not essential to salvation but we do need to recognise what He did. Let's just say that what is required is the core of the gospel—that the remedy is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who never sinned got in my place and took the wrath of God for me. He died in my place.
God manifested Himself in Jesus and Jesus is the Image of the invisible God. That is why Jesus could say:
John 14:9 “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father”
John 10:30 “I and the Father are one”
Whilst one may not understand fully the meaning of the Triune Godhead when they first trust Jesus for salvation. It is very apparent that through the Christian walk, further study of the scriptures and sharing in fellowship with like minded brethren, the truth of this fundamental doctrine will become apparent.
Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Among the Jewish rabbis, it was common to use the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet to denote the whole of anything, from beginning to end. Jesus as the beginning and end of all things is a reference to no one but the true God. This statement of eternality could apply only to God. It is seen especially in Revelation 22:13, where Jesus proclaims that He is “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
A born again Christian will come to the point where they will exclaim with the Apostle Thomas, “My Lord and my God”.
Thomas referred to Jesus Christ as his God.
John 20:28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
John 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
Any genuine Christian will in their studies, encounter many scriptures validating the Deity of Jesus Christ and will come to understand the truths that show the doctrine of the Trinity.
Collossians 2:9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
Matthew 28:19 - Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
John 1:1-51 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14 - And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
1 John 5:7-8 - For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
John 15:26 - But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
Colossians 1:15-17 - Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: John 10:30-36 - I and [my] Father are one.
Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the “Alpha and Omega” in Revelation 1:8, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending”, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
Rev 1:11; Saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book”,
21:6; And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
22:13. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
To be genuinely born again of the Spirit of God, one must grasp the fact that Jesus Christ is of God and that He came from God to the earth to pay the price of sin. That though He was born of a woman, He was conceived of the Holy Ghost. This is to recognise that Jesus is of divine nature, that He was not created but was begotten of God.
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."