Trinity | Devotion #5: Matthew 1:23
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us.’” Matthew 1:23 (NKJV)
An egg. An apple. Water. What do they have in common? They have all been used to try to explain the doctrine of the Trinity to children and adults alike. The basic concept of the Trinity seems simple on its surface. It is easy to say that God is “three persons in one.” But when your five-year-old begins to ask questions, you quickly realize the answer is not so simple. Enter the humble egg as an attempted illustration of the Trinity. It is three parts: shell, white, and yolk existing as one egg. A single apple consists of three parts as well: the skin, the flesh, and the core. Water can exist in three forms, a liquid, a solid (ice), and a gas (steam). These illustrations, however helpful they might be, do not perfectly convey the Trinity (because each “thing” is a different “thing”). Like an exercise bicycle, it feels that the harder you push to understand or explain the Trinity, the more difficult it becomes. However, just because the concept of the Trinity is difficult to wrap our minds around, does not mean that we should disregard it. It is vital!
First things first, the word “Trinity” (a tri-unity – three in one) is not in the Bible. However, the concept is. The Trinity, meaning that the one true God exists in three persons, is taught throughout the Scriptures. We see the doctrine of the Trinity taught from Genesis to Revelation. To understand it, we have to keep it simple. The Bible says that there is ONE God. Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” We find that not only is the Father called God, but the Son, Jesus is called God, and the Holy Spirit is called God. God is “one.”
Jesus is a good starting point. Key passages make it clear that Jesus is God. John 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning was the Word and the word was with God and was GOD. He was in the beginning with God.” Then verse 14 (NKJV) adds, “And the Word became 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.” John 10:30 (NKJV) says, “I and the Father are One.” Thomas’ confession of Him when he saw the risen Jesus is very pointed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28 NKJV). Titus 2:13 (NKJV) says that we as His people are “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Colossians 1:15-17 (NKJV) also shows that Jesus is God, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” There are many other passages stating Jesus is God. Jesus is called God throughout the Bible.
The Holy Spirit is also God. In Acts chapter 5, we read that Ananias and his wife Sapphira are said to have lied to the Holy Spirit. However, verse 4 (NKJV) says, “You have not lied to men but to God.” John 6:63 tells us that it is the Holy Spirit who “gives life.” That is something that only God is said to be able to do. In the Genesis account of Creation, we see the Holy Spirit hovering above the deep (waters) involved in the creation, something that only God is said to have done. The Spirit is said to be all-knowing, everywhere at once, all-powerful, and eternal. These are attributes that only God possesses.
On a technical note, in the opening words of the Bible found in Genesis 1:1, we read, “In the beginning God.” What you may not know is that in Hebrew (the original language of the Old Testament), the word “God” there is the plural form of a singular noun. It is “Gods as one” if you will. Not just “gods” making God “polytheistic” (multiple gods), it is describing right from the opening words a “plurality within the one God.” Just a few chapters later in the Genesis account, we read of God making man using the words, “Let us make man in our image.” It is incredible.
The New Testament shows us the Trinity continually. 1 John 5:7 (NKJV) says it clearly, “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit and these three are one.” All three persons of the Trinity are seen together in the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19 (NKJV), “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” At the baptism of Jesus, we see all three persons of the Trinity at once: “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” In Revelation 4:8, we see the angels of God crying out the threefold, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.” They use the word “holy” three times for just one God.
We may not be able to explain how three persons can exist as one God, but that is what the Bible teaches. Perhaps, rather than the picture of an apple or an egg, maybe we should use math? God is not 1+1+1=3, but rather 1x1x1=1.