DEAR MARION:—Your questions on the Trinity have been received, and after careful thought I have concluded it will be best to first study in the Scriptures the relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and afterwards take up your questions and quoted objections. After getting the clear light of the Bible on the subject, we will be better able to compare and examine human reasonings and objections.
Our first text will be from Bro. Paul, the greatest reasoner and greatest theologian of the Bible. "Concerning therefore the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no God but one. For though there be [those] that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth; as there are gods many and lords many; yet to us there is ONE GOD, the Father; (of whom are all things, and we unto him,) and one Lord,—Jesus Christ, (through whom are all things, and we through him)."—1 Cor. 8:4-6, Revised Version.
In the Hebrew language in which the Old Testament was written, there is a word [Adon,] which means in English lord or master. Thus, Sarah called Abraham lord. So Abraham, the angels, Gen. 19:2; and Ephron, Abraham, 23:11; and Jacob, his brother Esau, 32:4. Joseph was lord of the treasures of Egypt, 45:9. God is Lord of lords, Deut. 10:17. Young's Concordance will show you many other cases.
The title, God, was applied by the heathen to their idols and Gods of their imagination, but in Scripture it always refers to our Heavenly Father except in a few places where it is used of the children of God; and in the case of Jesus our Lord, who is the first born SON OF GOD, and inheritor of his Father's nature and name.
Our first text shows us, that while our Lord Jesus and his brethren—all children of God, may sometimes be called by their Father's name, yet strictly there is but "one God, the Father." His name as made known to his ancient people, the Israelites, is Jehovah. This name is unfortunately covered up in most places in our English Bibles by the translators rendering it "the LORD" and "Lord God." Still, you can find it by noticing that it is printed in small capital letters, as LORD or GOD. When printed simply "Lord" it is from some other Hebrew word. [Adon, Baal, etc.] Young's Concordance will make this plain. In the Revised Version Exod. 6:2-3 reads:—
On one occasion, Ex. 3:14, He calls himself by another name, I AM THAT I AM," Yet it is scarcely another name, being from the same root as Jehovah. Read verses 13 to 18 and notice notes in margin of Revised Version. Jehovah means He who is, or He who will be. That is, the self-existent one; the one who has immortality or life in himself. This, God only possessed. It is his nature. He has since given this nature to our Lord Jesus, and will in the resurrection give it to all the overcomers of the Gospel age; that is, to every member of the Body of Christ, to those who in this age receive the privilege of becoming "Sons of God." Read carefully 1 Tim. 6:16; John 5:26; 1 John 3:1-2.
Now read Deut. 4:39. "Know therefore this day, and lay it to thine heart, that Jehovah he is God in heaven above and upon the earth beneath; there is none else" [none other]. Read this again carefully as if God himself spoke it to you personally, for so he does. Read also Deut. 32:39; 2 Sam. 7:22. We will read also Isa. 44:6-8. "Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his [Israel's] redeemer, Jehovah of hosts; I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God...Is there a God beside me?...I know not any." Again, Isa. 45:18-22, "For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens; he is God that formed the earth and made it; he established it, he created it not in vain, [to be burned up, as some ignorantly think,] he formed it to be inhabited; I am Jehovah; and there is none else, there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God and there is none else."
God spoke this long before he had sent Jesus to be our saviour and redeemer, so that he was then the only redeemer and saviour; and really it was true after our Lord came, because only God can save, and he does save only in his own way,—through the death of "the Lamb of God" (John 1:29) which he himself also provided. There is no other way. (John 14:6.) Paul says, "There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all."
Paul generally says things very clearly. Could he be any plainer than he is here? Paul does not say, "Now there are three Gods; and as Satan had upset their plans in Eden by leading Adam and Eve astray, they three put their heads together and thought out a plan to try to outwit Satan. One was to remain in heaven and profess to be the superior one, and to be angry with mankind. One was to come and live on earth and call himself the SON [R1053 : page 2] of God, and profess to do the will of the one in heaven. Why should he if he was also a God, equal in power, knowledge and wisdom with the other? Or, as some put it, really the same one who was in heaven all the time? Then the third God was to come down at the beginning of the public work of the second one, in the form of a Dove, and appear to fill him with the necessary power to do the first one's will. If these are three Gods of equal power, such a pretence would seem foolish and wrong to me; if all three apparent Gods were not three, but really the one God, appearing to be three, how much worse? Then again the pretense of one of them dying and appearing to be dead for three days, and being raised up by another, when there was not another but only one; and if that one had died, the universe would have been without a God for three days; rather forever; for that which is dead cannot make itself alive. But worse confusion than all, those who teach these absurd ideas say that the God nature cannot die,—which is true. How foolish all this appears when we compare it with Paul's plain statement. "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." A mediator is a mutual friend who seeks to make peace and harmony between two persons who are out with each other.
Our Lord Jesus himself usually called himself the Son of man, that is, the Man; the man promised in Eden who was finally to destroy Satan and deliver both Israel and the rest of mankind. He also and often called God his Father (which we will study by and by,) but never spoke of himself either as one of three Gods, or as the one God. On the contrary, he says in harmony with all the prophets: "This is life eternal, [will lead to endless life,] that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, Jesus Christ."—John 17:1-3.