rinity is the belief that the three divine persons in Scripture, who are called the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit, comprise one being we call “God.” He refers to Himself in both singular and plural forms, as we read in Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…’” Yet, we read in the following verse, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him…”
Here we see that in one passage, God first refers to Himself in the plural form, but later as a single being. It is noteworthy to point out that the Hebrew term translated “God” in the text is also plural. “Elohim” literally means “gods,” and it is used in place of the singular form “El” which would be rendered as only one “God” being. Critics and scholars alike have speculated various hypothesis as to why a single being would refer to Himself in the plural form. Some of those reasons will be discussed in the forthcoming chapters, but as a trinitarian, I believe these examples reinforce the trinitarian concept that “God” is three persons in one being.
Throughout this book, I reference “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” as God’s personal name. This name comes from the account in Exodus 3:14-15 where God reveals Himself to Moses as the “I AM,” in Hebrew characters being יְהֹוָה (YHWH) and often translated “LORD,” “Jehovah,” or “Yahweh” in modern Bibles. Differences in translation stem from the fact that the oldest Hebrew manuscripts we possess today have no vowels, so scholars render the name differently based on which vowels they decide to insert into the Hebrew characters. This book is an accumulation of multiple years of research into the doctrine of the Trinity as I have spent significant time defending it against the heresy of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who deny that Jesus is Almighty God. Although Jehovah’s Witnesses reject these fundamental beliefs of Christianity, they understand the importance of determining the truth regarding the nature of God, so they state the following text in the shaded box below from their publication Should You Believe in the Trinity:
“Do YOU believe in the Trinity? Most people in Christendom do. After all, it has been the central doctrine of the churches for centuries. …Why should a subject like this be of any more than passing interest? Because Jesus himself said: ‘Eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.’ So our entire future hinges on our knowing the true nature of God, and that means getting to the root of the Trinity controversy.” —Should You Believe in the Trinity?, 1989, p. 3
Because we believe that every theological heresy begins with a misconception of the nature of God, we agree with the Watchtower statement that “our entire future hinges on our knowing the true nature of God.” Thus, I will now present several reasons why belief in the Trinity is essential to salvation.
1. God Has Revealed His Triune Nature in Creation.
The first reason we must believe in the Trinity is due to the fact that God has revealed His divine nature and attributes in creation so that anyone who rejects the light given here is without excuse. In Romans 1:18, the apostle Paul explains that apart from the regenerating act of God through the gospel, every person suppresses the truth in unrighteousness, and thus stands guilty before God. He goes on to state this in verses 19 through 20:
“Because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made so that they are without excuse.”
Just as scripture explains, God has already made Himself known to every person. Since His divine attributes “have been clearly seen,” we can see the shadows of the three-in-one nature of the Trinity in the following three-in-one composite combinations found in our world today:
- Dimensions: Length, Width, Height
- Time: Past, Present, Future
- Matter: Solid, Liquid, Gas
- Moisture: Wet, Damp, Dry
- Precipitation: Rain, Hail, Snow
- Personhood: Mind, Will, Emotions
- Speed & Sound: Low, Medium, High
- Universe Lights: Sun, Moon, Stars
Not only do we see composite unity reflected in creation, but men and women, being made after the “image” of God (Genesis 1:26-27), are likewise comprised of a trichotomy made up of three parts: body, soul and spirit as 1 Thessalonians 5:23 declares. If these three aspects of humanity can co-exist in one unified human being, how much more possible is it for the one eternal Triune Being we call “God” to exist in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Since God has already revealed, through the light of creation and conscience, everything we need to know about His Holy nature and divine attributes, we are all without excuse if we reject this Triune God of creation. Paul goes on to explain in verses 21-23, 25 of Romans one:
“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God… but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. …they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man….For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator who is blessed forever. Amen.”
Clearly, those who reject the God of the Bible, do so, not out of ignorance, but out of a desire to suppress the truth, reducing Him to human “speculation” so that they can justify their own corrupting passions. In this passage, we can clearly see why it is of utmost importance that we have a clear and accurate understanding of the nature of God and the identity of Jesus Christ, because if we get God wrong in our theology, we get everything else wrong in living out our faith.
At John 17:3, Jesus declares: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Since eternal life is closely tied to our knowledge of the “only true God” found win Jesus Christ, it is understandable why nearly every theological heresy distorts the nature of Christ in some way or another. Just as we’ve seen in Romans chapter one, the un-regenerated man seeks to worship a “god” made in his own image, like unto “corruptible man.” We want a “god” we can understand, a “god” whose standards can be manipulated to appease our own guilty consciences, and a “god” who is in some form, just like us, a “creature,” so that we can judge his nature and His laws according to our own standards. In so doing, the unregenerate man not only rejects the concept of an eternally Triune God, but His concept of eternal punishment that will be allotted out to the wicked in justice for offending the eternal holiness of this Almighty God. This denial of God’s eternal justice is often the motivating reason behind many of the theological distortions found within the cults; it is a desire to put the Biblical God in a box of human understanding so that the uncomfortable aspects of His nature can be discounted to appeal to mortal sensibilities.
2. Confessing Jesus’ Identity as God the Son is Foundational to Christianity.
The second reason we must believe in the Trinity is based on the fact that Jesus made confession of His true identity a foundational tenant of His church. At Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” In answer, His disciples shared the prevailing views of the culture that included viewing Jesus as a good teacher like John the Baptist or a prophet like Elijah. These views are not that uncommon from the views of Jehovah’s Witnesses who likewise claim Jesus is a good religious teacher, but reject His claim to be God.
After listening to the disciples responses to His question, Jesus took the question to a personal level when He asked: “But who do you say that I am?” In so doing, He challenged His disciples to personally consider His identity in light of everything they had witnessed. When Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Peter demonstrated that he recognized Jesus as God the Son, being fully God in human form. Colossians 2:9 states: “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” Just as a human son is just as much human as his father is human, so Jesus as God’s Son is just as Divine as His Father is Divine. This is why we read at John 5:18:
“For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”
Did you catch that? When Jesus was “calling God His own Father,” the Jews understood that title made Him “equal” with God. So when Peter responded to Jesus’ question with the profound understanding that Jesus was indeed the very Son of the living God, Jesus commended Him by declaring at Matthew 16:17:
“Blessed are you… because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
In other words, the only way that Peter could have understood that Jesus was in fact God in the flesh was for the Father Himself to reveal this truth to Peter. This is an important concept for us to grasp because all of the arguments we can provide to prove the identity of Jesus as Almighty God to a Jehovah’s Witness will not necessarily open their eyes. The Holy Spirit must reveal this truth to them for them to accept His full Deity. Likewise, 1 Corinthians 12:3 states: “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus is accursed’; and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”
Now I want to draw your attention to one more insight about this passage. When Jesus commended Peter for understanding that He is the very “Son of the living God,” Jesus then pointed out that “…upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” In other words, the very confession of Peter, that Jesus is the “Son of the living God,” forms the foundational statement or “Rock” of Christ’s church; for if we get Jesus’ identity wrong, distorting it in our doctrine, we lose the very foundation of our faith. At 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, the apostle Paul warned the Corinthian church against being so inclusive of other religious views that they allowed false teachers to come in bringing doctrines of “another” Jesus. He said:
“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.”
In stating that false teachers would come preaching “another Jesus,” he explained that allowing false views of Christ into the church would pervert the gospel and lead to spiritual destruction. This is why Paul said at 1 Corinthians 3:11, “no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
3. God had to become Human to “Redeem” Mankind.
The next reason we must believe in the Trinity is because our salvation is closely tied to Jesus’ claim to be both God and man. Here is why: In the Jewish culture, someone who wanted to “redeem” what was lost by a deceased family member had to be a member of that particular family. In other words, a man could not “redeem” another person if he was not a relative of that family member who had died. In the same way, God literally could not “redeem” the human race that is dead in sin without first partaking of the human race by becoming a human Himself.
Here we can see this concept of a “Redeemer” being from the same family in the meaning of the Hebrew word גָּאַל (ga’al), translated “Redeemer” (NASB) or “Repurchaser” (NWT) at Isaiah 47:4 and 54:5. According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, page 25 of the “Hebrew And Chaldee Dictionary,” #1350, גָּאַל (ga’al) means “to redeem (according to the Oriental law of kinship), i.e. to be the next of kin.” Thus, Hebrew 2:14 explains the following:
“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.”
This is why God “partook” of “flesh and blood” in order to redeem His lost “children” of humankind. When Jesus as God became a man, He fulfilled the necessary requirement of being the perfect human substitute to pay for the price of mankind’s offense against an eternally, holy God. This is why when humanity offended the eternal holiness of our eternal God, the punishment for that offense required an eternal payment to be made, one that could only be paid by someone who is Himself eternal. By Jesus being both eternal God and perfect man, He was able to pay the eternal price of humanity’s sin and fulfill the requirements of being the kinsman “redeemer” of the same family as humankind. This is why we must believe Jesus is both God and man; for we must recognize that offending an eternal God requires that an eternal punishment to be paid, thus it took eternal God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, to pay the eternal price for our redemption. Ultimately, this is why Isaiah identifies Jehovah God as not only our “Redeemer” but also the “Holy One of Israel” who is revealed to be Jesus Christ in the New Testament. See the chart below:
|ISAIAH 43:15; 47:4; 54:5||JOHN 6:69|
|“I am the LORD, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King. …Our Redeemer, the LORD of hosts is His name, The Holy One of Israel. …For your Husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth.”||“And we have believed and come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
“Because You will not abandon My soul to Hades, Nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.”
4. God’s Love Required the Existence of an Eternally Triune Relationship Prior to Creation.
The fourth reason we must believe in the Trinity is that the existence of an eternal relationship between the Father and the Son provides the only method by which the love of God could have been expressed prior to the creation of the world. If “God is Love,” as 1 John 4:16 states, there must have existed an eternal recipient of that love in order for the expression of that love to have been eternal, existing prior to creation and not be dependent upon a subsequent creative act.
Love is an eternal attribute of God. If we deny the Trinity or the eternal nature of the Son, we have a God who could not have been loving prior to creating the world because He would not have had any opportunity to express love prior to creation. We would have a God who would not have learned how to share with or care for anyone beyond Himself prior to His creation of other beings, and as such, we would have a God who would have become co-dependent upon His creation for the fulfillment of this key aspect of His nature. As such, this “loving” God could not be said to be a self-existent Being who is non-contingent upon His creation, because for Him to be truly non-contingent upon anything, His love must have existed in a Triune relationship within Himself prior to creation.
By recognizing the eternal nature of Jesus as God’s Son, we have a God who not only co-existed in an eternally loving relationship with the Son and Holy Spirit, but One who is eternally self-existent, non-contingent upon anything because His love was perfectly expressed in relationship to the members of the Triune God, long before creation took place.
5. Our Sins Cannot be Forgiven if We Refuse to Pray to Jesus for Salvation.
The fifth reason we must believe in the Trinity is that if we do not believe Jesus is God, we will not “come” to Him to have Him wash away our sins. Jehovah’s Witnesses understand the seriousness of rendering prayer, a form of worship, to a person who is not God. This is why they make such a big deal about directing their prayers to “Jehovah” instead of using generic terms, such as, “God” or “Lord,” in their prayers. They understand that prayer belongs only to God. Thus, if Jesus directed His disciples to “call upon His name” (Acts 22:16) and to “come to” Him (John 5:40) for salvation, rejecting His Deity and refusing to render the “same honor” that we render to the Father when relating to Him (John 5:23), prevents Jehovah’s Witnesses from being able to receive salvation and the forgiveness of sins.
At John 8:24, Jesus proclaims the seriousness of not believing He is who He claimed to be. He said: you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.” The reason the word “He” is italicized in the statement “I am He” is due to the fact that it is not found in the Greek text from which our English translations are derived. Thus, Jesus is literally proclaiming that He is the “I AM” of Exodus 3:14: “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM… Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.’ ” This is significant when we consider the fact that Scripture also proclaims that we must call on the name of Jesus in order to “wash away” our sins:
“And now why do you delay? ‘Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling upon His name.…to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” —Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 1:2
What does it mean to “call upon the name of Jehovah” (Romans 10:13, NWT)? Every Jehovah’s Witness would testify that when Scripture states that we are to call upon the name of Jehovah, we are addressing our prayers directly to Jehovah God. In the same way, if someone states that he is “calling upon the devil,” he is proclaiming that he is praying to Satan. Thus, when Scripture states that we must “call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” in order to have our sins pardoned, it is literally compelling us to address our prayers directly to Jesus, asking Him to be our Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9).
What brings one into a true relationship with Christ is not just “taking in knowledge” about the Father and Jesus. John 17:3 states, “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old And New Testament Words notes that the Greek word translated “know” ginōskō (γινώσκω) in this passage “frequently indicates a relation between the person ‘knowing’ and the object known; in this respect, what is ‘known’ is of value or importance to the one who knows, and hence the establishment of the relationship.…such ‘knowledge’ is obtained, not by mere intellectual activity, but by operation of the Holy Spirit consequent upon acceptance of Christ.” Thus we see that a relationship with Christ is essential to salvation; just as the apostle Paul explained in
1 Corinthians 1:9:
“God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
What kind of a relationship can you have with Jesus if you do not have “fellowship” with Him in prayer? How can you have “fellowship” someone if you do not talk to that person? Indeed, we must recognize that Jesus is God, or we cannot come into a proper relationship with Jesus through prayer. Furthermore, in order to have a relationship with Jesus, our trust of Him must extend beyond the gaining of intellectual facts about that person. Indeed, it is one thing to believe a number of facts about Jesus; it is quite another thing to trust yourself to Him.
There are many who believe the basic facts about the Lord Jesus Christ: He is the eternal Son of God, lived a perfect, sinless life, paid the price not only for Adam’s sin, but for all of our own personal sins (1 Peter 2:24), resurrected and returned to Heaven. And even the demons believe these facts about Jesus, but do they trust Jesus to save them? Of course, not!
Many people believe that Jesus offers us the “free gift” of eternal life (Romans 6:23), and that He offers us His perfection in exchange for our sins (Colossians 3:3), yet they have never gone directly to Jesus asking Him to give them His righteousness (Acts 22:16) in exchange for their sin. Many people believe Jesus can save them, but they do not come to Him to receive salvation. To be saved, you must recognize you are a sinner and that nothing you do can make up for the bad deeds you have done. Then you must “come to” Jesus in a prayer of repentance and faith asking Him to forgive you of your sins and to clothe you in His righteousness alone, so that when God sees you, He no longer sees you in the context of your sin, but in the context of Christ’s righteous payment for your sin. The apostle Paul explains at Philippians 3:8-9:
“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”
Joshua in the Old Testament likewise experienced this washing away of his sins when he encountered the preincarnate Christ appearing as the “Angel of the LORD” in Zechariah 3:1-4:
“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan!’…Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. And he spoke and said to those who were standing before him saying, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.’ Again he said to him, ‘See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.’ ”
Belief in facts about the Father and Jesus and regular attendance at meetings and field service does not bring a person into a proper relationship with Jehovah God any more than being in a garage makes a person an automobile. To come into a proper relationship with Christ, one must first acknowledge that he is a sinner and that there is nothing he can do to earn Jehovah God’s eternal life (Ephesians 2:8-9), for “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” in Jehovah’s sight (Isaiah 64:6). Then, he must transfer his trust to Christ in much the same way that the passenger who crossed Niagara Falls with Blondin, the tightrope walker in the 1860’s, had to climb on Blondin’s back and place his full trust on Blondin’s ability to carry him safely across on the tightrope. If the passenger had insisted on “doing his part” by walking behind Blondin instead of trusting Blondin to carry him across, he surely would have fallen.
In the same way, we must trust Christ alone or we will “fall from grace” (Galatians 5:4), for we “stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Only the people who have gone directly to Jesus, asking Him to impart to them His righteousness in exchange for their sins (Hebrews 10:10, 14), are the ones who have transferred their complete trust to Him and as a result have come into a personal relationship with Christ. It is my prayer that as you read this book, you will not only grow in your knowledge of God, but that your relationship with Christ will deepen as a result of a greater understanding of “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
This book is written to provide a detailed biblical and scholarly response to the Watchtower Society’s arguments against the Trinity set forth in their brochure, Should You Believe in the Trinity? As the chapters of this book correspond with the major sections in the Society’s brochure, what follows is a page-by-page analysis of the Watchtower Society’s claims along with supporting documentation that demonstrate the Society’s deceptive misrepresentation of many facts concerning the doctrine of the Trinity.
In the 20 years since I started researching the subject of the Trinity and presenting my documentation to Jehovah’s Witnesses, I have had multiple opportunities to test my creative approaches to this subject within the context of relaxed, non-confrontational dialogues with them. The result is that I have greatly expanded this second edition of my book to include multiple chapters teaching how to effectively present this information and address the most common objections that arise. I trust you will find this second edition of my book to be an incredibly useful tool for your evangelism library, even if you already possess the first edition of this book.
 James Strong, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1986), 25 (See DP 1 or Documentation Page Reference Number 1).
 The Preface to the New American Standard Bible being quoted here notes that whenever a title for the name for God is placed in all capital letters, like “LORD,” it is referencing the Hebrew Tetragrammaton or YHWH, the Divine Name, also known as “Jehovah” in the New World Translation Bible of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
 W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old And New Testament Words, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1985), 346 (DP 4).
 See James 2:19.
 “Field service” is the Watchtower term for preaching their message door-to-door.
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