From Mark Copeland... "GROWING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST" Developing A Christ-Like Character


                   Developing A Christ-Like Character


1. The second epistle of Peter is certainly a poignant letter...
   a. Written with an awareness that his death was imminent - 2Pe 1:14
   b. Warning that false teachers would seek to lead them astray - 2 Pe 2:1-2
   c. With a hope that they would be mindful of the commandments given
      to them by the apostles of Jesus Christ - 2Pe 3:1-2

2. The final command this aged apostle leaves his readers is a charge to
   "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"
   - cf. 2Pe 3:18
   a. What does it mean to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ?
   b. How can we be sure that we are growing in this "knowledge"?

3. With this lesson, we begin a series entitled "Growing In The Knowledge Of Jesus Christ"...
   a. To define what Peter had in mind when he gave us his final charge
   b. To encourage growth and development in this "knowledge" of Jesus

[We are not left to wonder what Peter had in mind, for in 2Pe 1:5-8 we learn...]


      1. These "graces" are listed in 2Pe 1:5-7
      2. Briefly defined...
         a. Faith is "conviction, strong assurance"
         b. Virtue is "moral excellence, goodness"
         c. Knowledge is "correct insight"
         d. Self-control is "self-discipline"
         e. Perseverance is "bearing up under trials"
         f. Godliness is "godly character out of devotion to God"
         g. Brotherly kindness is "love toward brethren"
         h. Love is "active goodwill toward others"
      3. Now note carefully 2Pe 1:8
         a. We must "abound" in these eight graces
         b. Only then can it be said that we are "growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ"
      4. It is more than simply increasing our "intellectual" knowledge of Jesus!
         a. Such knowledge has a place, but it is just one of the graces necessary
         b. Peter is talking about growing in a fuller and personal
            knowledge of Jesus Christ!
            1) Which comes by developing the "Christ-like" attributes listed in this passage
            2) The more we grow in these "graces", the more we really
               "know" Jesus (for He is the perfect personification of these "graces")
      5. That it involves more than intellectual knowledge is also
         evident from the Greek word used for knowledge in 2Pe 1:2-3,8
         a. The word is epignosis {ep-ig'-no-sis}, meaning "to become
            thoroughly acquainted with, to know thoroughly, to know
            accurately, know well" (Thayer)
         b. Such knowledge comes only as we demonstrate these
            "Christ-like graces" in our lives

      1. Notice the word "add" (or "supply") in 2Pe 1:5
         a. Before each grace mentioned, the word is implied
         b. The word in Greek is epichoregeo {ep-ee-khor-ayg-eh'-o}
            1) "Originally, to found and support a chorus, to lead a choir, to keep in tune"
            2) "Then, to supply or provide"
         c. This word suggests the idea of "each grace working in
            harmony with the others to produce an overall effect"
      2. Notice also the preposition "to" (or "in") in 2Pe 1:5-7
         a. This implies "each grace is to temper and make perfect the grace that goes before it"
         b. To illustrate this point:
            1) "to knowledge (add) self-control" - the grace of
               self-control enables one to apply properly the knowledge one has
            2) "to self-control (add) perseverance" - self-control in
               turn needs the quality of perseverance to be consistent day after day
      3. Therefore each grace is necessary!
         a. They must all be developed in conjunction with each other
         b. We cannot be selective and just pick the ones we like and
            leave others behind

      1. Notice the repeated use of the word "diligence" - 2Pe 1:5,10
      2. It means "earnestness, zeal, sometimes with haste"
      3. To grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ requires much effort
      4. We do not "accidentally" or "naturally" develop these graces!
      5. If we are not careful, we may be like the teacher in the following illustration:
         In his book Folk Psalms of Faith, Ray Stedman tells a story of
         a woman who had been a school teacher for 25 years.  When she 
         heard about a job that would mean a promotion, she applied for
         the position. However, someone who had been teaching for only
         one year was hired instead.  She went to the principal and
         asked why.  The principal responded, "I'm sorry, but you 
         haven't had 25 years of experience as you claim; you've had 
         only one year's experience 25 times."  During that whole time
         the teacher had not improved.
      6. We may have been Christians for a number of years; but unless...
         a. We "add" to our faith these Christ-like qualities with all "diligence"
         b. We are simply repeating the first year over and over again!

[Is the effort worth it?  In the context of this passage (2Pe 1:2-11)
Peter provides five reasons why we should "give all diligence" to grow
in this knowledge of Jesus Christ...]


      1. Grace and peace are common forms of greeting in the New Testament
         a. Grace - a greeting which requests God's unmerited favor upon the person addressed
         b. Peace - a greeting requesting the natural result of God's favor
      2. Note that these two blessings are "multiplied" in the knowledge of Jesus Christ - 2Pe 1:2
         a. All men experience God's favor and its result to some degree
            - cf. Mt 5:45
         b. But only in Christ can one enjoy the "fulness" of God's
            favor and peace - Ep 1:3; Php 4:6-7
      -- If you desire God's grace and peace to be "multiplied" in your
         life, it is through the knowledge (epignosis) of Jesus Christ;
         i.e., as you become more like Him!

      1. We note that God provides all things pertaining to life and
         godliness through the knowledge (epignosis) of Him who called us to glory and virtue - 2Pe 1:3
         a. "Life" in this context refers to our spiritual life and well-being
         b. "Godliness" refers to the pious conduct which comes out of devotion to God
      2. Only as we grow in this knowledge do we enjoy the true, full
         life available by God's divine power!
         a. Which includes "exceedingly great and precious promises" 
            - 2Pe 1:4a
         b. Which enables us to be "partakers of the divine nature" 
            - 2Pe 1:4b
         c. Which can free us from the "corruption that is in the world
            through lust" - 2Pe 1:4c
      -- If we desire to have all that God offers related to life and
         godliness, it comes as we develop the Christ-like character!

      1. Our religion is "shortsighted" if we are not growing in the
         knowledge of Jesus! - 2Pe 1:9a
         a. For what is the ultimate objective of being a Christian?
         b. Is it not to become like Christ? - cf. also Ro 8:29; Co 3:9-11
         c. As we have seen, this is what it really means to grow in the knowledge of Christ
      2. Failure to so grow indicates we have forgotten why we were
         redeemed by the blood of Christ in the first place! - 2Pe 1:9b
         a. To have our sins forgiven, yes...
         b. But also to become what He wants us to be - like His Son!
      -- Unless we want to be guilty of forgetfulness and
         shortsightedness, we need to grow in the knowledge of Jesus 

      1. Peter says "if you do these things you will never stumble" 
         - 2Pe 1:10
         a. If you are diligent to make your calling and election sure
         b. If you add to your faith virtue, etc.
         c. If you abound in these eight graces
      2. This does not mean we will never sin - cf. 1Jn 1:8,10
         a. The word "stumble" in Greek means "to fall into misery,
            become wretched; cf. the loss of salvation" (Thayer)
         b. We will never stumble so as to fall short of our ultimate salvation!
      -- But this assurance is true only if we are "giving all
         diligence" to grow in the knowledge of Christ and thereby
         "making our calling and election sure"

      1. This "everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"
         - 2Pe 1:11
         a. Is the "heavenly kingdom" referred to by Paul in 2Ti 4:18
         b. In other words, the ultimate destiny of the redeemed!
      2. What is meant by the idea of an "abundant entrance"?
         a. "You may be able to enter, not as having escaped from a
            shipwreck, or from fire, but as it were in triumph." (Bengel)
         b. By possessing the eight graces, we will be able to live
            victoriously in this life and to joyously anticipate what
            lies ahead - cf. 2Ti 4:6-8


1. Are these not sufficient reasons to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ?

2. For through such knowledge...
   a. Grace and peace are multiplied
   b. All things pertaining to life and godliness are provided
   c. Spiritual myopia and amnesia are avoided
   d. We will never stumble
   e. An abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom will be ours!

3. Because such knowledge requires...
   a. The development of eight graces
   b. In conjunction with each other
   b. With all diligence

...I trust you will agree that a careful study of these eight "graces"
which lead to "Developing A Christ-Like Character" is worth the effort!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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From Mark Copeland... "GOSPEL PREACHING IN THE FIRST CENTURY" Paul Under House Arrest In Rome


                    Paul Under House Arrest In Rome


1. We have looked at seven examples of gospel preaching in the first century...
   a. Three by the apostle Peter
   b. Two by the evangelist Philip
   c. Two by the apostle Paul

2. Our final example of gospel preaching is a third by the apostle Paul...
   a. Found at the end of the book of Acts
   b. Upon his arrival, and during his extended stay in Rome

[It was after a harrowing journey by sea involving shipwreck, as Paul is
placed under house arrest awaiting his appeal to Caesar in Rome, Italy...]


      1. Paul had just arrived in Rome - Ac 28:16
      2. He called Jewish leaders to explain the reason for his arrival
         - Ac 28:17-20
      3. They graciously grant him an opportunity to explain his beliefs
         - Ac 28:21-23

      1. Paul was allowed to live in a rented home awaiting his trial
         - Ac 28:30
      2. For two years he taught those who came to visit him - Ac 28:30-31

[In both settings, at the beginning and during the course of his imprisonment, let’s now look at...]


      1. A major theme of Paul’s preaching
         a. "he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God"
            - Ac 28:23
         b. "preaching the kingdom of God" - Ac 28:31
         c. As mentioned previously by Luke - cf. Ac 19:8; 20:25
      2. A major theme of others’ preaching
         a. By John the Baptist - Mt 3:1-2
         b. By Jesus Christ - Mk 1:14-15
         c. By Philip the evangelist - Ac 8:12
      3. As summarized before, this theme likely entailed:
         a. The need to seek first the kingship and sovereignty of God
            - cf. Mt 6:33
         b. Sovereignty now exercised through His Son, Jesus - cf. Mt 28:18; Ac 2:36; 5:31
         c. In which all can now participate - cf. Col 1:13; Re 1:9
         d. By responding to the call of the gospel - cf. 1Th 2:12; 2Th 2:14
         e. Remaining faithful to Christ, even to death - cf. Re 2:10, 26-27; 3:21

      1. Another major theme of Paul’s preaching
         a. "concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the
            Prophets" - Ac 28:23
         b. "teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ"
            - Ac 28:31
         c. As mentioned previously by Luke - cf. Ac 17:1-3; 18:28; 26:22-23
      2. As seen from such passages, this theme proclaimed:
         a. That Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead
         b. That He would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles
         c. That Jesus is the Christ foretold by the Law and the Prophets

      1. Some did not believe what Paul preached - Ac 28:24
      2. The Holy Spirit had foretold such disbelief through Isaiah - Ac 28:25-27
      3. Rejection by the Jews would grant opportunity for the Gentiles
         - Ac 28:28
      4. As Paul had proclaimed to Jewish audiences before - cf. Ac 13:46-47


1. Once again, we see that gospel preaching in the first century...
   a. Proclaimed the kingdom of God and Jesus as the Christ
   b. Warned of the danger and consequences of disbelief

2. Summarizing what we have seen in these eight cases of gospel preaching...
   a. The gospel contains facts to believe
      1) Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again according to the Scriptures
      2) He now reigns as king, and will one day return to judge the world
   b. The gospel contains commands to obey
      1) Faith, in Jesus as the Son of God who died for our sins
      2) Repentance, making the decision to turn from sin and live for God
      3) Confession, of one’s faith in Jesus as the Christ and Son of God
      4) Baptism, immersion in water for the remission of sins
   c. The gospel contains promises to receive
      1) The remission of sins, through the blood of Christ
      2) The gift of the Holy Spirit, empowerment for holy living
      3) The promise of the resurrection and eternal life, providing hope and comfort

Many gladly received the gospel as preached in the first century, and
responded accordingly.  Yet many did not, and so judged themselves unworthy of eternal life.

How about you?  Have you heard and obeyed the gospel as proclaimed in
the first century? Not some perverted gospel (cf. Ga 1:6-9), but that
gospel preached by the apostles and preachers of Jesus Christ?  I pray
that you have, for the time is coming...

   "...when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty
   angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know
   God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus
   Christ." - 2Th 1:7-8

Only the pure and simple gospel of Christ can spare you from the
judgment of that Great Day!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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God Created Dinosaurs—And They Didn't Evolve Into Birds! by Kyle Butt, M.A.


God Created Dinosaurs—And They Didn't Evolve Into Birds!

The word dinosaur means “terribly great or fearfully great lizard.” And that is just what the dinosaurs were, at least some of them, such as T-Rex that could eat a single bite of meat that weighed hundreds of pounds. But some of the dinosaurs were only about the size of a small dog, or even a house cat. They came in many shapes and sizes and were a fascinating group of animals. The dinosaurs were land-living creatures, so that means that God created them on day six of Creation, when He made all of the other land-living animals. God also made man on day six.
The word dinosaur is used to describe a group of reptiles that lived on land. There were other huge reptiles that God created that lived in the oceans or seas. While these may have looked something like dinosaurs, they are called marine reptiles and would have been created on day five of Creation. During the first week of Creation, God also created flying reptiles such as Pterodactyls. These would have been created on day five with the birds and other flying creatures such as bats.
Most books or articles about dinosaurs do not tell the truth about God creating these marvelous creatures. They give false information that dinosaurs evolved over millions of years from other, lower animals. The problem with this idea is that it violates one of the most fundamental laws of science—the Law of Biogenesis. The Law of Biogenesis says that all living creatures reproduce after their own kind. You know this law very well. When a dog has babies, what does it give birth to? Baby cats? No, dogs always give birth to puppies. When a bird lays an egg, what hatches out of it? An animal that is half-bird and half-monkey? Of course not. Birds always give birth to baby birds. Since we know that the Law of Biogenesis is true, we know that dinosaurs could not have evolved from lower animals. They had to be created by God.
But did you know that some people teach that dinosaurs evolved from lower animals, and then those dinosaurs evolved into birds? Yes, some people say that the birds that you see flying around in your yard are really little feathery dinosaur relatives. They say that dinosaurs evolved over millions of years into birds. There are several problems with this. First, it would violate the Law of Biogenesis. If a dinosaur lays an egg, what always hatched out of that egg? Dinosaurs, of course. No dog, cat, bird, or half-dinosaur/half-bird creature ever hatched out of a dinosaur egg. Second, God created birds a day before He created dinosaurs. Birds are flying creatures that God created on day five of Creation.Dinosaurs are land living creatures that God created on day six. If birds came before dinosaurs, then dinosaurs could not have evolved into birds.
Third, some scientists say that they have found dinosaur fossils with feathers on them. Even if they had, that would not prove that dinosaurs evolved into birds. But they have not. It is true that some dinosaur fossils have little structures around them that look something like whiskers, but they do not look like feathers. In fact, we have found bird fossils that do have feathers on them. When we compare the bird fossils to the dinosaur fossils, the little whisker-like structures do not look like the feathers. The scientists who want to teach that dinosaurs evolved into birds call these structures “protofeathers.” The term “protofeathers” means: structures that come before feathers. They gave these structures this name, not because they look like feathers, but because they want to teach that dinosaurs evolved into birds. The truth is, the structures do not look like feathers and should not be called “protofeathers,” because birds already had feathers a day before dinosaurs were ever created.
The Bible and true science fit perfectly together. The account of Creation in the book of Genesis agrees with every real fact we know to be true. Dinosaurs are amazing creatures that God created one day after birds. They could not have evolved 
into birds.

An Animal That "Sees" With its Ears! by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


An Animal That "Sees" With its Ears!

by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.
The animal kingdom—from ants to zebras—contains many strange yet wonderful creatures. But some of the most amazing of God’s creatures are those animals that "see" with their ears.
Most animals have very good eyesight. They use this eyesight to hunt for food. For example, owls have very large eyes, which they use to search for food at night. Cats, too, have eyes that open wider as it gets dark, so that they can hunt even at times when humans can barely see. The keen eyes of eagles can spot mice even from high up in the air.
But some animals have tiny eyes, and very poor eyesight. So how do they hunt for food? God has given them another way to "see," by using their ears. A bat is just such an animal. Some bats have very small eyes. But if you look at certain bats (like those that eat insects), you will see they have extra-large ears that move easily. Scientists now know that bats "see" by using what we call "echolocation" (EK-oh-low-KAY-shun). Here is how it works.
Bats make a sound that humans cannot hear. They send out sound waves that hit objects. A fraction of a second later, an echo comes back to their large ears. Bats not only hear the echo, but are able to tell how far away an object is, and in what direction. All of this happens so quickly that the bat is able to use the echo to locate the object, even though it may be far away. This is why it is called "echolocation."
Scientists have learned that bats, using echolocation, can fly through difficult places (like caves and forests) without any trouble. More importantly, bats use echolocation to hit an insect with sound waves, understand where it is, and catch it in mid-air! Bats are so good at doing this that it is almost impossible to trick them. In experiments, scientists threw small rocks in front of bats. The bats sent out sound waves and "saw" the rocks, but did not try to eat them as they would a flying insect. Somehow, bats are able to tell by the echoes whether or not the object is something good to eat!
God has designed creatures in the animal kingdom very well—so that they can survive. Man has learned much from the animals that God made—and we still have much more to learn!

Seeds and Fruit by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


Seeds and Fruit

by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.
Not all plants have seeds. Mosses, algae, and ferns rely on tiny spores to spread themselves around. The main types of plants that have seeds are conifers (like pine trees) and flowering plants.
Seeds come in all sizes and shapes, but all have three parts: (1) an embryo, which is a small, very young version of the plant; (2)stored food, which the embryo will use to start growing; and (3) a tough outer layer or coat that protects the embryo.
Flowering plants-from scrawny weeds to massive oak trees-wrap their seeds in a package called a fruit. Like the seeds they surround, fruits take many fascinating forms. Scientists divide fruits into two main types: fleshy and dry. Fleshy fruits with a single seed inside are called drupes.
These include plums, peaches, and olives. Fleshy fruits with several seeds inside are calledberries. Tomatoes, pumpkins, and oranges are types of berries. Dry fruits, where the seeds are attached to the inside of the fruit wall, are called legumes. These include peas and beans. Nuts, like acorns and hazel­nuts, have a hard or stony outer layer, and two or more parts on the inside.Achenes
(a-KEENS) are, perhaps, the most common kind of fruit. They are small, have a single seed, a coat, and not much in the way of stored food. Many of the things that you plant in your garden, like sunflower seeds, are achene fruits. The "helicopters" from various maple trees are "winged" achenes. Dandelions have hairy tufts at the end of their achenes.
As you can imagine, how scientists name fruits and how we name fruits are not always the same. For instance, strawberries are not berries at all, but have achenes stuck on the outside of a fleshy pulp. Peanuts are more like legumes than nuts. Almonds, walnuts, and coconuts are drupes, not nuts.
In Genesis 1:11God commanded every plant to produce after its kind. A peach seed only produces a peach tree, and a dandelion achene only produces dandelions. God has created plants so that they reproduce in many different ways, but whether their seeds are big or small, or whether they are found on the inside or the outside, they all repro­ duce after their kind-just like God designed.

The Purpose of Parables by Stan Butt Jr.


The Purpose of Parables

by Stan Butt Jr.
Jesus of Nazareth was the greatest teacher the world has ever known. His talent lay in His wonderful ability to make deep, heavenly truths understandable to all kinds of people. Although Jesus worked with people from all social classes, most of His teaching was aimed at the common people of Israel—the shepherds, the fishermen, and the laborers. Most of those who heard Jesus were poorly educated, so it was necessary for Him to teach them by using simple words and ideas. To solve the problem of passing on deep truths to such people, Jesus used a common teaching tool known as a parable.
Some teachers have defined parables as "earthly stories with heavenly meanings." The English word "parable" comes from the Greek word parabole, which means "to throw alongside." The word also is related to the word "parallel," which usually describes two similar things laid side-by-side. Two things that are "thrown alongside" each other are easier to compare. The goal of a parable is to compare one thing to another—with one of the objects being an important spiritual lesson and the other being an event from everyday life. For instance, Jesus compared His own relationship with His people to the relationship of a shepherd with his sheep (Luke 15:1-7). He compared someone who teaches the gospel to a man planting a seed (Matthew 13:1-9), and He used such words as salt and light to describe the influence of a Christian (Matthew 5:13-16).
The Bible records about thirty or forty parables told by Jesus. Some of His parables were short, one-line comparisons. Others, like the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, were longer stories with exciting plots and interesting people. All of Jesus’ parables remind us of the divine wisdom of God. But they also remind us of easy yet interesting ways to teach someone the great truths found in God’s Word.

Deadly Glowing Larva by Kyle Butt, M.A.


Deadly Glowing Larva

Maybe you have been at a nighttime parade or a rodeo and seen glow sticks or plastic swords that glow. Have you ever wondered how companies can make those things glow without using a power source such as electricity or a battery? Maybe you learned that when certain chemicals are put together, they can give off glowing light. Companies have studied this idea and used it to make millions of dollars. But did you know that God invented this idea from the beginning of His amazing Creation to make plants and animals that can do the same thing? In fact, God’s designs are even better than the ones used to make glow sticks.
When living things such as plants, animals, or bacteria produce light, it is called bioluminescence. The prefix “bio” means “life,” and “luminous” or “luminescence” means “light.” You are probably most familiar with this phenomenon in nature because of lightning bugs. They are bioluminescent beetles. But there are many other living organisms that produce light as well.
One of the most fascinating glowing creatures is the fungus gnat larva. This little creature hangs from the ceilings of caves in Australia and New Zealand. Thousands of them light up together to make the cave ceiling look like a starry night sky. The larva weaves tiny strings of “web” from the ceiling and attaches little drops of mucus along each string. The larva then emits a bluish light from its position on the ceiling. Flying insects are attracted to the light and fly into the hanging curtain of death. The mucus droplets trap the little insects. Some fungus gnats even have a chemical in the mucus that stuns the prey. The larva then “reels” the string up and eats the trapped victim.
This amazing little gnat sheds “light” on the fact that God is an awesome Creator. 

The Trinity by Kyle Butt, M.A.


The Trinity

by Kyle Butt, M.A.

Throughout the centuries, the nature of God has been at the center of many heated debates. Entire counsels have assembled to discuss whether God is composed of three personalities having one nature, whether Jesus is a part of the Godhead, how the Holy Spirit factors into the equation, and a host of similar questions. The answers to these questions can have far reaching theological and practical consequences. It is the purpose of this article to prove the thesis that the Bible teaches that the Godhead is three personalities—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—in one nature.


As in all discussions dealing with a proper understanding of truth, an agreed upon and acceptable, sufficiently precise definition of the major terms must be set out in the beginning.
  • Godhead or Divinity: A description of the totality, both of nature and personality, of the supernatural Creator of the world (see Lenski, 1961, p. 98).
  • Nature: “The inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing; essence” (“Nature,” 2015).
  • Personality: A recognizable, distinct entity that has mind and desire. As described by Merriam-Webster: “The complex of characteristics that distinguishes an individual….The totality of an individual’s behavioral and emotional characteristics; a set of distinctive traits and characteristics” (“Personality,” 2015).
While most words that will be discussed concerning the Trinity, such as “personality,” “nature,” and even “divinity” or “Godhead,” are fairly easy to define, that does not mean the aspects of God that they describe are easy to understand. In fact, the Godhead is so complex and beyond human capability to fully understand, that any attempt to discuss God quickly reveals the limitations of the human mind. We can never fully understand the Godhead. As the apostle Paul so eloquently wrote about God’s revelation of the Gospel: “Oh, the depth and the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out” (Romans 11:33). We should not conclude, however, that nothing can be known of God. Were that the case, to have any discussion about Him, say His name, or even to identify the concept of God, would be impossible for us. On the contrary, while we may not be able to understand fully all that the term “nature” of God entails, and while we may not be able to define the concept of a “personality” so that we comprehend everything about it, we can know enough about the terms “Godhead,” “nature,” and “personality” to say that the Godhead is three personalities in one nature.


The basic argument for the Trinity proceeds as follows:
  • Premise one: the Bible teaches that the Godhead is one in nature.
  • Premise two: the Bible teaches that God the Father is one personality of the Godhead.
  • Premise three: the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is one personality of the Godhead.
  • Premise four: the Bible teaches that Jesus the Son is one personality of the Godhead.
  • Conclusion: Therefore, God is composed of three personalities in one nature.


Various Scriptures demonstrate that the Godhead is one in nature. One of the most well-known passages that relates this truth is Deuteronomy 6:4, which states: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” A similar passage is found in Ephesians 4:4-6, which reads, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” In addition, Malachi 2:10 says, “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” The fact that God is one is clearly stated in the Bible.
The clear statements of God’s oneness lead some to deny that God is composed of three personalities. They suggest that if God is one, then He cannot be three in any way; so His oneness excludes the possibility that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all God. As M. Davies wrote: “We have seen how that, throughout the Bible God is only described as being one being…. So it is to the Bible we must turn, and when we do, we do not find any evidence to suggest that God is made up of three beings” (2009). Thus, the critics of the doctrine of the Trinity do not differentiate between the concept of nature and that of personality. This idea will be expanded upon in the section dealing with common objections. It is included here simply to set up the argument for God’s oneness being in nature, and not personality.
The Bible says that “one God” created us (Malachi 2:10). A closer look, however, at the Creation of man shows that some type of multiplicity was involved. Genesis 1:26-27 states, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.… So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” The Hebrew language used in this passage cannot be definitively used to prove a multiplicity, but it is written in such a way that certainly allows for the one God to have some aspect of multiplicity or plurality. A better understanding of this plurality is gained by looking at the verses in the Bible that discuss the Creation. John 1:1 explains, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Later in the first chapter of John we learn that the Word “became flesh and dwelt among us.” Thus, the Word refers to Jesus, who was with God and was God and created all things along with the Father (John 1:14). We can see, then, that the oneness of the Creator must allow for at least some aspect of God to have a multiplicity of something.
In logical form, we could arrange the argument as follows. There is one God who created man. The concept of oneness either means that nothing about God can have any type of plurality, or that some aspect of God is completely unified but at least one other aspect of God can have multiplicity to it. It cannot be the case that nothing about God can have any multiplicity since the Bible gives at least one aspect of God (the Father and the Son) that has multiplicity. Therefore, some aspect of God is completely unified, but at least one aspect of God can have, and has, multiplicity.
Once we determine logically that at least one aspect of God has to be “one” and completely unified without multiplicity, we need to identify what that concept is. We see several ideas that are applied to God in His entirety. God is eternal, from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 90:2; Deuteronomy 33:27). God’s eternality applies to the Father, as well as to God the Son, as is evidenced from the fact that Isaiah 9:6 describes the Messiah (Who is recognized in the New Testament as Jesus) as being called “Everlasting Father.” The concept of eternality equally applies to the Spirit, as the Hebrews writer stated, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God” (Hebrews 9:14, emp. added). Since the concept of eternality equally applies to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, then we have successfully determined at least one aspect of God that is completely unified and applies equally to every aspect of God. Such qualities compose the nature or essence of the being of God. And while it is true that we cannot know or understand all of the aspects of God’s essence, we can compile a list of ideas or attributes that make-up this unified whole that applies equally to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • God’s essence is immutable, or unchangeable (Psalm 103:27; Hebrews 13:8).
  • God’s essence is morally perfect (Habakkuk 1:13; 1 Peter 2:22).
  • God’s essence is founded on justice (Psalm 89:14; Matthew 23:23).
  • God’s essence is love (1 John 4:8).
  • God’s essence is eternal (Psalm 90:2; Deuteronomy 33:27; Isaiah 9:6).
The Bible provides a much more exhaustive list of the attributes of God’s nature or essence. This short list is provided to make the point that all three personalities of God (i.e., the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), share one unified nature that applies equally to all of them.


Having established the fact that God is one in essence or nature, we can now move to dealing with the idea that God is three personalities. The burden of this portion of the article will be to establish that the three personalities of God are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

God the Father

The premise that one personality of the Godhead is the Father is one of the least disputed and easily proven concepts in this discussion. In fact, many people and religious groups consider the Father to be the only personality of God (which we will show is not the case), but very few who accept the Bible as the Word of God argue that God the Father is not God. This is the case because there are so many verses in the Bible that identify God in the personality of the Father. Let us examine a few of those. In 2 Peter 1:17, the text states that Jesus “received from God the Father honor and glory.” Jude 1 is written to those “who are called, sanctified by God the Father.” When Jesus was instructing His disciples to pray, He taught them to say, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9). Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you” (1 Thessalonians 3:11). As with other aspects of the argument, a much longer list could be compiled showing that the Bible refers to God the Father as being part of the Godhead. Thus, as our argument proceeds, we have now established that the Godhead has one unified nature, and has at least one personality, namely, God the Father.

God the Holy Spirit

Because of the way many people view the term “spirit,” it has often been the case that the Holy Spirit is misidentified. He is often referred to as an “it,” and some do not recognize the fact that He is a personality of the Godhead. The Scriptures, however, are clear that the Holy Spirit is a personality of the Godhead in the same way as the Father and the Son. First, recall that the Bible explains that the Spirit is eternal (Hebrews 9:14). That means that He is not a created being, but has always existed. In argument form we would say, God is the only being that is eternal. The Holy Spirit is eternal. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is God. In addition, we read that just as God knows all things, the Spirit does as well. First Corinthians 2:10-11 states, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God…. Even so, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”
The book of Acts contains a memorable story about two early Christians named Ananias and Sapphira. These two sold a piece of property, gave the money to the church, but lied about the price of the land. When the apostle Peter rebuked them for their sin, he said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit.... You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:3-4). Notice that Peter stated that by lying to the Holy Spirit, Ananias had lied to God, equating God and the Holy Spirit. In addition, 1 Peter 1:2 says that the Christians there had participated in the “sanctification of the Spirit.” In 2 Thessalonians 5:23, the Bible says, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely.” Again, we see that the work of sanctifying the Christian is accomplished by God, but is attributed to the Holy Spirit. This line of reasoning can be extended to other aspects of God’s action. In 2 Timothy, Paul states that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (3:16). Peter explains that the Scriptures were produced when “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). We then can reason that God inspired the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures, thus the Holy Spirit is God.
Once we establish that the Holy Spirit is God, we next need to show that He is a person, not simply a nebulous force. We have defined the word “person” as a recognizable, distinct entity that has mind and desire. The Bible paints a consistent picture that the Holy Spirit, like the Father, is a person. First, the Scriptures state that the Holy Spirit can, and has, talked to people using language that those people can understand. In Acts 8:29, we read that “the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot.’” This was not a nebulous, impersonal force, but a recognizable voice used by a person to communicate His desire to a man named Philip. The apostle Paul explained that “the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1). Once again, the Spirit speaks in understandable language. In Revelation, the text says that “the Spirit and the bride say ‘Come!’” (22:17). Only a person with a will and identity could offer such an invitation. In addition, consider that the Holy Spirit can be blasphemed (Matthew 12:31-32), lied to (Acts 5:3), insulted or despised (Hebrews 10:29), and grieved (Ephesians 4:30) (Olbright, 1999, p. 25). The Holy Spirit is God, and has all the traits of a person. We therefore conclude that the Father is one personality of God, and the Holy Spirit is another personality of God, proving that the one God has a multiplicity of personalities.

God the Son

In addition to the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Bible mentions another person Who composes the Godhead—Jesus Christ the Son. In fact, the Bible mentions these three together. Matthew 28:19 quotes Jesus as saying that His followers should baptize disciples in the name of the “Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Peter wrote that Christians were “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus” (1 Peter 1:2). A straightforward reading of these passages seems to put the three on equal footing. Some have contended, however, that even though Jesus is the Son of God (which the Scriptures teach in numerous places; see Matthew 14:33; 16:16; Mark 1:1; Luke 8:28; John 3:16-18; 2 Corinthians 1:19), that does not mean He was equal to God or had/has the same nature as God. Fred Pearce, who denies that Jesus is God, wrote: “But he is God’s Son, because he has been ‘begotten.’ The ruler is not God; he is the Son of God; and he began to exist on the day he was ‘begotten.’ Like all sons, he is preceded by his Father” (n.d.). Some have contended that God created Jesus first, and then Jesus created everything else. Thus, they would argue that Jesus is not God, but only the Son of God, a creation of God, or an elevated angel. Others would argue that Jesus was only a man and never claimed to be God or even an angel. The Bible, however, denies both of these positions, and presents a thorough and consistent picture of Jesus Christ the Son of God as God in nature and as a third personality of the Godhead. Consider the following three affirmations:

I. Jesus the Son is Referred to as God

The prophet Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would come in the form of a Child. That Messiah was going to be known as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Notice specifically that the coming Child would be called Mighty God. In the New Testament, we see that Jesus was that Child, the anointed Messiah, the Son of David described in Isaiah 9:6. In John 4:25, the woman with whom Jesus talked at the well stated, “I know the Messiah is coming” to which Jesus responded, “I who speak to you am He” (John 4:26). When we put the premises together, the argument looks like this: The Messiah is Mighty God. Jesus Christ the Son of God is the Messiah. Therefore, Jesus Christ is Mighty God.
In the first chapter of John, the text says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Again, notice that the Word is called God. Just a few verses later, the text explains that the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us” and that John “testified of Him” (John 1:14-15). In John 3:22-36, the person John testified about is Jesus Christ the Son of God. Putting the pieces together, we arrive at the following argument: The Word is God. Jesus Christ the Son is the Word. Therefore, Jesus Christ the Son is God. The apostle Thomas added his voice to this conclusion when he saw the wounds in Jesus’ body and proclaimed to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

II. Jesus the Son is Worthy of and Accepted Worship

Matthew wrote a detailed account of Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness. During that temptation, the devil enticed Jesus to fall down and worship him. Jesus responded by saying, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Matthew 4:1). Jesus’ argument went as follows: All people are morally bound to worship only one being, that is, God. The devil is not God. Therefore, no one should ever worship the devil. From this line of reasoning, it is clear that anyone who is faithful to God will not encourage the worship of any being other than God. We see this truth played out in a number of episodes in the Bible. In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas were in the city of Lystra when they healed a crippled man. The residents of the city were so enamored with the two, they began to worship them. Paul and Barnabas rushed in among the crowd and tried to stop their worship, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men with the same nature as you” (Acts 14:15). Their argument was similar to the one Jesus made. All people are morally bound to worship only one Being, that is, God. Paul and Barnabas are not God. Therefore, no people should ever worship Paul and Barnabas. The same thought process is used in Revelation 22:6-9. In that passage, the apostle John is introduced to an angel. The apostle “fell down to worship before the feet of the angel” (Revelation 22:8), but the angel said to him, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant…. Worship God” (Revelation 22:9). The angel’s argument can be laid out in the following way. God is the only Being any person should worship. I, an angel, am not God. Therefore, no person should ever worship me.
When we consider how Jesus responded to being worshiped, we can see that He readily accepted it as a proper response to His personality and power.  On numerous occasions, the Bible records that people worshiped Jesus Christ. Matthew 14:33 says that his disciples “came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’” Jesus accepted the worship and did not rebuke them. In John 9:38, Jesus healed a man who had been born blind. Jesus then instructed the man to believe in the Son of God. The man responded by saying, “Lord, I believe!” then the text says, “And he worshiped Him” (see also Matthew 2:11; 28:9; John 20:28). As we analyze this argument, we see that Jesus said all people are morally bound to worship only God, and Jesus accepted worship as the proper attitude of people toward Him. Either Jesus violated Scripture and accepted worship contrary to the Bible’s teaching, or Jesus is God. Jesus never violated Scripture (Hebrews 4:15; John 8:46). Therefore, Jesus is God.

III. Jesus the Son is Equated with Jehovah

In the Hebrew Bible the special name for God is called the Tetragrammaton. It is composed of four Hebrew letters and is transliterated Jehovah or Yahweh. The actual pronunciation of the name has been lost since the original Hebrew did not have vowels. This name is used only to describe the eternal Creator God of the Universe. In Isaiah 6, the prophet records a time when he saw God in a vision. The angelic beings who stood around God’s throne addressed God as “Jehovah” of hosts in Isaiah 6:3 and used the same name (the Tetragrammaton) in verse five. There is no doubt that Isaiah was describing a vision of the eternal God. When we turn to the New Testament, we see the apostle John describing this scene from Isaiah. John writes that although He (Jesus) “had done so many signs before them, they did not believe” (John 12:38). He then references Isaiah 6:9-10, and says, “These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him” (John 12:41). The fact that the pronoun “Him” in verse 41 is referring to Jesus is verified by the use of the pronoun to describe Jesus in verse 37 and verse 42. Thus, the argument can then be made as follows: Isaiah saw the glory of Jehovah God in Isaiah 6. John says that Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus and references the episode in Isaiah 6. Thus, John equates Jesus with Jehovah.
Additionally, other passages reference Jesus as being Jehovah. Isaiah 40:3 explains that a messenger would be sent as the forerunner of the Messiah. This messenger would be “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” who would “prepare the way of the Lord (Jehovah); make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3). The New Testament applies this prophecy to John the Baptizer (John 1:11) and declares that John prepared the way for Jesus, thus equating Jesus with Jehovah. Again, the argument is as follows: Isaiah said the messenger would prepare the way for Jehovah. John was the messenger Isaiah predicted. He prepared the way for Jesus. Thus, Jesus is equated with Jehovah.
From these passages and the arguments they present, the Bible student is drawn to a concrete conclusion about Jesus the Son. Not only is Jesus directly called God, He accepted worship that is reserved only for God, and the holy name of Jehovah is applied to Jesus; thus Jesus is God. The idea that Jesus is a person who has a personality is undisputed. Therefore, Jesus is one personality of the Godhead [NOTE: For more information on the deity of Christ, see Miller, 2005 and the entire section of the Apologetics Press Web site dedicated to that topic under the heading “Deity of Christ” athttp://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10.] We have now established that the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Son are three personalities of the Godhead, and they are composed of one nature. Let us turn to some common objections to this conclusion.


As with any subject pertaining to God and the Bible, an exhaustive list of objections and responses to them would be so extensive it would take hundreds or thousands of pages to complete. With that in mind, we will have to content ourselves with responses to a few of the more common objections to the thesis we have presented.

Objection 1:
       The Word Trinity  is Not in the Bible

The concept that the Godhead is three personalities—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—in one nature is often summarized as presenting a triune God. The term triune denotes a trinity of personalities in one unified nature. The noun form of the adjective is Trinity. The term Trinity is used by the vast majority of Christians, and others who accept the thesis of this article, to describe the nature and personalities of God. One primary objection to the use of this word, and the conclusion that it is used to describe, is that the term is not even used in the Bible. For example, one critic of the idea of the Trinity wrote:
But did you realize that, even though it is a common assumption among many sincere religious people, the word Trinity does not appear anywhere in the Bible? In fact, the word Trinity did not come into common use as a religious term until centuries after the last books of the Bible were completed—long after the apostles of Christ were gone from the scene! (“Is the Trinity...?” 2011, italics in orig.).
Supposedly, because the Bible does not use the term Trinity to describe God, then the idea of a Trinity is an extrabiblical idea that was forced into the text.
In truth, the objection that the term Trinity is not used in the Bible can be refuted by showing that there certainly are words used today that describe concepts in the Bible, but those words or terms are not in the text. For instance, the Bible never uses the term “atheist” or “atheism.” Can we argue from that fact that the Bible does not deal with the concept of a person who does not believe in God? No, since we can see that Psalm 14:1 states, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Our modern term “atheism” accurately describes a person who says, “There is no God,” even though the term is not used in the text. In addition, the Bible never uses the word “Sunday,” yet we use that word today to accurately describe the day the Bible calls “the first day of the week,” which came after the Sabbath. Incidentally, we use the word “Saturday” to describe the Sabbath, even though “Saturday” is never used in the Bible. These examples show the logical inconsistency of claiming that a concept is not taught in the Bible if the word we currently use to describe the concept is not in the Bible.

Objection 2:
       If God is One, He Cannot Be Three

Another often heard objection to the thesis is the idea that if God is one, there is no way that He can be three. Those who use this argument quote verses such as Deuteronomy 6:4, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” and Ephesians 4:6 which says there is “one God and Father of all.” They argue that if God is one, as these verses say, then He cannot be three at the same time, because this would be a violation of the law of logic known as the Law of Contradiction.
In responding to this argument, it is helpful to review what the Law of Contradiction actually says. Warren states the law as: “Nothing can both have and not have a given characteristic (or property) in precisely the same respect” (1982, p. 23). Another way to state the law is that nothing can both be something, and not be that same thing at the same time, in the same way. The pertinent aspect of the Law of Contradiction as it relates to the Trinity discussion is the idea of a person or thing having a certain characteristic “in precisely the same respect” or “in the same way.” For instance, we could say that a person named Bob is very rich and very poor. While it seems contradictory at first, we could mean that he is physically and financially prosperous, but he is very shallow and spiritually poor. So, in one sense he is rich (monetarily) and in another sense he is poor (spiritually). Therefore, it can be true that he is both rich and poor at one and the same time. In the same way, God can both be one and be three at the same time precisely because the terms “one” and “three” apply to different aspects of God. When we use the word “one” we are discussing God’s eternal nature or essence. When we use the word “three” we are describing the personalities of God, not His nature. Thus, it is important to understand that the Godhead is three personalities in one nature. This statement does not violate the Law of Contradiction and accords with what the Bible says.

Objection 3:
       Jesus Denied That He is God

Some who argue against the Trinity claim that Jesus did not view Himself as God, and on several occasions denied His deity. One of the passages most often used to bolster this claim is Mark 10:17. In this passage, a wealthy young man ran to see Jesus and asked Him, “Good teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded by saying, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” According to the skeptical view, Jesus is denying that He is God. But a closer look at Jesus’ comment reveals just the opposite to be the case. Notice that Jesus never denies that He is the “good teacher.” He simply makes the comment that there is only one Who is truly good, and that is God. Thus, if the young man’s statement is true that Jesus is the “good teacher” (and it is), and there is only one Who is “good,” and that is God, then Jesus is acknowledging His deity, not denying it. As with all discussion of Scripture, it is important to look at what the text actually says and not what other people claim the text says [NOTE: For a more complete list of answers to objections to Christ’s deity see Lyons, 2006; in addition, for a thorough case for the deity of Christ, see Butt and Lyons, 2006.]


A discussion of the nature and personalities of God is important for several reasons. First, if God includes information about Him in the Bible, then He must want humans to study and learn that information. Second, a misunderstanding of God’s personalities could result in a spiritually catastrophic conclusion that is at odds with God’s Word. If a person misunderstands that Jesus is the eternal God on par with the Father and Spirit, that person may never grasp the significance of the fact that God in the flesh came to Earth to die for his or her sins. Such a misunderstanding may also cause that person to fail to honor Christ as the Bible commands. Jesus stated “that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23). Only if a person understands that the Son is God just as the Father is God can that person honor the Son “just as” he or she honors the Father. Thus, a discussion of the Trinity is necessary to sound Christian doctrine and practice.
If a person approaches the sum of Scripture motivated by an earnest desire to know the truth about the Godhead, that person can, with complete confidence, infer from the biblical premises and implications that the Godhead is three personalities—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—in one nature.


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Davies, Matt (2009), “God—A Single Entity and Not a Trinity,” The Gospel Truth, http://www.the-gospel-truth.info/bible-teachings/god-unity-or-trinity/.
“Is the Trinity Biblical?” (2011), United Church of Godhttp://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/is-god-a-trinity/is-the-trinity-biblical.
Lenski, R.C.H. (1961 reprint), The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Lyons, Eric (2006), “Answering Christ’s Critics,” Apologetics Press,http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=6&article=578&topic=71.
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Olbright, Owen (1999), The Holy Spirit: Person and Work (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).
Pearce, Fred (no date),“Jesus: God the Son or the Son of God? Does the Bible Teach the Trinity?”http://www.christadelphia.org/pamphlet/jesus.htm.
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Warren, Thomas B. (1982), Logic and the Bible (Ramer, TN: National Christian Press).