|Volume 20 Number 2 February 2018||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
The word “trinity” does not appear in the Bible. However, what the word “trinity” represents is taught abundantly throughout the Bible. “Trinity” refers to the three Divine persons in the one Godhead (Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9). Sometimes, the individual Persons of the Godhead appear in a single verse of Scripture (Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19). Usually, though, one or two persons of the Godhead may appear in a biblical passage (Matthew 17:1-5).
Each Divine Person of the Godhead is equal to every other Person in the Godhead. Nevertheless, each Person of the Godhead occupies specific roles. Each Person of the Godhead (i.e., God-the-Father, God-the-Son [Jesus Christ] and God-the-Holy Spirit) has distinctly different functions. In concert, the three Members of the Godhead participate in such a way as to interact in an organized fashion as one God or Godhead. God exhibits unity not paralleled on earth by humans.
There is only one humanity, but there are billions of persons who comprise that one humanity. There is only one God or Godhead, but there are three Divine Persons who comprise that one Godhead—or possess the qualities and attributes of God or Deity.
Other studies can concentrate on the sundry activities of the Persons of the Godhead. Herein, we want to consider human activity toward the Godhead. Particularly, how ought we mortals act in worship respecting the Godhead?
Observations of late discern what appears to be a twisting of the Trinity respecting mankind’s worship of God. This is apparent in primarily two areas: (1) prayers and (2) singing. The underlying reasons for infractions in this twisting of the Trinity are: (1) carelessness, (2) not knowing any better, or (3) voluntary disregard for the instructive nature of New Testament Scripture—indifference to biblical authority.
Often today one hears a brother offering prayer at the Lord’s Table where the prayer is worded in a faulty manner respecting to whom the prayer is offered. The prayer may begin by thanking “the Lord” for giving His Son on Calvary’s cross, and yet before the prayer ends, “the Lord” turns out to be a reference to “Jesus.” The absurdity is thanking Jesus for sending Jesus to die on the cross for us. Or, another brother will apparently be praying to the Father, but then thank Him for dying on the cross. Not infrequently, prayers led at the Lord’s Table are indicative of grave carelessness, lack of proper reflection and a lack of understanding either the Lord’s Supper or the subject of worshipping God.
In addition, poetic license cannot conceal deliberate efforts to sideline the Father and in His place purposely and directly worship Jesus Christ through worshipful singing. Up to half of the songs in a contemporary worship assembly and perhaps nearly all of the singing in youth settings (e.g., camp songs, devotionals) sing lively lyrics specifically to Jesus Christ. Doubtlessly, the mass of brethren doesn’t know any better, but they know what they like. Yet, many others surely know better, but they purposely overlook biblical instruction about Christian worship.
There is a difference between singing songs about Jesus versus singing worshipful songs to Jesus. “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” “O How I Love Jesus” and “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” are about Christ. Songs such as “You Are My King,” “Lord I Life Your Name on High,” “Here I Am to Worship,” “You Are My All in All” and “Jesus You’re the One” are examples of songs to Christ.
Regarding worship of God, it is a biblically established fact that mortals ought to worship one particular Person of the Godhead—God-the-Father. The role or function of God-the-Father includes being the recipient of worship. It does not lie within the authority or prerogative of mere humans to reassign the role of the Father to another or to others, irrespective of the fact that both Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit share the attributes and essence of being God. It matters not that Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are worthy to be worshipped, but it does matter that the Bible calls upon mortals to worship the Father.
The Heavenly Father is supposed to be the object of our worship, through the mediatorship (1 Timothy 2:5) and function as High Priest (Hebrews 8:3) of Jesus Christ. Our Lord Himself specifically instructed His apostles to pray to “Our Father in Heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Christ Himself prayed to the Father (Matthew 26:39, 42). Jesus expected mankind to pray to the Father (Matthew 6:5; 7:11; John 15:16; 16:23-24, 26). Likewise, the apostle Paul expected Christians to pray to the Father (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). Furthermore, the apostle Paul said that he prayed thankful prayers to “God through Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:8). Moreover, Paul was accustomed to “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). The same apostle instructed the Colossians, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).
This topic of whether it is permissible to worship Jesus Christ instead of the Father, whether it is through prayer or singing, has been addressed before in the pages of Gospel Gazette Online. Here are a few of those links.
Especially we who purport to respect Bible authority and regard valid biblical interpretation ought to worship our Heavenly Father according to biblical instructions. Let’s have neither a twisted view nor practice regarding the roles or functions of various Persons of the Godhead.
Baldness and Bears
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
The Old Testament was written for our learning (Romans 15:4). What a curriculum the Old Testament can be for those of us on this side of the cross. Such a valuable lesson comes to us from 2 Kings. Let’s set the backdrop before we approach.
Elijah the prophet had been translated into Heaven by a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11). Elisha’s request of a double portion of Elijah’s spirit was granted. Elisha crossed back over the Jordan River, heading toward Jericho. The sons of the prophets met Elisha and requested a search for Elijah’s body, which after three days was not found (2 Kings 2:16-18). Elisha purified the waters of Jericho and headed for Bethel, where he met some young men. Those 42 young men began to mock Elisha, saying, “…Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head” (2 Kings 2:23b).
The Hebrew word used here is a generic term that can encompass anyone from an infant to a mature man—the context being the deciding factor. This term was used of Joseph when he was 30-years-old (Genesis 41:12). This term was used of Joshua when he was 45 (Exodus 33:11). Thus, given the context, these young men were certainly not innocent little boys.
Now given the location of this event, Bethel, it is not surprising that a prophet of God would meet with insult. Bethel was one of the two cities where Jeroboam had set up a golden calf (1 Kings 12:32). It is no surprise, then, that God’s Word, God’s prophet and God’s authority would come under scrutiny there. Note what they said, “Go up, thou bald head…” Baldness was a sign of mourning for ancient Israel (Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 7:29; 16:6), so they may have been poking fun at Elisha for mourning Elijah’s exit. Also, ancient Israel was not to shave one’s head as the nations around them did (Deuteronomy 14:1).
It may also simply be that Elisha was bald, and they were making fun of him for that. We may not know exactly why they used this derision, but it certainly was in fact a way to undermine a prophet of God. Of course, God had the last word as always, and the Bible declares that Elisha, “…turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them” (2 Kings 2:24).
With that backdrop, let’s notice 3 lessons of great importance. Firstly, there is the lesson of powerful sovereignty! This was not just an insult against Elisha, but against God! When God’s faithful people are insulted and distressed, it is as though God Himself is being insulted. Jesus affirmed that Saul’s persecution of the church was a persecution of Jesus Himself (Acts 9:4-5). When the people rejected Samuel, they were rejecting God Almighty (1 Samuel 8:7). God takes persecution of His faithful people very personally!
Secondly, there is the lesson of parental responsibility! Obviously raising these children in an idolatrous place affected them negatively! Especially in a wicked environment, parents must be even more diligent to counteract evil influences! While we cannot remove our children from the world (Romans 12:1-2), we must work extra hours to make sure they are trained properly (Deuteronomy 6:7ff; Ephesians 6:1-4; Proverbs 22:6).
Thirdly, there is the lesson of personal accountability! There is a time when a young person does not have personal accountability before God yet. However, there comes a time when young people become accountable! The text makes it abundantly clear that these young men were accountable. Not their parents, not their religious leaders (serving Baal), not the government (Ahaziah), not Elisha and not their neighbors! There comes a time when young people must “man up” and assume accountability for themselves. Don’t make excuses, such as, “I had a bad home life,” “I was not taught properly,” “I have had a streak of bad luck,” “People have mistreated me” or “The church’s hypocrites made me behave like this.” Young people, listen carefully: You alone determine your outcome in this life!
The textbook of the Old Testament is filled with lessons to encourage our walk with God. Even young people must heed the authority of a Sovereign God! The words of the wise man sum it up well, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).