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Protecting New Believers from False Doctrine

The trinity is one of the core doctrines of Christianity. It teaches us about our God and the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Because God is so much greater than us, our minds can only comprehend a fraction of His triune nature. However, we must teach what we do understand about our triune God in order to provide proper boundaries between what is orthodox and what is heretical. I believe elements of it should be inherent in our gospel presentations as well as our follow-up with new believers.

What are some essential truths that we need to communicate in our evangelism and follow-up efforts?

1. Be clear about who Jesus is.

He is fully God and fully man.  Only God could live a sinless life. Only another person could die in our place as our substitute. Because of this, Jesus was the only one qualified to die for our sins and rise from the dead. Read more about this on Friday.

2. Ground new believers in the core verses about God’s triune nature.

Although the term “trinity” is not found in Scripture, the concept and doctrine is woven throughout the Bible. The Bible is clear that God is one:  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4) The Bible is also clear that God is three persons.

•    The Father is God (John 6:27; 1 Corinthians 15:24)
•    Jesus Christ, the Son, is God (John 1:1-14; John 20:28)
•    The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

Each of these persons is equally God, fully God, and eternally God. Again, make it clear that these are not three Gods but one God in three persons. Training the new believer in sound doctrine prepares them for when they will encounter groups on their doorstep that teach false doctrine.

3. Use illustrations with care.

Realize that illustrations of the trinity are good (famous ones are the three forms of water, the family, and the apple), but they all ultimately fall short of describing God’s nature. Evangelist John Wesley put it well, “Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God.” We accept God’s revelation of His triune nature by faith.

4. Teach new believers about the Holy Spirit.

Trying to live the Christian life in our own power is frustrating and futile. God gave us a “helper,” the Holy Spirit, to empower us to live the Christian life. One of the best books I have ever read on this subject is The Holy Spirit by Billy Graham. He teaches the reader the essential truths about the Holy Spirit and gives practical instruction about the Spirit-filled life in plain language.

5. Realize that if someone rejects the trinity, they are rejecting a central doctrine of Christianity.

I believe that the truth of the trinity will be made manifest to those who have truly trusted Christ by the illuminating work of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We may not be able to fully comprehend it, but we can accept it by faith as God’s revelation to us.  

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davidsouther@churchleaders.com'
David’s calling and passion is making the gospel of Jesus Christ known internationally. He ministers with EvanTell, a ministry in Dallas dedicated to declaring the gospel, activating believers around the world, and preparing the next generation to reach the lost.