Topic for this week: The Trinity

Theme for the month of December: God With Us

The Carmichael SDA Church is providing spiritual growth resources for individuals, couples, families, and small groups as an extension during this pandemic for a church that is scattered like salt and to indeed be salty; to be light and receive another infusion of power. Pick and choose from these resources for your spiritual growth, whether it’s during your time of personal devotions or family worship or small group gathering. The 10 options include:


Bible Dialogue

If you grew up as a Christian, the idea of the Trinity probably found root deep into your reality regarding how you can explain that three are the same as one, even though they are three.
            In Old Testament times the issue was one God or many gods? It might seem wise to cover your bases with a god for everything (sun, rain, crops, fertility, family, war, peace, prosperity, etc.). But Yahweh told the Israelites that he was Lord of all. Those looking for the Trinity in the Old Testament can find it, although it’s not nearly as explicit as in the New Testament. At creation, the SPIRIT of God was moving on the water, and GOD SAID (the Word/Christ), “Let there be light.” The Trinity is there, but it’s not as straightforward as in the New Testament.
            Imagine the challenge of Jesus walking the earth and claiming to be God. What? I thought God was in heaven? What was God doing walking on earth like a human? Does this mean there are two Gods when our ancestors wrestled to establish that there is only ONE God? And then, close to the end of his life, Jesus told his disciples about the Holy Spirit—the third part of what we now call the Trinity.
            It wasn’t until 325 AD, at the Council of Nicaea, that the Christian leaders “voted” the Trinity. Those who maintained Jesus wasn’t God, but maybe created to God to be a lesser god, lost the vote and became labeled as “heretics.” Yet even today there are some who trip over the metaphor “Son” of God as though God was married to some unnamed female god who birthed Jesus, sort of like some Greek god mythology. Ty Gibson’s book The Sonship of Christ, published by Pacific Press, makes it clear that the term “Son of God” has nothing to do with the beginning existence of Jesus; rather, it describes Christ as the second Adam, fulfilling God’s covenant on earth as God’s begotten son in the same sense that Adam was begotten by God.
            But enough of that. Let’s focus this week’s relational Bible study on Christ’s message to his disciples about the inter-relationships between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. John chapters 14-16 cover a lot of this. We’ll limit this study to just part of John 14.

Triple Benefit
When have you wanted to be in two places at the same time?

Read John 14:15-29

Why did Jesus introduce the “Comforter” just before his death (vs. 16)?

  • To be of comfort to his disciples when he was about to die.
  • To comfort his disciples when he was about to leave earth.
  • It took them a while to get used to Jesus being God.
  • The disciples didn’t grasp that Jesus was about to die.
  • The disciples already knew about the Holy Spirit; this was a reminder.
  • The disciples would need lots of comforting in the future.
  • “Comforter” is a bad translation; “God beside you” is better.
  • To prepare them for the Day of Pentecost.
  • Other.

2.  Which translation of the Greek word paraclete do you prefer?

  • Comforter.
  • Counselor.
  • Advocate.
  • Encourager.
  • Power.
  • Intercessor.
  • Holy Spirit.
  • The one called to be right beside you.
  • Other.

3.  How do you explain verse 20?

  • I don’t.
  • First of all, Jesus had to die; and then be resurrected—no problem!
  • Jesus would soon leave earth and go to heaven.
  • Jesus would soon be our personal representative in heaven.
  • While in heaven, Jesus would also be with his followers on earth.
  • Having the Holy Spirit would be the same as having Jesus on earth.
  • Jesus connects heaven and earth even better than “Jacob’s ladder.”
  • Jesus connects God and humans.
  • Other.

4.  What are God’s commands that his followers are to obey?

  • The 10 commandments.
  • The Sabbath command (#4).
  • Love God and love others.
  • Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God.
  • The Beatitudes.
  • The Sermon on the Mount.
  • Everything God has said.
  • Anything the Holy Spirit prompts.
  • Other.

5.  What does the Holy Spirit do within a believer?

  • Spurs love for God.
  • Spurs love for others.
  • Spurs obedience to God’s commands.
  • Spurs memories of Jesus.
  • Provides security with God.
  • Provides intimacy with God.
  • Provides divine insight.
  • Provides supernatural power.
  • Other.

6.  If there was no Trinity, how would things be different?

  • No ruler of the universe while God was on earth.
  • God couldn’t be present on earth and in heaven simultaneously.
  • God would just release earth from his care and concern.
  • The Holy Spirit would be a power, but not a person.
  • Earth would lack a representative in heaven who has been human.
  • God would have difficulty communicating his love to his creation.
  • Our understanding of God would be more limited.
  • Other.

7.  Is the Holy Spirit in you? How does that work?

8.  How would you describe the relationship between loving God and obeying God’s commands?

Prayer Experiences

Read Romans 8, the entire chapter. Meditate on these 39 verses. Many of them are familiar. Notice the uniqueness as well as the shared roles God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit play in this one chapter. The first four verses blend them into a full and comprehensive plan, operation, and action by the trinity on our behalf. And we’re in the middle of what they do. Read, meditate, and marvel.

Another Scripture passage that makes a good focus for meditation is found in Ephesians 1:12-14. Read it through (only three verses). Read it in another translation. Then read it focusing on God the Father. Read it another time looking for Jesus. And read it again to note the Holy Spirit. Let your heart respond to all three members of the Trinity.

Most of us have been taught to pray “in Jesus’ name.” But with all three members of the Trinity being equally God, pray a prayer to each. You might need to think about what makes them the same and what makes them different.
            Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to earth as a human being, and for . . .
            Dear Holy Spirit, how can you be everyplace at the same time? I’m so grateful that you . . .
            Dear God the Father, I consider you to be the “Big Daddy,” but Jesus showed that you . . .

Discussion Questions

Select from these questions, or let them prompt your own questions. You can reflect on these by yourself, or discuss them with another person or group of people.
  • Do you believe God is a Trinity—three-in-one separate/together, equal God(s)?
  • How do you understand the Trinity to exist and to function?
  • How do you explain the Trinity to someone else?
  • What 3-in-1 metaphors help in understanding the Trinity?
    • Three-strand rope
    • Egg comprised of yoke, white, and shell
    • Traffic light with red, yellow, and green lights
    • H2O as ice, liquid, and steam
    • Other: _____________
  • Why isn’t the Trinity as obvious in the Old Testament as it is in the New Testament?
  • Is it possible that there are five or ten members of the Godhead rather than the three we acknowledge right now?
  • Why do some people think of Jesus being a step lower than God the Father?
  • Why do some people think of the Holy Spirit as a power rather than as a person/being?
  • What did Jesus reveal about God the Father when he was on earth 2,000 years ago? What did he reveal about the Holy Spirit?
  • What did the Holy Spirit do on earth before Christ’s first coming?
  • What did the Holy Spirit do on earth after Christ returned to heaven?
  • What does the Holy Spirit do in your life right now?

Application Ideas

As you face the coronavirus pandemic again this week, what role does the Trinity play in this? Ask God the Father to deal with the pandemic since he is the authority figure of the entire universe (pictured seated on the throne of the universe—Rev. 4). Ask Jesus to speak and act on behalf of humans who are suffering on earth since he knows what it’s like to suffer on earth (Heb. 14-16). Ask the Holy Spirit to enable you to live Romans 5:3-5 through you this coming week.

The youth recently spent time during several weeks of Sabbath School studying the Biblical practice of lament—feeling and expressing sorrow. God laments and his people lament. In addition to the book of Lamentations, a number of the Psalms also include sorry and lamenting (see Psalm 44, 60, 74, 80, 85, 90). Contact one of the youth and ask them about lamenting and how to do it. Then join them or do your our lament in these trying times.

Another application idea is to reflect on your current state of mind. Without denying what is happening (and not happening), claim the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. What does it mean for God to dwell within you? How does that impact how you face your dad, your difficulties, and the people or the isolation in your life? Respond with gratitude, expectation, incredulity, invocation, and/or praise.

Yet another application is to actively pray intercession prayers. With the Trinity you get the God of the universe in charge of the entire universe, a human speaking into the ear of God the Father, and God’s presence throughout the entire earth right now. It’s like having Jacob’s ladder (Genesis 28:12, 16; John 1:50-51), except throughout the world. So intercede for those within your own house, for others in our church, for those in other parts of the state or country, and for those in other parts of the world outside the USA.

Claim the active presence of God in this world in which there is plenty of evidence for both good and evil. Indeed, the Great Controversy continues even though Christ already defeated Satan. But rather than acknowledge that he has been defeated, the devil refuses to concede and is going down fighting. Even though victory has already been won and Christ has been seen seated at the right hand of God the Father (Acts 7:56; Rev. 5:6-10). Refresh your memory with this reality instead of the noise that Christ hasn’t won. The truth is that Satan has lost, and he will continue to lose even though he presents the false image that he has won. Believe and act on the truth of Scripture no matter how loud the false message gets blasted. Live in light of the Trinity’s reality rather than Satan’s false reality.

Use a concordance or Google the Bible passages about Jesus being God’s only begotten Son. Study the passage and the context to see if this refers to Jesus before he came to earth or if it refers to Jesus during his time on earth. Try John 3:16 for starters. Compare that with passages like Genesis 22:12 and Hebrews 11:17. Consider John 1:1-3, 14, 18. Is this just a mind game, or does it change your outlook, your attitude, and the way you live your life?

Sharing Options

Tell someone else about a member of the Trinity you don’t usually mention. For many Christians, Jesus is the primary person of the Trinity. But what do you say to others about God the Father or the Holy Spirit? Bring up that topic and share with someone in your family, or another member of the church, or another person something about other members of the Trinity. Ask them for their input as well.

Talk to members of your family about the relationship between parents and children. How is this similar to the Trinity’s relationship? How is it different? Does it change depending on the age of the parents or the children? Does it change depending on the age of the Trinity? Does it change when Jesus was on earth compared to when Jesus is in heaven?

Ask someone if Jesus lives in their heart. Have you invited Jesus into your heart? Discuss what it means for “Jesus” to be in your heart. How does this happen? How can it happen if Jesus is literally in heaven? Is the Holy Spirit the same as Jesus?

Bible-In-My-Head, Heart, and Hand

Part of the “Bible Dialogue” passage for this week includes John 14:16. The Contemporary English Version translation reads like this: Jesus said, “I will ask the Father to send you the Holy Spirit who will help you and always be with you.” That’s a great verse to put in your head, in your heart, and in your hand to live day by day.


Enjoy the variety of music that speaks of the Trinity.