The Unbreakable Threefold Cord: A Defense of the Trinity (Part 4)


If you remember earlier in this series, we saw many statements God (Yahweh) made about Himself, especially in the book of Isaiah. He alone is the True God. He alone has the power to declare future events. This part will focus especially on the last qualification that Yahweh made about Himself: as the One True God, He alone is worthy of worship! We will compare Yahweh’s statements about Himself regarding worship with statements about Jesus to see if He measures up to being the One True God, sharing the same being of Yahweh with the Father.

God of His Word

Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.”

–Isaiah 46:10-11
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
–Isaiah 55:11

“And [Abraham] being fully persuaded that, what he [God] had promised, he was able also to perform.”
–Romans 4:21

“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;”
–Titus 1:2

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised­čśë ”
–Hebrews 10:23

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”
–Numbers 23:19

“And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.”
–1 Samuel 15:29

God always keeps His promises. Many more verses could be quoted that make this point clear. I know that Mr. Burch believes this as well. The question is, is he aware of certain very important promises God as made about Himself–and even to Himself?

We see from the verses above that God keeps His words. Commanding His people to mirror this integrity, He placed strict requirements on oaths, expecting one to keep his commitments fully. If one is knowingly unable to keep an oath, one is better not to make the oath in the first place.

“If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.”
–Numbers 30:2

Jesus warned against the loopholes the Pharisees had set up such that certain oaths were more binding than others. Jesus reestablished that one’s word is his bond, and that one should withhold from swearing an oath if one cannot keep it. The details or words of the oath are not significant to this universal principle.

“Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:
Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”
–Matthew 5:33-37

Especially of note is the act of swearing by the name of Yahweh itself. Such an oath is the ultimate bond!

“And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD [Yahweh].”
–Leviticus 19:12

However, there were times when God did make people swear by His name to bind them solemnly to perform certain important tasks or keep certain rules.

“Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.”
–Deuteronomy 6:13

“Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.”
–Deuteronomy 10:20

“And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:”
–Genesis 24:3

What if Yahweh Himself swears by His own name? We know He always keeps His words, but what does such a statement convey to us about the 110% certainty of God fulfilling His oath by His own name?

“Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”
–Isaiah 45:21-23

What is this oath that God has sworn by His own name, communicating to us the utmost certainty of its fulfillment? He has sworn by the fact that He is the Only True God that unto Him (Yahweh) “every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” Yahweh had been comparing Himself to the false gods with which the Israelites were committing idolatry. He then declares His status as the Only God, and that by virtue of this fact “every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear” to Him–not any other so-called “god.” What a powerful, powerful statement indeed!

When Yahweh keeps His oath

If Yahweh swore by Himself that everyone will bow the knee to Him and swear to Him during a time when Israel was infested with idolatry, it follows that the oath awaited future fulfillment. The verbs for bow and swear are in the future tense in both the Hebrew Masoretic text and in the Greek Septuagint. The question now is, how and when will Yahweh fulfill this?

The Apostle Paul shows us–not once, but twice–the how and when of the fulfillment of God’s oath by His very name!

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
–Philippians 2:5-11

The passage above is known as the Carmen Christi. Many scholars believe that it is a fragment of a hymn of the early Christian church. This passage presents a wealth of poetic information that dictates both the divinity of Jesus Christ and also a clear distinction between the Father and the Son! However, notice the very familiar words above! The Apostle Paul said that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord [Kurios].”

Wait a minute! Didn’t Yahweh say that He was the Only God?! Wasn’t this the very basis upon which Yahweh swore by His Own name that every knee will bow to Him and every tongue shall swear to Him?! If Jesus Christ is a created being (ontologically distinct from Yahweh), then how can Yahweh get away with this? No amount of “he is God’s agent” can explain how a separate being from God can receive the very worship that Yahweh Himself sword by His own name would be given to Him. The only way one can conceivably reconcile Isaiah 45:23 with Philippians 2:10-11 is to understand that God the Father and Jesus Christ are the same Being of Yahweh!

Let’s dig a little deeper still. Let’s examine some more words of Yahweh with what is said about Jesus Christ in the Carmen Christi:

I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”
–Isaiah 42:8

For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.”
–Isaiah 48:11

What is this glory? The context is that of the glory of worship given a deity. Yet, the Apostle Paul said of Jesus Christ:

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

On one hand we see that God the Father (Yahweh) will not give His glory to “another,” yet on the other hand, He fulfills His very oath of worship to “another”–Jesus Christ–for His glory? Once again, this does not make any sense if Jesus Christ is a created being and is ontologically distinct from God the Father.

If this is still not enough, let’s dig even deeper! Let’s examine even more context between these passages. What does the name of Jesus mean? It means “Savior.”

“Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”
–Isaiah 45:21-22

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus [“Savior”] every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
–Philippians 2:9-11

In the context of this very oath of Yahweh, He declares that there is no other God besides Himself. He also declares that there is no other Saviour! However, in the Carmen Christi, we see that God the Father gives the Son the name Saviour, which is “above every name.” I believe that this text implies that the name Jesus (“Saviour”) is above the Tetragrammaton (YHWH, or “Yahweh”) itself. Then, in fulfillment of the oath that every knee will bow and every tongue will swear to Yahweh, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Kurios) to the glory of God the Father!

Now, if this is still not enough, the Apostle Paul refers to Yahweh’s oath of worship to Himself in another place, and guess who gets the worship? That’s right! Jesus Christ!

“But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”
–Romans 14:10-12

Wait a minute, Paul! Are you saying that the Judgment Seat of Christ fulfills the very words of Isaiah 45:23? Are you saying that every knee will bow and every tongue shall swear to Yahweh when everyone appears before Jesus Christ to be judged?! Paul says that Jesus Christ is the judge, yet everyone will “give account of himself to God (t┼Ź the┼Ź = ‘to the God’).” Where else do we see, to be sure, that Jesus Christ is the One Who will judge everyone at the end?

“Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him [Jesus] after he rose from the dead.
And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.”
–Acts 10:41-42

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;”
–2 Timothy 4:1

“Who shall give account to him [Jesus] that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. ”
–1 Peter 4:5

However, what does Solomon (the Preacher) declare about the end?

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
–Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Which is it? Is God the judge or is Jesus Christ the judge? Will every knee bow and every tongue swear to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, or will this be done to Yahweh in fulfillment of His oath that He swore that everyone will bow and swear to Him? Let me put this as simply, plainly, succinctly, and tactfully as I can: if Jesus Christ is a created Being and is not Yahweh, then Yahweh LIED! Yahweh said that He keeps His word, yet He apparently broke His oath by letting everyone bow and swear to a created being. The Bible is hopelessly contradictory.

Or…the doctrine of the Trinity is confidently and fully established! Jesus Christ is Yahweh, just as the Father is Yahweh. They are both distinct in Person, yet share the same Being of Yahweh. What else could it be? If one truly believes the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God, I see no other possible understanding of these passages than that of the Trinity.

Does a created being receive worship?

We have firmly established that Yahweh swore universal worship to Himself as the Only True God. However, is there such a thing as worship due to any created being? Are there degrees of worship? Is it possible to worship highly exalted creatures in one sense and Yahweh in another sense?

Let’s see who is not worshiped. Angels are not to be worshiped.

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,”
–Colossians 2:18

“And I [John] fell at his [the angel’s] feet to worship (proskune┼Ź) him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship (proskune┼Ź) God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
–Revelation 19:10

“And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship (proskune┼Ź) before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship (proskune┼Ź) God.”
–Revelation 22:8-9

Human agents of God are not to be worshiped.

“And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshiped him.
But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.”
–Acts 10:25-26

“And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.

Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,
And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:”
–Acts 14:11,14-15

No creature of God is to be worshiped.

“Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”
–Romans 1:25

“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship (proskune┼Ź) me.
Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship (proskune┼Ź) the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
–Matthew 4:8-10

Yet, Jesus receives the worship (proskune┼Ź) that angels, human agents, and any other creature must refuse.

  • The wise men worship (proskune┼Ź) the young child Jesus (Mat. 2:2,8,11).
  • A leper falls down and worships (proskune┼Ź) Jesus (Mat. 8:2).
  • A “certain ruler” comes and worships (proskune┼Ź) Jesus (Mat. 9:18).
  • Jesus’ disciples in the ship worship (proskune┼Ź) Him and call Him “the Son of God” (Mat. 14:33).
  • A Canaanite woman worships (proskune┼Ź) Jesus (Mat. 15:25).
  • The mother of James and John–the sons of Zebedee–worshiped (proskune┼Ź) Jesus (Mat. 20:20).
  • The disciples met the risen Christ at the tomb and worshiped (proskune┼Ź) Him (Mat. 28:9,17).
  • The Gadarene demoniac ran and worshiped (proskune┼Ź) Jesus (Mar. 5:6).
  • The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus worshiped (proskune┼Ź) in mockery of Him (Mar. 15:19-20).
  • After the disciples saw Jesus ascend into heaven, they worshiped (proskune┼Ź) Him (Luk. 24:42).
  • A blind man whom Jesus healed worshiped (proskune┼Ź) Him (Joh. 9:38).
  • God the Father told all the angels to worship (proskune┼Ź) the Son (Heb. 1:6).

It is not in dispute that kings and other political rulers received proskune┼Ź (to fall prostrate before); however, no one else who regarded the One True God accepted worship (proskune┼Ź) in the religious sense, but always told the worshiper to worship (proskune┼Ź) the One True God. Yet, Jesus accepted this worship countless times while He was incarnate on the earth. Shouldn’t this require us to accept the fact that Jesus Christ is also the One True God?

The One Who sits on the throne and the Lamb

The book of Revelation is truly a vision of wonders and signs regarding “the end times.” However, amid all the symbols and strong apocalyptic language, constant reference is made to two persons in heaven: “the one who sits on the throne” and “the Lamb.”

First, in Revelation chapter 4, there is revealed “one who sits on the throne.” There are 24 “elders” and 4 “beasts” who give constant worship to this Person. They refer to Him as “Lord” (kurios). This “one who sits on the throne” is clearly God the Father.

Then, in chapter 5, “the Lamb” is revealed.

“And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.”
–Revelation 5:6

It is clear that “the one who sits on the throne” and “the Lamb” are different Persons. The Lamb is presented before the throne. Yet, we see some very interesting activity go on from here:

“Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”
–Revelation 5:12-13

If “every creature” is exhaustively ruled out as giving this verbal worship to both “the one who sits on the throne” and “the Lamb,” then the Lamb cannot be a creature, now, can He? Notice that the Lamb is singled out to receive incredible worship, then they both are addressed to receive the same worship. Let me ask you, how can you put God on the throne and one of His creatures and give them the exact same worship?!

“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.”
–Revelation 7:9-10

Remember, Yahweh said that He was the only God and the only Saviour; yet, here “the one who sits on the throne” and “the Lamb” are the ones who bring Salvation.

“Rev_22:1┬á And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
Rev_22:3┬á And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:”
–Revelation 22:1,3

Now, we have this throne being shared by “God” and “the Lamb.” They share the divine glory.

Does Mr. Burch really expect me to give the same worship to one of Yahweh’s finite creatures as to Yahweh Himself?! No! I believe Yahweh when He said that He will not give His glory to another. Yet, we also see Jesus Christ, the Son of God, declaring that He should share glory with the Father!

“That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.”
–John 5:23

“And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”
–John 17:5

Henotheism and idolatry

Henotheism is the belief that there is one “true God” who is to receive worship in an absolute sense, but that there are “lesser gods” who are eligible to receive lesser forms of worship. Mr. Burch’s belief that Jesus Christ is a created being of Yahweh necessitates that he is a henotheist, because he has no problem with Jesus Christ being worshiped in some way. When he was debating the Trinity with me at my book signing, I pressed the point of henotheism and asked him how he distinguishes worship due to the One True God–the Father–and worship due to the Son as a created being. He simply could not answer this question. I asked how we could define idolatry according to the Bible if both the Son (as a created being) and the Father (as the eternal God) could receive the exact same worship.

The truth is that there is NO valid answer to such questions. Jesus said that all should honor the Son even as they honor the Father. Yet, the Father said that He would not give His glory to another. Yet again, the Father gives His glory to the Son. Both the Father and the Lamb receive identical worship from every creature! There is simply no escaping the clear and obvious truth–Jesus Christ is NOT a creature of Yahweh. Jesus Christ and the Father are both Yahweh.

In pages 93-97, Mr. Burch presents a narrative of the idolatry of Israel in fashioning the golden calf while Moses was at Mt. Sinai. Then, in pages 97-101, Mr. Burch presents Jesus Christ as “The Acceptable Image” that God allows us to reverence. The real issue is not what God has allegedly sanctified as His “image” against what man has created instead. The issue is how does not reconcile the whole of what God has declared about Himself and the worship of Him against all other so-called “gods.” If Jesus Christ is not Yahweh, but is rather an ontologically distinct being from the Father, the verses compared and referenced throughout this post demonstrate that the Yahweh of the Old Testament was completely inconsistent with the Yahweh of the New Testament. If we must honor a created being just as we honor the eternal Creator, we have absolutely no consistent definition of idolatry in the pages of Scripture. In Exodus 20:3, Yahweh commanded Israel “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The Israelites faced His judgment when they adopted the pagan, false gods of the Canaanites. God punished them with captivity out of the covenant land of promise. He allowed them to be scattered. Many people died horrible deaths from God’s judgment from the very serious sin of idolatry. The people sometimes even became henotheists when “They feared the LORD, and served their own gods” (2 Kings 17:33). However, Jesus Christ is given the same exact worship as the Father.┬á Maybe the New Testament writers were led astray and elevated Jesus Christ above being a prophet like He is in Islam? Either the Bible is fallible or the Trinity is true. Period.

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