God: The Trinity

GOD: THE TRINITY

by Wayne S. Walker

     In the previous articles of this series, we looked at some moral perfections of God, such as His truthfulness, holiness, righteousness, faithfulness, mercy, and love. There is another important characteristic of God which must be recognized. In Genesis 1:26, we read, "And God said, Let us make man in our image…." The word "us" indicates more than one person. To whom was God talking? Some have tried to explain this away as a plural of majesty, a plural of modesty, or simply an "editorial we." Others have suggested that God was talking to angels, though there is no other scripture that would lead to that conclusion since angels are nowhere else said to have a part in the creation of man. Herbert C. Leupold offers the best explanation. "Behind such speaking lies the truth of the Holy Trinity which, as it grows increasingly clear in revelation, is in the light of later clear revelation discovered as contained in this plural in a kind of obscure adumbration" (Exposition of Genesis, p. 86). So in this article we shall be examining what the Scriptures teach about the Godhead.

     First, we must emphasize the unity of God. There is only one God. "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD" (Deuteronomy 6:4). However, what is meant by the concept of "one"? Does it necessarily imply that there is only one person in the Godhead? In Genesis 2:24, the husband and wife become one, yet they remain two distinct people. In John 17:20-21, Jesus prays that all believers will be one, yet they all continue to maintain separate personalities. Thus, the idea of "one" does not always mean absolute mathematical unity, but can refer to a spiritual unity of more than one person in aim, purpose, and goal. Now, let us look at each of the three members of the Trinity or Godhead.

     Jehovah the Father is God.  We are taught to address Him in prayer as, "Our Father which art in heaven" (Matthew 6:9). He is quite often referred to as "God the Father" or some such similar term (Matthew 11:25; John 6:27; Hebrews 12:9; James 1:17,27). In contrast to the one Lord and the one Spirit, the apostle Paul tells us also that there is "one God and Father of all" (Ephesians 6:6). However, it should also be noted that calling the Father Jehovah is not intended to deny those prophecies in the Old Testament where the name "Jehovah" is applied to the coming Messiah as a divine being as well.

     Jesus Christ the Son is God.  He is called God. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). He was with the Father and was deity as was the Father. Christ Himself claimed to be divine in nature. "But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore, the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God" (John 5:17-18). Either the Jews were right or they were wrong in assuming that He made Himself equal with God. If they were wrong, Jesus could have corrected them and saved Himself a lot of trouble. Yet He never corrected them. The apostle Paul also taught the deity of Christ (Philippians 2:5-6; Colossians 2:9).

     The Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost is God.  In Acts 5:3-4, when Ananias lied "to the Holy Ghost" he had "not lied to men, but unto God." Just as the Father is God and the Son is God, so the Holy Spirit is God. Paul wrote, "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?" Yet he immediately continued, "Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:11). So, the Spirit is on an equality with God Himself. And the Spirit possesses all the qualities, characteristics, and attributes of deity so that when God dwells in us it can be said that our bodies are "the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you" (1 Corinthians 6:19).

     Thus, in the Trinity or Godhead we have three distinct persons yet with an absolute unity of essence. At Jesus’ baptism, the Son (in human form) came up out of the water, the Spirit descended upon Him in the manner of a dove, and the voice of the Father spoke from heaven (Matthew 3:16-17). If there is only one person in the Godhead, this was nothing but illusion and ventriloquism. Jesus taught that He would pray the Father who would send the Spirit to the apostles (John 14:26). The only way that this language can make any sense at all is for there to be three separate persons in the Godhead. Otherwise, Jesus was saying that He  Himself would pray to Himself to send Himself. And Jesus said that baptism is to be "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19). This is not intended as a "baptismal formula" but a statement that baptism puts us into a relationship with each of the three members of the Godhead. Our next article will begin looking at the evidences for the existence of God. (—taken from With All Boldness; September, 1994; Vol. 4, No. 9; p. 14)

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