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UNDERSTANDING THE TRINITY
What is the relationship between God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit?
On one hand the scripture declare Jesus to be God.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and
Word was God ... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among
us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from
the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:1,14 (See also
Jesus' Incarnation to resolve this paradox)
He is spoken of as have created all things, and therefore preexisted mankind.
"No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who
is at the Father's side, has made him known." John 1:18
"I and the Father are one."
Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, "I
have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these
do you stone me?" "We are not stoning you for any of these,"
replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim
to be God." John 10:30-33
But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last
for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.
"Through him all things were made; without him nothing
was made that has been made." John 1:3
Furthermore notice Isaiah 48:12 "Listen
to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and
I am the last." But Jesus says this of himself in Revelation
2:8 "These are the words of him who is the First
and the Last, who died and came to life again." As well
as in Rev 1:17 and Rev 22:13 But the context of Isaiah indicates
that God is speaking.
"For by him all things were created: things in heaven
and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers
or authorities; all things were created by him and for him." Colosians
Yet on the other hand, Jesus himself clearly implies that he is not
God, whom he calls Father. For when he prays, who is he praying to? In
fact at one point, his will conflicted with that of his Father.
"Father, if you are willing, take this
cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Luke 22:42
How can we resolve this apparent contradiction?
And what of the Holy Spirit? For he is distinct from the Father and
"Therefore go and make disciples of all
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of
Holy Spirit," Matthew 28:19
Yet our attitude towards him will affect our eternal destiny.
"But whoever blasphemes against the Holy
Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin."Mark
He is spoken of, not as an impersonal force, but as an individual.
"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom
the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind
you of everything I have said to you." John 14:26
For example, the Holy Spirit spoke in the Old Testament.
Hebrews 10:15,16 - The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about
this. First he says: "This is the covenant I will make with them after
that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will
write them on their minds." (Jeremiah 31:33)
So how can we understand the relationship between God, Jesus Christ, and
the Holy Spirit in such a way that it resolves the apparent contradictions?
God is like the sun in the sky. It is separate from the earth by a vast
distance, just as God is separate from his creation. He is far away in
heaven. But what we call the sun in the sky is not really the sun, but
we see the light that comes from the sun and we call that light the sun.
Jesus is as the light that comes from God.
"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and
the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful
word." Hebrews 1:3
And as light proceeds forth from that ball in space, so Jesus proceeds
forth from the Father.
"I proceeded forth and came from God;
neither came I of myself, but he sent me." John 8:42
Is the light that comes from part of the sun? It depends on how you define
the sun. The object in space is like God the Father. The light that comes
from that object may be considered part of that object. For even those
who don't accept that the light that comes from the sun is part of the
sun, will nonetheless look up in the sky and say, "There's the sun.", referring
to the light that comes from the sun as if it were the sun. Perhaps this
is what Jesus meant in John 14:9
Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip,
even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen
me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
And how do we get to God? I once heard a rumor that NASA scientist had
proposed to send a mission to the sun. In response to the question as to
how they would deal with the intense heat, they replied, "We'll travel
You cannot get to God unless you follow the light, as Jesus says,
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the
truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John
And what of the Holy Spirit? He is like the heat that comes from the sun.
So even in darkness, for those who don't have the light of Christ, the
Holy Spirit is yet at work. He is what we can experience about God. And
though God is far away in heaven, separate from His creation, yet He is
itimately integrated into it in the Holy Spirit as Paul says,
"For in him we live and move and have our
being." Acts 17:28
And as heat also proceeds from that ball in space so the Holy Spirit also
proceeds from the Father.
"... the Spirit of truth, who proceeds
from the Father ..." John 15:26
As we have three parts - soul, body and spirit - and yet we are one, so
also God has three parts - the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - and yet all
are one. Yet the body is not the soul, nor is it the spirit. These are
distinct, and yet both distinctly and collectively we can speak of these
as being what we are.
This illustration of the trinity is different than "modalism", which illustrates
the trinity something like the three forms (modes) of water - steam, water,
ice. This I believe is incorrect. For the Father didn't become Jesus at
one point in time, for who was Jesus talking to when he prayed? And Jesus
didn't go on to become the Holy Spirit. Rather the scriptures treat these
three as distinct individuals and not as different forms of the same individual.
Nor does the modalism idea reflect the proper relationships between members
of the trinity. For example Jesus is subordinate to the Father. See Jesus'
To complete this illustration, where would the Christian fit it? The Christian
is like the moon. Dead rock having no light of its own, but reflecting
the light of Christ to a world in darkness. For those who don't know Christ
live in darkness. Yet even when they are in the light, those who are spiritually
blind cannot see the light. For them, the Holy Spirit is the only hope
to convict them of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come.
The Berean Christian Bible Study