The idea of the Trinity is often confusing and difficult for many to understand. I don’t know that any finite being can begin to fully comprehend the awesome central essence of our great Creator God. I do believe however, that we are given quite enough revelation in the pages of the Bible so that we can understand the basic concept of the triune God we love and serve.
One man describes the Trinity this way. “There is one essence (God) and three manifestations of that essence, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”. That is a very concise and clear way to state it. There are not three Gods but one who has revealed Himself in three distinct personalities.
Another illustration might be the following. My father, David Ogle, was at the same time a father, a son, and a husband. He was very real in each of those roles and neither compromised the others. He was one man (essence) but was known (manifested) in three distinct personas.
I believe a basic understanding of the Trinity is necessary before one tackles the Deity of Jesus. It is disturbing to me that many people struggle with questions about Jesus the man. Was He or is He God? If He was or is God, how could he have died? If he was fully God how could he pray to Himself or be in a submissive role while on earth? These questions and more continue to be asked in the minds of many, and not just those who are outside the household of faith, believers have some of the same questions. Can I answer them all? Absolutely I cannot. I can remind us of what the Bible clearly teaches about Jesus and His role as the second person of the Trinity.
The deity of Jesus Christ is regarded by every orthodox theologian as one of the “essentials” of the historic Christian faith. It is “foundational” in its value as a doctrine. It is a “fundamental” doctrine held by those who embrace the basic tenets of the Christian faith who are correctly called “Fundamentalists”, of which I am happily one. Many people today refer to this same group of believers as “Evangelicals”, but the core beliefs are almost exactly the same. One difference is that some who refer to themselves as “Fundamentalists” refuse to fellowship with anyone who does not believe and practice everything to the letter that they believe. The “everything” includes some Bible doctrines that are not “essentials”, or “foundational” teachings. Common consensus is that there are some facts in the Bible that are so important that one who is exposed to them must believe them to be correctly called a Christian. The deity of Jesus is one of those teachings.
Another important thing to keep in mind in addition to the concept of the Trinity is the concept of “roles”. In the Bible, when women are instructed to be submissive to their own husbands, slaves to masters, children are to honor and obey parents, etc. There is no hint, stated or implied, of determining value or worth. The mistaken idea that Jesus was not co-equal with the Father because he was sent to do the will of the Father in no way is a statement about His value, worth, or place in the Godhead. Function never is a measurement of value or worth, for God or for His children.
It is my goal over the course of the next few weeks is to post some of my observations about what the Bible clearly states regarding the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Was, or is He, fully God, or something a bit less? Was he a creation of God the Father? Did He exist before he was born to Mary? Was he really raised from the dead in a body? Where is He today and what is He doing? Is He only our brother or is He our God?
Your input is invited.
Merry CHRISTmas and a prosperous new year.
Merry Christmas, Royce!
The old picture of the Trinity as being like a person in three different roles is really handy for people who reject the Trinity. They can say that Jesus is His own Father, or that the Spirit is just the Father’s love, etc. It actually took the early Church about 250 years, with the growing Church transforming the Greek language, to be able to explain it all really well. The idea of a person is all about a free individual in relationship with others. To be a person, I need others- There is an African saying, “I am because we are.”
He rejoices in selfless love one for the others, from and through forever. God is love!
God is three Persons, of one substance. The whole make-up of God, of God-ness is common to the Father, the Word, the Spirit, and nobody else, anywhere. In a word, He is holy.
God, above all else, is holy love. Holiness, or love, without the other can only destroy us. Holy love is the one thing we most desperately need, and that’s what Christmas is all about! HalleluJah!
Robert, You might have a point about the example is used. I think you will agree that there is much confusion and misinformation on this subject. It is unfortunate that in our fellowship there are those who deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus, believe He is somehow God, but less than God, and still preach and teach a works based salvation.
Brother, I don’t know what church, or any other details about its, or your own background before now, but I believe something that will be an encouragement for you would be either (or both) of the books, Let’s Start with Jesus and <Preaching in the Spirit by Dennis Kinlaw. The one is an excellent meditation on the Person of Christ and His Incarnation in view of the Holy Trinity, and the other about the implications on the lives of Believers. Both amazing books.