August 14, 2011
Father, Son, Holy Spirit: One God,
Three Divine Persons
The Unity of God
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Many people completely misunderstand the Divine Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, we read about three divine Persons, who exist forever as one God. We cannot fully understand the nature of the Trinity, but we should be familiar with the teaching of the Bible concerning the unity and diversity of God. Make no mistake, we worship only one God, and that God has eternally existed as three divine Persons, united as one essential God.
Hear, O Israel! the LORD is our God, the LORD is one!
The LORD is One God. The single God of the Old Testament is the single God of the New Testament. In Deuteronomy 6:4, we read that the LORD (“יְהוָה”) is One God. This particular word for “One” (“אֶחָד“) has a variety of meanings in the Old Testament, but one meaning describes compound unity. For example, in Genesis 2:24, God describes the union of man and wife and becoming “one” flesh. The idea of unity shared between two separate persons helps us understand the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These separate Persons exist as One God. In essence and substance, they are one, and inseparably joined together. They share the same attributes of God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all share the same: (1) omniscience (they each know everything); (2) omnipotence (they each have the same power to do all things); (3) omnipresence (they each are present everywhere all the time); (4) immutability (they each never change). As we have seen in other studies, the term “LORD” applies to God the Son (John 8:58; Exodus 3:13-16) and also to God the Father (Psalm 110:1). In the context of Deuteronomy 6:4, God does not stress so much the compound unity of God in three Persons, but rather the uniqueness of God as the only God (compare Zechariah 14:9–the one and only God). Most people do not have a problem with the one-God doctrine, but they tend to confuse the fact that the only God the Son died on the cross (John 19:30), only God the Father spoke from heaven at the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:17), and only God the Holy Spirit descended as cloven tongues of fire upon the believers at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). The heresy (profound spiritual error) of modalism teaches that God may exist at any one time as Father, Son or Holy Spirit, depending upon the particular mode. The Bible teaches that God always existed as three Persons, and they were always co-equal. Modalism denies that three co-eternal, co-equal Persons exist as God always. The heresy of Patripassionism teaches that the Father died on the cross, but the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus died on the cross. Many other heresies have been taught as truth in the church through the centuries, but we should always be careful to study the Bible to learn and walk in the truth.
The Deity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Another common error I see among people concerns the deity and identify of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father is God, but is not the Holy Spirit and is not the Son. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is God, but is not the Father or the Son. Finally, the Son is God, but is not the Father or the Holy Spirit. This image of the Trinitarian Triangle has been used for centuries to teach the relationship of the Persons of the Godhead.
I often illustrate the relationship of the Persons of the Godhead by reviewing the baptism of Jesus. Jesus, God in human flesh, goes into the Jordan river to be baptized, and rises up. Immediately, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus as a dove and alighted on Jesus (Matthew 3:16). Next, the Father spoke from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Therefore, we see that Jesus stood in the water, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven, and the Father spoke from heaven. Only Jesus got wet in the river. Only the Father spoke from heaven. Only the Holy Spirit descended from heaven and rested on Jesus as a dove. We see the three Persons, but they together constitute one divine Being, one divine Substance, one divine Essence. They are three Persons in one God.
So we learn more about the Trinity today.
● God the Son died for our sins on the cross, and we live because He Himself bore our sins on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.
● God the Father gave Jesus the words to speak and the deeds to do while Jesus walked among men in the flesh.
● God the Holy Spirit indwells every believer, and has poured out the love of God in our hearts.
Application for Today
As I live today, I know that God loves me, died for me, rose for my justification, and indwells me. God abides with me and in Me. I feel His presence in my life, and I love to live and pray in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Are you walking with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit today?