One God-Three Persons
St. Patrick's Day is coming up this week. Symbols: Leprechaun, for some-green beer, shamrock.
- Three-leafed clover. Symbol for often poorly understood character of God
- Think it's too hard to understand, but it is found throughout the Bible and as this example shows, Gid gives us examples to illustrate it.
What does the Bible Say?
First thing is to look at what the Bible says about God's character.
- Deut 6:4 "Hear O Israel, The LORD our God, The LORD is One."
- Shema - This phrase is considered to be the MOST important part of Jewish prayer services. Orthodox Jews teach that this must be recited twice daily at the beginning of their morning and evening prayers.
- Strong declaration that there is one God, and that our God...the God of Israel who chose Abraham to be the father of His chosen people is the one true God among all the god's people create for themselves.
- Important to recognize the bible is clear that there is but one God.
- John 1:1 Word of God: Jesus in Word. There in the beginning
- Col 1:16-17: 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. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
- Gen 1:1 Spirit there in the beginning
- Gen 1:26: WE
It is clear throughout the Bible that there is One God but that His divine character or essence is composed of these three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is especially evident working in union with the Father throughout the Old Testament:
- In the book of Judges we read that "the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon", "stirred" Samson at an early age.
- In 1 Samuel we read the Spirit "rushed upon" Samuel as he prophesied and "departed from" king Saul when he turned away from God.
- In Isaiah 61:1, the prohet Isaiah declared, "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, because He has annointed me to preach good news to the poor."
The Spirit's distinct character is also shown to us more in the New Testament:
- In John 14:26, Jesus says, "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."
Throughout the Bible there is a distinction between Father and Spirit...and yet they are the same God.
The same is true of Jesus.
Jesus...who lived as a man equated himself with God:
- John 8:58: I tell you the truth, Jesus answered, before Abraham was born, I am
- God to Moses: "I AM WHO I AM" tell them "I AM sent me to you"-uncaused, independent existence
- John 17:20-21: "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
- Matt 9:5-6: Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins..." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home."
- Even the Old Testament prophets predicting the coming Messiah, equated that Messiah with God Himself: Isaiah 9:6: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God , Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
- Mighty God-"God Hero"
So we have this unity between Father, Son and Holy Spirit while maintaining there is but one God.
This is where the idea we call the Trinity has come from-One God existing in three persons.
It is important for us to take what the God has revealed to us about Himself in His Word and and not stray from it.
Many people have tried to find different ways of portaying this "Triune" God...this nature of being Three-in-one to be more easily managed. But it always leads us down paths that we really cannot go.
Some would simply say this Father, Son and Spirit are three separate beings...but that denies the very foundation of what God says about Himself..."The LORD your GOD is ONE"...
Some would say that there is one God who has taken on these three different forms. But there are huge problems with that. If God just took on the form on man when He became Jesus...then He would have to have limited Himself entirely to that human form at that time...He would not have been present in any other part of the universe at that time...He would not have been fullfilling His vital role in maintaining and overseeing all of creation...His Spirit could not have been active.
When Jesus was on the earth, we see all three being active and present. We see Jesus praying to the Father. In John 5:19 He said that he can do nothing by himself; he can only do hat He sees the Father doing.
When Jesus was baptized we see all 3 present: Matt 3:16-17
- Beautiful & amazing picture of all three being present
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
Some would say that the Father is God...and that Jesus and the Spirit are subordinate to Him. But then that just makes Jesus out to be a liar when He says He and the Father are one...and that He has all the authority of the Father..and He cannot be our perfect sacrifice for sin unless He is Himself that perfect God.
However we look at this...we keep coming back to this notion that God is One divine essence composed of three distinct persons.
The challenge we have is accepting this as a real possibility. We feel as though it doesn't make sense...but the interesting thing is that when you accept what the Bible says as true and begin to take a good look at the world you start to find even this aspect of god's character being reflected all around us.
- The shamrock example
- Water example - all elements have this property.
*Consider ourselves: We were made in God's image. How do we carry this "trinity" image?
- Marriage: Gen 2:22-24: Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man." For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
- Self: Deu 6:5: Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Three part of us called to love God - each needs to be brought into unity with the others.
Trinity-not such a strange idea
Why Does it Matter
Big question to ask ourselves is why does this matter. What does understanding this about God teach us. What can we take away from this so that it's not just trivia, but it really affects and changes us? Can see the importance in a couple of our examples:
- Unity in marriage...God calls us to be one flesh. We need all three
- God made woman because it was not good for man to be alone: we were made for one another: God's very character displays the design for fellowship and complete unity.
Jesus prays in John 17:22: I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: He wants us to live in unity with one another, founded upon our unity with Him
- Own own lives can be turned around and brought into alignment with God's desires & standards for us when our mind, soul and strength are all unifed in Jesus Christ.
Trinity in Salvation
- Finally it is important to see how the distinctive characteristics of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are necessary for our salvation...and for transforming our lives into God's likeness:
- It is the Father who calls out to us when we are living away from Him in the darness. When we have turned away from Him and don't see Him or refuse to listen to Him...The Father...the head of all the world pursues us and makes Himself known to us.
- Is it the Spirit who opens the minds and hearts of people to God's ways. the Spirit shows us how far we are from the life God intends for us. And the Spirit sends people of God into our lives to shows us God's love and to speak His truth to us.
- And finally it is the Son, Jesus, who shows us the way.. Who has provided the opportunity for forgiveness and restoration with God. By giving up His life-a perfect and divine sacrifice-Jesus has opened the door and invited us to be forgiven and come back to God.
- All three work together in complete unity as the ONE true GOD...in order to draw us into His Presence