Who do you say I am? These immortal words are found in Matthew 16: 13-20. This is a part of a conversation that Jesus had with His disciples. He wanted to know what people said about Him and what the disciples made of it. Here Simon Peter declared that Jesus is the Messiah, The son of the Living God.
This passage is so important for many reasons. Here we see the disciples accept Jesus as God, and yes they still doubted until His death and His subsequent resurrection, but after that they were firm in their belief that Jesus was and still is God. They were the beginning of a movement that is still going strong today. They resolved to know only one thing and that was Jesus and His crucifixion. They baptized people in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Spirit and made disciples who in turn continued to take the gospel to the ends of the world.
This passage is still important in the 21st century. Who do we say that Jesus is? A madman, a good man or God?
C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
We have a choice. We can choose to worship Jesus as God or not. For many this choice gets muddled when we claim that our God is One, yet Three distinct persons. One in Three. Three in One.
I wanted to write a post on the Trinity of God or another phrase that I like, the Tri-Personality of God. Other phrases you may hear are Three Persons or Tri-Unity. While reading and researching this topic, I realized that it’s been done by many pastors, theologians and seminarians who have done a fantastic job of it. I decided not to re-invent the wheel and so I’ve taken most of this post from one of those articles (links to original article below). I’ve tried to make it easier to read and have formatted it differently, but the work put in is not mine.
This is an important doctrine for us to understand and more importantly believe. We serve ONE GOD. We worship ONE GOD. We aren’t poly-theists but mono-theists.
Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is ONE. Deuteronomy 6:4
There is one God, undivided and indivisible, who has one mind, one plan, one purpose, and one ultimate goal.
But Scripture reveals that there are, in that one divine essence, three eternal distinctions. Those distinctions seem best described as persons, known as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All three have identical attributes, however, and therefore they are one—not merely one in purpose, but one in substance. To possess all the exact same attributes is to be one in essential nature. Three persons with identical sovereignty, for example, would be one sovereign. Three persons with identical omnipotence would be one omnipotent being.
Many attempts have been made to illustrate the doctrine of the trinity: a three-leaf clover; an egg with its yolk, white, and shell; H2O which can be either water, ice, or steam; the sun which embodies heat, light, and time; a man who is at one time a father, a son, and a brother; the space in a cube which is one entity, yet composed of length, breadth, and heighth, each equal to the other and part of the other. But in the final analysis every illustration breaks down somehow. We cannot find any finite analogy which fully explains the doctrine of the trinity. We simply believe it because God has revealed it.
It seems to have been a man named Theophilus of Antioch who first applied the term trinity to this Biblical concept as early as 181 A.D. But it was the Anathasian Creed, completed some time in the fifth century, which stated it most clearly: “We worship one God in trinity, and trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons, nor separating the substance.”
It is one thing to say that God is three in one, but something altogether different to prove it. What is the Biblical testimony to the doctrine of the trinity? While the primary emphasis of the Old Testament is on the unity of God, the indications of His triunity are clearly seen even there. We need not read very far to find the first one: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” Genesis 1:1. While the verb create is singular and thus should have a singular subject, Elohim, the Hebrew name for God in this verse, is plural. That may not prove the Trinity, but it definitely points to plurality of persons in the Godhead. There was no other logical reason to choose a plural name. Some have maintained that it is a plural of majesty, but that projects something to ancient Hebrew minds that they never considered. They addressed their kings in the singular. So, as startling as it may seem, the first time we meet God in the Old Testament there is evidence of plural personal distinctions in Him.
We are not surprised, then, to hear Him say a short time later, “Let Us make man in Our image” Genesis 1: 26. The plural pronouns could not refer to angels because they were never associated with God in His creative activity. Consequently, more than one divine person was evidently involved. The plural pronouns make no sense otherwise (Genesis 1: 26,Genesis 11: 7).
There are other Old Testament indications of plurality in the Godhead, such as references to the Angel of Jehovah, who is sometimes identified with Jehovah and yet at other times distinguished from Him. But one of the clearest statements was recorded by the prophet Isaiah. The Lord is speaking, the one who calls Himself the first and the last, the one who created the heavens and the earth (Isaiah 48:12-13). Here is what He says:
Come near to Me, listen to this: From the first I have not spoken in secret, From the time it took place, I was there. And now the Lord GOD has sent Me, and His Spirit Isaiah 48: 16.
Do you see the implication of that? The Lord said that the Lord God and His Spirit sent Him. It looks very much like our one God exists in three persons.
But the unanswerable Biblical testimony to the Trinity is simply that all three persons are referred to as divine. First, the Father is called God. For instance, He is referred to as “God the Father” (Galatians 1:1), or “God our Father” (Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2), or “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). His deity is unquestioned.
But the Son is likewise referred to as God. He possesses the attributes of deity such as eternity, immutability, omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. He bears the names of deity such as Jehovah, Lord, Immanuel, and the Word. He even permitted Thomas to call Him “my Lord and my God” (John 20: 28). He exercises the prerogatives of deity such as forgiving sins, raising the dead, and judging all men. And He accepts worship reserved only for God.
Nobody can deny that He was claiming equality with the Father when He said, “In order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5: 23). He insisted that He deserved the very same reverence that was reserved for God the Father. He must have been who He claimed to be—God the Son, equal with the Father and worthy of the same honor as the Father. The Father Himself addressed His Son as God: “But of the Son He says, THY THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER” (Hebrews 1:8).
The prologue to John’s Gospel tells us one reason Christ came to earth: to make the Father known, to reveal God to men (John 1:18). We can know more of what God is like by examining the person of Jesus Christ. He was God in flesh. As we explore Scripture and seek to discover who God is, we cannot neglect the earthly life of Jesus Christ. He is God the Son.
But the Holy Spirit is also called God. His name is “the Spirit of God” (Genesis 1:2). He too possesses the attributes of deity and performs the works of deity. While He is the Spirit who proceeds from the Father (John 15: 26), He is at the same time called “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9 ). He is coequal with both the Father and the Son. The Apostle Peter clearly viewed Him as God when he said to Ananias, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit? . . . You have not lied to men, but to God” (Acts 5:3-4).
If the Father, the Son, and the Spirit all bear the names of God, possess the attributes of God, and perform the works of God, then there is no alternative but to acknowledge that our one God exists in three persons. Scripture links these three persons of the Godhead together so closely in so many divine activities that it would be foolish to deny that any one of them is God. Observe some of those activities.
Creating the World. All three were involved in creation: the Father (Genesis 1:1); the Son (John 1:3,10; Colossians 1:16); and the Spirit (Genesis 1:2, Psalm 104:30). If all three created, then God the Creator must exist in three persons.
Sending the Son. All three members of the Trinity were active in the incarnation. When Mary questioned the angel about the possibility of a virgin birth, the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). The power of the Father, ministered through the agency of the Spirit, resulted in the birth of the Son into the world. This close association in the birth of the Saviour is further indication of their oneness.
Identifying the Messiah. At precisely the proper moment, Jesus Christ was revealed to Israel as her Messiah. John the Baptist was the chosen instrument and the act of baptism was the chosen means. “After being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:16-17). As the Spirit came upon the Son, the Father’s voice was heard from Heaven expressing His approval. It was another powerful testimony to the eternal triune Godhead.
Providing Redemption. Two central passages bring the three members of the Godhead together in providing for man’s eternal salvation. “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14) It was the offering of the Son to the Father by the power of the Spirit. The Apostle Peter taught, furthermore, that God the Father chose us to salvation, God the Son paid for it by shedding His blood, and God the Spirit set us apart unto the obedience of faith (1 Peter 1:1-2). Without each person of the Trinity doing His part we would yet be in our sins.
Proclaiming Salvation. In the early years of the Church God did some spectacular things to verify the gospel message which the apostles were preaching. The writer to the Hebrews tells us: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will” (Hebrews 2:3-4). It was the same message that was first spoken by the Son Himself. When the apostles proclaimed it, the Father bore witness to its truthfulness by bestowing miraculous gifts through the Spirit. It was not only a powerful witness to the truth of the message, but another demonstration of the triune God at work.
Sending the Spirit. The three persons of the Trinity are so interwoven in sending the Spirit into the world that it is difficult to distinguish between them. In one passage it is stated that the Father would send Him in Christ’s name and that He would testify concerning Christ (John 14:26). In another it is said that the Son would send Him from the Father (John 15:26). In yet another the Father sends Him and calls Him the Spirit of His Son (Galatians 4:6). What a picture of unity—such perfect unity that the actions of one are considered to be the actions of the other. Orthodox Christian doctrine has long taught that the Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son. But all three are vitally involved in His coming.
Indwelling Believers. Jesus taught His disciples that both He and His Father would make Their abode with them (John 14:23). But their indwelling would be in the person of the Comforter, the Spirit of truth (John 14:16-17). As the Spirit of both the Father and the Son His indwelling is the indwelling of the triune God. That would not be possible unless the three were one.
Baptizing Believers. In our Lord’s commission to His disciples He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The unity of the Godhead is declared by combining them in one name (singular). Yet the distinctiveness of the persons is maintained by listing them separately. It is another link in the long chain of evidence that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are one God.
Entering God’s Presence. All three members of the Godhead are intimately involved in the believer’s access into the presence of God. Speaking of Christ, the Apostle Paul taught, “For through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). Both Jews and Gentiles can approach the Father through the merits of the Son with the help of the Spirit.
Blessing Believers. In Paul’s final remarks to the Corinthian Christians he linked the three members of the Godhead together in a beautiful benediction: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). Unless the three are one, eternally and equally supreme, there would be little reason to put them together on an equal basis like this in a divine blessing. The apostle certainly considered them to be one.
This is LOVE: A loving Father who has given us His eternal life, who provides our needs, and trains us in productive and satisfying living.
This is LOVE: A gracious Saviour who became a man like us, who paid the eternal debt of our sin, who sympathizes with us in our weaknesses, who feels with us in our sorrows, and who intercedes for us at the Father’s right hand.
This is LOVE: The Holy Spirit who indwells us, who binds us together in one body, who comforts us, teaches us, guides us, and makes available to us all the resources of the eternal, omnipotent Godhead.
This is LOVE: He’s the ONE who never leaves the one behind.
Most of this article was taken from here, Three in One (A study of the Trinity of God) from Bible.org.
[Disclaimer: I do NOT make an income from the links in this post. I have added them as a guide and a help because they have been a great resource to me. You are welcome to use them or not.]
Until next week,