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The Triune God
It is important for us to get a scriptural vision of the triune God. In the Book of Genesis we read, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." The word for God, however, is "Elohim." It is a plural word.
It is scriptural to say that God the Father created the heaven and the earth. It is just as scriptural to say that God the Son created the heaven and the earth. It is likewise scriptural to say that God the Spirit created the heaven and the earth. The reason for this is that "the Lord our God is one Lord."
The one God has been a contention of the Jews from time immemorable. The Christian will gladly admit that God is one, and yet, he knows that the. one God is manifested in three Personalities. God the Father is not God the Son; God the Son is not God the Holy Ghost; and yet, the triune God, our "Elohim," is one Lord.
We remember how Christ prayed, "That they may be one, even as We are one.
In the marriage bond, God has said, "They twain shall be one flesh." Here are two personalities, and yet they are reckoned "one" in the bonds of matrimony.
Jesus Christ said, "The Son can do nothing of Himself." He did not mean that He was an automaton, that He was a spineless weakling incapable of action. He did mean that He was so perfectly one with the Father (one in word, one in will, and one in works), that He could not do anything contrary to the Father. He spoke the Father's words; He did the Father's works; and fulfilled the Father's will. He did all of this to such an extent that He could truthfully say, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father."
Thus it was that Christ manifested His oneness with the Father. He was the forthshining of God. In Him men saw the Father, for Christ declared Him unto them. The Lord Jesus was the very brightness of His Father's glory, and the express image of His Father's Person.
The unity of the Father and the Son is seen in this fact that He that honors the Father honors the Son; and He that honoreth the Son, honors the Father. It is impossible, therefore, to honor the Father, unless we honor the Son.
He who imagines that the Lord Jesus holds one attitude towards the sinner, and that the Father and the Holy Spirit hold another attitude, is altogether wrong. The idea that the Father is a demagogue whose wrath had to be appeased through the mediation of the Son is contrary to the unity of the triune God. God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, wrought in perfect harmony, both in the creation, and in the redemption of man.
Jesus Christ was a Daysman, but He was a Daysman through whom the Father could reach out His hand of mercy and redeem the sinner. The Holy Spirit is the One who carries on to completion the redemptive work which God wrought in Christ, The knowledge of the Trinity and Their perfect oneness in all things is a study well worth our while.
In this study we will seek to develop valuable scriptural aids to the understanding of the Trinity.
I. THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD (Deuteronomy 6:4 )
1. God the Father is God. The Jews said to Christ, "We have one Father, even God." Our Lord did not deny their contentions, but He said, "If God were your Father, ye would love Me: for I proceeded forth and came from God."
The fool may have said in his heart, "There is no God." "In his head," it seems impossible for anyone to make so foolish a negation. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork."
The things which we see around us, the material things, were not made of the things which do appear, God is their Creator. Could any one imagine, for a moment, that the great locomotive evolved or fabricated itself? Could any one assert that the airships, which sail through the air in our day, sprang into existence by some self-generating power? That could be the claim of only a disordered brain. We know that back of all these twentieth century marvels lie intelligent minds, and skilled mechanical hands.
Just as truly does God, the all-intelligent Mind, and the supreme creative Hand He back of the physical creation.
Man may create airships and locomotives, but God alone can create a flower, and place within it a self-propagating power: He alone can put the fragrance in the flower He creates.
2. Christ the Son is God. There are three Scriptures in the Epistle to Titus which describe Christ as God.
(1) We are told to "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour " (Titus 2:10 ).
(2) We are told of the "kindness and love of God our Saviour " (Titus 3:4 ).
(3) We are told of the "commandment of God our Saviour " (Titus 1:3 ).
Our Saviour is God, and God is our Saviour. Twice in the Book of Titus we read that Jesus Christ is our Saviour. These verses are Titus 1:4 , and Titus 3:6 . If our Saviour is God, then, Christ is God.
The Second Epistle of Peter carries a similar message to that of Titus. There, once more, the Lord Jesus Christ is called God, and He is likewise called "the Lord and Saviour" four different times.
In the Epistle to Jude we read of "the only wise God our Saviour." Thus we will all agree with the statement of Colossians 2:9 : "In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."
We will also agree with the statement of 1 John 5:20 , which reads: "His Son Jesus Christ." "This is the True God."
3. The Holy Spirit is God. In the Book of Hebrews seven different times the Holy Spirit is spoken of as Deity. This is seen in the fact that the God who, in the Old Testament, was tested and tried by the Children of Israel during forty years of wilderness journeyings, is declared to be the Holy Ghost.
The Spirit is spoken of as "the Spirit of the Lord." Ezekiel said, "The hand of the Lord God fell there upon me, * * and the Spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven."
II. THE LORD OUR GOD IS LIFE (Psalms 36:9 )
We have often wondered where life originated. The only answer is, that life originated in God.
1. God the Father has inherent life. " Inherent Life" means just what you find in John 5:26 , "The Father hath life in Himself."
2. God the Son has inherent life. The Bible declares of Christ, " In Him was life." It also declares, "As the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself."
3. God the Spirit has inherent life. In Romans we read, "The Spirit is life"; and, again, we read "The Spirit of life."
The Holy Trinity not only possesses life, but the Holy Trinity imparts life. God hath quickened us, that is, He hath given us life. Jesus Christ said, "He that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me."
God has borne testimony, "He that hath the Son hath life."
The Holy Spirit also begets life in us, because we are born of the Spirit. This may seem wonderful, and it is. Salvation involves eternal life. The wicked must appear before God in judgment. The saved will live with God. This is eternal life, even to know the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ.
III. THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD MANIFESTED IN THREE DISTINCT PERSONS (Luke 3:21-22 )
1. At the baptism of Christ. Jesus Christ was there, being baptized of John; the Holy Ghost was there, for He descended in bodily shape like a dove; the Father was there, because He said, "Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased."
It is not difficult to understand, therefore, that Jesus was not the Father; and that the Holy Spirit was not Jesus. There were three distinct Personages at the baptism; and yet, not three Gods, but one God.
2. In the wilderness temptation of Christ, three Personages are seen in the God-head. Satan addressed Christ, saying, "It Thou be the Son of God." Christ spoke of the Father to Satan, when He said, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God"; while the temptation itself was brought about by Christ being led of the Spirit into the wilderness.
3. In the Gospel of John Christ said, " He (the Father) shall give you another Comforter." He also said, "He (the Comforter) shall testify of Me."
The Comforter in the next verse is spoken of as "the Spirit of Truth." Observe carefully that the Comforter was not Christ, because He was another Comforter; neither was the Comforter the Father, because it was the Father who gave the Comforter.
4. We read in the Word of God (Acts 2:33 ) that Christ was exalted to the right hand of God; and that, being so exalted, and "having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this." The Son was not the Father, because the Son went from the earth to the Father, and sat down at the right hand of the Father. The Holy Ghost was neither the Father, nor the Son, because the Holy Ghost was poured forth at Pentecost, by the Son, and upon the promise of the Father.
5. Around the throne of God, in John's apocalyptic vision, we discover three Personages. The One is seated upon the throne, another One stands at the throne, and the third is as a burning fire before the throne. The Father is on the throne, for He holds a book in His hands; the Son stands before the throne, for He is the Lamb to whom the Father delivers the book; and the Holy Spirit is before the throne, because His sevenfold perfection is described under the phrase "the Seven Spirits of God."
IV. THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD IN THE REDEMPTION OF THE SINNER (1 Peter 1:2 )
Election includes the foreknowledge of God the Father, because that is the basis of election. Election is wrought out through the sanctification of the Spirit, because it is the Spirit that quickeneth and calls effectually.
Election is also based upon the sprinkling of the Blood of Jesus Christ, because it was the Son who shed His Blood for the remission of sins.
There are some who wish to put God the Father entirely outside of the realm of salvation; and yet it was God the Father who so loved the world, that He gave God the Son ; and it is God the Spirit who effectually brings to the unregenerate heart, the story of the love of the Father, in the gift of the Son.
Every time you hear the benediction pronounced in the church, you hear of the love of God, and of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Spirit. These are all working for the redemption of the lost. It is through Christ that we have access by one spirit unto the Father.
When new converts are baptized they are baptized, "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." This is because salvation was purposed by the Father, made possible by the Son, and enforced by the Holy Ghost.
We want to warn the young people against having a "Jesus" religion. We are talking of the Trinity, because the Trinity has wrought our redemption.
We are willing to grant that it was Christ who said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden," but Christ Himself said that He spoke only the words of the Father. It is not Christ, apart from God, who invites men to be saved; for God is not willing that any should perish.
Neither is it Christ, apart from the Holy Spirit, who calls upon men to be saved. The Spirit says, "Come." Without this effectual calling of the Holy Ghost, no one can be saved. Remember the Bible reads, "My Spirit shall not always strive with men."
V. THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD IN DIRECTING SAINTS (Isaiah 6:8 )
Our key verse reads, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?"
Who is the "Us" with which the quotation closes? There seems but one voice speaking, for it says, "Whom shall I send." "I," is singular in number, however, the "I" in the first part of the sentence is speaking in behalf of the "Us" in the latter part.
Do you not remember how Christ said, "Even so send I you"? Do you not also remember how the saints in Acts 13:4 were sent forth by the Holy Ghost? Withal we know that it was God who sent the Prophets unto the Children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ (Acts 10:36 ).
Our God is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
1. The Father seals the saints (John 6:27 ). So also does the Son seal the saints (Ephesians 1:13 ). Likewise, the Spirit seals the saints, for we read in Ephesians 4:30 , "The Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."
2. The Father comforts saints. In 2 Thessalonians 2:16 we read, "God, even our Father, * * hath given us everlasting consolation."
The Son, however, comforts saints, for in Philippians 2:1 is this expression, "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort." The Spirit also comforts saints, for the Word says, "Walking * * in the comfort of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 9:31 ).
3. The Father grants peace unto saints. Colossians 1:2 says, "Peace, from God our Father." John 14:27 , however, describes Christ as saying, "My peace I give unto you."
The Spirit also grants peace, because, according to Galatians 5:22 , "The fruit of the Spirit is * * peace."
4. The Father sanctifies saints. "Sanctified by God the Father" (Judges 1:1 ). The Son, likewise, sanctifies saints, "Christ Jesus * * is made unto us * * sanctification" (1 Corinthians 1:30 ).
The Spirit sanctifies saints, "Sanctified by the Holy Ghost" (Romans 15:16 ).
5. The Father strengthens saints. "The God of all grace * * strengthen * * you" (1 Peter 5:10 ).
The Son also strengthens saints, "Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13 ).
Again, the Spirit strengthens saints. "Strengthened with might by His Spirit" (Ephesians 3:16 ).
6. The Father teaches saints. "Ye yourselves are taught of God" (1 Thessalonians 4:9 ).
The Son went around the villages teaching according to Mark 6:6 ; the Son said of the Spirit , When He is come "He shall teach you all things."
We have given you step by step this vision of the Triune God dealing in behalf of His saints. We pause only to say, that if God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost are so inter-related in everything that benefits and blesses saints; then saints should recognize the Triune God and include in their meditation and fellowship the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
VI. SAINTS SHOULD RECOGNIZE THE TRIUNE GOD IN ALL THINGS AND AT ALL TIMES (Judges 1:20-21 )
The Scriptures, which we have before us, teach us that we should do three things. (1) We should keep ourselves in the love of God. (2) We should be looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. (3) We should be praying in the Holy Ghost.
We wish in this final message to show the believer's relationship to the Trinity.
1. In our ministry. Paul wrote to the Romans, "That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ." In the same verse, Paul wrote, "Ministering the Gospel of God."
Again, in the same sentence Paul wrote, "Being sanctified by the Holy Ghost." The marvel of this almost startles us. Think of how the Godhead is brought into one verse of Scripture; even into one verse which is speaking of the ministry of saints.
Let us then, never seek to minister apart from God the Father, or God the Son, or God the Holy Ghost.
2. In our preaching. In the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 2:1-16 , Paul, under inspiration, says three things:
(1) "Declaring unto you the testimony of God."
(2) "I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."
(3) "My speech and my preaching was * * in demonstration of the Spirit and of power."
Here you have it again, even as you find it in Romans, chapter 1. There it is the Gospel of God; and yet, a Gospel concerning His Son Jesus Christ. This Gospel is to be proclaimed in the power of the Holy Ghost.
Let us bend the knee and worship, for we are on Holy ground. If we had time we could bring before you Scripture upon Scripture which unites an inseparable bond, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Speaking to the Church, Paul wrote, "I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of "God." In the same breath He wrote to pastors: "Take heed * * to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own. Blood." But this Church, Paul said, was one over which the Holy Ghost hath made us an overseer.
We pray indeed that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Father of Glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
We pray that through the Son you may find access by the Spirit unto the Father.
When we begin to study the Triune God and His wonders of grace and glory we are drinking from the unfathomable waters of eternal verities.
"The great river Amazon pours out so mighty a stream of fresh water into the Atlantic, that for miles out of sight of land, just opposite the mouth of the river, the water in the ocean is entirely fresh water.
"Some years ago a sailing ship left Europe for a South American port, and, through storm and mishap, was so long on its voyage, that the water on board began to give out; and though the crew took every care, they shortly found themselves with their last tank or cask empty.
"A day or two later, becalmed in a hot climate, to their great joy and relief they sighted another vessel, and, when near enough to signal, they ran up their flags telling of their piteous position: 'We're dying for want of water.' To their astonishment, the reply, which came back quickly, seemed almost, to mock them: 'Water all around you; let your bucket down.'
"Little did they know that they were just then crossing the mighty Amazon's current, and instead of being in salt water they were actually in fresh water without knowing it. Water all around! Fellow-traveler, you may be crying out, 'What must I do to be saved?' little realizing that the ocean of God's love is all around you. Oh! 'let your bucket down!' "
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Psalms 33". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18