“The Word was God…..The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1,14).
“No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27 and Luke 10:22.)
Try explaining God.
We’ll wait. Let us know when you’re ready.
Oh, when you’re done with that, tell us how Jesus is both fully man and fully God. And how God is One, but He’s also Father, Son, and Spirit.
If you decide to punt–and simply dismiss the entire discussion as man’s futile attempt to define an unknowable God–then the discussion ends there. God’s people who love the Word and believe it want to understand how it all fits together, what each piece is saying about our Lord, and thus to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord (2 Peter 3:18).
We never go wrong trying to understand God’s Word. And the best commentary on the Word of God is the rest of the Word of God.
If you find all this too difficult, then start with an easier assignment and tell us how you yourself are composed of body, soul, and spirit? Where does one start and the other begin and how do they interwork? Unless you can figure out yourself it’s a lead-pipe cinch you’re going to have difficulty figuring out the God of the universe.
So, we’re not going to try to “figure out” God. What we will try to do is come to an understanding of what Scripture is telling us about our wonderful, intricate, mysterious, loving, Creative God. God wants us to know, otherwise they would not be in the Word.
We will not exhaust the subject nor finish the conversation. We will not answer everyone’s questions and will walk away with some of our own. But the venture is still worthwhile.
Let’s talk about God: Father, Son, Spirit.
Scripture does not make things easy for us. We are given so many statements on the identity of our Heavenly Father, beginning with the opening words of Scripture. “in the beginning, God created the Heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1). The mystery begins immediately because shortly thereafter, God says, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). And we read, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him” (1:27).
God speaks of “us” and “our.” And yet, when it was over, it was God doing it and no one else is mentioned. The angels don’t qualify as “us” because mankind was not made in the image of angels. We are “just a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5), but in the image of God.
The word translated “Lord” in Hebrew here is Adonai. And it’s a plural word.
The usual word for God in Hebrew is “Elohim,” also a plural.
So, from the beginning the mystery is there.
The rest of the Bible doesn’t make it any easier.
The prophet Isaiah said of the coming Messiah, “And Hs name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). And that’s Jesus He’s talking about, friend..
In the New Testament, we have statements about the deity of Jesus….
–“My Lord and my God” said Thomas on seeing the risen Christ (John 20:28). For a Jew to say this was an unthinkable leap of faith. After all, they crucified Jesus for “saying that you are God” (see Luke 22:66-71). Blasphemy was as bad a sin as it was possible to commit, to those people.
–“I am He,” said Jesus on several occasions. Scholars agree He was identifying Himself with “The Great I Am.”
Historically, Christians have vacillated between Jesus’ humanity and deity. They shouldn’t choose; they can have both.
Some have said Jesus was “all God but only seemed to be man.” And others have taken the other extreme and said He was “all man and only seemed to be God.” And councils of the church have ruled both of those to be heresies and unworthy of the revelation we have in Scripture.
Anyone reading the Gospels sees the humanity of Jesus, starting with His birth. He ate, grew tired, was tempted, and bled when He was flogged. When nailed to a cross, He died.
However, He was tempted without sin, forgave sin (see what that means in Mark 2:7), raised the dead to life again, and was Himself raised from the dead.
Forget about trying to fit Jesus into your neat categories. As Francis Chan has said, “Isn’t it great to worship a God whom we don’t have to exaggerate!”
Anyone reading the Gospels quickly encounters Jesus claiming deity for Himself. (I’m always amused at those who said Jesus never claimed to be god. I think, “Read your Bible, friend.’) I’ll merely list a few in addition to those above: Matthew 22:44 and 25:31; Mark 14:62; Luke 6:5; and the entire Gospel of John!
And then there is the rest of the New Testament!
The Epistles literally brim with glowing testimonies to the deity of the Lord Jesus. Start with this one: “All the fullness of Deity dwells in Jesus in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). “He is the head above all rule and authority” (2:10). We shouldn’t need additional testimonies but Scripture cannot seem to stop tossing these great statements our way!
“Even though He existed in the form of God, (He) did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant….” (Philippians 2:6ff.) Let us know when you have this one mastered!
Skip to the last book of the Bible. How’s this? “I am the first and the last, and the living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore” (Revelation 1:17-18). And in the final chapters of this book, try to figure out Who the One on the throne is. Sometimes, it’s the Lamb (Jesus), sometimes the Father, and mostly it’s just “A Voice.” The Personages are almost interchangeable here, which as much as anything, methinks, is what forces us to come up with the concept we call “Trinity.”
Tri-unity. Three in One.
It is indeed a manmade term. But it was created as an attempt to say Who God is, that He is both One (Deuteronomy 6) and Father, Son, Spirit (last verses of Matthew; all of Romans 8). How is He just One and yet all Three? Answer: We do not know. But He is, nevertheless.
We do not believe in three Gods. That is contradictory to Scripture from one end to the other.
And yet, Jesus Christ is God in the flesh.
Scripture speaks of Father, Son, and Spirit.
We are left to reconcile this.
Trinity is truth that escapes language.
Trinity is our attempt to identify the God we worship and to reconcile the various truths Scripture posits about His nature.
When Jesus was on earth, He did not empty Heaven. The Father never left Heaven although He was present in everything Jesus said and did.
Jesus talked with the Father and the communication was genuine, not role-playing.
When we look at Jesus, it’s as close to seeing the Father as we could ever ask or shall ever get (John 14:9). He dwells in unapproachable light (I Timothy 6:16).
Jesus Christ is everything the Father has to say to Earth about Himself. When we worship Jesus, we worship the fullness of God–Father, Son, Spirit.
We do not subscribe to the “Jesus only” heresy of some. The Father is the Father forever.
We are all children and see through a glass darkly, our vision flawed and our understanding imperfect.
So, we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).