The most important idea for anyone to grasp clearly is the idea of our God, because this governs and controls all our thinking and motivation, whether we realize it or not. We should love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. But who is the Lord? In order to live the life of the Christian religion, we need a clear idea of God.
We can understand the Trinity from the literal statements of the Old and New Testaments - if we follow two common-sense rules.
(1) gather all the passages on a subject, or a representative sampling of them.
(2) use only explicit statements that can have only one meaning, as your basis and starting point. Group 1 seems to teach that God the Father (or Jehovah of the Old Testament) is one Person and Jesus, the Son of God, is another Person. Group 2 teaches that Jehovah of the Old Testament and Jesus of the New are the same Person. These groups have to be reconciled for the true doctrine to emerge.
Samples of group 1: Jesus said: "I am come from God" (John 8:42): "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do" (John 5: 19). Simon Peter said: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" ( Matt. 16: 16). At the Lord’s baptism a voice from heaven was heard to say: "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3: 17). He also said: "My Father is greater than I" (John 14: 28) and "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me" (John 14:6). On the cross Jesus said: "Father, forgive them..." (Luke 23:34), and "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27: 46). Also, after the resurrection, the Lord said to the disciples, "Teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28: 19). In the last passage there is yet a third Divine Person, the Holy Spirit.
We might come to the conclusion that there are three Persons in God. This was never said but was assumed at the Council of Nicea, and from 325 A.D. onward this was by many accepted as the orthodox Christian faith itself. You will never find a passage that says that he who has seen the Son has yet to see the Father.
Moreover, what has been taken for granted in these passages is that the terms "Father" and "Son" always refer to people. Don’t we sometimes say, "The wish is father to the thought"? Or: "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8: 44).
For example, the prophecy of the Advent of the Lord: "Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, God the Mighty, the Father of Eternity, the Prince of Peace"? (Isa. 9:6) Here no one can for a moment doubt that He who is called "the Child" and "the Son" is also at the same time called "God the Mighty" and "the Father" - "the Father of Eternity."
There is only one Mighty God. "Before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord [Jehovah]; and besides Me there is no Saviour" (Isa. 43:10, 11). "I am the First and I am the Last; and besides Me there is no God" (Isa. 44:6; compare Rev. 1:8). I am Jehovah; that is My name, and My glory will I not give to another" (Isa. 42:8. 48: 11). "Am not I Jehovah, and there is no other God besides Me; a just God and a Saviour, there is none besides Me. Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else" (Isa. 45:21,22).
This defines another prophecy in Isaiah: "The Lord [Jehovah] Himself shall give you a sign; behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (7: 14). The name Immanuel can only be translated as "God-with-us," so it was the Lord God, Jehovah, the only God, who was to come into the world as the Saviour, and appear as the Son of a virgin. This, in fact, is the burden of all the Old Testament passages that treat of the Advent of the Messiah. "And it shall be said in that day. This is our God; we have waited for Him that He may deliver us; this is Jehovah. . . we will rejoice and be glad in His salvation" (Isa. 25:9). "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah, make plain in the solitude a highway for our God.... Behold. the Lord God shall come in strength" (Isa. 40: 3, 10; compare Matt. 3, et al). The Lord the Creator would also come as the Redeemer.
Again, in the Old Testament the Lord Jehovah says that He is the First and the Last, but in the New Testament, in the Book of Revelation, Jesus says He is the First and the Last. We cannot have TWO being the first and the last. Obviously, it must be the same Person. We recall also that the Lord of the Old Testament says He is the only Saviour, and that His glory He would not give to another. Yet in the New Testament Jesus is frequently called the Saviour. Does it not follow that Jesus must be Jehovah in the Human form, a thought that is reinforced by the knowledge that Jesus means "Jehovah saves"?
In full agreement with this, in the New Testament we find the Lord Jesus Christ saying to the multitude: "I and the Father are ONE" not two, but one. His audience understood, they wanted to stone Him; "Because that thou being a man, maketh thyself God" (John 10:33). Interesting, the Jewish Church which rejected Him understood what He was saying.
Also, in John: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.... He was in the world, and the world was made by Him; and the world knew Him not.... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:1,3, 10, 14). Here it is plainly stated that it was the Creator of the world who came on earth in the form of a man.
Again, the Lord said: "Before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58). "I AM" can have but one meaning; it is Jehovah’s name (Exodus 3:14), and it means Being - the only Divine Being or Life Itself. The Jews again understood the Lord saying, "I am Jehovah," and thus wished to stone Him for blasphemy. It is manifest; Jehovah (or the Father) and Jesus (the Son of God) are actually the same Divine Person.
But in John it all comes together; Jesus says His is going to His Father, and is misunderstood by both Thomas and Philip, who think that He is referring to some other Person. Philip: "Lord shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us" (John 14:8). The Lord: "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath SEEN the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?" (Verse 9). Could anything be more plain? What other Father can there be but the One whom Philip’s eyes were beholding?
Then the Lord went on to explain: "The words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself; but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works" (verse 10). Now, how are we to understand that? What is it that dwelleth within, causes words to be spoken, and also "doeth the works?" What else answers this description but the soul? It dwelleth within, it causes words to be spoken, it "doeth the works." What else but the Divine Soul? Is not the soul as a father to the body? Is not the body a kind of offspring from the soul?
When we see that the "Father" means the Divine in Itself or the Divine Soul, and that the "Son of God" means the Divine Body visible to man, then we can understand what the Holy Spirit is. In every person there is a trinity - not of persons - but a trinity of essentials, a trinity of soul, body, and that intangible influence that flows forth from the union of soul and body. This spirit or proceeding influence is approximately what is called in popular language, a man’s personality. It is the sphere that emanates from the combination of his soul and body, and this is what has an effect on other people. We have this trinity of soul, body and spirit because we are made in the image of God, and in God there is a Divine Trinity - the Divine Soul, called the Father; the Divine Body, called the Son; and the Divine Spirit, called the Holy Spirit.
This throws light on the whole Word, both the Old Testament and the New.
Like this: "I am come from God" (John 8:42); the Body came forth from the Soul. "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do" (John 5: 19); the Body can do nothing of Itself, but what it is directed to do by the Soul. "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16); the Messiah, the Body of the Divine Itself, which alone is Life-in-itself. "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17); the Divine Body in which it pleased the Lord to dwell while on earth. "My Father is greater than I" (.John 14:28); the Soul is greater than the Body, since it directs it. "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me" (John 14:6); just as we cannot know a man’s soul except insofar as his body reveals it, so also the only way we can have any idea of the Divine Soul is by means of the Divine Body, which was visible to mankind. Or, as it is said in another place, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only Begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him" (John l: 18). "My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46). On the cross, the last of the Lord’s lifelong temptations, He was painfully aware of the Body to the exclusion of the Soul, as we also are during temptations. The Divine Soul seems to have forsaken it. "Father forgive them..." (Luke 23:34); forgiveness comes from the influence of the Soul, not the Body. We, also, have to be raised above the sphere of the body before we can forgive.
The idea of the Lord that the Apostles had is now restored, and filled with details. It is not new; it was there all the time, as Paul said: "In Jesus Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9). That is why at the end, Jesus could truly say to the disciples, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and on earth" ( Matt. 28: 18). Whoever has all power is surely the Almighty. So even doubting Thomas finally worshiped the Lord, saying: "My Lord and My God" (John 20:28). As the Lord promised: "I have yet many things to say unto you but ye cannot bear them now - but the time is coming when I shall no more speak unto you in parables, but I shall show you plainly of the Father" (John 16:12. 25).
This shows a completely different light and meaning on the Easter Stories. There is no angry Father who has His son sacrificed. But that is another module.
Hi Adriaan, bravo on a thorough post!
One critique, could you title it as a belief rather than a question?
One more thing, everyone has their name under the post. Mine says posted by 'you', how can I change that? As you can see, I'm totally new at this..
Sidian M.S. Jones said:
Hi Adriaan, bravo on a thorough post!
One critique, could you title it as a belief rather than a question?
Hi Adriaan. "Posted by You" is exactly what this post should say because...well it was posted by you. :)
Now let's see if we can't get ya to edit that title into a belief rather than a question. Here's how...
Just above your post and to the right a bit you'll find a button that says "Options". Click that and the "Edit" option will be revealed. Now click that and you'll be able to edit the title.
Let me know if I can help further. If you have a good title in mind, let me know and I can even edit it for you if you wish.