by David A. Huston
This paper is presented as a response to those who believe that God is either twoor three divine persons or beings.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
and with all your strength.
The Bible teaches plainly and without ambiguity that God is one! It never says that God is two or three or any other number. It simply says that God is one! Yet many believers today have been taught that God is not one. They have learned that God is two, which is called Arianism or binitarianism. Or that God is three, which is called trinitarianism.
The New Catholic Encyclopedia states, “When one does speak of an unqualified Trinitarianism, one has moved from the period of Christian origins to, say, the last quadrant of the 4th century. It was only then that what might be called the definitive Trinitarian dogma ‘one God in three Persons’ became thoroughly assimilated into Christian life and thought. The formula itself does not reflect the immediate consciousness of the period of origins; it was the product of three centuries of doctrinal development” (Vol.XIV, p.295).
If the doctrine of the trinity was not in “the immediate consciousness” of either Jesus or His apostles, then what doctrine did they teach? The answer is, they taught they same doctrine Moses taught: that God is one! In Mark 12:29, Jesus said, “The first of all the commandments is: Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
Yet in 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 Paul wrote, “For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.”
If God is one, then why does Paul make this distinction between God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ? This sounds like at least two.
What we are talking about here is how we are to describe God and how to understand Jesus. But because of verses such as this one, many people have a difficult time understanding the Bible teachings about God and Jesus. So, in an attempt to be better able to describe God, let’s look at some of the questions people have asked concerning the teaching that God is one!
1. Isn’t the Hebrew word for “God” is plural?
THE HEBREW WORD translated “God” throughout the Old Testament is the word Elohim. This word appears 2570 times. Some have said that because this word is a plural noun, it indicates that God is a plural being, that He is one God, yet simultaneously three distinct divine persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit...the trinity. But in Hebrew, plurality not only indicates more than one, it also indicate bigness or greatness or vastness. For example, the word mayim meaning “water” is also a plural form. So is shamayim meaning “heaven.” Heaven is big!
Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created....” The verb “created” is in the singular form, proving that Elohim is intended to be taken as a singular noun. When Elohim was first translated into Greek by Jewish scholars, they selected the word Theos, which is a singular noun. They never used Theoi, the plural form, which is translated “gods.” To say that the fact that Elohim is plural proves that God is a plural being is to read into this word a meaning that simply isn’t there.
Galatians 3:20 says, “Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one [Theos eis esti]. James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God [Theos eis esti]. You do well. Even the demons believe; and tremble!” Even the demons know that God is ONE!
2. What about, “Let us make man in our image...”?
GENESIS 1:26 SAYS, “Then God (Elohim) said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness....’” What did God mean when He said “Us”? Some say this was the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit speaking together as one God.
But Job 38:4-7 tells us, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
In the OT the term “sons of God” always refers to angels. Throughout the life of Jesus we see angels in action—at His birth, in the wilderness, at Gethsemene, at the resurrection and the ascension. Throughout the book of Acts we also see angels involved with the people of God. Hebrews 1:14 says that angels are sent to minister to the “heirs of salvation.” Clearly angels are involved in the ongoing process of “making man” into the image of God. Similar language is found in Genesis 11:7 and Isaiah 6 where God is clearly speaking to angels.
Genesis 1:27 says, “So God [Elohim] created man in His own image....” Through the new birth each of us can be made into the image of God; yet none of us have plural identities or personalities. Each of us is only ONE PERSON! Genesis 3:22 says, “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.’” 2 Samuel 14:17 says, “The word of my lord the king will now be comforting; for as the angel of God, so is my lord the king in discerning good and evil.” Is it really so unreasonable to believe that the Creator spoke with angels?
3. Isn’t Jesus the wisdom of Proverbs 8?
PROVERBS 8:1 SAYS, “Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice?” Proverbs 8:22-23 says, “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth.”
And Proverbs 8:29-31 says, “When He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters would not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight was with the sons of men.”
The idea that the wisdom being spoken of in this passage is a second divine person was first suggested by a Jewish philosopher named Philo who lived at the time of Christ. Philo tried to explain the Old Testament using the philosophical ideas of Plato. His ideas about the wisdom of Proverbs was later picked up by so-called Christian philosophers, who identified this wisdom with the Son of God. But notice what the Bible says, “Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice?” Throughout the book of Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a woman. The wisdom of God is the wise woman. The wisdom of the world is the deceitful, lustful woman. To say that the wise woman of Proverbs is the pre-existent second person of the trinity is to read into the Scripture what is clearly not there.
1. What about the baptism of Jesus?
MATTHEW 3:16-17 SAYS, “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”
Here we see the man, Jesus, standing in the baptismal waters of the Jordan river, the Spirit of God descending “like a dove,” and a voice speaking from heaven. Is this a portrait of the trinity, three distinct divine persons in one God? If it is not, then how are we to understand this scene?
To understand it correctly, we must remember that Jesus did not cease being the omnipresent God when He took on flesh. The entire time He walked the earth as man, He simultaneously ruled the universe as God. Even though the fulness of God’s character and moral attributes dwelled bodily in Christ, the fulness of His Spirit was not so confined. God was in Christ; yet God was also everywhere else!
Understanding this, it is easy to see that the omnipresent Spirit of God spoke from heaven and sent a manifestation of Himself in the form of a dove, even as His human body stood in the muddy waters of the Jordan river.
What then was the purpose of these manifestations? In John 1:31, John the Baptist said that he came baptizing to “reveal the Messiah to Israel.” In other words, the purpose of the baptism of Jesus was to serve as the starting point of His ministry and the public declaration of His Messiahship to the people of Israel. John 1:32-34 states that the dove was to be a sign to John. Since Isaiah 40:3 said that John would be the forerunner of Jehovah (the LORD), John needed to know that Jesus was indeed Jehovah come in the flesh.
John knew it would be the one the Spirit descended upon, but you can’t see a Spirit; therefore, God sent this special manifestation in the likeness of a dove. Furthermore, the descent of the Spirit was a type of anointing. Jesus had come to fulfill the roles of prophet, priest, and king, so He had to be anointed into those roles. But since Jesus was a sinless man and was God Himself, being anointed by a sinful man with symbolic oil was not enough. Instead, Jesus was anointed directly by the Spirit of God.
The voice from heaven was for the benefit of the people. A similar incident took place in John 12:28-30. This manifestation of a voice served as a divine introduction of Jesus to Israel as the Son of God and their Messiah. Since there were many people present at the baptismal site, the Spirit singled out the man Jesus and identified Him by the voice. This was certainly much more effective that if Jesus had simply announced Himself as a man.
2. If Jesus was God, why did He have to pray?
HEBREWS 5:7 SAYS that Jesus prayed “in the days of His flesh.” Psalms 65:2 says, “O You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come.” When Jesus prayed, it was not one divine person praying to another; it was flesh praying to Spirit, humanity praying to Deity, Son praying to Father, man praying to God.
Why would one diving person need to pray to another? If that were what was happening, then we would have to say that the second divine person was inferior to the first divine person. That would mean that they are not coequal. But when we understand that God was manifest in the flesh, then we realize that while He was in the days of His flesh, Jesus had to do what all flesh must do: pray to the One who hears prayer. Furthermore, He was being an example to us in how we ought to live for God.
3. Didn’t God forsake Jesus on the cross?
MATTHEW 27:46 SAYS, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’”
What was happening here? Was the first person of the trinity forsaking the second person in the midst of His greatest trial? No! This passage cannot be describing an actual separation between the Father and the Son, because the Son IS the Father manifested in the flesh. Jesus Himself said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). Furthermore, 2 Corinthians 5:19 says that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” It never states that God left Christ on the cross.
What then does the cry of Jesus mean? It does not mean that the Spirit of God departed from Christ’s body, only that it provided no help to the body. In other words, the fact that Jesus was God in the flesh does not mean that His flesh didn’t feel the pain of the nails just as our flesh would. There was no lessening of the physical pain by the Spirit.
Hebrews 9:14 says that Christ offered Himself to God “through the eternal Spirit.” If the Spirit had left Him on the cross He would have ceased to be the Christ – the Anointed One.
The Spirit was with Christ throughout the ordeal. Jesus was not literally God-forsaken, but He did feel God-forsaken. Remember, He was bearing our sins in His own body on the tree. He felt what it feels like to be a sinner. He felt the fiery pain of the nails. He felt the humiliating sting of the insults. He felt the awful horror of divine judgment.
In addition, Jesus was pointing the people to Psalms 22, a riveting first-person account of the agony of the crucifixion, which begins, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?” It goes on to say, “I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me” (Psalms 22:1, 14-17).
When did the Spirit actually depart from the body? Matthew 27:50 says, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.” The Spirit departed when Jesus died.
4. What about the stoning of Stephen?
WHEN THEY HEARD these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:54-56).
What did Stephen actually see? The Bible says he saw “the glory of God, and Jesus
standing at the right hand of God.” How did he describe what he saw? He said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” The “glory of God” seems to be equal to “the heavens opened.”
We see something similar when a short time later Paul saw Jesus. The Bible says, “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus......’” (Acts 9:3-5).
Later on Paul said, “I could not see for the glory of that light” (Acts 22:11). So the light from heaven is the glory of God. Stephen saw heaven opened and a glorious light shining forth. And He saw Jesus, the Son of Man, (ben Adam) “standing at the right hand of God.” Did Stephen see two distinct divine persons?
Did he see the man Jesus and a large hand belonging to God? Does God actually have a literal right hand? Didn’t Jesus say, “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24)? Does a Spirit have a literal hand? What does the Bible means when it speaks of “the right hand of God”?
Exodus15:6-7 says, “Your right hand, O LORD, has become glorious in power; Your right hand, O LORD, has dashed the enemy in pieces. And in the greatness of Your excellence You have overthrown those who rose against You......”
Psalms 20:6 says, “Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.”
Psalms 89:13 says, “You have a mighty arm; strong is Your hand, and high is Your right hand.” The “right hand of God” is an Hebraic figure of speech referring to the power and strength of the Almighty God.
In Matthew 26:64, Jesus said, “Hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Mark 16:19-20 says, “So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.”
After His resurrection and ascension into heaven, the man Jesus took up His seat upon the throne of heaven. No longer is He acting in His role of the suffering Savior, now He is acting in His role as the Lord God Almighty.
Hebrews 1:2 says, “When He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.....” Hebrews 8:1 says, “We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.....” And Hebrews 10:12 says, “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.....”
1 Peter 3:22 says of Jesus, “Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”
What Stephen actually saw was the man Jesus who had ascended into heaven standing in the place of divine power and glory. He did not see two distinct divine persons. Acts 7:57-59 says, “Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
What name did Stephen use when He called upon God? He said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” What was the answer Paul received when He asked, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus........”
5. What about the Advocate in 1 John 2:1?
1 JOHN 2:1-2 SAYS, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
What do we see in this passage? Do we see one divine person continuously pleading with another divine person to grant us forgiveness when we sin? Didn’t Jesus say, “The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” (Matthew 9:6)? Why would He need to be continuously pleading with the Father to forgive us?
1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus....” What we actually see in 1 John 2 is the role of the man, Christ Jesus, who has once for all time become “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
The word “propitiation” means “the place where mercy can be found.” When we have sinned, Jesus is the place where we can find mercy. Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Our High Priest, our Mediator, is the One who sits on the throne of grace. When we come to Jesus for forgiveness, we have come to the Father.
Hebrews 7:25-27 says, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
During the days of the tabernacle, the high priest had to continually intercede for the people by offering up sacrifices for their sins. But Jesus has interceded “once for all when He offered up Himself.”
Hebrews 10:11-14 says, “And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
The advocacy of Jesus Christ took place in the days of His flesh when He hung on Calvary’s cross and shed His own blood for the forgiveness of our sins. There are not two divine persons in this passage, but one God who has come in the flesh to save us from our sins.
6. What about Matthew 28:19?
MATTHEW 28:18-20 READS, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”
What name did Jesus have in view? Did He tell His apostles that He possessed all authority in heaven and on earth, therefore, go baptize in my name plus two others? As a companion passage, Mark 16:15-17 says, “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues.....’”
Moreover, Luke 24:46-47 says, “Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’”
How did the apostles understand Jesus’ instruction about baptism? Speaking to a crowd immediately after the resurrection of Christ, Peter told the people, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Jesus was not giving His apostles a baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19, He was giving them a revelation. They knew that the name of the Son was Jesus. But Jesus wanted them to understand that Jesus was also the name of the Father, for Jesus said in John 5:43, “I have come in My Father's name....” In John 17:6 He said to the Father, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me....” What is the only name Jesus manifested? The name Jesus!
The name of the Father is Jesus. Why? Because the Father and the Son are not two distinct divine persons. The Son IS the Father manifested in the flesh. In John 14:9, Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father....” So how could the Father have a name different from the Son?
But what about the name of the Holy Spirit? John 14:26 says, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things....” The Holy Spirit is not a third divine person distinct from the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is the Father’s Spirit. He is the Spirit of God.
John 4:24 says that “God is a Spirit.” 1 Peter 1:16 says that God is holy. Therefore, God is the Holy Spirit. In Philippians 1:19 He is called “the Spirit of Jesus Christ....” The spirit of a man doesn’t have a name different from the man. Therefore, the name of the Holy Spirit is Jesus. So when Jesus told His apostles to baptize in the (one) name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, He was telling them to baptize in the name of Jesus!
Concerning the name that is to be used in water baptism, consider the following references:
Hastings Dictionary of the Bible
“It must be acknowledged that the threefold name of Matthew 28:19 does not appear to have been used by the primitive church, but rather in the name of Jesus” (p.83).
Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (1951)
“The formula used was ‘in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ’ or some synonymous phrase; there is no evidence for the use of the trine [threefold] name...The earliest form, represented in Acts, was simple immersion...in water, the use of the name of the Lord, and the laying on of hands” (Vol.2, p.384).
The Illustrated Bible Dictionary
“Unlike John’s baptism, Christian baptism was from the first administered ‘in the name of Jesus.’ It is clear that, from the first, baptism in the name of Jesus functioned as the rite of entry or initiation into the new sect of those who called upon the name of Jesus” (p.173)
Canney’s Encyclopedia of Religions (1970)
“Persons were baptized first ‘in the name of Jesus Christ’...or ‘in the name of the Lord Jesus.’...Afterwards, with the development of the doctrine of the Trinity, they were baptized 'in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” (p.53).
Encyclopedia Biblica (1899)
“It is natural to conclude that baptism was administered in the earliest times ‘in the name of Jesus Christ,’ or in that ‘of the Lord Jesus.’ This view is confirmed by the fact that the earliest forms of baptismal confession appear to have been single—not triple, as was the later creed” (Vol.1, p.473).
The New Catholic Encyclopedia
“There is the difficulty that although Matthew 28:19 speaks of the Trinitarian formula, which is now used, the Acts of the Apostles and Paul speak only of Baptism “in the name of Jesus.” An explicit reference to the Trinitarian formula of Baptism cannot be found in the first centuries” (Vol. 2, p.59).
The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1957)
“The New Testament knows only baptism in the name of Jesus...” (Vol.1, p.435).
Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed. (1910)
“The trinitarian formula and trine immersion were not uniformly used from the beginning...Bapti[sm] into the name of the Lord [was] the normal formula of the New Testament” (Vol.2, p.365).
Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion
[In Christian baptism there was an] “identification between the baptized and Him in whose name baptism took place. The one became thereby the personal property of the other, as part of the people of peculiar possession” (Vol.2, p.377).
7. What about the salutations?
PAUL INTRODUCED HIS LETTER to the Romans with these words, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:7). By referring to the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, the writers of the New Testament were not teaching that God is more than one divine being. What they were doing was emphasizing the two primary roles of God in salvation and the importance of accepting Him in both roles. We must not only believe in God as Creator and Father, but we must also believe in Him as the one who was manifested in the flesh as Jesus the Messiah.
The salutations not only emphasize belief in God, which the Jews and many pagans accepted, but also in God as revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ. In John 14:1, Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me [the manifestation of God in the flesh].” In John 14:6 He said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me [the manifestation of the Father].”
1 John 2:22-23 says, “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” To deny that Jesus is the Christ is to deny both the Father and the Son. We must believe in one God, who is Creator, Father, and Eternal Spirit...AND, we must believe that He has come in the flesh as the Son, the man Jesus Christ.
THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT are not three divine persons in one God; they are three descriptive titles of God that show us how God has brought us salvation. First of all, we know that “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24). And, as Jesus said, “A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39). As Spirit, God is said to be invisible. John 1:18 says that “No one has seen God at any time.” As Spirit, God is said to be eternal. Hebrews 9:14 speaks of “the eternal Spirit.” So as Spirit, God has no flesh and bones, cannot be seen, and cannot die.
But after man sinned, it became necessary that a proper blood sacrifice be offered as an atonement for sin. This is called salvation. Ezekiel 22:30 says, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.” Isaiah 63:5 says, “I looked, but there was no one to help, and I wondered that there was no one to uphold; therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me....”
There was no man who could qualify as a sufficient sacrifice, for all had sinned and come short of the glory of God. So God’s own arm brought salvation. In other words, God did it Himself. He became the sacrifice. But to do this He had to become man, since as Spirit He had no blood and He couldn’t die. This is the essence of God’s plan for man from eternity.
John 1:1says, “In the beginning was the Word [logos], and the Word [logos] was with God, and the Word [logos] was God.” The word logos can have two meanings which are different yet closely related. It can mean a thought or idea, but it can also mean the expression of a thought or idea.
The Greeks used the term “Interior Logos,” which means an idea, a concept, a mental image, and the term “Exterior Logos,” which refers to the expression or actualization of an idea or concept. In the Bible, the Logos was God’s plan. In the beginning was the Plan, and the Plan was with God [in His mind], and the Plan was God [that He would make Himself known].
What did God plan? 1 Peter 1:18-21describes His plan this way: “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world [Interior Logos], but was manifest [Exterior Logos] in these last times for you.”
God foreordained [planned in advance] the shedding of Christ’s blood before the beginning. In other words, He planned to come into His creation as a man and shed His own blood. This is how Paul can say in Acts 20:28 that God purchased the Church with “His own blood.”
Galatians 4:4-5 says, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” At the exact time He planned, the Son came forth. Ephesians 1:3-4 tells us that God chose us in Christ before the beginning. Romans 8:29-30 tells us that God foresaw the whole company of believers in Him. 2 Timothy 1:8-10 reveals that God gave us grace before the beginning. Titus 1:1-3 says that God promised us eternal life before the beginning. And John 17:5,24 tells us that God loved His plan before the beginning.
Nothing is more important to God than the accomplishment of His plan. So in the beginning God had a plan. And that plan was “with God.” It was in His heart. It was in His mind. He was thinking about it, considering it, envisaging it. And that plan “was God.” The plan was that God would reveal Himself to man—that the invisible God would make Himself known, that the Interior Logos would be transformed into Exterior Logos. The interior is the mystery concealed. The exterior is the mystery revealed. Therefore John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
According to 1 Timothy 3:16, the mystery is that God [the invisible Father of the Christ] was manifested [rendered visible] in the flesh [not just in a body, but in a human being]. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says, “God [the invisible Father of Christ] was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” God’s own image of Himself became flesh and bone and dwelt among us. We call this the Incarnation. This is Jesus of Nazareth, the uniquely begotten Son of God.
This is why the Son is called “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). He is that aspect of God which can be seen. So we can see that to bring us salvation, there had to be a Son. The term “Son” always relates to the Incarnation. It always refers to one who was born. Speaking as the Son, Jesus never said, “I am the Father.” Why? It’s because He was more than the Father. He was the Father in the Son. He was God manifested in the flesh.
Who was the Father of the Son of God? Luke 1:35 says, “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One [holy thing] who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’” Matthew 1:20 says, “That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” When the Spirit of God brought forth the conception of the Son in Mary, God became the literal Father of Christ.
FATHER IS A TERM of relationship. When we speak of God as the Father, we are speaking to Him in terms of our relationship to Him as His born again children. When we pray, we may speak to God as our Father. But we wouldn’t usually say, “The Father is really moving in this service.” Or, “He was filled with the Father.” Instead we would say, “The Spirit is moving.” Or, “He was filled with the Spirit.”
The Spirit is not a third divine person, distinct from the Father and the Son. The Spirit is God is action. Think of these terms this way:
The Father is God in relationship.
The Son is God in flesh
The Holy Spirit is God is spiritual action.
As Father, God is the One who gives anointing. As Son, God is the Anointed One, the Christ. As Spirit, God is the anointing. These are not three distinct divine persons; they are simply three descriptive titles showing us the way God works in our lives to bring salvation.
For salvation to come to man, there had to be a sinless man for the sacrifice. For the Son to be a genuine man, He had to be born of a woman. But for the Son to be sinless man, He had to be conceived by God. Therefore, to bring salvation God had to become the Father. But once the Son had died and been raised, God had to begin operating in the world as Spirit. Therefore, to bring salvation the Spirit had begin moving, just as it did when God brought order to His creation in Genesis 1:2.
As the Spirit, God is able to be all places at the same time. 1 Corinthians 15:45 says, “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” It is perfectly correct to say that Jesus is the Spirit, Jesus is the Son, or that Jesus is the Father. As Acts 4:12 affirms, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
When a person is filled with the Spirit, who comes to dwell within him? 1 Corinthians 3:16 says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” 2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” And Ephesians 4:6 says, “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Are there three divine persons living in us? No. Jesus is in us by His Spirit.
God is not three distinct divine persons. Neither does He have three identities, three personalities, or three centers of consciousness. God is not three at all, GOD IS ONE!
The doctrine of the trinity was developed by philosophers attempting to explain the God of the Bible using the ideas of Greek philosophy. But in Colossians 2:8-9 Paul warns, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily....”
Making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.... Ephesians 1:16-17
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Copyright © 2003 David Huston
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All Scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible, copyright 1990 by Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville, TN, unless otherwise indicated.
Rosh Pinnah means ‘Chief Cornerstone’ in Hebrew.