We are about to embark on a rather exiting journey in Examining the Triune God. Commonly known as The Trinity, God has revealed Himself as One God, yet with three distinct persons inhabiting the whole. Though impossible for finite man to entirely grasp, the concept is clearly laid out in the Holy Scriptures and is evident throughout.
Within this journey, we are going to offer several practical and human-related analogies that, although not perfect, will prayerfully help us to better understand our amazing God, His triune attributes in relation to His Godhead, and the character, roles, and mission of each.
We will also look at a few hard-to-understand passages and offer some interpretations that, hopefully, will make sense in light of what we do know about our loving triune God.
First, we’d like to begin with observing the Trinity as found in a few passages of the New Testament. (Underlined emphasis mine).
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).
“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6).
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:18-19).
“For through him [Christ] we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Ephesians 2:18).
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).
“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26).
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen” – (2 Corinthians 13:14).
A Simple Analogy
Water can be a helpful way for the finite creature to get a glimpse of the infinite triune Godhead. Water can essentially take on three forms: liquid (water), solid (frozen), and gas (vapor). They are essentially three different aspects of the same substance.
The Triune God is a Family
Since God created the family unit as a pattern for humanity to prosper in this life, is it any wonder that the “First Family” of all would be found in the Godhead? It surely shouldn’t be. For it is because of the family structure within the triune God that He is able to know and experience love.
We should also expect to see some family qualities within the triune God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – with many aspects similar to a godly father, mother, and child in the human family unit.
My earthy mentor, Dave Hunt, in his wonderful book, In Defense of the Faith, did a magnificent job in relating how God’s “unity and diversity” is the foundation for agape love, as described in the Scriptures.
In the book, Dave says the following:
Although the actual word “Trinity” does not occur in the Bible, the concept is clearly expressed there. The Bible presents a God who did not need to create any beings to experience love, communion, and fellowship. This God is complete in Himself, existing eternally in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, individually distinct from each other yet at the same time eternally one. These three loved, communed, fellowshipped, and took counsel together before the universe, angels, or man were brought into existence.
The Triune God and Creation
Many godly men have recognized the pervasiveness of allusions to our triune God within His created triune universe, and how these facts of science profoundly reveal the truth of its triune Creator.
I’d like to quote Dave once more from his book, In Defense of the Faith, in regard to the essence of God’s triunity found within His creation:
We can, however, see analogies to the Trinity everywhere. The universe comprises three elements: space, time, and matter. The first two are invisible, but matter is visible. Each of these is itself divided into three: length, breadth, and height; past, present, and future; energy, motion, and phenomena. Length, breadth, and height are each separate and distinct from each other, yet they are one because each is the whole. The length takes in all of space, as do the width and height. So it is with time: past, present, and future are each distinct from one another, and yet each is the whole. And here again, two (past and future) are invisible while the present is visible.
Man himself, who is made “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27; 9:6, etc.) is composed of three elements: body, soul, and spirit, of which again two (soul and spirit) are invisible and one, the body, is visible. The way man functions as a being also reflects the same analogy to the Trinity. We conceive something in our minds (invisible), perhaps a poem or a symphony; we express it in speech or writing or in music, and it enters the present, visible world; it is then appreciated in the emotions, once again invisible.
A Human Analogy of the Triune God and Creation
An imperfect and yet helpful analogy for me, when considering creation, is that of the architect, the builder, and the sub-contractor.
The Father: The Architect
We can think of the Father as the Architect of creation, coming up with the blueprint, if you will, for what is seen and unseen in all of God’s creation. Included would be the entire universe, earth, and sea – with all living creatures and man – and heaven, itself, where God dwells with His angelic creation.
The Son: The Builder
The Son, as clearly delineated in Scripture, is the actual Builder of all.
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17). (See also John 1:1-10.)
The Holy Spirit: The Sub-Contractor
We can also think of the Holy Spirit as the Sub-Contractor working in unison with the Son, the Builder.
The basic molecular agents for earth were prepared by God in what can only be described as “nothingness.” We see this situation – with the building blocks of the unique planet Earth – in the opening account of God’s creation in Genesis.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2).
The Holy Spirit – God’s “Subcontractor Plumber” in this analogy – is seen energizing the molecular structure of the waters.
The Triune Godhead’s Roles in Salvation and Consummation
We first have to acknowledge that each member of the Trinity has different responsibilities, roles, and functions, even as they work together in perfect love and harmony.
For instance, salvation would be procured by the Son, not the Father or Holy Spirit. Also, the job of convicting men and women of sin and coming to Christ for salvation is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit, not the Father or the Son.
There are many other roles and responsibilities when it comes to the triune God – and I suspect volumes could be written about these differences – but it’s very important that we recognize this truth as we continue on and look into a few specifics.
The Role of the Son of God in Salvation
God Himself would be the savior of the world.
“I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour” (Isaiah 43:11).
“Yet I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me” (Hosea 13:4).
“Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah” (Psalm 3:8).
When the LORD God stated in the Old Testament that only He is the Savior, it wouldn’t be until the New Testament that God’s people would truly recognize that only the Son of God could pay for the sins of mankind. This responsibility was put solely into the Son’s capable and loving hands.
The Son of God’s Incarnation– Fully Man and Fully God
Yeshua had to learn and grow just as anyone else would. When He became fully aware of who He truly was, we don’t know, but it seems He knew exactly who He was when He was 12:
“And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
“And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
“And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:40-51). (emphasis mine)
When Christ became fully aware of everything regarding the future is also unknown, but we can be assured that it happened because He foretold the future! The same holds true for His knowledge of every person’s heart and thoughts.
“But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:24-25).
The Son’s Humanity and Divinity
God can’t be tempted in the sense of being tempted to commit evil. But Christ, in His humanity, could be – and needed to be – tested by the enemy. This had to happen to show creation that He lived a sinless life and was able to be the perfect blood sacrifice for the world’s sins.
This does not mean that He ceased to be God when He was tested (or tempted) by Satan. Only that in His humanity He successfully defeated the arrows of our adversary and lived a perfect and sinless life.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
What an amazing truth that the Creator became a man and, as such, knows exactly what we experience in this life. It would be one thing for God to say to us that He understands and acknowledges our circumstances and lot it this life, but it’s quite another to know that God manifested Himself in human form and personally faced all of the obstacles life has to offer as a human being!
Some of this is way beyond our comprehension as finite fallen beings, but nonetheless, Christ was and will always be fully human and fully God. However it went down – regardless of our understanding or lack thereof – when it comes to his substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection, the Messiah’s loving sacrifice satisfied the Father’s wrath against sin for all who would put their faith and trust in Him.
Christ may have relied more on His humanity than His deity at certain times, but we should never doubt that Christ, at any time in His ministry, ever ceased to be God. That would be impossible.
Observations of the Holy Spirit
Continuing on with the eternal “First Family” of God, when it comes to the Holy Spirit, one can’t help but to see some maternal qualities. Yes, the Holy Spirit is referred to in a masculine sense, but it shouldn’t surprise us to see the Spirit’s role in the familial Godhead in this way.
We have to remember that men and women were both created in the image of God and, therefore, the female persuasion of mankind would necessarily have to also reflect the character of God. I believe we do see just this in the Holy Spirit’s ministry, especially in relation to the Son and salvation.
The Role of the Holy Spirit in Salvation
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself” (John 16:13a). (emphasis mine)
The Holy Spirit “shall not speak of Himself,” but shall speak of the Son!
“But when the Comforter [the Holy Spirit] is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26).
The Holy Spirit as our comforter (which a godly wife and mother is), and He “shall testify” of the Son. Everything that the Holy Spirit does ultimately points mankind to the Son for salvation.
This reminds me of a godly mom who dotes on her godly children. In fact, we see just this in Mary at the wedding in Cana.
“His [Yeshua’s] mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it” (John 2:5).
Doesn’t the Holy Spirit convict mankind of their sins and point them to the Son for their salvation? Of course, He does!
The Holy Spirit – just like Mary did at Cana – points all men and women to the Son and says, “Whatever He sayeth unto you, do it!” Though the Holy Spirit is certainly masculine – like the other members of the Trinity – we do see maternal characteristics within His role.
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit
When it comes to salvation and the unpardonable sin, we see the importance of the work of the Holy Spirit.
“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matthew 12:31-32). (emphasis mine)
We see the different functions for two different members of the Trinity, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and two different judgments.
The key to understanding this passage is that if a man speaks against the Holy Spirit, in rejecting the conviction of sin and of salvation through the Son, there is no salvation for that individual. In effect, rejecting the Holy Spirit – by speaking against the Holy Spirit’s work of bringing men to Christ or attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan – is rejecting Christ and leaves them without a Savior.
Again, different functions for different members of the Trinity – but the same One True God.
The Relationship Between the Father and the Son
The Son’s love for the Father, and the love the Father has for the Son, is such a tug on the heart of humanity. At least it should be.
To say that Jesus looked up to His Father would be the understatement of eternity.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I” (John 14:27-28). (emphasis mine)
The Son’s absolute love and respect for His Father is exemplified in the life of the Son. He always spoke what the Father wanted Him to speak, and He always did the works the Father wanted Him to accomplish.
“I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
“Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:26-29).
The love the Son has for the Father is quite impressive, to say the least!
“Jesus saith unto [Mary], Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17). (emphasis mine – see also Revelation 3:12)
Jesus, during His earthly ministry, spoke to His disciples as their Teacher, Master, and Lord, but the night before His crucifixion He addressed them as “friends” (John 15:15). Now – after His resurrection, and through Mary – He addresses them as brethren. And because they are now His brethren, He relates to them as equals with His Father.
Christ’s love, honor, and respect for the Father – though lacking in full understanding of the fallen human heart – could be compared to the love of a human child for their human father. Consider the child who looks up to their imperfect human father, who, in their eyes, can do no wrong. In Yeshua’s case, this was more than wishful thinking or hyperbole – this was the absolute truth!
When Jesus says that He ascends “to My God and your God,” we see even more than a profound love between the two, but a respect that transcends human understanding. Jesus is not downplaying His own deity, but lifting up His Father in glory, honor, and praise.
In these Words of the Son, He is leaving us an example that His Father is His God (even as the Father and Son are one), and His Father and His God is our Father and our God. We are in Father God’s family because of His Son! How exciting is that?!
“Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
“My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one” (John 10:25-30). (emphasis mine)
And now, because of the love between the Father and the Son, the Father does always those things the Son requests as the Son advocates on behalf of us before the Father!
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
We, through Christ, even have access:
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
A Few Observations of the Unity of the Trinity
Each member of the triune God draws men to the Lord!
The Son: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).
The Father: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).
The Holy Spirit: “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” (John 16:8).
To show this unity, the Scriptures declare that all three members of the triune Godhead were the agent to resurrect our Lord after His loving sacrifice for our sins!
The Son: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19).
“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17-18).
The Father: “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)” (Galatians 1:1).
The Holy Spirit: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).
Even though the Son and the Holy Spirit are truly God, it is the Father who seems to clearly define for His people the character of the triune God and who He is to His people – their Father! This shouldn’t surprise us, as the Father is to be the head of any household – human or divine!
Is There Something the Son Doesn’t Know?
There are two passages that seem to suggest that the Father and the Son aren’t on the same page, as it were, and we would do well to look into this.
Before Christ ascended into heaven, the disciples asked Him a question:
“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).
Jesus had a rather interesting response:
“And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:7). (emphasis mine)
Jesus, concerning the rapture of the church, said:
“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32). (emphasis mine)
This shouldn’t surprise us because we see specific roles delegated only to the Father in other passages. The most familiar was cited by Christ Himself as the Father is speaking to the Son (Luke 20:41-44).
“The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1).
We also read of how the roles of the Father and the Son work together, and yet independently:
“Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
“For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
The Father and the Rapture
In regard to the rapture, we have to keep in mind the Jewish-Galilean engagement and wedding is a truly beautiful picture and representation of the watching and waiting of the bride of Christ and the rapture of the church. So much so, that it was alluded to the disciples by Yeshua Himself. It must be understood that the Jewish-Galilean wedding – though seemingly coming from the traditions of men – actually came from the predetermined council of the sovereign triune God in eternity past before creation.
In relation to the Jewish-Galilean wedding, only the father of the groom would know when he would send his son for his bride, when the son’s room that is built on to the father’s house for his bride was ready to receive her. This is exactly what will happen for the bride of Christ.
And because this event is reserved only for the father of the groom, it has been reserved exclusively for the Father of the triune Godhead. In both cases above – the times and the seasons of the latter-days and the rapture of the church – we are told that they are entirely in the hands of the Father.
Jesus is preparing a place for us in the Father’s house, just as the groom would be preparing a place in his father’s house for his bride in the Jewish-Galilean wedding. The timing of fetching the bride of the Son is in the Father’s hands and is His responsibility.
Therefore, the Father will tell the Son, in heaven, “It is time. Go fetch your bride!” And Christ will come and receive us unto Himself, that where He is, we will be also.
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3). (emphasis mine)
What a future as the bride of Christ we have!!!
I pray the reader has enjoyed this little journey of Examining the Triune God. Though the analogies are not perfect, and the subject matter can be quite challenging to fully comprehend for finite fallen creatures such as ourselves, I sincerely hope we have a little better understanding of the topic.
One thing I have learned in my walk with the Lord is that our God is amazing in every way! I’m so thankful that God is a triune God that not only understands what true love is, but is the very definition of agape love – a perfect, unconditional love – that has been experienced within Himself for eternity as the self-existent One.
After all, God is love!!!
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
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