The title of this chapter, which is a man-made phrase and not a Scriptural one, should not mislead any reader into thinking that the intention is to explain all about the Deity in one short article. Indeed, all that we may learn about God in this life is but a fragment of the reality which we shall come to know during our enjoyment of eonian life. In fact, what is true now is doubly true then, "this is eonian life, to know Thee, the one true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent."
But because popular assumptions about this important subject are so unsatisfactory, it is essential for those who wish to believe God and not men to have a knowledge of what He, Himself, reveals in His Word for our understanding and instruction, and for our acceptance by faith. After all, the purpose of Gods revelation is to REVEAL, and He does not do this by putting in His record things which we are not supposed to understand. There are many things about which the Scriptures are silent, and perhaps the purpose is that we should not seek to understand them, but the infinite value of these same Scriptures lies in the fact that they are a revelation, and one which constantly unfolds upon reverent research. Many Christians labour under the impression that all is known, and all that is left for them is to learn the various dogmas by heart.
The words of our title sound most profound, and much has been made of them down the ages. This is a mystery so mysterious that it defies coherent thought, but the mystery is a product of minds which evolved fantastic doctrines, and is not in the plain declarations of Scripture about which they have woven their intricate (though not very substantial) network of inference and reasoning.
To harbour any doubts about the so-called "doctrine of the Trinity" is regarded as the gravest heresy, but the word Trinity appears nowhere in Scripture. I think that the doctrine can be fairly stated in these words
There is only one God, but there are three persons who are called God, and they are described as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And these three persons are one and not three.
The Scriptures, nevertheless, teach in no uncertain terms that there is ONE GOD, to which our faith readily assents. The Scriptures moreover, do NOT teach that there are three PERSONS who are called God, in fact they never use the word PERSONS in speaking of the relationship between God, His Spirit and His Son. The fact that an unscriptural term is the basis of the doctrine is a sure sign of something amiss. Apparently God is unable to express Himself without human help. It would be useful to the believer if he had a built-in warning light which began to flash as soon as he found himself thinking in unscriptural terms in the attempt to express Scripture!
We should be grateful that God never asks us to torture our minds by trying to make them reason that One is Three, and Three are not Three but One; actually, no direct statement of Scripture can be produced to teach the doctrine of the Trinity; it must all be "deduced" and "inferred," which is a very dangerous procedure and an almost certain way in which to find error.
If a Scripture can be produced which speaks of Three Persons who together comprise a Triune God then our faith would have to accept it, and leave God to explain something that the finite mind can never grasp. Lacking such a Scripture, we cannot show any interest in the maunderings of the theologians.
What, then, do the Scriptures teach regarding the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
First and foremost, we are informed that God is Spirit and is invisible (Col.1:15). He is therefore outside the range of the human senses and can be neither seen nor heard. Concerning His Son, we are told that He is Gods Image (portraying God the invisible as He really is) and His Word or Logos (making God audible). So that if God wishes to appear before the eyes of men, or to speak words which men can understand, He does so by His Image and His Word. This Scriptural statement is clear and intelligible to all.
In the Philippian Epistle we are told that Christ subsisted in the FORM of God. If Christ and God were identically the same" person " these words have no meaning, but since in all appearance HE IS GOD, it would not be wrong (as the writer suggests) for Him to assume equality with God. But if God and Christ are the same "person" what is the point in speaking of a persons equality with himself?
All the worship due to God, so far as we can offer it, is rightfully offered to Christ, for to us, He is God. He is God visible and audible, but not identical in essence with the Deity, for then we could not see or hear Him. He is a portrayal of what God looks like--He is God revealed and heard. In other words, to see God we must look upon Christ His image, to hear God we must listen to Christ His Word.
Scripture tells us that God is "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"; in other words, God sustains a relationship to Christ which is different from that which Christ has to Him, He is Christs Father and His God. And according to our Lord, God "sent" Him, which effectively proves that the Son is not the Absolute Deity--if He were He could not be "sent." This effectively disposes of the Trinitarian doctrine that " all three persons are co-equal," for no son is equal with the father who derived him, and who commissions him to do certain work.
In the wonderful Colossian epistle (to what heights this writing ascends !) there is a masterly summary of the relationship between Christ and God, in the 9th verse, "in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Deity bodily," or as the C.V. translates it, "the entire complement of the Deity." A complement is that which makes up a complete whole, and since God is out of range of the human perceptions, in revealing Himself (as He desires to do) He comes within our comprehensions and is seen and heard in His Christ. Christ is the embodiment of revelation ; always it is His Father, and His Fathers will, that he reveals, not Himself. In doing so He becomes God to us, the only God we can ever see and hear--the complement of the Deity. He is entitled to the worship and honour due to the Father Whom He reveals.
Truly, He does make the claim that" I and my Father are One," but this is certainly no assertion that They are one and the same "person." They are one in all that They do, as He constantly asserted when upon this earth. The Fathers will, not His own, was His delight, and the works that He did were His Fathers too. He prayed that His disciples might all be one "even as Thou, 0 Father art in Me, and I in Thee," but even the most twisted theology has not yet attempted to make this prayer mean that He wanted them made into one "Person," despite the fact that the Lord requested that the disciples might be "one, even as we are one." This scripture alone should suffice to prove the meaning of" one-ness" as our Lord intended it to be understood. Incidentally, if Christ is identical with Absolute Deity, He could not have made this prayer, or any other, for there cannot possibly be anyone superior to the Deity, to whom a prayer could be offered.
Our Lord always gloried in the fact that His authority was given to Him, and that all whom He saves are given to Him, and His words are full of references to His having been sent to do works which were not His own, but the works of Him that sent Him. There are very many instances which might be cited to show the unity between Christ and His God, and many also to show the contrasts between Them, but nowhere can be found any evidence to support the idea that they are two "Persons" of a mythical Godhead, of equal power and identical personality.
The Trinitarian doctrine goes even further in trying to make a third "Person" out of the Holy Spirit, a separate "personality" from God which is at the same time identically one with Him. We have many references in Scripture to "the spirit of Christ," so if this foolish line of reasoning is to be followed we might as well make out that Christs spirit is a separate "person" from Christ, and so make FOUR of it.
If we are to use this imported term "person," we can point out that Christ did not have two" persons" as His Father, but One. However, He is spoken of as the Son of God, yet we are definitely told that His birth was by the Holy Spirit. Obviously, the Holy Spirit cannot be a separate "person" from God.
In the book of Genesis, God says "Let us make man in our image," and these words have been made an excuse for surmising that He is addressing two other Gods who are also Himself! If the King addresses His ministers as " we," or the Editor of a magazine refers in his editorial to "we," does this endow them with split personalities and make them into "plurals "?
It is always a relief, like a refreshing draught of pure air, to turn away from the theologians and look at the Scripture. No wonder the Psalmist said "Cease from man!" If we need understanding of these matters, the articles of our faith are clearly written. In I. Corinthians 8, verses 5 and 6, we read this:
"There are many gods and many lords, nevertheless to us there is ONE GOD THE FATHER, out of Whom all is and we for Him, and ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST, through Whom all is, and we through Him."
That would appear to be clear, concise, and self-explanatory, as distinct from any theological doctrine.
To quote an excellent note written years ago by the late A. E. Knoch, "Trinity pervades false religions, unity is the test of the true. The Mohamniedans have a trinity of mediators, for they canonize Moses and Jesus and Mohammed. They acknowledge a trinity of prophets. Christianity recognises three Gods, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
But the Scriptures repudiate both these trinities. Moses and Mohammed have no right to be listed with our Saviour.
There is One God, the Father, out of Whom all is, so also there is One Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom all is. The Son is the channel, not the source of all. The Spirit is not a distinct personality from God Himself. He IS Spirit. That is His essence, and apart from His holy spirit He has no personality. The Scriptures present no pantheon."
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