Author: Andrew Harrison
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commandedyou…'(Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV))
This is our great commission. Baptism is the symbol of our regeneration; it is not in the name of ‘Jesus’ only, not in the name of ‘God’ only, not in the name of the ‘Father’ only, not in the name of the ‘Holy Spirit’ only, and not in the name of ‘Jehovah’ or ‘Yahweh’ only. In one sense one of these names will do on its own, but so that there can be no doubt who God is, the full Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is addressed and meant. These are the instructions of Jesus Himself.
We live in New Testament times and in New Testament terminology this is how we tend to worship God (as emphasised in the New Testament): We worship the Father through Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was, as one would expect, the focus of worship while on earth 2000 years ago. He is today too, in many respects as we identify with Him – Jesus became flesh. When we use the word ‘God’ we mean the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit but may often have either the Father or Jesus in our mind’s eye, or we may be thinking of the sense of closeness to God that we experience through His Holy Spirit.
We usually associate the Holy Spirit with God’s power at work and being filled with God. Although Christians are clothed with Christ we usually emphasise being filled with God’s Spirit. These are all biblical concepts and we could spend a long time studying the many references but I will only be concentrating on a finite amount. We have such a freedom of terminology because we are always referring to all three Persons of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) whenever we refer to one of them. This is good and right and the Bible constantly bears witness to this, and this is the basis of my article.
They are all the Creator
Genesis 1:1: ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth’ (ESV)
‘God’ in Hebrew – Elohim, – is the plural form ‘Gods’. But there is only one God! So the Hebrew bears this out by using the singular verb: ‘He created’ for the plural noun. In Old Testament times the Jews would have seen this plural form as signifying that God is boundless, Almighty. But there is more to God than just a single independent entity. Today, in New Testament times, this mystery has been uncovered further through Jesus. Jesus Himself fulfils the prophesies about the coming Messiah such as:
‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. And his name shall be called Wonderful counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ (Isaiah 9:6 (ESV))
God is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Wonderful Counsellor).
Another name for God is Yahweh/Jehovah – in English translations usually ‘LORD’ in capital letters.
God (Elohim) (Exodus 3:14) introduced his own special name of Jehovah/Yahweh of which I AM/HE IS etc is the translation in Exodus 3:14-15:
‘God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”…’ (ESV)
Again, even though we have the plural ‘Elohim’ (God) we have the singular ‘I am’. God in three Persons is one single Being.
‘Thus says the LORD…who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself’ (Isaiah 44:24 (ESV))
If our LORD did this on His own then Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father have to be one and the same Being as all were The Creator of the universe:
In John 1:1-3, 14 we see that nothing was made without Jesus. 2 Peter 3:5, 7 also speak of the Word of God – Greek, Logos used here too. In Psalm 104:30 we have:
‘When you send forth your Spirit (Hebrew Ruach), they are created’ (ESV).
Ruach is the same Hebrew word as used in Genesis 1:2 for God’s Holy Spirit.
So, the creation by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit equals God creating alone. He – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is one Being.
Sects who cannot accept Jesus as God the Creator often believe that only the Father is the same as the LORD (Jehovah/Yahweh/I AM) claiming that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not God the Creator. They give the impression that the ‘Father’ in the phrase ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ is the only one who is truly the One God. They tend to emphasise the humanness of Jesus and His unique relationship with God 2000 years ago. But just as the ‘Son’ as part of the Trinity really comes to the fore in the New as opposed to the Old Testament, so does the ‘Fatherhood’ of God. Before the revelation of this mystery of the Godhead in New Testament times and terminology the emphasis was on God as Elohim and Jehovah/Yahweh/I AM (LORD).
So far I have made it clear that ‘Elohim/I AM’ is God the Creator. And God the Creator is also Jesus and the Holy Spirit. And in case there is any doubt about the Father being God the Creator we have Isaiah 64:8:
‘But now, O LORD [Hebrew – Jehovah/Yahweh/I AM], you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand’ (ESV).
The Holy Spirit
‘…And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters’ (Gen.1:2(ESV))
‘Spirit’ here is the Hebrew ruach which is the Old Testament word for ‘spirit’, ‘breath’ or ‘wind’ and the equivalent of the Greek pneuma which is also used for the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. This ‘wind’ here from/of God is none other than the Holy Spirit. The atmosphere had not yet been created! The earth was formless and void before the 6 days of creation.
The statement, ‘God created the heavens and the earth’ could be a general reference to the events of the 6 day creation following in the text, but we see that in verse 2 the earth is present before His first day of creation or at least at the beginning of the first day. In readiness for His first noted act that would affect the already existing void earth the Holy Spirit hovers over the void. Then God (Elohim – ie. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit) said:
‘”Let there be light”, and there was light’ (Genesis 1:3 (ESV))
So the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit created the heavens and the earth at the beginning. The Holy Spirit hovered over the empty earth and then the Father, Son and Holy Spirit say, “Let there be light” as a creative act.
1 Corinthians 2:10-12
It is the Holy Spirit that searches ‘everything, even the depths of God.’
Our human spirit lives on after physical death – it is that spirit that is us/me. It is our human spirit that knows our thoughts. Likewise, ‘no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God’. Only God himself can be identified with such a huge ability. The ‘Spirit of God’ is very much God Himself – His inmost Being if you like. Therefore it is through His Holy Spirit in us that we can understand anything about God. We would not be us without our inmost self – our own human spirit. Likewise, God is not God without His
Spirit – the Holy Spirit. As God, the Holy Spirit is beyond our comprehension; He does not need to consult anyone, does not need advice or teaching. He acts in justice too. Isaiah tells us:
‘Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?’ (Isaiah 40:13-14 (ESV))
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
The Holy Spirit is clearly identified as ‘Lord’ and ‘God’ who empowers all gifts, services and activities. These activities are part of the function of the Holy Spirit (one Person of the Godhead) who is wholly God. In New Testament terminology we are given gifts by God through the Spirit (1 Cor.12:8) and by the Spirit (1 Cor.12:9).
Comparing this with 1 Cor.12:6, 11, it is God who empowers them, and the Spirit who empowers them as one and the same Being. In addition, it is ‘the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills’ (1 Cor.12:11).
The Holy Spirit makes the choice, He decides who has which gift. He is a Person of the Godhead who makes GOD-DECISIONS.
Ananias and Sapphira
Reading Acts 5:1-11 shows what lying to the Holy Spirit can do. Verse 3 (‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?’ (ESV)) shows that Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit. This is the same as lying to God (see verse 4 – ‘You have not lied to men but to God’ (ESV)). Who do we think the Holy Spirit is? God of course – the Spirit of God who is Holy. He is likewise the ‘Spirit of Jesus Christ’ (Philippians 1:19).
We have already seen in Exodus that the LORD/Jehovah/Yahweh/I AM is God (Elohim (plural)). In Psalm 102 the LORD is EL (‘God’ in the singular). Psalm 102 addresses the LORD (Hebrew – Jehovah/Yahweh/I AM ) (see verses 1 and 12). The psalmist also calls the LORD ‘El’ stating the fact that he (LORD/God) laid the ‘foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands..’ (see verses 24-27). He (LORD/God) is the Creator. The identity of the LORD (Yahweh/Jehovah) or God (‘El’) is attributed to Jesus in Hebrews 1:8-12:
‘But of the Son he says…You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth…’ (ESV)
Verses 10-12 are a quote of Psalm 102:25-27.
Also Jesus is identified with the LORD as Elohim (as in Exodus 3:14-15) when Jesus claims to be the I AM in John 8:58:
‘…before Abraham was, “I am”‘. (ESV)
Some sects that cannot accept Jesus is the one and only God as much as the Father come unstuck one way or another in Isaiah 44:6 which literally says:
‘Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god [Elohim].’ (ESV)
We Christians can understand this in its fullest sense – one way being that the LORD (I AM) King of Israel is the Father and the LORD (I AM) of hosts the Redeemer is the Son, as two distinct Persons. These two persons together are one being because He (singular) [the Father and the Son] says, ‘I am the first and I am the last’. They are One God because he says: ‘besides me there is no god’. But Jesus is as much the King of Israel as the Father, and the Father is as much the Redeemer as Jesus is. This adds confirmation to the fact that any Person of the Trinity encompasses all three Persons.
Sects may say ‘no’ this cannot be 2 persons, it is only 2 functions of the LORD and nothing to do with Jesus. So when we are speaking of the LORD (I AM) we are only speaking of the Father. But by saying this is only speaking of one ‘Person’ (believing God cannot be more than one Person) they unwittingly have to identify it with Jesus because the LORD says in this passage that he is the first and the last: ‘I am the first and the last; besides me there is no god’.
Only the one true God can be the first and the last. So when Jesus says, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive for evermore…’ (Revelation 1:17-18 (ESV) – see 22:13), we can be fully assured that Jesus is the one and only true God the Father of all creation. If they then change their mind and say the LORD of hosts, the Redeemer is Jesus and this ‘first and last’ bit only belongs to him and does not signify that he is God, they have to acknowledge firstly that he is the LORD (Jehovah/Yahweh/I AM) – ie. ‘his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts’; secondly, that two Persons are one God because we have straight after it the statement in the singular: ‘I am the first and the last; besides me there is no god’.
They cannot cope with this however they look at it. We Christians can, and have no need to adapt the verse to suit our needs. Our Christian beliefs are based on what the Bible actually says, not on an adapted text in accordance with our beliefs.
The Father is the LORD the King of Israel as well as the LORD of hosts the Redeemer. Jesus is likewise the LORD the King of Israel and the LORD of hosts the Redeemer. Both have both titles, both are the LORD, yet even so both are still one Being, the first and the last, the only true God that exists. The Father and the Son are together singularly the only true God. And as we have seen, the Holy Spirit is also God Himself. So, quite simply, we have our Godhead – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Other references to consider regarding the Trinity are 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 13:14; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 12:4-6; Galatians 3:11-14; 1 Thessalonians 5:18-19; 1 Peter 1:2; 4:14; and Acts 2:33 with Luke 3:16.
Servant-hood of Jesus
While on earth Jesus took the form of a servant (see Philippians 2:7 and John 13:1-20). As a consequence he was a great example of how we should be with our Father. On his Father – Son relationship see John 5:19, 30; 12:49-50.
For further examples of how he demonstrated the right relationship consider John 11:41-42 and Matthew 5:9-13; 3:13-17
We have seen that the Father is God, Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is God. All together they are One God the Creator of all things. All were equally The Creator. As far as terminology is concerned the scriptural emphasis is that the Father created everything through Jesus by the Holy Spirit. In our worship the emphasis is likewise worshipping the Father through Jesus by the Holy Spirit.
Because the Father is the Creator
And Jesus is the Creator
And the Holy Spirit is the Creator
When we name one as the Creator we mean all.
Because the Father is God
And the Son is God
And the Holy Spirit is God
When we name one as God we mean all.
The one thing I am hesitant in doing is over-emphasising the worship of the Holy Spirit as opposed to worshipping God by the Holy Spirit. Not that it is wrong so long as the whole Godhead is acknowledged, but simply because the Bible does not exemplify this for worship. This may be for a reason such as to avoid an over-emphasis in our minds on the power of God manifested in our live
s. We know that God has given us new birth by his Holy Spirit, but our desire is not to worship this experience but rather to develop our love for God of which Jesus is the prime example.
Final Note on the Trinity
I have never had a problem accepting the concept of the Trinity. Purely and simply this is truth and our human comprehension is secondary. We cannot put God into a box of human making.
Although it is not a perfect comparison, I like to use ourselves as an analogy of God as three Persons. In fact it should be the other way round – we are as we are because we are made in the image of God. We have three ‘parts’ to us – body, soul and spirit (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23). You may say, “But our body will perish in the ground, so we really have only two parts!” But we must remember that we will all be clothed with an imperishable body (see 2 Corinthians 5:4 and 1 Corinthians 15:53).
Although we are three ‘parts’ we are one ‘being’. All three aspects are intricately linked and we cannot live if one ‘part’ of us is missing. Our spirit is our inmost being which knows us more than anything. My three-ness makes me one being.