- Bible Study by Ready2Rapture
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When it comes to proper discipleship, the churches have been dropping the ball for millenia. Sometimes I just want to walk into a major church, grab The Pastor (said reverendly-- get it?) by the throat, and scream, "WHY AREN'T YOU TEACHING THESE PEOPLE ANYTHING THAT MATTERS??" I'm amazed people learn anything at all. But I digress.
By an amazing coincedence (but we know better), someone contacted me from the form at my theology web today and asked for a book review. They sent me an excerpt, and it turned out to be about the Trinity. I think maybe it would help to copy my response here:
Hi, thanks for visiting my website! I hope you found it helpful. And I am honored that you would ask me to read your book. But if you've read any of my articles, I think you already know that I disagree with the excerpt you sent me. Let me just briefly comment:
There is a world of difference between the phrases "Jesus is God" and "God is Jesus". The first is Biblical since the Father is God, Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. But the second can be misleading. While it's true that Jesus does have "all the fullness of the Godhead bodily", many would take the phrase to mean that there is no Father or Holy Spirit as separate entities or persons of the one triune God.
In fact, when Paul told the Romans the gospel (confess Jesus as Lord and believe God raised him from the dead), he was saying two important things:
1, that Jesus is THE Lord (not just "my" Lord). He is YHWH of the Old Testament, the very creator of the universe (Col. 1:15-17). He often said "I and the Father are one", and "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father".
2, that Jesus was raised by another entity, the Father, who is also God.
In many other scriptures we see that Jesus prayed to the Father. In Mt. 3:16-17 we see all three entities at once: the Spirit descends on Jesus and a voice from heaven calls Jesus his son. And all three of these are called God throughout the NT. So we can really say the Father is God, Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God. Yes, Jesus is my God, but so also is the Father and the Spirit. Yet they are one God.
The concept of a plural unity is really not that hard to grasp. In Genesis, Adam and Eve were "one flesh", and the "one" obviously means that a married man and woman do not literally become one physical body, but that they are to be considered as such. They share a unity exclusive to all other humans. In the same way, although beyond our understanding completely, the Father, Son, and Spirit are separate entities or centers of consciousness, yet they share a unity of being that makes them One God.
This is the Bible's teaching: that all three are "the God of our fathers". Even in the Old Testament we see God represented in three persons at once when he visited Abraham to tell him Sarah would have a son. And throughout the New Testament all are called God, not Gods, so they cannot be split apart to the point where we can say only the Father is God, because that simply isn't true according to all the scriptures in both Testaments. Jesus' high priestly function no more disqualfies him from our worship than the Spirit's being our "helper" disqualifies him from our worship.
We must remember also that what Jesus did on earth, he did to be our example. He limited himself for a time (Phil. 2), not only to die for us, but also so we could learn how to relate properly to God. So for him to tell us to worship God only is not to say we cannot call Jesus or the Spirit God, or that we cannot worship them, because it takes all three to be God. To worship God is to worship all of God, not part.
When I went through the NT to lock down the essentials of saving faith, I had to conclude that it centers on Jesus. We must believe he is The Lord, that he died for the sins of the whole world, and that God raised him from the dead as the prophets foretold. That's saving faith, if we have it as a personal conviction.
Here's another way to look at the Trinity:
A box has three dimensions: height, width, and length. It takes all three to make one box. But the height is not the width or length, the width is not the length or height, and the length is not the height or width. Each is a separate entity but they share the same essence and must all exist to make one box. Similarly, there would be no God at all unless the Father, Son, and Spirit were all unique entities of the one God.
The Father is God
Jesus is God
The Spirit is God
No one of the three can be anything but God. Yet each is unique, not a mere office or manifestation of the others.
While I agree that many people's idea of the gospel is woefully lacking, and that there is not one hint of a "sinner's prayer" in the Bible, the issue is faith. Do we, or do we not, hold as a personal conviction the fact that Jesus is Lord, that he died for our sins, and that he rose again? "There is salvation in no other name" (Acts 4:12).
So the NT's focus is clearly on Jesus. He is not all there is to God, but he is the One to whom "every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." So it is to the Father's glory that we call Jesus Lord, which means YHWH the Creator (Col. 1:15-20). Even Isaiah calls him "the mighty God, the everlasting father" even though he is the Son! (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus' glorification and reverence for the Father was his example to fellow humans, while still being fully God. So we must not confuse his examples for us with his own relationship to the Father, since he is fully God and fully man.
The heresy of the "Jesus Only" movement is not in their calling him God, but in their rejection of the clear teaching of the scriptures that God is more than Jesus. Yet we cannot deny the full deity of Jesus, as you can read in my article "Did Jesus Claim to be God?" at http://theology.fether.net/index.php?id=463 .
John 1:1 tells us that the Word, who by the context is none other than Jesus, was with God in the beginning and IS God. I don't know how much plainer it could be stated. It might help to read some of the debates between Athanasius and Arius (there is an introduction about that at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athanasius_of_Alexandria), over the issue of Jesus' divinity.
So I have to conclude that your view of God is not supportable when all the scriptures are considered. A "oneness" view is wrong whether the "one" is the Father or the Son or the Spirit. The bottom line is, do you have the saving faith in Jesus that the Bible demands?
Hope that helps :-)
Let me leave you with that for now, and then clear up any other questions you might still have. But most people really don't understand the Trinity, partly because their teachers don't understand it. So don't feel bad about not knowing. Nobody told me either, so I did a lot of reading.
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