Uncomplicated Theology No. 14

Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear O Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is One!” Those words form the centerpiece of daily Jewish prayers. They are echoed in the OT when we consider Deuteronomy 4:35, “There is none besides God,” and implied in Exodus 20:3 which says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” 

To students of the Bible, an apparent truth that is tantamount to breathing or walking is the idea that there is only one God. That God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, Job, John the Baptist, and Barnabas. However, He has more than one personality. To many people, that is a logical fallacy because a person possesses only one personality. Neal is Neal. Bart is Bart. Jenny is Jenny. There’s never a moment where Neal can be Neal and also Bart or Jenny. It’s just not possible. The rational conclusion we must make is therefore also simple, we’re not God, and He’s not us. He’s not defined by our limitations. You can see God as the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit. And when you see Him in any of those personalities, He is still One God. That idea has been encompassed into a thought called the Trinity of God. Knowing what it means and implies is not complicated, but does require some diligence. 

Let’s begin by acknowledging something incredibly important. Even though there are three unique personalities of God found in Scripture, each personality thoroughly possesses the inherent divinity of God. The classic analogy used in theological studies is that of water. No matter what form you find water in, be it liquid, gas, or solid, it’s always two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. Whether it’s a liquid, gas, or solid, it’s still the same stuff. You see it differently. Interact with it differently. Treat it differently. Yet, it’s still the same. Our relationship with God is incredibly similar. 

Consider two unique moments where we see God in all three personalities at the very same time. 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.”

At the moment of Jesus’ baptism, we see the Son rising from the water, the Holy Spirit descending like a dove, and the Father speaking from heaven. That’s all three personalities existing and acting separately. He is still One in unity, purpose, and understanding while functioning as three personalities. Nothing about their existence contradicts or compromises the existence of the other personality. There are uniquely God in their existence and function.  

In John 14:25-26, Jesus was speaking to His Apostles and explained the imminent coming of the Holy Spirit:

These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

Notice that Jesus told them about the work of the Holy Spirit who would be sent by God just like He was sent to be the Savior. This purposeful divergence of responsibility and investment in the Church shows a clear divide between the three. 

One thing that must be understood is simple – each personality is divine. They all possess the unique traits of God. The Father is inherently divine. See Ephesians 1:3-5:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.

His eternal nature is clearly seen in how He planned our purpose in this world before its very foundations. The Son of God (Jesus) is also inherently divine. See Hebrews 1:1-3 which says:

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

When you compare that passage to John 1:1-3 you see the work of Christ in creation. That involvement during our creation may be the most divine of all His qualities. The Holy Spirit is also divine. Consider Acts 5:3-4 which says:

But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

That phrase, “you have lied to God” can’t be more emphatic. When thinking about their divinity and unity, consider also Matthew 28:19 and the emphasis on all three during the great commission. It says:

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. 

In the end, remember that even though God can be seen in each personality, they are not a portion or a percentage of God. They are all completely God. I’d be slacking if I didn’t show you a few simple things that explain this theological idea from Genesis. First of all, when Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created…” the word God is Elohim which always implies a plurality. That corresponds really well with Genesis 1:26 which says:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness,”

and Genesis 3:22 which says:

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil,”

and Genesis 11:6-7 which says:

And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

God has been and will continue to be One, with three distinct personalities – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It may seem confusing to us, but it’s nonetheless true. All three are worthy of our devotion, praise, and faith. All three made us, sustain us, and guide us. All three were instrumental in our creation, our redemption, and our eventual sanctification in Heaven. All three are God, because God is One. The Great I AM, who was, who is, and who will be! 


Notes

All Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Photo by Jason Wong on Unsplash

About The Merger

The Merger began when Neal Mathis and Matthew Higginbotham sat down to write together. Since then, it's blossomed into so much more. The Merger is meant to be a place where faith and life meet. In these stories, we hope you'll find deep theological value right alongside life-changing practical advice.

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