How Well Do You Know God? (Part 8)
By Tommy Thornhill
In this issue we continue our study of the triune God (Elohim) of the Bible. I am well aware of the difficulty of trying to explain something that is not easy to explain. While many people see the concept of a triune or trinity God as strange and even contradictory, it is a Bible truth. The God I serve is a monotheistic God (one God), not a polytheistic god (many gods). Let’ explore more about what is meant by a triune God.
When I say the Bible teaches there is one God, but He is triune in nature what does that mean? It means that God is one in essence or being, possessing all the qualities that make one God. infinite, eternal, self-existent, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, but existing as a plurality or trinity of spirit persons, namely the Father, The Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, a unity that is undivided and indivisible. As seen in a previous article each of these persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are called God. While they are triune in nature (a trinity), each person in the trinity is separate and distinct from the others and each functions differently in the creation of “the heavens and the earth” and in the plan of salvation for mankind.
In seeking to illustrate how three can be one, I have used an illustration that I heard years ago. It is a human illustration so don’t try to fit it into every aspect of the point being made. Take one common chicken egg. It is one egg, but has three components, egg white, egg shell and egg yoke. All three form the one egg, but each part is separate and distinct from the other parts.
Preachers sometimes have used mathematics to oppose the idea of a triune (trinity) God. They said this is three gods and used math. 1+1+1 = 3. I turn the equation and say, if you are going to use math, then why not use 1x1x1=1. This is more in line with the doctrine in the Bible of the Godhead. Read what I wrote in last week’s article about the phrase, “The LORD our God is one, the LORD is one” (echad- a unified one) Deut.6:4.
I am sure you have noticed I have used the word “trinity” to describe the triune nature of God. They say the Bible doesn’t use the word “trinity” so it shouldn’t be used, since we are taught, “if anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles (words) of God” 1.Pet.4:11. Some well-meaning brethren have even, in some songbook editions, removed the phrase “God in three persons, blessed trinity” from the song, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” and replaced it with, “God over all, and blest eternally.” The song can be sung either way and be scriptural, but what is wrong with using, “blessed trinity?” If God exists in three persons, why not use a word that states the threefold nature of God? If fact, if one takes time to think about it, preachers and teachers often use phrases not found in the Bible. They use words in their lessons that are not in the Bible, but have the same meaning as the words in the Bible. That doesn’t mean they are not speaking as the oracles of God, but they are simply using words that the audience can better understand. If the Bible teaches that God is one, yet all three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, are all God, how else can you explain it than call the Godhead a trinity.
We often use the term “deity” in referring to God. Deity” is a word not used in the Bible, but is often used by preachers. The word “deity” is a descriptive word to explain the divine character or nature. It is a term I use at times when referring to the Father, Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit. All three are divine and deity, for all three possess the qualities that make each of them God. The word deity by itself does not denote a specific number.
Perhaps, as we think of the above use of deity, we might compare it to a similar term, “humanity.” Humanity means possessing the qualities, characteristics and essence that make one human, the quality of being human. How many persons are included in the word is not specified, but it is certainly more than one.
A couple of paragraph above I mentioned that the word “Godhead” is also used to help define God. With slightly different Greek words the word appears three times in the NT. Rom.1:20 (theiotes-Godhead), Col.2:9 (theotes-Godhead) and Acts 17:29 (theios-Godhood, Divine Nature-NKJV). All three words refer to God’s glorious, divine nature and essence. While the word itself does not define the triune nature of God, the very concept that three persons share the essence of God, it does show that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are not three different Gods, nor are they divided into parts. As stated earlier, they are equal in the nature and qualities of God, yet they each have a different and distinct function as God.
While God is triune, a trinity, where all three beings, the Father, the Son. The Holy Spirit are equal in nature, all possessing the attributes that make one God, there is a difference in rank in the Godhead. The Father is the one that is greater. He is greater than the Son Jn.14:28. “My Father is greater than I.” So, Jesus is subject to the Father, who gave Him all authority Matt.28:18; 1.Cor.15:24-28. And the Father is greater than the Holy Spirt, for He would not come until the Father sent Him. This would be after Jesus the Son returned to heaven. Jesus stated to His apostles that He would not leave them comfortless when He returned to heaven. He tells them, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name” Jn.14:26. The Holy Spirit would be sent to guide them into all truth. He came on the Day of Pentecost and started His work of revealing the plan of God which was being fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jn.15:26. He confirmed the word that was preached Mk.16:19-20; Heb.2:2-1-4.
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