Father Son Spirit
Brothers :
The Holy Spirit
and Jesus
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3. Father, Son, and Spirit

Pre-incarnate Form

God said in Genesis 1.26, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." I am always amazed to read "let us" indication several persons in God or multiple voices in a council of God. The "wild animals" in this reading may be understood in the original Hebrew text as "the earth," indicating every living creature on the land. Astoundingly, the little word "us" in Genesis 1.26 survives despite more than two thousand years of scribal copying. The Jews were strict deists who could not countenance any other god than the one Holy God of Israel. Despite this, they faithfully preserved a clear indication of the plurality of the three faces in the Godhead in the Trinity as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Old Testament Trinity

Daniel in Fiery FurnaceIn the Old Testament, we also see Jesus appearing and disappearing in different places. After a pagan king had thrown Daniel and his two friends into the furnace of fire, he approached the door and peeked in through the roaring heat. What this pagan king then said in Daniel 3.25, rocks us on our heels, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods." Even a pagan king recognizes that God, or "a god," or "a son of the gods," is with these three brave Jewish individuals. The "son of the gods" with Daniel and his two friends probably refers to Jesus in a pre-incarnate form! There are also other Old Testament examples of a "God figure," possibly the son of God himself talking to Abraham and wrestling with Jacob.

Trinity Spirit

Jesus' BaptismIn the Gospels, we discover the Holy Spirit in the Trinity at the Baptism of Jesus. We see the Son of God, alongside the Heavenly Father, who speaks his approval from Heaven and the Holy Spirit hovering like a dove. The Father declares from the clouds, "This is my beloved Son," and the Spirit hovered over Jesus like a dove. Here we have all three members of the Holy Trinity at once. Jesus, the son, was being baptized, the Father's voice announced who he was from Heaven, and the Spirit descended upon Jesus like a dove. Jesus later talked about his close relationship with both the Father and Spirit. He said after his resurrection in John 20.17, " 'Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." Note here how Jesus regarded his relationship with his Father in Heaven as different from his disciples' relationship with their Father in Heaven. Jesus had earlier talked about the roles of the Father, Son, and Spirit in John 15.26 "When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father — the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father — he will testify about me."

Heavenly Father

Jesus AscendsAs Jesus ascends to heaven, he commissions his disciples. Jesus uses the significant words in Matthew 28.19-20a, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." This verse is critical in determining that baptism is to be performed not in Jesus' name alone but by the name of the three persons of the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Spirit. The final instruction of Jesus to the Apostles at the Ascension contain the Father, Son, and Spirit at the Ascension in the Trinity. Luke writes in Acts 1.7-8, "Jesus said to them: 'It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'" Later, Saint Paul blesses the Corinthian Christians with the threefold name of the Father, Son, and Spirit in 2 Corinthians 13.14, "May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

Martin Luther

Martin LutherIn the threefold expression of the Holy Trinity, Jesus is one person in three, thus Father, Son, and Spirit. Martin Luther, during the Reformation, states that Jesus, as God was an essential belief. He examined the work of the three members of the Holy Trinity in his own life in his book, "Sermons on the Catechism." He wrote pointedly, "Therefore, from the Father I receive creation, from the Son redemption, from the Holy Spirit sanctification." Jesus had a prominent and essential place in the Church. The first creed used by the Early Church was probably "Jesus is Lord." We find this in Romans 10.9, where Saint Paul writes, "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." The Apostles' Creed gives us a further statement of belief, as does the Nicene Creed written around 325 AD after the Council of Nicaea. From these creeds and others like the Athanasius Creed in the same period come a uniform Christian doctrine. The leaders of the Christian church across Europe and North Africa formulated and agreed upon the Creeds to counter certain sects that argue against the existence of the Trinity and other basic tenets of the Christian faith.

Holy

ApostlesJesus himself defends his deity at his trial in John 10.36b when he says, "Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'?" These passages, like John 10.30, which reads, "I and the Father are one" clearly show that the Jewish leaders accuse Jesus because he claims to be part of the Deity and that he is God himself. Some modern and often very aggressive sects like Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church of the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) deny the existence of Jesus in the Holy Trinity. They say that Jesus is not truly God, but that God only gives this chosen human being some special powers. They also contend that the Holy Spirit is merely a force from God and not God himself. They argue that the Father is another name for the One and only God. For the authentic Christian church, a belief in the Father, Son, and Spirit is essential. From the earliest times, these views are called unorthodox and heretical by the church at large. Those who do not believe in the Trinity are considered sects and not legitimate denominations by the World Council of Churches, founded in 1948. Its mission statement states that it was and is a "fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfill together their common calling to the glory of the one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." All churches regard belief in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds as necessary and the true mark of genuine Christianity. That is why the World Council of Churches excludes both the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and other similar sects.

Trinity Love

Thomas KenThe Holy Trinity's love of the Father, Jesus, and Spirit bind all three members together as almighty, immortal, and invisible. Holy Trinity love needs to become incorporated into our Christian lives and not just as cold, hard theology. We need a warm, loving relationship with all three persons of the Trinity. Bishop Thomas Ken (1637-1711), a one time Bishop of Bath and Wells in England, offers a poem in praise of the Holy Trinity. "Praise and honor, thanksgiving and praise more than we can utter be unto thee, O most adorable Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, by all angels, all men, all creatures forever and ever Amen and Amen. To God the Father, who first loved us, and made us accepted in the Beloved; To God the Son who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his blood; To God the Holy Ghost, who sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts be all love and all glory for time and eternity. Amen." The love of the Father, Son, and Spirit as the most adorable Trinity saturates this prayer.

Most Adorable

John DowdenArchbishop John Dowden (1840-1910) became Bishop of Edinburgh in Scotland in 1886. He, too, responds with a prayer for Holy Trinity love. "O Lord God, almighty, immortal, invisible, the mysteries of whose being are unsearchable. Accept, we beseech thee, our praises for the revelation which thou hast made of thyself. Father, Son and Spirit, three persons, and one God. And mercifully grant that, ever holding fast this faith, we may magnify thy glorious name. Who lives and reigns, one God, world without end. Amen."

"Father Son Spirit"
©1990-2019
by Ron Meacock

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