Before we begin this series, “Jesus, is He God?” I would like to share why I was inspired to write this. I have been working with young adults for many years and this has been the most commonly asked question.
As we explore and address different world views of Christology, I would like to urge you to look to what the scripture says, as some critics who call themselves “Christians” continue to twist the truth about Jesus Christ. They make false claims that appear to be true to those who do not know the Word of God. Some claim that they have more knowledge or revelation about who Jesus is than any original Apostles of the New Testament; in result, they put themselves above the written Word of God. While others teach false doctrine out of ignorance or lack of knowledge, others do so for financial or personal gain. Whatever reason it may be, the Word of God warns us:
“Such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.”
– 2 Corinthians 11:13
“There is no Trinity. Jesus is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God merely appears at different times in history as a different person or manifestation.”
Modalism (also know as Sabellianism [named after Sabellius, the heretic priest from the 3rd century that promoted this heresy], Modalistic Monarchianism, Modal Monarchianism, Oneness, and Patrapassionism [which means the Father suffers in Latin]) is the belief that God is only one person and changes/shifts into different modes.
RESPONSE: Jesus is fully God, distinct from God the Father and God the Spirit.
Some teach that Jesus appeared as God the Father in the Old Testament, God the Son in the New Testament, and God the Holy Spirit following the ascension of Jesus into heaven. Jesus merely appeared in “different” modes at different times. However, modalism is not biblically possible as seen in the account of the baptism of Jesus. Look at this event like a snapshot in time. As John baptizes Jesus, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit reveal themselves at the same time.
- Jesus comes up out of the water.
- The Spirit of God descends like a dove.
- The heavenly Father’s voice is heard from heaven.
Each of the three individual persons of the Trinity was in the same place at the same time, but each of their actions was different.
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ ” – Matthew 3:16–17
MEANING OF “ONE”
Some may say, “That’s ridiculous, how can the three be one?” To answer this common objection, it should be kept in mind that the word “one” can denote COMPOSITE as well as solitary unity. A Hebrew word for one is “echad” and is used for Adam and Eve becoming “one flesh”. (Gen. 2; 23-24. Ezra 2:64 records that “the whole assembly numbered 42,360.” The words “whole assembly” in English are the single Hebrew word “echad”. (One assembly, but many members.)
There are many variations of the Hebrew words for “one” but without fail Yahweh God chose when describing Himself, the Hebrew word meaning “composite unity”. He never said He was “yachid” one – the absolute singular. Jesus used the equivalent Greek word for composite unity when He spoke of marriage in Mark 10: 8. There is only one God, not three, and that the one God exists in three persons: Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
MYSTERY OF TRINITY
The Trinity is a mystery, a truth beyond our comprehension. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity has been consistently misunderstood, probably more than any other teaching of the Bible. The Trinity is a complex doctrine, and there is the aspect of mystery surrounding it. The early church confessed this fact in 1 Timothy 3:16. We might call this scripture an “early creed” of the church. It states,
“And by common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: God who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, Beheld by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.” Yes, “great is the mystery of godliness”.
This scripture is telling us that we cannot completely understand the infinite God with our finite minds. We will get into trouble if we try to make God “reasonable”, or “easily understood”. God is complex. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts as the prophet pointed out in Isaiah 55: 9. Nevertheless, God has made a revelation of Himself in the Bible, which we can accept or reject as we please.
Notice that immediately following the confession by the early church that “great is the mystery of godliness”, the very next scripture continues.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. “ – Romans 1:20
The Father, Son, and Spirit are distinguishable persons in relationship with one another. They are not merely different names for the one God.
- The Son prays to the Father (Jn. 11:41–42; 17; Mt. 26:39 ff.).
- The Father speaks to the Son (Jn. 12:27–28).
- The Father, Son, and Spirit—all three—appear together, but are clearly distinct from one another (Mt. 3:16–17).
- The Father sends the Son and the Spirit, and the Son sends the Spirit (Jn. 3:17; 4:34; 5:30; 6:39; 14:26; 15:26; 16:7).
- The Father and Son love one another (Jn. 3:35; 5:20; 10:17; 14:31; 15:9–10; 17:24).
Therefore, the doctrine of the Trinity is best presented by looking at the whole of scripture, not in a single verse. An analogy would be time. Time is past, present, and future. But, there are not three times, only one. It is the doctrine that there is only one God, not three, and that the one God exists in three persons: Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Smith, R. A. (2004). Trinity and reality: an introduction to the Christian faith (p. 5). Moscow, ID: Canon Press.
Martin, W. (2019). The kingdom of the cults
Hunt, J.. Biblical Counseling Keys Is the Deity of Christ Defendable?
Ryrie, C. C. Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth