Father Son and Holy Spirit – three essentials in one God

God is Love

Uniquely among the great monotheistic faiths Christianity proclaims a Holy or Divine Trinity in the one God. For theologians and ordinary believers alike this has proved to be a difficult and even divisive teaching. If God is clearly distinguished into the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit how does he remain at the same time one whole and undivided Being? Some simply cannot believe it, others try to accept it as a mystery beyond human understanding, and even among those who have understood it very few see it as a powerful message with which to win new converts. Yet in presenting himself to us as both one and three, God is surely trying to tell us something very important about how he works with us.

Many modern believers start from the first principle that God is love [1 John 4:16 NRSV]. A loving God will never stand apart and aloof from his people. God longs to draw close to his people and to enjoy a fruitful relationship with every single one of them. One of the best loved verses in the New Testament reminds us that, God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life [John 3:16 NRSV]. This longing on the part of God for loving relationships with ordinary mortals is the key to understanding the traditional Christian teaching concerning the Trinity.

For ordinary mortals such a loving relationship with God is full of difficulty and even danger. Finite human beings can scarcely comprehend what infinite love is, let alone draw close to it. The power of God’s love is so great that it is frequently described in the Scriptures as a ‘consuming fire’. The intensity of its flame and heat is greater even than that of the sun or indeed of many suns combined together. Small wonder that God told Moses, You cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live [Exodus 33:20 NRSV]. If any meaningful relationship is to exist between the Divine Father and his people then his infinite love needs to be tempered and in some way accommodated to human states.

But how can God temper and accommodate his love in order that we might safely receive it? The biblical answer is to be found in the coming among us of the Son of God. Concerning the Son, Jehovah God said, For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst [Zechariah 2:10 NRSV]. Elsewhere it is Jehovah who says, I am the Lord and there is no Saviour besides me [Isaiah 43:11 NRSV] – The gospel also records, Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, God is with us [Matthew 1:23 NRSV]. These, and other similar verses perhaps suggest that the Son is not a separate God, nor even a separate person from the Father, but is simply the human form which Jehovah took upon himself in order that he might dwell among his people in the natural world.

To view the Deity in this way is to see the life or soul of Jesus Christ as nothing other than the infinite love which is Jehovah God.  This means that the Son of God is not another person but rather the humanity with which Jehovah wrapped himself in order that he could come safely among the human race. This humanity, born of Mary, was lacking in nothing.  Jesus was real flesh and blood and experienced the full range of human feelings and thoughts.  He had all the bodily cravings, felt pain, endured temptations, and suffered a grim death. When he rose again on Easter Day he did so victorious over all human evils and temptations. Now his human body was fully and permanently transfigured with the glory of the Divine. In the Risen Lord Jesus Christ the Father is the soul or Divine life, whilst the Son is the human form in which he exists and makes himself known to us.

Although we commonly speak of body and soul as being the elements that make up a human being, there is also a third essential without which there is little meaningful existence. Life is about being useful, forming relationships and having a good influence on other people. Such activity, whether of the mind or the body, is an integral part of the person we are. Each person’s activity and sphere of influence is unique to them and it can often be very powerful. The Lord also has his sphere of influence and he is continually touching people’s lives for good. This divine activity is the third essential of the Trinity, namely the Holy Spirit.

A very good illustration of what the Holy Spirit is and does is to be found in one of the Lord’s post resurrection appearances to the disciples. He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit” [John 20:22 NRSV]. The Holy Spirit is here shown to be the Lord breathing his resurrection life into others so that they might live in a new and heavenly way.  Ever since then the Holy Spirit has been a powerful stream of life proceeding from the Divine Human God to aid and energise all who would live out his gospel in their daily lives.

No human being can live without three distinct aspects to their life. The soul is the very spark of life in them, the body is the outward form enabling them to live as part of the human race on earth, and activity is the expression and use of their life. Although we each have these three clear essentials to our life, still we remain distinctly one person. In this respect we are made in the very likeness of God. Emanuel Swedenborg expresses it well in the following words, Those three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are the three essentials of a single God, which make one as soul, body and activity do with a person [True Christian Religion 166].  

There is and can be only one God. The Lord Jesus Christ is the one Divine Human who, because of the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit within him can love all people, be as close to them as their own body, and be a powerful influence for good in their lives.  The great joy of the Trinity is that it means each one of us is able to have a full personal relationship with our God and Saviour.

http://www.god-is-love.org.uk/

For in (Christ) the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. [Colossians 2:9 NRSV]

13 thoughts on “Father Son and Holy Spirit – three essentials in one God

  1. Perfect logic, as for me. Are You trying to spread it to the world not through Your blog only?
    The Trinity or misunderstanding of its meaning is the background of ‘Islamic’ terrorists.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. THE TRINITY: ASPECTS OF ONE DIVINE ESSENCE

    In the New Church we whole-heartedly believe in the Holy Trinity. In fact, we are very interested in the “trinity” concept. But to us, a trinity does not consist of three similar things on the same level (which might be regarded as a “trio”), but a trinity consists of one thing on three different levels. For example, three houses in a terrace do not form a trinity, but one house with three stories is a trinity. (Noah’s Ark was like that; it had “lower, second and third stories.” [Genesis 6:16]) Three oranges do not make a trinity; but one orange does, if you consider its skin, its flesh, and its pips or seeds. Three people do not make a trinity; but one person does, if you consider his soul, his body, and his influence or outflowing life.
    The Holy Trinity—False View

    The old, false idea of God was that he was, is, and ever has been, a trinity of three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, all existing side by side since before the creation of the universe. The theory is that at a certain point in time, one of these three persons, the Son, came into the world as a baby, grew up here to adult status, was crucified, was buried, and then ascended back to Heaven, to rejoin the Father and the Holy Ghost; after which everything was as it had been.

    No “Son from Eternity”

    The main error here is the supposition that the Son of God existed as a second person of the Holy Trinity since the beginning. We have already discussed this in Chapter 11, but let us recapitulate some reasons for disbelieving it.

    (1) A son must have a mother, and there were no women available before the creation. Mary of Nazareth was the mother of Jesus, and she came comparatively late in the story.

    (2) If the Son had been there from the beginning, surely he would have been mentioned in the Old Testament, which he isn’t! On the contrary, Jehovah declares in Isaiah: “I am God, and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:21)

    N.B.—The “Son of God” mentioned in Daniel 3:25 (A.V.) is a mistranslation that should read: “a son of the gods”— Nebuchadnezzar’s idea of a glorious spiritual being. It was, of course, an angel. (See Psalm 34:7)

    (3) If the Son of God had been in existence from eternity, presumably an adult, how was it that he came into Mary’s womb as an embryo, then a fetus, and finally a sucking baby? Surely he would have arrived a full-grown man, knowing everything!

    It is true that Jesus claimed to have been in existence since “before Abraham was.” (John 8:58.) He was not a created being, like other men. His soul was Jehovah himself, the great “I am.” That is why, when Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am!” the Jews tried to stone him for blasphemy. He did not say, however, that he had been the Son of God prior to his birth in Bethlehem.

    Let us make this point perfectly clear. In so far as Jesus was divine, he was God. Not the Son of God (which he was when mixed with Mary’s heredity) but simply God.

    Three Essentials in One Person

    We have seen that everyone is a trinity, consisting of three essentials in one person. You have a soul or spirit, a physical body, and an “influence” or sphere or outgoing personality by which others know you. There is also another kind of trinity involved in every project you undertake: love, wisdom, and power (or, in the terms of the old philosophers: end, cause, and effect.) Suppose you set out to mend an electric fuse. (1) There must be the love—the desire to have the fuse mended, which is in your heart, or will. This is the end in view. (2) You must have the wisdom—the know-how, which is in your head, or understanding. This is what causes the project to be undertaken. (3) Lastly, you must have the power, which resides in your hands. This produces the effect.

    In the beginning, God was a trinity like this. At heart, he was just love. But love cannot exist alone, it needs others outside itself whom it can love and make happy. So love produced wisdom, which set to work to plan the creation of a finite universe full of creatures, including people. His wisdom was (as it were) the architect, the builder. “In the beginning was the Word; all things were made by him.” (John 1:1, 3) Finally, the divine wisdom sent out energy from the divine love to accomplish its plans, rather as an architect employs construction workers. This energy was the divine power. In Old Testament times, then, the holy trinity consisted of love, wisdom, and power, three essentials in one person, that person being Jehovah God.

    The Word Became Flesh

    When, later on, God wished to enter his universe as a man, he naturally came as the divine wisdom or Word, which had created the universe in the first place. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Now, in Bethlehem, for the first time, we have the Father-Son relationship within the Godhead. The divine love was the Father, and the divine wisdom was (as it were) the Son. And their outpouring energy was the Holy Spirit.

    This Father-Son relationship lasted for only only 33 years, from the birth of Jesus until his resurrection from death. After the ascension, the Holy Trinity consisted of (1) the divine Inmost, (2) the divine Human, and (3) the outflowing divine life. These three essentials correspond to the heat, light, and radiation of the spiritual Sun in Heaven, which is the Lord as seen by the angels.

    We will now place these trinities together, side by side, and we think you will see how similar they are. In fact, they are really the same, under different names! God’s nature has not essentially changed, and we are in his image and likeness.

    Before While Jesus After
    Creation was on Earth the Spiritual
    Old Testament New Testament Ascension Sun
    1 Love Father (Soul) Divine Inmost Heat
    2 Wisdom (Word) Son (Body) Divine Human Light
    3 Power Holy Spirit (Life) Divine Life Radiation
    The Holy Ghost

    Nobody seems to know why the Holy Ghost should be addressed as “him,” and called a “person.” The word “ghost” simply means spirit, breath or wind, and suggests “outflowing life or activity.” At the baptism of Jesus (Luke 3:2) the holy spirit entered him from Jehovah and was seen as a dove; only after receiving it was he enabled to do his redemptive work. He later promised his disciples that, when he was glorified, or united completed with his Father, this same holy spirit would overflow from him into them, as the comforter. (John 14:26 and 7:39) Thus, immediately after the resurrection, Jesus “breathed” on them in the upper room, and said: “Receive ye the holy ghost.” (John 20:22) A few weeks later, at Pentecost, the same holy spirit came down in full force upon all who believed in him—”as tongues of fire and a rushing mighty wind.” (Acts 2:2-4) Since then, the holy spirit was, and still is, the powerful stream of life that flows into men’s hearts and minds from the glorified Lord Jesus Christ; i.e., from the Divine-Human. Those who receive it are said to be “baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

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