Tuesday: The Mystery of the Triune God
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“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26).

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

Understanding how inspiration works, however important, is only a means to an end, and that end is to know God. A deep understanding of how the Bible was written, or even a deep understanding of the truths revealed in it, mean nothing if we don’t know the Lord for ourselves (John 17:3). And one thing that the Bible explicitly affirms about the Lord is His oneness.

Read Deuteronomy 6:4 and Mark 12:29. What crucial truth is found in these texts?

The expression in the Bible about the oneness of God precludes any idea of many gods. There is one God only. However, the total picture we get from the Bible is that there is an inner “content” to Him, even in His oneness.

Read Genesis 1:263:2211:7John 1:1-31820:282 Corinthians 13:14Matthew 28:19. How do these texts begin to clarify the inner reality of God?

The Old Testament’s suggestion of plurality provides hints about the nature of the inner being of God. When we couple this with the New Testament’s statement about Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, we start to realize that there’s a lot about God’s nature that we don’t fully understand and probably never will. The triune aspect of God is one mystery, among many, with which we will have to learn to live. The information that the Bible gives about God, including His three-part nature, is not provided in order for us to engage in speculative philosophizing but in order to further our understanding of His activities, especially His redemptive work on our behalf as the great controversy unfolds and is finally ended.

Who doesn’t have a lot of questions that only God can answer? How can we learn to trust Him until the time comes when answers will be given?

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Tuesday: The Mystery of the Triune God — 19 Comments

  1. Jesus’ friends and enemies were staggered again and again by what he said and did. He would be walking down the road, seemingly like any other man, then turn and say something like, ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’ Or,
    ‘If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.’ Or,
    very calmly, after being accused of blasphemy, he would say, ‘The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ To the dead he might simply say, ‘Come forth,’ or,
    ‘Rise up.’ And they would obey. To the storms on the sea he would say, ‘Be still.’ And to a loaf of bread he would say, ‘Become a thousand meals.’ And it was done immediately.

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    • It really excites me to have time to read about my God, who loved us so much that He gave us His only begotten Son so that we would not perish. He laid down His life for us so that we should be called sons and daughters of Heaven. Even though the world might not see us today but one day when He comes...Amen... we would be like Him! I like my Jesus for giving me a second chance...

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  2. there were many given reasons that we can trust our Savior.HE love us unconditionally He died to save us from our sin and when He ascended HE promised that He will send us the Holy Spirit to be with us always.He write His commandments in our hearts and minds to direct us live a life according to HIS will.let us put our trust on Him always and wait for His second coming.as we are waiting let us pray without ceasing and have faith that HE answers our prayer.

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  3. A deep understanding of how the Bible was written, or even a deep understanding of the truths revealed in it, mean nothing if we don’t know the Lord for ourselves (John 17:3). This is the most profound statement made in the entire lesson and we would all do well to pay attention to it. The truth is we often get bogged down in trying to figure out the intricacies about God and His nature not realizing that that too can be a tool of the devil used to distract us from having and seeking the relationship with God that we ought to have. Do not think for a minute that there is anything wrong with trying to understand these things but it should never be at the expense of your relationship with God. The truth is there are some things we will never understand and will simply havd to accept on faith. Thee best approach is to invest our efforts in not only understanding but applying the fundamental Christian principles that will help us make it to heaven so that we can then ask God all the other burning questions we've been making. In other words, our focus should and must always be making it to heaven.

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  4. i have a query. This refers to Gen 1:29 where God is referred to as plural but on 1:30, it suddenly shifts to a singular pronoun. Does the following statement give a clarification?
    "The Father and the Son engaged in the mighty, wondrous work they had contemplated, of creating the world… And now God says to his Son, ―Let us make man in our image." The Spirit of Prophecy vol. 1 p. 24

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    • The Bible is not contradictory, God's word is self explanatory; I believe in the power of God as the Holy Spirit, I believe in His Son Jesus and I believe in Him as the Great I AM... I this case when it came to the creation of man; God saw it ok to say, "let us create man in our image that they might be like us" (which is Jesus and God), the Holy Spirit was there even though not mentioned.

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    • Ronald, it seems that the Son has been the divine Representative of the Godhead in communication with man from the very beginning--even before sin. Thus the Godhead worked as One in the creation of man, but it was the Son who said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food."

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  5. The oneness of God is what makes God who He is.The God of the universe is too big not to understand His love for humanity and to accept His constant calling to save the lost that He sent His only begotten son who is God Himself came down to earth in the form of flesh to die on the cross for sinners like you and I and raised from the dead.Jesus promised us the counselor the Holy Spirit who will guide us into all truth and convince the hearts of men to accept the the triune of God who said let us make an into our own image.

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  6. Some people suggest that Christ only became son at the time he was born in Bethlehem. This is not true. He has always been the Son of God. For God to have a Son does not mean that the Father is "older" than the Son as we reckon in the usual father/son relationships; it simply means that they are of the same essence. And everything God is, He is. In Phillipians 2:6 it is confirmed to us the reason as to why He voluntarily made Himself subordinate to the Father although they are equal in nature.

    The New English Bible brings out this point very clear in John 1:1 that, “In the beginning the Word already was. The Word was in God’s presence, and what God was, the Word was.” John is not saying that the Word is the same person as God; he’s saying that he shares the same essence that God has. That Christ is equal to the Father yet distinct from the Father.

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  7. To me the one thing that the doctrine of the Trinity (Godhead) gives me is the simple fact that God died for me on that cross so that I could be in Heaven. He didn't make some being for the purpose of coming down to earth and dying in our place but did it Himself for our sakes.

    The one who hung on the cross was the creator (Jn 1:1; Col 1:16), the law giver (Mk 2:28), the judge (Jn 5:22), our mediator (1 Tim 2:5), the one who Israel called Jehovah (1 Cor 10:4; Isa 9:6; Jn 8:56-58). He is the light (Jn 1:4-5; 1 Pet 2:9, Rev 21:23) and the bread of life (Jn 6), "the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb 12:2 NKJV) for He is life and the resurrection (Jn 11:25) and for those who have spiritual eyesight, "Christ is the source of our life, the source of our immortality. He is the tree of life, and to all who come to him he gives spiritual life" (Review and Herald, January 26, 1897 par. 10, https://egwwritings.org/?ref=en_RH.January.26.1897.par.10). Jesus is God himself and everything to us who sacrificed Himself on the cross (Jn 10:18).

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  8. Jauyo,

    Isn't it surprising that some people would say that Jesus was not the begotten of the Father and that He only became begotten when he was born here on earth. Peter was quick to answer Jesus, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God.” And Jesus was quick as well to answer him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee but my Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 16:16, 17.

    Notice the following quotes: just a few of the many quotes in inspiration.

    God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father. All the counsels of God are opened to His Son. Testimonies vol. 8 p. 268

    I have often seen the lovely Jesus, that He is a person. I asked Him if His Father was a person and had a form like Himself. Said Jesus, ―I am in the express image of My Father's person.‖ Early Writings p. 77

    Before the entrance of evil, there was peace and joy throughout the universe…Christ the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father,—one in nature, in character, and in purpose—the only being in all the universe that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God. GC p. 493 1911

    Christ was not alone in making his great sacrifice. It was the fulfilment of the covenant made between him and his Father before the foundation of the world was laid. Youth’s instructor, June 14, 1900

    ...the Lord‘s arrangement, made in council with His only begotten Son, was to leave man a free moral agent to a certain length of probation. Review & Herald, Dec 21, 1897

    “The Father and the Son in consultation decided that Christ must come to the world as a babe.” Signs of the Times, May 17, 1905.

    Would love to hear from you regarding these wonderful quotes of God's love. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. Jesus is very clear on John 17:3 that the Father is the only true God! Why then do we make complex this simple and plain truth? By the way, where does the bible say that God died on the cross?

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    • Ronald, yes, I suppose that if Jn 17:3 were the only text one had we could conclude the Father was the only true God but that isn't the case and please don't consider using Deut 6:4 as proof in defending your view for we all believe that verse whether Trinitarian or not so it really has no bearing on the issue. Instead, what we need to see are the many places in scripture where Jesus is spoken of as God and is worshipped as such. If that were not true then the Seventh-day Adventist Church would have no reason for our statement of fundamental belief #2 (http://ssnet.org/blog/2011/06/trinity-fundamental-belief/ [many of the comments on this page are also of interest in this discussion]). Our statement concerning the trinity is also true of many other denominations that have similar doctrines for the same reasons.

      To my knowledge there is nothing that the Father does that the Son doesn't also do. Besides that, there are specific statements concerning Christ's divinity:

      • First let us consider what John said, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (Jn 1:1 NKJV). Question, since there isn't an article with the word "God" in the last phrase doesn't that make it "a god" as the New World Translation has it? Not necessarily, as the notes to this verse in the NET version explain, "And the Word was fully God. John's theology consistently drives toward the conclusion that Jesus, the incarnate Word, is just as much God as God the Father. This can be seen, for example, in texts like John 10:30 ("The Father and I are one"), 17:11 ("so that they may be one just as we are one"), and 8:58 ("before Abraham came into existence, I am"). The construction in John 1:1c does not equate the Word with the person of God (this is ruled out by 1:1b, "the Word was with God"); rather it affirms that the Word and God are one in essence" (https://net.bible.org/#!bible/John+1). Which is the same as, "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col 2:9 NKJV). And Jesus' own testimony, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say,`Show us the Father'?" (Jn 14:9 NKJV).

      • Then there is the testimony of Paul, "who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God" (Phi 2:6 NKJV). The NET translation has this note on this verse, "The Greek term translated form indicates a correspondence with reality. Thus the meaning of this phrase is that Christ was truly God" (https://net.bible.org/#!bible/Philippians+2). If that were not so then why would anyone consider it robbery not to be equal to God? This verse describes the subordination of Christ to the human level where Christ was dependent on the Father for everything during His time on earth (Jn 5:19).

      • Then there is "For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6 NKJV). Also, "'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us'" (Mat 1:23 NKJV).

      • On top of that Jesus accepted worship without any rebuke for doing so according to the first commandment (Ex 20:3) which is something even angels refuse (Rev 19:10; 22:9). Here is a partial list: Mat 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 28:9; 28:17; Lk 24:52; Jn 9:38 and I haven't even touched Revelation that has beings worshipping the Lamb.

      • Furthermore, the Jews knew exactly what Jesus was saying about Himself, "'I and My Father are one.' Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, 'Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?' The Jews answered Him, saying, For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God'" (Jn 10:30-33 NKJV). The point here is that Jesus didn't argue with them on the issue but refered them to the works He did as proof of the fact.

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      • There is also a well-known rule for translating Greek syntax that covers the situation in John 1:1. According to Granville Sharp, this particular structure should never be translated as "a" god, but simply be considered an affirmation of the deity of "the Word." This principle was taught in second year Greek when I attended Walla Walla University. One can read more about Granville Sharp's rule with other examples from different locations in the biblical text at http://vintage.aomin.org/GRANVILL.html.

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        • You are correct Stephen, I say that not because I am knowledgeable in the Greek but because that is what I have read. I also have heard it called the Kai rule. The NET notes on Jn 1:1 covers something similar which for brevity I chose not to get into since it is technical. This is what they have to say:

          Or “and what God was the Word was.” Colwell’s Rule is often invoked to support the translation of θεός (qeos) as definite (“God”) rather than indefinite (“a god”) here. However, Colwell’s Rule merely permits, but does not demand, that a predicate nominative ahead of an equative verb be translated as definite rather than indefinite. Furthermore, Colwell’s Rule did not deal with a third possibility, that the anarthrous predicate noun may have more of a qualitative nuance when placed ahead of the verb. A definite meaning for the term is reflected in the traditional rendering “the word was God.” From a technical standpoint, though, it is preferable to see a qualitative aspect to anarthrous θεός in John 1:1c (ExSyn 266-69). Translations like the NEB, REB, and Moffatt are helpful in capturing the sense in John 1:1c, that the Word was fully deity in essence (just as much God as God the Father). However, in contemporary English “the Word was divine” (Moffatt) does not quite catch the meaning since “divine” as a descriptive term is not used in contemporary English exclusively of God. The translation “what God was the Word was” is perhaps the most nuanced rendering, conveying that everything God was in essence, the Word was too. This points to unity of essence between the Father and the Son without equating the persons. However, in surveying a number of native speakers of English, some of whom had formal theological training and some of whom did not, the editors concluded that the fine distinctions indicated by “what God was the Word was” would not be understood by many contemporary readers. Thus the translation “the Word was fully God” was chosen because it is more likely to convey the meaning to the average English reader that the Logos (which “became flesh and took up residence among us” in John 1:14 and is thereafter identified in the Fourth Gospel as Jesus) is one in essence with God the Father. The previous phrase, “the Word was with God,” shows that the Logos is distinct in person from God the Father. (NET translation notes on Jn 1:1 [https://net.bible.org/#!bible/John+1]).

          In my BibleWorks program Wallace's "Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics" discusses the problem of Jn 1:1 in some depth and concluded that it isn't always easy to determine whether a noun is definite, indefinite, or qualitative; that in some cases context determines what it is in spite of the absence of the article. I believe that is the problem that the NET translators saw in Jn 1:1 and why they bring in John's theology in his Gospel on the divinity of Jesus in their notes.

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  10. "This verse describes the subordination of Christ to the human level where Christ was dependent on the Father for everything during His time on earth..."

    By the way bro tyler with regards to your comment above, I believe Jesus received everything from His Father since He was made equal and received everything from His Father from eternity - Heb 1:1-7, and being the express image of the Father inherited everything, the divine aspects, that the Father had. Notice the following quotes fron the inspired pen.

    "There is a personal God, the Father; there is a personal Christ, the Son. And 'God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by 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 on the right hand of the Majesty on high.'” RH November 8, 1898 Par. 9

    But the Son, the anointed of God, the “express image of His person,” “the brightness of His glory,” “upholding all things by the word of His power,” holds supremacy over them all. Hebrews 1:3.  PP 34.2

    And coveting the glory with which the infinite Father had invested His Son, this prince of angels aspired to power that was the prerogative of Christ alone. – {PP 35.2}

    The King of the universe summoned the heavenly hosts before Him, that in their presence He might set forth the true position of His Son and show the relation He sustained to all created beings. The Son of God shared the Father’s throne, and the glory of the eternal, self-existent One encircled both....Before the assembled inhabitants of heaven the King declared that none but Christ, the Only Begotten of God, could fully enter into His purposes, and to Him it was committed to execute the mighty counsels of His will.  The Son of God had wrought the Father’s will in the creation of all the hosts of heaven; and to Him, as well as to God, their homage and allegiance were due. Christ was still to exercise divine power, in the creation of the earth and its inhabitants. But in all this He would not seek power or exaltation for Himself contrary to God’s plan, but would exalt the Father’s glory and execute His purposes of beneficence and love. – {PP 36.2}

    The exaltation of the Son of God as equal with the Father was represented as an injustice to Lucifer, who, it was claimed, was also entitled to reverence and honor. PP37.1

    There had been no change in the position or authority of Christ. Lucifer’s envy and misrepresentation and his claims to equality with Christ had made necessary a statement of the true position of the Son of God; but this had been the same from the beginning.  PP38.1

    Thank you for sharing your insights.

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    • Ronald, thank you for all the EGW quotes you have taken the time to furnish. Even though you did a lot of work getting those up I still am unsure exactly where you stand on the issue. What you say, "I believe Jesus received everything from His Father since He was made equal and received everything from His Father from eternity – Heb 1:1-7, and being the express image of the Father inherited everything, the divine aspects, that the Father had" leads me to think that you believe that Christ was physically begotten of the father as we are of our fathers. That He was created by God the Father. If that is so then please consider the following.

      The idea that Jesus was somehow a creative product of the Father seems to have been a foreign concept to Ellen White:

      Still seeking to give a true direction to her faith, Jesus declared, "I am the resurrection, and the life." In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. "He that hath the Son hath life." 1 John 5:12. The divinity of Christ is the believer's assurance of eternal life. "He that believeth in Me," said Jesus, "though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?" Christ here looks forward to the time of His second coming. Then the righteous dead shall be raised incorruptible, and the living righteous shall be translated to heaven without seeing death. The miracle which Christ was about to perform, in raising Lazarus from the dead, would represent the resurrection of all the righteous dead. By His word and His works He declared Himself the Author of the resurrection. He who Himself was soon to die upon the cross stood with the keys of death, a conqueror of the grave, and asserted His right and power to give eternal life. {Desire of Ages 530.3 https://egwwritings.org/?ref=en_DA.530.3}

      Consider for a moment what Jesus said, "No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father" (Jn. 10:18 NKJV). If Jesus was indeed a created being who was dependent on the Father for life then how could a dead Jesus resurrect Himself? Wouldn't the Father have to be involved in it somehow? But then Jesus only said that He received the command from the Father where, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner (Jn 5:19 NKJV). This is consistent with other things that He said concerning His relationship with the Father (Jn 5:30; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10). Jesus totally "humbled Himself" (Phil 2:8 NKJV) and for a time relinquished all the prerogatives of divinity and voluntarily placed Himself under the care of the Father during His time on earth for 30+ years - that to me is what Philippians 2 tells us. That is what made the cross such a temptation to Him for He could have stopped that humbling at any time and terminated His sacrifice but then the controversy would have been lost and all of us along with it.

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  11. What then do we make of John 5:26 - "For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself."?

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    • Truly, the Bible is made of clay and one can twist it any way they wish – the same goes with Ellen White as well.

      It is the preponderance of scripture that determines a doctrine as Jesus said to the Pharisees, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Lk 16:31 NKJV). And so we are dealing here with what is generally said about the subject which is the approach that the SDA church took in deciding to believe in the doctrine of the trinity. One can use this text or that to prove any point they wish to prove and miss the general teaching. In other words it is all too easy to, “strain out a gnat and swallow a camel” (Mat 23:24 NKJV).

      The text you have chosen is one of many where Jesus is indicating His relationship to the Father while incarnated here on earth. That relationship was not always that way as John stated in Jn 1 and what Paul says in Philippians 2 along with many other texts in the Bible.

      The only warning that all of us must be aware of in dealing with doctrine is the one that is given in 2 Thessalonians, “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess 2:9-12 NKJV). I pray that none of us, including myself, fall into that snare and end up lost because we chose to believe what we wanted to believe.

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