We again come to the Trinity and hope it is helping those who listen to better appreciate the vastness and mystery of God.
The value of understanding better the Trinity is truly infinite.
The reason is that we are dealing with who God is rather than what God does. It’s simply contemplating the one true God.
When we think about the gospel, the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ, we’re contemplating the Trinity, we just don’t realize it most of the time.
As you begin to dig deeper into the essence of the gospel you’re delving into the very person of God Himself.
Our salvation is not due to various parts of creation getting to work to bring us into new life.
Rather, it’s wholly a work of the Triune God that accomplishes this. And only the Triune God.
We are merely the recipients of His saving work.
It’s easy to look at our salvation from the perspective of the benefits it brings us. But if we stop there, wefail to see the true glory of the gospel, where God is revealed, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The gospel message is that we are being called into an encounter with the Triune God. In fact, we are what we are because the triune God acted on our behalf that we might know Him.
We talked in the last episode about how God is Father and showed how the bible consistently speaks of the Fatherhood of God and how that impacts the Christian in very tangible ways.
Now we want to talk about how the bible describes the Son as God as well.
First, a basic statement about the Son.
We considered already OT passages that speak of God in triune ways. The key point in those passages was that YHWH is talking to YHWH as a separate person. And that one of them is also going to be the Messiah, or Christ, of the NT.
In the NT the bible makes it abundantly clear that Jesus is considered the Son of God. This is a term that is not used in the OT but it carries OT themes.
Second, usually the debate centers on the person of Jesus. If He’s called the Son of God then does this mean He is God? To put it bluntly, the NT is filled with references and examples of Jesus as God.
What people want are statements like, “Hear oh person of doubt! Jesus of the Bible is really, truly God.” But that’s not how the NT will say it. But it’s still very clear unless you’re trying to reject the biblical teaching.
So here are some key passages to consider:
"She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US." And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” (Matt. 1:21-25)
Jesus had many names or titles, Jesus (Savior), Christ (Messiah), Son of God, Son of Man, and this one, Immanuel (God with us).
So at the very beginning of Jesus’ time on earth was this clear declaration that God had come to visit man. That’s the point of the incarnation - it was a divine visitation.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn. 1:1, 14)
Most religious Jews also perk up when they heard the term “the Word.”
By the time John wrote the gospel there had been much study and discussion about the concept of “the Word of God” and “Wisdom” in the Bible as being personified.
An example of this is found in Genesis 1:3, where the Bible says, “then God said.” The Jews saw that God’s word was the agent by which God created the universe.
Another passage would be Psalm 33:6, “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.”
In fact, over 100 times the phrase “the word of the Lord came . . .” in reference to the prophets. Many of the Jews believed that this Word, although not actually a person, was given in the Bible an almost personal presence.
Here (in John 1) we have three basic truths about the Word, who we know from John 1:14, was Jesus Christ.
First, the Word is eternal (1a).
This verse points us back to a time before Genesis 1:1.
The verb “was” is important to note here because it does not give any sense of origin or beginning.
It simply means a continuous existence.
The Word always was.
“In the beginning” is being emphasized in this sentence.
Second, the Word had an intimate relationship with God the Father.
Notice that in this verse we don’t see the word “father.” That doesn’t come out until verse 14, when John writes, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
This part of the verse is hard to translate and still bring out the richness of what is said.
A literal translation would be, “the Word was toward God.” The idea here is an intimacy between the two, there was a genuine fellowship. But not fellowship between a greater and a lesser being, but between equals.
The Word wasn’t subordinate to God, this phrase says that He is equal to Him. He existed as closely with God as is possible, without being mixed in with God.
Third, the Word is God.
Not only is He having an intimate, equal relationship with God, but He himself is God.
Once again we see the two parts of the Trinity come into view.
To the Jew, who was the primary reader of this gospel, this is an earth-shattering statement.
Israel believed in one God, but failed to see the great mystery of who God actually was.
The way John writes this leaves no room for debate. You cannot try to say, as the Jehovah Witnesses say, “the Word was a god.” That is improper grammatically and is only done by them because they already deny that Jesus is God.
Carson’s categories: “Expression, fellowship, Identity (“was, with, was”).
No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (Jn. 1:18 NAU).
Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." (Jn. 20:28-29 NAU)
Now it’s common for those who want to reject out of hand the divinity of Jesus to say something along the lines of “it is merely an idiom that we really don’t understand in our current day. We know it can’t mean Thomas thinks he is God because he isn’t God.”
Others will say that it’s merely an exclamation, like what a good Southern person might say, “Oh my Lord! It is simply too hot today.”
It’s a sad but humorous read to see how the JWs deal with this. They actually use both of these examples as possible meanings. They also dismiss the fact that in the Greek, the word for “God” possesses the definite article. They see it as unimportant. But when they talk about that same issue in John 1:1 the presence of the article is of utmost importance.
What’s more important is to see the response of Jesus to Thomas’ declaration - He simply accepts it without correction.
Compare that to when John sees a mighty angel in Revelation and he falls down to worship him and is rebuked.
“. . . whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 9:5)
Here, Pauls equating Christ as God.
The final clause is in apposition to the prior clause.
“But of the Son He says, ‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.’” (Heb. 1:8 NAS)
Here is a huge passage because it is God speaking of His Son.
We see YHWH calling the Son “God” and the eternality of His reign.
We see also that the bible shows him to be equal with God.
“. . . in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor. 4:4)
eikon (image) we get the word ‘icon’ from it.
It is a visible representation or manifestation of a heavenly form or reality.
We have Satan being called “god” because he’s the false god of this world. In fact, Behind every idol, every false religion, every bit of worldly philosophy lies Satan and his deceptions.
But what is it that he’s seeking to obscure? (The glory of Christ, who is the true God). He desires man to worship him, not the true God.
“And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.” (Col. 1:15 NAS)
Same Greek word.
This is telling us that Christ shares with His Father the essence, the nature, of being God. And therefore, He alone is able to display and reveal God to man.
John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (Heb. 1:3 NAS)
He is the radiance of the Father’s glory.
John 12:41 These things Isaiah said, because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.
The word ‘radiance’ means “effulgence.” Now that is a helpful word isn’t it? Simply put, it means, a flashing forth of light. Or here, better, a flashing forth of glory.
No prophet would ever say that out from his being comes the very glory of God. A prophet was a moon, a reflector of glory. Christ is the sun itself.
karaktar (exact representation, a precise reproduction).
What was the second commandment? Exodus 20:4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
“Make an idol” notice how it is said in the KJV, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image . . . .”
karaktar came from a tool for engraving. To make anything as a representation of God was forbidden. For nothing could do so. All things fall short.
But not with Christ. He alone is the truth “graven image” of God. He alone can display to the world the person and nature of God.
Because He is God.
There are several other ways we could deal with this subject. One would be to look at the several times the OT makes reference to the Angel of the Lord. These are clear references to the angel actually being God.
We also could point you back to the OT passages and NT passages that specifically are trinitarian, which we did a couple of podcasts ago.
But these are enough. If a person is wanting to make an honest investigation on how the Bible describes Jesus Christ the only conclusion they could come to is that He is seen as God. But also, that the bible treats Him as God but also the Father as God. And, that there is only one God.
Next episode we will see how the bible treats the Holy Spirit.