THEREFORE GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
“Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). Old Testament Judaism and New Testament Christianity both stress monotheism (one God) as opposed to polytheism (many gods), pantheism (all is God) or atheism (no god or gods). Only Christianity recognizes the divine three-in-oneness—the eternal coexistence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the inner personal life of the Godhead.
The plural nature of the Godhead is revealed in the first chapter of Genesis through the useof the plural pronoun: “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness’” (1:26). Jesus explicitly revealed the doctrine of the Trinity in the baptismal formula: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The Epistles are saturated with the revelation of the triune Godhead, uniting all three as the agents of our salvation and sanctification: “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9).
Although the Father, Son and Holy Spirit work in unity, everything flows from the Father. Jesus said He could do nothing on His own initiative (see John 5:30; 8:42) and modeled a life that was totally dependent on the Father (see John 17:7). In this way, He left us an example that we ought to follow in His steps (see 1 Peter 2:21), for we too are called to live dependently on God. Likewise, the Holy Spirit comes from the Father (see John 15:26), and He will not speak on His own (see John 16:13). As we approach the Father, we do so in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ as led by the Holy Spirit. The sacrificial death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ are the only basis by which we can approach our heavenly Father, and it is the unique work of the Holy Spirit to bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God (see Romans 8:16) and to lead us into all truth (see John 16:13).
After Pentecost, Peter’s message brought together the finished work of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The coming of the Holy Spirit was the evidence that Jesus has been exalted to the right hand of the heavenly Father. During the three-year public ministry of Jesus, “the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” (John 7:39). “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord [kurios] and Messiah” (Acts 2:36). Kurios (Lord) is used to refer to Jesus in Jude 1:4 and is used to refer to God the Father in Jude 1:5.
The Athanasian Creed, which was formulated by the Early Church, affirmed the triune nature of God: “We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the substance, for there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost; but the godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.”
A FEW QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
- What evidence do we have from the Bible that God exists as three persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
- Why is it so important that we believe that Jesus is fully God and was fully man?
- How did the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost reveal that Jesus had been “exalted to the right hand of God”?
- To whom are you praying when you pray to God? How does prayer involve the Trinity?
- Who are you serving when you serve God? How does serving God employ the Trinity?
Neil T. Anderson is the founder of Freedom in Christ Ministries. He began the ministry in 1989 and continues to spread the message of freedom to this day.NEIL T. ANDERSONJULY 8, 2020