The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit

MOST CHRISTIAN CHURCHES teach the idea that God is a Trinity: that is, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three co-equal and co-eternal persons in one godhead. This idea is absent from the Bible.

The Father

God is one. ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might’ (Deuteronomy 6:4–5). Jesus Christ referred to this as the most important commandment (Mark 12:28–30).

God said through the prophet Isaiah, ‘Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no saviour’ (Isaiah 43:10–11).

The Apostle Paul wrote, ‘For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist’ (1 Corinthians 8:6). And, ‘There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 2:5).

It is clear that there is one Power in the universe, one Creator, one God. As He declares again through Isaiah, ‘I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god’ (Isaiah 44:6).

The Son

Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was miraculously born to the virgin Mary. His birth was foretold by the prophets, and God said to his ancestor Abraham, ‘Your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed’ (Genesis 22:17-18). The Apostle Paul confirmed that this promise centred on Abraham’s descendant: ‘Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings”, referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring”, who is Christ’ (Galatians 3:16).

The Psalmist foretold Christ’s coming and his Kingdom: ‘I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession”’ (Psalm 2:7–8).

Abraham and all the prophets of the Old Testament looked forward to the one whom God was to send. The time would come when God would visit His people. God sent the angel Gabriel to the virgin Mary. ‘And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus”’ (Luke 1:30–31). And so it happened.

Throughout his life on earth Jesus was dependent on his Father. Entrusted as he was with God’s power, he constantly affirmed that his works and words were from God: ‘The word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me’ (John 14:24). He was in prayer to God at every turn of his life: ‘In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God’ (Luke 6:12).

When he was accused of making himself equal with God, he answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise’ (John 5:19).

The distinction between God and His Son is clear, as Paul recognised: ‘There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 2:5).

Describing events at Christ’s return to establish God’s Kingdom, Paul makes clear the distinction between the Father and the Son:

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection”, it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:25–28).

The Holy Spirit

The spirit of God is His power, which emanates from Him and is the basis of all things that exist. The Psalmist says, ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host… For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm’ (Psalm 33:6, 9).

In the beginning God used His spirit power in His creative work: ‘The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters’ (Genesis 1:2).

Another Psalm speaks of God’s concern for all His creation: ‘When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground’ (Psalm 104:29–30).

When the spirit of God is used for a particular purpose it is called the Holy Spirit. For example, when Jesus ascended to heaven after his resurrection, he told his disciples ‘to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”’ (Acts 1:4–5). Acts 2 relates how the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost, and they were guided to preach to the people who were gathered in Jerusalem.

It was the Holy Spirit which caused the Bible to be written: ‘No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit’ (2 Peter 1:20–21).

This power of God was with the Lord Jesus: ‘For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure’ (John 3:34). Early in his ministry Jesus quoted an Old Testament prophecy: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor’ (Luke 4:18, quoting Isaiah 61:1). Jesus was able to perform miracles because of the power which God had given him. As Peter said later:

You yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him (Acts 10:37-38).

Bible teaching is clear and simple: God is the Father; Jesus Christ is His Son; the Holy Spirit is His power.

Paul Downer

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