Dr. Ware, a gentle, meek, humble, brilliant husband, father, professor, writer, speaker…is in town for the Acts Forum at Providence Baptist Church. How does your life reflect the Truth of the Trinity (that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all God).
Have you learned to read the Bible with Trinitarian-glasses on?
Consider the richness of Ephesians 1:3: God and Father, blessings accomplished by Jesus the son, mediated to us by the Spirit. Pay attention to pronouns! If you look at pronouns, they usually refer to one person of the Trinity or another. “He (God) chose us in Him (Jesus, the Son) to be blameless before Him (the Father). “In love, He (God) predestined us, through Jesus, to Himself.” He adopts us into His family, using His own Son (making us sons of God). There is a richness in so much NT teachings in particular, that specifies the work of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. We need to notice what is there. It inspires greater worship and a deeper and more profound understanding of who God is. It also greatly impacts our lives. It is so relevant.
Two main pillars that support this doctrine of the Trinity: they are both equally important. Take one without the other – you have heresy. Put them both together, you understand God rightly.
1. Distinction: Father, Son, and Spirit have to be distinct from each other. The Trinity refers to three persons who are distinct from one another.
2. Equality. If you don’t have this one, you have tri-theism. Christians are not a poly-theistic people. The Christian faith is resolutely monotheistic. Early Christian fathers paved the way in this doctrine. The early church was in a culture that was very polytheistic. The fact that the early church was determined to stick with monotheism points to the fact that the Spirit was guiding their thought. Father, Son, and Spirit are all equal. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God. But, not three different gods. There is an equality of identity.
Dr. Ware’s definition of the Trinity: God’s whole and undivided essence belongs equally, eternally, simultaneously, and fully to each of the three Persons of the Godhead; so that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each is fully God while each in his own personal expressions, in role and activity, of the one eternal and undivided divine essence.
Somehow we have to account for the oneness of God, but also the threeness of God. We have to account for one and three. Equality of identity yet distinction of the one, undivided divine nature.
Imagine a white board: a blue marker (draw a circle), a red marker (draw a circle that perfectly overlaps the other), and a green marker (and overlapping exactly the same circle). One circle, three lines. Three expressions of the same circle. (This can be found expressed better in Ware’s book Big Truths for Young Hearts.)
These two pillars have to be in place for us to understand the doctrine of the Trinity correctly.
John 1.1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (See equality and distinction in this verse?)
How does the Bible specify the ways that Father, Son, and Spirit are distinct from each other. The attributes of God are applicable to all three. There are ways that the member of the Trinity are different. The specifics of how they are different are found in roles and relationships.
1. The Father is presented in Scripture, particularly in the NT, is described as Supreme in Position among the Persons of the God-head. This is a supremacy of position, in the role that He has as Father. Arius (an early heretic) said there were two different natures. So, the fathers decided to write in the Nicean creed to affirm the Father and Son have the same nature. The Father is eternally the Father. He never was anything else. He couldn’t be, He is unchanging.
a. Psalm 2:7-9 “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD. He said Me, You are my Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations as Your inheritance. And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron. You shall shatter them like earthenware.” This is not about salvation, this is about condemnation. God gave the Son the right to judge. This is in reference to the Second Coming of Christ. (Personal note: I use this verse totally wrong. Not again) Revelation 19 fulfills this verse. Why is it the Son carries this out? Because the God gave it to the Son to do. It is the prerogative of the Father. The Father gives the Son as merciful Savior, but then as Judge.
b. Matthew 6:9-10: “Pray, then, in this way: Our Father, who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in Heaven.” Is this just a politeness on Jesus’ part? He could have said pray to Jesus, pray to me. But He didn’t. The Kingdom of the Father is over all – He grants the Son this delegated role, as position King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Why do we pray to the Father? Because He is highest in position. My only access to the Father is Jesus. He is the only Mediator. We have access to the Father through Christ. Christian prayer should correctly order the Trinity. We pray to the Father, through the Son, by the empowerment of the Spirit. Even as parents, we teach our kids to say “Dear Jesus” when they pray. The Bible clearly says that we ought to pray to the Father. Shouldn’t we follow the Bible? This also helps Dads represent the Father to their children: as authoritarian, powerful, right to command and discipline, and love, care, provision. SO IMPORTANT in our PRAYER LIFE! Dads are really helped when they see themselves representing the Father. There are parallels.
c. 1 Corinthians 15:28: “When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.” This should be the time that Jesus gets the spotlight. But Jesus turns it all back to God the Father so He gets all the glory.
d. Ephesians 1:3-12 This is the pronoun passage. Read carefully…”He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intentioned which He purposed in Him.” God designed everything as if it is summed up in Christ. This was not the act of the Son, but the giving authority of the Father. The Father sent the Son.
e. Philippians 2:9-11: “For this reason, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Note where the period is. At the very end. Jesus is getting all the accolades. The triumph that is now accomplished to its fullness – all is done by the Father. The Son knows it. It is all for the glory of the Father.
2. The Son became incarnate. The Father nor the Spirit became incarnate. The Son has an eternal submission to the Father. It didn’t start at Christmas. The Son does the bidding of the Father. He does everything the Father tells Him to do. Jesus never woke up on a morning and thought “what do I want to do today”. He didn’t have a vacation either. We don’t have vacations either. We are God’s people. We need to always walk in what God would have us to do. Just like Jesus, always walking in a way that was pleasing to the Father. “It is my food to do the will of my Father and accomplish His work.”
a. John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the Word to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” The Father sent the Son.
b. John 8:42: “I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on my own initiative but He sent me.”
c. John 1:3: The Father creates by or through the Son. To give the fullest answer: The Father creates through the Word. Then God Said. How is that interpreted by John? In the beginning was the Word. By Him. The Word is the agent of creation. The Father creates by His Son. (See Psalm 33:6: by the word and the breath of the Lord He created – Father, Son, and Spirit) Re-creation (salvation) happens as the Father decrees, the Son accomplishes, and the Spirit activates. The Father designs, the Son accomplishes, the Spirit breathes life.
d. Hebrews 1: The Son is appointed heir of all things. The Father made the world through Jesus.
e. 1 Corinthians 15:25-28: “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under his feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For he has put all things in subjection under his feet. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.”
f. Rev 1:1: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place, and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John.”
3. The Spirit – there is a hierarchy in the Trinity. The Son is always under the Father. There is never an instance of the Son sending the Father, the Son commanding the Father. Everything is opposite. The Spirit is under both the Father and the Son.
a. John 14:25-26: “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” The Father promised the Spirit. (Acts 1) The Father gives and promises. It goes through the Son. In the name of Jesus, under the authority of Jesus, to do my bidding, to do my work, as the Son has done the Work of the Father. He will transform people into my likeness. The Spirit is all about Jesus. He is not interested in advancing Himself. The Spirit advances the purposes of Jesus.
b. John 15:26: “When the Helper comes, whom I will to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.” Who sends the Spirit? Jesus does. But how does Jesus have the Spirit? He has the Spirit through the Father. Jesus doesn’t have the Spirit on His own, the Father gives Him to Him.
c. Acts 2:33: “Therefore having exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.”
d. John 16:12-15: “I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on his own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak, and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify me for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are mine, therefore I said that He takes of mine and will disclose it to you.” There is such a humility in Jesus in this verse. How does Jesus have everything that He has – because the Father gave it Him. Give credit where credit belongs. If Jesus does that – not to me, but to God belongs the credit…don’t we think we should do it as well?
e. I Corinthians 12:3: “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord”, except by the Spirit.” So what is the mark of a Spirit-filled community – Christ is exalted as worshipped and LORD. The Spirit wants to do this.
f. (This one helps out with Jehovah Witness’s attacks on the Trinity)John 7:38-39: “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” The curse of our sin first had to be justified and satisfied before we can be sanctified. We can only be rightly related to God by the work of Christ on the Cross. Then we can be sanctified. The work of Christ yields the work of the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4). So, the Spirit couldn’t come until after the work of the Son was completed on the Cross. Cross, crucifixion, redemption – then walking in the Spirit. Penalty of sin is paid by Christ, power of sin is defeated as the Spirit comes. The Spirit comes to apply the work of Christ. The accomplishment of Christ has to be there first.
1. Marvel at the Father who designs and purposes and wills all that He does so that the Spotlight shines on the Son, to the ultimate glory of His name. The Father uses his position of authority to put another forward other than Himself. The spotlight shines on Jesus. Ultimately to the Father, but He designed It that way. Leadership lesson from God the Father: attention given to others. (Humility – it is God-like)
2. Marvel at the eternal submission of the Son – carried out with absolute faithfulness and joy and satisfaction. It is as God-like to submit with joy and gladness to rightful authority as it is God-like to exert wise and beneficial rightful authority. This is very anti-cultural. This can help wives submit to their husbands as they think that this submission reflects the Trinity. As employees submit to their bosses – so they reflect the Trinity.
3. Marvel at the unity and harmony. They follow one goal, missions, work, one plan. There is a richness in harmony, not the redundancy of unison. This is the kind of unity and diversity we should seek in our communities. Harmony…which is not hominy (what you eat)…parts that are sung following one composition. Celebrate differences that work together toward one cause. We are not clones of each other. These differences should have one purpose: God’s will.
4. (My own) Your prayer should reflect the Trinity.
5. (My own) The Glory should all go to God the Father because Jesus did it.