Course: The Attributes of God
The Trinity of God
The author inserts personal comments when quoting Scripture which are indicated by square brackets. All biblical references are quoted from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
How can God be three and one at the same time? The word “trinity,” as our Jehovah Witness friends constantly say, does not appear in the English Bible. They are correct. In English, the word “trinity” has two ideas. One is the idea which is known among Christians who grew up with the word and have some religious background to understand what it means. But to the person who does not have that background, “trinity” means “three gods.” We Christians do not believe in three gods. There have never been three gods. There are not two gods. There is only one God.
I prefer the word, “tri-unity”—God is one unity, but He manifests Himself in three persons. This is a doctrine that is rarely understood even by Christians who supposedly believe it, or its impact upon our lives.
Let me give you just one example. A lot of people say the reason why God made us in the beginning was because God is love. He is love, not merely or only love; but He is love. The Bible says this in 1 John 4:8. Well, if He is love and love demands an object, then He made us because He needed somebody to love. Now in a narcissistic culture that really appeals to our self-esteem and worth because we are all looking for strokes and we want to be loved and appreciated. “So, that is why God made us,” we may say. Well, that really is not true. God did not need to love anybody. In the triune God we have perfect love being manifested. The Father loves the Son. The Son loves the Father. The Spirit loves the Son. The Spirit loves the Father and so on. How in the world could we be any better substitute than a person of the triune God in terms of loving?
Let me give you another thought. We talked in our last message about the incarnation of God, that God became flesh. God revealed Himself to us. But I tell you, just from a logical point of view that only God could really reveal God adequately, when you think about it. And so the triune God is really the only answer to the revelation of God Himself. Without God being manifested in three persons, then how could God reveal God? Did God have to depend upon us to understand or could God have revealed Himself perfectly in human form? We believe He did that. “Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh,” says 1 Timothy 3:16.
We are taking it a step further today. If God became flesh, incarnation, that implies that we have more than one person involved in the Godhead. And Christians have traditionally believed that God is one, but He manifests Himself in three persons. Jews, Muslims, and many cults who identify with Christianity, argue that this is not taught in the Bible. Jesus is not the Father and the Father is not Jesus. And the Spirit is not Jesus and the Spirit is not the Father. Yet there are many religious groups that say that it is the teaching of the Bible.
What is tri-unity of God? How can God be three and one at the same time? Take your Bibles and turn to Deuteronomy 6 and Matthew 28. Put your finger in both passages. In Deuteronomy 6, we have two verses that are recited every Shabbat or every Sabbath day in Jewish synagogues all over the world every Saturday. Deuteronomy 6:4–5 says,
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is
[What? What does it say?] one.
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
There is intensity in that verse! And the Lord is what? He is one, so Jewish people say that it is impossible to believe in a trinity. They say that the Lord is one and one can never be more than one. I am sorry, but one can involve more than one. For an example, the same exact Hebrew word, echad, meaning “one” is also used in Genesis 2:24, where it says “a man should leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” It is the same word. If two can be one in marriage, then we can have the Lord being one and yet being more than one at the same time.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name [Singular. He did not say in the names, plural. He said in the name] of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
In both the Old Testament and New Testament the word “name,” when it refers to God, never once appears in the plural—never! It is always in the singular. It is the name of the Father, not names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; but it is name, singular. It is tri-unity or three in one.
Let me give you an illustration. Suppose I had a can of paint up here that was mixed with red, white, and blue paint, in the same can. Then I also had three separate cans, one of red, one of white, and one of blue paint. If I was going to dip a block of wood into these cans and I wanted to describe it without showing you, I would phrase my sentence in English, like this: “I am going to dip this block of wood in “a” can of red, blue, and white paint. You would know it would be one can, mixed with three paints. Tri-unity. Now what if I wanted to say, I am going to dip the block of wood in each of those cans? I would say this: “I am going to dip this block of wood in a can of red paint, and a can of white paint, and a can of blue paint. And then you would know it was three separate cans of paint.
My friends, what we have in Matthew 28:19 is the first can, with red, white, and blue paint in it. It is not “the names.” The word “name” is not even repeated. It does not say in the name of the Father, and the name of the Son and the name of the Spirit. It does not say that because the Bible never treats the name of God that way. “The Lord our God is one Lord.” It is in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This is one name which is fascinating!
Let’s just ask God, right now, to help us as we begin to look at what the Bible says about the tri-unity of God and what that means to us now.
Father, we thank You for Your word. And we realize that our subject today is vast, difficult, confusing, and often controversial. But I pray, Lord, that Your Word would bring clarity to our minds and peace to our hearts. I pray that we will know what we believe and why. I pray, Lord, for those in our midst who are not really sure of what Christians really believe and for those who may have never really made the commitment they should make to You. And God this would be a life-changing time for them. We thank You for what You are going to do in Jesus’ name. Amen.
In approaching this subject, I want to give you seven facts from the Bible about the tri-unity of God. Perhaps you will want to write them down because many times we are confronted about this. Whether it is by somebody coming to our door trying to sell us a different message, or a friend who is confused about what you believe and why; we need to understand the tri-unity of God.
The first thing I want you to do is turn to Genesis 1 and tell you that the tri-unity of God is defined by the use of plural pronouns. Let me repeat that again. The tri-unity of God is defined in the Bible by the use of plural pronouns. In Genesis 1:26 we find the creation of man and woman.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Now here we have tri-unity in the same passage. In verse 27 it uses the third person singular of the verb form. God created man in “His” (third person singular pronoun) image. “In the image of God, He created him. Male and female, He created them.” Yet in verse 26 it says, “Let us make man in our image after our likeness”—plural pronouns.
Now how do people handle this who do not believe in the tri-unity of God? Well first of all, there are many religious groups, and one prominent group in America believes that there is a race of people previous to Genesis 1 and 2, who are up in heaven. They came to the earth and they are going to go up there again. And so they believe that God was just discussing this with all of them. Let us make man.
Another group believes that God was discussing this with the angels. Let “us” make man, although there is not one verse that indicates angels ever created anybody or did anything in that regard. Yet the Bible says, “Let us”—and God is talking—“Let us make man.”
How do Jewish people handle it? Well, I am always fascinated by reading writings of Jewish rabbis. First of all, they are often more loyal to the Bible than Protestant interpreters. But Jewish rabbis, on this passage, are very interesting. It is what they call a “majestic plural.” You may ask, “What’s a majestic plural?” I do not know. I have read all that they said and I still do not know. The way I see it, it is their answer to the problem. Majestic plural means it is just to really emphasize how great God is. Why use the plural pronoun? Isn’t God still great when it uses the singular? Well, of course! Then why is the plural pronoun used?
They go on pages and pages to describe that the Christians are wrong, but that they understand our difficulty. They understand that we would conclude by plural pronouns that God must be more than one. But we really do not understand that it is a majestic plural, which they also do not understand. Having read them, I can assure you of that. Let me tell you something folks, that is like proving it by an indirect way. The writers against it are proving the fact that the plural pronoun is indeed a problem and it demonstrates that God may be more than one.
Let me give you another example. Look at Genesis 11. When you ask me about the tri-unity of God, that God is three in one, that is defined in the Bible by the use of plural pronouns in Genesis 11:4. The men are building a city and a tower called the Tower of Babel. In verse 5, the Lord came down to see the city and the tower. In verse 7, the Lord said, “Come, let us go down and there confuse their language.” Let us? Yet verse 6 says it is the Lord Jehovah talking and He uses the plural pronoun of Himself. Let us go down. The tri-unity of God is defined by the use of plural pronouns.
Point number two. Please turn to John 10 in the New Testament. The tri-unity of God is also dependent upon the uniqueness and unity of each Person of the Godhead. Let me repeat that again. The tri-unity of God, He is three in one, is dependent on the uniqueness and unity of each Person of the Godhead. What I mean by this is that the Father is not the Son. There is a uniqueness in each Person. The Spirit is not the Son or the Father and vice versa. But there is unity among them to the point that it appears there is only one person talking when in fact, there are three persons who are distinct and yet they see themselves as one.
But look at this in John 10:28–29, we have these wonderful words of encouragement from Jesus.
And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are [What?] one.
Now the Jehovah Witnesses say, “Well that does not mean that they are equal. What it means is they are one in spirit, in attitude, in purpose.” Now wait a minute! That could be said of any of us. Could we not be one in spirit, in attitude, and purpose with God? Well the Jews actually believe they are one in spirit and attitude. So why would they be upset if they thought that is all that Jesus meant. As a matter of fact, look at what they did. Verse 31 says, “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.”
Hey, you stone somebody for blasphemy. You may not believe the Christian message about the tri-unity of God, but understand something: when you read the Bible, just examine it scientifically. The fact is that the people who heard what Jesus said, knew what He meant and disagreed with what He was saying and wanted to stone Him for it.
I like what a contemporary radio preacher, a young guy who was preaching on the radio, said about all these stonings of Christ. He said, “It looks to me like they are holding a rock concert for Jesus. They are throwing rocks at Him all the time, trying to have a stoning of our Lord. They did not misunderstand. They knew exactly what He said.”
“I and My Father are one,” is a tremendous statement. The tri-unity of God is dependent upon the uniqueness and unity of each person of the Godhead. The Father is not the Son.
You have in America what is called the “Jesus Only” cult. They believe the Father and Jesus are the same. They use verses like, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Jesus did not say He was the Father. He is a revelation in human form of everything that God the Father is, but He is not the Father. Here in this passage He is saying, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). This is uniqueness. “I and the Father are one,”—unity. The tri-unity of God is dependent on the uniqueness or distinctiveness of each person of the Godhead, as well as its unity—that the Lord our God is one.
Let’s take it a step further. Turn please to John 6, —you are in the Gospel of John. The tri-unity of God also is declared in the Bible when each person is called God. Now here is where a lot of people check out. They just do not believe this. The tri-unity of God is declared when each person is called God. If I asked you, “Is the Father God?” You may ask, “Is the sky blue and the grass green?” I mean in this culture, everybody automatically accepts the fact that the Father is God. But if I asked you to prove it in the Bible, where would you turn?
I did ask that one time to a student of mine in graduate school. He spent hours searching it. Did you know there are only two places? Do you know it is easier to prove that Jesus is God than to prove that the Father is God? A lot of people have never put that together. They have never understood that.
Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.
There you have the Father identified as being God, God the Father.
Turn back to John 5:18.
Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him [that is Jesus] because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.
So at least they reported what Jesus had said, that God was His Father. There is not much to go on really when you realize how widespread is the argument that the Father is God, yet in fact, we do not find many verses that actually call Him “God.”
What about the Son? Is He called God? In John 1:1, it says, “In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God. The Word was God.” Verse 14 says, “The Word became flesh.” Romans 9:5, “Christ is called ‘God blessed forever.’” Hebrews 1:8 says, the Father says to the Son, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.” There are a lot of verses. But I want to give you one that you cannot get out of, Titus 2. I do not think you can get out of the others, but a lot of people try.
Turn to Titus 2:13, please. Is Jesus Christ called “God” directly in the Bible?
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. (KJV)
You may say, “Well how do people who do not believe the tri-unity of God, deal with that?” Well, it is very easy. They say the first words, “great God,” are referring to the Father and of course the second ones refer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. So what they teach is that both the Father and Jesus Christ are coming back again. I do not know if you know that or not. Those guys that wear white shirts, long ties, ride bicycles, and come to your door, they believe the Father and Jesus both are coming to the earth. Why? It is because they cannot get out of this problem. Now is that an answer to the problem? No way. Why? Excuse me for referring to Greek, but there is no way to answer this problem without helping you to see something. In Greek we have a basic rule of Greek grammar that says, “Two nouns connected by “and,” if the definite article “the” is in front of the first noun but not the second one, it connects equals. Now I do not know what you think is a rule. Do you believe that a rule is a rule even if there are some exceptions? That is an interesting question.
I was in an English class one day in high school and I learned about a rule of grammar, and then the teacher proceeded to explain all the exceptions. Now I do not happen to believe that it is a rule that you can depend upon if there is an exception. And we always say, “Well there are always exceptions to the rule.” Well, if there are then it is not a rule. It is an opinion maybe or a theory, but it is not a rule. A rule has no exceptions to it. What is this?” Hang on.
Over 250 times you will find two nouns connected by and with a definite article in front of the first noun and none on the second. This is true of the whole New Testament and there is no exception to the rule. That is exactly what you have in Titus 2:13, “the great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” It is connecting equals. The great God is the Savior and there is no way of getting out of it.
I think it is interesting that the Bible not only calls our Savior “God” in Titus 2:13, but it calls Him “the great God.” Aren’t you glad Jesus is the great God? He is the only one in the Bible who is coming again. The Bible says that Jesus said of Himself, “I will come again” (John 14:3). The Bible speaks about the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ our Lord, but it never tells us that the Father is also coming with Him. As a matter of fact, the Bible indicates that the Father is not coming with Him and Jesus is coming by Himself and the Father remains in heaven. Interesting!
The tri-unity of God is declared when each person is called “God.” You may ask, “What about the Holy Spirit?” You know, I wonder how many of you really believe the Holy Spirit is God. You believe He acts like God, but do you believe He is God? Do you believe He is a real person? The Bible teaches that He lives within us. I have seen an enormous change happen in American Christianity over my preaching ministry. And I want to speak about it just briefly to show you the problem here. The tri-unity of God affects a lot of things and we do not even know it.
Let’s talk about the Holy Spirit. When I grew up I learned that I could not live my Christian life without the help of the Holy Spirit of God. Do you know that? That was programmed into my brain. I learned that I could not make it. I could not cope with it. I could not handle life. I needed the help and presence of the Holy Spirit of God. I grew up believing that and I grew up believing that you had to be filled with the Holy Spirit as a constant thing in your life. It was not a creative option only for a few super-saints. I learned that every Christian cannot function well unless he is filled with the Holy Spirit of God. That is what I grew up learning.
In my day, the difference between being Pentecostal and not being Pentecostal was always connected with the gift of tongues. Today because Christians realize the differences, we have what we call “charismatic Christians” and “non-charismatic Christians.” And it is not just talking about tongues or gifts of the Spirit. It deals with our attitude toward the Holy Spirit. There are many non-charismatics who have forsaken the basic teaching of the Bible that you cannot live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit. You know what we have done? We have substituted our own performance and do not even realize it. We have substituted more witnessing, more prayer, and more Bible reading.
There is something else. We have become disciplined because we are upset with the tragedies of our Christian world. We are upset with all the mess we are in. We have come up with our own little deal. We have seminars teaching us how to live the Christian life. I just want you to know that we do not need any seminars, we need the Holy Spirit. And we are losing our understanding of the Holy Spirit in our effort to help people to grow. All of you who are “gung ho” on discipleship, listen to me. I grew up believing in discipleship, but never once thought that by my own discipline and discipleship that somehow I would have victory in the Christian life. I never believed that, but I have lived to see my Christian brothers now teaching that. I just want you to know that no matter how much you study the Word, no matter how much you are on your knees in prayer (all of which you should do), no matter how much you witness, no matter how good you are at discipline, you cannot live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit. It is not you doing it, it is the Spirit of God living and working in you.
That is missing, folks. All across our Christian culture we have lost sight of it. It is one thing to shout, “Hallelujah!” It is something you hear and you know is true. It is another thing to realize how we got in this mess and what is wrong.
When you talk about the tri-unity of God, you are saying that the Holy Spirit is God, like the Father is God, and like the Son is God. And yet many Christians today are talking about the Spirit of God as though He is an influence, the power, or the force. My friends, He is God, God Almighty. He lives in me and He lives in you if you are a believer.
But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to [Who? What does it say?] God.
Now we have said so far that the tri-unity of God is defined by the use of plural pronouns, “Let us make man.” Secondly, that the tri-unity of God—and try to understand it—is dependent upon the uniqueness or the distinctiveness and the unity of each person in the Godhead. They are distinct and different, and yet, they are one. The tri-unity of God is declared when each person is called God.
The fourth point is that the tri-unity of God is also described in the Bible when divine attributes are given to each person. Now this is a tough one. Let me give you an example. God is love, but if I use “love,” I am going to have a problem because we love. When we talk divine attributes, we mean something that is true of God that is not true of man.
Here are some examples, I will just give you three. Eternal—now we have eternal life, but we had a beginning and God had no beginning or end. Omniscient—that He knows all things. We do not; God does. Omnipresent—that He is everywhere at once. Let’s just take those three. And I am asking you, if in the Bible we learn that each person, Father, Son, and Spirit had the divine attributes? That is the question.
Deuteronomy 33:27 says, “The eternal God is thy refuge. Underneath are the everlasting arms.” Is that Father? Is that Son? Or is that Holy Spirit?
Psalm 90:1–2 says, “Even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.” Is it talking about the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit?
I read that Jesus, in John 8:56 —turn there, please—I read Jesus making a remarkable statement about the eternal character of Himself. Is He eternal, Jesus Christ our Lord? Is He the eternal Son of God? “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day.” Wait a minute! Abraham lived 2100 years before Christ. Jesus said he saw it and was glad. Then the Jews said to Him,
You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham? Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:57–58).
Now stop and think about it. If He said, “Before Abraham was, I was,” that is quite a statement. That means He existed 2000 years ago. But He did not say that. He said, “Before Abraham was [about 2185 BC] I AM.” Meaning, at this present moment, I am existing, but I am also existing 2000 years previously. Now if you do not think He was talking about God, consider this: the Bible teaches the Lord inhabits eternity. He is not governed by the sequence of events as we are. He lives outside of time because He designed time. He can live 2000 years ago and 2000 years in the present at the same moment that we are talking about Him. And He fills it all. He inhabits, literally dwells in all eternity, according to Isaiah 57:15.
My friends, we are talking some heavy duty stuff here that makes your brain hurt. What Jesus is saying is, “I have always existed. As a matter of fact, at this present moment, I am also existing 2000 years ago.” This is inconceivable to our brains, but not to the mind of God at all. He dwells in it all and Jesus is saying this about Himself.
You may say, “Well, maybe that isn’t what He meant.” Oh yes, it is what He meant— look at John 8:59. They were not mistaken at all about what He meant. They took up stones to throw at Him again. The people who heard Jesus knew exactly what He was claiming. They knew He was claiming to be God, which is blasphemy. And in the law, you are to be stoned to death.
And now O Father [Jesus praying to His Father] glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
It indicates He was with the Father before the world ever came into existence. He is the eternal Son of God. You may say, “Yeah, but what about the Holy Spirit? Turn to Hebrews chapter 9, please.
At my door one day, a couple of those guys came by. We got into a heavy-duty argument about a lot of stuff and one topic was about the Holy Spirit. They felt that our Christian doctrine is incorrect.
They said, “You treat Him like a person.”
I said, “That is because He is.”
“No, no, no,” they said, “He’s a force.”
“No, He’s not.
He’s just God working.”
I said, “He is God all right. It is God working, but not like you’re talking. He is God just like the Father is God.”
And they said, “That’s blasphemy.”
I said, “No, it’s not. But by the way, they did try to stone Jesus for that remark.
They said, “There is not one verse in the Bible that calls the Holy Spirit eternal.”
They shouldn’t have done that. I said, “Turn to the book of Hebrews.”
Hebrews 9:14 says,
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God.
He is called eternal Spirit in Hebrews 9:14.
You see, divine attributes are given to each person of the Godhead. The fact that God knows everything is in 1 John 3:20. God knows all things. It is in Psalm 139 which says that before I even speak, before there is a word on my tongue, God knows it. He is intimately acquainted with all my ways. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is too high. I cannot attain it,” says the psalmist in 139:6. That is one thing everybody agrees about, God knows everything and we do not.
Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them.
The word “commit” is the same word “believe” that is in verse 23. He did not believe in them. Why? They only believed because of the signs. They did not really commit themselves to Him. He did not believe in them. Why? It is because He knew all men and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.
In Mark 2, they bring a paralytic man to Jesus. Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven.” The Bible says that the scribes and Pharisees reasoned in their hearts. They were not even talking out loud but thinking, “Who can forgive sins but God only?” And Jesus, perceiving their reasoning, asked them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts?” I mean, folks, He knew what they were thinking. The Bible says He knows what is in man. Who? Jesus.
But God has revealed them to us [These wonderful things He has prepared for us.] through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.
Does the Holy Spirit know everything? Yes, He knows all the things of God. The Bible says that He knows all the deep things of God. Wait a minute, God is everywhere! Is Jesus—I mean, after all? Matthew 28:20 says, “Lo, I am with you [what?] always. I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.”
And how about the Holy Spirit? Psalm 139:7 says,
Where shall I run away from Thy Spirit? Where do I go from Your Spirit? If I ascend into heaven, Thou art there. If I make my bed in hell, Thou art there.
There is nowhere you can run away from the Spirit. Why? It is because He is everywhere.
What I am trying to say is stated clearly in the Bible, that divine attributes are said of each person of the Godhead—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Here is a fifth thing about the tri-unity of God. I like this. The tri-unity of God, people, is demonstrated in the Bible by the exercise of their power. Let me show you what I mean. Let’s take creation—that is power! “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Who was that? Was it the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit? Some people may say, “Well, that is the Father.” Wait a minute. In John 1:3 it says of Jesus, “All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made.” And how about Job 26:13 which says, “By His Spirit He has adorned or beautified the heavens.” And how about Job 33:4 which says, “By the Spirit of Almighty God, I have life.” Who was creating us? Who was creating the universe? The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were all involved.
You want another example? How about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead? In Ephesians 1:19–21, it says that the Father raised Jesus from the dead. But in John 10:18 Jesus said, “No man takes My life from Me. I have the power to lay it down and I have power to take it up again.” And do not leave the Holy Spirit out. In Romans 8:11 it says, “The Spirit raised Jesus’ body from the dead.” Now, who raised Jesus from the dead? The Father did, Jesus did Himself, and so did the Holy Spirit. That ought to cause you to think.
The tri-unity of God, folks, is demonstrated by the exercise of their power.
Let me give you another more wonderful, thing to our hearts. Number six in the points on the tri-unity of God, friends, is displayed in the Bible by their presence in the believer.
One day a Sunday school teacher came up to me and said,
“Pastor, we would like you to do some teaching from the pulpit that would help us in dealing with children. You know when children want to become Christians, they like to ask Jesus to come into their heart. You know, in reality Jesus is at the right hand of the throne of God. What we mean is the Holy Spirit comes into their heart. And if somehow you could clarify that from the pulpit it would be all right.
I said, “I am not going to do it.”
“Why not? You are the pastor.”
“Well, I know that but I am not going to do it because I do not believe that.”
“What do you mean you don’t believe it?”
I said, “I believe Jesus does come into your heart.”
“He comes into your heart?”
I said, “Yeah, He comes, He is at the right hand of God, I know, but He cannot be confined to one location. You see He is God. Oh, by the way, I also believe the Father comes into your heart.”
“The Father? Are you supposed to be teaching this?”
I said, “Well it is in the Bible.”
See, I believe the Father is in me, Jesus is in me, and the Spirit is in me. So, I am not going to trouble some kid. I am just glad they know the truth even without having to go through this discussion. You may say, “Well how do you know that?”
Turn to John 14. I like this. I did not make this up, it is in the Bible. The tri-unity of God is displayed by their presence in the believer.
In John 14:16 Jesus said,
I will pray the Father [There is Jesus and the Father distinct from each other.] and He will give you another Helper [The Helper is the Holy Spirit, according to verse 26.] that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you [The Greek has, alongside of you] and will be in you.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer began on the Day of Pentecost. It was obviously future at this point.
Now look at verse 18. “I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you.” Wait a minute, He is telling them He is going to ascend into heaven. He has to go away, but He is going to send the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is going to come to them. And now He says, “I will come to you.” Look at John 14:20.
At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
Verse 23 says,
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him [Watch this.] and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
The Father is in me, the Spirit is in me and the Son is in me. I have them all. It is a great team. Amen?
The eternal God, I do not have all there is to God and neither do you. But according to the Bible, God places His own nature and Himself inside of us. It includes the Father. It includes Jesus. It includes the Holy Spirit. Do you understand it? No. But I believe it.
Number seven. Finally, turn to John 17. The tri-unity of God is defined by the use of plural pronouns. It is dependent upon the uniqueness and unity of each person of the Godhead. It is declared in the Bible when each person is called “God,” and described when divine attributes are given to each person. It is demonstrated by the exercise of their power and it is also displayed by their presence in the believer.
Lastly the tri-unity of God, friends, is designed to reveal the spiritual unity of believers. And it is at this point we are really fussy. The tri-unity of God, that God is three in one, is designed to reveal to us the spiritual unity of all believers.
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17:20–23)
It is interesting to me, as you examine this passage, that we are to be one as the Father and Jesus are one. The tri-unity of God means that God is one, but He manifests Himself in three persons; and their unity is to be exactly the same as the unity among true believers. This is why I think we are all messed up.
You see, a lot of us believe that true unity is based on whether folks agree with you or not. It is interesting to me in church life, how often that is seen. Now I want you to know that the boards of this church do not often agree with each other. Sometimes they do, but sometimes they do not. As a matter of fact, the board of elders and I, in particular, do not always agree. We really do not. It interesting to me that we are all very different. And you know, one of the easiest ways to cause a split and ill feelings is to run into another Christian who disagrees with you about something. And supposedly, we are all to agree. In fact, every now and then somebody says, “Well, what we need is a unanimous vote. We have to prove our unity.” That is a bunch of baloney. What are you talking about? That is like checking your brains off at the door. Maybe I disagree with you, but I am not one with you because we agree on the same issues. That is not what makes spiritual unity.
Or here is another misconception. I have been at occasions where there is a guy on a platform who wears clerical robes, who supposedly wants to be one with me, and he does not even know the Lord! I just want you to know he is not one with me.
All true believers are one, not because they like the same things, and not because they have the same cultural preferences or interests. That is not why we are one. By the way, that is not true about marriage either. You know why you are one? It is because you made a vow. You know what I mean? Divorce is out because marriage is for life. The two become, what? One.
The Father and the Son and the Spirit are one because they are all, what? They are God. What makes the Father, the Son, and the Spirit one is that they are all God. They are not three Gods; there is only one God.
What makes all believers one is God; it is the same exact thing. Jesus said, “I pray that they may be one as we are one.” The reason we are one is because we all have God’s life in us. It does not matter what our likes or dislikes are or our language differences, skin color differences, or anything else; we are one when we have been born again of the Spirit of God. You are not one because you go to the same church. And everybody wants to have oneness by having the same name or come under this denominational, humungous something or other. Hey, listen folks, you are one because you have God’s life in you.
Let’s take fellowship. All Christians have fellowship whether they like it or not. And I hear Christians say, “Oh, but you can fall out of fellowship.” No you cannot. Who ever told you that? You can certainly strain the bear up a little bit, but you cannot get out. Listen, the Bible says that our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. What we have in common, which is the meaning of fellowship, is not the way we get along. What we have in common is God’s life. So we have fellowship whether we like it or not. With every true believer in Jesus Christ, you are already one. And isn’t it fascinating that Jesus said the world would know and would believe when they see it? So the manifestation of it would be what?
Look at John 13:35 which says,
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
It did not say that you would like each other. We hope you do, but you are to love one another even when you disagree.
“But I want pink on the walls and it is white.”
“Well, I do not know.”
“Well, we are going to another church. You know, they sing funny songs there.”
Exactly what do we understand to be our spiritual unity? And you wonder why we need a message on the tri-unity of God? According to the Bible, the tri-unity of God, is designed to reveal to us the true spiritual unity of all believers. And the Bible says, “Strive for the unity of the Spirit,” (Ephesians 4:3). And some of us will not even lift a finger. And if somebody says something against us that we do not like, we are out of there. Or we go down the street to another place. We cannot take it because we want everybody to be the same. Do you want everybody to look like you and act like you? God is a God of variety. He made everybody different and He knows we disagree. I believe the highest mark of Christian maturity is agreeing to disagree and still love each other.
We are one because we share God’s life. And that is the tragedy of it. A lot of you think because you belong to a church you are in. Oh no. You think because you know all that stuff and hang around us. No way. Some of us, by the way, although we are not as discerning as God naturally, but some of us because of the presence of the Spirit, can even feel when we are in your presence that you are not quite in. Did you know that? It is kind of scary when you think about it.
Christians know people who hang around thinking they are Christians but they are not and after a while, although we are not God and we cannot quickly make judgments, after a while we begin to feel, “I don’t think John is in.” Christians even talk that way. Did you know that? You may not like that if you are here among us and you are not a true believer. But if we know you well enough, you should be careful and you should hide a little bit more because you see, we are after you. We want every man, woman, and child to go to heaven with us that we possibly can take there. But we know that some of you are in and some are thinking you are in and you are not because you do not have God’s life. You have to be born again. You have to come to know the Lord personally.
Let’s close with prayer.
Father, thank You so much for Your wonderful Word. We pray that You will continue to impress us with our need of knowing the Lord in order to truly have the unity of the believers. Thank You, Lord, that You are three and one at the same time. I pray for those in our audience who have never made a commitment to Jesus Christ that You would help them now, right now, in this moment to turn to You before it is too late. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.