"Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy." - John Trapp

Monday, July 10, 2006

Questions on the Godhead - Part 4

Time to resume our look at "60 Questions on the Godhead" from the UPCI. As with the previous post I'm going to jump around a bit to link up similar questions. Let's start with Question 12 and I'll pick up Questions 10 and 11 in a little further down.

Question 12. Is the mystery of the Deity hidden from some people? Yes. Luke 10:21-22.

Luke 10:21-22 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (ESV)

The "these things" of v.21 is most likely a reference to salvation, when compared to 1 Corinthians 1:18-30. So in v.22, what we see is that the mystery of the deity is hidden not just from some but from everyone, with the exception of those to whom the Son intentionally reveals the Father. In the context of the Scriptures, this would be the elect. Those whom the Father has chosen from the foundation of the world.

This passage does not support a Oneness view of God, though. It does, in fact, support a Trinitarian view of God. Jesus here "rejoices in the Holy Spirit." Why would one manifestation rejoice in another manifestation? Why then would that manifestation then talk of a third manifestation handing something over to Him? This is not the language of manifestation, but of relationship. The Father knows the Son and the Son knows the Father.

Question 10. Does the Bible say that there are two persons in the Godhead? No.

Of course not. The Bible teaches that there are three persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Question 20. Whom do some designate as the first person in the trinity? God the Father.

Question 21. Whom do some designate as the last person in the trinity? The Holy Ghost. But Jesus said that He was the first and last. Revelation 1:17-18

Question 23. If Jesus is the first and the last, why did God say in Isaiah 44:6 that He was the first and the last? Because Jesus is the God of the Old Testament incarnate.

Interesting series of questions. Again, they are building from a starting point to a conclusion. Question 20 is correct that the Father is often referred to as the first person of the Trinity. However, question 21 is incorrect. The Holy Spirit is not referred to as the "last person" of the Trinity, but the "third person" of the Trinity (Jesus, the Son, being the second person of the Trinity).

But what about the "first and last" statements? Is question 23 correct? Yes. Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. Trinitarians have never denied this. It is essential to our view of God. John records that Isaiah saw Jesus' glory, and the context that of Isaiah's vision of God in the temple.

So what does it mean to say that God is "the first and the last"? This has nothing to do with whether God is Trinity or not, but is an affirmation of His eternality. In Revelation 22:13, John records the words of Jesus, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (ESV) The Triune God is the beginning and the end. He is eternal. "Alpha and Omega", the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and "the first and the last" are other ways of saying "beginning and end."

That this is correct can be seen in Revelation 1:8, "'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'" (ESV) Notice that Alpha and Omega here correlate to "who is and who was and who is to come." Present, past and future God is the almighty one.

Question 11. Does the Bible say that all the Godhead is revealed in one person? Yes, in Jesus Christ. II Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:19; 2:9; Hebrews 1:3.

These are all great verses that affirm the deity of Christ. I rejoice in the truth revealed in them that Jesus was fully God. But none of these verses address the central question of whether the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are persons, or manifiestations. Note that I said these verses, because the context of Hebrews 1 has God the Father speaking to God the Son. There is relationship between the two persons of the Trinity.

As I hope I'm making clear, whether we are talking mere manifestations or persons who have a relationship is the key issue between a Oneness view of God and the Trinitarian view of God. The Bible presents relationships within the Trinity that can only exist among different persons. Why is it "not good for man to be alone?" Because Eve (and the other people who followed her) allow us to more properly bear the image of God, because we relate to one another as persons, just as the Father relates to the Son, and the Son relates to the Spirit, and the Spirit relates to the Father.

Let me close by looking at one more question:

Question 22. How many persons did John see sitting on the throne in heaven? One. Revelation 4:2.


This is a wonderful passage in the Bible. The passage is the scene in heaven where there is continual worship of God, who is seated on His throne. But John notices a scroll, that no one is able to open, until the Lion of the tribe of Judah shows up. When John turns to look at this lion, he sees instead the slaughtered Lamb standing there. Yes, there is one on the throne in John's vision. But praise be to God that beside the throne there appears the Lamb slain to save people from every tribe and tongue and nation. To Him be blessing and honor and glory and might forever more.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Blogging on the UPC is very timely. I've done some work on them too, with an emphasis on history, theology, textual issues, T.D. Jakes, Tommy Tenney and others. They are on the sidebar of my blog if you are interested.

6:17 PM EDT  
Blogger Taliesin said...

Jonathan,

Thanks for stopping by and the resources. I've heard about Jakes, but I'm not familiar with Tenney. I'll check out your posts and credit you if I use anything.

11:31 PM EDT  

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