Real Distinctions in the Triune God

The Trinity in Unity: Three Persons

Read John 5:18

My Topic this evening is God in Three Persons,

Or the Tri-personality, of God.

For time’s sake I assume that you all are somewhere in the spectrum of “faith seeking understanding.”

—-You believe, but want to learn more.

We confess the true God! And the true-God is in Three persons!

“Who God is”— is too important to get wrong! This is our God, after all! What If you don’t get it right? You’re potentially not believing the right God! The Real God! Or the Christian God! Further, won’t you miss out on the richness of the God revealed in Scripture? Won’t you miss out on the joy of knowing God? My Point is simply believe in The Triune God. Confess the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Firstly, Because God Has Distinctions Internally…

Malachi 3:6 reads,  “I Am, The LORD, I do not change. Therefore you O Israel are not Destroyed!” –

God is one eternal, infinite essence: one will, one power, one unchanging nature. Whatever we say about God is always consistent, uniform, and stable.

Within His one-being are distinctions. Scripture teaches that the Father generates, communicates, He gives the divine essence of the Son. Calvin taught that the Father is like the fount out of which the Divine Nature flows to the Son and Spirit. The Divine nature proceeds from Father to the Son!

John 5:18-21 testifies to this.

21  This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. 19  So Jesus said to them, “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. 20  For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21  For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. (ESV)

 

God was not Jesus’ Father like he’s our Father! Otherwise the Jews would not be offended. He is Father to the Son eternally! The Father’s wills, plans things. The Son “sees” the Father’s will, and it is his own. Scripture also teaches that the Father and Son generate the divine nature to the Spirit! John 15:26-27, The Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father,” and is “sent” by “the Son.”

Sometimes people say, “god is like me, he is a father/a son/and helper- one person with three titles.” No, He is more like a Torch Lighting another Torch, and the Two Torches lighting a third! One Fire with real order.

This is why we say, 1st  2nd and 3rd persons. There is real order. A lot of people have hang-ups here. Because this sounds like there was a time when the Son and Spirit were not divine. Remember, this did not happen in time. The order is the eternal nature of God. God did not become Triune, He is Triune. These are eternal distinctions, not events in time.

Indeed there are distinctions within God’s inner being. This is what is called the distinctions ad  intra (internally). We cannot observe these in God’s actions, but Scripture reveals that the three persons have real order in all eternity.

Secondly, There are Distinct Functions of the Three Persons!

This is what is called the distinctions in the trinity ad extra (From the outside) i.e., observable from his mighty acts. This are visible, plain as day. However they are also eternally true. ad extra refers to the limits of our knowledge, not some arbitrary distinction in God.

The three share one will, but different persons do different things to accomplish the will. The Father works in the Son, and the Holy Spirit brings about the results of the Son’s act.

Notice John 5:22-23

22. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23  that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

The Father does not Judge! He gave judgment to the Son. In verse 22 The Father and Son have one will—Judgment– but the Father accomplishes that will through the Son.

The Spirit too brings about the punishment of the judgment verdict. He brings about the blessing of salvation!

Calvin formulated it this way: In every act, God works as one, but The Father is the initiator, the Son is the accomplisher, and the Spirit is the fructifier, i.e., the one who brings about the fruit, results, intended response.

I am sure that someone hear tonight is “anti-intellectual.” You believe a simple faith is more genuine. You may say “I just believe it and don’t want to talk about it.” When you say this, you leave the backdoor open to unchecked misunderstandings. You’re in danger of collapsing God into one person. It is easier to say, “Well He may be three names, but it’s Just one God, and like I’m a Father, Son, and a Helper to others, so must be God… Father Son and Holy Spirit are probably just titles anyway, not really distinct persons…”

If this is you, I hope to win you over by the word of God to confess the Triune God!

Also, Instead of faithful confessions of the Three persons, I often hear fearful ones! We often fear formulating the doctrine of the Trinity as really 3 persons. Are you nervous of being too complicated? Are you embarrassed of the complicated formulation of our God? Are you simply afraid of formulating this doctrine wrongly?

Never forget, these distinctions are eternal. Many people get nervous because they assume the distinctions are temporal, happening in time. But know for certain that Scripture teaches clearly, God is three persons eternally!

In sum, not only are there distinctions within the Trinity, but also in how they act! Here is my main point: Know, trust, and confess the Triune God because there is Comfort in Knowing the Trinity! Salvation is the eternal will and plan of the Triune God

John 5:24, Jesus concludes

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life”

What is on the line if we don’t believe in the Trinity? Knowing the true God or not, knowing the Christian God or not, and salvation itself!

If you believe in the Triune God: take comfort because God does not change. And your Salvation is the result of an unbreakable covenant within the Triune God. Have this comfort as your own. Know, trust, and confess our Triune God!

 

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