Summary: The doctrine of the Godhead (or the Trinity) is often ignored or neglected because it seems so complicated. But Scripture reveals plenty and we find it fits perfectly with what we know about God’s covenant of grace for the salvation of His elect.
We’ve reached some wonderful chapters in Genesis that deserve appreciation and I’m excited to preach them, but the theme of Genesis is fairly consistent all the way through. What that means is we might start to get a little numb to what we’re reading, and I don’t want that, so we’re going to take a little break to study something different.
The doctrine of the Godhead (or the Trinity) has been on my mind lately and I’d like to spend a while telling you some of my thoughts on it.
Before we begin, I think it’s important to address a popular error. No man can ever truly understand the depths of God, but a lot of people use this as an excuse: “Since we can’t understand the Godhead, we might as well not even try.” And because of this we’ve ended up with all kinds of unbiblical views of God.
Is the Holy Spirit an individual being or is He only a force? Does He have a beginning? Is He on the same level as the Father and the Word?
Moreover, who is Jesus? Why is He also called the Word? Did God die on the cross? If Jesus is God did He really die? Does He have a beginning? How could He be born?
What about the Father? Why is He called that? Is He the greatest God of the three?
And what about the nature of the Godhead? Is it one being wearing many faces? Is it three separate Gods?
So you can see why people just sort of shrug and give up, can’t you? But I hope to show you that it’s all written for us and not as difficult as some say. Perhaps the reason some things are so hard to understand is because we aren’t willing to adjust what we think we already know. We hear something that sounds new and so we instantly just write it off because it doesn’t fit with what we’ve been taught. And so my challenge to you is just to listen and read and think for yourself. Don’t try to think deep thoughts; just read what it says and accept it.
Now, why is this important? What difference does it make if we understand this stuff? Well, there’s no more basic and fundamental question than “who is God?” Jesus asked Peter, “Who do men say that I am?” If we don’t take the time to understand the Godhead, we’ll never accurately understand Christ. And so, we’re going to start this study. Let’s begin in First John:
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one (1 Jn. 5:7).
There are three witnesses in heaven and we see they have three different names. But how can there be three and one? The most helpful illustration I can find is the one of marriage. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh (Eph. 5:31). Paul goes on in that passage to say that he’s actually talking about Christ and the church. When two people are married they are cut off from their blood family and united together as one person in the eyes of God. Of course they are still two separate people, but they share a spiritual union that makes them one.
While in the garden Jesus prayed that “all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one” (Jn. 17:21-22).
There are three in number in heaven, but they are one in union. They are bound together inseparably to form one God.
And so we must ask, who are these three? From our text we read that they are the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. I’ll suggest to you now that each of these has a name that corresponds with His role in the covenant of grace towards God’s elect. Each one serves a special purpose:
Let’s start with the Word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. […] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (John 1:1-2, 14).
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:5-8).