Chapter 7 The Creator is One in Three and Three in One

The Creator God is a Trinity, which is extraordinarily difficult to explain, and though I have attempted to do so many times, I doubt I have ever done it well. 

“Three in one—or—one in three” is little more than a formula, but it expresses what is revealed about the nature of God as found in Scripture. 

In the Hebrew Bible we find evidence for the triune God. In Genesis 1:1-2 we find a significant piece of the puzzle: 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 

The Hebrew word for Spirit of God in the passage above is ruach and can mean wind, breath, or spirit. Dozens of times in the Hebrew Bible ruach refers to Spirit, the Spirit of God. 

In Isaiah 48:16 and 63:10 we find the Spirit differentiated from God yet yet the Spirit is also deity. Here is Isaiah 63:10: “But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit.” 

So far we have discovered two parts of the Trinity. It is not much of a stretch to acknowledge that the Creator is God. A bit of a stretch to add the “Spirit” as God also, still you have two gods then. The real trouble comes with Jesus. If He is God, then do we have three gods? How could this be expressed? 

As for a third part of the Trinity, the Son, we find evidence in Psalm 2:7: “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” This Psalm speaks of Christ, the Messiah, and it clearly distinguishes between the Father and the Christ. 

In Psalm 110:1 we have, “The LORD says to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’” The mystery found here is cleared up by seeing God as a Trinity. 

Already cited is Isaiah 9:6, but because of its direct evidence for the deity of the Messiah, here is the passage again: 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting father, Prince of Peace.  

Isaiah is referring to Immanuel, meaning “God with us,” from his chapter 7 verse 14, the one born of the virgin. Note the titles, “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father,” in Isaiah 9:6, which are used for God alone. 

In the Greek Bible there is evidence aplenty for the deity of the Son, Jesus the Messiah, and thus, the Trinity. In Matthew 28:19-20 we find the three-part formula in the words of Jesus. 

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing then in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. 

It has been argued that such an advanced statement of the Trinity could not have been original with Matthew but has to have been borrowed from a later period. Yet the manuscript evidence shows otherwise. There is only one textual variant in the above passage and that has to do with the use of amen” following “age,” is some old manuscripts. That is it. Codices Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Bezae, many old Latin translations, the Vulgate, Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopic translations—these support the usual reading without a final amen

It is this formula, originated by Jesus Himself, that firmly establishes the doctrine of the Trinity. The Creator alone is not the God of the Bible. The Son alone is not the God of the Bible. The Spirit alone is not the God of the Bible. God is Father (Creator), Son, and Holy Spirit. To leave one out is to miss the mark in defining who God is. It is as one of the ancient creeds puts it: The Three of the Trinity are co-equal, co-eternal, of one will, and of one substance. 

Let us look a little further in the Greek Bible. 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). 

The use of the English word “was” is misleading. It is a verb of being, and is a grammatical structure known as subject nominative, and could as well be translated, “In the beginning was and is the Word, and the Word was and is with God, and the Word was and is God.” The sentence could also be expressed as, “The Word was and is in the beginning, the God was and is with the Word, and God was and is the Word.” 

This Word then, logos in the Greek, refers to God. The Apostle John makes this clear: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). John continues in verses 17 and 18 to make it clear who the Word is: 

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Paul’s testimony 

To prevent this chapter from becoming a tome, only two additional passages will be presented, both from the pen of Paul who in his pre-Christian life denied the deity and messiahship of Jesus vehemently. On a journey to attack Christians in Damascus of Syria, Jesus revealed Himself to Paul. No longer would Paul misunderstand. The original account of Paul’s conversion is in Acts 9:1-19. 

First of all, we examine what is referred to as the “kenosis” of Christ, kenosis meaning self-emptying. 

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8) 

Then to the Colossian congregation, Paul has a different way of presenting Jesus’ deity. 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20) 

Paul, trained as a rabbi by the renowned Gamaliel, knew that if Jesus was in fact the Messiah of Israel, and knowing that the religious party he belonged to, the Pharisees, had a major hand in putting Jesus to death, then his zeal was in error. 

Over the course of time Paul both studied the Hebrew Bible and learned of Jesus’ life and ministry, preparing him to write the passages presented above. 

One last piece now, and this from John 20:24-29. The main characters are Jesus and one of the apostles, Thomas by name. The scene probably takes place in the Upper Room, that place where Jesus celebrated with His disciples what we call now the Lord’s Supper. 

The first time Jesus appeared, after His resurrection, to His disciples, Thomas was absent. Later, those who had seen the risen Christ told Thomas about it, but he refused to accept their story except he see Jesus alive as well. He said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (John 20:25b).  

Eight days later, gathered again in the same place, this time Thomas was present. Suddenly Jesus was right there and gave them the traditional greeting, “Peace be with you.” Then turning to Thomas, Jesus invited him to touch the wounds on His body. Jesus said, “Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (verse 27) 

Thomas then said, “My Lord and my God.” Jesus’ response, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (verse 29) 

For so many the most preposterous thing about Christianity has to do with the Trinity. Think of it, one yet three, three yet one. It makes no sense at all. Even when Christians believe the truth of it, we still we have a certain amount of cognitive dissonance. And this is only natural since the Trinity is ultra supernatural. 

There came a time for me when I stopped fighting myself about it. Okay, I am a Christian and this is what Christians have always believed, so what is the trouble? 

There is nothing in my experience that helps me accept the concept of the Trinity. It continues to be an absurd doctrine. Where I found help was in realizing that I am not the judge of God. I must, will, let God be God though I don’t understand. And why should all that is God be rational to one such as I am, a limited, sinful, ignorant, and arrogant person of rather low I.Q. 

I am among those Jesus referred to in John 20:29: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 

Leave a Reply