How can we understand the Trinity?
God says, “Let us make man in our image.” Scripture is always so accurate! Isn’t it unique that the plural pronouns are used throughout this verse? Why do you think they were used?
Remember that in Lesson 1, we spent time discussing the Trinity. In verse 26, this triune God is speaking unanimously and simultaneously, saying “Let us make man in our image.”
In Lesson 1, I pointed out that the word translated “God” in verse 1 is “Elohim,” and it too, refers to the Trinity and is in the plural form. However, we went on to see in the New Testament that even though the entire Trinity was involved and at work in the creative acts recorded in the first few chapters of Genesis, that it was God, the Son, who actually spoke the word which caused creation to become a viable act. Whenever we get to any of the acts of creation, we are dealing directly with God the Son, Jesus the Christ (the anointed one). He is the one who actually spoke the Word, and things happened. That’s why John’s gospel begins, “In the beginning was the Word.” I want to emphasize that “Word” indicates or denotes communication. You can’t communicate, describe, or accomplish anything without putting it into words.
So God the Son was the One Who, by the spoken word, created everything that’s ever been created, including man himself. But we cannot leave out the other two, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit, because they’re all three involved! So in the words of Verse 26, the pronouns are referring directly to the Triune God, but it’s actually God the Son Who is speaking all this, including the first man, into reality.
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know, “Him (This Jesus), being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:”
Now what does the determinate counsel of God mean? The only way I can look at it is that the Trinity, the Triune God, Three Persons yet One, consulted within this Godhead before anything was ever created. They agreed within the Trinity, knowing everything that would take place: that fallen man would need a Redeemer, and salvation would be that Second Person of the Trinity Who would step down from the invisible Godhead, take on flesh, and go the way of the finished work of the Cross for man’s redemption. Now all of that was foreknown and consummated in the thought-process of the Trinity. When I teach this, I don’t imply that the Three sat down around a table and talked about which One would do what, as men would do. But within the Trinity of the Godhead, whether it was a split second or whatever, all three Persons of the Godhead had agreed that this is the way it would be done. And that’s exactly what this verse means, “…by the determinate counsel.”
Verse 2 says; “by whom (Jesus) also He made the worlds.“
These verses indicate that God (The Triune God), ordained all this to take place, but it was through Jesus (God The Son) that the words of creation were spoken. It’s very difficult for us to understand the Trinity. Look at John 14:8. Philip says to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father.“
Jesus’ answer to him in verse 9, was: “‘He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.'” Now turn to Isaiah 9:6-7:
“For unto us (Israel) a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The ever lasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
This passage refers to Jesus, yet it calls Him, “The Everlasting Father.” There is such intricacy in the Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are each separate and unique, yet they are One together. And we must be careful not to think of them as in order from top to bottom – they are all co-equal. One is not more important, or more powerful, or more in control than any of the other two.
“That their hearts (and Paul is speaking of the believers up there in Laodicea in Asia Minor) might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment (or the acceptance) of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
So we see that all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in the mysteries of God. What is the revelation here that the Old Testament is vague about? The Trinity! Now we know that the Old Testament has evidences of the Triune God, but you see this is why the Hebrews, and the Rabbi’s even of our own present day, call Christians almost pagan because we worship three Gods. They don’t recognize the Trinity back there in the Old Testament, and they still don’t. But here is a revelation that God is a Triune God, and it’s a revelation that Paul brings out that God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who (speaking of the Son up in verse 13.) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: “
Now Who is the invisible God? The Triune! The Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They’re Spirit, and they were invisible, but out of that invisible Triune God stepped the Son, and He became visible. In the Old Testament economy it was a temporary thing, and then He would disappear, but in our New Testament account He became visible, tangible, touchable, He lived in the flesh by virtue of His Bethlehem birth. All right, it’s the same God now manifested in the flesh by the Son.
“The kings of the earth set themselves (the rulers of the Gentile nations), and the rulers (of Israel), take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
What’s this about? Rome, Pilate and others in authority, consorting with the high priests and rulers of Israel to crucify the Messiah. In those final days of Christ’s earthly life before He was crucified, what’s the Jews position? When Pilate said, “I see nothing wrong with this man,” they said, “We have no king, but Caesar. Away with this Man. We’ll not have Him to rule over us. Crucify him.”
That’s the prophecy. They’re rejecting His offer of ruling them as a benevolent King. They don’t want any part of it. So they say, “Break his bands asunder.” I’d like to stop a second. Do you see the pronouns here are plural? Where the people say, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” Why plural? Remember what I taught you way back in Genesis Chapter 1, Elohim is a plurality. It’s a Godhead of three, not one. Here’s the reason for the pronoun. Same way back in Genesis 1:26, when God said, “Let us make man in our image,” what are the pronouns? They’re plural. Because Elohim is a Trinity. He’s a plurality in the Godhead.
PAUL’S GLIMPSE OF GLORY
II CORINTHIANS 11:22 – GALATIANS 1:7
Let’s pick up here in Chapter 13, and I’m not going to take this last chapter verse by verse, as you can read it at your leisure. However, I do want to close the Book with the final verse which is verse 14. This verse is probably the clearest statement concerning the Trinity that you can find anywhere in Scripture, next to Christ’s baptism. I know when someone writes wanting to know where we get the idea of the Trinity (and if we can give them Scriptures for it), that the two we use the most are this one and where Christ was baptized:
“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17. And lo a voice from heaven, saying, `This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'”
At His baptism you have all three persons of the Trinity there at one time. Now here in this verse we have the apostle Paul making reference also to the three Persons of the Godhead in a pure unadulterated statement. Now verse 14:
II Corinthians 13:14
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, (The Father is implied) and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”
Now it’s interesting that, normally when we speak of the Trinity, out of habit we put them in the order of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But when you look at this verse, there is something different. Paul changes the order of the three. Paul puts Christ first rather than the Father. Not that there is any change in the way the Trinity operates. Never. You’ve all heard me teach that there is no such thing as God the Father having power over God the Son, and over the Spirit or vice versa. They are all three co-equal. They are all three members of the Godhead. Let me take you, for a moment, to the Book of Colossians where Paul makes that same statement.
Here is where the Jewish people in their Old Testament background refer to Christianity as a polytheism. They call us a religion of three Gods. But we’re not three Gods, it’s three Persons in one God. And of course the Old Testament does not clarify that like it does in the New Testament.
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9. For in him (that is in Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”
Now backing up a little bit to Colossians Chapter 1. And I think all of this gives us a clear picture that the Godhead is that invisible Spirit out of which God the Son stepped and became visible.
Who (speaking of God the Son and the redeeming Blood in verses 13 and 14) is the image of the invisible God, (the Godhead) the first born of every creature: (in other words Christ was pre-eternal in His existence just like God the Father, and God the Spirit.) 16. For by him (God the Son) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him; 17. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (or held together. Remember now this is speaking of God the Son) 18. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; (referring to His resurrection) that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19. For it pleased the Father that in him (Christ) should all fulness dwell;”
So the members of the Godhead are not One above the other, but rather they are all co-equal. Now returning to our text in II Corinthians. This is why, now, that Paul in complete liberty, and again, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, can sort of reverse the order that we normally use. Looking at verse 14 again:
II Corinthians 13:14
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”
“And if Christ be in you, the body (the old Adam again) is dead because of sin (in other words Adam and the flesh was all under the curse, and this body is going to die if The Lord doesn’t come to translate it. That’s all part of the fall of man that death came in, and so all men has to die); but the (Holy) Spirit is life because of righteousness.” I think Paul is referring to eternal life, that life which will never end because of righteousness.
“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead (here we have the implication again of the Trinity. God the Father used the power of the Holy Spirit to raise the Son. See how clear that is? So if He) dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”