Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, (Colossians 2:9)
I do not pretend to be a theologian. Personally, I do not have much faith in theology. Theology is the study of God. This implies a mental approach to understanding God. It is my point of view that trying to understand God mentally has led to the current errors in Christian thinking. I believe, from something Jesus said, that the only way we can understand God is by experiencing Him.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:20)
I make it a point to not write anything merely to explain a passage of Scripture. Everything I write is intended to lead believers into righteous behavior. My effort in this present effort it to invite people into the close relationship I have with the Lord Jesus, my older Brother.
It is my observation that the two current definitions of the Trinity tend to keep people from enjoying a close relationship with the Lord Jesus. I do not like terms such as “Trinity,” “rapture,” “accept Christ,” “the Bride of Christ,” and so forth because they are not in the Scriptures. Even though those who employ such terms mean well, there always is a chance that an unscriptural meaning or application will creep in.
The unscriptural term I wish to deal with in this article is the “Trinity.” If my understanding is correct, the Trinity can be understood in one of two ways, neither of which admits to the close fellowship with Jesus we all desire, and that He desires.
The first understanding is that there are three equal Gods, co-existent, co-eternal, and so forth. This means that Jesus is equal in authority to the Father and originated at the same time as He. This is what I think “Trinity” means. However, I believe theologians would have a more complex definition. Yet, if I am not mistaken, the above is how the rank and file of believers would define the Trinity.
The idea of three equal Gods probably came about in an effort to ensure that Jesus is perceived as being fully Divine, and so He is. But to make Him another God equal to the Father thwarts our desire to be a brother and friend of His. We believers are not God, in the ordinary sense of the word, and never shall be. So there is a wall between us and Jesus.
If Jesus Christ is one of three Gods, and we never can be a God in that sense, He is not actually our brother, although the Bible says being a brother of Christ is our destiny.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)
If we are to take the verse above at face value, then it seems to me there is no need to go into intricate details about the relationships among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Firstborn among many brothers. Who is our common Father? God, of course. Is God Jesus’ Father? Of course. Is God our Father? Of course. Are we then genuine brothers of our Lord Jesus in that we have the same Father? Of course. I see no mystery here. I see no need to go into verbal acrobatics to explain our relationship to Jesus or Jesus’ relationship to the Father.
This means we can have genuine fellowship with the Lord Jesus. There is no wall between us. He has been born of God. We have been born of God. How is Jesus different from us?
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 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 and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)
The passage above is one of the clearest expressions in the Bible, in my opinion, that describes how Jesus is different from us. None of the things in that passage is true of any of us. Yet, what Paul said in Romans is equally true. There is one God. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus. Although the distinctions made above hold true; nevertheless, the Lord Jesus genuinely is our older brother.
Jesus is not appalled that we should aspire to be His brother. He is delighted. It is we who are apprehensive about taking too much on ourselves that we should be the brothers of Christ.
Perhaps it is because His coming is at hand that we now are realizing Jesus wants to be closer to us than a brother. He wants us to live by His very Life, thinking, speaking, and acting in agreement with His will for us.
We have been called to be one in Him in the Father. In other words, God is enlarging His family, the family that has the Father’s name. As such we partake of the Divine Nature. As such we will be filled with all the Fullness of God if we follow on to know the Lord.
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (II Peter 1:4)
We may be staggered at such a thought. But this precisely is what
the Bible says about the members of the royal priesthood
I stated previously that the Trinity can be understood in one of two ways, neither of which admits to the close fellowship with Jesus that we all desire, and that He desires. The first is that there are three equal Gods. Although this definition is modified somewhat by complicated explanations of theologians, this is how it comes across to those of us who are not trained in theology.
The second way in which the Trinity may be understood is that there is but one God in three manifestations. This would mean that Jesus is not a Person in His own right but an expression of the Father. I am aware that theologians would be dismayed at the way I simplify their profound definitions, but this is the way the ordinary believer is apt to understand them when they claim there is one God in three manifestations.
I will grant that when Christ is conceived and fully formed in a believer, and that believer then is filled with all the fullness of God, and the Scripture teaches clearly this state of being, then we also become a manifestation of the one God. How could it be otherwise? It assuredly was true of the Apostle Paul. He was a manifestation of Christ, hence a manifestation of God!
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
If Paul no longer lives and Christ lives in him, then the Apostle Paul is a manifestation of Christ. And if Paul is a manifestation of Christ, then Paul is a manifestation of God. How could it be otherwise? So there is truth in claiming that Christ is a manifestation of God. But being a manifestation of Christ does not make Paul, Christ. And being a manifestation of the one God does not make Christ, the Father.
Then too, there are passages that prevent the notion that Christ and the Father are the same Person. For example:
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)
It is my opinion that a person’s will is his or her unique identity. So when Jesus cried out, “Yet not as I will but as you will,” it seems to me that two different Persons are involved here — the Father and the Son. How could it be that Jesus is not a unique person but a manifestation of the Father, and yet ask that the Father’s will be done and not His? Does this make sense to you? Again:
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. (Hebrews 5:7-9)
Now I ask you, was the Lord Jesus in reverent submission to Himself, which would be the case of Jesus and the Father are the same Person in different forms or manifestations? Would Jesus learn obedience to Himself? This does not make sense to me. However the following passage does make sense:
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17)
I believe our misunderstanding of the Deity, and several other equally misleading errors, have come about because theologians have attempted to understand the Scriptures by using human reasoning.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word of God. He also is the bright and morning Star. As He rises in our hearts, we increase in the understanding of the Scriptures, for He Himself wrote the Scriptures. When we try to understand them with our mind, using deductive processes, we invariably misunderstand what the Lord wants to tell us.
Our Lord Jesus came from Heaven to bring us to the Father. He is the Way to the Father. We have so confused the relationship of Christ to the Father, we have thought that when we have Christ we also have the Father — and, in some points of view, we also have the Holy Spirit.
In one extremely important sense, when we have Christ, we do have the Father and the Holy Spirit. Yet, they are three Persons and they minister to us in different ways.
If I am not mistaken, as we press forward in Christ in the present hour, the Father is going to become much more real to us than has been true in time past. The Father is a unique Person in His own right. He indeed is our Father, just as He is the Father of our Lord Jesus.
All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)
The Kingdom of God is at hand. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are active perhaps as never before. The final conflict between good and evil is beginning even now. The end result will be a new world of righteousness in which sin and rebellion have been barred for eternity.
Let us press on to know the Lord. He shall come unto as the spring rain. It is time now for the Lord Jesus to show Himself to His fervent disciples to prepare them for His worldwide appearing. New and surprising things are afoot in the spirit world.
Each of us must seek the Lord Jesus right now so we do not miss the day of our visitation.
That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:21)
(“The Godhead”, 3340-1, proofed 20211016)