God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit
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God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit
The existence of a Creator God of vast power and intelligence is so obvious from the universe around us that atheism, disbelief in God, is a denial of reality: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Romans 1:20, New International Version). Yet much detail regarding God's attributes requires further revelation.
We understand that God is spirit (John 4:24), existing in a different realm from that of human beings, who are flesh. "As the heavens are higher than the earth," so are His ways and thoughts higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). Our understanding and perception of God, therefore, must be based on God's revelation to mankind through His written Word, the Bible or Holy Scriptures.
The Bible reveals that God is the Sovereign of the universe, existing supremely above all else. God is eternal, unchanging in character, all-powerful, all-knowing and ever-present (Deuteronomy 33:27; Isaiah 57:15; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Job 42:2; Jeremiah 32:17; Psalm 147:5; 1 John 3:20; 2 Chronicles 2:6; Jeremiah 23:23-24).
Scripture further reveals God as two distinct divine Beings—God the "Father" and Jesus Christ His "Son." (The Hebraic form of Jesus Christ is Yeshua the Messiah. The title Messiah or Christ—literally meaning "Anointed"—is that of the ruler of the lineage of King David who is prophesied to serve as the chief divine representative in restoring Israel's glory and reigning in righteousness over the world.)
Both the Old and New Testaments contain references to more than one divine personage (Psalm 110:1, for example, which is quoted in Acts 2:29-36). Again, the New Testament identifies Them as God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son (1 Corinthians 8:6). The Son is also called God (Hebrews 1:8-9).
As Father and Son, the one God is thus the one God family. The distinction between these two Beings existing together as God is implicit from the very beginning of Scripture (Genesis 1:1), where the Hebrew word Elohim is used. (Elohim is the plural form of the Hebrew word for God, Eloah.)There has been communication between these two from the beginning, as seen in the example of Genesis 1:26, where the pronouns Us and Our refer to Elohim.
The Old Testament focuses on the God of Israel, who identifies Himself as "I AM" and "the Lord God...of Abraham,... of Isaac, and...of Jacob" (Exodus 3:14-15). (The word Lord here is used in place of the Hebrew word spelled YHWH, which, like "I AM," apparently denotes eternal and self-inherent existence.)
In John 8:58, Christ refers to Himself as "I Am." Thus, the One the Israelites knew as God, who delivered them from Egypt and accompanied them in the wilderness, was later known in the New Testament as Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4). The existence of the One whom Christ referred to as "the Father" was not well understood by many before Christ's coming—though He is sometimes specifically referred to in the Old Testament.
Jesus Christ is called the "Word," who "was with God" in the beginning and is also identified as "God" (John 1:1-2). All things were created through Him (John 1:3: John 1:10; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:1-3), and He later became flesh and dwelled among human beings (John 1:14).
While in the flesh, the divine Word was emptied of divine glory and might, being human in the fullest sense—able to be tempted to sin (i.e., disobey God) but never sinning (Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 2:14, Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 4:15). As a man, Jesus said that His miracle-working power came not from Himself but from God the Father (John 5:30; John 14:10).
The relationship between the Word and the Father is more clearly defined in the New Testament, where Jesus came in the flesh as the Son of God, acted as the Father's Spokesman (John 8:28; John 12:49-50; John 14:10) and revealed the Father to His disciples (Matthew 11:25-27).
The Father "gave His only begotten Son" in sacrifice as the "Lamb of God" for the forgiveness of our sins. After that Jesus was exalted by the Father to the glory They shared before the world existed (John 3:16; John 1:29; John 17:5). (See the chapters in this booklet titled "The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ" and "The Passover").
The New Testament emphasizes the unity between the "Father" and "Son," yet makes the distinction between the two clear in numerous scriptures (see, for example, John 20:17; Romans 15:6). As noted above, God "created all things through Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 3:9, emphasis added throughout).
As distinct Beings, the Father and Son each have a glorious spirit body (John 4:24; 1 Corinthians 15:45; Philippians 3:21). These spirit bodies have form and shape, as Moses saw the "form of the Lord" (Numbers 12:8; see Exodus 33:18-23). God as spirit is not visible to human beings (Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17)—unless supernaturally manifested.
Yet when God does appear or show Himself in vision, He has "the appearance of a man" (Ezekiel 1:26), though brilliant and radiant, being "the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord" (Ezekiel 1:28; see also Revelation 1:12-16). Human beings were patterned after the form of God on a physical level (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 5:1-3).
The relationship between the Father and the Son demonstrates God's perfect and eternal way of life of love—outflowing concern for others. God is the embodiment of love (1 John 4:8, 1 John 4:16). The Father has always loved the Son, and the Son has always loved the Father (John 17:4, John 17:20-26). The harmony between the Father and the Son is a singleness of mind and purpose, which Jesus Christ asked the Father to bring about among His disciples, Himself and the Father (John 17:20-23).
"God," as used in the Bible, can be a reference to either the Father (e.g., Acts 13:33; Galatians 4:6), Jesus Christ the Son (e.g., Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1, John 1:14) or both (e.g., Romans 8:9), depending on the context of the scriptures.
The power that proceeds from God is called the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2; Luke 1:35; Acts 1:8; Acts 10:38; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Timothy 1:7). It is through this Spirit that God is present everywhere at once (Psalm 139:7-10).
The Holy Spirit of God is not identified as a third person in a trinity but is presented in Scripture as the power of God, the mind of God and the very essence and life force of God through which the Father begets human beings as His spiritual children. The Holy Spirit is given to individuals when they genuinely repent and are baptized (Acts 2:38).
That Spirit is also "a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession" (Ephesians 1:14, NIV) at the resurrection of the righteous to eternal life at Jesus Christ's return (1 Thessalonians 4:16). This Spirit makes those who receive it "the children of God" in the family of God, sharing in the divine nature (Romans 8:16, KJV; 2 Peter 1:4).
Human beings are also called elohim or "gods" in Scripture in reference to the ultimate purpose for our creation (Psalms 82:6; John 10:34-36). God is in the process of expanding the divine family beyond the Father and Son. Ephesians 3:14-15 refers to "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named."
Jesus is called "the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29). Human beings have the wonderful potential to enter the God family and be transformed into the same kind of beings the Father and Christ now are (Romans 8:14; Romans 8:19; John 1:12; 1 John 3:1-2). (See the chapters in this booklet titled "Humanity" and "God's Purpose for Mankind".)
God wants us to come to know Him so we can have confidence in Him and love Him. He has disclosed much about Himself through the names, titles and descriptions He revealed to those with whom He worked in past ages.
These reveal that God possesses supreme intelligence, power, glory and wisdom (Genesis 14:19; Genesis 14:22; Genesis 16:13; Psalms 29:3; Psalms 47:2; Isaiah 55:8-9; 1 Timothy 1:17; Jude 25); that He embodies all righteousness, perfection and truth (Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Corinthians 13:11); that He possesses heaven and earth (Genesis 14:19; Genesis 14:22; Acts 17:24); that He is immortal (Genesis 21:33; 1 Timothy 1:17) and worthy of all praise (Psalms 18:3; Revelation 4:11).
God is our provider (Genesis 22:14; 1 Timothy 6:13; 1 Timothy 6:17; James 1:5; James 1:17), healer (Exodus 15:26), shield (Genesis 15:1; Psalms 59:11), defense (Psalms 18:2; Psalms 94:22), counselor (Isaiah 28:29), teacher (Psalms 25:4-5; Psalms 25:9; Isaiah 48:17), lawgiver (Isaiah 33:22; James 4:12), judge (Genesis 18:25; Psalms 50:6), strength (Psalms 18:2; Psalms 28:7; Psalms 59:17) and salvation (Psalms 27:1, Psalms 27:9; Psalms 68:20).
He is faithful, merciful, generous, patient, kind, just and compassionate (Exodus 34:5-7; Deuteronomy 7:9). God hears our prayers (Psalms 6:9; Psalms 34:17; Psalms 65:2), enters into a covenant relationship with us (Deuteronomy 29:12; Daniel 9:4), is a refuge in trouble (Psalms 9:9), gives us knowledge (Psalms 94:10) and desires to give us immortality that we might share eternal life with Him in His family and Kingdom (John 3:16; Luke 12:32).
Jesus Christ, besides being God the Son and our Elder Brother in God's family, is also the living, active Head of the Church of God (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18), its Chief Apostle (Hebrews 3:1) and its Chief Shepherd or Pastor (1 Peter 5:4). He lives within repentant Christian believers through the Holy Spirit as our personal Savior (compare Galatians 2:20; John 14:23; 1 John 3:24). He sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven as our High Priest (Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 4:14-15; Hebrews 6:20), Intercessor (Romans 8:34) and Advocate (1 John 2:1). And we await His return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords to rule over all nations and serve as supreme Judge under the Father (Revelation 11:15; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:15-16; John 5:22; John 5:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10).