Distinctions Between the Father and the Son

Question from a Site Viewer
Tim, I like what you are doing here! I would like to point out though that the Bible says that all the fullness of the Godhead was in Christ. Jesus Christ is the very image of the invisible God of the old Testament. I can tell you are very sincere with your quest to minister. The Scripture points out that we are to only worship God. Jesus even said we are to worship God. He never did stop a person from worshipping Him. If the Bible teaches a Trinity to whom do we worship? Jesus said that when you have seen Him you have seen the Father. He also points this out to Philip, when asked to show them the Father. Jesus’s words were (John 17) “. . . from henceforth you have seen Him.” This is why Paul was able to say (Colossians 1 and 2) that “all the fullness of the Godhead dealt in him bodily.” Jesus is not a part of the Godhead, which a Trinty would by definition would teach. He is the Godhead. There is none higher. He is the everlasting Father (Isaiah 9). When you say Jesus you have said it All. I see no distinction between the Father and the Son.

We both agree that salvation is only through Jesus Christ, and that we will not contend for our own belief, but that there be a unity in our efforts!

Tim’s Answer
Thank you for writing. If I understand your point correctly, you take issue with the Trinity, finding in Scripture that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament and there is no one higher. You might be surprised to know that I agree with you that Jesus is the very God of the Old Testament, and is the One we worship and serve. He is the image of the invisible God, as you state.

But I think you understand that we believe in the Trinity, and in doing so we join with the church down through the ages in our reading of the relevant texts. There are many reasons why we believe in the Trinity. But first, let me say that the Trinity is not a Tri-unity; that is, those who teach the Trinity are never saying that there are three gods. Trinitarians are monotheists. We believe there is only one God. This is what Scripture plainly teaches (Deuteronomy 4:29; 6:4; 32:39; 2 Samuel 7:22; Psalm 18:31; Isaiah 44:6, 8; 45:5, 21; 46:9; Mark 12:29; James 2:19).

Yet, throughout the Scriptures the Father and Jesus are treated as different persons, with different wills, different functions, and different voices. For instance, in Psalm 2, the Son is spoken to by the LORD and given an inheritance of the nations. In Psalm 110:1, there is the LORD speaking to “my Lord.” In Proverbs 30:4, we are asked about the name of the Holy One and the name of His Son. In Isaiah 42:6, we find the LORD calling His Servant and holding His hand and giving Him as a light to the Gentiles. In Isaiah 49:6, there is a “You” and there is an “I” in the text where the LORD says that He will give His Servant as a light to the Gentiles to be God’s salvation to the ends of the earth. In Isaiah 50:7, we have the Messiah stating that the LORD God will help Me. We find in Isaiah 53:6 that the LORD laid on the Servant the iniquity of us all. We find in Isaiah 53:10 that it pleased the LORD to bruise His servant. In Isaiah 61:1, in the passage Jesus quoted in Luke 4:18, we are told that the LORD has anointed Christ to preach good tidings to the poor. In passages like Isaiah 48:16 and Zechariah 2:8-11 there are two voices, One sending and One sent, who both are the LORD. And there are many similar Old Testament passages.

When we come to the New Testament, we find a continuation of this difference between the Sender and the Sent. Jesus speaks of the will of the One who sent Him as being distinct from His own will, although He was fully submissive to that will (Luke 22:42; John 4:34; 5:30). He offered strong cries to the One who could save Him from death (Hebrews 5:7). Jesus today is seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for the saints (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 10:12, 21). At the baptism of Jesus, the Father spoke from heaven, the Spirit descended from heaven, and Jesus received both the affirmation of the Father and the gift of the Spirit (Matthew 3:16-17; Luke 3:21-22). A similar event occurs at the Transfiguration, which event Peter explains in 2 Peter 1:16-17 as the “power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” when “He received from God the Father honor and glory.”

The great personages throughout the New Testament are the Father and the Son, with them speaking to and about each other and with the Scripture authors repeatedly mentioning and making a distinction between them. These distinctions are part of the warp and woof of the entire New Testament text. Without attempting to address even a fraction of the passages where a distinction is made, I draw your attention to a few select ones where the distinction seems particularly pronounced. In 1 Corinthians 8:6, Paul tells us that “there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things and we for Him and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.” What is the distinction if God is only intending us to understand that the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are the same person? In 1 Timothy 2:5, we are told that there is “one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” Why not simply say that God mediates between God and men, if Jesus is the referent “one God?” And, what would be the sense of mediation, since a mediator always involves a third party? When we resolve our differences without a third party, there is no mediator. In Ephesians 1:3, Paul blesses “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Can Jesus be the God of Himself, or the Father of Himself? And even if this is a possibility, what is the Holy Spirit trying to communicate to us in using this language? Is the Spirit really only telling us that Paul is blessing Jesus? And in what sense is the Son subject to the One who put all things under Him (1 Corinthians 15:28)? In the very end of the book of Revelation, we continue to find that there are these three personages in the new created universe, with the language being “the throne of God and of the Lamb” in Revelation 22:1, 3 and the Spirit appearing in Revelation 22:17.

The language throughout Scripture is of distinction between different personages. These passages to me do not make sense being read as mere rhetorical devices to emphasize different aspects of one divine person. The Scriptural writers write as if they believed there was a distinction to be made. And they are consistent in that distinction. For instance, we are never told that the Father died on the cross. It is always the Son who died. We are never told that the Father submitted to the Son, but we are often told that the Son submitted to the Father. These differences are maintained consistently. We are never told that the Spirit sends the Father, but we are told that the Father and the Son send the Spirit. We are also told that the Spirit is another Comforter just like the Son.

I applaud your desire to maintain the deity of Christ and the oneness of God. I think that is commendable. But I also would encourage you to be open to the possibility that the church through the ages has not been devoid of the Holy Spirit’s guidance in its consistent understanding of God. There are sound Biblical bases for accepting the Trinity, including that the distinctions made repeatedly by Jesus Himself were real and not mere illusions. There is some degree of protection from error when we stand in the faith once delivered to the saints.

I understand the difficulty of the Trinity. Holding to three persons in one being appears contradictory and impossible. Believing that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all the undivided God, yet distinct persons, is to hold a mystery. Yet, I find it to be most faithful to the consistent textual evidence. There are things beyond my comprehension with God. Yet, for me, the truth of these mysteries is driven by the texts, and is fully resolved in God Himself. And I am enriched in these mysteries, understanding that each member of the Trinity seeks the best for humanity, each taking up a role to create a way for us to have and sustain a relationship with the One God.

I realize that you may not agree with our position on this subject. But I wanted you to understand that we have not reached this position without giving it some strong consideration. May the Lord guide us all into His truth.

a servant

tim

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