How Jesus Fits in the Trinity

Question from a Site Viewer
My mother is Catholic but I have recently been deterred from many Catholic beliefs that I feel are contradictory to the Bible. One thing that really confuses me is the issue of the Trinity.

My mother said that you are to worship God The Father but give praise and thankfulness to Jesus. I replied that Jesus is Lord so He deserves worship as well. Her argument is Jesus deserves praise and thankfulness but only God The Father deserves glory and worship.

I’m confused about this. Jesus’ disciples worshiped Him after the calming of the storm and the blind man worshiped Him after he could see. Even Thomas, after Jesus was resurrected, said, “My Lord and My God!” and if he was wrong Jesus would have corrected him or rebuked him.

The Trinity confuses me. John 1:1 says Jesus was God, so when did God create Him?

Tim’s Answer
Thank you for your questions. I believe both you and your mother may be slightly confused about the Trinity. Catholics and Protestants, as well as Orthodox and Nestorians, and all true followers of Scripture share the same view of the Trinity. The Bible teaches that there is only one God, yet He exists in three persons. There are not three individual Gods who happen to be in agreement. Rather, there is only one God. The mystery of the Trinity is a stumbling block to many, but it is supported by ample Scriptural authority, beginning with the singular God in Genesis 1 stating “Let us make man in our image.” You have passages such as Isaiah 48:16 and Zechariah 2:8-11 where the LORD sends the LORD, clearly a reference to two persons who both hold the name of the one Divine Being. You have Zechariah 14 speaking of the LORD returning and His feet touching the Mount of Olives, and Zechariah 12:10 with the LORD stating that they will look on Me whom they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him. In the New Testament, you have John 1:1 where Jesus is said to be the very God He was with. Jesus, being fully God and fully man, allowed people to worship Him, and did not rebuke them (Matthew 2:2, 11 [the wise men]; 8:2 [the leper]; 9:18 [Jarius]; 14:33 [His disciples]; 15:25 [a Gentile woman]; 28:9 [the women after the resurrection]; 28:17 [His disciples]; John 9:38 [the blind man]). In Hebrews 1:6, all the angels of God worship Christ. It is always proper to worship God, and that includes each member of the Trinity.

If your mother does not believe that it is proper to worship Jesus, she differs from the official Catholic teaching. Here is a website to an article in the Catholic Encyclopedia that may help her see. It addresses who Christians should worship, and it clearly states that Christians should worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

But we also should give praise and thanks to Jesus, as well as to the Father and to the Holy Spirit. That is, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is worthy of our praise and our worship.

However, in stating that Jesus was made, you also are incorrectly stating Scriptural teaching. The church from the beginning of time has affirmed that Jesus was begotten but not made. To state this another way, Jesus proceeds from the Father to this earth in His work, but not in His being. T he second person of the Trinity has eternally existed. There never was a time when He did not exist. God is eternal and unchangeable. He has always been the Triune God and He always will be. Thus, in Micah 5:2, the prophecy is that the One to come (Jesus) would have existed eternally. In John 8:58, Jesus shocked the Jews by telling them that before Abraham was, He existed. In John 1:1-2, He was in the beginning with the Father. Colossians 1:17 states that He is before everything. (Interestingly, reference in Colossians 1:15 to Him being the firstborn has nothing to do with birth, but to position of prestige. Thus, in Psalm 89:27, David is called the firstborn although he was the youngest of Jesse’s many children, and in Jeremiah 31:9 Ephraim is called the firstborn although he was the second of Joseph’s children. Both David and Ephraim assumed positions of prominence in their respective families, and thus they are termed “firstborn.” But that term has nothing to do with birth, at least in these cases.) Jesus co-existed with the Father before time and this world began (John 17:5). Jesus has always existed. Two thousand years ago, He came to this earth as a baby – God becoming man. But His birth on this earth was not the beginning of His life, but only His incarnation. He remains, the eternal, unchangeable God (Hebrews 13:8 – He is the same yesterday, today, and forever). He is, always has been, and always will be God.

Although He is equal with the Father, He willingly subjected Himself to the Father when He came to this earth and lived with us. In Philippians 2:6-7, Paul describes for us Jesus, who existed as God eternally, but became obedient to the Father for the suffering of death. I believe He did so to show us how we should relate to the Father. But though he subjected Himself to the Father in His actions, He is equal with the Father in His person. In theological terms we speak of the ontological relationship and the economic relationship of the Trinity. Ontologically, that is, in the essence of Their being, each person of the Trinity is completely equal with each other person, with no One over the Other. Economically, that is in the work they perform, the Son is subject to the Father (1 Corinthians 11:3), and the Spirit to the Father and the Son (John 14:26; 15:26, see also Isaiah 48:16).

I hope this helps you in your faith and devotion to God and love to your fellow humans. I encourage you to continue to search the mind of God through reading His word and asking the Holy Spirit to give you understanding. In doing so, do not forget to practice the things you read (James 1:23-27). And always remember that the two greatest commands are to love God with all of your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. If you do these things, you will do well and be commended by God and be a blessing to those around you.

May the Lord Jesus bless you as you seek to follow Him.

a fellow servant,

tim

Related Articles:
The Trinity
Distinctions Between the Father & the Son

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