The Unity of the Godhead
John Heading, Aberystwyth
Scriptures for Prayerful Meditation
The Scriptures cannot define the Holy Trinity, yet they reveal many different phases of the unity of manifestation of the three Persons of the Godhead. The wide variety of this manifestation is shown by the following co-ordination of purpose and action.
1. The Lord's baptism. This is the first time that the Trinity is implied in the N.T., Matt. 3. 16, 17. The Spirit descended upon the man Christ Jesus, and the voice of the Father commended His Son chiefly to John the Baptist, so that he might know for the first time that Jesus was the Son of God, John 1. 32-34.
2. The Lord’s death. When the Son of God gave Himself, Gal. 2. 20, He was in prayerful contact with the Father prior to and after the hours of darkness, Luke 23. 34, 46, but during these hours, as One made sin, He could address God as Judge in Matthew 27. 46. At the same time, it was through the eternal Spirit that He offered Himself to God, Heb. 9. 14, for a sweet-smelling savour, Eph. 5. 2.
3. Believer’s baptism. In Matthew 28. 19-20, after His resurrection, the Lord instituted a new thing, believer’s baptism replacing John’s baptism. Now disciples out of all nations were to be baptised in the name (singular) of the Triune God, such disciples showing themselves willing to observe all things commanded by the Lord.
4. Believer’s benediction, 2 Cor. 13.14. The grace of the Lord Jesus reflects back to 8. 9; the love of God to 13. 11, and the communion of the Holy Spirit to 13.11, ‘be of one mind’. The boards of the tabernacle show similar thoughts; the silver sockets correspond to the grace of the Lord Jesus, the bars to the communion of the Holy Spirit and the overlaid gold to the love of God.
5. Giving of the Spirit. In John 14. 16, 26, it is the Father who would send the Holy Spirit, but in 15. 26, the Lord sends the Spirit proceeding from the Father. These two thoughts are explained in Acts 2. 33, where the Father provided, but the Lord Jesus, being in contact both with His Father and with His own on earth, transmitted the gift of the Spirit.
6. Dwelling in the saints. The fact that the body of a saved soul is a vessel for divine occupation is humbling yet precious. The Spirit dwells within, John 14. 17; 1 John 2. 27; 1 Cor. 6. 19; Eph. 3. 16. The Lord Jesus dwells in our hearts, John 14. 20; 17. 23; Eph. 3. 17. And the Father Himself dwells within. Note the word ‘we’ in John 14. 23; see Eph. 2. 22.
7. In worship. The Spirit speaks by us, 2 Sam. 23. 2, the Spirit of His Son having been sent into our hearts to cry ‘Abba, Father’, Gal. 4. 6. Such are spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, 1 Pet. 2. 5.
8. Giving of spiritual gifts. Notice that these are distributed according to the divine will to all saints. God deals to every man the measure of faith for these gifts, Rom. 12. 3; to every one the grace of gift is given according to the measure of the gift of Christ, Eph. 4. 7; it is the Spirit who divides the gifts to every man severally as He will, 1 Cor. 12. 11.
9. Divine interest in service. In 1 Corinthians 12. 4-6, the three Persons of the Godhead are occupied with service. In verse 4, the Spirit is occupied with ability freely bestowed for service; in verse 5, the Lord directs when., what and how service is taken up (see 1 Tim. 1. 12, ‘putting me into the ministry’); in verse 6, God is seen as producing results through service (see 1 Cor. 3. 7, where it is ‘God that giveth the increase’).
10. Sending forth into service. From Antioch, Paul was sent forth by the Spirit, Acts 13. 2, 4. The Lord would send forth His servants, John 17. 18; 20. 21; see Acts 22. 21; 26. 17; 1 Cor. 1. 17. Such movements were according to the will of God, Acts 18. 21.
11. Divine intervention in hard hearts. The phrase, oft quoted in the N.T., ‘Make the heart of this people fat, . . .’, Isa. 6. 10, is remarkable. In Isaiah 6, it is the voice of God, the King, Jehovah of hosts. In John 12. 39-41, the glory is that of the Lord Jesus, while in Acts 28. 25, it is the voice of the Holy Spirit.
12. Anointing of the Lord. Three times in Isaiah we find the anointing of the Lord for commission as Man to public service. In 61. 1-3, it is the voice of the Son; this corresponds to Luke’s Gospel (chapter 4. 16-22). In 42. 1-4, it is the voice of God concerning the anointing of His servant; this corresponds to Mark’s Gospel. In 11. 1-9, it is the voice of the Spirit of prophecy, corresponding to the kingdom in Matthew’s Gospel.