Welcome to “Learning and Living the God-centered life”
Carmel Baptist Church
May 24, 2009
Let’s know better the God who we already know
To see afresh God in Christ who lived His life by the power of the
How clearly Paul sees the Persons of the Trinity
Turn to Ephesians 1:1-14 - and notice 3 things about the text
The clear delineation in the Trinity as Paul distinguishes the
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
So we have to ask is this Paul just ad hoc, or is it purposeful in order
to teach us
Notice the implicit ranking of the members of the Trinity, the
Father first, then the Son and finally the Spirit. The early church
Fathers used the word taxis, which indicates the ordering found in
Also notice the centrality of the Son when it comes to salvation.
The Father has chosen to make the Son the center piece of His
cosmic work in salvation and accomplishing it to His glory.
Ephesians 1:1-2 (READ THE TEXT)
Stop and think about what the apostle Paul is writing in these verses
Notice he writes “Paul an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of
God, which means the Father.” Paul uses theos when talking about
God the Father in Trinitarian context.
2 Corinthians 13:14
Paul’s shorthand for the The Father is when he writes God
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the
fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
Point #1 - Isn’t there a distinction here that Paul is making between
the Father and the Son. They are two different Persons of the One
true and Living God. Two different expressions of the Father and
Son and yet they are distinct
Paul is an apostle of Christ “by the will of God”
Point #2 - Doesn’t this also imply a ranking with the Trinity?
Paul is an apostle of Christ sent by Christ one who is sent to carry
out the mission of Christ but he does this ultimately not because
Christ has said so but in fact because the Father has said so.
The Father has willed that Paul be an apostle of Christ.
There is primacy that is given to the Father.
The saints are to be faithful in Christ, and Paul is an apostle of
Christ, while understanding that they do so under the authority of
The Father whom we will see receives the ultimate glory in this
work of salvation, done in His Son.
So in verse 1 we can see the following:
Followers not of God or the Spirit but of Christ
God the Father “AND” (kai in the Greek) think of the significance
of this one word in the Greek that links together God our Father
AND the Lord Jesus Christ
If verse 1 shows us the distinction between the Father and Son
then verse 2 shows us the identity and unity of the two.
So Grace and Peace flow from whom?
Answer- the Father and the Son.
They are both identified as givers of grace to their people.
Point #3 - Where is the Spirit?
Now we know the danger of building too much on silence and that
you can’t build an argument on the basis of silence.
But isn’t it noteworthy how seldom the Spirit comes into play in the
context where God is given praise.
Turn to Revelation 5:12 “the Lamb slain was given praise and they
bow before the Father and the question can be asked: ”where is the
Here is the point:
The Spirit willingly accepts and embraces a backstage position,
He is not out there in the spot light. The one who is generally out in
the spot light is the Son, who receives center attention
Paul understands the Spirit is facilitating while the Father and Son
bring peace and grace to the people.
Ephesians 1:3 (distinction and ranking)
Blessed be who? The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…
Isn’t it clear when it comes to the distinction in the Trinity
Paul is saying here every blessing from heaven that we have in
Christ is brought to us by the Spirit.
Ephesians 1:3 is a Trinitarian verse:(Father, Son and Spirit)
Notice the distinction and ranking
Blessed be the God and Father (notice the implicit ranking)
Not the Spirit
Not the Son
It is clear that the ultimate praise and ultimate glory redounds to
the God the Father
Just as Jesus taught us to out his earthly ministry. All the glory
goes to the Father and we will see this, Turn to Philippians 2:11
“every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus
Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”
The Son is second because each of the blessings are in the Son
Ephesians 1:4 - in Him
Ephesians 1:5 - through Jesus Christ
Ephesians 1:7 - in Him
Go through the list and each blessing comes in the Son
The Son is the central focus point of all the blessings of God
Which are brought to us in Christ meditated by the Spirit
As we read from this point own we need to keep track of the
Just as He, (God the Father) chose us in Him, (The Son)
before him (God the Father)
Isn’t this an astonishing fact, the Father chose us in the Son in order
that the Son would bring us to Himself as holy and blameless
It was the desire of the Father to have us as his own, and the only
way that was possible, was to choose us in the Son to be holy and
blameless through the work of his Son
Sometimes we process salvation in these terms, the Father and his
anger toward us, in his just condemnation of us was getting ready to
condemn us all, and send us all to hell.
And then we think the Son stepped in with love and grace and said,
“Oh Father don’t do that, allow me to take the punishment that they
deserve, on myself so they can be set free.”
This kind of thinking is dishonoring to the Father, and it is not true
to biblical teaching, to think that the Father had to be convinced and
had to accept a planned brought to him by his Son.
No it was the Father who designed and carried out EVERY aspect
of our redemption and the Father did it in his Son. And the starting
point for your salvation starts in ETERNITY PAST.
Before the foundation of the world the Father chose us to be
brought to Himself and he knew the only way this could be done
was through his Son.
Behold what love the Father has bestowed on us as children of
How did this happen?
Got adopted us, he picked us out, legally made us His children
through what the Son has done for us
Just look at what the text is telling us that the Father has done for
Ephesians 1:4 - He (God the Father) chose us
Ephesians 1:5 - He (God the Father) predestined us, to Himself
(God the Father)
The kind intention of his will, (God the Father)
His grace (God the Father), He (God the Father), freely bestowed
on us in His beloved Son
The Father brings these blessings because of His deep love for us
And he provides the way for us to come to his Son
In him (Christ)
His blood (Christ)
His grace (God the Father) look back at verse 6
Which He, God the Father lavished on us
He (God the Father) made known
His will (God the Father)
His (God the Father) kind intention
He (God the Father) purposed
In Him (Christ)
Isn’t this clear
Centrality - the accomplishing of Christ with everything that God
sought to do in the created order
“Everything” is summed up in Christ
His purpose (God the Father)
His will (God the Father)
Ephesians 1:12 His glory (God the Father)
Ephesians:1-13 in Him (Christ)
Sealed in Him (Christ)
The Spirit is coming to us through the Son
Ephesians 1:14 His glory (God the Father)
His refers to the Father
In him refers to the Son
with him refers to the Spirit
The Spirit comes in seals us, so that each promise and gift that the
Father has for us in the Son will come to pass.
Isn’t this section of Scripture amazing as it is jam packed with the
How many times do we read a text like this and yet we missed the
And it stems from our lack of training and teaching in these
important Bible basics.
We need to put on our Trinitarian glasses when we come to the
Bible. And notice Father, Son and Spirit
Now as we move forward let’s look at
An overview of the doctrine of the Trinity:
A common definition of the Trinity
A common understanding of the problem in the early Church
and to realize why this is so significant for us today in the church
Historical and biblical overview of the Trinity
We begin with the early Christian conviction that there is only one
A scriptural monotheism.
An Old Testament Israel and in the New Testament church we
have in Judaism and early Christianity a wholehearted
commitment to believe that there is only one and only one God.
Why is that so remarkable, because that sounds right to us?
The reason is true for ancient Israel and today for early Christians
because they were surrounded by polytheistic cultures.
Everyone around them believed in a multitude of deities
Think of the apostle Paul when he entered Athens, the Greco-Roman
world in acts 17 “beholding a city full of idols”
Cultures that are deeply polytheistic
And we have is the faith of Israel and the early Christians affirming
there is one God. This was in the face of enormous opposition.
And well is this clear that the Old Testament teaches one God?
Genesis 1:1 - “in the beginning God created the heavens and the
Is this a monotheistic text?
Answer - it sure is, if we understand what Moses the writer is doing,
his main purpose is to establish their uniqueness, the oneness of the
one true and living God of Israel.
In contrast to the polytheistic views of the nations that surround
And these religions they held the different gods help territorial
jurisdictions over different portions of the created order. And
therefore they had lordship over various parts of creation.
And in contrast to that Moses writes Genesis 1:1 and explains that
there is one God who made all of it which means that he alone has
rights of rulership, over every one and everything.
In Biblical theology there is a close connection between creation
Think of Acts 17:24
God who made the world and all things in it, since he is Lord of
heaven and earth
Do you hear the connection between Creator and Lord?
And this is exactly what Moses is saying from verse one of the
There is one God who made it all
This God rules over all he made
God rules over the nations like Assyrians, Babylonians, Philistines
and Egyptians - why, because He created and has the right
Deuteronomy 6:4 - the famous “shama” text of Israel
There is one God and He is our God (meditate on this fact!)
And friends by his grace he has brought us to worship him, the one
true living God. What mercy has been extended to us who are of the
faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus.
1 King 8:59-60 (READ THIS SCRIPTURE)
This comes at the end of the address that Solomon gives regarding
building the temple
Yes in the age of pluralism in which we live now, these words are
enormously relevant whether others out there acknowledged this or
not, there is one God and He reigns over all people and they
must bow the knee to him or they perish.
May we see the truth of His word, and how contemporary these
verses are for us today.
Isaiah 45:5-7 (READ THIS SCRIPTURE)
“I am the LORD and there is no other”
This is about Cyrus who was born over 200 years before this was
The Old Testament concludes there is one true God
But now when we moved to the New Testament, in which we
clearly can see God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit, it
would have been easy to affirm three instead of one true God the
calls of the polytheistic cultures
But no the New Testament is insistent that there is one true God
1 Corinthians 8:6
How did the early church develop its Trinitarian understanding
given that it was committed to monotheism?
In early church there was no question that the Father was full deity
who did Jesus pray to if it wasn’t the Father?
Who did Jesus seek to honor with his life if not God the Father?
To whom did Jesus pray if not God the Father
There was a tendency in the early Church to something called
“monarchianism” the thinking about the Father in a way that
would render less the Son and the Spirit
The Scripture talks about the Father’s monarchy or his rule over
all things that could not be jeopardized
But what about Jesus? The burning question for the first three
centuries of the church theologically, is this question
who is Jesus?
Yes we agree he is our savior and we are called to follow his
lordship but how do we affirm him as Thomas did my Father and
my God if there is but one God (John 20:28)
How can we understand this Jesus is God and the Father is also
The early church was pressed by the words of Scripture to affirm
Jesus as God
John 17:3 (who is capable of giving eternal life?)
Distinction and Life (both are the providers of life)
the giver of life is God, Jesus is identified with the Father as being
capable of doing only what God can do and that is to give life
Question, who is capable of creating the universe?
Who alone can do it? Answer - only God can do this
Look how Paul distinguishes between Father and Son but he
attributes to Father and Son the same ability to bring about creation
The Father is the Creator and the Son is the agent
John 1:1 (understanding the deity of Christ)
the Word was with God (distinction) you are with someone only if
they are distinct from you
The Word was God (equality)
We need to see the Father and Son as distinct from one another while
identifying as the same God
So what language can we borrow to express such great truth?
This is written in the context of Genesis 1:1 in the beginning
John 1:3-the Son created the heavens and the earth that is declared in
Genesis 1 he is God
John 8:58 - Before Abraham was “I AM”
Look at the response and this was not because they thought Jesus
was indicating he was 2000 years old but calls with this statement
Jesus was claiming to be God (Exodus 3:14) the Lamb of the God of
Israel is what Jesus is declaring to be.
Jesus forgives sin and of course only God can forgive sin.
Hebrews chapter 1 - The 6 arguments for the deity of Christ
Hebrews 1:2-Christ is creator of everything
Hebrews 1:3 (a)-he is the exact representation of the nature of his
Hebrews 1:3(b) - he upholds the universe by the word of his power
Hebrews 1:6-the angels worship him do you think God knows that
only the Angels should worship God?
God commands the Angels to worship Jesus the Son
Hebrews 1:8-the Greek word for God is used as the title for the Son
Hebrews 1:11-12 applied these verses to Jesus the Son
Well what about the Holy Spirit?
And indeed the early church had to wrestle through this issue of the
Holy Spirit is God
But finally as usual the words of scripture provided the evidence
Acts 5:3-4 this is Peter’s dialogue with Ananias and Sophia asking
them if they lied to the Holy Spirit and then he says you have not
lied to men but to God
Paul indicates the Holy Spirit knows the thoughts of God
this is an emphasis regarding revelation, but it is the spirit who
reveals the thoughts of God and who can know the thoughts of God
other than God himself.
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit
of God dwells in you?
Isn’t this an incredible metaphor when a rethink of the temple of God
in the Old Testament, where God dwelt and manifest himself as the
Shekinah glory and now it is us by whom?
Answer - God present in us by his Spirit
Hebrews 9:14-which indicates that Christ was delivered up by the
eternal Spirit. Therefore when we see the attribute here for the spirit
as he turned out the
the Father is God
the Son is God
the Spirit is God
The last category will be in the New Testament that are referred to
as triadic passages
Which means that all three are present in the same context and
some are clear to indicate the deity of the Father, the Son, the spirit
Matthew 28:19-20 in the name (Cingular) which indicates one
nature of God, one being of God, whose name is Father, Son and
The one name of the one God is Father, Son and Spirit,
2 Corinthians 13:14-this is the last verse of 2 Corinthians and is
Paul’s benediction to say God be with you.
May God’s presence go with you
The one God whose blessings will rest upon them is Father, Son,
So how did the early church put together all this data?
At the Council of Nicaea 325 A.D.
We need to know these dates to help our fellow Christians know
Leading up to the Council at Nicaea there had to be much dispute
especially as it related to the Son. And at this point the Holy Spirit is
not much on the radar screen
But calls the issue of the Son had not yet been settled in order to
move into the issue of the Spirit. You paragraph 1 proposal that was
put on the table was that of “modalism”this was done so by a
gentleman named Sabellius
He argued for one God, the Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit
This sounds pretty good to us doesn’t it?
So what’s the problem?
Sabellius said, he hailed to a monarchy in view of the Father
Therefore in the incarnation the Father is now manifesting Himself
as the Son. So during the life of Christ we have God the Father
present as the Son but not as Father, and not Spirit
At Pentecost the Father comes again in Spirit but not as Son or the
So yes we have
God the Father
God the Son
God the Father
But each is God successively, and not simultaneously
This became obvious to Christian people when they read their Bibles
that this would just not work.
The baptism of Jesus
how can you have the voice from Heaven-this is my beloved Son
the Spirit descending as a dove upon the Son in the water all
Who does Jesus prayed to in the garden?
unless you hold to the fact that Jesus somehow was a ventriloquist
So “modalism” died out because it became obvious from a reading
of the Scriptures that this simply did not work.
The more serious problem came from Aria, who was one of the
main components of the notion that Jesus was the highest form of all
God created beings. The Son was head over all creation (Colossians
1:15) but according to Arias, the Son was in essence subordinate to
The Son was created and the Father was uncreated this became such
a popular view that a council was formed and met at Nicaea and 325
A.D. in which the hero of the day became a man named Athanasius.
He was a courageous defender of the deity of Christ. Athanasius put
forth the Greek term “homousios” that the Son is the same nature as
At the same council were the followers of the deceased Origen who
proposed a middle position they proposed Christ as “homoiusios”
which remains of a similar nature to God the Father.
Beware of those who say that we should always find a middle
Instead we seek the truth and sometimes the truth is no one edge or
the other, but go for the truth!
At the end of the day after nation is one out and the bases they came
Christ is not just similar to what he is of the same kind as the Father
and this is where we get the Nicene Creed
So what about the Holy Spirit?
The Arians since losing the battle on the Son moved their attack to
the Spirit. And contended that the Spirit of God was likened to an arm
of God, or the right hand of the Lord, or the breath of the Lord, this
was just an emphasis on the presence of the Lord but not his
So that the Spirit represents an impersonal force that is the presence
And He is not deity.
So another council is called and this time at Constantinople in 381
A.D. in which the heroes were three Eastern theologians (the
Basel the great
Gregory of Nessa
Gregory of Narzianses
Areas died and 336 A.D. and so they were responding to the Aryans
who were very much active and present
In 325 A.D. at Nicaea here is what stated regarding the Holy Spirit
“and we believe in the Holy Spirit”
This represents the attention those days given the Holy Spirit.
In 381 A.D. an extension of the Nicene Creed is made for the church
in which the third article proclaiming the Holy Spirit is Lord, the life
giver, the one who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father
and the Son is to be worshiped and glorified.
There was much dispute between Gregory of Narziances onto his
and the other two over pushing the term homousios, this means the
same as, which had been done with Athanasius in his argument over
the deity of Christ
Gregory wanted this badly but the other two men voted against him.
And he got so upset that he got up and left in mid-Council and
actually wrote some nasty notes back to the other two gentlemen.
But they became convinced this approach needed to be different
than before in order for this article to pass.
Instead they orchestrated language that amounted to the same thing
but deeply rooted in biblical teaching so others can not complain
against them unless you complained with Scripture period
The third article of the Nicene Creed indicates the deity of the Spirit
with spiritual language indicating he is Lord (2Corinthians 3:18),
creator (Genesis 1:2) and is to be worshiped and glorified as God
At the Counsel at Nicaea 325 A.D. and Constantinople 381 A.D.
then the Church affirms the deity of the Father the Son and the Spirit
How to put that together with one God, well for that we need St.
St. Augustine put together our Orthodox understanding of the Trinity
Here is an Augustinian definition of the Trinity:
God’s whole and undivided essence belongs equally, eternally,
simultaneously, and fully to each of the three persons of the Godhead.
So that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each is fully God while each
in his own personal expression in role and activity of the one eternal
and undivided divine essence.
The Christian faith affirms that there is one and only one true God
eternally existing while fully and simultaneously expressed in these
The Father, the Son, the Spirit, each member of the Godhead is
equally God and is eternally God and each is fully God, not three
gods, but three persons of the one Godhead.
Each person is equal in essence as each possesses fully the identical
same and eternally divine nature yet each is also an eternal and
distinct personal expression of that one undivided divine nature.
Each person of the Godhead that is fully God, the Father or the Son or
the Spirit is not just one third God but rather each person is fully God
Yet while each person is fully God, it is no one person alone who is
fully God that each person eternally exists along with the others.
Each of whom possesses fully the identically same divine nature.
Because of this, what distinguishes each person of the Godhead
from each other is not and cannot be the divine nature, of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The one undivided divine nature is possessed equally and eternally,
simultaneously and fully by the three persons of the Godhead
Therefore what distinguishes each person of the Godhead from the
other persons is his particular role, in relation to the other persons
and the relationships that each has with the other persons.
Our task is to determine how these roles and relationships will be
How does the Bible talk about the roles and relationships of:
God the Father
God the Son
God the Spirit
As they relate to one another and to us, in the created world
In doing so may we see more clearly and more fully the God of
whom we already know.
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