A view towards Bishopsteignton in mist. As the mist clears, everything becomes clearer

Diffficult Questions 9


The Trinity (1)
God, Jesus


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(You will need the Earth timeline dowel from study 1)

In these next two studies we are going to begin to look at the Trinity.

We’ll start by looking at the separate persons of the Trinity.


GOD

We have spoken a lot about him in this series – we started by considering his qualities:


After that we saw how these qualities were demonstrated in the creation of everything, including us. We also looked at how he could be present in eternity, before the world began, and long after it had been wound up.

(Pick up dowel)

But we now need to look at God’s size and shape.

In order to get a grasp on God’s size we reduced the whole lifetime of the Earth, from start to finish, to the dimensions of this dowel.


And we imagined that we were God, able to travel through eternity. We pictured ourselves like God, and in so doing we probably pictured God with a body like ours

(Put dowel down)


Isaiah 59:1 speaks of God’s arm and ear. 2 Chronicles 16:9 speaks of God’s eyes. But these verses are simply a way of describing God as a living being, not suggesting that he has an actual body.


Read Numbers 23:19

19 God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind.


But whenever we consider God, we do tend to picture him as a being – perhaps sitting on a throne in glory when actually we are told by Jesus that ‘God is spirit’ (John 4:24).

Could someone explain what that actually means? (A difficult concept but you may get some interesting answers).


Firstly we need to get our minds to accept that God does not have a size or shape. Shape is perhaps easier, because we have probably read ghost stories where spirits are described as shapeless wisps of cloud.


And there is the clue – ‘shapeless’ – God cannot be constrained within any shape because shapes belong to the created physical world, not the realms of eternity.


But to imagine God as wisps of cloud is also wrong. God has substance, but not anything we can grasp. And by grasp I mean hold on to physically as well as understand!

(Pick up dowel)

Then what about size? When we imagined ourselves as God, looking at the Earth, we were still limiting God, thinking of him with a human body. Now we have to imagine God as a Spirit, filling this room, and (look at dowel) totally encompassing the world and everyone on it, through all time. But not only filling this room, actually filling all eternity –

So does that explain how God can be omnipresent?


Is there ever anywhere where God is not present?


Can we ever be in a place where God is not?


Look at Jeremiah 23:23-24

23 ‘Am I only a God nearby,’ declares the Lord, ‘and not a God far away?

24 Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord.


Matthew 18:20 says

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.


This is not saying that God is only present if more than one comes to him in prayer; rather it is an encouragement that he is present at all times. So when we come to him in prayer, whether many or few, God is already there to hear us.

(Put dowel down.

People may want to discuss this concept before moving on).


Now read Psalm 139:1-18

1 You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.

5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.


Pause for a moment.


We will have to leave the subject of God and move on to look at Jesus, God’s son.

And of course immediately we want to ask questions relating to the concept of The Trinity but again I will ask you to be patient.


JESUS


Read John 1:1, 14

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.


Jesus therefore had been present from eternity – yet he used the title ‘Son of God’.


Read Galatians 4:4

4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law.


Read John 10:30-33, 36

30 I and the Father are one.’

31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’

33 ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’

36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, “I am God’s Son”?


At the beginning of this section we read in John 1:1 that Jesus was God, and here in John 10:30 Jesus said I and the Father are one – effectively claiming to be God.


Is it possible that this is a mistranslation, or that we don’t understand fully the meaning of the original words? No – the best Jewish scholars of Jesus’ day understood exactly what he had said, in fact they wanted to stone him for it: John 10:33 says ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’


So does that mean that everything we have been considering about God also applies to Jesus? (Wait for answers)


But although equal, there is a Father / Son relationship between God Almighty and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Can someone explain what the phrase in John 10:36 means?

‘The one whom the Father set apart as his very own’

Does it suggest that God separated part of his being to make his son Jesus?

If so, when? A better interpretation is probably that God Consecrated his Son – but is doesn’t answer the question where Jesus came from!)


God the Father is Spirit and only Spirit, God the Son is also spirit but he actually has an overlap into the physical world. Jesus was the one who made the physical world based on the Father’s plan and purpose. ‘Let us make . . .’ (Genesis 1:26). But more than that, he could also take on human form himself.


Not only when he was born, but even before that, he appeared in human form.

We know that angels exist and are used by God as his messengers. But there are other times in the Old Testament when specifically the ‘Angel of the Lord’ appeared. He was identified as God, and was worshipped as such (e.g. Exodus 3).


No angel would accept worship due only to God.


As the Father is one ‘whom no one has seen or can see’ (1 Timothy 6:16) and ‘No-one has ever seen God’, (John 1:18), and the Holy Spirit cannot be physically seen (John 14:17), the appearances of this ‘Angel’ could not be the Father or the Holy Spirit.

That only leaves Jesus.

(For more on Theophanies see https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/incarnation/theophanies-in-the-old-testament/)


When Jesus ‘appeared’ to men (and disappeared again) in the Old Testament, he took the form of a man and we can compare that to the resurrection body he used to pass through a locked door to visit the Apostles. Therefore I have to wonder if those bodies were somehow different to the normal human body he was born into the World with.


When Jesus was born as a baby he was truly human.

Read Philippians 2:5-8

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!


Jesus emptied Himself in at least three different ways. First, He voluntarily accepted the limitations of being a human being. Second, His glory was hidden from the people. Third, he gave up the use of many of his attributes (omnipotent, omnipresent, etc.), but he retained much of his knowledge.


He also retained his power over the world he had made. He could still command the wind and the waves, he could repair damaged bodies – even restoring them to life, and he could create: wine from water, or new flesh, muscles, sinews etc. for the man with a withered hand.


But at the same time, with genuine humanity came certain restrictions: he could only be at one place at a time; he needed to eat, rest, and sleep; he could feel pain, bleed, and die. Of course, before he became a man he had no such restrictions.


We saw in study 4 that the work of the Holy Spirit is to give life. So in Luke 1:35 we read

35 The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’


And in Matthew 1:18

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: his mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.


Jesus would be born fully man, but not in the image of sinful Adam, rather he would be born sinless, a second Adam, made in the image of God.


We’ll leave Jesus there. Next time we’ll look at The Holy Spirit and try to look at the Trinity.

But before we go, does anyone have any questions?

(Try not to answer them yourself, but reflect them back to the group to answer)





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