Trinity

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Begotten Not Made

Posted by on 24 Aug 2012 | Tagged as: Jesus Christ, Trinity

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

John 1:18 NASB

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:16 NASB

Begotten means that Jesus is the unique one and only son, not created, eternally existent with the Father. With the word, “begotten,” the Nicene Creed was countering Arius’ error that Jesus was at one time created, “There was a time when the Son was not.” Begotten does mean uniqueness, but also is a way of saying that Jesus, God’s Son, was not created. Jesus was eternally existent with the Father, there was not a before and after “begotten” moment. These quotes from Wayne Grudem, Fred Sanders, and B.B. Warfield explain:

As for the texts that say that Christ was God’s “only begotten Son,” the early church felt so strongly the force of many other texts showing that Christ was fully and completely God, that it concluded that, whatever “only begotten” meant, it did not mean “created.” Therefore the Nicene Creed in 325 affirmed that Christ was “begotten, not made”:

‘We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible.And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father….’

This same phrase was reaffirmed at the Council of Constantinople in 381. In addition, the phrase “before all ages” was added after “begotten of the Father,” to show that this “begetting” was eternal. It never began to happen, but is something that has been eternally true of the relationship between the Father and the Son. However, the nature of that “begetting” has never been defined very clearly, other than to say that it has to do with the relationship between the Father and the Son, and that in some sense the Father has eternally had a primacy in that relationship.

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, pg. 244 (original edition).

If we call it eternal begetting or eternal generation, we are only guarding ourselves against possible misunderstandings. It is not that once upon a time the Father begat the Son, having previously not begotten the Son. No, the eternal Father and the eternal Son have always existed together, the Son always standing in this relationship of from-ness or begottenness from the Father.”

Fred Sanders, The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything (pp. 91-92). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.

Warfield notes that “only begotten” stands without the article, which points up the idea of quality rather than individuality. He reminds us further that “only begotten” does not convey the idea of subordination or derivation but of uniqueness and consubstantiality: “Jesus is all that God is, and He alone is this.”

Fred G. Zaspel, The Theology of B. B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Kindle Locations 5460-5463). Crossway.

A Trinity of One

Posted by on 23 Jul 2011 | Tagged as: Early Church Father, Trinity

The Three in One 

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, othe heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.

Matt. 3: 16-17

God is three persons, each person is fully God, and there is one God. Three distinct individuals/persons, each with all of the full attributes of the Godhead, yet one in essence/substance. Each person is equal in being, but the Son and the Holy Spirit are subordinate to the Father in role.

The Father is the Heavenly Vinedresser, the Son is the Vine, and the Holy Spirit is Life itself (John 15: 1-4, 7:37-38). The Father outwardly prunes, the Son indwells us, and the Holy Spirit works through us.  The Father sovereignly directs our circumstances, the Son’s work redeems the circumstance, and the Holy Spirit transforms us in the midst of our circumstances.

In summary, the Father directs, the Son performs, and the Holy Spirit applies. The Holy Spirit does in us what the Son did for us on the Cross by the will of the Father. Peter Leithart recently wrote, “God is one as Trinity.” In other words, the Lord is a Trinity of one.

No sooner do I conceive of the One than I am illumined by the Splendour of the Three; no sooner do I distinguish Them than I am carried back to the One. When I think of any One of the Three I think of Him as the Whole, and my eyes are filled, and the greater part of what I am thinking of escapes me. I cannot grasp the greatness of That One so as to attribute a greater greatness to the Rest. When I contemplate the Three together, I see but one torch, and cannot divide or measure out the Undivided Light.

Gregory of Nazianzus, Theological Orations, XL, 41, located in Phillip Schaff, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series, Vol. VII. (Oak Harbor : Logos Research Systems, 1997), S. 375.

 

When You Get One You Get Them All

Posted by on 18 Jun 2011 | Tagged as: Early Church Father, Trinity

 

Trinity Sunday Reflection

And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.

1 John 5:20 NLT

The doctrine of the Trinity goes something like this: God is three persons, each person is fully God, and there is one God. Three distinct individuals/persons, each with all of the full attributes of the Godhead, yet one in essence/substance. Each person is equal in being, but the Son and the Holy Spirit are subordinate to the Father in role. The distinctions between the members of the Trinity are in the manner in which they relate to each other and to the rest of creation. The doctrine of the Trinity lies in the divine self-disclosure in Jesus, who as the Son revealed the Father and poured out in the Holy Spirit.

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1994), 226.

Perichoresis is the theological concept that the Divine essence is shared by each of the three persons of the Trinity in a manner that does not deny their individual personhood. When the Father, or Son, or Holy Spirit act individually then that action is also the work of the other two persons. In other words, when you get one person of the Trinity, you get them all.

Stanley Grenz, David Guretzki, Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1999), 26, 116.

Scripture [says] … “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.” He will not therefore depart when the Father and the Son come, but will be in the same abode with them eternally; because neither will He come without them, nor they without Him. But in order to intimate the Trinity, some things are separately affirmed, the Persons being also each severally named; and yet are not to be understood as though the other Persons were excluded, on account of the unity of the same Trinity and the One substance and Godhead of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

St. Augustine (354-430) On the Trinity, Chapter 9

The Trinity Wants You Free

Posted by on 18 Jun 2011 | Tagged as: Liturgy, Oswald Chambers, Trinity

All the Members of the Trinity Want You Holy

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Cor. 13:14

The Father is the Heavenly Vinedresser, the Son is the Vine, and the Holy Spirit is Life itself (John 15: 1-4, 7:37-38). The Father outwardly prunes, the Son indwells us, and the Holy Spirit works through us.  The Father sovereignly directs our circumstances, the Son’s work redeems the circumstance, and the Holy Spirit transforms us in the midst of our circumstances. In short, the Father directs, the Son performs, and the Holy Spirit applies. The Holy Spirit does in us what the Son did for us on the Cross by the will of the Father. All three persons, the Triune God of grace, wants you and me to be free. Free from sin. Free from guilt and shame. Free to enjoy the eternal, unconditional love of God.

The Father is intimately involved in our lives so that our circumstances train us in godliness. The Son has set us free from both the penalty and the power of sin so that we now live under the reign of grace. The Spirit gives us a new attitude toward sin and a new power to change.

The combined forces of the Trinity are at work in our lives to set us free and make us holy.

Tim Chester, You Can Change (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2010), 53.

Jesus Christ cannot begin to do anything for a man until he knows his need; but immediately he is at his wits’ end through sin or limitation or agony and cannot go any further, Jesus Christ says to him, Blessed are you; if you ask God for the Holy Spirit, He will give Him to you. God does not give us the Holy Spirit until we come to the place of seeing that we cannot do without Him (Luke 11:13).

Oswald Chambers, The Shadow of an Agony [CD-Rom] (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1934).

HT: Of First Importance