Category: Trinity

Jesus, the firstborn over all creation

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press (visit highstreet.press).

In the last column, we explored John 1:1-3 in our quest to understand Jesus’ role as the creator of all things. Now, let’s consider two additional passages.

Colossians 1:15-17 – “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.”

Those who seek to reduce Jesus to a created being argue that Paul refers to Jesus as the image of the invisible God, not God Himself. But this fails to recognize that Jesus and the Father are distinct divine persons. Further, no mere creature can serve as the true image of the invisible God. 

Humans are created to be image bearers of God, reflecting His character and attributes, but we are not divine. Only Jesus, who shares the eternal glory of the Father, can truly reveal Him in human flesh (John 17:5). 

Then, some contend that Jesus, as the “firstborn over all creation,” is the first of God’s created beings. Jehovah’s Witnesses are the primary promoters of this view today. 

But while the Greek prototokos (firstborn) can refer to the first person born into a family, it often signifies a position of supremacy. For example, Jesus is the “firstborn among many brothers and sisters,” the model of all saints bound for glory (Rom. 8:29). 

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The Son as Creator

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press (visit highstreet.press).

In the last column, we explored God the Father as creator. Now, let’s consider the first of several passages that reveal the Son as creator.

John 1:3 – “All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created.”

After establishing that Jesus is both eternal and divine, as well as a distinct person from the Father (vv. 1-2), John declares that the Son created “all things.” This simple statement sets Christianity apart from Gnosticism, a religious movement that severely threatened the infant church, particularly in the second and third centuries.

While diverse, Gnosticism generally held to two overarching beliefs. First, salvation is obtained primarily through special knowledge obtained in secret rituals. In fact, the term gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis, meaning “knowledge.” This secretly obtained knowledge enables a person to escape the corruption of the world, particularly as it resides in the physical body.

Second, Gnostics embraced dualism. That is, they believed the material world is inherently evil, while the spiritual realm is intrinsically good. So, salvation is achieved by escaping the body – freeing the “good” spirit from the “evil” flesh. This may be one reason the Greeks on Mars Hill berated Paul for preaching the resurrection of the body (Acts 17:32). After all, if the body is evil, who wants a resurrected one?

In any case, Gnostics faced the challenge of explaining who created the world. If God is pure spirit, and if matter is corrupt, how can the two be reconciled? Gnostics devised their own creation story.
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The Trinity and creation

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press (visit highstreet.press).

The Bible begins with a simple yet profound statement: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). As Moses tells the story of creation, he does not seek to prove the existence of God. The Israelites have experienced God’s presence and power first-hand. 

This includes Moses’ encounter with Yahweh at the burning bush; the Lord’s miraculous victory over the false gods of Egypt; His thunderous giving of the law at Mt. Sinai; His visible presence in the pillar of cloud and fire; and His parting of the Jordan River to make way for a dramatic entrance into the Promised Land. 

As we continue through Scripture, we see that other human authors presuppose God’s existence as the eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere-present creator. In fact, the apostle Paul simply tells us the creation speaks for itself concerning the existence of God. 

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The Spirit’s intimate relationship

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press and available through Amazon and other booksellers.

In the last two columns, we examined biblical evidence for the personhood and deity of the Holy Spirit. In this column, we see how the Holy Spirit enjoys an eternal, intimate relationship with God the Father and God the Son.

Scripture reveals the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the other members of the Godhead. As one example, note how the synoptic Gospel writers report Jesus’ promise to be with His followers when they face persecution:

Matthew 10:19-20 – “But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you are to speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, because it isn’t you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you.”

Mark 13:11 – “So when they arrest you and hand you over, don’t worry beforehand what you will say, but say whatever is given to you at that time, for it isn’t you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”

Luke 21:14-15 – “Therefore make up your minds not to prepare your defense ahead of time, for I [Jesus] will give you such words and a wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” 

These accounts are not in conflict. Rather, they illustrate the inseparability of the divine persons of the Trinity. That is, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, while distinct persons within the Godhead, share the same divine essence and act in perfect harmony. 

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The personhood of the Holy Spirit

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press and available through Amazon and other booksellers.

The Bible reveals both the personhood and deity of the Holy Spirit. In this column, we focus on the Spirit as a person, for without personhood the Spirit cannot be divine. In the next column, we show from Scripture how this person possesses all the attributes of deity.

One of the clearest demonstrations of the Holy Spirit’s personality is His use of personal pronouns in reference to Himself. Two examples make this plain:

Acts 10:19-20 – “While Peter was thinking about the vision, the Spirit told him, ‘Three men are here looking for you. Get up, go downstairs, and go with them with no doubts at all, because I have sent them.’”

Acts 13:1-2 – “Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’”

Note that the Holy Spirit speaks personally to Peter as well as to believers in the Antioch church. These are actions of a sentient being, not an impersonal force.

Jesus also uses personal pronouns to speak of the Holy Spirit, telling His followers: 

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13-14).

According to Jesus, the Holy Spirit arrives, guides, discerns the truth, hears and speaks, discloses future events, testifies about Jesus, and glorifies Him – all demonstrations of personhood.

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