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GOD
'The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is
to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him
– and of her.'

(AW Tozer, 1961)
The Place of Jesus Christ
Primary Concepts
Cosmogenesis
Confusions
Conclusions
 
The  Place of Jesus Christ  
The
Christian Church (in contrast to Judaism and Islam) believes in the plurality of God's personhood, usually referred to as the Trinity. In essence, this difference from other monotheistic religions comes from Christianity's understanding of the person of Jesus Christ.
 
Jesus is NOT an extrusion from the Father. That is the pagan-Greek perspective on Christ's deity which therefore relegates Him to second place in the eternal Trinity!
 
In this discussion, the term 'God' is not used as a synonym for "our Father who art in Heaven". Although the sovereignty or headship of God over all is expressed in the term "Father", for clarity the term 'God' is here used inclusively of all that is infinite and uncreated.
See:
Satan's
Primary Tactic
 
This is important, as our minds need to discover or rediscover an understanding of the biblical revelation of God through the recorded process of that revelation itself. In other words, we need to avoid reading back into the past what the people at that time would not have understood. We do our own understanding a dis-service if we do not adequately digest the process of comprehension through which Christ's first disciples passed in coming to a so-called trinitarian position as is reflected in the New Testament (which are Christianity's founding documents by earliest consensus).
 
 
Significantly to the thoughtful reader, John the Baptiser (who was Christ's older relative) is described in the New Testament as saying:
"He who comes after me ranks above me, FOR He was before me" (Jn.1:15).
How could the older, the prophet John, say that his younger relative, Jesus, was "before" him? As regards both their birth and ministry this was not true! It therefore can only refer to the pre-existence of Jesus, and nothing else. So, this is then the reason for Jesus 'outranking' John. By implication Christ's pre-existence is therefore also absolutely unique among all humanity. (As an aside, this statement of Holy Scripture disallows any form of reincarnation).
reincarnation is a lie

The
New Testament also presents Jesus as uncreated part of the eternal God. This is particularly clear in the Gospel of John. Jesus is presented as pre-existing everything that exists, that is, all that is made. It says of Jesus –
"all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made."
(Jn.1:3; see also Col.1:16).
 
The
oft Jewish recited Mosaic declaration (Deut.6:4) –
"HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE LORD OUR GOD,
THE LORD IS ONE."*
יהוה ('YHWH' / LORD)     is     אחד ('echad' / one)
– is frequently used in Judaism to oppose this New Testament view of God, as though this great declaration affirmed singularity in God. This is completely untrue!

*Jewish Publication Society
Bible translation.
(emphasis mine)
What
is true, is that necessarily at that time the unique oneness of God needed emphasis in Israel's thinking. But, this oneness does not mean the singularity with which Islam and Judaism see God today. This same word 'echad' is also used in the Torah to describe sexual oneness, as God designed it to be between male and female (Gen.2:24).
 
As inadequate as language is when describing God, even in an inspired description, the words mean no more that God is singular than that the same word means Adam and Eve, or any married couple since, are a single person through their sexual union.  
 
So, to be honest with the Bible, we need to understand that the incomparable oneness of God means more than a singular being. God is not a Monad. This the New Testament beautifully opens up to us.
 
Yet
God's plurality is a problem to many people. How can God be plural and yet not many? Is this not simply a vestige of polytheism or at least a compromise with it?
 
 The deity of Jesus Christ is the key to understanding the plurality of God. 
 
There are two aspects, primary truths, about God that allow nothing less than both His absolute uniqueness and His plural consciousness. These are primary concepts that deserve our thought, serious thought.

 
Primary  Concepts  
We
need to begin by stepping-back and looking at the larger picture. For instance, God's nature may be understood in two primary categories:  relative and absolute.
 
 
God's RELATIVE Quality or Attribute
 
 
The core concept of the God relative to us, is His Infinity. Compared to anything created, He is immeasurable in every dimension of existence and experience. This is often broken down into three areas, the three so-called 'omni's':
His omnipresence
His omnipotence
His omniscience
God everywhere
God all-powerful
God all-knowing
in other words
GOD IS
INFINITE
He is beyond comparison – immeasurable – without beginning or limit in every sphere! In this sense there can always ever only be ONE. Logically, in this measurable universe there is only place for one infinity of being. Hence, His absolute uniqueness.

 
 
God's ABSOLUTE Quality or Attribute
The core concept of the absolute of God is His moral nature. The simplest definition of this moral quality of God is – Love:
 
 
Holiness, Justice, Faithfulness, Mercy, etc., are all simply the various applications of the central absolute of His nature – Love.
GOD IS
LOVE
He was, is, and will always be the New Testament's agape in ultimate fullness – the self-less love of the pure heart.
 
  This absolute attribute – LOVE – in an endless eternity before all things, in itself implies plurality in God.  
 
God – before all things, eternally existing, alone – could be nothing other than totally self-centred, selfish (the very root of all sin), if He were not plural! BUT, in the plurality of His uncreated spirit, eternally independent of the existence of anything, His nature was always LOVE.
 
 
Infinite love in the absolute singularity of eternal solitude is not love! It is the ultimate self-absorbtion of infinite egotist – if God were a monad.
 
 
God as Love in uncreated eternity is only true in plural consciousness. God did not create in order to have something to love. He was complete in Himself as God, before all things. There can be no deficiency in Him. His eternal love is the infinite fellowship of absolute love.

 
  Cosmogenesis  
God's
self-revelation begins with the beginning – the initial act of creation. As awesome as our universe is, it is infinitely less than the infinity of God. God's act of creation involved Him, by that act, in what is infinitely less than Himself. This event is remembered as a marker in the consciousness of Jesus. With His public ministry ended and facing His final humiliation, He prayed in the presence of His disciples – "Father, glorify Me with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You
before the world existed"
(Jn.17:5)
 
 
Not before His birth, but before the world existed – before His act of bringing everything into existence (if we are to believe the New Testament)! It was the pre-creation-normality of this relationship that is the call of His heart to His Father.
 
 
In the light of the earlier statement that Jesus had created all things, this reference to the act of creation as an historical marker before which His untrammelled glory shared with the Father was the norm of His existence, is very significant to an understanding of Jesus in His relationship to God, that is His deity. Christ's view of His own past helps us understand His relationship to all things as their Creator. 
 
 
To us Christ's act of bringing all things into existence out of nothing is unimaginably glorious; an awesome achievement in design, extent and wisdom of its interconnected systems. But, to Christ it was an act whose prerequisite was self-humbling into relationship with the space-time continuum of created existence. For God to create was to enter into a relationship with the finite, that which is infinitely less than God
 
 
This self-humbling in the act of creation marked the lessening of the glory that Christ had shared undiminished within God. In this, Jesus became the Son of God. The title 'Son of God' was used initially as a messianic title but quickly became more than this. In Christian circles it came to mean the deity of Jesus. Yet, relative to His uncreated eternal glory with the Father, it expressed His subordination to God outside of Himself. He stepped down to become God the Son.

 
  Confusions   
Error's
danger is that it steals valuable truth from us. No-one is ever free from error, but the errors that matter are those that prevent us discovering truth that feeds and liberates our faith.
 
 
In Christian history two ancient errors have confused the church and blinded her concerning the 'what', 'how', and 'who' of God, namely –
TWO  FALSE  TEACHINGS
1.  The 'Eternal generation' of the Son
2.  The 'Procession' of the Holy Spirit
Trinitarian claptrap?
Perhaps,
but these ideas were an attempt to define the relationship of Jesus and the Holy Spirit to the Father within the common divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Sadly wrong, but understandable. 
See:
Filioque Clause
 
Unfortunately, this resulted in the description of the Trinity as a ranking structure –
Father as First Person; Son as Second Person; and Holy Spirit as Third Person.
As a divine hierarchy, this is nonsense!
But the Father was seen as the centre or top of this framework of relationships within the Trinity and so the Son was then defined as 'eternally generated' by the Father, and the Holy Spirit was then accorded a subordinate role and defined as eternally 'proceeding' from the Father.
The Western Church (later called Catholic) felt it should add 'and the Son' to this 'procession' of the Spirit
(to the chagrin of the Eastern Church), and
so the Protestant churches generally followed-suit but without understanding it.
 
 
Recently, it has become fashionable to understand the Trinity of God as a non-hierarchical love union of three different persons. This correction is however as erroneous as the above.
It might accord with a New Age form of Christianity in acclimatizing God's plurality to our modern democratic culture, but is no more Biblical than the above nonsense.
 
While
understandable within the context of church history, these errors hide precious truth. Faith in God without understanding is good, for He is worthy to be trusted unconditionally.
But faith in doctrinal definition without understanding is foolishness, and spiritually impoverishes its victims.

 
  Conclusions  
  The Son  
The
term 'son' is used of Christ's relationship to God is various ways in Scripture. It is a title of royal adoption and messianic commission in Psalm 2:7-9. It is a rabbinic messianic title in the mouths of Christ's disciples, the Jewish high priest, and the mocking Pharisees. 
 
 
But in church history it became erroneously elevated to a title as if of secondary-divinity to the Father. In this sense the term 'son of God' does point to the unique nature of Christ's relationship to the Father, but it was a 'sonship' of cost to Jesus. It was a sonship into which He humbled Himself!
 
 
Paul makes it clear in Phil.2:6 that Jesus did not regard equality with God as a prize to be valued. Instead He, Jesus, "emptied" Himself to become part of our finite world. Paul says this to illustrate the proper Christian attitude of humility, as if this aspect of Christ was commonly understood among believers. Herein lies the essence of Christ's sonship - His act of self-humbling, self-restriction, self-limitation, to be a part of the finite, and so as the perfect is alone qualified to be God's Messiah.
 
 
Part of God limited Himself to the dimensions of our world, completely. The one whom we call the Father is only Father to our Lord Jesus Christ because Jesus became His son. In the simile of the human: a father is not born a father - he becomes a father as a result of having a son. In other words, before this self-humbling of Christ God was not His Father! The nature of Christ's self-humbling can be found in the elements of the event itself – the act of Creation, which modern science nicknamed the 'Big Bang'.
 
 
The universe is finite. If its mass is known its radius can be calculated. As awesomely great as this universe may be it is infinitely less than the Infinite. To enter a relationship with the finite, which God's act of Creation was, required His direct association with something infinitely less than Himself. This act of self-humbling into direct association with the finite had its focus in the one we call Jesus. It was in Him that space and time came into existence. From Him is the existence of all that exists in this space-time continuum. For this reason Paul declares that –
"in Him [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
...all things were created through Him and for Him. He
[Jesus] is before all things,
and in Him all things hold together."
Colossians 1:16-17.
It was
this realization in the early church that established its conviction of the absolute deity of Jesus the messiah. It was in this act of Jesus that His unique sonship to God came into being, unique even in comparison to the Holy Spirit's relationship to God. 
 
 
The Father's relationship to this universe is derived from this act of Creation. "Our Father who art in Heaven" refers to the Father's authority over this universe. The Father is uniquely associated with the Throne, the governmental centre of all that is made. The implications of this is that the completion of God's awesome strategy in history must also result in the ending of God's direct association with the finite material universe. He who is infinite and perfect in all things will be after all things as He was before all things. He is not unchangeable because He cannot change, for He is free to be as He chooses, but He will be, beyond all things, as He was before all things! For this reason the focus of salvation is more than dealing with the sin issue. Rather –
"God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.
For those whom He foreknew
[recognized as His own]
He also predestined [appointed the destination of] to be conformed to the image of His Son,
in order that He
[Jesus] might be the first-born among many brethren."
Romans 8:28-29.
The Bible's
dimensions of the New Jerusalem (the completed people of God) is a cube - the shape of the Holy of Holies in both Tabernacle and Temple. In other words, God's own people are themselves corporately the ultimate place of His Presence (not Heaven).
See:
A Biblical
Structure of History
 
Thus is fulfilled the purpose that began in the self-humbling of Him who even gave Himself for our sakes,
that we might take our place in Him in all eternity future, unbounded by place, being the place of God's presence to all.
  The Spirit  
The
Spirit of God is introduced to us in Scripture as the unlimited power of God "hovering" over the face of an unfinished earth, like the anticipation of a bird of prey (Gen.1:2), prior to the Six Days of creation. He is then presented in the New Testament as the equipper of Jesus and as Christ's replacement to Christ's disciples from Pentecost onward. To the Samaritan woman, Jesus described God as spirit to emphasize His freedom-from-place ("neither this mountain, nor in Jerusalem" Jn.4:21) and it is this unboundedness to a place that is expressed in the dynamic of a Spirit-filled people of God.
 
 
When Jesus described the Spirit as the "Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father", He was simply introducing His disciples to the nature of His personal replacement – specifically the authority of His replacement (Jn.15:26). As Christ had come from the Father, brought the words and deeds of the Father, so the Spirit would be with them in the same way, that is with the same authority as Jesus. That is all that the term "proceeds" refers to in the context of its use; its only use in Scripture about the Spirit.
 
So
...
Christian experience of God as Three-in-One is real, and part of the New Testament view, but there is more!
God's act of atonement is described in 2 Cor.5:21 as Christ becoming "sin" for our sakes. This does not describe the suffering of Christ's human flesh; an experience many martyrs have also shared. This describes an event which, although its presentation to His human mind in Gethsemane caused physical shock, still again took Him by surprise on the Cross, when He cried out, not 'My Father, My Father, but – "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?". Total separation from all that Jesus knew as God condensed Hell into His living experience on the Cross. 
 
 
This essence of the atonement was only possible because He, who is by nature infinite, had limited Himself and could thus be separated from the rest of God's unbounded being – experiencing a spiritual death beyond understanding, concentrating all guilt into the guiltless One.
Without this reality of God's plurality we would still be damned; worse – we would be caught in the universe of an infinite egotistical being. 
 
So ... Praise God for –  
the glorious plurality of His consciousness and awesome oneness of His holy character.
All – glory – to – Him!
Quotes
'The Trinity is revelation at its purest. Reason cannot attain it but it can demonstrate the inadequacy of all objections to it.' (Thomas Aquinas).
'A proof is the sum of its relevant parts. This is inapplicable to the infinite, therefore there can be no proof of God, only indications.' (LT).
'Why should God not also be able, as eternal love, to be sufficient unto Himself? In His life as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit He would in truth be no lonesome, no egotistical God even without man, yes, even without the whole created universe.' (Karl Barth, 'The Humanity of God, part 2' 25-9-1956).
'The community of the reborn will become as Jesus is. The manifestation of the 'sons of God' (Rom.8:19) will break forth from the birth-pains of God and His creation.' (LT).
button 'God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love.'
'
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.'
' If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will... then we may take it it is worth paying.' (CS Lewis)


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