GOD REVEALED FROM 'A to Z' (WHAT GOD IS AND WHO GOD IS)
GOD REVEALED FROM 'A to Z' (WHAT GOD IS AND WHO GOD IS)
When the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, he told them that everything that there is to know about God has been revealed to all of us, and is seen through the things that He has made. This revelation includes what God is (eternally powerful), and Who God is (His personal nature, conveyed in Paul's word 'Godhead' below):
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them (mankind), for God has showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.
Paul's Epistle to the Romans 1:19-20
Paul was repeating a message that is also found in the Old Testament:
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
David's Psalm 19:1-4
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.
This web page, along with my final page titled 'Science and the Bible ', are the 'bookends' of this site. This first page discusses the personal aspects of who God is (the Trinity), and my final page discusses the impersonal aspects of what God is (the infinitely wise, good, and powerful Creator of all things).
GOD REVEALED THROUGH HIS WORD AND HIS WORLD
Although Paul taught that the created world clearly reveals God to us, he did not limit the revelation of God to creation alone. Paul taught that the Bible is the word of God, and contains the direct, verbal communication of God to mankind.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
2 Timothy 3:16
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For prophecy did not come in past times by the will of man. But holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:20-21
Therefore in each of my two web pages about the nature of God, I refer not only to the revelation of God in the created world around us, but also to the revelation of God found in His word. Christians call this concept 'dual revelation'. Both of these things, creation and the Bible, come from the same God. Therefore it is my challenge, as a Christian, to understand and explain how they are consistent with one another.
In the first section of this web page, I have written about what the Bible says concerning the personal nature of God. In the second section, I have written about what creation says about the personal nature of God. In particular I have written about what I myself have come to learn about God, as I have better understood myself as a human being created in the image of God.
SECTION 1: GOD REVEALED IN THE BIBLE
THE DIVINE 'US' IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
In the very first verse of the Bible we encounter the possibility that there may be more than one God.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The original Old Testament was written in Hebrew. In Genesis 1:1, the original Hebrew word which is translated 'God' in our English Bible, is 'Elohim'. Elohim is the plural form of the singular Hebrew word 'El', meaning 'God'. In Genesis 14:18 God is called 'El Elyon', meaning 'God most high'. In Genesis 17:1 God is called 'El Shaddai', meaning 'God Almighty'. But here, in Genesis 1:1 Moses did not use the singular word 'El', but its plural form 'Elohim'. In effect Genesis 1:1 says that 'the Gods' created everything. We find similar hints that God might be more than one Person in the Bible's description of God's relationship with mankind, beginning with mankind's creation and continuing on after mankind's rebellion.
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.
Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.
Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
FATHER, SON AND SPIRIT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Who might these 'Gods' who call Themselves 'Us' be? We find references to three divine Persons in the Old Testament, where the 'Spirit of God', a Father and a Son are all spoken of.
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
I will declare the decree: the Lord has said unto Me "You are my Son; this day have I begotten You. Ask of Me, and I shall give You the heathen for Your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." Be wise now therefore, O you kings: be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish from the way when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.
Who has ascended up into heaven, or descended? who has gathered the wind in His fists? who has bound the waters in a garment? who has established all the ends of the earth? what is His name, and what is His Son's name, if you can tell?
We find another reference to each of these three Persons in the book of Isaiah 48:16-17. After Isaiah first declared that Israel's coming Messiah would be God in a human body (verses 7:14 & 9:6), this divine Messiah Himself spoke through Isaiah, declaring that He is God, and that He would be sent by God:
Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel (which means 'God with us').
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Come near unto Me, and hear this. I have not spoken in secret. From the beginning, from the time that it was, there am I. And now the Lord God and His Spirit has sent Me. Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord your God which teaches you to profit, which leads you by the way that you should go.
THE 'ONENESS' OF THE OLD TESTAMENT GOD
One of the most important verses in the Old Testament states that God is one:
Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one!
Because of this verse many Jewish people have rejected Christianity, believing that Christianity teaches that there are three gods, while Moses (in Deuteronomy above) has stated that there is only one. Their rejection of Christianity stems from a misunderstanding of Moses. Moses was indeed saying that there is only one God, but Moses' Hebrew word for 'one' leaves open the possibility that this God is also more than one Person.
The Hebrew word that Moses used for 'one' is 'echad'. Echad is used in several places in the Old Testament to describe a 'oneness' between 2 or more people. In Genesis 2:24 God says that a man and wife will unite and become 'one' flesh. In Genesis 11:6 a rebellious human race was described as being 'one'. In Genesis 34:16 & 22 there was talk of Jacob's family and the family of Hamor uniting and becoming 'one'. In Ezra 3:9 it is said that the men arose as 'one' to rebuild the Temple. The word 'echad' is used in many ways, and does not exclude the possibility of a 'oneness' among several persons.
In Deuteronomy 6:4 (above) the Hebrew word translated God is 'Elohim', the same plural word for God that we found in Genesis 1:1. In fact, a literal translation of Deuteronomy 6:4 is 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our Gods, the Lord is one! The Christian doctrine of the Trinity could not have been expressed more clearly.
The orthodox Christian belief is that there is one God who is a union of three divine and co-eternal Persons. Given the clear statements in the Old Testament that the Messiah would be 'God with us', and would be sent by God and the Spirit of God, there is no reason for any Jew to struggle with Jesus' claim to be the Son of God, or with the concept of the Trinity. Isaiah confirmed this understanding when he spoke of a Messiah who would be Child, Son, God and Father, and who would be sent by the Lord God and anointed by the Spirit of God to accomplish salvation for mankind. The Trinity is evident in these verses:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek. He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.
The Jewish leaders of Jesus' day certainly were familiar with these concepts. When they could find no other justification for killing Him, that went right to the heart of the matter and asked Jesus if He was the Son of God. When He answered 'Yes', they condemned Him for it.
And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, "Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?" But He kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, "Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" Jesus said, "I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven." Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?" And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.
FATHER, SON AND SPIRIT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The Old Testament message that there is one God, and that this God is three Persons, finds its complete confirmation in the words of Jesus Christ and of His apostles. The New Testament is saturated with this message, and I would simply encourage my reader to read it for himself. Below are three of many passages from the New Testament that speak of the Father, Son and Spirit at the same time:
And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."
And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water. And the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him, and a Voice from heaven saying "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased".
For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God accomplished by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to atone for sin. He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God (the Father), and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
2 Corinthians 13:14
Jesus openly declared that He was God, to both to His own disciples as well as to the people of Israel. He never denied that fact, and was ultimately crucified for affirming it. When Moses encountered God at the burning bush, God told him that His name is 'I AM' (Exodus 3:14, where the Hebrew name meaning 'I am' is 'Yahweh' or 'Jehovah'). When Jesus was examined by the Jewish leaders, He claimed that He Himself was this God whom Moses had met:
Jesus answered "If I honor myself, my honor is nothing. It is my Father that honors me, of whom you say that he is your God: Yet you have not known Him; but I know Him. And if I should say 'I know Him not', I shall be a liar like unto you. But I know Him and keep His saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad."
Then said the Jews unto him "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham"?
Jesus said unto them "Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM." Then took they up stones to cast at him; but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
Lastly, the book of Revelation is filled, from beginning to end, with truth about the Trinity. I will not delve into it here, except to present John's introduction to the book, where the Father, the Holy Spirit and the Son are 'front and center' from the very beginning:
John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come (the Father), and from the seven Spirits (the Holy Spirit) who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the Ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father. To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, and they also who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. "I (Jesus) am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come; the Almighty."
ONENESS OF THE TRINITY
The gospel of John opens by declaring that Jesus and God the Father are One. And Jesus openly declared His oneness with the Father; a declaration that the Jews rightly understood to be a claim of Divinity:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
"I and my Father are one." Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them "Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do you stone Me?" The Jews answered him, saying "For a good work we do not stone you; but for blasphemy, and because You, being a man, make Yourself God.
Philip said unto him "Lord, show us the Father, and it suffices us." Jesus said unto him "Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? He that has seen Me has seen the Father. How do you say then 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwells in Me, He does the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.
This oneness of the Trinity was presented by Paul in Romans 8:9-11, where he referred to the Holy Spirit six times; as the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, as Christ Himself, and as the Spirit of the One (the Father) who raised Christ from the dead:
But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwells in you.
Who (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him. And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead (the Trinity) bodily.
THE GOD AND FATHER OF JESUS CHRIST
Several times in the New Testament reference is made to 'the God and Father of Jesus Christ':
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
Ephesians 1:3 (2 Corinthians 11:31, 1 Peter 1:3)
Some have wondered how the Bible can say that Jesus worshiped God, and at the same time was God. This is understood when we realize that Jesus is both God and man. Ever since His conception within Mary's womb, He assumed a double identity. Although He was God, Jesus left heaven and came to earth to become a human being, to fulfill every moral requirement that God has placed upon man (the Law), and to experience all of the struggles of mankind (including our temptations). This was necessary in order for Him to qualify as a Savior:
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery (a thing to be grasped) to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He (Jesus) Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
It was the Son of God's humanity, and His willingness to share in the struggles of mankind, that made it possible for Him to send this message to His disciples after His resurrection, elevating them to His own status as a child of God:
Jesus said unto her "Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren and say unto them 'I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God."
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God!
1 John 3:1
Though truly God, Jesus humbled Himself and became a man. It is this gracious humility that distinguishes God from Satan. Jesus was willing to abandon His glory, enduring poverty, humility and death for His creatures. Satan, though a mere created being, determined to exalt himself to God's status, and has murdered anyone who has opposed him ever since. It is this message, that God became a 'flesh and blood' human being, which reveals God's goodness and glory most clearly, and which Satan and his followers are most determined to deny:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby you know the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God. Every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God. And this is that spirit of Antichrist, of which you have heard that it should come; and even now already it is in the world.
1 John 4:1-3
ARE THE SON AND THE SPIRIT ETERNAL?
Although I have presented some information about Jesus Christ and the Trinity, there is one question that has not been addressed. How are we to understand Fatherhood and Sonship within the Trinity? More specifically, the question that some have raised is 'If Jesus is the Son of God, how can He be as old as the Father? If He is a Son, then doesn't this mean that His existence has a starting point, and that He cannot be eternal like His Father? Some have even suggested that the Son was created by the Father.
The idea that Jesus cannot be fully divine because, as a Son, He cannot be co-eternal with the Father has come to be known as 'Arianism', named after a man, Arius, who popularized them. A useful starting point for this discussion in Colossians:
Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.
This verse, like others that we have seen, states that Jesus is the visible manifestation (image) of all that God is. But this King James translation also seems to say that Jesus is the first of God's creatures; in other words 'a created being'. This is not what the original Greek New Testament says, however. In the original Greek the word translated 'firstborn' really means 'born before'. Colossians 1:15 simply states that the Son of God was begotten of His Father before creation began. This means that He transcends time, space, matter, energy, and every other created thing. This is consistent with what we saw in John 1:1 (above) where it says that Jesus Himself is the Maker of every created thing. Jesus transcends creation, and is divine. For many people this ends the discussion. But for others (myself included) the question still remains; is Jesus the eternal God, or as the Son of God does His existence have a starting point after the Father's? And the same question might well be asked regarding the Holy Spirit as well.
In order to answer this question we must go again to the book. It is only when we have answered this question, based upon the authority of scripture, that we can proceed to any further conclusions. There are a number of verses, in both the Old and New Testaments, that either describe the Son and Spirit as eternal, or that describe them as fully divine and worthy of the title 'God'.
Of old You have laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They shall perish, but You shall endure. Yes, all of them shall grow old like a garment; as a coat You shall change them, and they shall be changed. But You are the same, and Your years shall have no end.
Psalm 102:25-27 (according to Hebrews 1:10-12, this is a description of the Son of God)
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not faint, neither is weary. There is no searching of His understanding.
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth unto Me the One (Jesus) that is to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old; from everlasting.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds. Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen it and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested unto us.
1 John 1:1-2
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord (Jesus), "which is and which was and which is to come, the Almighty."
From these verses the answer to the question is apparent: eternal existence, without beginning or end, are attributed to both the Son of God and the Spirit of God; they are both as old as the Father. They are both described as God; the One from whom all created things have originated. Hence, given the universe in which we live, it is evident that they are also both infinitely wise and infinitely powerful. They share all of the attributes of divinity with God the Father. In particular, the three verses from Revelation in which Jesus is presented to us as the 'Alpha and Omega', the 'Beginning and the End', the 'First and the Last' closely identify Him with the Father as eternal, without a beginning or end of His own existence.
So now let me return to the original question and suggest an answer. The Bible says that both the Son and the Holy Spirit have their origin within the Father. In John 15:26 Jesus said that the Holy Spirit 'proceeds' from the Father. In both the Old and New Testaments the Son is described as having been begotten of the Father. The question is this: 'How can the Son and the Spirit come from within the Father, and yet also be co-eternal with Him? The answer seems obvious to me; They must have both existed within the Father, before coming forth from Him. I would suggest a two-stage existence for the Son and the Spirit, represented by the diagrams below:
THE TWO-STAGE EXISTENCE OF THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT IN ETERNITY PAST
Someone might suggest that I am taking liberties with God's word, but these questions are fundamental to the Christian faith, and require answers. If our understanding of Christianity has not prepared us to hear children ask these same questions, and to give them simple, straightforward and understandable explanations, then I would suggest that we have not reached Christian maturity and do not understand our God or His word as we should. One question remains, which I discuss in the next section of this web page; 'What is the difference between the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father, and the begetting of the Son by the Father?' What does this say about the Son and the Holy Spirit, and the relationships between the Persons of the Trinity?
SECTION 2: GOD REVEALED IN MANKIND
In the first section of this web page I have presented what the Bible has to say about the personal nature of God. In this section I am focusing upon what Creation has to say. More specifically, I wish to explain how the Trinity is revealed in ourselves, a human race that has been made 'in the image and likeness of God' (Genesis 1:26). This is what Paul meant when he said that God is revealed 'in us':
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood through the things that are made; even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.
Some have written that the image of God stamped upon man is seen in our personhood. Just as God has personality, creative intelligence, emotions and the capacity to love and to make moral decisions, so also do human beings. It is our souls, some say, with their capacity to interact with God above and with people here on earth, that represents the image of God within us. While this truly is an important aspect of God's image within us, and does indeed elevate us above animals and make us like God, I do not believe that it fully and completely expresses the idea of Genesis 1:26.
The Bible tells us that angels also have personalities, are intelligent, emotional, capable of love, and interact with God and with each other. There are even passages in the Bible where the angels are called 'the sons of God' (Genesis 6:2,4 and Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7), indicating that they (like ourselves) are God's offspring. But nowhere in the Bible does God say 'Let Us create the angels in Our image and likeness'. There is an important difference between the angels and mankind (Hebrews 2:16), and I would suggest that the difference is this; that humanity, unlike the angels, is 'Trinitarian' in nature. All of us began our existence as many souls united within one man, Adam, the father of the human race. And since the creation of our souls in the Garden of Eden, we have been coming forth from within Adam throughout the course of human history, just as the Son and Holy Spirit once existed within the Father before coming forth from Him in eternity past.
Since I am writing about what we can learn about God through observing ourselves, I think it important to share my own experiences with my reader.
I was the firstborn of four children in my home. For the first 4.5 years of my life, I was the only child in our home, until my next brother was born. As such I had a ringside seat on my parents' marriage, observing their interactions with each other during those years. I became fully aware, on an emotional level, that my parents did not have a good relationship, and that it might very well come to an end some day. This troubled me greatly, and sometimes provoked alternate tears of grief and feelings of rage within me, as I contemplated the possibility that my entire world (these two people whom I loved, and the home and family that we had) would some day be torn apart.
When I was 15 years of age my parents divorced, as I had feared. Each of them sought to convince me that the other was wrong, and my thinking was occupied with analyzing other people's faults. But at the age of 16 God intervened in my life, bringing me to a Bible study put on by some high school friends, and causing me to see that I had my own moral problems; that I was on my way to hell. During those early days, when God began to deal with me concerning my eternal destiny, I was not willing to repent of my sins and trust in Christ. However, during that time, I remember one occasion when I prayed together with one of my Christian friends. As I began to pray, I focused all of my mind and energy upon simply being honest with God. And to my own surprise, rather than asking Jesus to save me, I asked Him to give me a good marriage. This is what was uppermost in my heart at the time.
I did not become a Christian during those years. In fact I drifted away from Bible reading and church attendance, and pursued a life of pleasure and self-gratification. At the age of 23 I married a very sweet and beautiful young woman. Two years later I found my marriage falling apart. My wife could no longer tolerate my selfishness and pride, and my inclination to 'talk down' to her, rather than honoring her and respecting her as my equal. She moved out, and returned to her parents' home.
For the first time in my life, because marriage was important to me, I was willing to take an honest look at myself. Though the fires of hell could not turn me, the loss of my beautiful young wife could. I humbled myself, and called my wife and told her that I had been wrong, begging for her forgiveness. I cursed myself for being such a fool. At that very point, however, when it might have been possible for my wife and I to be reconciled, I called our entire relationship off, and broke my wife's heart.
Something had convinced me that ending the relationship was what I needed to do. I was deceived, and brought to do the very thing that I did not want to do. In the process I discovered a Spirit within my body, that owned my body, which the Bible calls 'Sin'. Sin was deceiving and overpowering me, frustrating my good intentions and performing the evil that I hated and despised. At the same time, having broken my wife's heart, I feared that my father-in-law would be coming after me to kill me. He would have been justified. This fear catalyzed within me a willingness to take full stock of my wickedness and my bondage to Sin, and to ask myself (as Paul expresses in the passage below) 'Who can deliver me from the body of this death?' It was at that point that I cried out to Jesus to prevent my ex-wife from harming herself, and thus to save me from the wrath of her father as well.
The apostle Paul describes this wretched experience in Romans 7:15-24, and also the logic that brought him to realize that it was not he who was committing the sin, but something else that lived together with him inside of his body; the spirit of Sin (also see Testing Christianity):
For that which I do, I forbid within my heart. For what I want to do, I do not do. But what I hate, that I do. If then I do that which I would not do, I consent to the Law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but Sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my body) dwells no good thing. For to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would do, I do not do. But the evil that I would not do, that is what I do. For I delight in the Law of God in the inward man. But I see another law in my body, warring against God's Law that is in my mind, and bring me into captivity to the law of Sin which is in my body. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
I spent the following week looking more intently at how wicked and shameful I had been, and how deserving I was of condemnation. At the end of that week, on the eve of my 25th birthday, Jesus revealed to me His willingness to forgive me and I was wonderfully born again. It had taken eight years, beginning with that first Bible study in High School, for me to come to sincere repentance and faith. And this gracious result came about because God had used His Law as a schoolmaster to show me the depth of my need, and to bring me to Christ (Galatians 3:24).
I take no particular pleasure in sharing my shameful past with my reader. My reason for doing so is because of my discovery of Sin within my body, and what it has ultimately taught me about being created in the image of God. Up until the break-up of my marriage, the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and my participation in Adam's sin, had made no sense to me. But as I discovered Sin within my body, I realized that it had been there since my conception in my mother's womb. I had been, as King David described, 'brought forth in iniquity and conceived in Sin' (Psalm 51:5).
It is commonly taught that when Adam sinned, he brought himself into spiritual bondage to Sin, and that this bondage is inherited by all of us through biological reproduction (a concept known as 'hereditary depravity'). This runs directly contrary, however, to the word of God and the God-given conscience that each of us has within us. As I discovered the spirit of Sin within my body, I realized that it had owned and occupied my body since it was conceived within my mother's womb. I also knew that God would never have had anything to do with putting it there, and that there was only one morally logical conclusion that I could reach; that I myself had sinned and sold myself into bondage at some point in the past, before my body was formed. Sin is personal; it cannot be passed on from one person to another; nor does God charge (or impute) sin to people who have not actually sinned.
As I acknowledged my wickedness and guilt, I also knew that I needed a forgiveness for my sins that was real. My conscience cried out for a salvation that could truly atone for my sins, and that could also empower me to live life in a new and better way. I was unwilling to accept anything less.
When Jesus called me and saved me, the Holy Spirit showed me that I had died with Christ on the cross, and that my sins therefore had been judged and punished. I became aware of my real union with Christ, and that somehow His shed blood and death was also my own shed blood and death. I realized that my sins truly had been atoned for. I did not immediately understand the nature of my connection with Adam, and of my new connection with Christ. I simply knew that it was a 'real' union.
Over the first five years of my Christian life I sought to understand how I could have really sinned in Adam, and how I could be truly crucified with Christ. In 1980 my search intensified, as I began going to libraries to examine microfilm of old theological documents, and borrowing rare books from libraries in other states. Finally I found the answer. I discovered that the Bible is very clear about the nature of a Christian's union with Christ. It is a union that is similar to the union between the Persons of the Trinity; a 'Trinitarian' union:
He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eats Me, even he shall live by Me.
Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you shall live also. At that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your own name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one, as We are.
That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that You have sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one. I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them, as You have loved Me.
The Bible indicates that the connection between Jesus and His people is similar to the connection between Adam and the human race;
Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, ever over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure (foreshadowing or type) of Him (Christ) that was to come.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
And so it is written "The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit."
1 Corinthians 15:21,45
Thus I have concluded that this same 'Trinitarian union' that exists between Jesus and His people, also existed between Adam and myself.
It is important to understand what God's word is saying here. Just as the three Persons of the Trinity are One God, and yet distinct, separate and individual Persons, so also the many members of the human race were one with Adam in Eden, and yet were simultaneously free as individuals to choose for themselves whether or not they would obey God. This connection, though hard to understand, is defined both by its unity and its simultaneous independence of action.
Some people may envision the Trinity as three Persons who are tied together in some kind of 'three-legged' race, tripping and stumbling over each other. The common teaching of the church has been consistent with this false idea, claiming that Adam threw himself off of a 'moral cliff' so to speak, and that he has dragged the rest of the human race off of that cliff with him. This is totally contrary to Biblical teaching. A 'Trinitarian union' is one that respects and guarantees the rights of the individual to choose for himself. This is true in the case of union with Christ as well as in our union with Adam. In fact it is impossible to be united with Christ unless one has freely judged and condemned one's self to the same death that He experienced; a criminal execution.
Then said Jesus unto His disciples "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.
Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23
For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the Law am dead to the Law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ lives in Me. And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts.
Galatians 2:18-20, 5:24
Thus through my own experience and studies I have concluded two facts about myself:
1) I was present
Adam, the father of the human race, when he was created. I was 'one' with him, so that all that Adam thought, I also was consciously thinking, and all that he did, I also consciously did. This was the original 'oneness' of the human race; a oneness patterned after the 'oneness' within the Trinity. It was a 'oneness' that allowed me to function as a distinct and separate individual at the same time.
2) I have come forth from within Adam, in the course of subsequent human history after the Garden of Eden, to experience a 'second stage' in my existence. My soul is thousands of years old; as old as the human race itself. And yet my physical age only dates back to my conception within my mother's womb (in 1950). I believe that this same 'two-stage' existence characterizes both the Son of God and the Holy Spirit, and explains how They could come from within the Father, and yet be as old as He is at the same time; co-eternal with Him. This overall concept is sometimes referred to as "the pre-existence of souls" (for a further discussion of the pre-existence of souls, see God's Judgment, Testing Christianity and Original Sin).
This idea (of one's pre-existence in Adam) might be called 'Pre-incarnation'; the existence of our soul before entering a physical body. The Bible teaches Re-incarnation also, although not the endless, repetitive reincarnation of Hinduism. The Bible says that in the future we will all be rejoined with physical bodies (reincarnated), and then stand before God in judgment, to experience the rewards or punishments that we deserve. This is Christian mysticism. There is much hand-wringing in the evangelical church today because so many people are turning away from Biblical Christianity to a 'mystical Christianity' defined by Eastern religious practices and communication with 'familiar spirits'. But a major reason for this falling away is that the Evangelical church has failed to understand, embrace and teach genuine Christian mysticism. By departing from the truth of our real union with Adam in his sin, and our potential real union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (a union achieved through the 'baptism of the Holy Spirit'), the church has sent many thousands away empty-handed to look elsewhere for something 'real'.
The doctrine of the Trinity is the fundamental doctrine of Christianity. It is the 'rock' upon which the Christian church is built. But it is not simply the truth about who God is; it is also the explanation of who and what we are as human beings. It explains how we could all have sinned in Adam, and of how it is possible for us to be forgiven and reborn through Christ. Thus there were two reasons why Jesus instructed his apostles to baptize people in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; that we might understand the Trinity, and also understand and symbolically display (through water baptism) our 'Trinitarian union' with Christ in His death.
Ultimately God the Father has ordained that our entrance into His eternal blessing is conditioned upon our acknowledgement of the full divinity and glory of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is this 'rock' of truth that was first declared by Peter and is the foundation of God's true church. It is also this truth that God's enemies will all be compelled to acknowledge before they are banished to eternal punishment because they knowingly denied and opposed it:
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked his disciples, saying "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" And they said "Some say that You are John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the prophets". He said unto them "But whom do you say that I am?" And Simon Peter answered and said "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". And Jesus answered and said unto him "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say also unto you that you are Peter (rock), and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven". Then He charged His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ.
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
IS THERE A MOTHER IN THE TRINITY?
Having become clear in my own mind that my oneness with Adam, and my two-stage existence were both reflections of the Trinity, I began to wonder whether or not there wasn't something else revealed about God in our connection with Adam. Specifically, I began to wonder whether or not Eve's being taken from Adam's side, and the subsequent 'begetting' of children through their marriage relationship, did not in some way reflect a similar unfolding of the Trinity in eternity past. In other words, does Eve's direct 'procession' from Adam symbolize the procession of the Spirit from the Father?
Before beginning this discussion, I want to be up front with my reader. In my own mind I am convinced of three things:
1) That the Holy Spirit is indeed the second Person of the Trinity.
2) That the Holy Spirit is the second Parent of the Son of God.
3) That human families bear the imprint or image of a divine Family (that a part of our human sexuality is derived from a divine 'sexuality').
I present my reasons for believing this below. While I have reached these conclusions for myself, and will not hesitate to share them openly, I believe it is necessary that I always label them as my own beliefs, and not something expressly taught in the scriptures. I do not believe that God requires other Christians to reach my conclusions. How can this be? How can I reach firmly held conclusions about something as important as God, and yet say that there is not clear scriptural support for them? For two reasons.
First, I believe that the Holy Spirit's role within the Trinity is a mystery, 'veiled' from our sight, and so none of us are justified in being dogmatic about it. Secondly, I believe that heavenly sexuality is very distinct from human sexuality. Christians must always be very careful to distinguish divine sexuality (Christ's future marriage to His bride, the church, for instance) from the physical passions that characterize our present marriages here on earth. If a Christian is not able to respect both of these concepts (the 'veil' and the 'difference'), then he is better off not having anything to say on the subject at all. This is holy ground, and to walk upon it carelessly is to put one's self at grave risk. I believe that the Lord has given me liberty to share what I believe, but that I must, at the same time, be honest about the lack of scriptural support for it.
Furthermore, I acknowledge that alarm bells will go off in the minds of God-fearing Christians who are reading this page. Throughout the history of mankind, the idea that there are feminine persons 'amongst the gods' has lead to fertility cults and all kinds of sexual immorality. Today the feminist movement, together with the broader new age movement, are exalting the 'divine feminine'. I have no doubt that my comments about pre-incarnation and reincarnation (above) will also cause alarm in the minds of fellow Christians. But it is imperative that Christians base their beliefs upon the word of God; not upon reactions to error. It would be a terrible mistake to reject all mysticism simply because we fear false mysticism. We need to be able to say more than 'no' to falsehood if we are to earnestly contend for the faith. It is not a rejection of error, but an embracing of truth that saves us (2 Thessalonians 2:13). A reactionary Christianity is a doomed Christianity, because it is defined by what Satan chooses to say and do; not by what God says.
It is not my purpose to lead my reader to any conclusion, but to simply look at this question and give it fair treatment. I believe that the following discussion needs to be presented, regardless of what the new age movement is saying and doing. Although it is possible to give perverse answers in response to these questions, this does not mean that it is perverse to ask them. And so I return to my original question, with the simple purpose of equipping my reader to thoroughly understand and explain the Christian faith; 'Is the Holy Spirit the Mother of the Son of God?'.
In my sixty years of exposure to Protestant Christianity and the Bible, with their constant references to the Father and the Son, I have never heard anyone suggest that the Son of God might have a Mother also. I have no doubt that, when told about the Father and the Son, many little children have asked whether or not the Son of God has a 'mommy' too. It's a perfectly logical question. But I have never heard any adult Christian suggest that the Trinity might be a family. Most Christians can relate to the idea that human fathers and sons are patterned after a divine Father and Son, but throughout the history of the church the Holy Spirit's position within the Trinity has been left undefined. Why is this? Why do we unquestioningly accept the idea that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity? It seems to me that serious Christians should ask these questions, and be prepared to give thoughtful answers to them.
In writing to the church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul used the example of human marriage (from Genesis 2:24) to describe a future marriage between Christ and His bride, the Church:
For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
This passage prompts a question: 'Who is the mother that Christ will leave when He takes the Church as His bride?' Most Catholics have a ready answer. Few Protestants have given it any thought. Many Catholics will tell you that the Mother whom Christ will leave is the Virgin Mary. Roman Catholicism refers to Mary as "the Mother of God", and has elevated her to divine status. This deification of Mary is not Biblical, and I address it elsewhere in this web site (see Original Sin). It may be, however, that Rome's veneration of Mary flows out of something deeply felt by many human beings. Such feelings characterized the pagan religions of early Rome, as well as those of many civilizations before it; a belief that the divine Persons who govern the lives of men are not some sort of exclusive 'boys club'. For centuries people have believed that femininity is also to be found 'amongst the gods'.
Returning to the original question then, I ask; 'Is there a Mother of the Son of God?'. In my opinion there is only one Person who can possibly be considered for that role: the Holy Spirit. Any further discussion, as far as I am concerned, must focus on either ruling Him in or out as a candidate for this role. If the Holy Spirit is not the second parent of the Son of God, then no one else can be, because there are only three eternal, divine Persons in the Trinity, and only God can beget God. Two objections will immediately arise as I pose this question, and I address each one below.
OBJECTION #1: THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A 'HE'
Repeatedly throughout the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is referred to as 'He':
Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.
Why would Jesus and His apostles consistently refer to the Holy Spirit as 'He', if we were meant to perceive the Holy Spirit as a feminine Person? First I think it might be helpful to take a look at how the Bible uses the word 'He', and whether or not the word necessarily conveys any sexuality at all. A look at how the early church viewed the relationships among the Persons of the Trinity may help to put things in perspective.
THE DOCTRINE OF 'FILIOQUE'
How did the early church understand the role of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity? Early Christians were in agreement that both the Son and the Spirit came from within the Father. The Son has been 'begotten' of the Father (John 1:14, 3:16), and the Holy Spirit 'proceeds' from the Father (John 15:26). A simple triangle with the Father at the top, and two arrows pointing down to both the Son and the Holy Spirit might have represented this perspective on the Trinity (on the left below).
At around 600 AD some leaders in the Western (Latin) church added a new idea, and began to teach that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son. This doctrine came to be known as the 'Filioque', because 'filioque' is the Latin word which means 'and the Son'. The Western teachers rotated the triangle clockwise, so that it rested on a point, with the Father and the Son both above, and arrows pointing down from each of them to the Holy Spirit (middle diagram below). They taught that the Son was begotten of the Father first, and that the Holy Spirit was the subsequent offspring of both the Father and the Son. This is a viewpoint that was not only embraced by Rome, but is also found in the doctrinal statements of some mainline Protestant denominations to this day. The Eastern (Greek) leaders did not think that this doctrinal change was justified, and this caused a division between the Greek and Latin churches.
The point that I am making here is this: no one ever thought that the Latin doctrine of 'Filioque' was suggesting some kind of sexual intimacy between the Father and the Son, resulting in the procession of Holy Spirit. Such thoughts never arose in this discussion. The same concept applies when considering the Holy Spirit as the second Person of the Trinity. No thought of sexual intimacy needs to color our consideration of the Father and the Holy Spirit begetting the Son.
One can tip the 'triangle' in the opposite direction of the Latin fathers, placing the Father and the Holy Spirit above, and the Son below. A person who does this is not implying anything more about the relationship between the Father and Spirit than the Latin teachers implied about the Father and the Son. It is with this kind of detachment that we need to look at the word 'He', and the idea that the Holy Spirit is the second Person of the Trinity, and the second Parent of the Son. The word 'He' really doesn't convey any sexuality, one way or the other, or anything in regard to the Trinity; its use is merely biblical 'convention'.
This discussion may point out a fundamental mistake that the Latin 'fathers' made. Because they exalted the 'Child' to the second position in the Trinity, they left themselves without a second Parent or a 'family circle'. Then, to compensate, they inserted Mary into the Trinity. Consistent in their mishandling of both divine and human sexuality, they have insisted on Mary's perpetual virginity while forbidding marriage for nuns and priests. In short, the Roman Catholic Church has failed to deal with human sexuality biblically, or to consider what is possibly one of the greatest gifts that God has given to man; the opportunity to replicate the Trinity by marrying and begetting children in a way that may parallel a higher spiritual marriage and begetting of a Child in heaven above.
I do not mean to say that God is not sexual. There is 'sexuality' in heaven. Christ is going to take the church to Himself as His bride, and they are going to enjoy intimate marriage with each other forever into the future. But there is an important difference between Divine sexuality and human sexuality. How are we to understand this difference?
How might we understand the relationship between the Father and the Holy Spirit, and relate it to the human experience? I would suggest that the essence of the relationship between the Father and the Spirit might be one of deep companionship. This is the essence of human marriage as well. In the Genesis account of Eve's creation, God said…
"It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper appropriate for him."
God then took Eve directly from Adam, and brought her to him. Some may believe that Eve did not exist prior to this point in time, but this is not true. If God had wanted us to think that, He would have created Eve from the dust of the ground, as He did with Adam. This, however, is not what happened. God took Eve's body from within Adam's, and brought forth her soul from within him at the same time. In doing this, I believe that God was giving us a picture of the Holy Spirit's existence within the Father before proceeding out from the Father.
It is important to realize that, although mankind bears the 'image' of God, God must not be made to bear the image of man. What do I mean by that? Mankind has two different kinds of 'sexuality'; spiritual and physical. Our spiritual sexuality is based upon companionship between husbands and wives. It is this capacity for personal intimacy that characterizes the 'spiritual sexuality' that I believe men and women have inherited from God. This is why, when referring to human sexual intercourse, the Bible often describes it as a husband and wife 'knowing' each other. A man can 'know' his wife, but a horse cannot 'know' a horse, and a dog cannot 'know' a dog:
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, "I have acquired a man from the Lord."
And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, "Because I have asked for him from the Lord."
1 Samuel 1:19-20
Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife (Mary), and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
But man is also a physical being and we must reproduce physical bodies, just as animals and plants do. For this reason God has made members of the opposite sex physically attractive to one another. This attraction brings meaning and joy to our lives, while insuring the survival of mankind. But God does not share these physical passions with us. This need and desire to unite our own body with another's does not characterize God. The fact that God does not share our physical nature does not mean that it is bad; it only means that we are different. This is why I have said that, though we have been made in God's image, we must not 'make Him' in ours. When we human beings use the pronouns 'he' and 'she', we incorporate physical attributes and experiences into their meaning. When we consider the idea of a possible Divine sexuality, we must leave physical attributes out of it.
Divine sexuality is spiritual, and is defined by spiritual intimacy, not physical intimacy. Jesus put it best; God is a spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Pagan religions have failed to maintain this distinction. They superimpose physical human sexuality 'upon the gods'. As a result some have become fertility cults, embracing many kinds of sexual perversity. In order to understand heavenly 'sexuality', all traces of physical sexuality must be removed from our thinking. How can we do that? A look at an old theological controversy may help.
It is also important to observe that, when God brought the woman forth from Adam's side, He was giving Adam an adult companion, not a child. He was giving Adam an 'equal'. This relationship was to be between two adults. It is here that we see the important distinction between a marriage relationship, and a parent-child relationship: one is between adult peers while the other is between nurturing parents and their dependent (and hopefully respectful) offspring. Personally, I believe that this is where many human relationships go wrong. Oftentimes adults relate to other adults as if they were children, and people become offended when roles get crossed up. At other times parents and children treat one another as peers, and the parenting process is hampered. It is only as we recognize these different roles and pursue them appropriately that we can enjoy success in our relationships.
In the gospel of John, Jesus called the Holy Spirit 'the Paraclete'. 'Paraclete' is a Greek word meaning 'one called alongside', or 'companion'. In various Bibles it is also translated 'comforter', 'helper' and 'advocate'; but its original and true meaning is 'companion'. In John 14:16 Jesus told His disciples that He was leaving them, but that He would send them 'another companion'; that He would send them "the Companion" (John 14:26, 15:26 and 16:7).
The question that has challenged me is this: When Jesus used the article 'the' when calling the Holy Spirit 'the Companion', was He referring to a companionship that the Holy Spirit would provide for God's people, or was He referring to the Spirit's eternal role as Companion to the Father? I have not been able to determine a conclusive answer to that question, but this does not mean that the Holy Spirit is not, first and foremost, the Companion of the Father.
OBJECTION #2: BIBLICAL SILENCE ABOUT THE SPIRIT
Many will point out that the Bible is essentially silent about the Holy Spirit's role within the Trinity. Ironically, this silence may be one of the most powerful indications that the Holy Spirit is the second Person of the Trinity.
Throughout the genealogies of the Old and New Testaments, fathers and first-born sons are constantly presented while wives and daughters (except in special cases of historical significance) are ignored. In these genealogies the women are veiled from our sight. Although they are the 'second persons' in their families, they are placed in positions of obscurity and relative humility. It may be that the Bible places a veil over the second Person of the Trinity also. The Bible's silence about the Spirit is perfectly consistent with the possibility that He is the second Person of the Trinity.
The Holy Spirit draws very little attention to Himself, and this is why the Bible says so little about Him, and His place within the Trinity remains a mystery. This may be a part of what Paul was referring to when he said that Christ leaving His Father and Mother to marry the church was 'a great mystery'. It may also be one of the reasons why the apostle Paul instructed women to wear veils during Christian worship. Paul may have been maintaining an approach to womankind that ultimately finds its roots not in old cultural traditions, but in the Trinity itself, and an approach to womankind that is patterned after the Bible's approach to the Holy Spirit.
It is not uncommon to hear it said that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity. Apart from the fact that the Spirit is mentioned last in the baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19, and that Rome has arbitrarily chosen to assign Him that position, I can find no other support in the Bible for assuming this. Given the fact that it is typical of the Bible to mention the second person in a family lastly (if at all), I would suggest that there is no reason to conclude from the Bible's silence that the Holy Spirit is not the second Person of the Trinity.
WOMEN IN CHRISTIANITY vs. ISLAM
I believe that Christians should follow Paul's instructions concerning the veiling, silence and submission of women in the church. There are many who would accuse me of trying to impose the same restrictions upon Christian women that Islamic women experience. There are profound differences, however, between the Christian veil and the Islamic one.
Christian women are instructed to cover their heads in the presence of God, whether at home in prayer or during public worship. They are not instructed to wear it at any other time. Nor are they instructed (as I understand the Bible) to cover their faces. A simple scarf or 'prayer' shawl, draped over the head during public or private worship, is what I believe the Apostle Paul had in mind.
Secondly, although Christian women are instructed to obey their husbands in the home, and to obey male leadership in the church (except if these men give instructions that contradict the word of God), they are not commanded to assume subservient roles in society at large. Christianity does not mandate the general subservience of women to men throughout society. Although Paul encouraged Christian women to be good mothers and homemakers, neither he nor any other New Testament author restricted the roles of women in society. When a Christian man encounters any woman in the public setting, he is to respect her as an equal, and bow to any authority that she may have. It may be the authority of a superior in the workplace, of a policewoman on the street, or of a Governor, judge or magistrate. This runs completely contrary to Islamic society, where women are treated like sub-humans in practically every context.
The reason that womanly humility and submission can work within the Christian home and church is because the men in those places are Christians. A true Christian man fears God, and knows that He is not a respecter of persons and will judge him some day concerning how he has treated his wife (and children). None of us has had any say about whether we would be born male or female. It is incumbent upon Christians to fulfill whatever roles that we have been given by God in this world. In God's coming kingdom, many women who humbly submitted to husbands and church leaders in this life, will occupy lofty positions of authority for eternity. By the same token, men who abused their authority in this life will be humbled eternally. Gentleness and humility are to be the rule of life for all Christians in all contexts:
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:5-7
RECOVERING GOD'S ORIGINAL PLAN
Many have objected to the veil, and the Christian woman's obligation to obey her husband and men in the church. They have described these notions as 'cultural relics' from the past. The apostle Paul, however, was one of the most 'progressive' men who ever lived, and he gave two reasons for womanly submission in the home and church that are completely distinct from temporary cultural norms. Paul's instructions have their roots in 1) God's original creative purpose, and 2) the rebellion of mankind in Eden.
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. I do not allow a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
1 Timothy 2:11-15
Paul's first reason for womanly submission in the Christian home and church is because it was God's original plan for the relationship between a man and a woman. He points out that the man was created first, and then the woman. He explains this more fully in 1 Corinthians:
For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
1 Corinthians 11:7-10
It may be that Paul is alluding here to the idea that men are created in the image of God the Father, and women are patterned after the Holy Spirit. As the first Person of the Trinity, and the one from Whom both the Holy Spirit and the Son have come, the Father has the pre-eminence. Paul may have been recognizing this, and instructing Christians to duplicate this pattern. Even if Adam and Eve had never sinned, I believe that God would have had women wear veils in His presence and obey their husbands.
SATAN'S BACK DOOR
The second thing that Paul points to, in 1 Timothy (above), is the fact that the woman was the object of Satan's attack. She was deceived by the devil, and then Satan used her to manipulate her husband. Paul seems to be saying that, though Adam might not have succumbed to Satan's direct temptation, he was influenced by his wife because of his great attachment to her. In this way Satan brought about the downfall of the human race through the woman. This is why, when He passed judgment on Adam and Eve, God said that Eve would now be dominated by her desire for Adam, and that henceforth her husband would lead her, rather than be led by her (Genesis 3:16).
I believe that Satan's use of Eve represents the second of two reasons why God would use a virgin to bring the Messiah into the world. The first and necessary reason for the virgin birth was to bring Someone into the world from outside of the Adamic race. Men and women can only bring forth children of Adam. Therefore God used a virgin to bring someone into the world who had not existed within Adam in Eden. The second reason that the virgin birth of Christ has served God's purposes is because it has allowed Him to humiliate Satan at the very point of his attack; womankind. God promised to prevail over Satan through One who would be the offspring of a woman (Genesis 3:15). This "Seed of the woman" (Jesus Christ) has now been exalted to God's throne (Revelation 12:5), having conquered and humiliated Satan openly (Colossians 2:15).
Satan had a special appreciation for the power of beauty; he himself had been deceived by it, and had used it to deceive others. The following passage is an Old Testament prophecy against the King of Tyre, but is also a description of Satan and the fact that his beauty became his undoing:
Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying "Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord God: You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God. Every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I (God) established you. You were on the holy mountain of God. You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, until iniquity was found in you. By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned. Therefore I cast you as a profane thing, out of the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty. You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you.
Satan turned to wickedness because of his own beauty. He has used that beauty to seduce one third of his fellow angels to rebel against God (Revelation 12:4), and now he has brought his temptation to mankind through the 'back door' of feminine beauty. Satan knew how much Adam adored his wife, and he used this knowledge to achieve his goals. This is why, in 1 Corinthians 11 (above) Paul says that the woman needs to wear a symbol of submission before the angels. Mankind (and especially the Christian church) is still under attack by angelic beings (Ephesians 6:12). It is imperative that Christians understand this, and understand how important it is that men and women close this 'back door' that Satan has used so effectively.
To this day society places tremendous emphasis upon feminine beauty, and women spend billions of dollars each year on cosmetics and other physical enhancements, believing that beauty is the ultimate key to their influence, success and happiness. The public media is saturated with scantily clad women, our young people are constantly encouraged to engage in sex outside of marriage, and the abortion industry has destroyed many millions of unborn children in order to facilitate this focus on sexual 'freedom'. It has gotten so bad that some women attend 'evangelical' churches in tight clothes, exposing their bodies and bringing temptation into the church. This is such a central issue in the Christian church that the apostles instructed the early churches that they would do well if they did two simple things; abstained from eating things that had been offered to idols and from sexual fornication (Acts 15:29, 21:25).
Feminine beauty is an awesome thing, and truly reflects God's creative glory. It is the very 'stuff' of life, and makes the world go around. It is a gift from God to men, and men who cannot humbly and reverently acknowledge this awesome beauty are out of touch with their own needs and feelings. Children rejoice and are nurtured by the fact that daddy is strong and mama is beautiful, and that daddy loves mama. But it is imperative that Christians understand Satan's ways, and that Satan is still using women to undermine homes and unleash hell on earth today. It is only as Christian women recognize their God-given role, and Satan's desire to abuse it, that they can resist the devil effectively.
I am convinced that all women intuitively understand how important they are to the stability of their families. What many Christian women may not have considered, however, is that their ability to bless their families may possibly be contingent upon their ability to emulate the Holy Spirit. It is only as a woman shows the same respect to her husband that the Holy Spirit has for the Father, that our homes and marriages can succeed. It is not because her husband is great, but because his role is great, that a woman should seek to replicate what takes place within the divine Family above. The world has gone mad in its embrace of Satan's original tactics in Eden. A disrespect for men generally, and for the role of men in the family, has been the cornerstone of much of today's 'feminism'. Christian women must appreciate how completely contrary this is to the will and word of God:
Every wise woman builds her house: but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Likewise, wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the behavior of the wives; While they behold your chaste conduct coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of braiding the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden person of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
1 Peter 3:1-7
I admit that neither Paul nor any of the other apostles, when writing about the ideal Christian marriage, said that men and women should emulate the relationship between the Father and Holy Spirit. Paul directs our attention to the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). This is the divinely inspired word of God, and represents the fullness and sufficiency of God's counsel for us. I would suggest, however, that Christians might do well to consider the possibility that the Trinity truly is a Family, and that we as human beings have been given the opportunity to experience something very special. It might be useful to give some thought to how such a divine 'Family' might function in heaven above, and try to emulate what would certainly be pure, loving and respectful relationships.
It is only as we recognize that God's instructions for the family are not based upon any inherent superiority of men over women, but upon God's great plan for all of us, that we can begin to see this plan worked out with full effect in our lives. It is only in this context that Peter could reasonably instruct a woman to call her husband 'my lord' (Genesis 18:12, 1 Peter 3:6), and expect her to be comfortable doing so. Women are not instructed to do these things because their husbands are necessarily worthy, but because their 'father' role is, and the opportunity to emulate God is a privilege and a joy greatly to be desired. I believe that this is why Paul says that the man is the 'image and glory of God, while the woman is the glory of the man' (1 Corinthians 11:7); because men are created in the image of the Father, while the woman, taken from the man, is created in the image of the Holy Spirit.
TWO SCRIPTURAL 'PROOFS'
If I am asked if there are any Bible passages that indicate that the Holy Spirit is the second Person of the Trinity, I point to two. The first one is found in Genesis 4:
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said "I have gotten a man from the Lord".
Some Bible scholars, in commenting upon this verse, indicate that the literal translation of Eve's words is "I have gotten a man; the Lord". In other words, Eve may have been saying that in birthing her first child, she was bringing forth someone who corresponded to God's Child; the 'Lord' or Son of God. Eve may have been saying 'with the birth of this male child, the image of the Trinity is now fully revealed and manifested in mankind'.
I first considered this possible explanation when I was reading the commentary of a Jewish (non-Christian) author on Genesis 4:1. I found it interesting that a disinterested Hebrew scholar would translate this verse to say that Eve's child 'corresponds' to the Lord. There are many Christian commentators who have offered interpretations of this verse. In the original Hebrew it is somewhat vague. I know that, for many Christian readers, this perspective on the verse will represent 'a stretch'. I merely offer it for your consideration.
The second verse is also a stretch, and offers little of substance, but I find it intriguing. It is found in the opposite end of the Bible, in Revelation 22:
And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
I find it interesting that the Holy Spirit and the bride of Christ are paired here. Why else would they be together, unless they have something special in common? I can't help but wonder if we are seeing the Spouses of both the Father and the Son inviting all to come and share Their approaching eternal bliss.
ON HOLY GROUND
Jesus warned that many sins would be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would never be forgiven (Matthew 12:31). For this reason, as well as the fact that such a discussion is sure to provoke conflicts between Christians, I realize that it is important to approach this subject carefully and thoughtfully. I believe firmly that the Trinity is a Family, that human families are patterned after this divine Family, and that the Holy Spirit is the second Person in that Family. I believe that God is heterosexual, and that it is a despising and rejection of the Divine image within us that constitutes the perversity and sin of fornication, adultery and homosexuality.
It is one thing to discuss the possible role of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity; it is another to condemn someone else if they don't agree with me. I must acknowledge that the Bible does not specifically state that the Holy Spirit is the second Person of the Trinity, a Companion to the Father or a second Parent to the Son of God. My views on the matter are prompted by a discovery of my past union with Adam, and a similar union between myself and Christ. I am dogmatic in my belief that all mankind was one with Adam in a 'Trinitarian union'; each of us dwelling consciously within him and committing the same act of rebellion in Eden that he did.
I am also dogmatic in my belief that we experience a two-stage existence, being begotten of our father, Adam, physically after having first existed within him as souls. I believe that this two-stage existence is also 'Trinitarian'; patterned after a similar two-stage relationship within the Trinity.
Whether or not Eve's creation from Adam's side, and Adam's subsequent begetting of children through her also reflects Parent/Child roles within the Trinity remains to be seen. Personally I believe that it does, and that God's church will be stronger for having considered this possibility, regardless of the ultimate conclusions that each one of us may reach.
One of my concerns is that if people perceive God as being 'sexual', they will enter into sexual relationships more casually. This may be one of the reasons why the Bible is silent about the role of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity. Bible teaching, in both the Old Testament and the New, is very strong in its warning against sexual sin. If our sexuality truly is a divinely inspired thing, patterned after the Trinity, then we must approach it with the utmost reverence. The Bible very clearly condemns marital infidelity, and defines fornication as sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and woman. When the Spirit of God is ruling in a person's life, the fruit of self-control will be evident in their approach to this sacred relationship.
Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously. Yet she is your companion, and the wife of your covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And wherefore one? That He might seek godly children. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the Lord, the God of Israel, says that He hates divorce: "For it covers one's garment with violence" says the Lord of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you deal not treacherously.
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God. That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter, because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despises, despises not man, but God, who has also given unto us His Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled, but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.