That the New Testament teaches a trinity in the Godhead is made obvious in Eph.4:4-6. "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Also in Mat.28:19: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." And in 1 Pet.1:2: "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." Jude 20, 21: "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." But the most indubitable text upon this subject is 1 John 5:7: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." Christ is the Word. John 1:1.
God The Father.
Father is a title conferred upon the first person in the trinity. He is the Creator of all things. Much has been written in scholastic theology of God, but such is incongruous to this work. Since most men believe in the existence of God, the Creator and Father, our Scriptural quotations relating to him will be but few.
He is love.1 John 4:8. It was God the Father that so loved this world as to give his only begotten Son to die for us that we might live. John 3:16.
He is eternal. "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Deut.33:27.
He is omnipotent. "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him. I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect."
He is omniscient. "O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I can not attain unto it." Psa.139:1-6. "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." Acts 15:18.
He is omnipresent. "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell [Hades], behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea: even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." Psa.139:7-10. "Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord." Jer.23:23, 24.
He is immutable. "For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." Mal.3:6.
He is the source of all goodness. "And he said unto him. Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God." He dwells within the hearts of his saints: "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." 2 Cor.6:16.
He is capable of being grieved. "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Eph.4:30. An influence can not be grieved. It is only a person that has feeling and affections.
God in olden time spoke audibly to his people. Such an order of things ended when Jesus came. His mission in that respect was accomplished. He came in the flesh as the Son, and conquering sin and the grave through death and resurrection, he ascended to the Father. His mission as a sacrifice was completed. He now comes in the Spirit. Christ in speaking of the Holy Spirit's coming, says, "I will come to you." John 14:18. Thus the Spirit is Christ or God in another personage. It is the Holy Spirit that now talks to men. He teaches, interprets, guides, comforts and reproves. The children of God once knew God by his audible voice. They know him now by the voice of the Holy Spirit. You show me a man that denies the Holy Spirit, and I will show you a man that does not know God. The terms Holy Ghost and God are used interchangeably. See Acts 5:3, 4. The attributes of Deity are ascribed unto him as well as unto the Father and the Son.
He is eternal. "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?" Heb.9:14. He is omnipresent. "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit?" Psa.139:7. He is omniscient. "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." 1 Cor.2:10. He is omnipotent. "Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God." Rom.15:19.
"And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee." Luke 1:35. "For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." Mat.1:20. By this we understand the Holy Spirit to have the power of creation.
Some have erroneously taught that the Holy Spirit is the Word. How can they do so when the second person in the trinity declares he is the Word? John 1:1. "For there are three that bare record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost." 1 John 5:7. Is not this plain enough to stop the mouths of all such false teachers?
The office of the Holy Spirit. He is everywhere termed the Holy Spirit. It is true. Christ is holy, and God is holy, but this term is especially applied to the Spirit, because his particular mission is to restore mankind to holiness. Holiness and sanctification, so far as they apply to a state, are synonymous terms. The Holy Spirit is the sanctifier. Rom.15:16. This is the especial mission and prime work of the Holy Spirit. Much is involved in the work of sanctification. In this is the destruction of carnality and division, and consequently the unifying of the children of God. The Holy Spirit is the agency in answering the prayer of the Savior: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word: that they all may be one." John 17:20, 21. Sanctification is the work which effects this oneness. "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren." Heb.2:11. Holiness and unity accomplished by the Holy Spirit are the two most sublime themes in the New Testament. Nothing accomplished in the mission of the Holy Spirit is more glorifying to God.
God The Son.
Jesus Christ, the second person in the trinity, is also called God. "And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God." John 20:28. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God." John 1:1. He is God revealed in the flesh on a mission of love and mercy to this world. He came as a Redeemer or Savior. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream before the nativity of the holy child and gave him the name Jesus or Savior (see margin of Mat.1:21), because he should save his people from their sins. He was both God and man. Born of a woman, he was human. Conceived by the Holy Spirit, he was divine. As God, he was not subject to temptation, "for God can not be tempted;" but as a man he endured all the temptations common to mankind. In the beginning of his ministry he was forty days tempted of the devil.
He is one with God the Father. "I and my Father are one." John 10:30. Because of his divinity he is eternal. "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending." Rev.1:8. He is omnipotent. "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." He is able to subdue all things unto himself. Phil.3:21. "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Mat.28:18. He is omnipresent. "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Mat.18:20. "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Mat.28:20. He is omniscient. "He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee." John 21:17. "Now we are sure that thou knowest all things." John 16:30. He is immutable. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever." Heb.13:8.
His mission to this world was to be offered as a sacrifice for the sins of this world. "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." Heb.9:28. God prepared a body for his Son which he could bring as a sacrifice for the sins of many. "But a body hast thou prepared me." Heb.10:5. Truly, "without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." 1 Tim.3:16. The writers of the Gospels record the event of his crucifixion. On the cross he cried, "It is finished." His mission was completed, the sacrifice was made, the blood was shed. The blood has a great atoning power, the devastation caused by sin is covered by the blood. It destroys the works of the devil.
Provision was made by the atoning blood for sickness as well as for sin. "When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." Mat.8:16, 17. God manifested in the flesh is a perfect Redeemer, the conqueror of sin, sickness and death, the destroyer of Satan's works, and the light of the world.
God The Holy Ghost.
That the Holy Spirit is a personage many question. But the doubts and denials of a nation, or of a world, do not change the Word of God. He is the third person in the trinity without controversy. The Holy Spirit is not a mere emanation or influence, but a person or being, capable of works, or the performance of a mission. As a person he guides: "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth." John 16:13. He as a person teaches: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." John 14:26.
This teacher and guide is not a mere influence, such as love. The Scriptures in speaking of the Holy Spirit use the personal pronoun. The Holy Spirit as the third person in the trinity is the special gift of God unto his children: "And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you." Luke 24:49. God gave this promise by the mouth of his prophet Joel, "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." Joel 2:28. This promise was the gift of the Holy Spirit. See Acts 2:17, 18, 38.
Upon whom this gift is bestowed is a subject of more controversy perhaps than any other Bible theme. There need be no confusion upon this point if all would take the plain statements and examples in the New Testament. Jesus declares the world can not receive the Spirit, John 14:17. The disciples enjoyed the experience of regeneration all through the Lord's ministry. Some will take issue with us here, but we have the whole of the Word on our side, or rather we are on the side of the Word of God. They preached, they east out devils, they healed the sick, they rejoiced, they prayed, the Lord administered unto them the newly instituted ordinance of the Lord's Supper, and originated the precious ordinance of feet-washing. He told them their names were written in heaven. He said he had chosen them out of the world, and that they were not of the world, even as he was not of the world. He prayed God to keep them from the evils of the world, and said that the glory the Father gave him he had given them, and that he had kept them in his Father's name, and none of them was lost. What more proof do you require to convince you that they were not sinners? Some who endeavor to overthrow the doctrine of receiving the Holy Spirit as the sanctifier subsequent to regeneration, say that "the justification of the disciples was an Old Testament justification, and not a justification under the gospel, and Pentecost was the receiving of the New Testament justification." Did you ever hear of a justification under the law spoken of as the experience of the disciples was spoken of by the Savior? They were not like the other Jews that kept the law. They were separated from them and persecuted by them. Jesus said, "Ye have followed me in the regeneration." Mat.19:28. It was not a justification under the law, but a regeneration in Christ.
In John, seventeenth chapter, after telling the Father that he had chosen them out of the world and kept them in his name, that none of them should be lost, he then prays for their sanctification. After saying in the sixteenth verse, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world," in the next verse he prays the Father to sanctify them. In Mat.9:2, Jesus says to the man sick of the palsy, "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee." Was not this a gospel justification or pardon? There was no offering of the blood of animals to secure a justification by the law. This is to prove that Christ did give his followers the experience of the "new birth" before his crucifixion. I do not doubt that this man was present and received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Another clear example set before us of the Christians in the morning of this gospel day receiving the Holy Spirit as the third person in the trinity after regeneration, is that of the brethren at Samaria, recorded in Acts, eighth chapter. Philip went down thither and preached Christ unto them, and they gave heed to the things he spake, ver.5, 6. Do you not think this was a New Testament justification? The seventh verse says that unclean spirits were cast out and the palsied and lame were healed. Do you suppose that all this was done unto sinners? The fourteenth verse says they "received the word." James says, "Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." Jas.1:21. The sixteenth verse of the eighth chapter of Acts says they were baptized in the name of Jesus. The seventeenth verse speaks of their reception of the Holy Spirit. Some are at this point ready to say that Simon believed Philip's preaching and was baptized, and yet not saved. This is very true. He was a hypocrite. The remainder were not, you know full well. Because they were sincere they received an experience, and were made fit subjects to receive the Holy Spirit. Because he was not saved he could not receive him.
A similar instance of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the previously regenerated is that of Cornelius, recorded in the tenth chapter of Acts. We are often told that Cornelius was a devout man under the law like Moses, Isaiah, and other Old Testament prophets. This is only a supposition, and one without foundation. Cornelius was not a keeper of the law. He was a Gentile, a Roman centurion. He had heard of Jesus, ver.36, 37. He had learned enough to believe on him for the salvation from sin, but wanted to be taught the way of God more perfectly. Under Peter's preaching they received the Holy Spirit. In the nineteenth chapter of Acts is preserved the experience of twelve men at Ephesus. They were disciples. The Jews under the law were never called disciples. A disciple is a follower or learner of Christ. Paul preached to them and laid hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
This is the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. As holy men were once led and spoken to by God directly, holy men are now led and spoken to by the Holy Spirit. The man who rejects the power, work and light of the Holy Spirit is like a blind man who does not believe the existence of a sun because he never saw the light. The Holy Spirit calls to the ministry. Acts 13:1-4. He leads them and directs them where to preach or labor. Acts 8:26, 29; 16:6, 7. He created the overseers. Acts 20:28. Men spake as moved by the Holy Spirit. They spake as the Spirit gave them utterance. God sets all the members in the body as pleases him.1 Cor.12:18. He does this through the agency of the Holy Spirit.1 Cor.12:13. Apostles and prophets and teachers and gifts of healing and miracles and tongues are all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The whole work of God is now carried on by the Holy Spirit, the third person in the trinity.