God the Son


This third sermon on the Trinity is going to focus on the Second Person of the Trinity, the Eternal Son. Next week, Lord willing, we will look at the Holy Spirit, and then Lord willing, I will have another sermon that kind of pulls together some applications that we have not been able to cover on the Trinitarian relationships. For example, there is a good reason why Unitarianism almost inevitably leads to totalitarianism. We'll have to see how much progress we make.

But I do want to quickly review where we have been so far. We have seen that God is One God. True Christianity is monotheistic.

Secondly, we have seen that God is three Persons. True Christianity has rejected modalism which insists that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the same Person but that He is manifested in different forms and at different times. And we looked at a number of Scriptures which make that absolutely impossible. Instead, we believe that there is one God who is three Persons.

Third, we have seen that each Person is not simply a part of God. In other words, the Father is not one third of God. He is fully God. The Son is not one third of God. He is fully God.

Fourth, we saw that if Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equal in power, glory, and in all the divine attributes, that means that the differences between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit cannot relate to their divine nature. They are all equally and fully God. That's what they have in common; that is not what differentiates them. The divine attributes of omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, aseity or any other divine attribute that you can think of are common to the three Persons. The Holy Spirit is just as omnipotent as the Son and the Father. There is no subordination of nature.

Fifth, we saw that this means that the differences between Father, Son and Holy Spirit are simply differences of role and relationship. The Father is not the Son and He is not the Spirit. He has roles and relationships that are unique to the Father role. And we looked at huge implications of this for our relationships.

Sixth, we saw that though there is no subordination of divine nature (in other words, they are fully God, and equally God), there is subordination (or submission) of role or relationship. And this corrects the faulty notion that many modern Americans have that if you are not equal in role and relationship that you are somehow inferior in being. That is an attack against the Trinity, and these modern egalitarians have in fact felt forced to completely change the doctrine of the Trinity. And that brings us up to last week when we began to look at how the Father is different from the Son and Spirit.

And there is no way that we can review last week's sermon, so I'm not even going to try. But we saw that God's fatherhood needs to be the pattern for our fatherhood. His care the pattern for our care; His authority the pattern for ours; etc., etc.

The Father is the Head of Christ

Today, I want to look at these relationships from the perspective of the Son; the first Person under authority. And we might as well start with the authority relationship because I think this highlights rather than diminishes the love of Father to Son and of Son to Father. 1 Corinthians 11:3 says, But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

Christ has a head just as the woman in a marriage has a head. And what's beautiful about this analogy is that it compares one loving, devoted and joyful relationship (that of Father to Son) to another loving, devoted and joyful relationship (that of husband to wife, and of wife to husband). And in doing so, it immediately corrects erroneous notions of what it means to be under authority. To be under authority does not mean to be unloved. It does not mean to have no authority yourself. It does not mean insignificance. It does not mean inferiority. Quite the opposite. Scripture links those things together in a remarkable way.

Rabbit Trail: The Theory of some Early Church Fathers

But I do want to make a rabbit trail that may help you to process through a question that at least some of you have been thinking about. Here's the question: if the Father is a model of human fatherhood, and the Son is a model of human sonship, what is the model for the wife? After all, doesn't Genesis 1:27 say that both male and female are in the image of God? Genesis 1:27 says, So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

There were a number of early church fathers like Jerome and Origen and Methodius who said that the Holy Spirit, though not in any way to be confused with a female (any more than God the Father should be thought of as a male), and while insisting that God the Father did not have a wife, still insisted that Eve was the faint image of the Spirit. The early Nazarenes said the same thing. Here's what Methodius said:

[T]he innocent and unbegotten Adam being the type and resemblance of God the Father Almighty, who is uncaused, and the cause of all; his begotten son [Seth] shadowing forth the image of the begotten Son and Word of God; whilst Eve, that proceedeth forth from Adam [in other words, the rib was taken from Adam just as the Spirit proceeds from the Son. So he says,] whilst Eve, that proceedeth forth from Adam, signifies the person and procession of the Holy Spirit.

I have to admit that there is a certain neatness to this analogy, and while I think it is pushing the Scriptures perhaps a little further than they go, at least some of the comparisons may be correct. Let's draw out Methodius' parallel: Just as God the Father never submits to Son or Spirit, Scripture indicates that it is always inappropriate for a human father to submit to wife or children. Secondly, both sons and wives find themselves at seasons of life under authority as well as in authority, and this imitates the relationships of Son and Holy Spirit. For example, just as a child is under a mother's authority until He get's married (at which time he leaves his father and their mother and is joined to his wife), during Christ's earthly life, Jesus was under the authority of the Holy Spirit.

Interestingly, Jesus recognizes that this was not true before the incarnation nor after His ascension. But it was true during His earthly life. His conception was by the Spirit. He grew under the influence of the Spirit. He was empowered by the Spirit, led of the Spirit, and in Mark 1:12 it uses very strong language saying, the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. It could perhaps be claimed that this is analogous to a son who is under a mother's authority while growing up. And just as the glorified Jesus is no longer under the authority of the Spirit, a married son is no longer under the authority of the mother. The analogy does break down a little bit at that point because this is comparing the Spirit's work in two generations, but it is after all just an analogy.

Pushing the analogy further to explain how it is that the glorified Son has authority over the Spirit, and sends the Spirit, here is the explanation: When a mother loses her husband, she often comes under the protection and authority of the firstborn and his family. As a man, Jesus modeled this by taking care of His mother, and at the cross, Jesus even puts His mother under the care of the apostle John. In a similar way, after the glorification of Jesus, the Son now has authority over the Spirit while honoring the Spirit fully. But the Son is no longer under the Spirit's control after the ascension. Jerome strengthens this analogy by saying that Spirit in the Hebrew Old Testament is in the feminine form, but he denies that the Spirit is a female. Origin called the Spirit the mother of Jesus. Others point out that the Spirit creates. The Spirit brooded over the waters of creation like a mother hen. Jesus said we must be born of the Spirit.

What are we to think of all that? I'm inclined to believe that there may be some truth to what these early church fathers were saying, especially if you restrict it to Adam and Eve and Seth as one generation. I think there are some legitimate analogies beyond that. But let me give you four cautions.

First, if God had wanted to say that motherhood was an essential characteristic of the Trinity, He could have called the Holy Spirit "Mother", but He does not. In fact, many of the descriptions of the Spirit use military language that is utterly inappropriate to the symbol. Analogies, yes. Literal motherhood, no. He is nowhere called mother. In fact, in John 14-16 (even though the word "spirit" is a neuter noun in the Greek), Jesus uses a masculine article in front of it over and over again. Since that is not normal Greek, Christ was making a point by using masculine articles for the Spirit. I'll have more to say about the times when feminine articles are used in a minute. I think there is a point to it.

Second, every human relationship can be explained entirely without resorting to that analogy. Notice in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that it is the Son's submission to the Father that Paul uses to teach the wife's submission to her husband. And so the Son is not only a model for husbands, since Christ is the husband of the church, but Christ is also a model for wives, since He was in submission to the Father. It's the role, not the sexuality that is key. In fact, some people, in their different relationships to people and jobs, are analogous to Spirit, Son and Father all at the same time. So it is the relationships that are being modeled, not the sexuality.

Third, Paul could have chosen the Spirit here and elsewhere to illustrate the wife's submission, but He did not. And I think part of the reason is that the Trinity is a pattern for all social relationships, not just that of a family. And so most modern orthodox theologians believe that inserting female sexuality into the Trinity adds to Scripture and is both unnecessary and potentially confusing when it comes to other social relationships.

And then fourth, when the New Testament generally uses neuter for the Holy Spirit and when the Old Testament uses feminine, it no more implies that the Holy Spirit has asexuality (New Testament) or feminine sexuality (Old Testament) than the uses of masculine terminology show that God is a male. Male language is simply analogy. God is not a male and He does not have a wife. The masculine language is used to convey concepts of authority, and so that may have been the reason why a feminine term was used for the Spirit in the Old Testament and a neuter term in the New and a masculine term in some places of the New Testament. So, while certain aspects of the analogy may be true, it is important that we not press them too far. But at the same time, they could be helpful as illustrations. Just don't be calling the Holy Spirit a "she." Jesus seems to go out of His way to say opposite in John 14-16. I thought that I better go through this rabbit trail because I know that some of you are processing these ideas and it's important to know the parameters.

Some of you who have read a lot, like Travis, have come across another theory by Karl Barth that is quite distinct. He says that the image of God is male and female in terms of marriage. Meredith Kline wrote a devastating critique of Barth in the book, Images of the Spirit. One of the main problems with Barth's unique view is that a woman by herself or a man by himself is not the image of God; only the marriage is. Yet Scripture clearly says that singles are the image of God. I won't go into that today. But if I was a woman, I would find it just as comforting to know that females image Jesus just as much as men image Jesus. Every person images all three Persons at some point in their lives and in some circumstance.

Is being under authority compatible with love and joy?

But let's just quickly examine some of the Scriptures that show the Son's relationship to the Father and Spirit. And I will try to pick verses we haven't covered in previous lessons. John 15:9-11 complete destroys the argument that for any person to be under the authority of another is to destroy the love relationship and to destroy the joy that is in that relationship. On the contrary, Christ says:

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9-11)

This passage shows us that the highest love that it is possible to have – the love of God the Father for God the Son – is totally compatible with the Son's being under the authority of the Father and obeying the Father's commandments.

Secondly, it shows that not only that it is compatible, but that this is the very definition of their love. It is only in the keeping of the Father's commandments that Jesus shows His love. Let me read you a verse from the previous chapter that expresses this even more strongly. John 14:31 says, I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. (ESV).

How can people tell that you love your authority (or your head)? Certainly there may be other ways, such as hugs and words. But Jesus says that the way the world could tell that Jesus loved the Father was to obey the Father. This is so backwards to modern thinking. The word obey has been taken out of marriage vows. The word "obey" is taken out of teacher child relationships and schools have become child centered institutions. Parents try to be buddies with their children in the way in which they talk and act by reducing themselves to equals in decision making because they want their children to love them. But the very opposite has happened. Sure the kids had fun growing up, but over time the parents grieve that their children not only fail to honor them in their old age, but treat them even as less than equals.

This passage says that the Father shows His love to the Son by giving commandments, and the Son shows His love to Father by obeying the commandments. That seems so counterintuitive to our minds which have been formed and molded by our modern society, but God says that this is the way He is and this is the way He has made His world. And if you want to foster and develop loving relationships, you need to return to the old paths of authority, honor, respect and obedience.

But the passage goes even further. Such an authority relationship as the Father has to the Son is not only compatible with love; it is compatible with joy. Let me read the passage again. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

This relationship of authority and obedience is not only compatible with joy, Jesus says that it is precisely the pathway in which the greatest joy possible is achieved. And He speaks not only of His joy, but of our joy. We tend to dismiss the incredible relationships within the Godhead as being unachievable for us because He was perfect, we are not. But even though it is granted that we will never be perfect, He wants us to follow His example. That is the only way in which full joy can be achieved. Satan is the great deceiver. He promises joy in disobedience. God promises fullness of joy in holiness in 1 John, but Satan promises it in sin. Satan tries to steer people who are hungry for love into egalitarianism, and it always backfires. To overthrow God's authority structures is the surest way to end up with a loveless, joyless burned out life. This is a remarkable passage which should be memorized by every Christian, because it stands as the remedy for broken marriages, bitter children and joyless service.

But let's ask the question, "How radical was Christ's obedience and submission?" And the answer is that it was total. In fact, as one author said, it was almost unbelievable. In John 5:30 Jesus said, I can of Myself do nothing. Wow! Jesus said, I do nothing on my own authority… I always do the things that are pleasing to him. (John 8:28-29).

So let me ask you children a question: Do you imitate Christ by always seeking to please your parents? Not just obey them, but seeking to please them. For Jesus, grudging obedience was not enough. Rather, He made it His goal to always do the things that pleased His Father. And I can imagine the objections that immediately come into your heads. You're probably thinking, "My dad is a sinner who asks me to do things that aren't fun to do. Jesus had a perfect Father who only asked Jesus to do reasonable things. My parents have such unreasonable expectations." And I admit, that God the Father is perfect, never sins, is not a hypocrite. But don't think that it was any easier for Jesus to obey His Father than it is for you to obey your sinful fathers. In fact, I doubt that any request your parents have made of you is anywhere near as difficult or challenging as the commandments that the heavenly Father made of Jesus. In fact, they were so challenging that Jesus sweated great drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemene and pleaded with the Father.

Think of the poverty Jesus was born into. Think of the insults he received. Because Mary was very obviously pregnant before Joseph married her, Jesus was ridiculed with words like these: "Where is Your Father?" (John 8:19), which was a Hebrew idiom exactly like they used in Ethiopia where I grew up meaning, "You bastard." Or "You don't have a father." Later in the same chapter they say, "We were not born of fornication", implying that He was. His whole life was a life of humiliation. Acts 8:33 speaks of, His humiliation*.* Philippians 2:8 says, 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. That was the worst death you could die. There isn't any father in this church that is as unreasonable in his commandments as that. Of that death, Jesus said, This command I have received from My Father. (John 10:18).

Now what is so odd about that statement is that it is said in connection with the Father's love for the Son. And this has puzzled people. Let me read you the whole context:

As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father. (John 10:15-18)

The question that might pop into your heads is, "But is it really love to send the Son to die? We all know that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, but what kind of love would allow Your beloved Son to have to face death and your own wrath in order to save the world? Doesn't this mar the Father's love for the Son? And the answer amazingly is that it shows incredibly sacrificial love. The goal of the Father was to honor the Son with an awesome mission. "I'm going to honor You with a mission that will show forth your glory in a way that nothing else can do" was in effect what the Father was saying to the Son. The Father wanted to honor the Son by giving to Him a people.

And when you look at the church you might wonder whether it was worth it, but it was. It was an honor for the Son to receive you as a gift from the Father. The Father was letting the Son ask of Him and he would give Him the nations as His inheritance. It was an honor that the Son desired to take on, and it was an honor that the Father desired to give. They were of one mind on this. But it cost them both dearly. It cost the Father dearly to pour out His wrath on what was His dearly beloved in whom He was well pleased. What a tension this must have been within the Father! It cost the Son dearly to endure separation from the Father on the cross and to bear the sins of many. And yet, it was so worth it to the Son, that the Son actually speaks of this privilege of dying as a gracious gift of the Father's love. Jesus is in effect saying, "Thank you for the honor of being able to take on this mission. It shows the Father's love to Me."

The logic that Philippians 2 continues with in the next verse is the incredible honor that the Father showed to Christ because of His death. It says:

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 has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name. (Phil. 2:8-9)

It was seeing the goal of the Father and the motive of the Father that made it all worthwhile. Let me repeat that. It was seeing the goal of the Father and the motive of the Father that made it all worthwhile.

How understanding helped Jesus to have joy

Let's apply that thought. When we call our children to make what seem to them to be unreasonable sacrifices, it can often help them for you to explain to them your goal of maturing them and blessing them or perhaps protecting them from something that they don't yet see, or preparing them for something that they don't yet value. For example, you might explain to them that you are not allowing them to play any long with this friend until he repents because this friend has become such a bad influence upon you, and you want the best for your child; you love your child. Sometimes all it takes is an explanation of the "why" to make what previously seemed like an unreasonable request to now seem like an expression of the father's love. Knowledge is knowing what to do. Wisdom is knowing how to do it. But understanding is knowing why we do it. And the Father gave all three to His Son.

Before Jesus began His three and a half year ministry, the Spirit was poured out upon Him, and here's how Isaiah 11 speaks of this anointing with the Spirit. It says, The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. (Isa. 11:2)

The Spirit gave Jesus knowledge so that He would know what to do. He gave Jesus wisdom to know how to do it. He gave Him understanding so that He would know why He should do it. Kids are constantly asking "Why?" And the "Whys" are sometimes hard to answer, but we do need to try. "Why" can sometimes be simply a question of rebellion, of dragging feet. But often those why's are related to motivation. If you can give the Biblical answer for why, they may be motivated by the joy that is set before them to endure the present trial. So don't ignore that aspect of understanding.

Jesus appealed to the Father with the fear of the Lord (respect)

That verse also says that the Spirit gave Him the fear of the LORD so that He would always do it in a way that respected His position as being one under authority.

I think Christ's appeal to God is a good example of this respect. Jesus prayed, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." (Luke 22:42). Now that is an appeal that no parent would find threatening of disrespectful or rebellious. In fact, what parent would not sense love in such an appeal? Even if the answer was "No" both knew they were loved and appreciated.

But notice a couple other things from this passage. Notice that Jesus didn't have to like doing His job in order to have joy and love for the Father in the doing of it. He didn't have to like doing it to have a sweet disposition of submission. He didn't like this task, and there are many tasks we must do that we don't like. In fact, this is a model for how children can appeal to a decision of a parent. He was submissive in the way in which He appealed. He started with God's will, "If it is Your will" and He ended with "Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done." And yet the Scripture speaks of all of that as being the Son's love for the Father and the Father's love for the Son. I think all of this is a tremendous challenge to our relationships.

How do you children respond to requests that are painful to you? Do you appeal in ways that are gracious and submissive and show a desire to please? If not, you need to repent to God and to your parents. That was the character of all of Christ's life. John 5:30 says, I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

Jesus represented the Father well

So first, Jesus obeyed perfectly. Secondly, He represented His Father perfectly. John 12:49-50 says, For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak… whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak. He said, I honor My Father. (John 8:49). How do you represent the family name? Do you seek to bring honor to it? Do you talk in a way that your father would approve of? That should be our goal.

Jesus depended on the Spirit

Third, think of how the Son depended upon the Spirit. An entire book could be written on this subject, but I will try to be very brief. The first thing that needs to be said is that the Son did not need the Spirit to help Him while He was incarnated and ministering as the God-Man. God the Son could have been doing many things that the Spirit did, but He did not. At the very moment that He was in Mary's womb, He was (as God the Son) still upholding all things by the Word of His power. But God the Son chose for Himself as incarnated Messiah to be a model of how humanity can work. Not only did Jesus submit to the Spirit, but Jesus depended upon the Spirit for everything. We already read a Scripture that indicates that He depended upon the Spirit for knowledge, wisdom, understanding, might and fear. He chose not to use His omniscience while on earth.

Luke 2:52 says And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Well, if He increased in wisdom, then He wasn't using His own omniscience. He was depending upon the Spirit just like we must. This explain why Mark 13:32 says about the Second Coming: But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Arius used that to show that Jesus was not God, because He was not omniscient. But that is to misunderstand.

Christ deliberately limited what knowledge His human consciousness could process, at the very time that Scripture says, But Jesus did not commit Himself to them because HE knew all… His Messianic lack of knowledge did not deny His divine omniscience, for in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col. 2:3). The Son could have relied on His Messianic knowledge while incarnated on earth, but instead, He depended upon the Spirit. Luke 4:1 says, Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days of the devil. After the forty days, Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee (Luke 4:14).

Some people think that the miracles Jesus did proved that He was divine. But they did not. The apostles did the same miracles, and in fact, In John 14:12 Jesus said that as a result of the Spirit coming after He was glorified, the disciples would do greater miracles than He did. They were signs of the Spirit's power upon Him.

One of the first places that Jesus visited after His anointing was a synagogue, where He read from Isaiah 61:1-2 where it prophesied that Messiah would be equipped by the Spirit and empowered for ministry. And in all of these things, Christ (according to 1 Peter 2:21) was leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.

Yet Jesus is over the Spirit after His glorification

Next week I want to look at the relationship of authority that Jesus has over the Spirit, because those have profound ramifications that we won't have time to look at today. But let me briefly say that in glorification, the Son returns to His position of authority over the Spirit. Acts 2:33 says of Jesus, Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. This shows the order of Father, Son and Spirit. The Father sends the Spirit, but He sends Him through Christ, or as Jesus worded it, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name. I'll have more to say about that next week. But I want you to notice something else this week.

There is a clear cut chain of command

Notice that in those two Scriptures you have a clear cut chain of command. You don't have a situation where there is ever more than one person to report to (so to speak – we're talking in analogies here). The buck stops with Father, He delegates to the Son, who in turn delegates to the Spirit.

The Western church creeds say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. That's the famous filioque clause that the Eastern church and the Western church split over simply because of a misunderstanding of what was being said. And I agree with the West that the Spirit proceeds from both, and I agree with the East that there is a difference in both processions. And the West agreed that there is a difference. We don't need to get into all the technical stuff, but suffice it to say that the Spirit does not proceed in the same way from each.

To use a human analogies, it should not be seen as if the Spirit has two bosses who are equal in role. Instead, there is a chain of command from Father, to Son to Holy Spirit. Even when the roles of Spirit and Son are reversed during the incarnation, it was still a clear-cut chain of command from Father to Spirit to Christ.

And that is so important in any social relationship. Those of you who are in jobs where you report to two masters, neither of whom is over the other, you know it is a disaster. If you follow what one guy says, the other guy gets mad at you. It's a no win situation. For a child to be born into an egalitarian home where the buck doesn't stop with either father or mother is a disaster waiting to happen. That child will grow up with no sense of security. Jesus gave the principle that no one can serve two masters (Matt. 6:24).

But we saw last week that when there is a delegation in a clear-cut chain of command, those who have authority delegated to them have the full authority of the one who delegated. Right? John 5:23 says, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

The fact that Jesus is sent, shows that He is under authority. But the fact that Jesus gets exactly the same honor that the Father gets, shows the principle of true delegation. If you delegate responsibility, you need to delegate authority, just as the Father did. John 5:25-27 says, Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority

You see the same situation between Jesus and Spirit. Next week we will be seeing that the Son gives to the Spirit the right to regenerate where He wills. Likewise, 1 Corinthians 12:3 says, no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!' and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord' except in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit would never undermine the Son in the first half of that verse because the Spirit's authority is delegated from the Son and His goal is to honor the Son. But the second half of that verse (to truly and savingly saying that Jesus is Lord) is impossible apart from the Spirit because the Son has truly delegated that responsibility of regeneration to the Spirit and neither Father nor Son will do what is the Spirit's work to do. That would mess up leadership line of command.

In human relationships this means that when I am absent, my wife has the same authority that I do in all areas delegated to her. Disobedience to her is disobedience to me. Dishonor to her is dishonor to me. I give her all the authority need to carry out her tasks. I wouldn't frustrate her by giving her a responsibility, and then failing to back her up when she makes a decision. Can you see that? Even on simple mundane things like this, the Trinity is a model for our behavior.

Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me." (John 8:42)

If you understand these principles of delegation, that should be obvious. IF Jesus is loved by the Father, sent by the Father and represents the Father, then any action or lack of action against Jesus is an action of lack of action against the Father, as He goes on to explain in the rest of the verse: "If God were your Father, you would love Me"

Further Applications

We should show the humility of Jesus

Let me quickly end with a couple more applications that I haven't made from the verses read already. First, all of us should be willing to show the humility of Jesus. Here He was in a position of second in the Godhead, not only being humbled by the incarnation in all that was involved in that, but also being humbled to submit to the Spirit during His life here on earth. He didn't do anything apart from the Spirit's direction. In one sense it shouldn't matter what roles we take (whether of submission or of authority) if our attitudes are humble. Father, Son and Holy Spirit all show humility in their differing roles and relationships. We should have the humility to learn from a subordinate. We should have the humility to admit that we are totally dependent on subordinates.

We should glory in the harmony of the Trinity

Another thing that we can marvel at is how beautifully Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work together. Think of what it would be like for a business to run with the unified goals, the common mission, the support for one another, the willingness to take on tasks that are new (as Jesus did) and to defer to one another. If we sought to honor each other like the Persons of the Trinity did, rather than competing with each other, think of the joy it would bring. Think of how great it would be to have social relationships where every person pulled his weight and all played from the same page. It would look like a symphony.

The word "unity" is not sufficient to describe the relationships of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Instead, I think of the word "harmony." Each has a different part, and it is precisely those differences that make everything so beautiful. This is how the church should imitate the Trinity – not unity by way of cookie-cutter sameness, but reveling in the diversity that God has brought into the church. It is diversity in unity that makes for harmony.

And Christ promised that we can experience the fullness of the symphony right here on earth. For example, John 14:23 says, Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. It's not only the Holy Spirit who indwells us. God makes the richness of His unified yet diverse Trinity to indwell us. And so Ephesians 3 speaks in verse 16 of the Father strengthening us with all might through His Spirit in the inner man, and that Holy Spirit enables Christ to dwell in our hearts (verse 17) so that verse 19 can say, to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Incredible! Incredible! We experience the symphony; the harmony of the Triune God working within us. What an awesome God we serve!

Don’t praise yourself. Imitate the Trinity in praising and serving others.

One last application is this: don't try to draw attention to yourself, praise yourself or give glory to yourself. Let others do that. Your role should be to focus on building others up. There's nothing wrong with praise. It is self-praise that Scripture condemns. Proverbs 27:2 says, Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. But you might think, "But nobody will notice if I don't draw attention to myself." Then glory in the fact that God alone will praise you and that means that you will lay up rewards in heaven.

That's exactly how Jesus worked. He said in John 8:54, If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. And listen brothers and sisters: if you glorify yourself, your glory means nothing. Don't boast. Don't brag.

Self-praise does not imitate the Trinity. No Person of the Trinity is self-focused. Instead, we see that though all things are in the Father's hands, He shares those things with the Son, who in turn shares them with the Spirit. Though all honor and glory and praise rightly goes to the Father, as the Supreme Person of the Trinity, the Father is focused on giving praise to the Son, honoring the Son above all things, and giving glory to the Son. The Son in turn honors the Spirit to such a degree that He says:

Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matt. 12:32)

He was jealous for the Holy Spirit's honor. And the Spirit in turn honors and glorifies both Son and Father. Be other focused. Develop servants hearts, and you will be like your Lord. Amen.

God the Son is part of the The Trinity series published on February 27, 2005

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