Chapter 4: The Trinity
SEMUON Ki-Dong Kim
God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These three Persons abide together as One God from everlasting to everlasting. The Father is the Essence of the eternal God. He is the eternal One who existed before all creation. When someone asks, “Who is God?”, we should reply by saying, “God is the eternal One.” The Son is the Word who was with God. He is the Form of God. The Holy Spirit is the Advocate who gives His testimony. He is the Spirit of God.
People often mention the Trinity in this order: ‘the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.’ Many people think there is a hierarchy in the Trinity. There is no hierarchy with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen’ (2 Corinthians 13:14). The Son can be mentioned before the Father. Merely mentioning ‘the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’ does not imply a hierarchy. It is simply mentioning the three Persons of God.
Why do we need to know about the Trinity? We need to know about the Trinity because we need to know Jesus. To know Jesus, we must strengthen our most basic understanding of Him. Let us say we are working on something really important. If we start off on the wrong foot, the problem will not be seen – even halfway through. But when we come to the end of what we are doing, the underlying problem will come up to the surface. In the same way, if we lay the foundation of knowledge the wrong way at the beginning, it will be difficult to acquire complete knowledge of Jesus, though we may have learned for so many years.
Jesus said to His disciples before ascending to heaven, ‘Go and make disciples of all the nations’ (Matthew 28:19). If we are disciples of Jesus, other disciples must come from us. What kind of disciples should come from us? From a math teacher comes a student of math. From an English teacher comes a student of English. What kind of disciples should come from us? When we give our testimony, we must testify to no one except God. This is why we must first know God. Once we know God, we can make others know about Him, and make them into disciples who believe.
Go and make disciples
of all the nations
A farmer expects fruits when he cultivates a tree. If his tree cannot bear fruit, the tree will not only disappoint the farmer, but it will become a disadvantage to him. In the same way, those disciples who cannot make other disciples are actually disobeying and disappointing God. Each of us must make disciples. In order to make disciples, we must know God carefully.
When someone asks us about the faith we have, we should be ready to answer them. If we are not able to answer them, we will not be able to make disciples. It is imperative that we know the truth. One of my earnest wishes is that I can give clear answers to every difficult problem alleged against the Bible. I eagerly pray and make great efforts for this purpose.
Our faith is not ‘a blind faith’. All superstition springs from the heart of man. This is the faith of natural religion. In natural religion, man seeks after the gods of this world. He seeks them by his own efforts, devotion and mortification. Our faith is different from this. We know God – not because we make efforts to find Him – but because God reveals Himself to us.
Serving in your church for many years does not mean you know Jesus better. If you start off on the wrong foot, you will not have complete faith – even if you serve in your church for many years. No one in this world has seen God (John 1:18). A baby in the womb cannot see his mother. Likewise, man cannot see God with his eyes, hear Him with his ears, or touch Him with his hands. God is greater than all creation. Many people misunderstand God as a conceptual being and not an actual person. This is not just a problem among unbelievers. Some Christians believe ‘their heart is God’. God is clearly a Personal Being.
No one has ever seen God,
but the one and only Son,
who is himself God and is in closest relationship
with the Father,
has made him known
God has intellect. There is nothing He does not know. God has emotions. He feels happiness, sadness, and anger. And God has a will. He can determine and judge all things. In this way, God is a Person, though He is invisible to human sight. God enables man to know Him through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit goes out from God. Especially in Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit did not abide inside man. You can liken this to the way a hen sits on an egg. The Holy Spirit enabled the ability to know God sprout in man by inspiring him. This was done by man receiving the testimony about God through the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God is He who goes out from God.
How does man receives God’s testimony? God is a Person. Because He is a Person, He testifies about Himself and puts this testimony in man’s person. To explain it another way, God reveals the knowledge about Himself in man’s intellect, reveals His emotions in man’s emotions, and reveals His will in man’s will. Man is born with the ability and prerequisite to know God because he was created and modelled on God’s Person. Chickens, for example, are not persons. They are merely moving organisms. No matter how much you teach animals about God, they cannot know God. No matter how much you preach to animals about God’s love, they cannot receive His love. No matter how much you preach to animals about ‘the Picture of God’s Will’, they can never participate in His Will. But man is a person. Since he is a person, he can receive God’s truth, receive His love, and understand and obey His will.
Copper wire can be charged with electricity, but not glass. Regardless of how strong a current you put to a piece of glass, electricity cannot flow through it. In the same way, no matter how powerfully the Holy Spirit works on an animal, that animal can never know God. Man is a person and this is why he can know God’s Person.
In a film theatre, light comes out from a film projector, penetrates the darkness, and shines on the screen the projector is directed at. The images of the film cannot be seen in the air located between the projector and the screen. But that does not mean the light is not there! The image the light is trying to show can only be seen when it comes out from the projector and hits the screen. Animals do not have a ‘screen’ to know God’s Person. Man is a person and this is why he is able to accept the testimony given by the Holy Spirit. This is also why man alone can know God’s truth, accept His love, and follow His will when inspired by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit goes out from God and inspires man’s person so that he can know God. We must recognize the testimony given by the Holy Spirit and accept His inspiration with enthusiasm. Heat is invisible to the eye, but we can feel whether the air is hot or cold when it touches our skin. In a similar way, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is invisible to human sight, but definitely present. Human beings are nothing more than dust, but they have received the testimony about God through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This is the testimony concerning God, who is greater than all creation. The light of a film projector magnifies the images in a small film reel and projects them onto a big screen. But the inspiration of the Holy Spirit minifies God, who is greater than all creation. The Holy Spirit reveals Him by giving His testimony to man’s person, who is little more than dust.
Those who know God and receive the Holy Spirit’s testimony are led to believe in Jesus. Believing in Jesus leads us to believe in God. To describe it another way, those who receive the Holy Spirit’s testimony are those who know God, and those who believe in Jesus are those who believe in God.
We can live only if we believe in God (Exodus 20:3). But someone will ask, “Why must we believe in Jesus?” If we do not believe in Jesus, we do not believe in God. God is greater than all creation, so He cannot be seen by anyone. Jesus is the Form of God and the Being of God. This is why you must believe in Jesus if you want to believe in God. The Holy Spirit enables us to know God through the testimony He gives. But Jesus shows God by His obedience to the Father so that we can believe in Him. Jesus said, “Believe Me for the sake of the works themselves” (John 14:11). If someone says, “I believe in God, but I do not believe in Jesus,” that person does not believe in God.
Jesus is the Form of God. He is also the Word. If we put it another way, Jesus is the Form of God because He is the Word. A child recognizes his mother because of his mother’s flesh. If his mother’s flesh disappears and the child is asked, “Where is your mother?”, the child will answer, “I have no mother.” People exist in this world because of their flesh. In the same way, the Word – who is also the Form of God – abides with God. If the Word did not abide with God, God could not do anything (John 1:3).
Through him all things were made;
without him nothing was made that
has been made
There is life in the Word (John 1:4). Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (John 6:48-51). Food provides nutrition to those who eat it. When people eat their breakfast, they gain the nutrition they need to consume for several hours until it is time for their lunch. When they eat their lunch, they get the nutrition they need until it is time for their dinner. And when they eat their dinner, they get the nutrition they need for breakfast the next morning. Yet no matter how much food we eat in a single meal, we will not get the nutrients we need to sustain us for a life time. Food can only supply energy to sustain us for a very short period.
In him was life,
and that life was the light
of all mankind
The word of God is different from food. If food could save someone who is about to die, nobody in this world would die. If it were possible to save someone from dying using food, would we not forcibly put food into the mouth of every sick person? Food only provides nutrients to sustain the activity of the body. It can never give life. The Word is life. What we call ‘life’ is not a nutrient. Life makes a person live from everlasting to everlasting. Nutrition only sustains for several hours the activity of the body. It does not provide us with life. But the Word is the Form of the life of God. He is living from everlasting to everlasting.
If God did not have the Word, it is like saying God not having life. God is the God of life because the Word is with God. The Word is Jesus Christ. He is the Form of God. When we say, ‘we are in Jesus Christ’, it means we are in the life of God. God is living from everlasting to everlasting. When we dwell in this life, we can live eternally like God.
People in this world use their great wealth to buy food helpful for their health. Some of them may say to their Christian friends, “Hi guys! Forget about going to church! Let’s go and get something good to eat! I’ve got lots of money. I’ll buy anything you want. Will they give you money if you go church? Will they put food on the table? Forget about all that and come with me!” We must understand no matter how much we eat today, we need to eat the same tomorrow. There is no life in food. What we really need is the Being of the life of God. He is living from everlasting to everlasting. If He abides in us, we will live forever like Him. The Word is with God. The Word is not food which provides nutrients to our bodies. The Word is the life who enables us to live forever.
God the Father is greater than all creation. No one has ever seen Him. Yet having received the testimony of the Holy Spirit, we believe in Jesus. Now we are those who believe in God. The Word is with God. The Word is not a word or teaching coming from the mouth of man. There is no life in the words of man. We must be united with the Being of the life of God. He lives forever. If we receive baptism by immersion, we can be united with the Being of the life of God.