October 10 - 16
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; 6:9; John 1:14,18; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Tim. 3:16.
MEMORY TEXT: "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 'For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?"' (Rom. 11:33-36, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: One of the mysteries of God's being and nature is that the Godhead consists of three divine Beings, unified in purpose and action but distinct in personality.
THE NATURE OF GOD IS A MYSTERY. We approach the subject with reverence and with a recognition that in matters not revealed we have no right to speculate.
The oneness of God was declared in the days of Moses"The Lord our God is one Lord" (Deut. 6:4, KJV). Jesus quoted this and said it was the first commandment of all. (See Mark 12:29.) The Christian faith is, therefore, monotheistic. Yet Jesus told His disciples to baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. 28:19). This indicates there are three Persons in One. Jesus taught His disciples to address God as "our Father" (Matt. 6:9). He Himself addressed God as His Father (John 11:41). At His baptism, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended upon Him. (See Matt. 3:16.) A voice from heaven spoke and said, "This is my beloved Son" (verse 17). These texts and others lead us to believe that our wonderful God is three Persons in one, a mind-boggling mystery but a truth we accept by faith because Scripture reveals it.
What do we learn about the nature of God in Deuteronomy 6:4?
Down through history, people have worshiped many gods. But there is only one Supreme Deity.
"In striking contrast to the nations about them, who were polytheists, the Hebrews believed in one true God. This profession of faith has been the watchword of the Hebrew race for more than 3,000 years (see Mark 12:29). The apostle Paul states the same truth as a tenet of Christianity (1 Cor. 8:4-6; Eph. 4:4-6)."SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 974.
How does Isaiah 43 characterize the true God? Contemplate how this is helpful to you. Fill in the blanks of each verse below. (If you are using a version other than the NIV, you still should be able to complete this exercise successfully.)
Verse 1: "But now, this is what the Lord sayshe who ________ you, O Jacob, he who _________ you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have ________ you; I have called you by name; you are mine'" (NIV).
Verses 11, 12: "'I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no ________. I have ________ and ________ and . . . .'" (NIV).
Verse 15: "'I am the LORD, your ________ One, Israel's ________ your ________.'" (NIV).
Nature also speaks to us of God. (See Ps. 19:1.) It tells us there is a God who brought it into being, because it did not create itself. It also tells us about the greatness of God, because only the true God could have brought into being the vast universe with its galaxy of stars. Only the true God could have designed all the aspects of nature with its infinite detail and microscopic structure. There can be nothing better for us than to look beyond nature to the true God and worship Him who made the stars, the world, and everything in it.
|Sin has affected nature to the point where it can even harm us (tornadoes, hurricanes, monsoons, floods, etc.). Yet there is still much about nature that speaks to us of God. What aspect of nature do you find particularly helpful in this respect, and why? Be prepared to share your testimony with your class members.|
Read Matthew 28:19. In this baptismal formula, it is notable that the word name is in the singular, but it is followed by the three names, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The word persons used in the title of today's lesson must be understood in a theological sense. If we equate human personality with God, we would say that three persons means three individuals. But then we would have three Gods, or tritheism. But historic Chris tianity has given to the word person, when used of God, a special meaning: a personal self-distinction, which gives distinctiveness in the Persons of the Godhead without destroying the concept of one ness. This idea is not easy to grasp-or to explain! It is part of the mystery of the Godhead.
What hints of a Trinity does the Old Testament give us? Gen. 1:1-3.
The Hebrew word for God in this passage is Elohim, a plural form. Yet the verb bara, "created," is in the singular form. God speaks; that is, He uses the Word, in Creation. (See John 1:1.) And the Spirit of God "moved upon the face of the waters." Here there seems to be an indication of at least more than one person. Note also the use of us and our in this pronouncement, "Let us make man in our image" (Gen. 1:26). "The plural 'us' was regarded by the early church theologians almost unanimously as indicitive of the the three persons of the Godhead."SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 215.
"There are three living persons of the heavenly trio; in the name of these three great powers-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit-those who receive Christ by living faith are baptized, and these powers will co-operate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their efforts to live the new life in Christ. "Evangelism, p. 615.
How do the following Old Testament verses suggest the concept of the Trinity?
Gen. 16:7-13; 48:16 _____________________________________________
Isa. 9:6 _______________________________________________________
Isa. 11:2; 42:1 _________________________________________________
|How does the concept of the Trinity help us to see how God is love? In what ways may we partake of this divine love and share it with others around us?|
How did Jesus teach His disciples to address God? Matt. 6:9.
What description of God did Daniel receive in vision? Dan. 7:9, 10.
Such a picture of the Father should strike one with awe. Our Father loves us with an everlasting love. But we must ever be careful not to be disrespectful or unduly familiar with Him.
Who is the express image of the Father? Heb. 1:2, 3.
When we forget that Jesus came to reveal the Father, we will begin to misunderstand the Father. We must remember that when we see Jesus in His sacrifice and love, we also are seeing the Father at work. We must never separate the work of One from the work of the Other. God is not demanding and Jesus pleading, They both demand. And They both plead.
"Christ came to reveal God to the world as a God of love, full of mercy, tenderness, and compassion. The thick darkness with which Satan had endeavored to enshroud the throne of Deity was swept away by the world's Redeemer, and the Father was again manifest to men as the light of life.
"When Philip came to Jesus with the request 'Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us,' the Saviour answered him: 'Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the FatherT Christ declares Himself to be sent into the world as a representative of the Father. In His nobility of character, in His mercy and tender pity, in His love and goodness, He stands before us as the embodiment of divine perfection, the image of the invisible God. "Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 738, 739.
The world is at enmity with God because it misunderstands Him. It is for us to change that conception by being God's true ambassadors, who reflect His character of love. (See 2 Cor. 5:17-21.)
|How do we go about telling the world that God is love? If someone you know has not had a good relationship with his or her father, how can you help that person understand God as his heavenly Father?|
"The Word became flesh; he came to dwell among us, and we saw his glory, such glory as befits the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth."
"No one has ever seen God; but God's only Son, he who is nearest to the Father's heart, he has made him known" (John 1: 14, 18, NEB).
John wants us to be sure that in Jesus, the Son of the living God, we recognize full Deity. He was God incarnate. (Read verses 1-4.) He was One with the Father and existed with Him from eternity.
Which of the following statements best describes Jesus' relation ship to the Holy Spirit? Check your answer by reading John 15:26.
____ The Holy Spirit goes where He sees a need. He testifies of Jesus.
____ The Holy Spirit is sent by Jesus to testify of Him.
In another passage, Jesus says the Father will send the Comforter (John 14:26). Thus there seems to be perfect collaboration between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This perfect cooperation among the three Persons is to help Christ's disciples powerfully testify of Him and spread the good news of salvation.
Describe the relationship between the Father and the Son. John 5:19-22.
It is interesting to note that not only do the Father and the Son work together, but They assume parallel functions. The Father raises the dead. So does the Son. He gives life to whom He will. As for judgment, the Father seems to have given this authority to the Son, so there will be mutual honor. (See verse 23.) Everlasting life is dependent on hearing what Jesus says and believing in the Father (verse 24). Both Father and Son have life in Themselves (verse 26).
After the resurrection, Thomas called Jesus "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28, NIV). There was no doubt in his mind about the deity of Christ-after he had examined Christ's scars. Jesus told Thomas that he had been given the privilege of the direct touch in order to help him believe. Then Jesus called those people blessed who do not have the privilege of visual contact, yet still believe (verse 29).
|How does Jesus' relationship with the Father help us to see that the Father is by nature a living God? What difference does this make in our relationship to God?|
Read 2 Corinthians 13:14, 15. This threefold benediction shows that, in the days of the apostles, Christians understood the doctrine of the Trinity fairly well. It was for later centuries to work out philo sophical and other aspects of the teaching.
What part did the Holy Spirit have in the birth and baptism of Jesus? Luke 1:35; 3:21, 22.
What evidence is there that the Holy Spirit is a Person and not a mere influence? Match the texts in column A to the items in column B.
|Column A||Column B|
A. 1 Tim. 4:1
____ The Holy Spirit makes intercession.
B. Rom. 8:26
____ The Holy Spirit feels emotions.
C. Rev. 22:17
|____ The Holy Spirit speaks.|
D. Eph. 4:30
|____ The Holy Spirit invites.|
What important function does the Holy Spirit serve in each of our lives? Gal. 5:16-26.
"Several centuries ago, the Emperor of Japan commissioned a Japanese artist to paint a bird. Months passed, then years. Finally, the Emperor went to the artist's studio to ask for an explanation. The artist set a blank canvas on the easel and in fifteen minutes completed the painting of a bird that became a masterpiece. The Emperor asked why there had been such a long delay. The artist then . . . produced armloads of drawings of feathers, tendons, wings, feet, claws, eyes and beaks of birds; these he placed one by one before the Emperor.
"The Holy Spirit operates in the life of the believer, so that we may be conformed to the image of God's Son (Romans 8:29). This is not done in the moment of our new birth.... It is just the beginning of the long work. . . 'until Christ be formed in you' (Galatians 4:19). Then the day shall come when the Emperor of emperors will come for us, and the completed work will flash forth in a moment."Donald Grey Barnhouse, Let Me Illustrate (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Fleming H. Revell, 1967), pp. 160,161.
|Which fruit of the Spirit do you feel you need to grow? Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you to cultivate that characteristic, remembering all the while that the fruit describes the character of Christ.|
FURTHER STUDY: Read 1 Timothy 3:16. What about the Godhead does this text emphasize? Also read Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, "The Word Made Flesh," pp. 746-749; vol. 7, "Extending the Triumphs of the Cross," p. 29; and vol. 8, "Nature a Key to Divine Mysteries," pp. 326, 327.
"Great is the mystery of godliness. There are mysteries in the life of Christ that are to be believed, even though they cannot be explained. The finite mind cannot fathom the mystery of godliness.... "The work of redemption is called a mystery, and it is indeed the mystery by which everlasting righteousness is brought to all who believe. The race in consequence of sin was at enmity with God. Christ, at an infinite cost, by a painful process, mysterious to angels as well as to men, assumed humanity. Hiding His divinity, laying aside His glory, He was born a babe in Bethlehem. In human flesh He lived the law of God, that He might condemn sin in the flesh, and bear witness to heavenly intelligences that the law was ordained to life and to ensure the happiness, peace, and eternal good of all who obey. But the same infinite sacrifice that is life to those who believe is a testimony of condemnation to the disobedient, speaking death and not life."Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 915.
SUMMARY: Have I allowed the Father to be my friend? Have I opened my mind to the beauties of salvation through the Son? Have I surrendered my life to the guidance and ministry of the Holy Spirit? Have I allowed Those who provided my salvation to become the rulers of my life?
axstar Fanwar had accepted an invitation to return to his birthplace in northeastern India to hold evangelistic meetings. God had opened unexpected doors to provide for his travel and the campaign costs. But Fanwar's deepest hope and prayer was for his brother, Ulstar, to return to the church that he had left nearly forty years earlier. But when he arrived in Calcutta, his daughter met him with the news that his brother soon would be ordained into a lifetime position in the Protestant church to which he belonged. The news shocked Fanwar, for it seemed that his deepest desire would be denied him. But Fanwar prayed, "God, You have not brought me this far just to see my brother lost forever. You must stop the ordination!"
Meanwhile, Ulstar was so wrapped up in his impending ordination that he did not even know Fanwar was in India.
Fanwar arrived in Shillong and began preparations for the crusade. In spite of church members' doubts about the success of the meetings, they caught the vision and rallied behind the evangelist. They pooled their meager funds and rented the largest tent they could find; they prepared notices and sent out invitations to the meetings; they invited their friends and relatives. And they prayed for big results.
God honored their faith, and the tent was filled with some five hundred people, two-thirds of whom were not Adventists. Among the visitors was Fanwar's brother, Ulstar. After the meeting Ulstar spoke to his brother. "You know that I did not get the ordination."
Fanwar nodded. "I prayed that God would stop the ordination and
call you back to His true church." As the brothers talked, Fanwar told his brother, "I asked God for 100 souls in this crusade. But my first goal in coming was to win you back to the truth." With tears, his brother decided to return to the church of his childhood. If no one else had taken a stand during those meetings, Fanwar still would have rejoiced. But his brother's wife and mother took their stand as well. Following the meetings, 88 people were baptized in a river near the church, and others continue studying. God gave Baxstar Fanwar his brother-and a hundred more.
K. Dkhar is the communication director of the Northeastern India Union. Baxstar Fanwar is a retired teacher living in Grenada, West Indies.
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