Understanding the Trinity–Part 2
Ephesians Lesson #010
December 2, 2018
“Our Father, we’re so thankful that we have this time, this opportunity to study Your Word, to learn about who You are in terms of Your existence as a triune God, to learn about the roles of the Persons of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to clarify our understanding and sharpen it so that we may think more accurately about who You are and Your uniqueness, for You are, indeed, a unique, one-of-a-kind, holy God, a holy Trinity.
“Father, we’re thankful that we have this revelation provided for us and that as we study it, as we probe the depths of the implications of who You are and how this impacts our understanding of all You created, as it reflects to a much deeper degree—deeper than we ever imagined—how the universe reflects Your essence and Your being, Father, we pray that as we study today, You will help us to understand that which we study but also illuminate our minds to the implications and significance of what we study. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
We are studying Ephesians. This is our tenth lesson, and we are probing—in the last three lessons and in this one as well—the meaning of the Trinity. Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ …” As we continue reading in the next verses, we will come to understand that the writer of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul, was giving a threefold praise or eulogy to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
In Ephesians 1:3–6, there is a praise for God the Father, and each section concludes with a specific statement of praise to each member of the Trinity. There’s a praise for the blessing of the work of the Son in Ephesians 1:7–12, again ending with a statement about His glory. Then, a praise for the blessings of the Holy Spirit is in Ephesians 1:13–14. Undergirding the whole epistle is this foundational teaching of the Scripture, this foundational doctrine known as the Trinity.
In previous weeks, we have taken time to look at and to build an understanding of the Bible’s teachings about the Trinity because no other religion in the world has a concept even similar to the Trinity. Part of a demonstration of the veracity of this teaching is that it is beyond the rational conception of a limited creature to come up with such a teaching. It is extremely profound and is found throughout the Scriptures.
We looked a couple of weeks ago at the Old Testament passages that teach the plurality in the Godhead, and we looked at various terms related to the language that was used. Plural pronouns, plural noun, Elohim, the plural pronouns “Let Us create” and “in Our image,” all of these reflect the plurality in the Godhead. Different terms do as well. We looked at passages that talk about the birth of Messiah, as well as the fact that He is completely, totally divine. Micah 5:2, for example, talks about the birth of Messiah in Bethlehem, and this One who would be born would be One whose goings were from everlasting, so He is eternal. Eternality is a characteristic that is unique to deity. There’s no beginning in eternality.
Last time, we looked at New Testament passages that also teach the plurality of God as well as the deity of Jesus. Today, I’m adding a section that I didn’t mention in the previous two classes, and this relates to the roles of the Son and the Spirit. Primarily, we’re focusing on the Son to the Father, His role of submission to the Father, and asking a question that has come up and has begun to be debated in the last decade or so among evangelicals. This was never an issue up until the last ten to twenty years.
Some of those now in the moderate to left wing of evangelicalism are saying that this submission to the Father began with the incarnation. The historic orthodox position—by that I mean the biblically correct position—is that our Lord’s submission to the Father is eternal. We will come to an understanding of why the Nicene Creed says what it says, and its significance.
We live in an era when people do not think much about the Trinity. If we were to poll most Christians, they haven’t been taught much or thought much about the Trinity. They know that is what they believe, but they have not been taught well through the Scriptures, nor have the implications and the significance of the Trinity been probed in terms of understanding relationships within the body of Christ, relationships within marriage and the family, relationships in terms of individual citizens of a country and the government of the country.
All of these flow from understanding something that philosophers refer to as “unity in diversity” or “the one and the many.” We will talk about these implications. There was a time in the history of our country and in the history of all Western Europe when the concept of the Trinity was understood to be foundational to everything.
I want to give you two examples, one because I touched on this unity and diversity last week in the opening Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. “We the people …” Those are the individuals. That’s the plurality. That’s the diversity. “We the people of the United States in order to form …”—what?—“a more perfect union…” That is the oneness.
When we look at the Trinity, we see that the unity is not at the expense of the diversity, and that the diversity is not at the expense of the unity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist eternally as three distinct, independent Persons Who do not sacrifice Their independence for unity, but there is also complete and total unity in the Godhead.
A lot of illustrations come up that people try to use to teach the Trinity, but they don’t work because the Trinity is based on the fact that God is unique. He is one-of-a-kind. The word holy essentially means that which is set apart, that which is distinct, that which is unique. God is holy in His Trinity.
We find that language in another foundational document in American history. On November 30, just two days ago, we had the 236th anniversary of the drafting of what became known as the Treaty of Paris, which was not formally signed until the next year. In AD 1782 on November 30, they drafted that document, and it began, “In the name of the most Holy and undivided Trinity...” I wonder how many legal documents or treaties formulated today begin with a statement that it’s founded and grounded on the doctrine of the Trinity. Here is a picture of the original treaty, “In the name of the most Holy and undivided Trinity...” It’s right at the top. It is the first thing stated in that treaty. The people at that time lived, breathed, and thought in terms of their Christian belief in a triune God.
Here’s another copy of that.
Last time, we ended by looking at one of the key passages related to the deity of Christ in John 1:1–5. I talked about the Memra teaching of the rabbis, which paralleled and gave background to understanding this clear statement in John 1:1–5, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The term “Word” is the Greek word LOGOS, which is a title for Jesus. We see two distinct Persons here, “the Word Who is with God,” indicating distinction, and “the Word is God,” indicating unity. “He was in the beginning”—that is, He was present with God at the beginning of the time-space creation of the universe in Genesis 1:1.
John 1:3, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made,” attributed to Him the omnipotence necessary to create all things in the universe. John 1:4 says, “In Him was life …” He is the source of life. That is a distinct attribute of deity. All of this indicates that Jesus as the LOGOS is fully divine and eternal, which is a necessary characteristic.
I went through the rabbinical teaching of the Memra, which developed in the Intertestamental Period, which basically was developing these same ideas out of the Old Testament about the Memra, the LOGOS. Memra is the Aramaic word for word. It’s the counterpart to LOGOS.
1. Memra is both the same as God and distinct from God,
2. Memra was the agent of creation.
3. Memra was the agent of salvation
4. Memra was the visible manifestation of God.
5. Memra was the agent signing God’s covenants in the Old Testament.
6. Memra was the agent of revelation.
We see in this diagram that the Trinity teaches that there is one God in essence. The Greek word used to express essence or being is the word OUSIA. That is the word which we will see in the Nicene Creed and other statements as early church leaders sought to articulate something that was not completely spelled out in Scripture. What I mean by that is you and I think in terms of the word Trinity. It’s a great word. It’s a great concept. It’s not a biblical term. An early church father named Tertullian in the late second century coined this term to concisely teach and express what the Bible teaches.
Because you and I have this word, this vocabulary term Trinity, we can think conceptually more precisely than any of the Apostles did because they didn’t have this vocabulary. God wants us, in the process of our understanding and meditating on Scripture, to develop what the Scripture teaches in understanding those implications.
We have God expressed as One Person, One Essence, and He exists as Three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Son is full deity, the Father is full deity, and the Holy Spirit is full deity. But the Son is not the Father, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. They are Three distinct Persons, yet One in essence.
I’m going to put a similar diagram up here, but the reason I developed this was I liked it, and I wanted to see how well it would show up. I thought it was a little more colorful, expressing the same thing.
We see these passages. John 1:1–5 is foundational to understanding the undiminished unity of the Son.
Colossians 1:15–17 says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over creation.” Firstborn doesn’t mean the first to be born. It refers to preeminence. He is above everything. He is distinct from everything. What made Him distinct eventually would be the incarnation, but He is the preeminent One over all creation.
“For by Him…” explains that He is preeminent because He made all things. “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible”—that includes the demons and the angels—“whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” Notice that “through Him” indicates intermediate agency because the ultimate Creator was God the Father. Being created through the Son indicates His role in relation to the Father as the architect, planner, designer of the universe, with God the Son as the building manager, as it were, the construction supervisor who brought it about. God the Holy Spirit had His role as well.
Colossians 1:17 says, “And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.” I put that out there because that’s a great promise for those who get a little worried about things that are put out by the press, such as global warming and that the human race is going to destroy itself, and all those other things. That has nothing to do with what the Bible teaches.
The Bible teaches that no matter what man does, Jesus Christ is the One who sustains everything and holds everything together. That doesn’t mean that we can’t pollute our area, pollute our nests, but it does mean that we’re not going to destroy earth or destroy the planet on our own. Jesus Christ sustains and controls it, and God has built into all the physical processes of the earth that which sustains it and will keep it cleansed and keep it stable.
We looked at John 1:1–5, Colossians 1:15–17, and then Hebrews 1:3, 8. Those are three of the key passages that state the deity of Christ, the foundational ones. Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the brightness”—or the effulgence, the representation—“of His glory.” Glory is often used as it is here to refer to the essence of God. Jesus is the One who revealed God to us. John said in John 1:14 that no one has seen God at any time. The Only Begotten, referring to Jesus, is the One who explained Him or revealed Him or literally exegeted Him for us. That’s how we know Him. He is the effulgence.
He is “the expression of God’s essence and the express image of His Person.” He is specifically the identity of the essence of the Father. “He upholds all things by the word of His power …,” which we just read in Colossians a 1:17. It goes on to say that this is related to why He is able to cleanse us of sin. “He purged our sins and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
Hebrews 1:8 quotes the Old Testament Psalm 45:6–7. “But to the Son He says”—so here we see a reference to God the Father as the One speaking to God the Son, and the Father was stating to Him—“Your throne, O God”—so the Father calls the Son “God,” indicating the deity of the Son—“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.” These three passages reaffirm what I was covering last time on the deity of Christ.
The next thing I want to cover is trying to understand this relationship between the Son and the Father. We have to think this through. The historic biblical position has been articulated since the Council of Nicaea down through the generations. Remember, the Council of Nicaea was AD 325, approximately three hundred years before anything even appeared to be the Roman Catholic Church. People use different dates to talk about the beginning of the Roman Catholic Church. Some define it in terms of certain doctrines that became standard, such as the worship of Mary or earning merit through the sacraments. That would come a little later, but organizationally and administratively, a single church under Gregory the Great around AD 600 was unified and functioned as it does now, a distinctive entity by that time.
Before that, the unity of the church, the body of Christ, had no organizational unity. When Gregory became the head of the visible church over all the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria, a new organizational entity began. Before that they had a clear understanding of these distinctions in the Trinity. The Bible teaches that within the Trinity, the tri-unity of God, there is an eternal, economic distinction, a role distinction. God is One in essence, but three equal Persons.
The Father’s role includes such things as initiating and planning, originating, directing, sending, and having and delegating authority. A number of different passages talk about Jesus and the Holy Spirit in relation to the Father’s planning and sending and directing.
The Son and the Spirit are eternally in agreement. Because of this unity of essence, they think the same. They are one essence, and They are in eternal agreement with God the Father’s plans and directives. They willingly support and carry out His directives. It is not a subordination of essence, which became known as subordinationism, that, somehow, they were less than fully God. We will talk about that a little more in a minute.
In subordinationism, people think about it this way because we live in a generation, in a time when people really don’t like authority, and this has been going on for the last fifty years. Our culture increasingly has a problem with obedience to authority, and they question the very reality of authority, that authority is not good. Whenever they hear somebody talk about authority in certain relationships, they automatically think of them, because of their own experiences, as being suppressed or repressed or subjugated.
Authority in the minds of many means if one person is in authority over another, they’re not equal. That is an evil idea. It comes out of a satanic framework because the first creature to rebel against authority was Lucifer in eternity past. In order to deceive and confuse people, He is still promoting the idea that authority itself is somehow evil. Of course, he wants to assert his own authority instead of obeying the authority of God.
We need to look at what the Scripture teaches because as the ultimate reality, God existing as a unity of essence and a threeness of Person becomes foundational to understanding all authority relationships.
1. It’s clear and undisputed that the Bible teaches that the Son during the incarnation was subordinate to the Father.
Nobody disagrees on this, but we have some who are coming out today, who are beginning to teach that this is the only time when the Son was subordinate to the Father. We have to look at that because that has implications. If authority was instilled by God after the fall, then authority was established to control sin, but if authority was part of the eternal makeup of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then authority is inherently righteous, inherently virtuous, and inherently good. To question authority in principle will lead to heresy.
A couple of verses show that the Son was completely subordinate to the Father during His incarnation. John 4:34 says, “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.’ ” Again and again, the Son stated that He came to do the will of the Father.
Hebrews 10:7 and 9 quote from the Old Testament passage, Psalm 40:6-8. “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come: in the volume of the book it is written of Me—to do your will O God.’ Then He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’ He takes away the first, that He may establish the second.” The Messiah came to do the will of the Father.
2. It’s also clear that in the future, in the end times in eschatology, in the future, the Son will still be subordinate to the Father.
As the God-Man, Jesus ascended to sit at the right hand of God the Father, a position that indicates subordination, not in essence but in role. We can’t confuse the two. We have this glimpse of what happens at the end of the millennial kingdom. 1 Corinthians 15:27 says, “For He has put all things under His feet.” The first He is God the Father. The second He is God the Son. “He has put all things under His feet.” This indicates that if the Father puts all things under His feet, then the Father is the One who is the ultimate authority, Who is putting in subjection all of creation under the Lord Jesus Christ.
“…When He says ‘all things are put under Him,’ it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted.” He who put all things under Him is God the Father. He is the One who is excepted. He is not put under the authority of the Son. This tells us that God the Son is under the authority of God the Father during the incarnation, and He will be under the authority of God the Father on into eternity future.
1 Corinthians 15:28 goes on to say, “Now when all things are made subject to Him”—that is the Son—“then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” I think that it’s pretty clear that God the Son is eternally under the authority of God the Father.
The next question that we must address:
3. What are the implications of the terms Father and Son? When Jesus refers to the Father as the Father, is God the Father just the Father of the incarnate Second Person of the Trinity, or is the Father eternally the Father and the Son eternally the Son?
These terms, which relate to our experience because we know what a Father is and we know what a Son is, this Father-son terminology is used as an analogy to teach us about God the Father and God the Son in their relationship. We know that the Scripture uses a lot of analogies to communicate things about the Person of God. We always have to remember about analogies that whether we’re using them in terms of explaining something in the creation in everyday language or whether we’re talking about God, analogies do not walk on all fours. That means that an analogy may have twenty different characteristics being compared, but only five are significant in terms of the comparison, in terms of the analogy. Nothing is completely, totally analogous on every point to something else. There are points of comparison, but other points don’t apply.
When we look at the human relationship of a father to a son, one of the characteristics is that a father provides what is necessary for the generation and creation of the son. He is the one who begets the son, so this is a creaturely reality that the son is created by the father. This analogy in Scripture doesn’t teach this because as we’ve already seen, all kinds of passages talk about the eternality of God the Son. He is not a creature.
That was an error that came up in the early church in the attempt to try to explain the relationship between the Father and the Son. In the early church, there was this understanding. It wasn’t an analytical understanding. By that, I mean nobody was saying, “Well, what does that really mean?” They just took it by faith. There is God the Father and there is God the Son and there is God the Holy Spirit, but nobody was saying, “Isn’t that three Gods?” Then, the pagans began to say, “You Christians are worshiping three Gods. That’s just tritheism,” and Christians were forced to try to explain what they had naïvely accepted to be true.
One of the first ways in which they tried to explain this relationship of the Son to the Father was called Adoptionism. This was deemed a heresy. The idea was that—if you have a timeline here and this purple timeline represents eternal God—that you have eternity past and then the beginning of time. This vertical dotted line marks the boundaries of time separating time from eternity past and eternity future.
According to Adoptionism, Jesus of Nazareth was born, and then at some point in His life, He was adopted as deity. Some people put it at the virgin birth. Others put it at the baptism by John the Baptist or at some other time. The idea was that He was born a human but that He later was given or assigned deity at some other event and was adopted as the Son. That was called Adoptionism and was clearly understood to be a heresy.
Another stab at this was that, instead of making the adoption of deity to the human Jesus at some point in his life, the Son was created at some time in eternity past. This was set forth by a deacon in the church in Alexandria named Alexander. He died right after the Council of Nicaea. The man who took his position was Athanasius. He was the main name in this whole event.
Athanasius said, and this is a direct quote, “The Unbegun made the Son.” It’s got a nice little catchy rhyme to it, doesn’t it? “The Unbegun” refers to the Father, and at some point in eternity past, He made the Son. That means that the Son is not eternal. The implication is that—and Athanasius emphasized this—if the Son isn’t full deity, if He isn’t eternal and infinite, He couldn’t have paid the penalty for sin. We have to have someone eternal and infinite; otherwise, there’s no truly righteous payment for sin. This is Arianism, and this was refuted at the Council of Nicaea although we’ll see the battle didn’t end there.
If you have read Shirley MacLaine (Don’t raise your hand! This isn’t confession time!) back in the day when she wrote Out on a Broken Limb—oh, excuse me! Out on a Limb—, she like many pagans said that at the Council of Nicaea, they handed down this decision that the New Testament would only be these 27 books. That’s not what they did at Nicaea. That’s not how the Canon of the New Testament came together. It was a result of a recognition of what had already become the practice of the churches. In the early church, none of these disputed books, none of these Gnostic Gospels, were ever accepted by more than one or two local churches somewhere, and they were way off the rails in a lot of other areas.
They didn’t have books like the Gospel of Thomas and other Gnostic Gospels accepted by more than some extremely fringe groups, but they did accept the four Gospels and the other twenty-three books of the New Testament. They had a little trouble at times with books like Hebrews because they didn’t know who the writer was. They couldn’t come out and say, “It’s apostolic,” if they didn’t know who wrote it, but it was accepted and read, and so it came along. Some books that were written to individuals, like Jude and Philemon, didn’t get a lot of circulation in the first century, so they weren’t known, so it took a little while longer before they became accepted.
The early church in the first, second, and third centuries never accepted anything other than the twenty-seven books that we have. Later, after the Council of Nicaea, the same Athanasius sent out an Easter letter as the Bishop of Alexandria, and in there he listed the accepted, authoritative books, and that’s the first list of the twenty-seven books that we have in history. But that was not at the Council of Nicaea. We have to be careful what the pagans say because they distort everything for their own agenda… something to do with their relation to the Father of lies. At the Council of Nicaea, they came up with the Nicene Creed, which is a clear statement on the deity of Christ and His relationship to the Father.
Then, there was political involvement. Constantine certainly was involved in pushing for that conclusion at Nicaea, but within a couple years he died and his son took over and he was influenced by the Arians, so the Arians now won, and Athanasius was kicked out and sent into exile. This happened five times between AD 325 and Athanasius’ death, which was about AD 367, so they had this ebb and flow. By AD 367, it became evident to most people in the middle that Arianism was false, and Athanasius’ teaching was true. The final acceptance came at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381.
This is one of my favorite periods of time to read about in church history. That’s the defeat of Arianism. In that defeat came the understanding that the Son is equal in essence, but He is under the authority or subordinated to the Father. How do we come to understand this from Scripture?
First of all, we see that the terms Father and Son preceded creation. The New Testament talks about things that God the Father decreed prior to creation that identify Him as Father and identify Jesus, the Second Person, as the Son.
Romans 8:29. “For whom He foreknew”—that is God the Father—“He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” In eternity past, He said that those who are believers would be conformed to the image of My Son. He was a Son to the Father before creation.
Hebrews 1:2 says that God “… has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom”—To what noun does the word whom refer? The Son—“also He made the worlds.” The writer of Hebrews said that the Father made the worlds through the Son, so He was the Son before the incarnation. He was the Son before creation. This indicates that this Father-Son relationship went back into eternity. It was not devised for creation.
In John 1:14, we see that Jesus did not become a Son only at the incarnation. “And the Word”—which was eternal—“became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.” That again indicates that He had this Son-Father relationship before the incarnation.
The most well-known verse in the Bible, many people would say, is John 3:16. “God loved the world in this way, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” He gave His Son. He didn’t give the Second Person of the Trinity who became the Son at the incarnation. He gave the Son before the incarnation. These terms, Father and Son, applied prior to creation. That Father-Son relationship was there.
Psalm 2:2, which we read for our Scripture reading this morning, made the distinction between Yahweh, the Father, and His Mashiach in the Hebrew, “His anointed.” Psalm 2:6 says, “Yet I have set My king on My holy hill of Zion.” Psalm 2:7 says, “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.”
We can say a lot more about this. I’m not going to go into all the details, but this is basically what is affirmed at the baptism of Jesus when the Father said, “‘This is My Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” It was reiterated at the Mount of Transfiguration. Paul stated in Romans that He was declared the Son at the resurrection. He will also be declared the Son at the time that He returns at the end of the Tribulation period. All this indicates Jesus is eternally the Son.
This is clearly stated also by passages such as John 5:19. “Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.’” We can connect that with John 6:38, “ ‘For I have come down from heaven not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.’ ” “Him who sent Me” is the Father. We see the Father-Son relationship before He was actually sent.
John 7:16 says, “Jesus answered them and said, ‘My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me,’ ” indicating again this Father-Son relationship, that Jesus put Himself under the authority of the Father.
John 8:28. “So Jesus said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.’”
All of this applies to our understanding of Paul’s words in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That helps us understand that this Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is related through an eternal relationship with the Son.
We see other things going on in Ephesians that also emphasize this eternal relationship. Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” Whatever else this means, before the foundation of the world, before creation, God the Father “… chose us in Him”—that is Church Age believers, as a group—those in Him “should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” This presupposes a Father-Son relationship prior to creation as also seen in Ephesians 1:5.
We see it in Romans 8:29 as I pointed out earlier.
We also see it in 2 Timothy 1:9. “God who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works, but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ before the ages began.” We have these “in Christ,” and it was part of God’s plan to be in the Son before creation.
Other passages emphasize the authority of the Father over the Son. In John 14:28, Jesus said, “‘You have heard Me say to you, “I am going away and coming back to you.” If you loved Me you would rejoice because I said, “I am going to the Father,” but for My Father is greater then I.’ ” “Greater than I” is not essentially greater. He is not greater in His character, in His essence, in His attributes. He is greater in authority. God the Father is the One who is in authority over the Son.
In Mark 14:36 in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Abba Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” He was submissive to the authority of the Father.
Luke 4:18. “ ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me...’ ” The one who anoints has authority over the anointed. “ ‘…He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty.’ ” The Father was the One who sent. The Father was the One who anointed.
In John 20:17, Jesus said at the end, “ ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’ ” This is where Paul picked up his language of “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 11:3. “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.” This verse talks about role distinction. It’s not a distinction in essence, so this isn’t a verse for people who come out and say, “Men are over women because men are superior to women.” It’s not saying that. It’s not saying that God the Father is superior to Christ in terms of essence. It is talking about role distinctions.
This comes down to a very practical thing in terms of understanding the roles within marriage, roles within society, and roles within government and politics. There is a unity of oneness of nation, unity of marriage, and there are distinctions within them. It does not mean that one is better than the other.
Look at a football team. It has great athletes who comprise the team that’s out on the field. Some get all of the attention because they are the leaders. That’s the quarterback. Some quarterbacks are phenomenal in what they do. We saw a great demonstration of that in the Alabama game yesterday as Jalen Hurts came out and won the game at the end, but as a person, he is no better or worse than anybody else on the team. He is equal in terms of being equal under the law of this country. He is equal as a person. He is not superior in anything other than his role and how he fulfills that role. He is not better as a person.
The same principle applies in a country. The government should not override the importance of the individuals. When that happens, we have tyranny. On the other hand, when individuals and their individual rights are emphasized at the expense and authority of the government, we have anarchy. Only when we have an understanding of the triune God can we truly work out what the Founders of this country attempted to develop within the Constitution in trying to achieve this balance. The trouble is we live in a corrupt world, and that’s never going to happen. Eventually, even the best fallen creatures can come up with in terms of a government will become corrupted and fall apart. It’s not always going to work because it’s comprised of sinful leaders as well as sinful people.
We see here what’s important for understanding where we’re going in Ephesians, that this important relationship between the Son and the Father is going to be developed, and it’s going to be foundational to a number of things that are said throughout Ephesians. We have to start, as we should in every area of thought, with the nature and essence of God, understanding the Trinity.
We will review a couple of other things next time, and then we will go forward into some of the really fun verses at the beginning of Ephesians.
“Father, we thank You for who You are. We thank You for Your revelation of Yourself, and we thank You for being able to probe the depths to some degree of the Trinity in this triune relationship in the Godhead and the implications of that for creation and for the roles and distinctions that exist even within the unity of the body of Christ. There are role distinctions.
“Father, help us to not fall into the traps that many in our culture are falling into today because by not believing in an ultimate triune reality, they cannot handle different aspects of life and different aspects of relationships.
“Father, we know that the only hope for our country, the only hope for us as individuals is Your grace, which has provided perfect salvation in Christ, and that it must start there. True reformation must be grounded in the reformation that began at the Cross, the payment for sin and forgiveness, which is freely available to all by simply trusting or believing in Jesus Christ as Savior. If you’re listening to this lesson, or you’re here for the first time, and you’ve never truly understood the gospel, this is the gospel. It doesn’t mean you have to change your life or improve yourself, for ‘all our works of righteousness are as filthy rags,’ Isaiah said. What we need is Your righteousness, Christ’s righteousness, and that is ours when we trust in Him.
“ ‘For He who knew no sin was made sin for us that the righteousness of God might be found in us.’ Only when we have that righteousness can we be declared righteous, cleansed of sin, forgiven of sin, so that we can have an eternal relationship with the Creator God of the universe. We pray that You would make that clear to all of us and that especially those of us who are saved would come to understand that this should motivate us to pursue a deeper, closer, richer, more robust relationship with You through Your Word. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”