Posted by: Apostolic Oneness Pentecostals | March 5, 2009

FATHER, SON, AND HOLY GHOST

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The Father

The term “God the Father” is biblical and refers to God Himself (Galatians 1:1-4). God is the Father; He is not merely Father of the Son, but the Father of all creation (Malachi 2:10; Hebrews 12:9). He is also our Father by reason of the new birth (Romans 8:14-16). The title Father indicates a relationship between God and man, particularly between God and His Son and between God and regenerated man. Jesus taught many times that God is our Father (Matthew 5:16, 45, 48). He taught us to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Of course, Jesus as a man had an additional relationship to God in a sense that no one else has ever had. He was the only begotten Son of the Father (John 3:16), the only One who was actually conceived by the Spirit of God and the only One who had the fulness of God without measure.

The Bible plainly states that there is only one Father (Malachi 2:10; Ephesians 4:6). It also clearly teaches that Jesus is the one Father incarnate (Isaiah 9:6; John 10:30). The Spirit that dwelt in the Son of God was none other than the Father.

It is important to note that the name of the Father is Jesus, for this name fully reveals and expresses the Father. In John 5:43, Jesus said, “I am come in my Father’s name.” According to Hebrews 1:4, the Sori “by inheritance obtained a more excellent name.” In other words, the Son inherited His Father’s name. We therefore understand why Jesus said that He manifested and declared the Father’s name (John 17:6, 26). He fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy that stated the Messiah would declare the name of the LORD (Psalm 22:22; Hebrews 2:12). In what name did the Son come? What name did He obtain from His Father by inheritance? What name did the Son manifest? The answer is apparent. The only name He used was the name of Jesus, His Father’s name.

The Son

Basically, the term “Son of God” refers to God as manifested in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind. The name of the Son is Jesus: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS” (Matthew 1:21). Since Father refers to deity alone, while “Son of God” refers to deity as incarnated in humanity, we do not believe that the Father is the Son. The distinction is pivotal. We can say the Son died, but we cannot say the Father died. The deity in the Son is the Father. Although we do not believe that the Father is the Son, we do believe that the Father is in the Son (John 14:10). Since Jesus is the name of the Son of God, both as to His deity as Father and as to His humanity as Son, it is the name of both the Father and the Son.

The Holy Ghost

The terms “Holy Ghost” and “Holy Spirit” are interchangeable, meaning identically the same. These two terms in the KJV are translated from the one Greek word pneuma; therefore, there is absolutely no distinction between the terms. Either is perfectly acceptable since both mean the same.

The Holy Spirit is simply God. God is holy (Leviticus 11:44; I Peter 1:16). In fact, He alone is holy in Himself. God is also a Spirit (John 4:24), and there is only one Spirit of God (I Corinthians 12:11; Ephesians 4:4). Therefore, “Holy Spirit” is another term for the one God.

That the Holy Ghost is God is evident from a comparison of Acts 5:3 with 5:4 and from a comparison of I Corinthians 3:16 with 6:19. These passages identify the Holy Ghost with God Himself.

We cannot limit the terms “Holy Ghost,” “Holy Spirit,” or “Spirit of God” to the New Testament, nor can we so limit the role or manifestation of God they describe. We find the Spirit mentioned throughout the Old Testament beginning with Genesis 1:2. Peter tells us that the prophets of old were moved by the Holy Ghost (II Peter 1:21).

If the Holy Spirit is simply God, why is there a need for this term? The reason is that it emphasizes a particular aspect of God. It emphasizes that He who is a holy, omnipresent, and invisible Spirit works among all men everywhere and can fill the hearts of men. When we speak of the Holy Spirit, we are reminding ourselves of God’s invisible work among men and of His ability to anoint, baptize, fill, and indwell human lives. The term speaks of God in activity: “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). It refers to God working among mankind to regenerate man’s fallen nature and enable him to do the supernatural will of God in the world. We note that the Spirit is the agent in the new birth (John 3:5; Titus 3:5).

Since the Holy Spirit is God Himself, we properly use the pronouns He and Him to refer to the Spirit. We often use “Holy Ghost” and “Holy Spirit” as abbreviated forms of “the baptism (or gift) of the Holy Ghost,” and in such cases it is proper to use the pronoun it as a substitute. When we do this, however, we should always remember that the Holy Ghost is God and not merely an unintelligent force or fluid. The following verses of Scripture reveal that the Holy Ghost is not an unintelligent force but is in fact God: Acts 5:3-4, 9; 20:23, 28; 21:11.

The Spirit is revealed and received through the name Jesus. He is not a separate person with a separate identity who comes in another name. Jesus said, “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name…” (John 14:26). So the Holy Ghost comes in the name of Jesus.

The Father is the Holy Ghost

The one God is Father of all, is holy, and is a Spirit. Therefore, the titles Father and Holy Spirit describe the same being. To put it another way, the one God can and does fill simultaneously the two roles of Father and Holy Spirit. The Scriptures bear this out.

1. John 3:16 says God is the Father of Jesus Christ and Jesus referred to the Father as His own Father many times (John 5:17-18). Yet Matthew 1:18-20 and Luke 1:35 plainly reveal that the Holy Ghost is the Father of Jesus Christ. According to these verses of Scripture, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Ghost and was born the Son of God as a result.

The one who causes conception to take place is the father. Since all verses of Scripture in reference to the conception or begetting of the Son of God speak of the Holy Ghost as the agent of conception, it is evident that the father of the human body is the Spirit; it is only reasonable to conclude that the Holy Ghost is the Father of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

2. Joel 2:27-29 records the words of Jehovah God: “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.” Peter applied this verse of Scripture to the baptism of the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4,16-18). Thus the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of the one Jehovah God of the Old Testament. Since there is only one Spirit, obviously the Spirit of Jehovah must be the Holy Spirit.

3. The Bible calls the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of the LORD” (Isaiah 40:13), the Spirit of God (Genesis 1:2), and the Spirit of the Father (Matthew 10:20). Since there is only one Spirit, all these phrases must refer to the same being. The Holy Spirit is none other than Jehovah God and none other than the Father.

For further study of the identification of the Holy Ghost with the Father, consider the following comparisons from the Bible:

1. God the Father raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 2:24; Ephesians 1:17-20), yet the Spirit raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11).

2. God the Father quickens (gives life to) the dead (Romans 4:17; I Timothy 6:13), yet the Spirit will do so (Romans 8:11).

3. The Spirit adopts us, which means He is our Father (Romans 8:15-16).

4. The Holy Spirit fills the life of a Christian (John 14:17; Acts 4:31), yet the Spirit of the Father fills hearts (Ephesians 3:14-16). It is the Father who lives in us (John 14:23).

5. The Holy Ghost is our Comforter (John 14:26, Greek parakletos), yet God the Father is the God of all comfort (paraklesis) who comforts (parakaleo) us in all our tribulation (II Corinthians 1:3-4).

6. The Spirit sanctifies us (I Peter 1:2), yet the Father sanctifies us (Jude 1).

7. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (II Timothy 3:16), yet the Old Testament prophets were moved by the Holy Ghost (II Peter 1:21).

8. Our bodies are temples of God (I Corinthians 3:16-17), yet they are temples of the Holy Ghost (I Corinthians 6:19).

9. The Spirit of the Father will give us words to say in time of persecution (Matthew 10:20), but the Holy Ghost will do so (Mark 13:11).

From all these verses of Scripture we conclude that Father and Holy Ghost are simply two different descriptions of the one God. The two terms describe the same being but they emphasize or highlight different aspects, roles, or functions that He possesses.

The Deity of Jesus Christ is the Father

The deity resident in Jesus Christ is none other than the Father. In other words, the Spirit in the Son is the Father. (See the section, “Jesus is the Father,” in Chapter 4 – JESUS IS GOD for a full discussion of this point.)

The Deity of Jesus Christ is the Holy Ghost

The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:19). and the Spirit of the Son (Galatians 4:6). Second Corinthians 3:17 says of the one Spirit, “Now the Lord is that Spirit.” The NIV puts it even plainer, for it says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit,” and “the Lord who is the Spirit” (verse 18). In short, the Spirit that is resident in Jesus Christ is none other than the Holy Spirit. The Spirit in the Son is the Holy Spirit.

Below are some parallel verses of Scripture which further reveal that the Spirit of Christ is the Holy Ghost.

1. The Spirit of Christ was in the prophets of old (I Peter 1:10-11), yet we know the Holy Ghost moved on them (II Peter 1:21).

2. Jesus will raise the believer from death (John 6:40), yet the Spirit will quicken (give life to) the dead (Romans 8:11).

3. The Spirit raised Christ from the dead (Romans 8:9-11), yet Jesus said He would raise Himself from the dead (John 2:19-21).

4. John 14:16 says the Father would send another Comforter, namely the Holy Ghost, yet in John 14:18 Jesus said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” In other words, the other Comforter is Jesus in another form – in the Spirit rather than the flesh. Jesus explained this in verse 17, saying that the Comforter was with the disciples already, but He would soon be in them. In other words, the Holy Ghost was with them in the person of Jesus Christ, but the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, soon would be in them. Jesus further explained this point in John 16:7, saying that He had to go away or else the Comforter would not come. Why? As long as Jesus was present with them in the flesh He would not he present spiritually in their hearts, but after He physically departed He would send back His own Spirit to he with them.

5. The Holy Ghost abides in the hearts of Christians (John 14:16), yet Jesus promised that He would abide with His followers to the end of the world (Matthew 28:20). Similarly, believers are filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:4, 38), yet it is Christ who dwells in us (Colossians 1:27).

6. Ephesians 3:16-17 says that by having the Spirit in the inner man we have Christ in our hearts.

7. Christ sanctifies the Church (Ephesians 5:26), yet the Spirit does (I Peter 1:2).

8. The Holy Ghost is the promised parakletos in John 14:26 (Greek word translated “Comforter” by the KJV), yet Jesus is our parakletos in I John 2:1 (same Greek word translated “advocate” in the KJV). We should note that the same human writer – the Apostle John – penned both of these verses, so presumably he was aware of the parallel.

9. The Spirit is our intercessor (Romans 8:26), yet Jesus is our intercessor (Hebrews 7:25).

10. The Holy Ghost will give us words to say in times of persecution (Mark 13:11), yet Jesus said He would do so (Luke 21:15).

11. In Acts 16:6-7, the RSV and NIV both equate the Holy Spirit with the Spirit of Jesus.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

It is clear that the terms Father, Son, and Holy Ghost cannot imply three separate persons, personalities, wills, or beings. They can only denote different aspects or roles of one Spirit-being – the one God. They describe God’s relationships to man, not persons in a Godhead. We use Father to emphasize God’s roles as Creator, Father of spirits, Father of the born-again believers, and Father of the humanity of Jesus Christ. We use Son to mean both the humanity of Jesus Christ and God as He manifested Himself in the flesh for the purpose of man’s salvation. We use Holy Ghost to emphasize God’s active power in the world and among men, particularly His work in regeneration.

We should note that these three titles are not the only ones God has. Many other titles or names for God are very significant and appear frequently in the Bible, including terms such as LORD (Jehovah), Lord, Word, God Almighty, and Holy One of Israel. The oneness view does not deny Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, but it does refute the view that these terms designate persons in the Godhead. God has many titles, but He is one being. He is indivisible as to His existence, but His revelation of Himself to mankind has been expressed through many channels, including His revelation as the Father, in the Son, and as the Holy Ghost.

Ephesians 3:14-17, which we have used several times in this chapter, demonstrates that the Father, the Spirit, and Christ are one in the sense just described. “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith…” The KJV is ambiguous as to whether “his Spirit” means the Father’s Spirit or Christ’s Spirit. The NIV, TAB, RSV, and Nestle’s Greek text all make it clear that “his” relates back to “Father.” Thus, this passage identifies the Spirit in a Christian’s heart as the Father’s Spirit and also as Christ. The Father, Christ, and the Spirit all refer to the one indivisible God.

What of passages of Scripture that seem to describe more than one person in the Godhead? They appear to do so only because of years of usage by those who believe in more than one person in the Godhead. When a person strips his mind of all man-made interpretations, connotations, and doctrines, viewing these verses through the eyes of the original writers (who were devout monotheistic Jews), he will understand these verses to describe either the multiple attributes and roles of God or the dual nature of Jesus Christ. (For the discussion of particular verses of Scripture in this regard, see Chapter 7 – OLD TESTAMENT EXPLANATIONS, Chapter 8 – NEW TESTAMENT EXPLANATIONS: THE GOSPEL, and Chapter 9 – NEW TESTAMENT EXPLANATIONS: ACTS TO REVELATION.)

Only two verses of Scripture in the entire Bible mention Father, Son (or Word), and Holy Ghost in a way that could suggest three persons or a special significance of the number three in relation to the Godhead. They are Matthew 28:19 and I John 5:7. However, both of these passages present serious problems for the trinitarian view.

Matthew 28:19


“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).


In this passage, Jesus commanded His disciples to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” However, this verse of Scripture does not teach that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate persons. Rather, it teaches the titles of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost identify one name and therefore one being. The verse expressly says “in the name,” not “in the names.”

To answer any doubt that the singular-plural distinction is significant or was planned deliberately by God, we need only read Galatians 3:16, where Paul emphasized the significance of the singular “thy seed” in Genesis 22:18. Many trinitarian scholars have recognized at least partially the significance of the singular in Matthew 28:19. For example, Presbyterian professor James Buswell states, “The ‘name,’ not ‘names’ of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in which we are to be baptized, is to be understood as Jahweh, the name of the Triune God.” [17] His insight of the singular is correct, although his identification of the singular name is in error. Jehovah or Yahweh was the revealed name of God in the Old Testament, but Jesus is the revealed name of God in the New Testament. However, the name Jesus includes Jehovah since Jesus means Jehovah-Savior.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost all describe the one God, so the phrase in Matthew 28:19 simply describes the one name of the one God. The Old Testament promised that there would come a time when Jehovah would have one name and that this one name would be made known (Zechariah 14:9; Isaiah 52:6). We know that the one name of Matthew 28:19 is Jesus, for Jesus is the name of the Father (John 5:43; Hebrews 1:4), the Son (Matthew 1:21), and the Holy Ghost (John 14:26). The New Testament church understood this to be so, for they baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; I Corinthians 1:13). Matthew himself endorsed this interpretation by standing with Peter and the other apostles during the sermon in which Peter commanded the people to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:14-38).

Some claim that the references in Acts do not really mean that the name of Jesus was orally uttered as part of the baptismal formula. However, this appears to be an attempt to twist the language to comply with an erroneous doctrine and practice. Acts 22:16 says, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” The Amplified Bible says, “Rise and be baptized, and by calling upon His name wash away your sins.” The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament says “invoking the name.” Therefore this verse of Scripture indicates the name Jesus was orally invoked at baptism. James 2:7 says, “Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?” The Greek phrasing indicates that the name was invoked over the Christians at a specific time. Thus, TAB says, “Is it not they who slander and blaspheme that precious name by which you are distinguished and called [the name of Christ invoked in baptism]?”

For an example of what “in the name of Jesus” means, we need only look at the story of the lame man’s healing in Acts 3. Jesus said to pray for the sick in His name (Mark 16:17-18), and Peter said the lame man was healed by the name of Jesus (Acts 4:10). How did this happen? Peter actually uttered the words, “in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 3:6). The name Jesus invoked in faith produced the result. The name signifies power or authority, but this signification does not detract from the fact that Peter orally invoked the name of Jesus in effecting the healing.

If the many scriptural passages in Acts that refer to water baptism in the name of Jesus do not describe a baptismal formula, then it is equally true that Matthew 28:19 does not indicate a formula. This interpretation would leave the church without any baptismal formula to distinguish Christian baptism from Jewish proselyte baptism and heathen baptism. But the Lord did not leave us without a baptismal formula; the church correctly carried out the instructions Jesus gave in Matthew 28:19 when the apostles used the name of Jesus in water baptism.

Many encyclopedias and church historians agree that the original baptismal formula in early church history was “in the name of Jesus.” For example, Lutheran professor Otto Heick says, “At first baptism was administered in the name of Jesus, but gradually in the name of the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” [18] This was not a slip of the pen, for he later affirmed his view: “At first baptism was in the name of Christ.” [19]

This interpretation of the one name in Matthew 28:19 as Jesus finds further support in the complete description of events of which this verse is a part. In Matthew 28:18-19, Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name…” In other words, Jesus said, “I have all power, so baptize in my name.” It would twist the logic of the passage to read it to mean, “I have all power, so baptize in the names of three different persons.” In the other accounts of the Great Commission, the name of Jesus figures prominently (Mark 16:17; Luke 24:47). Matthew’s “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” Mark’s “in my name,” and Luke’s “in his name,” all refer to the name of Jesus.

We should remember that water baptism is administered because of our past life of sin; it is for the “remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Since the name of Jesus is the only saving name (Acts 4:12), it is logical that the name be used in baptism. Jesus Himself linked remission of sins to His name: “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).

Matthew 28:19 does not teach three persons in one God, but rather it gives three titles of God, all of which properly apply to Jesus Christ. These titles sum up different roles of God or modes of His revelation; by its singular reference to “name,” it focuses upon the one name of God revealed in the New Testament. That name is Jesus.

Further light on this interpretation that the name of God is Jesus comes from a comparison of Revelation 14:1 with 22:3-4. There is one name for the Father, God, and the Lamb. The Lamb is Jesus, so Jesus is the name of God and the Father.

I John 5:7


“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” (I John 5:7)


Although this verse of Scripture is often used by those who believe in three persons of God, it actually refutes this view, for it says that “these three are one.” Some interpret this phrase to mean one in unity as a man and wife are one. But it should be pointed out that this view is essentially polytheistic. If the word one referred to unity instead of a numerical designation, then the Godhead can be viewed as many gods in a united council or government. If unity were meant, the verse should have read, “These three agree as one.”

It is also interesting to note that this verse does not use the word Son, but Word. If Son were the special name of a separate person in the Godhead, and if this verse were trying to teach separate persons, why did it use Word instead of Son? Son does not refer primarily to deity, but Word does. The Word is not a separate person from the Father any more than a man and his word are separate persons. Rather, the Word is the thought or plan in the mind of God and also the expression of God.

In a similar way, the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit is not a separate person from the Father any more than a man and his spirit are separate persons. Holy Spirit just describes what God is. First John 5:7 says that three bear record in heaven; that is, God has recorded Himself in three modes of activity or has revealed Himself in three ways. He has at least three heavenly roles: Father, Word (not Son), and Holy Ghost. Furthermore, these three roles describe one God: “these three are one.” [20]

Is God Limited To Three Manifestations?

In this chapter we have discussed three prominent manifestations of God. Does this mean that God is limited to these three roles? Do the terms Father, Son, and Holy Ghost encompass all that God is? Despite the prominence these manifestations have in the New Testament plan of redemption and salvation, it does not appear that God can be limited to these three roles, titles, or manifestations. God manifested Himself in many ways in the Old Testament. He revealed Himself in many theophanies, including human forms and angelic forms. (See Chapter 2 – THE NATURE OF GOD.) The Bible uses many other names and titles of God. For example, LORD (Jehovah) and Lord appear frequently in the Bible. God has revealed Himself to man in many other relationships, too. For example, He is King, Lord, Bridegroom, Husband, Brother, Apostle, High Priest, Lamb, Shepherd, and the Word. While Father, Son, and Holy Ghost represent three important roles, titles, or manifestations of God, God is not limited to these three, nor does the number three have a special significance with respect to God.

A popular explanation of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is that there is one God who has revealed Himself as Father in creation, Son in redemption, and Holy Ghost in regeneration. The recognition of these three manifestations does not imply that God is limited to three manifestations or that a threeness exists in the nature of God. Moreover, there is not a total distinction of one manifestation from another. For example, God was the Holy Spirit back at creation and used His role as Spirit in creation (Genesis 1:2). Furthermore, God used His role as Son – that is, He depended upon His plan for the future Sonship – back at creation (Hebrews 1:2). (See discussion of the Son and creation in Chapter 5 – THE SON OF GOD and discussion of Genesis 1:26 in Chapter 7 – OLD TESTAMENT EXPLANATIONS.) God is our Father in regeneration as well as creation, because by the new birth we become the spiritual children of God.

We cannot confine God to three or any other number of specific roles and titles. Neither can we sharply divide Him because He is one. Even His titles and roles overlap. He may manifest Himself in many ways, but He is one and only one being.

How then can we address God in a way that describes everything He is? What name includes the many roles and attributes of God? Of course, we could simply use the term God or the Old Testament name Jehovah. However, we have a new name revealed to us – the name of Jesus. When we use the name of Jesus, we encompass everything that God is. Jesus is Father, Son, and Spirit. Jesus summarizes all the compound names of Jehovah. Jesus is everything that God is. Whatever roles or manifestations God has, they are all in Jesus (Colossians 2:9). We can use the name Jesus for God Himself, for it denotes the totality of God’s character, attributes, and self-revelation.

Conclusion

The Bible speaks of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as different manifestations, roles, modes, titles, attributes, relationships to man, or functions of the one God, but it does not refer to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as three persons, personalities, wills, minds, or Gods. God is the Father of us all and in a unique way the Father of the man Jesus Christ. God manifested Himself in flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, called the Son of God. God is also called the Holy Spirit, which emphasizes His activity in the lives and affairs of mankind.

God is not limited to these three manifestations; however, in the glorious revelation of the one God, the New Testament does not deviate from the strict monotheism of the Old Testament. Rather, the Bible presents Jesus as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Jesus is not just the manifestation of one of three persons in the Godhead, but He is the incarnation of the Father, the Jehovah of the Old Testament. Truly, in Jesus dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (Written By David K. Bernard)


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