Rabbi Schneider - What Is the Trinity?
Matthew, Mark and Luke speak of much of the historical ministry of Jesus. John speaks of more of the mysterious element of Jesus, more of the, the mystery that was revealed from heaven. Now don't misunderstand me, Matthew, Mark and Luke also speak to some of these mystical realities, but John much more so. Now on last week's broadcast I talked about the mystery of the Word of God that has always been. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. We talked about that mystery, that Jesus is the Word that has always been, manifested in space and time, clothed in humanity.
I encourage you, if you didn't get last week's broadcast to get that, watch it online, order it, whatever you want to do; very important word. I want to continue on today, church, by talking about what the church calls the doctrine of the Trinity. So I'd like to go to our primary text right now, John, chapter 1. We're gonna begin today in verse number 1. I'm gonna read a few verses and then I'm gonna talk to you about the mystery of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Let's look at the Word together, John, 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. So once again, the Word has always been. The Word has always been. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. So the Word is God. In John, 1:14, we read: And the Word became flesh. In other words, that Jesus is this Word. He's God that has always been. Listen once again: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, get it now, and the Word was God. I'm gonna say it again. And the Word was God. John, 1:14: And the Word became flesh. And so Jesus is the Word who is God, that's always been, made flesh.
Now we know that Jesus is the Son. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, right, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. So we have God. We have the Word who was with God and who is God. Jesus is that Word, and Jesus is the Son. We also know that in addition to having the Father God and the Son, we have the Holy Spirit. And so the Apostles Creed, other doctrines of our faith, we speak about the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, right. When we baptize somebody, Jesus told us to baptize them in the name of the what? The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is very hard for us to comprehend. How can God be one and yet be Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
You know, at times the apostles asked Jesus a question and Jesus said no one knows the answer to that question but the Father. For example, they asked Jesus when he was going to come again. Jesus said the Father's fixed that time by his own authority. Or no one knows but the Father. So even though the Son is God, the Father is greater than him, right, and the Father, according to Jesus, even knows things that he doesn't know. And yet Jesus, the Son and the Word, is God. Now don't let me lose you now. I know this is complicated and you know for some of you it sounds maybe like a little gibberish here because it doesn't make logical sense. But I want you to stick with me. This message will help many of you.
So in the church today, we have a term that theologians coined, listen now, the Trinity. Most of you have heard this term, the Trinity. What do we mean by the Trinity? The term Trinity means that God exists eternally as Father, Son and Holy Spirit; that God exists in three persons. Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they're unique but they're all God and God is one. Now this to us does not make any logical sense. How can God be three distinct persons and still be one? And we've had a lot of people try to make sense of this. Some of you have even heard some of these analogies before. For example, how many of you heard somebody say, well the Trinity is kind of like an egg. An egg is one but an egg has three parts. We have the, the shell around the egg. We have the white of the egg. And then we have the yellow center, the egg yolk. And people say well that's kind of like God. He's three parts but he's one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Well as good of a well-meaning of an attempt that that is to try to help us understand the mystery of the Trinity, I don't think that even comes close, beloved ones to helping us understand the mystery of the Trinity. The funniest and most humorous explanation of the Trinity that I ever heard, and I don't mean anything at all sacrilegious about this. It's just so ridiculous that it's funny is some guy described the Trinity by saying you know, well the Trinity is kind of like a Rice Krispies flake. You get Snap, Krackle, Pop all in one flake. Well obviously that also falls way short. The reality is, beloved ones, we can't, get it again, we cannot logically explain the Trinity. We cannot logically explain how God is one and yet he's Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that each one is relating to each other.
So for example, Jesus had a relationship with the Father, yet he's God, and he's, you know, he is part of God and one with God. So Jesus prayed to the Father. Jesus came to earth. He said he came to do the Father's will. The Bible says that Jesus, get this now, is in the bosom of the Father; that the Son is in the bosom of the Father; that God has an only begotten Son that's in his bosom, and that Jesus is the physical manifestation of God's only begotten Son. Now just hang with me now. I know we're talking about some, you know, complex theological concepts, but I'm gonna, I'm gonna bring it down to help you understand this in a simple way. So somebody that tells us that they can give us understanding into the mystery of the Trinity, they're, they're, they're fooling themselves if they think they can fully explain it. It's impossible. But I'm gonna speak some realities about it that will be helpful.
First of all, God does not have to be, listen now, singularly unified to be one. So for example, in the Book of Genesis, it says a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become, get it now, one. The Hebrew word there is Echadh flesh. So you have a situation where a husband and wife, man and woman, become one. They're one unit. And it's not a singular unity but it's a compound unity. The two become one. The same thing is true when the Lord had the Israelites build all the different pieces of the tabernacle. And after all the different pieces of the tabernacle were built, they were joined together to become one, one unit.
And so I'm speaking this way because as a Jewish person one of the criticisms that I get from the Jewish community is that you know what, you have fallen away from the faith because our greatest declaration is from Deuteronomy, chapter 6, where the Lord says there in Deuteronomy, 6:4: Shema, Israel, Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echadh. Some of you have even heard it sung before. It goes: "Shema, Israel, Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echadh". Deuteronomy, 6:4, is what I just sang and it's translated: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord, get is now, is one. And Orthodox Jewish men will try to make that the last thing they say before passing on. The Word there, in Deuteronomy, 6:4, for one, the Lord is one. The Hebrew word there in the original is Echadh. That's the same Word that God uses in Genesis when he says that a man shall leave his father and mother, cleave to his wife and the two shall become what, one, Echadh.
And so when the Bible speaks about God being one, it's not speaking necessarily about a singular unity but rather simply about a unity, and we see in Scripture that often times a unity will be a compound unity as in the case of a man and woman becoming one; all the pieces of the tabernacle becoming one. In fact, in fact, beloved ones, when the Lord created the world, going back to the very first few verses of the Bible, go with me now. Listen to this, Genesis, chapter 1. The Bible said, let us, get it now, let us create man in our image. Let us create man in our image. Who was God talking to there when he said let us create man in our image? Who is the us? Let us, the Lord said, create man in our image. Who is the us and who is the our? Who is God speaking to?
Well in Rabbinic Judaism they say that God was speaking to the angels. He wasn't speaking to the angels. He was speaking, beloved, listen now, to the fact that he has relationship within himself. Let us create man, get it now, in our image. In other words, within God there is relationship. Let us create man in our image. Inside God there is relationship, and this is where we get the doctrine of the Trinity from; that within God we have Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It's one. God is one. He's a compound unity, or a complex unity, yet he's one God. And within him, get it now, is relationship that God has relationship within himself. That's why we have families on earth today.
Why do we have family? Where do we get this concept of relationship from? Where do we get this relationship concept between men and women? Between parents and children? Between people? It all comes from the fact, beloved one, get this now, that within the Godhead relationship already exists. And so because relationship exists within the Godhead, because within the Godhead the Father is always in communion with the Son, and the Son is always in communion with the Father, and the Spirit is the, the, what's holding everything together. Because there is relationship within the Godhead we have the concept of relationship woven in to humankind that is created, get it now, in God's image. And so once again we see here all the way back to John, chapter 1, verse 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
I want to continue on here and ask you this question. Some of you are still kind of, you're, you're, you're following it, you're saying yeah, that kind of makes sense. You're not fully convinced. There's nothing that I can say that will fully convince you because I can't logically explain all this to the tee. But let me say this to you. I'm not apologizing for not being able to fully explain it to you. Here's the reason why I'm not apologizing to you and here's the reason why you can feel free to embrace this concept of God being one, yet existing in three different persons that are distinct. Here's why you can embrace this fully with your heart without fully being able to intellectually comprehend it.
Here's why you can do that. Think about this. You believe in God. I'm assuming that those of you that are watching, the vast majority of you believe in God right now. Some of you are saying you don't. Even those of you that are saying you don't, deep down inside you really do. I'm gonna get into that in the weeks ahead. Think about this. You believe in God. I want to ask you a question. Where did God come from? Can you explain logically where God came from? Obviously you can't. It doesn't make any sense. It makes no sense at all that God has always been. We cannot in any way even remotely connect to that intellectually. It is beyond the intellect. Our mind can only understand where something has come from, get it now, through the laws of cause and effect. We can only understand that this exists because of this; that this came from this. We can only think through our mental capacity thought the lens of cause and effect.
Where did God come from? There is no logical answer to that. He's always been. He came from nowhere. But we say intellectually that's impossible; that he's always been. Where did he come from? He had to come from somewhere. But the truth is, that's what makes God God; in the beginning, God. God has always been. He came from nowhere. It is intellectually impossible to grasp that. And every time I remotely get touched, get close to touching on that, my mind just overloads and for some reason my heart just melts down in love. It must be because God is love. And so by virtue of the fact, beloved one, that you and I cannot in any way comprehend logically the fact that God has always been, neither should we expect to be able to intellectually comprehend how God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and yet he's one.
You know, an interesting illustration where we see in the New Testament, God manifested at the same time in the person of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit is when Yeshua was baptized, when he went into the waters, we say in Hebrew of the Mikvah, the Mikvah waters. And what happened when Yeshua went into the, the Mikvah waters when Jesus was baptized. He went into the water, right, and then he came out of the water. When he came out of the water, get it now, the Spirit manifested himself above Jesus, visibly to John the Baptist as a dove, right. John said, I saw the Spirit lighting on him and I saw the Spirit lighting on him, John said, as a dove. So the Spirit was manifest above Jesus as a dove.
So here we have the Spirit. Jesus himself, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, is the one that John sees coming out of the water, right. So now we have the Spirit manifested as a dove. We have Jesus coming out of the water in the flesh, the Son of God, in the flesh. And then we have the Father speaking from heaven that John the Baptist hears when John hears the Word, this is my Beloved Son and in him I am well pleased. So at the baptism we have the Father speaking, this is my Beloved Son in whom I'm well pleased. We have the Spirit manifested as a dove. And we have Jesus himself, the Son, coming out of the water; Father, Son and Holy Spirit all in the same act.
Well I want to leave you with this truth as we close this particular mystery that God is relationship. There's relationship in himself. And when you and I try to define God, we need to include in our definition and obviously our definitions will always fall short, but any definition of God that leaves out the word relationship falls far short of being an adequate description of who God is. We know God has always been. We know he's self-existent. We know he's all-powerful. We know he's omniscient. He's all-knowing. We know he's a God of love. We can describe him in all these ways, and all those ways are true. But unless we, beloved ones, include in our description of God the word he is relationship, we have fallen, fall short of understanding who God is. You see, Jesus said in John, 17, that in him we have eternal life. And Jesus said, this is eternal life that you would know God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. God loves you today, my friend. He loves us today. And as we seek his face, he's gonna reveal more and more of the mystery of his Son to us.