Recently I have noticed that whenever a friend of mine prays, he ends it like this:
I pray all these things in Your heavenly Father’s name. Amen.
After the last time I heard him say this, I moved to gently correct his word usage, saying that we pray to the Father, by the power of the Spirit, in the name of Jesus.
He shrugged it off as trivial.
Is it trivial? Is this just Jakob running out of things to argue about so he has to find something else that bugs him?
Not really. Not at all actually!
You may think that it is not so important, but this slight mix up of words has quite a negative affect on what you’re trying to pray. To show this, I’ll go through what we can understand about the Trinity. This may take longer then expected, but the idea will be to correct our thoughts in this area to focusing more on what the Bible does and does not teach. It is never easy to look at the Doctrine of the Trinity and attempt to understand it. So it will be my goal to not go beyond what is written and in the end claim that the secret things belong to the Lord, but the things that He has revealed belong to His people and their generations forever.
What the Trinity is not~
Many think that since they have read a certain book that they understand so much better what the Trinity is. They proceed to tell us that:
- There is no hierarchy within the God-head, because that would make it sinful
- The members submit to each other, and not just to one of the other members
- All three members of the God-head suffered pain at the Crucifixion
- And that all three are equally approachable with no consequence
This is dangerous. It nearly eliminates the need for Jesus. Let me explain.
When we first “meet” God in the Bible. Who is He? What is He to us?
He is our creator, Father, and Lord. But then we sin. Then what happens?
He removes us from His presence. This is primarily for our sake so that we may escape eternal suffering by dying (weird concept, look at Genesis 3:22). However, what is also true is that holiness and un-holiness are separated. We see this separation in drastic ways whenever man encounters God in the Old Testament. The result is that the man comes close to death each time! I have little time to get into it but: Genesis 32:30; Exodus 33:18-23; Joshua 5:14,15; Judges 6:39; 13:19-23; Job 42:1-6; Isaiah 6:1-7. These all prove my point.
These all attest to the fact that God the Father is unapproachable, with death as the punishment for disobedience, unless it’s on His terms. It culminates with Job saying, “There is no arbiter between us who might lay his hand on us both.” (Job 9:33)
He is also not a created God. The last few chapters of Job remind us that we were not there when God put the sky into place and created the oceans and so on. If we weren’t around, who was there to create God? The only exception, then, is the physical body of Jesus, which is now glorified as He was before time began.
Lastly, God doesn’t “take turns” which means that only one member of the God-head could ever bear the marks and suffering of the cross. That’s Jesus. There is an ancient heresy called modalism which claims that for the Old Testament, there was God the Father. For His life on earth, there was only Jesus. And ever since He rose, God became the Spirit. Tag! You’re it!
While this is not the view of the Trinity that some are holding, they are bordering pretty close. By saying that there is no hierarchy, equal submission, equal approachability, and equal suffering, we, in effect, eliminate the Trinity. Not that we could eliminate God, but that we get rid of His three-in-one-ness.