Sunday Considerations: Father, Son, Holy Spirit

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Consider these words from Herman Bavinck on the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as you prepare to worship the Triune God – the only God, an awesome God, a Holy God – on this Lord’s Day.

This very special, this unique, relationship between Father and Son did not develop in time by way of the supernatural conception of the Holy Spirit, or of the anointing at baptism, or of the resurrection and ascension—though many have maintained this—but is a relationship which has existed from all eternity. The Son who in Christ assumed human nature was in the beginning with God as the Word, (John 1:1). then already had the form of God, (Phil. 2:6), was rich and clothed with glory, (John 17:5, 24), was then already the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person, (Heb. 1:3), and precisely therefore He could in the fulness of time be sent out, given, and brought into the world.14 Hence, too, the creation, (John 1:3; Col. 1:16) and providence, (Heb 1:3) and the accomplishment of the whole of salvation, (1 Cor. 1:30) are ascribed to Him. He is not, as creatures are made or created, but is instead, the first-born of all creatures that is the Son who has the rank and rights of the first-born over against all creatures, (Col 1:15) Thus He is also the first-born of the dead, the first-born of many brethren, and therefore among all and in all He is the first, (Rom 8:29; Col 1:18) And even though in the fulness of time, He assumed the form of a servant, He was nevertheless in the form of God. He was in all things like unto God the Father, (Phil. 2:6), in life, (John 5:26), in knowledge, (Matt. 11:27), in strength, (John 1:3 and 5:21, 26), in honor, (John 5:23). He is Himself God, to be praised above all else into eternity.15 Just as all things are of the Father, so they are also all through the Son, (1 Cor. 8:6).

Both, Father and Son, come together and are united in the Holy Spirit and by means of the Spirit dwell in all creatures. True, God is according to His nature a Spirit, (John 4:24) and He is holy, (Isa. 6:3); but the Holy Spirit is clearly distinguished from God as Spirit. Just as, in a comparative way of speaking, man is a spirit in his invisible nature and also possesses a spirit, by means of which he is aware of himself and is self-conscious, so God is a Spirit by nature and also possesses a Spirit, a Spirit which searches the depths His being, (1 Cor. 2:11). As such the latter is called the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit, (Ps. 51:12; Isa. 63:10-11). And this is done in distinction from the spirit of an angel or of a human being or of any other creature. But, although He is distinguished from God, from the Father and the Son, He stands in the most intimate of relationships with both. He is called the breath of the Almighty, (Job 33:4), the breath of His mouth, (Ps. 33:6), is sent out by the Father and the Son, (John 14:26; 15:26), and He proceeds from both, not from the Father alone, (John 15:26) but also from the Son, for He is also called the Spirit of Christ or the Spirit of the Father, (Rom. 8:9).1

All of these elements of the doctrine of the trinity, spread throughout the Scriptures, were gathered together, so to speak, by Jesus in His baptismal command and by the apostles in their benedictions. After His resurrection and before His ascension, Christ bids His apostles to go out and make all peoples His disciples and to baptize them in the one name in which, nevertheless, three different subjects are revealed. Father, Son, and Spirit are in their oneness and their distinction the fulness of the perfected revelation of God. Just so, too, according to the apostles the whole good and salvation of man is contained in the love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.16 The good pleasure, the foreknowledge, the power, the love, the kingdom, and the strength are the Father’s. The Mediatorship, the reconciliation, the grace, and the redemption are the Son’s. The regeneration, the renewal, the sanctification, the redemption are the Spirit’s.2

  1. Herman Bavinck. Divine Trinity. (Kindle Locations 194-214). PB Ministries.
  2. Ibid., Kindle Locations 236-242.
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