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Life-Study of 1, 2, & 3 John, Judeby Witness Lee

ISBN: 0-7363-2786-X
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry

Currently in: Chapter 23 of 49 Section 1 of 3

LIFE-STUDY OF FIRST JOHN

MESSAGE TWENTY-THREE

THE TEACHING OF THE DIVINE ANOINTING

(2)

Scripture Reading: 1 John 2:20-27

In the previous message we pointed out that according to 2:20-27 the Father and the Son are one. It is absolutely correct to say that the Son is not separate from the Father, nor the Father from the Son. However, there is still a distinction between the Three of the Godhead, a distinction between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

JESUS AND CHRIST

The Lord is both Jesus and Christ. Although there is no separation between Jesus and Christ, there is a distinction between these two titles Jesus and Christ. The name Jesus means Jehovah our Savior or Jehovah our salvation. The title Christ means the anointed One. The name Jesus mostly denotes the Lord in His humanity, in His incarnation, human living, and crucifixion. The title Christ denotes the Lord as God’s anointed One and especially what He is in resurrection and ascension. Jesus and Christ both refer to the same Person. Although this Person is inseparable, there is nevertheless a distinction between the two titles Jesus and Christ.

THE FATHER AND THE SON

Although the Son and the Father are one, we should not say that there is no distinction between the Father and the Son. There is a distinction between the Father and the Son, but there is no separation. When the Father is present, the Son is present also. Likewise, where the Son is, there the Father is also. The Father and the Son cannot be separated. For this reason, in verse 23 John says that whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either, and that he who confesses the Son has the Father also.

Whenever we speak about the Trinity, we need to be sober and careful with our definitions and illustrations. We have seen from 2:20-27 that Jesus, Christ, the Father, the Son, the Word of life, and eternal life all are one. However, there is still a distinction between them. We have already pointed out that Jesus and Christ refer to the same Person. Nevertheless, there is a distinction between the name Jesus and the title Christ. We should not say that they denote the same thing, for the denotations are quite different. Because our Lord is rich and all-inclusive, He needs different names and titles to describe Him. Therefore, He is Jesus and He is also Christ. As Jesus He is Jehovah our Savior, and as Christ, He is God’s anointed One.

There should not be any doubt in us that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are truly one and are one God. Although we believe in the Trinity, we definitely do not believe in three Gods. Tritheism, the belief in three Gods, is heresy, and we must condemn it. Although God is one, there is a clear distinction between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in the Godhead.

THE TWOFOLDNESS OF THE TRUTH
CONCERNING THE TRINITY

The truth of the Triune God is twofold; that is, it has two sides or two aspects, the aspect of one and the aspect of three. The twofoldness of the truth concerning the Trinity is embodied in the word triune. This adjective is actually a Latin word composed of two parts: tri-, meaning three, and -une, meaning one. The word “triune,” therefore, means three-one. On the one hand, our God is uniquely one; on the other hand, He is three. In the aspect of God’s being one, there is no separation between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. But in the aspect of God’s being three, there is a distinction between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. The Lord Jesus said, “I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me” (John 14:10). Because the Father and the Son are mutually in each other, They cannot be separated. But there is still a distinction between the Father and the Son.

Concerning the Trinity we should not drift to either of two extremes, to the extreme of emphasizing the three or the extreme of emphasizing the one. Some Christians have gone to the extreme of emphasizing the three to the neglect of the one. Others drift to the extreme of the one and neglect the three. We need to be balanced. In order to be balanced we need to emphasize both aspects of the Trinity—the aspect of the three and the aspect of the one. Because in the foregoing message we pointed out that the Father and the Son are one, in this message I would like to say a balancing word that although the Father and the Son are one, there is still a definite distinction between them. In the sense of distinction, the Father is the Father, the Son is the Son, and the Spirit is the Spirit. Although there is a distinction between the Three of the Godhead, the Three nonetheless are still one.

In The Principles of Theology W. H. Griffith Thomas says the following:

The term “Person” is also sometimes objected to. Like all human language, it is liable to be accused of inadequacy and even positive error. It certainly must not be pressed too far, or it will lead to Tritheism. While we use the term to denote distinctions in the Godhead, we do not imply distinctions which amount to separateness, but distinctions which are associated with essential mutual co-inherence or inclusiveness....

While, therefore, we are compelled to use terms like “substance” and “Person,” we are not to think of them as identical with what we understand as human substance or personality. The terms are not explanatory, but only approximately correct, as must necessarily be the case with any attempt to define the Nature of God.

I especially appreciate Griffith Thomas’ word that the term “Person” must not be pressed too far “or it will lead to Tritheism,” the belief in three Gods. In the same principle, when we say that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all one, we should not press this too far, or we will fall into another kind of error. Some have used sunlight as an illustration: the sun is the Father, the ray is the Son, and the shining is the Spirit. Another illustration is that of ice, water, and vapor, with these three respectively representing the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Such illustrations may be used for temporary help; they should not be pressed too far or they will lead to error.


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