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The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one in the same, but represent three different persons or roles of the same person towards us and Himself.  While the idea of a “triune” God is one familiar to those exposed to the Christian faith, we must not lose sight of the fact that there is only one God and no others. For example, Deuteronomy 6:4 states that “the Lord our God is one Lord” and in the New Testament it can be read in Mark 12:32 that “there is one God, there is none other”. Additionally, even when distinctions are made concerning God’s person, it can be seen that He himself considers himself as one, as in the instance of John 10:29 when Christ proclaimed that He and his Father were one, or in Philippians 2:6 when it states Jesus is equal with God.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to fully grasp the idea of God being three and one simultaneously. However some additional understanding may be gained by comparing the three persons of God with the three states of water: solid, liquid, and gas. In each state, the substance remains water, but each state is distinctly different from any of the other two states. Water is around us all the time in these three forms, and so the person of God present is around us all the time, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

While God is one God, the idea of the trinity is readily apparent in such verses as John 14:16, where Christ declares that he will pray to the Father concerning the Holy Spirit. The idea of the trinity is also discernible from Old Testament verses such as Genesis 1:26, where God said “Let us make man in our image.” It should be noted that God here is translated from the Hebrew Elohim which is a plural form of God.   In Matthew 3:16-17, we see the three persons of the Godhead mentioned after the baptism of the Lord Jesus, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:  And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

There is only one time that anything resembling a separation between the persons of the Godhead took place.  That was at the cross, where Jesus took our sin burden on himself.   It is not something easily understood because what happened at the cross for us was between God the Father and God the Son.  We read in the gospel according to Mark 15:34,  “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  We as men cannot say we know what happened in the relationship of the Father and Son there except to see that Christ indicated he was forsaken by God.  We do know and we thank God for this, that his sufferings on the cross was to bring salvation to everyone who believes on him, because it was there that he died for our sins on the cross.

So we see that there is one God, but He exists in three aspects, we can now examine some of the differences between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

God the Father is not called “The Father” arbitrarily.  The person of God as father is distinguished by His relationship towards us and towards the Son of God. Our relationship as believers toward the Father is illustrated in such verses as Romans 8:15-17 where Christians are called “children of God” which have “received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba (daddy), Father” and have ultimately become “joint-heirs with Christ…that we may be also glorified together”.  God the Father’s desire to be our father is illustrated in 2Corinthians 6:18, where we read “And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”  In Galatians 1:3-4, we read  “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our LORD Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.”  Here we see again that the Father is God and as saved ones he is our Father.  We also see in this verse that it is the will of the Father that we should be saved through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Between God the Father and God the Son there is also the father-son relationship illuminated by such versus as Mark 1:11 when God declares Christ to be His “beloved Son”.

The Lord Jesus instructs that we should pray to the Father.  When asked by his disciples to teach them how to pray, we read in Luke 11:2 where Jesus said: “When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.”

Looking now at God the Son, we see the person of the Godhead represented in a way that we can perhaps more easily relate to, when he became a man.  But before that, we see him at work in heaven as the Word of God and the creator.  In the gospel of John 1:1 we read “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  Then in verse 14 we read “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  After this we can see in Colossians 2:9 emphasis is made on his deity as God in the flesh where we read, “For in him (referring to Christ), dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”  So we see the person of Jesus Christ as God, as the creator, as the living word.  He  became a human person, fully God, fully man.  Next we can see Jesus, the Son of God, was sent to the earth to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins as the holy spotless lamb of God. This idea is expressed in

John 1:29 – “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”   And also in John 3:16-18 where it is proclaimed that because God loved the world “he gave his only begotten Son…that the world through him might be saved” so that “he that believeth on him is not condemned”.  Since it is through Christ that the world is saved, Christ is described in John 14:6 as being “the way, the truth, and the life”. Those who accept Christ as savior are saved through Christ from judgment, but as Christ clearly states in John 12:48 that those who reject Christ and receive not his words have one that judges him, not now, but later.

And soon too, we will see Jesus the Son of God return and be revealed as King over all,  1 Tim 6:14-15 says in part, “…until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:  Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.”

After Christ had completed his work towards our salvation and returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit was sent to us.  We see him described as a “comforter”.  In John 14:16 Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.  We know Him as the “Spirit of truth” as described in John 14:17, “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”  Next we see in John 15:26 the Spirit will testify of the Lord Jesus.  We read, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me”.  Notice here too the active relationship of the three persons of the Godhead mentioned together in one verse.

God the Spirit is also described in Romans 8:26-27 as someone who makes “intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” “for we know not what we should pray as we ought”. Additionally the Holy Spirit is described in John 14:17 as dwelling with us, and that He would be in us. Perhaps, because this is the person of God which is described as being in us, this person of God is called Spirit since spirit usually describes the essence of or the driving force of something or someone.

The  Spirit of God teaches us truth, as seen in John 16:13, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”

Well this is a topic I am sure cannot be exhausted in a lifetime of study.  From what we have just looked at, we can see that while there is only one Godhead, and there are functional persons of the Godhead that are defined by their names. Thus there are differences between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but not any separation between the three in nature or purpose.