III. ALL THREE COEXISTING
(EXISTING AT THE SAME TIME)
AND NOT BEING IN MODES (STAGES)
In Matthew 3:16-17 we see that the Father, Son, and Spirit all exist at the same time; that is, They coexist. In this wonderful picture of the divine Trinity, Jesus (the Son) went up from the water after being baptized; at the same time the Spirit descended upon Him; and also at the same time the Father spoke from the heavens concerning the Son.
Still further, notice John 14:16-17: "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may be with you forever; even the Spirit of reality." In these two verses we have the Son praying to the Father that the Father would send the Spirit. Hence, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all present at the same time.
In Ephesians 3:14-17 Paul says that he will pray the Father to grant us to be strengthened through His Spirit into our inner man that Christ may make His home in our hearts. In this passage we have the Father, the Spirit, and Christ the Son. All exist at the same time. The Bible does not say that the Father existed for a certain period of time, then the Father became the Son so the Father stopped existing. Neither does it say that after a certain period of time the Son no longer existed because He became the Spirit. This is a wrong teaching, a heresy called "modalism." The people teaching this think that God exists in three successive modes or stages: first the Father, then the Son, and finally the Spirit.
We cannot accept this teaching. The Scriptures clearly tell us that all Three eternally coexist. John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." The Word is the Son. He was present in eternity with God the Father, and He was God. In John 17:5 the Lord prayed concerning the glory He had shared with the Father before the world was. Both the Father and Son, then, are coeternal. That the Spirit also is eternal is clear from Hebrews 9:14, where He is called "the eternal Spirit." It was this Triune God who said in Genesis 1:26: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." All Three were there before man’s creation.
IV. ALL THREE COINHERING
(LIVING WITHIN ONE ANOTHER) ETERNALLY
AND NOT BEING THREE SEPARATE GODS
The Father, the Son, and the Spirit not only coexist but also coinhere, which means that they live within one another. John 14 clearly says that the Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son (vv. 10-11). To see the Son is to see the Father. When the Son speaks, it is the Father who is working. The Two are inseparable. The Bible goes on to say that the Son, after death and resurrection, became the Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b). The Son, in whom is the Father, has become the Spirit. Thus, the Triune God can come into the sinner. The Son comes to us as the Spirit; and when the Son comes, the Father comes as well. From one side, They are three; but from the other side, They are one because They cannot be separated.
In Lesson One we have seen that the Father, Son, and Spirit are one God, not three. But, deep within, some Christians consider the Father, Son, and Spirit as three Gods. Some even clearly state this. Others may not say this in words, but they do hold this concept subconsciously. The teaching of three Gods is called "tritheism" and is a great heresy. Once a brother asked a certain Christian preacher who did not believe that the Son is the Father and that the Lord is the Spirit, "Brother, how many Gods are the Father, Son, and Spirit?" The preacher replied clearly and definitely that there were three Gods. Such a statement is absolutely heretical. The revelation of the Bible is that God is one. God is one, yet three; three, yet one. The Father, Son, and Spirit coexist and coinhere eternally. Hallelujah! We are not modalists or tritheists—we just believe the pure revelation of the Bible. Amen!
- Give three verses that show us the Father, Son, and Spirit are all eternal.
- What is "Modalism"? Explain with a diagram.
- What is "Tritheism"? Explain with a diagram.
- What is "Coinherence"?
Quoted Portions from (Lee/LSM) Publications
- The Revelation of the Triune God According to the Pure Word of the Bible, pp. 7-11.
- The Divine Dispensing of the Divine Trinity, pp. 17-18, 37-39.
- Young People’s Training, pp. 83-84.
- Life-study of Philippians, pp. 335-336.
(Lesson Book, Level 2: The Triune God—The Triune God and the Person and Work of Christ, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)