THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOD AND THE TRIUNE GOD
Now we need to consider carefully the difference between God and the Triune God. To speak only of God is to regard Him as if He had not been processed. However, the Triune God denotes God in His process. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (lit.). In this verse we cannot see the processed God; that is, we cannot see the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. But in the New Testament we have a full revelation of the Triune God.
In the New Testament the first main step regarding the revelation of the Triune God is the revelation of the name of the Father. In the four Gospels we have the revelation not mainly of God, but mainly of God the Father. The Lord Jesus spent much time with the disciples to reveal to them the name of the Father.
In the New Testament, of course, we also have the revelation that Jesus is the Son of God. One day, according to Matthew 16, the Lord Jesus led His disciples away from Jerusalem, with its religious atmosphere, to Caesarea Philippi, close to the northern border of the Holy Land, at the foot of Mount Hermon, on which He was soon to be transfigured (Matt. 17:1-2). Caesarea Philippi was far from the holy city with the holy temple, where the atmosphere of the old Jewish religion filled everyone’s thought. The Lord purposely brought His disciples to a place with a clear atmosphere so that their thought could be released from the effects of the religious surroundings in the holy city and holy temple, and that He might reveal to them something new concerning Himself. It was there that the vision concerning Him as the Christ, the Son of the living God, was given to Peter.
Matthew 16:13 says, “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Who do men say that the Son of Man is?” Because the disciples were not clear, they began to answer in a nonsensical way. According to verse 14, they said, “Some, John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” Then the Lord Jesus said to them, “But you, who do you say that I am?” (v. 15). As we know, Peter, receiving the revelation from the Father, answered and said to the Lord Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16). Thus, in the New Testament we first have the revelation of the name of the Father and then the revelation of the Son of God. The first title revealed in the New Testament, therefore, is the Father; the second is that of the Son.
Going on from Matthew 16 to John 14, we have the revelation of the Spirit. When Philip said to the Lord Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father and it suffices us” (John 14:8), the Lord replied, “Am I so long a time with you, and you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father.…Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?” (vv. 9-10). Here the Lord Jesus indicates that He is in the Father and that the Father is in Him. This means that He cannot be separated from the Father nor the Father from Him. After speaking in this way concerning Himself and the Father, the Lord went on to speak of the Spirit of reality, another Comforter, “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” (vv. 16-17). Thus, the Spirit, another Comforter, is the third divine title revealed in the New Testament. Therefore, we have the revelation of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. This is the Triune God.
The revelation of the Triune God requires the incarnation of Christ, the Lord’s human living, and His crucifixion and resurrection. After the resurrection of Christ, we have the coming of the Spirit. Now we know that the Triune God is the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
This Triune God is the processed God. He has passed through the process of incarnation, human living, crucifixion, and resurrection. In crucifixion, He accomplished redemption, the termination of the old creation, and the destruction of Satan and death. In resurrection, He germinated the new creation. Now He is the life-giving Spirit as the ultimate consummation of the Triune God. The church is in such a Triune God. The church is in the processed Triune God, the One who has become the life-giving Spirit with the Father and the Son.
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)