THE THREE-ONE GOD
Throughout the centuries, theologians have been studying the Triune God, and there have been many debates concerning the Trinity of the Godhead. Not many Christians have realized that the divine Trinity is not for doctrine, but for our experience. As we have seen, the Trinity is for the dispensing of the Triune God into us. However, if we regard the Trinity merely as a doctrine, we shall have difficulty, because no one can adequately define the Trinity in a doctrinal way.
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament tell us that God is uniquely one (Deut. 4:35, 39; Psa. 86:10; 1 Cor. 8:4; 1 Tim. 2:5). Beside Him, there is no other God. Although God is unique, He is triune—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. There is no doubt that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are three. In the Gospels the Son prayed to the Father, the Father spoke to the Son, and the Father sent the Spirit to be upon the Son. It is not possible for us to explain doctrinally how God can be one and yet three. Our mind is too limited for this. We simply are not able to analyze the Person of the Godhead; we are not able to explain how He is three yet still one.
Our God is triune. This is a Latin word composed of two words: tri-, meaning three, and -une, meaning one. Hence, to say that God is triune is to say that He is three-one. The Triune God is the three-one God. In the natural mind we may think of either one or three, but we do not have the thought of three-one. However, in the divine concept there is the matter of God’s being three-one. This expression three-one is better than three-in-one. According to the Bible, we should simply believe the fact that God is three-one. He is one—the unique God, yet He is three—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
THE NAME OF THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT
The name of God as the Father, the Son, and the Spirit was not made clear until after the Lord’s resurrection. According to Matthew 28:19, after His resurrection the Lord came to His disciples and said to them, “Go therefore and disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Here we see that there is one name; yet it is the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Spirit. This is a three-one name. After His resurrection, the Lord charged His disciples to baptize people into the three-one name: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps you are wondering why before Christ’s resurrection the divine revelation does not clearly indicate that God is the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. In the Old Testament plural pronouns are used with respect to God. For example, Genesis 1:26 says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” The pronouns “us” and “our” indicate that the unique God is triune. If God were not triune, how could Genesis 1:26 refer to Him as “us” and “our”? Elsewhere in the Old Testament there are indications that God is one and yet three. Consider Isaiah 6:8: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” In this verse the pronouns “I” and “us” are used for God. This is an indication that God is three-one.
Chapters fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen of John are one long discourse followed by a lengthy prayer recorded in chapter seventeen. These four chapters speak of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Although much is said in these chapters concerning the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, nothing is as clear as Matthew 28:19. In this one verse the Lord speaks explicitly concerning the three of the Godhead, telling the disciples to baptize the nations into the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This word is brief, but it is definite and crystal clear. If we compare this verse with what is recorded in the other Gospels and in the Old Testament, we shall see that it was only when the Lord had entered into resurrection that the three of the Godhead—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—are clearly revealed.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 41, by Witness Lee)