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Equality and the Trinity

The Gospel of John chapter 5 contains one of the strongest statements of Christology in the Bible. It also gives us a peek into the mystery of the Trinity. In it, Jesus defends himself before the religious leaders for healing on the Sabbath. Jesus’ main defense was His equality with God:

• “Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” (5:19)
• The Father “… shows him everything he is doing.” (5:20)
• The Father gives life “… so the Son gives life to anyone he wants.” (5:21)
• The Father “… has given the Son absolute authority to judge.” (5:22)
• “Everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.” (5:23)

Jesus affirmed that He is equal to the Father in work, in will, in mind, in life, in authority, and in honor. The Father and Son are equal in being. However, the Father and Son are distinguished in person. In other words, they are not each other but are distinct as persons (the same is true for the Holy Spirit).

When theologians try to explain the doctrine of the Trinity, they sometimes talk of the ontological (being) Trinity and the economical (household) Trinity. For example, the Father sends the Son (John 5:24) and not the other way around; this gives us a glimpse into the management of the household of God with unity of being and diversity of persons. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are co-equal in being as God, but the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct in person and in their roles. The Trinity is the answer to the age-old question, “How can there be unity and diversity?” The Got God website explains further:

We refer to the “economic Trinity” when we discuss the unique relationships among the Three Persons of the Trinity.

The economic Trinity is often discussed in conjunction with the “ontological Trinity,” a term that refers to the co-equal nature of the Persons of the Trinity. The term “economic Trinity” focuses on what God does; “ontological Trinity” focuses on who God is. Taken together, these two terms present the paradox of the Trinity: the Father, Son, and Spirit share one nature, but they are different Persons and have different roles. The Trinity is both united and distinct.

When we come to know God the Father personally through faith in Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit, life takes on new dimensions. We enjoy the benefits of being in relation to the unity and diversity of the Trinity. That relationship enfolds, empowers, and instructs us. The unity and diversity in the Triune God is the answer and hope for more unity and diversity in ourselves and for all humanity.

Because of this doctrine, I like to think that Christian growth is a process of both becoming more like Christ and also growing more like the unique you God intended you to be.

Pastor Roger

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