Jesus and the Trinity
At this point in our study on the Trinity, we need to synthesize what the Bible teaches about Jesus. For example, the Bible teaches that Jesus and the Father are separate, distinct, coeternal members of the Godhead. Jesus is not a created being. Like the Father, Jesus is a God who is “from everlasting to everlasting.” (Nehemiah 9:5, John 1:1) Jesus and the Father have independent wills. (John 6:38, Luke 22:42) The Father spoke through Jesus to ensure the Jews understood that Jesus and the Father are compeers (equal in standing, ability, or accomplishment) even though they assume different roles. (John 5:18, Matthew 26:63-66) The Father not only gave Jesus the words to speak, but also told Jesus how and when to say them. (John 12:49, 14:24) The Father declared to the Jews that Jesus was a God just like Himself, but the Jews rejected the Father’s testimony and crucified Jesus for blasphemy. (Matthew 26:65,66)
In Revelation 19:13, Jesus’ name is the “Word of God” because the Father speaks through Him to the universe. According to Jesus, no one has ever seen the Father (John 1:18, 6:46) for He lives in a glorious, unapproachable light. (John 6:46, 1:18, 1 Timothy 6:15,16) Therefore, when the Father wishes to say something, He usually speaks through Jesus. (John 17:8) The Bible teaches that Jesus created everything, including the universe, for the Father. (Hebrews 1:2, Genesis 1:1, John 1:3, Colossians 1:16)
When the name God is used in the Old Testament, the Bible is actually referring to Jesus! In fact, 97% of the Old Testament references concerning God pertain to Jesus. Jesus created Adam and Eve and drove them out of the garden, sent the flood in Noah’s day, spoke to Moses from the burning bush, passed over Egypt, killed Egypt’s firstborn and delivered Israel from slavery, spoke the Ten Commandments from Mt. Sinai, and spoke to the Old Testament prophets. If we understand Jesus, John 1:11 makes total sense, “He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.”
Jesus could not and did not die in our place. Yes, you read the statement correctly. Instead, Jesus died so the Father could transfer our guilt to Heaven’s temple through Jesus’ blood. This is necessary because a substitutionary death cannot produce salvation. When a person sins, he is not only condemned to death for his sin, but, he is also transformed by the law of sin—He becomes a slave to sin. (John 8:34) Since a substitutionary death has no effect on a sinner’s slavery to sin, a substitutionary death is inadequate for salvation. Because sin has transforming power, the plan of salvation includes the transfer of Christ’s transforming power. We need His propensity for righteousness to replace our natural propensity for sin. (Romans 1:16)
The Father Asked Jesus to Give Everything
When we understand who Jesus is, the process required and ransom he paid to save sinners is mind boggling. No one will ever be able to intelligently question the legitimacy of the Father’s plan to save sinners. When we study the plan of salvation, we must approach the topic with a set of presuppositions. These include the following facts: The Father is righteous and true; He lives and acts within boundaries set by laws of love; everything He does is to benefit His children; the Father has infinite wisdom, so He is deliberate and purposeful in everything He does. As we investigate the plan of salvation, we will not be disappointed because the facts prove that the Father chose the very best way to save sinners. The Father could not use a magic wand to erase sin and save sinners, because the Earthly temple service teaches that God does not forgive sin. Each sin is a recorded fact. Therefore, the Father designed a plan to legitimately save sinners whereby a sinner can be separated from his guilt. However, to transfer guilt, a member of deity needed to die. The Father determined the best way to transform “slaves of sin” into people who love and cherish righteousness was to transfer the power of righteousness from Jesus to sinners. Of course, this transfer could only be possible if Jesus came to Earth, produced the needed righteousness (overcame every temptation), gave up His propensity for righteousness, and ceased to exist.
When Jesus was on Earth, He said that the Father gave Him authority to forgive sins. (Luke 5:24) Jesus did not imply that He could forgive sins with a simple command. If this were possible, it would not have been necessary for Jesus to die! When Jesus agreed to come to Earth to save sinners, the Father made him the judge of mankind. (John 5:22,23) Jesus will save everyone who has obeyed the voice of the Holy Spirit because He has transferred their guilt to the temple. The Transfer Doctrine (see Part 4) and Jesus’ words are not in conflict. This doctrine explains how Jesus separates guilt from the sinner and forgives them.
The Father has given each sinner the power of choice, but He has offered salvation to sinners with one condition. Sinners must choose to obey the Holy Spirit’s voice if they want to be saved. The Holy Spirit constantly confronts us because each of us has intelligence, reason, and the power of choice. We have freedom to choose if we want to live by faith. As Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego demonstrated, living by faith is to obey the Holy Spirit’s voice, do what the Spirit says, and leave the consequences with God. (Daniel 3:18) The Father requires faith as a condition of salvation for everyone who wants to live with the Trinity throughout the endless ages to come! (See Matthew 12:31,32.)
I am sure that Jesus was shocked when He heard the details of the Father’s plan to save Adam and Eve, and their offspring; Jesus would have to pay the ultimate price to save sinners. The Father offered Jesus a reward if He was willing to go forward with the plan. The Father promised Jesus if He successfully carried out the plan, the Father would resurrect Jesus and restore everything that He gave up. Additionally, the Father promised Jesus that He would ultimately be exalted forever as equal to the Father; this is why the last book in the Bible is called the revelation of Jesus Christ. As a bonus, the Father would give all the redeemed to Jesus as personal property. (Notice this transfer in John 17:6.) The faith one God put into another God’s promises illustrates the faith required to be part of God’s family.
The Title “Son of God”
Instead of killing Adam and Eve on the day they sinned (which the law demanded), the Father legitimately stayed their execution because Jesus submitted to the Father’s plan of salvation. On that day, Jesus became man’s intercessor (high priest). (Hebrews 5) The Father and Jesus entered into a covenant and this promise is recorded in Psalm 2:
“I will proclaim the decree of the Lord [the Father]: He said to me [Jesus], ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the Earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery. Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the Earth. Serve the Lord [Jesus] with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son [obey Him, submit to His authority], lest He be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for His wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.’ ” (Psalm 2:7-12, insertions and underlining mine)
The Hebrew word for son is ben and it means “a subject, a slave, one under authority.” Ever since the day Adam and Eve sinned, Jesus has been called “the ben,” the son, the slave of the Father. We see this submission stated in John 8:42, “I have not come on my own; but He sent me.” John 6:38 says, “For I have come down from Heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me.” Jesus told the Jews that it was not His idea to appear on Earth. Instead, the Father sent Him. He came as a subject under authority because the Father required Him to do this to save sinners.
Clearly, two wills and two separate persons are involved: One God “The Sender,” the other “The Sent.” Now that you know these things, look at this verse through informed eyes: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV)
Even though Jesus is an eternal God, this verse calls Him the Father’s “only begotten Son” for several reasons.
- There are two stories in the Bible about parents slaying an only child as a burnt offering to God. The first is Abraham offering Isaac (Genesis 22) and the second is Jephthah offering his daughter. (Judges 11:3-40) Even though Abraham was willing to kill Isaac and Isaac was willing to die, both were spared. However, in Jephthah’s case, I believe he killed his willing daughter. These two examples are parallels of the Father’s incredible anguish in giving us Jesus. The Father loves Jesus more than any parent can love an only child and had it been possible, the Father Himself would have come and died for us. Even though it was the intent of wicked men to kill deity while He hung on the cross, the Father took Jesus’ life.
- The love between members of the Trinity is the greatest force known in the universe. The Father could not give more or pay a higher price than to give us Jesus! Jesus had to die the death that sinners will die so that everything belonging to Jesus could be transferred to those who obey the voice of the Holy Spirit. From a standpoint of sin’s penalty (which is sudden death), the Father will not impose greater suffering on any sinner than what Jesus suffered. From the standpoint of restitution, the Father will impose suffering on sinners in Hell in proportion with the suffering they imposed on others. For sinners who are unable to make restitution for the suffering they caused (like the thief on the cross), Jesus has paid the price. This is why He was scourged and beaten beyond human endurance before going to the cross.
- Finally, how does a changeless God legitimately satisfy the law that says, “The soul who sins is the soul that will die?” The answer is found on the cross. The Father made an innocent Jesus suffer the second death (2 Corinthians 5:21) so that He could legitimately transfer everything that belonged to Jesus to repentant sinners. (Romans 5:17-19)
Jesus is Eternal God
“In the sixth month [of Elizabeth’s pregnancy], God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee. . . He said to Mary: ‘You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God [the Father] will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.’ ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One [of Israel] to be born will be called the Son of God.’ ” (Luke 1:26-35, insertions and emphasis mine)
Jesus is called “the Holy One” in the Old Testament about fifty times! Gabriel gave a statement to Mary that confirmed the baby forming within her was the God of the Old Testament. Jesus became an obedient slave of the Father because of Jesus’ infinite love for his Father and sinners. Jesus humbled Himself to live in poverty. He came as a homely looking man, a man of sorrows who would suffer more than any sinner would have to suffer. God sent Jesus and He obediently came to give us all that belonged to Him. Jesus is not a superman, He is much more than that: He is an eternal God who took on the lowly form of a man to share His riches.