Trinity – More Questions
November 13, 2009 Bible Answers That Make Sense, Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.

I just read your blog on the Trinity and thought everything you said was absolutely true. However, I have often wondered two things:

Number 1 is, if Jesus was not created then why is He subservient to the Father? As far as I understand it The Father is in charge, under him is Jesus and beneath Jesus is the Holy Spirit. Ellen White says that Jesus was uplifted to equality with the Father which was part of what inspired Lucifer’s rebellion. Why would God the Father have to bestow honor upon God the Son to make Him His equal if they are both from eternity past God?

Number 2 is, Why does the Godhead (which is defined by love) have to operate under the same structure of authority as a corporate business or military branch?

M


Thanks for your questions as your question may reflect the way many think about the Godhead. But, I think the idea that Jesus is “subservient” to the Father is a misunderstanding that results from not appreciating God’s character and the way His government works. In God’s economy “whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:35), “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matt 20:16).

God’s kingdom is the kingdom of love and love gives all for the wellbeing of others. Thus Jesus is “exalted” because Jesus surrendered all and gave all for others. This exaltation is not “conferred” by the Father to the Son, but a result of the accomplishment of the Son in perfectly revealing and carrying out the Father’s character and purpose.

A better way to understand it, (recognizing of course that our finite minds are trying to probe the Infinite One so we will inevitably come up short of complete understanding), is that the Godhead voluntarily assumed different roles or functions for the accomplishments of Their purposes (a loving way all share together in giving for Their creation). Any of the three could have assumed any of the functions. We would err in concluding that when one of the three assumes a function that He was not capable of functioning in the role of one of the others.

As I understand their chosen roles, the Father acts as the source of all that is good. The Son is the medium, mediator, advocate, conduit, agent through which the Father reveals Himself or acts and the Holy Spirit is the actualizer or applier of what the Father and Son have achieved. Thus God was in the Son reconciling the world to Himself (2Cor 5:19). Jesus’ work on earth was the acting out of the Father’s heart. His completed mission and victory over sin are applied to the lives of believers by the work of the Holy Spirit. In creation we have the Father as the source, the Son as the architect, designer, and builder and the Spirit as the actualizer or implementer of Their design.

So, with this understanding we realize what Christ meant when He said, “I do nothing of myself.” Christ takes from the Father to fulfill all the Father’s purposes for His universe. In this sense we can see Christ turning to the Father, not to persuade the Father to be kind, but to receive the fullness of the Father’s purpose of love for His creation and carry that purpose out in meaningful action!

Regarding the comments from Ellen White, these are her exact words:

“The King of the universe summoned the heavenly hosts before Him, that in their presence He might set forth the true position of His Son and show the relation He sustained to all created beings. The Son of God shared the Father’s throne, and the glory of the eternal, self-existent One encircled both…. Leaving his place in the immediate presence of the Father, Lucifer went forth to diffuse the spirit of discontent among the angels….The exaltation of the Son of God as equal with the Father was represented as an injustice to Lucifer, who, it was claimed, was also entitled to reverence and honor. …There had been no change in the position or authority of Christ. Lucifer’s envy and misrepresentation and his claims to equality with Christ had made necessary a statement of the true position of the Son of God; but this had been the same from the beginning. Many of the angels were, however, blinded by Lucifer’s deceptions.” PP 37, 38

Finally, the Godhead does not operate like a human corporation or military. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” God’s kingdom of love is not represented by human nations or corporations which are constantly seeking to promote themselves at the expense of others. God sacrifices Himself for others!

Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name…Philippians 2:6-9

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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, international speaker, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (DLFAPA), Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (DFAPA), and Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association (FSPA). He is President and Founder of Come and Reason Ministries and has served as President of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.