Thursday, August 14, 2008

One Will

John 5:15-23 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. (16) And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. (17) But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working." (18) This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (19) So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (20) For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. (21) For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. (22) The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, (23) that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

Some say that a belief in the Trinity is polytheism. That would be the case if these three Persons held divergent desires. All polytheistic religions have their gods possessing separate wills. They operate unilaterally without regard to the others because they each possess a will of their own that is not often in accord with the others. Hercules opposed Apollo & Apollo opposed Dionysus because they all had different motivations & dissimilar desires.

Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” The Son can do nothing of His own accord because He has no accord that is distinct from His Father’s accord. So what do we make of the contextual statement “the Son gives life to whom he will”? Jesus confirms here that He does indeed have a will of His own, but that will is always precisely the same as the Father’s will. Man’s lowliness of nature makes the idea of any three of us always in full unanimity across the full scope of space & time seem impossible, but we must again remember that we are not God, therefore we are imperfect. Even when we agree to aspire to the same goal, we disagree on timetables & methods. We are a warring people because of self-centered motivations. When men created polytheistic religions, they naturally had them in constant conflict with one another, for they knew no other nature to attribute to their gods than their own. They flipped the truth of Genesis 1:27 on its head & created gods after fallen man’s “image & likeness” But the picture of God painted by Jesus in John 5 is like no religion contrived in the lowly heart of man. From everlasting to everlasting, for all of time, these glorious three Persons accomplish what man has difficulty even comprehending- complete unanimity of desire & purpose. But then again, we must remember that "what is impossible with men is possible with God." (Luke 18:27)

The teaching that God is One is conspicuous throughout the OT, & the Trinity becomes evident in the OT in the light of NT revelation. But what is interesting is despite the fact that the NT pulls away the veil that largely concealed the Triune identity of God, it still continues to insist that God is One. Jesus retorted to the scribe’s question of what is most important by first saying “the Lord our God, the Lord is one”. The wise scribe responded first by confirming this truth- “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.” Paul establishes the equality of God’s faithful elect by comparing them to the oneness of God Himself- “Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one--who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.” (Romans 3:29-30).

As Paul discusses the value of the law in Galatians 3:19, he mentions the need for a go-between, a mediator, but nevertheless reinforces the image of God as One- “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.” As James repudiates those who place their hope in non-evident faith, he too makes the statement that “God is One” is so fundamental that even demons accept it as true- “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder!” (James 2:19)

Yet, throughout NT it is explicitly taught that the Son is God to same degree that His Father is God. Rightly confluencing these two expressly taught ideas leads us to no other conclusion than they must be so alike in every way that they become indiscernible as separate Persons to the spiritually uninitiated. Consider the 17th chapter of John as a conversation between equals-

John 17:1-26 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, (2) since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. (3) And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (4) I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. (5) And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (6) "I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. (7) Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. (8) For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. (9) I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. (10) All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. (11) And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. (Mark 12:29) (12) While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. (13) But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. (14) I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (15) I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. (16) They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (17) Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (18) As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. (19) And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. (20) "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, (21) that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (22) The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one (Rom. 3:29-30), (23) I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (24) Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. (25) O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. (26) I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."

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