Question About the Trinity

I was reading the passage in John 5:19 where Jesus says he can’t do anything on his own. He can only do what the Father does. So it made me think of the Trinity and I thought that made sense. If the three are one then of course they would function in unison and not separately. But then I thought about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and how that is a separate action or event from salvation. So my question is, if the Trinity is God, three persons in one, and they are not separate, then when we accept Jesus into our heart wouldn’t that include the Father AND the Holy Spirit also? And if it doesn’t, and we have to ask for the baptism of the Holy Spirit separately, how is it explained that we only have parts of God, and it appears there is a disconnect of his parts?

Thanks for taking the time! Look forward to hearing from you!

-Nate

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@Chance Good question and Chance. I assume that the central doctrine of Christianity is the acceptance of Christ for our salvation. Hence, when we accepted Jesus, we have already accepted the Father and also the Holy Spirit. So I guess once we accept Jesus as our savior, the baptism of the Holy Spirit happens automatically.

But then again I consider myself as a young Christian, hence we have to get a response from mature Christians also on this topic.

With many blessings,
Yuven

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@Chance you are right thinking that when one would accept Christ, one is accepting God. The Holy Spirit is God. A lot of people get His function confused often. Literally the same statement Jesus made about not being able to do something goes for both the Father and Spirit as well.
Now mind you, “accepting Jesus into your heart” is not what is being played out. Repentance is. When we turn away from our life of sin and turn towards God. This is a call of salvation. It is a response. The relationship everyone talks about is literally like any other relationship how humans connect. It has to be both ways. God must know us as we know him. This is the point to Matthew 7. Also your thought on the Trinity is also why blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the unforgivable sin. And being baptized in the Holy Spirit is more about putting on the new self. It literally has nothing to do with modern day tongues…just so you know. That was a gift from God not a function of the Holy Spirit. Hope this answers something for you. Let me know if you would like further details and more in depth briefing on this topic.

In Christ. Acts 20:24

Travis

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It is natural to think of the Trinity when reading John 5 because 2 members of the Trinity are in view. Verse 19 tells us how the Son relates to the Father: living in complete submission to the Father’s authority. This insight is provided to lead humans to imitate Jesus, because Jesus models how humans should relate to the Father: living in complete submission… This is not a Trinitarian passage, but the question is valid because the Bible elsewhere speaks of a third member of the Trinity… One difficulty about the doctrine of Trinity is that it is not directly discussed in Scripture. So we must construct the doctrine carefully. The basic point is that God expresses Himself in three complete persons who exist at the same time. The three persons have the same divine essence, distinctive roles, and operate in absolute unity. None of the persons of the Trinity are parts of God because each person is fully God. Your question if all Trinity members are received when one member is invited into one’s life is answered by the affirmation that the Trinity works together in unity in all matters. Believers learn about God as they progress in their faith. Such was the case in passages that indicate the baptism of the Holy Spirit: the believers were learning about God’s powerful, abiding presence with His people.

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Thank you, Mark! And Travis too! I threw this question out to my pastor at the same time and got a similar response. We discussed that the phrase “accepting Jesus into our heart” is not actually in the Bible and I think it caused issues for me breaking this down initially. I think we need to be careful with “Christian” lingo sometimes and make sure that we are defining and understanding properly. But here is what I got from it: Jesus isn’t relocating into our heart and bringing his friends from a different place. WE are coming under authority and changing our life in response to his Lordship we have surrendered to. To be able to do that we need His strength, guidance and wisdom and so we need him “in us”, but “in us” is really the action of renewing our minds with His word, having communion with Him through prayer, and learning how to love Him back with all our heart, mind and soul to keep us from sin which is separation from God. We aren’t adding a missing piece when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, we are tapping into the completeness of God. We are the limiting factor in our unity with all of God.

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@Chance, your question offers the opportunity for some really deep diving into who God is and how the wholeness of God is understood with the three persons of the Trinity. I don’t think it’s a topic that theologians will ever exhaust.

The contributions thus far have added rich dimension to the dialog. It’s a topic I think on a lot and I’d like to join the discussion, hopefully I will add some value.

To me the Trinity is a mind-blowing area of truth. Just about the time I think I’m getting to a deeper, fuller understanding I realize I’ve yet to scratch the surface. It’s kind of like having something take shape in your mind and seeing it vanish into vapor! But in the process my understanding is going deeper and my faith is all the richer for it. So as a topic I commend you to keep diving deeper into it.

We exist in the physical world (or realm), but all around us is the spiritual realm. This can be an important concept to keep in mind as you contemplate these things. What may not be literal in the physical realm may well be literal in the spiritual realm.

What do I mean by this? Consider in John 1:14 when it says: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. Jesus is the Word…the Logos. What may be metaphorical in a physical sense may be quite literal in a spiritual sense, that through the word (scripture) we come to dwell with Jesus and the fullness of His truth and grace, and He in us. In John 15:4 Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you.”

When we accept Christ “into our hearts,” (and I don’t see anything wrong with this language for helping people understand the process of salvation) the operations of God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit have already been at work with you and in you to enable that salvation. God has provided the means by which we can be saved, Christ has fulfilled the requirements by which we can be saved, and the Holy Spirit has enabled our “yes.” All of this is the gift of grace–John Wesley would call it prevenient grace. That “yes” invites the permanent indwelling of the Trinity through the operation of the Spirit.

You can see this in the prayer that Jesus offers in John 17 (I have added the italics).

John 17:20-26
“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, 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.”

We are in them and they are in us. Think of this corporately with the fellowship of believers and personally in your relationship with God.

Even today I asked my pastor is the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” distinct from “the baptism of the Holy Spirit”. The basic answer is yes. The indwelling enables our “yes” to go deeper in our desire to have all the gifts that God will bless us with in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It certainly can mean speaking in tongues, but it is not exclusive to that gift. My pastor then quoted our former pastor who liked to say, “It is not how much you have of the Holy Spirit, it’s how much of you does the Holy Spirit have?”

Contemplate not just the unity and “oneness” of the Trinity, but that we (and the church) abide in that oneness, also.

If you have an interest in the Trinity I recommend reading and contemplating the various creeds that required the church fathers to spend years trying to craft the words that best express the Trinity. I found the Athanasian Creed to be most helpful in understanding the Trinity with language that expresses what it is AND what it is not. https://www.ccel.org/creeds/athanasian.creed.html

Thanks, Nate for such a great question. Thank you everyone for such thoughtful replies. It’s an easy topic to stray into heresies, if I’ve misrepresented anything with ill considered language, please let me know. Though I’ve spent a lot of time on this topic, I am not a trained theologian and I do think it’s an important area to be sure to “color within the lines.”

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I think you worded it very well, Jennifer :slight_smile: Very knowledgeable!

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Yuven, thanks for being a part of this conversation. I would encourage you to read the responses to dig deeper.

For salvation it is important to understand that it isn’t just about acceptance. We hear the phrase “accepting Jesus into our hearts”, but that wording can get us confused of what actually is taking place.

We are confessing with our mouth, by faith which is complete trust, that Jesus is the son of God, that he does for all of us, and that He rose from the dead and that He is God, with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Three persons in one being.

What is taking place when we say “we are in Christ and Christ is in us”, is not a location thing. It is us choosing to come under Jesus’ lordship. We are surrendering our lives to God’s will and purpose for us, and doing what is right according to His perfect plan. The Bible teaches us about salvation (confessing Jesus), being water baptized (a public confession of our faith and symboliv gesture showing that salvation is us dying to our flesh and coming up out of the water as a new creation. Baptism in water is not a magic act that washes us clean and changes. It is an act of showing our commitment to the change that has already happened by the blood of Jesus), and the to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Again, these spiritual acts are not about relocation of spirits since God is One. So when we take the step to be baptized in the Holy Spirit we are tapping into more of God. A bigger level of power and responsibility for us. Because to hear from God and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us and work in us, we have to allow Him to do that. Since God doesn’t violate our free will, there has to be a separate step to the Holy Spirit which is another function of the power of God that we must be able to understand before we can allow Him to intervene for us.

Keep digging deep! There is always more!

Grace and Peace,
Nate

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Hi, Nate. Would you perhaps do a word study on “heart” in the Bible and tell me what you think “heart” means to the authors (Author :slight_smile: )? What do you think comes to mind for people today when they think of the word “heart?” Do you think (or assume) they just think of location?

I think Jennifer explained it well, and I think her explanation points out a misunderstanding in the question of what is meant by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. From my Pentecostal neck of the woods :), at salvation, in receiving Christ, we do receive all three persons of the Trinity, because our God is one. The baptism of the Spirit is seen as a separate ACT from salvation; it is not an act that is separate from the other two persons of the Trinity, and it is not a separate receiving of the Holy Spirit as if we had not already received him along with the Father when we accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. In fact, it is not a receiving of the Holy Spirit at all. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, the way I understand it, is described as the receiving of power from God that enables us to go and spread the gospel. The way it was put for me is that the indwelling of the Spirit (which we receive when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior) produces the fruit of the Spirit within us, conforming us more into the image of Christ, and the anointing (as some might call it) or baptism of the already received Spirit imparts spiritual gifts to do kingdom work.

Let me know your thoughts.

I’m studying about the Holy Spirit in Bible Study Fellowship - the Acts & Letters of the Apostles. I must say that, at this point, I have more questions than answers about when believers actually receive the Holy Spirit. I trust that as we get further into this study, I’ll find answers. Baptists teach that the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us when we accept Christ as Savior and that we never get “more” of the Spirit but we can get more yielded to the Spirit’s leading in our lives. I need to find the answer to this as I study scripture. I look forward to further discussion with you on this very important topic. GOD BLESS!

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