Lesson 4 – The Trinity
The two main aspects concerning the Divine Trinity are the essential Trinity and the economical Trinity. In the essential Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit coexist and coinhere at the same time and in the same way with no succession. There is no first, second, or third. However, in God’s plan, in God’s administrative arrangement, in God’s economy, the Father takes the first step, the Son takes the second step, and the Spirit takes the third step.
The Father planned, the Son accomplished, and the Spirit applies what the Son accomplished according to the Father’s plan. This is a successive procedure or a succession in God’s economy to carry out His eternal purpose. The essential Trinity refers to the essence of the Triune God for His existence; the economical Trinity refers to His plan for His move. There is the need of the existence of the Divine Trinity, and there is also the need of the plan of the Divine Trinity. In essence, the three of the Godhead exist equally at the same time and coinhere equally at the same time from eternity to eternity.
THE FATHER’S PLAN, THE SON’S ACCOMPLISHMENT, AND THE SPIRIT’S APPLICATION
God, the Triune God, has a purpose, so He made a plan. He made an administrative arrangement to carry out His purpose, so He has an economy. In this economy the three of the Godhead are in succession. This is economical, not essential. Furthermore, to carry out the plan there is the need of much work. The Father accomplished the first step of the plan, of the economy. He worked in choosing us and in predestinating us. The work of selection and the work of predestination were done by the Father, not by the Son or by the Spirit. We must be careful, though, to realize that the Father did the selection and the predestination, but He did not do them alone. The Father of the Triune Godhead did the choosing and the predestinating in the Son and with the Spirit. If we say that the Father chose us and selected us alone, we jeopardize the coinherence and the coexistence of the Divine Trinity. The coinherence and the coexistence of the Triune God are from eternity to eternity.
After the plan was made, there was the need for the Son to come to carry out the plan. The Son came to be incarnated, to be flesh, to be a man. He came to live a human life for thirty-three and a half years, to die an all-inclusive death, and to resurrect from the dead. The Son came to do all the works, but He did not do these works alone. He did them with the Father and by the Spirit. The Son came to do His all-inclusive redemptive work, which includes incarnation, human living, death, and resurrection, with the Father and by the Spirit. If the Son had come by Himself alone, this again would have jeopardized the
coexistence and the coinherence, the essence, of the Divine Trinity.
After the accomplishment there was the need and there still is the need of application. In this third step of application more fine works are needed. In the first step the Father had only to make a plan. In the second step, the Son had to accomplish the plan with much work. The Spirit’s application in the third step needs a great deal of continuous work. We need the Spirit to lead us and to guide us not only day by day but also minute by minute in all the details of our daily life. The Spirit needs to be applied in your talk to your wife and even in your attitude. We can see how fine and how detailed is the work to carry out this application.
THE ASPECT OF THE ESSENTIAL TRINITY
According to Their essence, the three are one; thus, there is the aspect of the essential Trinity. The Son is the embodiment of the Father (Col. 2:9), and the Spirit is the reality of the Son (John 14:16-18).
THE SON BEING CALLED THE FATHER
A Son is given to us, yet His name is called the eternal Father (Isa. 9:6).
THE SON BECOMING THE LIFE-GIVING SPIRIT
The Son as the last Adam became the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b). He was incarnated to be the flesh. He was the last Adam. That means that after Him, there would be no flesh. He was the ending, the closing, the concluding, of the flesh. This One in resurrection became the life-giving Spirit. Thus, this One, the Son, is the Father and eventually He is the Spirit.
THE LORD BEING THE SPIRIT
The Lord is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17) and the Lord Spirit (v. 18). The Lord Spirit is a compound divine title like the Father God. He is both the Lord and the Spirit. They two are one in Him.
THE ASPECT OF THE ECONOMICAL TRINITY
When we speak of the Triune God according to His economy, we are speaking of Him according to His moving and acting, not His essence. According to the economy, the three are three; thus, there is the aspect of the economical Trinity. The Father is the Originator, making the divine economy (Eph. 1:9-10; 3:9; 1 Tim. 1:4b); then the Son accomplishes the divine economy made by the Father (John 5:19; 8:28); and the Spirit applies to God’s elect what the Son has accomplished (16:13). These are steps of one complete move. God the Father planned to do something; the Son accomplished the plan; and the Spirit applies to us what the Son has accomplished. They are still one in harmony in the economical Trinity (10:30; 17:21, 23).
THE FATHER IN HEAVEN, THE SON ON THE EARTH, AND THE SPIRIT IN THE AIR
The Father spoke in heaven concerning the Son, the Son stood in the water on the earth, and the Spirit soared as the dove in the air (Matt. 3:16-17). The three of the Trinity here are in three locations. Christ the Son, after His baptism, was standing in the water, and the Father said, “This is My Son, the Beloved, in whom I have found My delight.” Then the Spirit as a dove soaring in the air descended upon Him. The Father as the source must be in heaven, the Son in His incarnation as the course must be on the earth, and the Spirit as the flow must be soaring in the air.
This is different from the view of the Triune God in John 14. In John 10:30 the Lord said, “I and the Father are one.” He did not say, “I am one with the Father.” We can say that we are one with one another. But the Lord Jesus and the Father, They two, are one. In John there is the mystical view that the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father. No doubt, They two are also in the Spirit and the Spirit is in Them. This is essential.
THE FATHER CHOOSING, THE SON REDEEMING, AND THE SPIRIT SEALING
The Father chose the believers before the foundation of the world in eternity past, the Son redeemed them in time, and the Spirit seals them after they believe in the Son (Eph. 1:4, 6-7, 13). Words like these in the Scripture are strong evidence that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are economically three. Thus, God’s elect participate in what the Triune God has done and enjoy Their work with Themselves for their satisfaction. By God acting economically, we can participate in what He is and what He has worked out for our pleasure and satisfaction.