Unlocking the Riddle of the Trinity

January 18, 2022

By Qiuzhi, Singapore

I was converted to Christianity by an elder 20 years ago. He told me that out of everything in the universe, there’s one true God, who created mankind, heaven, earth, and all things. This was fascinating to me. He later told me that the Lord Jesus is the Son of God and we can be saved through faith in Him. At this point, I felt a little confused. Wasn’t there just one God? How could He have a Son? I just couldn’t understand how many there actually are of God. After that, whenever I saw our pastor baptizing someone, I noticed he’d say, “You are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Confused, I asked him, “How many of God are there? Why do you always baptize people in so many names of God?” His response was, “There’s just one God, but there’s the Trinity, made up of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They’re distinct persons, but exist together in one being.” Seeing I still didn’t get it, he went on, “This is something you really have to delve into to understand. It’s okay if you don’t get it now. Just treat Them all as God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all work together.” His explanation still left me perplexed. If He was one God, how could there be three persons? But I figured it couldn’t be wrong since it was a basic tenet of Christianity, so maybe it was a profound mystery of God.

I went to divinity school later on so I could better serve God. I gave a lot of thought to the meaning of the Trinity while I was there, too. In an effort to clear up my confusion, I started going through lots of materials and Scripture and asked some of the pastors, but I never found an answer. After I was done with my studies, I volunteered for Sunday School at church. Some brothers and sisters asked me to explain the Trinity. I didn’t know what to do, so I just fobbed them off with what the pastor had said. Seeing them still looking lost, I felt really bad. I knew I was supposed to be serving the Lord, so I felt really ashamed that I couldn’t explain something so basic in the Christian faith.

In 2007, I participated in the World Chinese Pastor and Elder Training Conference. Seeing famous pastors and preachers from all over the world gathered together was so exciting for me. I wanted to use that opportunity to seek and resolve the confusion I’d had in my heart. I approached a well-known pastor about it after the conference. I asked him about his understanding of the Trinity and he told me, “The Father determines everything, the Son carries out the Father’s plan, and the Holy Spirit administers the plan.” I asked him to go into more detail, but he deftly skirted the question. I asked another pastor about it, and he said, “Jehovah is God, the Lord Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. They’re all God. Pray to whichever One you want. However, I suggest that you pray to the Lord Jesus because He’s the Son of man. He has normal human emotions and can see into the human heart. He’s also carried out lots of miracles. Jehovah is a Spirit and so is the Holy Spirit. They can’t be seen or touched. That’s why it’s better to communicate with the earthly God.” I was even more confused by this, and thought, “Since none of the three persons is greater or lesser, how could praying to one be better? Can’t Jehovah God also see into our hearts and perform all sorts of miracles?” Seeing my confusion, he added, “God is a Spirit and He’s unfathomable. Lots of pastors with decades of experience interpreting the Scriptures still can’t fully explain this and I’m still seeking on this, too.” I didn’t have anything left to ask after that. Thinking about the way the pastor distinguished importance for prayer left me really unsettled. I felt like it wasn’t a reverential approach to God, but I didn’t know how I should understand it. I kept my faith in the Trinity, confusion and all. Every time the Trinity came up in Sunday School classes, I glossed over it, afraid of offending God by messing it up, but I never really got it straight in my heart.

More than a decade passed in a flash. I met Sister Su in 2017. Her Bible fellowship was really enlightening and she had really insightful understanding. I gained a lot from it. She later invited me to participate in online small group gatherings. In one of them, Brother Li shared fellowship on true faith in God and the story behind the Bible. It was so eye-opening. He also mentioned prophecies from Revelation, and said, “God’s work to save mankind happens in three ages. The Old Testament was the Age of Law, the New Testament was the Age of Grace, and Revelation prophesies the work of the last days. God takes on a new name and does different work in each age. God’s name was Jehovah in the Old Testament during the Age of Law, and He taught people about sin by issuing the law and commandments through Moses, leading early man in their lives on earth. Late in the Age of Law, no one was keeping the law, but was sinning more and more. Everyone faced condemnation and death under the law. God became flesh as the Lord Jesus to save people from being condemned. He was personally crucified to redeem us of our sins. As long as we accept the Lord Jesus and we confess and repent to Him, our sins can be forgiven. But we still have a sinful nature, so we keep sinning and confessing. We’re not cleansed or freed from the bonds of sin. We’re not worthy of the kingdom of heaven that way. In the last days, God expresses the truth in accordance with mankind’s needs. He works to judge and cleanse mankind, to resolve our sinful nature and fully save us from Satan’s domain. These are the three stages of God’s work to save mankind. Every stage of His work is based on what mankind needs. Through these three stages of work, we know sin, are redeemed of sin, and freed from sin, in turn. Accepting God’s work of the last days to free us from sin is the only way we can be fully saved and enter into God’s kingdom.”

Brother Li fellowshiped that God’s three stages of work are tightly interconnected, and linked this with the Bible. It really drew me in. I’d read the Bible plenty of times and I’d heard so many sermons, but I’d never heard anyone fellowship so clearly on God’s work. Brother Li went on to send a passage. “From the work of Jehovah to that of Jesus, and from the work of Jesus to that of this current stage, these three stages cover in a continuous thread the entire gamut of God’s management, and they are all the work of one Spirit. Since the creation of the world, God has always been at work managing mankind. He is the Beginning and the End, He is the First and the Last, and He is the One who begins an age and the One who brings the age to an end. The three stages of work, in different ages and different locations, are unmistakably the work of one Spirit. All those who separate these three stages stand in opposition to God. Now, it behooves you to understand that all the work from the first stage until today is the work of one God, the work of one Spirit. Of this there can be no doubt” (“The Vision of God’s Work (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading God’s words, Brother Li fellowshiped, “There’s just one God. God created all of mankind and God Himself is managing and saving man. From the creation of the world until now, He’s been working to save mankind, and though His names are different in each stage of work and the work, the times and places are different, it’s all done by one God. Every stage of work is built upon the previous one, higher and deeper with every stage.” I was really surprised to hear this and thought, “He says every stage of work is done by the same Spirit, so Jehovah and the Lord Jesus are the same Spirit. There’s just one God, not three Spirits! Brother Li’s fellowship makes perfect sense and I can’t see anything to doubt or refute. But based on what he said, wouldn’t that mean the Trinity we’ve believed in couldn’t stand? Though there’s been debate in the religious world about God’s singularity or multiplicity, most people believe in the Trinity. They can’t all be wrong. I’ve never heard this kind of fellowship before. Is there a new understanding in the religious community?” Unable to settle my feelings, I left early so I could give it some thought.

Trying to get some clarity, I started paging through the Bible again and looking at lots of preaching resources. I searched for days without getting anything out of it. I started to feel anxious at that point and thought to myself, “Brother Li’s fellowship is different from what the religious world says, but it was novel and biblically sound. Should I attend the next gathering? If I keep going and reject the idea of the Trinity, I’m sure I’ll be pushed out by the religious community. Then again, I’ve gained enlightenment from his fellowship that I can’t at church. I’d hate to just walk away from it.” I couldn’t make up my mind, so I found that passage of God’s words Brother Li had sent in the gathering. I pondered it as I read, and the more I thought, the more I felt that no ordinary person could come up with that. And no spiritual person would dare talk about God’s management work with that kind of tone. Could it really be God’s words? After lots of thought, I decided that no matter what the religious world thought, I had to listen to Brother Li’s fellowship and see if it could clear up my confusion.

In the next gathering I shared my uncertainty about the Trinity and this was his fellowship: “A lot of religious people cling to the idea of the Trinity. They think there’s one God but three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who take on different parts of God’s management work. But have we ever thought about where this idea comes from? Did God ever say anything about the Trinity? Did the Holy Spirit bear witness to it? Have prophets talked about it? Clearly not! In fact, the idea of the Trinity first came up at the Council of Nicaea over three hundred years after the Lord’s time, and it was established after fierce debate between religious leaders. From then on, most religious people began to believe that our one God who created all things is the Trinity. They think that apart from the Lord Jesus, there are also the Father and the Holy Spirit in heaven, that They’re three Gods, three Spirits. If we followed their logic, would God be the one true God? They go around shouting about there only being one God but they believe in the Trinity. Isn’t that contradictory? Isn’t that absurd? There was never anything about any Trinity in the Old Testament, and in the Lord Jesus’ three and a half years working on earth, He never said anything about there being a Trinity. Why would that idea appear after the Lord Jesus had finished His work? It’s because people didn’t understand the essence of the incarnation. The Holy Spirit testified the Lord Jesus was God’s beloved Son and they saw Him praying to His Father in heaven so they developed notions about God. They thought there were three Gods, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They extrapolated from what they’d imagined and made that far-fetched attempt to delimit God. Take Philip, for example. He didn’t know the Lord Jesus was God incarnate so he asked the Lord to show him the Father. The Lord Jesus clearly responded, ‘Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known Me, Philip? he that has seen Me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father? Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? the words that I speak to you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwells in Me, He does the works’ (John 14:9–10). The Lord Jesus also said, ‘I and My Father are one’ (John 10:30). The Lord Jesus was very clear that They are one, that They’re one God, one Spirit.”

Then Brother Li played a video reading of a couple of God’s words. Almighty God says, “If any among you says that the Trinity indeed exists, then explain what exactly this one God in three persons is. What is the Holy Father? What is the Son? What is the Holy Spirit? Is Jehovah the Holy Father? Is Jesus the Son? Then what of the Holy Spirit? Is not the Father a Spirit? Is not the essence of the Son also a Spirit? Was not the work of Jesus the work of the Holy Spirit? Was not the work of Jehovah at the time carried out by a Spirit the same as Jesus’? How many Spirits can God have? According to your explanation, the three persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one; if this be so, then there are three Spirits, but to have three Spirits means there are three Gods. This means that there is no one true God; how can this kind of God still have the inherent essence of God? If you accept that there is only one God, then how can He have a son and be a father? Are these not all simply your notions? There is only one God, only one person in this God, and only one Spirit of God, much as it is written down in the Bible that ‘There is only one Holy Spirit and only one God.’ Regardless of whether the Father and the Son of which you speak exist, there is only one God after all, and the essence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit you believe in is the essence of the Holy Spirit. In other words, God is a Spirit, but He is able to become flesh and live among men, as well as to be above all things. His Spirit is all-inclusive and omnipresent. He can simultaneously be in the flesh and in and above the universe. Since all people say that God is the only one true God, then there is a single God, divisible at will by none! God is only one Spirit, and only one person; and that is the Spirit of God” (“Does the Trinity Exist?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Still some may say: ‘The Father is the Father; the Son is the Son; the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit, and in the end, They will be made one.’ Then how should you make Them one? How can the Father and the Holy Spirit be made one? If They were inherently two, then no matter how They are joined together, would They not remain two parts? When you talk about making Them one, is that not simply joining two separate parts to make one whole? But were They not two parts before being made whole? Each spirit has a distinct essence, and two spirits cannot be made into a single one. A spirit is not a material object and is unlike anything else in the material world. As man sees it, the Father is one Spirit, the Son another, and the Holy Spirit yet another, then the three Spirits mix like three glasses of water into one whole. Is not that then the three made one? This is purely an erroneous and absurd explanation! Is this not splitting up God? How can the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all be made one? Are They not three parts each of different natures?” (“Does the Trinity Exist?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Then he fellowshiped, “Almighty God’s words thoroughly, clearly dissect the fallacy of the Trinity. We can see that God is the one true God, that He’s the Holy Spirit, which there’s only one of, just with different names. God incarnate is the Holy Spirit in the flesh, and the essence of His flesh is the Holy Spirit. Whatever we call Him in prayer, God, the Holy Spirit, and God incarnate are all one, one Spirit. No one can deny this fact. God is the Master of all things in the universe. He’s the almighty, all-knowing, all-encompassing Spirit. He is omnipresent and all-powerful. He can create the heavens, earth, and all things, and He can guide man’s lives on earth. He can also become flesh as the Son of man to redeem and save people, according to what they need. God’s Spirit also has control over all things in the universe. If we went by what the religious world says, that Jehovah God is the Father who created the universe and He’s in heaven doing the work of managing and planning, while the Lord Jesus is the Son, sent by the Father to redeem mankind, then once the Lord Jesus was resurrected and ascended to heaven, He’d have nothing to do. He’d have to rely on the Holy Spirit. The persons of the Trinity each have their own role. There’s responsibility for heaven and for earth, and for the work done in mankind. Isn’t that splitting God into three parts? Then would God still be the almighty, all-knowing, all-powerful, one and only God? Isn’t that contradictory? There is only one God, and He Himself is managing and saving mankind. Splitting Him up into three parts is segmenting Him. That’s resisting and blaspheming God!”

God’s words were really moving for me. I saw that the Trinity I’d held in my heart for years just didn’t exist! We believed in the Lord for years, always insisting that God is the one and only, but we divided Him into three persons and then didn’t know how to make those three Gods one again. Wasn’t that foolish? I thought about those famous pastors with their contradictory explanations of the Trinity. When they struggle to clarify, they say God is unfathomable and mysterious. They’re pulling the wool over our eyes. I saw that believing in God without knowing Him, and dividing Him up, really is resisting God and disrespecting Him. At this thought, I felt I really had a debt to God. But I was still confused, because the Bible says, “And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, see, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting on Him: And see a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16–17). God is one Spirit, one God. The Lord Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan and the Holy Spirit testified He was the Son of God, and there were all those times the Lord Jesus prayed to His Father in heaven. How can we make sense of that? I really wanted to understand this, so I asked Brother Li.

He said, “Yes, the Lord Jesus prayed to God and called Him His Father in heaven. There’s a mystery within this. Before the Lord Jesus began His ministry, He didn’t know He was God in the flesh because when the Spirit works in the flesh He’s normal, not supernatural. He’s just like a regular person. So of course He would pray to His Father in heaven. This was the Lord Jesus praying to God’s Spirit as a human being. That’s totally natural. When the Lord Jesus began His ministry, the Holy Spirit spoke, bearing witness that He was God in the flesh. Only then did He know His true identity. But He still prayed to the Father, which shows that Christ is humble and hidden, and His essence is entirely submissive to God.” Let’s watch a video reading of Almighty God’s words that clarifies this. Almighty God says, “When Jesus called God in heaven by the name of Father as He prayed, this was done only from the perspective of a created man, only because the Spirit of God had put on an ordinary and normal flesh and had the exterior cover of a created being. Even if within Him was the Spirit of God, His exterior appearance was still that of a normal man; in other words, He had become the ‘Son of man’ of which all men, including Jesus Himself, spoke. Given that He is called the Son of man, He is a person (whether man or woman, in any case one with the exterior shell of a human being) born into a normal family of ordinary people. Therefore, Jesus calling God in heaven by the name of Father was the same as how you at first called Him Father; He did so from the perspective of a created man. Do you still remember the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught you to memorize? ‘Our Father in heaven….’ He asked all men to call God in heaven by the name of Father. And since He too called Him Father, He did so from the perspective of one who stands on an equal footing with you all. Since you called God in heaven by the name of Father, Jesus saw Himself to be on equal footing with you, and as a man on earth chosen by God (that is, the Son of God). If you call God Father, is this not because you are a created being? However great the authority of Jesus on earth, prior to the crucifixion, He was merely a Son of man, governed by the Holy Spirit (that is, God), and one of the earth’s created beings, for He had yet to complete His work. Therefore, His calling God in heaven Father was solely His humility and obedience. His addressing God (that is, the Spirit in heaven) in such a manner, however, does not prove that He was the Son of the Spirit of God in heaven. Rather, it was simply that His perspective was different, not that He was a different person. The existence of distinct persons is a fallacy! Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus was a Son of man bound by the limitations of the flesh, and He did not fully possess the authority of the Spirit. That is why He could only seek the will of God the Father from the perspective of a created being. It is as He thrice prayed in Gethsemane: ‘Not as I will, but as You will.’ Before He was laid on the cross, He was but the King of the Jews; He was Christ, the Son of man, and not a body of glory. That is why, from the standpoint of a created being, He called God Father” (“Does the Trinity Exist?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “There are others who say, ‘Did not God expressly state that Jesus was His beloved Son?’ Jesus is the beloved Son of God, in whom He is well pleased—this was certainly spoken by God Himself. That was God bearing witness to Himself, but merely from a different perspective, that of the Spirit in heaven bearing witness to His own incarnation. Jesus is His incarnation, not His Son in heaven. Do you understand? Do not the words of Jesus, ‘I am in the Father, and the Father in Me,’ indicate that They are one Spirit? And is it not because of the incarnation that They were separated between heaven and earth? In reality, They are still one; no matter what, it is simply God bearing witness to Himself. Owing to the change in ages, the requirements of the work, and the differing stages of His management plan, the name by which man calls Him also differs. When He came to carry out the first stage of work, He could only be called Jehovah, who is the shepherd of the Israelites. In the second stage, the incarnate God could only be called Lord, and Christ. But at that time, the Spirit in heaven stated only that He was the beloved Son of God and made no mention of His being the only Son of God. This simply did not happen. How could God have an only child? Then would God not have become man? Because He was the incarnation, He was called the beloved Son of God, and, from this, came the relationship between Father and Son. It was simply because of the separation between heaven and earth. Jesus prayed from the perspective of the flesh. Since He had put on a flesh of such normal humanity, it is from the perspective of the flesh that He said: ‘My outer shell is that of a created being. Since I put on a flesh to come to this earth, I am now a long, long way from heaven.’ For this reason, He could only pray to God the Father from the perspective of the flesh. This was His duty, and it was that which the incarnate Spirit of God should be furnished with. It cannot be said that He was not God simply because He prayed to the Father from the perspective of the flesh. Though He was called the beloved Son of God, He was still God Himself, for He was but the incarnation of the Spirit, and His essence was still the Spirit” (“Does the Trinity Exist?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).

Brother Li continued to fellowship, saying, “The Lord Jesus was God in the flesh. He was God’s Spirit within the Son of man’s body, which possessed normal humanity. He didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary, but He had God’s own essence. After He was baptized and began His ministry, God bore witness that the Lord Jesus was His beloved Son. That was God bearing witness to the incarnation from the perspective of the Spirit so that people would follow and believe in the Lord Jesus, and know He was from God. If the Holy Spirit had directly borne witness that the Lord Jesus was God in the flesh, it would have been hard for people to accept because they knew nothing about the incarnation of God. The incarnation was new to them and they knew nothing about it. They’d never imagined that the Son of man, this regular person, was the embodiment of God’s Spirit in the flesh. In His work, the Lord Jesus expressed many words, brought the way of repentance, showed signs and wonders, and entirely revealed God’s authority and power. But people couldn’t see from His work and words that the Lord Jesus was God Himself, God’s appearance. Based on people’s stature at the time, God bore witness that the Lord Jesus was His beloved Son and He temporarily allowed people to take the Lord Jesus for His Son. That fit with people’s notions and it was easy for them to accept. The Lord Jesus was just doing the work of redemption, so no matter what people called Him, they just needed to accept Him as their Savior, have their sins forgiven, and become qualified to enjoy God’s grace. By praying to God in heaven as His Father, the Lord Jesus was calling God from the perspective of a created person. This showed how humble and hidden God is. The Lord Jesus was God Himself, but He didn’t put Himself forth as God. Instead, He taught people to pray and guided them to know God, all from the perspective of a created being. That way people wouldn’t feel God was so lofty and out of reach, but it would draw man and God closer together. This was the wisdom in God’s work. It was what we needed as humans, and what God’s salvation work needed.”

This brought me a burst of enlightenment. I saw that behind this Scripture lies the wisdom of God’s work and His love for humanity. But lacking understanding, we see the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit mentioned in the Bible and divide God into three persons, three Gods based on our notions. That’s truly blaspheming God! The fallacy that God is a Trinity came crashing down within me in an instant. I was freed. God’s words say, “The Spirit within Jesus, the Spirit in heaven, and the Spirit of Jehovah are all one. It is called the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the sevenfold intensified Spirit, and the all-inclusive Spirit. The Spirit of God can carry out much work. He is able to create the world and destroy it by flooding the earth; He can redeem all mankind, and moreover, He can conquer and destroy all mankind. This work is all carried out by God Himself and cannot be done by any of the personhoods of God in His stead. His Spirit can be called by the name of Jehovah and Jesus, as well as the Almighty. He is the Lord, and Christ. He can also become the Son of man. He is in the heavens and also on the earth; He is on high above the universes and among the multitude. He is the only Master of the heavens and earth! From the time of creation until now, this work has been carried out by the Spirit of God Himself. Be it the work in the heavens or in the flesh, all is carried out by His own Spirit. All creatures, whether in heaven or on earth, are in the palm of His almighty hand; all of this is the work of God Himself and can be done by no other in His stead. In the heavens, He is the Spirit but also God Himself; among men, He is flesh but remains God Himself. Though He may be called by hundreds of thousands of names, He is still Himself, the direct expression of His Spirit. The redemption of all mankind through His crucifixion was the direct work of His Spirit, and so too is the proclamation unto all nations and all lands during the last days. At all times, God can only be called the almighty and one true God, the all-inclusive God Himself. The distinct persons do not exist, much less this idea of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is only one God in heaven and on earth!” (“Does the Trinity Exist?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After Brother Li read this, he fellowshiped, “God is the Creator, the One who created mankind. He is Jehovah God who issued the laws and commandments for mankind’s sake, to guide their lives on earth. He’s also our Savior, the Lord Jesus, who redeemed us from sin. Even more, He’s Almighty God, returned in the last days to judge all of mankind. The Lord Jesus we’ve been longing for has come back. He’s Almighty God. He’s been working on earth for over two decades, expressing the truth and doing the judgment work of the last days. He’s opened the scroll. He’s given us all the truths needed to purify and fully save us. This fulfills the Lord’s prophecies: ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth’ (John 16:12–13). ‘If any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:47–48).”

This was so exciting for me to hear. The Lord Jesus had come back and expressed truths to do the work of judgment in the last days. No wonder I felt those words were so powerful and authoritative, like they were God’s voice. They really were the words of God! I said to Brother Li excitedly, “Now I understand. Whether it’s God’s Spirit or His incarnation, He’s God Himself. There’s no Trinity. Without the truths expressed by Almighty God, no one could thoroughly refute and lay bare this fallacy that’s been debated for nearly two thousand years. Only God Himself could reveal this truth. I’m sure that Almighty God’s words are God’s voice and that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned! Now I’m ready to accept Almighty God’s work of the last days! I give thanks to Almighty God for totally resolving this confusion that’s plagued me for over 20 years!”

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