The Father, Son and Holy Spirit

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Recently a brother in our meeting asked me, “What do you think of Matthew 28:19?”

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

He didn’t like it because it is Trinitarian. I understood where he was coming from. I used to have similar feelings. I could explain it away, but I couldn’t explain why Jesus said it that way. I believe I have a better understanding of this now and want to share it with you. I want you to feel very confident in what this verse does mean. I want you to feel the impact of these words. I want you to own them.

Many years ago, I was talking to a seminar student who was a confessed devote Catholic. We had been through many classes and we were talking about God. I mentioned to her that Christadelphians don’t believe in the Trinity. She responded, “So you don’t believe in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit”? I paused, “Well, no, we do believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity as defined by the creeds of the later church are not from the Bible. They say the Father, Son and Spirit are co-equal, co-eternal and con-substantial, that is, of the same nature. That’s what is destructive to the true faith.” She responded, “Oh, well, I don’t believe that either.” Yet she remained a Catholic.

That experience made me realize to define my terms before I start debating with someone. Many confess to believing the Trinity, yet to them it only is about the existence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It also made me ponder, as a Christadelphian, how did I understand Matthew 28:19? If I was baptized into this name, then I must understand it better. We are going to go through several verses that all have the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19 is by no means isolated. Once you become aware of it you’ll start seeing it all over the pages of scripture. In the end it will bring us right to this memorial table. We all must realize and experience the calling of God, the faith and obedience in his Son and the sanctification of the Spirit.

God the Father

Let’s start first in Ephesians 4:4-6,

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

Do you see the three here? Verse, 4 “one Spirit”, verse 5, “one Lord” that is Jesus Christ, and then in verse 6, “One God and Father”. They are centered around “one baptism” in verse 4.

First, we notice that the Father is the one who is God, and he is supreme. It all starts with him. It is he who sent his Son that we might be baptized into him. Therefore, we are united in one Spirit and one body. That Spirit is the mind of God and Christ which permeates our thinking because it is based on the word of God and binds us together. That is why in verse 3 he says we must “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.”

This is an important passage. It stresses that there is one faith. In it there is this triad.

Here’s another one in 1 Peter 1:2. For me, this is the verse that explains it best.

“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”

Here we are given all three and what each entail. Let’s start with the “foreknowledge of God the Father”. Here’s where it all starts. God the Father is the instigator using his Spirit and his Son to work his plan. God's foreknowledge is more than just His faculty to predict the future, but his ability to bring his desired end to pass. He planned for His Son to come and he also planned for a group of people to find salvation in His Son. There must be humble recognition of the great divine scheme that we are playing such a small part in.

Isn’t it interesting that Peter in verse 3, follows by talking about being baptized, that is “begotten again”. For me the most poignant point of this verse is that our being born again was not really any of our doing. This verse implies that we had as much to do in our spiritual birth as we did in our natural birth. This follows along with James in 1:13,

"Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."

And John 1:12-13,

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: {13} Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

Yes, we have free will and we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling yet first and foremost we must realize that it is God working in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. It is wrong to say, “This is how I came to the truth” or “This person taught me the truth.” Rather we should say, “This is how God brought me to the truth.”  For it is by God’s foreknowledge, his calling and his teaching by grace that we are saved. That is humbling but it’s also a great cause of rejoicing that God has chosen us in Christ and given us a living hope.

The Spirit

Peter, in 1 Peter 1:2, puts the sanctification of the Spirit next. Paul parallels Peter’s thoughts in 2 Thess. 2:13-14,

“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

There is our “trinity” again highlighted by the election of God and the sanctification of the Spirit. To be “sanctified” means to be made holy, purified, purged or washed. Paul puts it this way in 1 Cor. 6:11,

“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

It is the spirit that cleanses. This is the process of the transformation of the mind, from the thinking of the flesh to the mind of the Spirit. We know how this process occurs for Jesus puts it simply in John 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth”.

The spirit is the word, it is God’s truth. It is not just a printed word on a page but a living acting power. It has the power to change lives. It can overturn a person’s entire world view. It’s dramatic when it happens but we also know it is a lifelong process.

Here’s another in Eph. 1:11-13 just to drive the point home.

“[By Christ] we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated [aka the foreknowledge of God, 1 Peter 1:2] according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” [see also 2 Cor. 1:21-22]

The “holy Spirit” here is not the miraculous gifts. It is associated here with belief in the “word of truth”. It is something we have. God has given us of this spirit. It is something the Apostle Paul prayed for all the believers to have in verse 17,

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.”

That “spirit” is the ability to see great and marvelous things from God’s law. It’s that joy you feel when the word is revealed to you. It’s those times you just sit back and are in awe of God’s grace and goodness to you a sinner. It’s when that realization overwhelms you and you break down crying. That’s the power of God in our hearts for as Paul says in Gal. 4:6, “because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”

Now we must do our part, brothers and sisters, to make sure the spirit of his Son does not come in sputters and spurts but that it dwells or abides in us. The spirit in us is the mind of Christ which is to permeate every aspect of lives. To what do our thoughts gravitate? At work or school do we think of the things of God’s word. While we’re cooking. In the car driving. Taking care of the kids at home. In the shower. Is God’s law our meditation all day? (Psa. 119:97). How often do you think of the things of God’s kingdom and wish it were here? Answer those questions and you’ll know if you have the mind of the Spirit.

We can also test ourselves by how we react to sin? Are the things of the world like fingernails on a chalkboard? Does the headlines of violence cause fear or sorrow? Our affections are the sign of the spirit that dwells in us.

Turn with me to Rom. 8:9-11,

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness [i.e. baptism]. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

Here’s where it all gets mashed up. Here’s where we can see the importance of the Father, Son and Spirit all in one. In one place it is the spirit of God and in another the spirit of Christ. Both dwell in us because they are one. Not in nature or equality but in mind and purpose. It’s that spirit or mind which makes us one with the Father and Son.

It’s that type of thinking which really unifies us brothers and sisters. This is the spirit that binds the ecclesia together. This is why we are baptized into the one spirit. Paul says in 1 Cor. 12:13,

“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” [see triad in v. 4-6]

It is very fitting therefore that we are baptized into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The spirit is the glue that holds it all together and makes us one.

The Lord Jesus Christ

If the Spirit is the glue, then Jesus Christ is the catalyst. We’ve seen from 1 Peter 1:2 the “foreknowledge” of God and the “sanctification” of the Spirit. Now we come to the “obedience and sprinkling of the blood” of Jesus Christ. It’s a little easier for us to understand being baptized into the Son. Jesus is our example and baptism is our willingness to be associated with him. We want to be obedient like he was. We want to sacrifice like he did.

With this in mind, let’s go to Hebrews 9:13-14 and again look for this triad.

“For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth (hagiazō) to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot (amōmos) to God, purge (katharizō) your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

It’s that faith in his blood, his life, that is supposed to drive us. Jesus Christ overcame the flesh by the Spirit and so too we are purged by that same Spirit, that same way of thinking. Without the life blood of the Lord Jesus Christ we would have no means of justification. It was by his blood that he has brought us near to God, into his very presence.

Paul brings this out in Eph. 2:13,

“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

This is the means of our reconciliation to God. He is our peace. Therefore, it says in verse 18,

“For through him [Jesus Christ] we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”

Here again are the differing aspects of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God wants us to be near to him, but we can’t approach him unless we have the right Spirit. It’s through the sacrifice of Christ and belief in his blood that we can attest to God’s righteousness and have this access for the forgiveness of sins and be reconciled to God.


Let’s go back now to Matthew 28:19 and read this again,

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

I’m hoping this verse means much more to you now. I want it to overwhelm you. I want you to own it. You shouldn’t be ashamed at a baptism to hear these words. They are wonderful powerful words that are echoed in so many scriptures.

From 1 Peter 1:2 we’ve seen the importance of the foreknowledge of God. He is the one who has done the calling. It is all by his grace. The Son and the Spirit are how he is reconciling us to him. The Spirit, the word of truth, sanctifies us. It cleanses our hearts and permeates our thinking. It is through the death of Christ that we can see the ultimate example of this. Through faith in his blood we can be forgiven and live lives of obedience to God.

Now we come in one Spirit to partake of the emblems. This is the fellowship we have together. I thought it would be fitting to end on one more verse, one more place the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are mentioned. It is 2 Cor. 13:14,

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion [fellowship] of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”