This Week's Focus Passage

Luke 3:21-22 ‘The Holy Spirit descended….and a voice came out of heaven.’

Luke 3:21-22 ‘The Holy Spirit descended….and a voice came out of heaven.’

Now it came to pass, when all the people were baptized, that, Jesus also having been baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form, as a dove, upon him, and a voice came out of heaven, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

The passage above surely teaches the reality of the Trinity. Now we are all aware that the word ‘trinity’ is not to be found in the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit who indicted the Word of God and saw to it that ‘men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit’ has, according to one of His offices, seen fit to disallow the word ‘trinity’ itself to be included in the Bible, yet has granted many beautiful pictures and illustrations to interlace the Scriptures, that the doctrine of God being “One in three, and Three in One” is indisputably (although many have disputed it) bound up in our Bibles. Our focus passage for the week is just one of those places that clearly demonstrate this mystery of the ‘Three in One.’ And this is truly a mystery. There is no dispute leveled against it that is satisfactory. Individuals over the centuries have offered numerous attempts to explain the Trinity by way of many foolish analogies; all of which have fallen flat; have not come anywhere near to afford an explanation. ‘When all is said and done, there is a whole lot more said than done.’ The Trinity remains a mystery. Unless God is pleased to grant us explication sometime in this life, or perhaps some later time; in eternity, we must be content to worship the blessed Trinity without being able to explain how it can be. The entire scope of our academic institutions have not the capability of satisfyingly granting understanding of just how this can be actual. The apostle speaks of the mystery of godliness in the epistle to the Hebrews; that is, the mystery of the God-man, Jesus Christ. Let us give up our pride and confess both our finiteness, and the relative ignorance that is bound up with that finiteness. Let us rather praise the God-man and praise the Trinity: praise the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith states, with regard to the Trinity:

“In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word or Son, and Holy Spirit, of one substance, power and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided: the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son; all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations; which doctrine of the Trinity is the found-ation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on him.”

Man-made confessions of faith, it must be maintained, are certainly not infallible—in spite of the many behaving as though they are—but they often provide much help as their stated purpose is to point us to the Word of God. It is the Word of God that has revealed this manifestation of God as ‘Three in One’ while remaining ‘One in Three.’ Benjamin Warfield offered a brief but most helpful comment upon this matter when he wrote in just a few sentences the following:

“The revelation itself was made not in word but in deed. It was made in the incarnation of God the Son, and the outpouring of God the Holy Spirit. The relation of the two Testaments to this revelation is in the one case that of preparation for it, and in the other that of product of it. The revelation itself is embodied just in Christ and the Holy Spirit.”—Warfield, Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity, p. 33.

Jesus Himself has said in no uncertain terms, I and the Father are One, and, if you have seen me, you have seen the Father. John’s gospel account begins with such an asseveration, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.

In our focus passage this week we read of what may well be considered something of a pictorial of the Trinity. In this account of the baptism of Jesus Christ—an account which is given us by each of the three synoptic Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and here, Luke. John provides a testimony of this event that was given by the Baptist. And while John has not mentioned a voice that came out of heaven, as did all three of the synoptists, he nonetheless, has informed us of the exact same truth when he recorded the testimony of John the Baptist, saying;

And I knew him not; but he that sent me to baptize in water, he said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon him, the same is he that baptizeth in the Holy Spirit. And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.—1:33-34.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke have given this account of the baptism of the Christ almost in parallel language. And what they recorded provides this beautiful work of art that reveals in one scene all three of the Persons of the Trinity.

It was Jesus of whom Luke reports having been baptized, and praying, was the subject of this baptism by John the Baptizer. Luke alone has communicated to us that Christ was praying, and the heaven was opened, while Matthew and Mark inform us that it was as straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens rent asunder, and the Spirit as a dove descending upon him. Yet each of the three have granted us a record of the utterance of the Father when they wrote;

A voice came out of heaven, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased, Matthew reporting, This is my beloved Son.

But the testimony to the Trinity is exposed in the gospels—and in many other places in Scripture—that there are indeed three Persons in the Godhead. It is Jesus the Christ who is baptized and of whom the Father says—clearly the Father, for He calls Him His Son—this is my beloved Son. He is God the Son. And it is God the Holy Spirit who descends in the form, or likeness, of a dove upon Him. In this picture then are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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