The following is written by East-West’s Executive Vice President of Ministry Engagement.
In AD 325, in the city of Nicaea (which is about 60 miles southwest of modern Istanbul, Turkey) something happened of monumental importance to the Christian faith.
What happened may sound average or even dry, but it was monumental. At the invitation of the Christian emperor Constantine, 318 of the approximately 1,800 Christian bishops in the entire world gathered to discuss very critical issues about the nature of God.
Specifically, these Christian leaders focused on the Trinitarian nature of God or the “three-ness” of God. How could there be a Father and a Son and a Holy Spirit and still only one God?
The Council of Nicaea concluded that: there is only one God, Who exists in three Persons, but is of only one Essence. Please be clear that these 318 men did not “make these things true of God.” They only declared, to the best of their understanding, what the Bible says is true of Him.*
Today I’d like to address a few foundational things to know about this brief and “extremely loaded” theological statement about God.
First, He is one. There is only one God. He does not exist in different modes or in different individuals or in different manifestations, showing up one time as the Father and another time as the Spirit or the Son.
Second, He exists in three Persons. The word “Persons” as used here is a technical, theological term used to describe the nature of God Who is clearly presented in the Bible as Father and Son and Holy Spirit. These are the three “Persons” but they are not three “people.”
Third, God is of one “essence”. The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one God and are made of the same “stuff”. Since there is only one God there can only be one “essence,” just one kind of “stuff”.
These three Persons are co-equal and co-eternal and have existed as One Being in perfect, harmonious relationship with each Other for eternity.
I said all that to ask this question: What does “the three-ness of God” have to do with the Great Commission?
The answer: A lot!
The Bible clearly explains different roles and relationships of each Person of the Trinity in the Great Commission. Over the next three blogs we will discuss briefly how God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit each inform and impact the Great Commission, and how those three approaches to the Great Commission guide our personal relationships to the Great Commission.
In this discussion we must be clear that there is one God and He acts in singularity in advancing the Great Commission and in all that He does.
*What we believe about God has no impact on Who He is or on what is actually true about Him! He is Who He is, whether we believe true things about Him or false things about Him. His existence and nature are totally and absolutely independent of what anyone believes about Him.