And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” Luke 9:35
(This article is #8 in a series on the Trinity.)
If it weren’t for texts of Scripture that explicitly identify the Holy Spirit as God, proceeding from the Father and the Son, one might conclude from Scripture that God is a “duality”. We here use this word duality to describe what is most often revealed about God—that there is but one God, and yet this God is seen to be two distinct persons, often identified -especially in the New Testament – as Father and Son.
In the Old Testament, even though He was not yet human, the Son of God frequently appeared in human form, doing “human” sorts of things. Thus the Son of God is observed walking in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day. He and two “other” angels appear as men eating food provided by Abraham (Note: Angel identifies a heavenly messenger and the ultimate angel is the Son of God.). He wrestles with Jacob, uniquely blessing Jacob and giving him a new name, Israel, which identified Jacob as one who wrestled with God. On other occasions God’s Son appeared in forms and in a manners that were beyond human. He appeared to Moses at the non-burning inflamed bush, identifying himself as the I Am. He led the children of Israel, going before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. In this capacity He is identified as the angel of God (or angel of the Lord) and God the Father says of this “angel”, Be on your guard before him and obey His voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him (Ex 23:21). Who is this “angel” that possesses the very name of God? God’s Son uniquely possesses His Father’s name! Repeatedly the Son of God appears and reveals God’s presence throughout the Old Testament. This makes perfect sense, because all things have been created by Him and for Him (Col 1:16). Yes, the world was created FOR the Son of God, and throughout history He appropriately has a relationship with man that only God could have.
For humans, having a son occurs in time as a result of procreation, as a result of God’s profound creation of motherhood. For God, however, having a son is an eternal thing, because God’s nature is eternal. God the Father is eternally father, and the God the Son is eternally son. There is no mother of the Son of God, for motherhood by definition identifies a beginning, and the Son of God, like His Father, has no beginning; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father.
Where is the Holy Spirit? He, as is often the case, is the person of the Trinity who is accomplishing God’s essential works behind the scenes. It is the Holy Spirit who inspired the authors of the Old Testament, especially revealing the One for whom the world the world was made—God’s Son. It is the Spirit of God who caused the prophets to predict the coming of the Messiah—the Son of God who would become incarnate for man’s eternal salvation. It is the Holy Spirit who caused the eternal Son to become incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary. By the Spirit God’s Son would so thoroughly become one of us that, from the first Christmas onward, the Son of God, as a man, has a beginning as Mary’s son.
In today’s Transfiguration text we are reminded that though truly a man, Jesus yet remains God’s eternal Son. For the Father declares, This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to Him! Though a man, Jesus remains God’s eternal Son, because only with this eternal value could He pay the debt of sinful and rebellious humanity. Yet He could only pay mankind’s debt by being a man, able to die mankind’s death. And as a man He is also thus able to rise from the dead for mankind’s justification and assurance of immortality.
Though all of Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit, yet now the New Testament is the revelation provided by the incarnation of God’s Son. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews thus wrote: Long ago…God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature… (1:1-3). Recognize in this text the background work of the Spirit as the Father sends Him to speak to the fathers by the prophets. Yet with crystal clarity read of God’s “duality” in these verses: He has spoken to us by His Son.