How do you know that God isn't three distinct individuals?

Email Received:

You seem very knowledgeable. In regards to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit being one, can you open your mind to the possibility that just maybe they are three distinct individuals? It really would clear a lot up. You say we can't understand God. I truly believe we can. God is not a god of confusion. Through Christ his son, we can know him.

Ted's Response:

We, as human beings, have a triune nature: spirit, soul, body. Each of us is not three individuals; we are one individual with three natures. We were made in the "image" of God (Genesis 1:26), who also has three natures: Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

When people look at you, they see your physical body; but it is a living, moving body. It could not live and move without your spirit and soul being inside of it. Even a person who has died, where his spirit and soul have left his body and gone elsewhere, is still one individual.

That person is composed of a spirit and soul, located in an unknown location or locations, and a body, usually located in the ground. Yet, that person has not become three persons or individuals, even though his components are not in the same place anymore. He continues to be one person, and eventually he will be judged by God as one individual person, not as three separate people. Eventually, his spirit and soul will be reunited with his body, and all his components will spend eternity in the same place as one person or individual.

Since we are a representation of God made in His likeness, He can be viewed in a similar way. In Deuteronomy 6:4, God told Israel that He is "one." In that verse, the word "one" is echad in Hebrew, and this word indicates a "unified one" (rather than yachid, which denotes an "only" or an "absolute numeric one"). God is one single God with multiple facets or natures; in effect, He is a "compound unity." That is, He is not three separate "Persons"; He is one, unified Being with (at least) three components. More about this is included in the singular and multiple section of my commentary, Who Is God?

Like us, His components can occupy the same place at once, such as on His throne (Revelation 4:2,10, 5:6, 6:16). Unlike us (unless we are dead or are having an "out of body experience"), though, His components can be in more than one place at once. Jesus said, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30) and "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (14:9). Jesus could be on earth and the Father in heaven, but they were (and still are) one, single, unified Person or individual.

In describing the coming Messiah (Jesus), the prophet Isaiah used "Mighty God" and "Everlasting Father" as two of His attributes (Isaiah 9:6). In a way that we cannot yet fully comprehend, Jesus is God and is one with the Father.

It appears that eventually, in the eternal New Jerusalem, God's components will be unified in one place as the city's temple (Revelation 21:22), as the city's light and lamp (21:23), and on the throne from which the river of life will flow (22:1,3). Then everyone will see the single, unified face (22:4) of the one and only, composite God.

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