Lesson 5: God: His Nature And Persons


Hello, and welcome to lesson 5 of An Introduction To The Christian Faith. In this lesson, we will consider Baptist Catechism questions 7, 8 & 9. I should mention that we have now moved out of the “First Principles” section of our catechism and into the second major section wherein we are taught about God: His nature, persons, and works. This second major section runs from questions 7 through 43, and so we will be in it for a while.

Question 7: What is God?
Answer: God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable
in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. 

Question 7 asks, what is God? Before we turn our attention to the answer we should recognize that the question is what is God? Not who is God? Those two questions are similar and related, but they are not the same. When you ask, what a thing is, you are asking about its nature. When you ask who someone is, you are asking about their person. I can illustrate this by asking the question, what are you? Your answer should be, I am human. And if I were to press you to be more specific about what a human is, you could say, I have a human body and a human soul. You could go further and speak of some of the characteristics common to all humans. All of these things could be said in response to the question, what are you? But the question, who are you, is less about your nature and more about your person. If I asked, who are you, you might tell me that you are a human, but I suspect you would probably tell me your name and some details about your life unique to you. I’ve taken the time to distinguish between the questions of what and who because the question before us is what is God? The answer, therefore, is about the nature of God and his divine characteristics or attributes. We will come to talk about the persons of the Godhead in question 9. 

God Is A Spirit

What is God? The answer begins with these four very important words: God is a spirit. Our confession of faith has a lot more to say about God than our catechism does. I recommend that you read Chapter 2 of the Second London Confession of Faith (2LCF) sometime soon. It’s a beautiful statement concerning God. It does not only say, God is a spirit, but elaborates, saying, God is “a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions…” (2LCF, 2.1). 

When we say, God is a spirit we are not only talking about the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Triune God. No, we are saying that God is a spiritual being. He is invisible. He does not have a physical body. He is not composed of parts in the way that you and I are. As has already been said, humans are made up of body and soul. The human body has parts. And the human soul has parts too – we have a mind and a will (the affections being the motions of the will). God is not made up of parts. He is simple. You are probably thinking, this doesn’t sound simple! No, that is not what I mean by “simple”. It is impossible for us to fully comprehend the nature of God. He is beyond our capacities. When I say that God is simple, I mean, he is not a composite being. He is not made up of parts like we are. God is a most pure spirit. 

This is what Jesus plainly said in John 4:24: “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24, ESV). 

I think you would agree with me that it is very common for people to think of God as if he were a physical being. Why is this? One, we are prone to idolatry. We have this terrible tendency to think of God as if he were a creature – a bigger and better version of us, perhaps. Two, the Scriptures do sometimes use the language of created things and apply them to God to help us understand who he is or what he is doing in the world, and men sometimes miss the fact that the language is functioning in an analogical way.  

For example, Christ taught us to pray to God as Father. We have earthly fathers. So, there must be some things about earthly fathers that help us to understand things that are true about God. Things like this: Like with our earthly fathers, God is our source. God loves his children. God is our protector and provider. These things are generally true of earthly fathers, and these things are true of God, but not in the same way. Through Christ, God is our heavenly Father and we are his beloved children. But we must remember that God is our father in an analogical way, not in an univocal, or one-to-one, way. We would be wrong to think of him as a big, great, and powerful version of an earthly father in the sky. No, he is our Father in heaven. When we think of God as Father we must think of all of the best characteristics of earthly fathers and strip away every human characteristic and imperfection.  

Here is another example. Sometimes the Scriptures speak as if God has a human body. The Scriptures speak of God’s hand, his arm, his face, and his back. These are human body parts. We know that God does not have them, really, for he is spirit. When the Scriptures speak of God’s hand or face or right arm, the language must be analogical – a fancier word is, anthropomorphic. When God is described as having human body parts, it is not to be taken literally, but as an analogy. God’s hand and right arm symbolize his willingness to give and his power to keep and save. These anthropomorphic descriptions of God teach us wonderful truths about God and his acts, but they are not meant to be taken in a literal, one-to-one, way as if God has a human body, for we know that “God is spirit” (John 4:24). 

Similarly, the Scriptures will sometimes speak of God using the language of human emotion. Humans experience changes in emotion. God does not change. But we learn something true about God’s relationship with the world he has made when the Scriptures speak of God repenting, grieving, longing, etc.  (compare, for example, Genesis 6:6 and 1 Samuel 15:29). When the Scriptures describe God using the language of human emotion or passion, we call this anthropopathic language. 

All of these passages that attribute human and creaturely characteristics to God are important. We learn true things about who God is and what he has done, is doing, or will do in the world. But if we wish to know what God is, then we ought to give priority to those passages that speak directly about the whatness of God. Again, Jesus said, “God is spirit”.

God Is Infinite, Eternal, And Unchangeable

Our catechism goes on to speak about God’s attributes. A better term would be perfections. With God, his attributes are perfections. God does not merely love. God is love. God does not have wisdom. God is wisdom. God is not only powerful. God is almighty, and so on. You and I have attributes or characteristics, but God’s attributes are perfections. The words “infinite, eternal, and unchangeable” help us to see this.

The word infinite helps us to see that God is without limits of any kind. When we say that something is finite, we mean that it is limited. You and I are finite creatures. But God is infinite. He is without limits. 

The world eternal is about time. When we say that God is eternal we mean that he is without time. There is no succession of moments in God. He does not have a past or future. He simply is. 

The word “unchangeable” reminds us that God cannot change. So there are some things God cannot do! He is in no way limited in power or wisdom, etc. But he is limited by his perfections. He cannot be less than God. He cannot contradict himself. God cannot change. If God were to change for the better – if he were to grow in knowledge, for example – it would mean that he was less than God before. If he were to change for the worse – for example, if his Almighty Power were to diminish – he would cease to be God Almighty. There is no room for change in God because he is infinitely and eternally perfect in every way.

These first three perfections of God can be called incommunicable attributes or perfections. The word incommunicable signals that these perfections of God are not shared with humans in any way. God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, and we are not. The seven perfections that are listed next may be classified as communicable attributes or perfections. The word communicable signals that God does share these perfections with us to some degree. For example, God is wisdom, and we can be wise. God is power, and we have some power. God is good, and we can be and do good. So, a distinction can be made between God’s incommunicable and communicable attributes. 

But please notice that the three incommunicable perfections – infinite, eternal, and unchangeable – are to be carried along and applied to each one of the seven perfections of God that are mentioned in our catechism. God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being. God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his wisdom. God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his power, etc. As I have said, though we may share in these characteristics or attributes, in God they are perfections. The seven perfections mentioned in our catechism are God’s being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. 

I think the first three perfections mentioned should be grouped. We might call them the absolute perfections of God. These belong to God absolutely. They are his being, wisdom, and power. The last three also seem to go together. We might call these relative perfections. Why? Because we cannot conceive of them apart from the existence of a creature to whom God relates. They are his justice, goodness, and truth. God is perfectly just, good, and true… to his creatures. And so, we refer to these perfections as relative. I do believe that God’s holiness is mentioned right in the middle of this list for a reason. God is perfectly pure and holy in his essence, and therefore, he is always perfectly pure and holy in relation to us. Stated differently, God always does what is just, good, and true, because he is perfectly holy in his being, wisdom, and power. God’s justice, goodness, and truth are rooted in his holiness. 

I think there is another possible way for us to classify these perfections of God and that is into the categories of natural and moral. Naturally, God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, and power. This is his nature. Considered from a moral viewpoint, he is holy, just, good, and true.  

You should know that under these seven perfections, many other perfections could be listed. 

Also, I should mention that there is a danger in discussing the attributes or perfections of God like this. It can give the impression that God is composed of many parts – that he is a collection of his many wonderful attributes or perfections. No, we must maintain that God is simple. It has been said that everything in God is God. For example, we may say that God’s love is his justice. In him, they are not really distinguished. We must divide God up and talk about his perfections one at a time because we are limited in our capacity. We can only think about one perfection at a time. 

At this point, I suspect you are noticing that there is a sense in which God is incomprehensible to us. We can know him truly. These things that we are saying about him are true things revealed in God’s Holy Word. But our finite minds cannot fully comprehend the infinite, eternal, and unchangeable One. Our language strains under the weight of the task as we attempt to speak of him. We feel overwhelmed as we contemplate him, and this is good. God may be known truly because he has revealed himself to us through his word, but he remains incomprehensible. 

Let us now consider the seven communicable attributes listed by our catechism. 

God Is Infinite, Eternal, And Unchangeable In Being

First, our catechism teaches that God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being or existence. 

It is under the category of God’s being or existence that we could talk about his aseity or his self-existence. God exists a-se, which means, of himself. God depends upon no one and nothing for his existence. No one made God. No one sustains God. God exists of himself. This is why he revealed himself as “I AM” to Moses. God is the one being who simply is.  

I think you can see that God is a being, and you and I are beings, but we are very different beings. Stated differently, God exists, and we exist, but our existences are very different. God exists a se, of himself. I hate to break it to you, friends. You and I do not exist a se, of ourselves. We are very dependent and needy creatures. We were brought into this world by our parents and through a mother. We were nurtured while helpless babes. We cannot exist apart from this world. We need air, food, water, and shelter. It would be very difficult for us to exist apart from society. Ultimately, it is God who created us and sustains us continuously. The Scriptures are true, “‘In [God] we live and move and have our being’… ‘For we are indeed his offspring’” (Acts 17:28, ESV).

It is under the category of God’s being or existence that we could also talk about his omnipresence. God is infinite in his existence. He is in all places at all times. This is why the Psalmist said, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” (Psalm 139:7–8, ESV).

Again, we may stress the great difference between God’s existence and ours. We exist, but we are finite. We are limited by our bodies. We can only be in one place at one time. And even if we were to consider the soul of man, though it is hard to put into words, I’m confident that our souls are limited too. Our souls, when separated from our bodies at death, do not become infinite and omnipresent.  

It is under the category of God’s being or existence that we could also talk about his eternality. God exists. He always has and always will. As has been said, there is no succession of moments in God. He does not have a past or future. He simply is. This is why the prophet has said, “Are you not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One?” (Habakkuk 1:12, ESV). God exists in eternity. 

It is under the category of God’s being or existence that we should also talk about his immutability. It is not merely that God does not change, he cannot. You and I change constantly. That is because we are finite creatures living in time and space. God cannot change. As James says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17, ESV).

God Is Infinite, Eternal, And Unchangeable In Wisdom

Secondly, God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his wisdom. 

It is under the category of God’s infinite, eternal, and unchangeable wisdom that we may speak of his omniscience. God is perfectly wise because he knows all things. He knows himself perfectly. He sees everything with perfect clarity. The future is as clear to him as the past and present. And he knows the future, not because he has the ability to look into the future, but because he has decreed it. Friends, think of it. God has never learned anything. No, his wisdom is perfect. It is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. 

Isaiah 46:10 says that God declares “the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose…’” (Isaiah 46:10, ESV).

Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure” (Psalm 147:5, ESV).

In Psalm 139:1-6 King David reflects on God’s omniscience, saying, “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it” (Psalm 139:1–6, ESV).

God Is Infinite, Eternal, And Unchangeable In Power

Thirdly, God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his power. 

Here we may speak of God’s omnipotence. God’s power is unlimited. This is true in eternity. Never has God grown stronger or weaker. 

God speaks in Jeremiah 32:27 saying, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27).

Here we may also speak of God’s sovereignty. He is Lord Most High. Nothing is outside of his sovereign power and control. Listen to Psalm 47:2: “For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth” (Psalm 47:2, ESV). So expansive and complete is his sovereignty that not a hair falls from our head, nor a sparrow to the ground, apart from his will (see Matthew 10:28-31).

God Is Infinite, Eternal, And Unchangeable In Holiness

Fourthly, God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his holiness. 

I could be wrong, but I suspect that the holiness of God is given the central place in this list so that it might function as the hinge upon which the groupings of the absolute and relative perfections of God swing. God is holy in essence, and therefore God is holy in his dealings with man. 

To be holy is to be pure. God is pure. This is the perfection of God that the Apostle John was highlighting when he wrote, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5, ESV).

To be holy is also to be set apart. God is holy in that he is not like us. Moses praised God for his holiness when he sang, “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11, ESV). The answer is, no one is like God. He is holy. He is pure, unique, and set apart. 

The angels in heaven know that God is holy. Listen to Revelation 4:8: “And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’” (Revelation 4:8, ESV). The angels give praise to the Triune God day and night and they praise him confessing him to be, holy, holy, holy.

The one who is pure and holy will always do what is right, pure, and holy, and that is what our catechism will emphasize next. God is holy in himself, and he is holy in all that he does. 

God Is Infinite, Eternal, And Unchangeable In Justice

Fifthly, our catechism teaches that God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his justice. 

To be just is to do what is right. God is just. His decrees are just. His actions are just. When we say that God is just, we also mean that he will perfectly punish evil and reward the good. And we are to see that God is perfect in his justice because he is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, and holiness. 

Paul the Apostle speaks of the justice of God by asking the question, “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!” (Romans 9:14, ESV).

It is an interesting experience for fallen and sinful humans to think about the justice of God. On the one hand, people take comfort in the justice of God. We are comforted by the thought that God will judge justly in the end. Those who have done wicked things will be judged justly. Interestingly, people will think this way about others – their enemies perhaps, or particularly notorious people – Hitler is often used as an example. Is it comforting to know that God will judge justly in the end? Yes, and the Scriptures do speak of this. We must not avenge ourselves knowing that God will repay in the end (see Romans 12:19). So, God’s justice is a comfort to us. God will always do what is right, and he will judge justly. 

But this same truth should cause all sinners to tremble. It is easy to point at others – those who have done you wrong – or particularly bad men, like Hitler. But do not forget that we have all sinned against God. We all stand guilty before him. Will God simply pardon the guilty? If he did, he would not be just. What would you think of a human judge who simply pardoned criminals? You would say, that judge is unjust! And so too, God would be unjust if he simply overlooked our sin. It is under the category of the perfect justice of God that we may speak of his wrath. God will pour out his wrath upon all sinners on the day of judgment, and he will do so with perfect justice (see Hebrews 9:23, 1 Peter 2:23, Revelation 19:2, 20:11-15).

So is there hope for us? Yes, it is found at the cross of Christ. We will come to consider the cross of Christ later in our study. For now, I will simply say that Jesus’ death on the cross has a lot to do with God’s justice. God does not forgive sinners by simply overlooking or ignoring their sins. No, he forgives sinners and remains just because Christ paid the penalty for their sins on the cross. Romans 3 is very important. It has a lot to say about sin and salvation through faith in Christ. After the Apostle Paul talks about the sacrifice that Christ made as a proposition, he remarks, “It was to show [God’s] righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26, ESV). So, how does God justify the ungodly and remain just? It was by laying the sins of his elect on Christ on the cross so that atonement for their sins could be made. 

God Is Infinite, Eternal, And Unchangeable In Goodness

This brings us to the sixth of God’s perfections. God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his goodness.

God is good. It is under the category of God’s goodness that we may speak of his love, mercy, grace, and kindness.  

1 John 4:16 says, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16, ESV).

Psalm 106:1 says, “Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 106:1, ESV).

Some assume that because God is good and God is love, he is bound to love everyone in the same way and to save everyone from their sins. This is not true. In fact, God would do no wrong to leave everyone in their sins and to judge them. This would be just! But God is good – God is love. Therefore, he has shown mercy to all of his creatures. He gives good gifts even to those who hate him (see Matthew 5:43-45). And he has set his special and saving love upon some. This is what John 3:16-18 describes, saying, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:16–18, ESV).

God is good. He shows mercy and grace to whomever he will. Listen to Exodus 33:18-19. Moses spoke to the Lord, saying, “‘Please show me your glory.’ And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy” (Exodus 33:18–19, ESV).

God is good. Think of all the good gifts that God has given to you! The greatest gift he has ever given is the gift of his Son, our Savior, Christ the Lord. 

God Is Infinite, Eternal, And Unchangeable In Truth

Seventhly, and lastly, God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his truth.

When we say that God is true we mean that he speaks the truth. More than this, we mean that he is true to his word. God will always keep his promises. It is important to know what God has promised, therefore. It is also important to know that God is true, or we might say, faithful.  

Listen to Hebrews 6:17-18: “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:17–18, ESV).

Psalm 117:2 speaks of God, saying, “For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 117:2, ESV)

There is so much more that we could say in response to the question, What is God? The answer provided by our catechism is a very good start. It is a firm foundation to build upon. God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. 

Question 8: Are there more gods than one?
Answer: There is but one only, the living and true God.

Let’s turn our attention now to Baptist Catechism question 8. It asks, Are there more gods than one? The answer given is, there is but one only, the living and true God.

The meaning of this question and answer is rather straightforward. How many Gods are there? There is one God. Deuteronomy 6:4 is very important. This verse is sometimes referred to as the Shema – shema being the Hebrew word for “hear”. It is the first word of this verse, which says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4, ESV). There is only one God, and as we have said before, he is simple – he is not composed of parts. Isaiah 45:5 says, “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God…” (Isaiah 45:5, ESV).

What then are we to think of the Scripture texts that mention other gods? Well, though they are honored as gods by the nations, they are no gods at all. What then are they? The gods of the nations are idols. Men carve them from wood and stone and bow down to them. The prophet Jeremiah mocked these false gods, saying, “Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good” (Jeremiah 10:5, ESV). The Scriptures say that those who worship false gods worship demons (see Revelation 9:20). Either way, men and women have a very bad habit of worshiping and serving created things instead of the Creator of all things, seen and unseen. This is idolatry, a sin that can be traced back to our first parents.

Question and answer 8 is rather straightforward, but it would be hard to overstate the importance of it.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4, ESV). Whatever we think or say about God, we cannot violate this most fundamental principle. Are there more gods than one? There is but one only, the living and true God.

Question 9: How many persons are there in the Godhead?
Answer: There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one God, the same in essence, equal in power and glory.

It is especially important to keep Baptist Catechism 8 in mind as we move to consider question and answer 9. It asks, How many persons are there in the Godhead? Answer: There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one God, the same in essence, equal in power and glory. 

This is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The one true God is a tri-unity. He is one, and yet he is three.  This doctrine is a mystery. We have already said that God is incomprehensible. Our finite minds cannot fully contain or comprehend him. And that is true of the doctrine of the Trinity. Our objective should not be to fully comprehend him but to believe what the Scriptures say about him, to speak of him with precision, and to worship and adore him. 

We have already confessed that God is one. There is a reason why Baptist Catechism 8 comes before Baptist Catechism 9. Is it true that God is three? Yes, there is a sense in which it is true. But we must be careful about how we speak lest we contradict our earlier confession that God is one. 

God indeed is one, but if we believe the Scriptures we must also confess that there is plurality in the one true God. There are not three Gods, but there are three persons or subsistences in the one true God. The Father eternally begets the Son, and the Father and Son eternally breathe forth the Spirit. Notice how careful our catechism is to clarify, “these three are one God, the same in essence, equal in power and glory.” 

That there is plurality in the Godhead can be seen throughout Scripture. Though the doctrine of the Trinity grows clearer as you progress through the Scriptures, and especially as you come into the New Testament, the doctrine is hinted at from the beginning. In Genesis 1:26 we hear God speak, saying, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” The thing to notice here is the plural pronouns, us and our. Who is God speaking to? It seems that he was speaking to himself. As we consider this verse in the light of the rest of Scripture we see that God the Father created the world through the Son (or Word) and by the Spirit. Creation was an act of the Triune God.  

And the same can be said of our redemption. To save us from our sins, God the Father sent the Son to accomplish our redemption. And the Father and Son have sent the Spirit to apply the redemption that Christ has earned to the elect in every age. 

Truth be told, we could spend a very long time talking about the Trinity. Let me present you with a few simple statements that I hope will serve as guide rails for you as you learn to think and speak accurately about God. 

One, God is spirit. 

Two, God is one. Whatever we say about the Trinity, the oneness of God cannot be overturned. The three persons of the Trinity are not three separate Gods. And neither are they three parts to one God, and if slices of a pie. 

Three, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three persons or subsistences that share the one divine nature. This concept can be difficult to understand. When we speak of a person, we mean a subject that acts through a nature. You and I are human persons who act through human natures. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the divine persons who eternally exist (or subsist) in the one and only divine nature. 

Four, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are fully God. Everything we said in response to question 7 – what is God? – must be said about each of the three persons of the Trinity. 

Five, the only thing that distinguishes the three persons is their eternal relations. The Father eternally begets the Son, and the Father and Son, eternally breathe forth the Spirit. The word “eternally” in the previous statements is important. It means that there was never a time when the Son and Spirit did not exist. The Son is eternally begotten, not made. And so it is with the Spirit. Yes, it is true that the Son submitted to the Father in the accomplishment of our redemption, and the Spirits submitted to the Father and Son in the application of our redemption. But this submission should not be read back into the eternal God. Listen again to our catechism and notice how carefully it is worded:  There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one God, the same in essence, equal in power and glory. 

A careful consideration of all that the Scriptures say about God demands that we think and speak of God in this way. The one true God is a Tri-unity. As you grow in your understanding of the Scriptures I trust that your ability to think and speak accurately about God will increase. Of course, we must remember that he will always remain incomprehensible to us, for the finite cannot contain the infinite. 


Well, we are about out of time. And if I were to guess, I would think you might be ready for the end of this lesson. We have covered a lot of ground, and we have done so very quickly. At the bottom of the manuscript for this lesson, I’ve included two Creeds – The Nicene Creed (325 AD), and The Athanasian Creed (5th Century AD). They speak of the Trinity with precision. I’d encourage you to read them. I’ve also listed some Scripture texts for you to consider. We could spend a very long time demonstrating the doctrine of the Trinity from Scripture, but I’m trying to keep these lessons brief. Also, please look under recommended resources. There you will find a list of books and studies that I think you will find helpful. Finally, I encourage you to think about God. Seek to grow in your understanding of him from the Scriptures. Remember, God created us to glorify and adore him. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37). If we love him, we will want to know him better. And as we grow in our knowledge of him, our love for him will certainly increase. 

This is an introductory course. I think this will do for now. Until next time, abide in Christ. 


The Nicene Creed (325 AD)

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Athanasian Creed (5th Century AD)

(Note: “catholic” means universal and is not a reference to the Roman Catholic Church)

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. 

And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.

For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.  

But the godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 

is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.  

The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.  

The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.  

And yet they are not three eternals, but one Eternal.

As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, 

but one Uncreated, and one Incomprehensible.  

So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty.  

And yet they are not three almighties, but one Almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.  

And yet they are not three gods, but one God.

So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord.  

And yet not three lords, but one Lord.

For as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge each Person by Himself to be both God and Lord, so we are also forbidden by the catholic religion to say that there are three gods or three lords.

The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten.  

The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten.  

The Holy Spirit is of the Father, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

So there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits.

And in the Trinity none is before or after another; none is greater or less than another, but all three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. 

So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

He therefore that will be saved must think thus of the Trinity.

A Few Scripture Texts To Consider

  1. There is plurality in the godhead.
    1. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26, ESV)
  2. The Father is in some way distinct from the Son and the Spirit.
    1. “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:29, ESV)
  3. The Son is in some way distinct from the Father and the Spirit.
    1. “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” (Psalm 110:1, ESV)
  4. The Spirit is in some way distinct from the Father and the Son.
    1. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26, ESV)
  5. And yet each“person is fully God, “the same in essence, equal in power and glory”.
    1. The Father is fully God.
      1. “and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:5–6, ESV)
    2. The Son is fully God.
      1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1,14, ESV)
      2. “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58, ESV)
      3. “To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 9:5, ESV)
    3. The Spirit is fully God.
      1. “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.’” (Acts 5:3–4, ESV)
  6. And yet there are not three Gods, but one only.
    1. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4, ESV)

Discussion Questions

  1. What does God “look” like? (What is his nature?)
  2. Did God have a beginning? Explain.
  3. Does God change? Does he grow in size or in knowledge? Does he have swings in emotion?
  4. What are God’s attributes, or better yet, perfections. Why is it better to use the term perfections when describing God characteristics?
  5. How many Gods are there? And how many persons are in the Godhead?
  6. Who are the three persons of the Godhead?
  7. Why is it important to first insist upon God’s oneness and then talk about his threeness?


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