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The New City Catechism Question 3

Question: How Many Persons Are There in God?

Answer: There are three persons in the one true and living God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

 

Importance of The Doctrines of the Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity has been one of the most foundational, essential beliefs of the Christian church throughout our history. This doctrine was taught by the apostles and by God himself through his word. And specific beliefs regarding the Trinity were clarified by councils and creeds of the early church.

 

Nature, Persons, Substance, and Essence

One necessary distinction that is made is that between persons and being. God is three persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But, he is one being, meaning that he has one nature, substance, and essence.

 

We do not have three individual gods; Christianity is a monotheistic religion. As stated by the Shema from Deuteronomy 6, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Nevertheless, our unified God exists in three distinct persons.

 

Following is an explanation of the divinity of each of the three persons of the Trinity.

 

The Father as God

The first person of the Trinity is the Father. 1 Corinthians 8:6 says that “for us, there is one God, the Father. All things are from him, and we exist for him.”

 

Not as much of a defense needs to be made for the deity of the Father. This is clear throughout all of scripture and is not disputed by any who claim to be Christians.

 

The Son as God

In John 8, a group of Jews was challenging Jesus’ authority and teaching. They asked Jesus “You aren’t fifty years old yet, and you’ve seen Abraham?” Abraham had died over 2,000 years before Jesus was born, yet Jesus talked as if they knew each other. To their questions Jesus responded, “Truly I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.”

 

Jesus response was an echo of what God said to Moses when asked what his name is: I AM who I AM.” Jesus was claiming to be the God of Abraham, the God who spoke to Moses, and the God who existed before any of creation. He is claiming to be God.

 

Moreover, Paul teaches Christ’s divinity in Colossians when he says “The entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ.”

 

Not only in these passages, but also in many other passages and in many other ways does the Bible teach the divinity of Jesus.

 

The Spirit as God

The Bible also identifies the Holy Spirit as God in many passages. One of the clearest is when the apostle Peter rebukes Ananias saying “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit… You have not lied to people but to God.”

 

This passage shows the belief of the early church that the Holy Spirit was God. This is further confirmed in other passages throughout the Bible so that there is no doubt regarding the divinity of the Holy Spirit.

 

Historical Confessions

Many confessions and creeds have been written by the church from its beginnings to modernity that affirm and clarify the orthodox Christian beliefs on the doctrine of the Trinity. Some of the more well-known include the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed.

 

The Athanasian Creed states that “We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons: nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Persons of the Father: another of the Son: and another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead… is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal.”

 

Not Neglecting Worship

Our Triune God created us to worship and glorify him. When we neglect any person of the Trinity, we cease to worship God rightly, and we are not accomplishing our true calling.

 

The scriptures have laid out for us what we must believe about God. Therefore, deviating from the doctrine of the Trinity leaves us as idolaters and not true worshippers of God.

 

Our job is not to understand the complexities of God, nor is it to be able to fully explain what is meant to be a mystery to us. We cannot understand everything about God, and some things are left unexplained because God intends it that way.

 

Our job is to be faithful in holding steadfast to the things that God has revealed in his Word. This means being faithful to the worshipping our one God who exists eternally in three distinct persons. All of whom deserve our reverence and worship.

 

Unity Throughout History

We should also seek to be unified with all of those in the church for the last 2,000 years. This is why adherence to orthodoxy is so vital to us. This is why studying and memorizing confessions, creeds, and catechisms are crucial to us. These documents, these doctrines are the chain links that connect us with those have gone before us and those who will follow us as God continues to build his church on earth.

 

By Brooks Szewczyk

Pastoral Intern

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