Pilgrim’s Keyboard

November 16, 2014

Attributes of God – The Oneness/Essence of God | Unity of Trinity

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The Oneness/Essence of God – Unity of Trinity

 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! | Deuteronomy 6:4

We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ | 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14. 

One the hard teachings from Scripture is understanding God’s attribute of His Oneness/Essence in regards to the Unity of Trinity.

Trinity – Defined:

The doctrine that God eternally exists as three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and each person is fully God, and there is one God.[1]

T.P. Simmons

The Principles of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary set forth the doctrine of the Trinity as follows: “God is revealed to us as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.”[2]

 

John Gill

The doctrine of the unity of the divine Being, is of great importance in religion; especially in the affair of worship. God, the one only God, is the object of it.  This is the sense of the first and second Commands, which forbid owning any other God but one, and the worship of any creature whatever, angels or men, or any other creature, and the likeness of them; which to do is to worship the creature, besides, or along with the Creator. But this hinders not but that the Son and Spirit may have acts of worship performed to them equally, in the name of the Father … see [Matt. 18:19; Rev. 1:4, 5]. … And this doctrine also serves to fix and settle the object of our faith, hope, and love, without division and distraction of mind; which are not to be exercised on different objects, and to be divided between them; but are to centre [sic.] in one object, the one only true God, Father, Son, and Spirit; whom alone we are to make our confidence, our hope, and the centre [sic.] of our affections, [Jer. 18:7; Psalm 73:25].[3]

 

C.D. Cole

There is one Divine essence of being subsisting in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is a tri-unity – three in one. In the early part of the fourth century when Arianism threatened to prevail, a young theologian named Athanasius formulated the statement that was incorporated in the Nicene Creed. He said, “We worship one God in trinity and trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.” This is a remarkable statement, profound in its clarity and simplicity … as a Spirit He is three persons, but only one substance, and each person is all of God. Of the Son we read, that in Him dwelt, all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9). And again He is called the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). …

God has three modes of Being, three centers of personal consciousness. He is one essentially, but three persons relatively. And in these relations He existes as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. [4]

 

Wayne Grudem

In one sense the doctrine of the Trinity is a mystery that we will never be able to understand fully. However, we can understand something of its truth by summarizing the teaching of Scripture in three statements:

  1. God is three persons.
  2. Each person is fully God.
  3. There is one God.

 

1. God Is Three Persons.

The fact that God is three persons means that the Father is not the Son; they are distinct persons. It also means that the Father is not the Holy Spirit, but that they are distinct persons. And it means that the Son is not the Holy Spirit. These distinctions are seen in a number of passages:

 

Matthew 3;16-17 | Then Jesus, when He had been baptized … He saw the Spirit of God descending … and suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son

Matthew 28:19 | make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 13:14 | The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

Ephesians 4:4-6 | There is one body and one Spirit … one Lord … one God and  Father of all

1 Peter 1:2 | Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for the obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.

Jude vv. 20-21 | But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

NOTE: As seen here Scripture teaches that God is three persons | Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  

 

2. Each Person Is Fully God.

 

A. God the Father is clearly God. This is evident from the first verse of the Bible, where God created the heaven and earth. It is evident through the Old and New Testament, where God the Father is clearly viewed as sovereign Lord over all …

Matthew 6:9/Luke 11:4 | Our Father in heaven.

Romans 8:15 | You received the Spirit of adoption where by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

Galatians 1:3/Philippians 1:2/Colossians 1:2 | Grace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:3 | Blessed be the god and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 John v. 3 | Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

B. The Son is fully God. … John 1:1-4 clearly affirms the full deity of Christ … Here Christ is referred to as “the Word,” and John says both that he was “with God” and that he “was God.” The Greek text [John 1:1] echoes the opening words of Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning …”)and reminds us that John is talking about something that was true before the world was made. God the Son was always fully God.

John 1:1, 14, 17 | 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 beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. … grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 20:24-29 | … Thomas answered and said to Him [Christ Jesus], My Lord and my God! …

Titus 2:13 | Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:5-6 | … Jesus Christ … did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.  

Colossians 2:9 | For in Him [Christ – v. 8] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

 

C. The Holy Spirit is also fully God. Once we understand God the Father and God the Son to be fully God, then the trinitarian expressions in verses like Matthew 28:19 (“baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”) assume significance for the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, because they show that the Holy Spirit is classified on an equal level with the Father and the Son.

Acts 5:1-11 | … Peter said, Ananias, why … lie to the Holy Spirit… you have not lied to men but to God.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 | … diversities of gifts, but the sam Spirit … same Lord … same God who works all in all.

Ephesians 4:30 | And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  

1 Thessalonians 1:5 | For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance.

Romans 8:16, 26-27 | The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God … the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us … for the saints according to the will of God.

3. There Is One God.

Scripture is abundantly clear that there is one and only one God. The three different persons of the Trinity are one not only in purpose and in agreement on what they think, but they are one in essence, one in their essential nature. In other words, God is only one being. There are not three Gods. There is only one God.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 | Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.

Isaiah 45:5, 21-22 | I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me … And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is not besides Me. Look to Me, and be saved, for I a God, and there is no other.

Mark 12:29 | Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is: Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.

Romans 3:28-30 | Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

1 Timothy 2:5 | For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.

James 2:19 | You believe there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble![5]

 

Closing Thot

R.C. Sproul

God does not exist in the way human beings do, because that would make Him a creature, giving Him a dependent and derived existence. We say, rather, that God is. God is being, not becoming or changing. He is eternally the same, so we say He is one being. Theologians speak of the Trinity not as three existences but as three subsistences; that is, within one underived being of God, at at lower dimension, we must distinguish among these subsistences, which the Bible calls Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There are not three existence or beings but rather three subsistences within that one eternal being.

That we distinguish among the three persons is necessary because the Bible makes the distinction. It is a real distinction but not an essential distinction, and by “not essential” I do not mean unimportant. I mean that although there are real differences within the Godhead, there are not within the essence of the deity Himself. One being, three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.[6]

 

[1] Grudem, 1255.

[2] Simmons, 77.

[3] Gill, 92.

[4] Cole, 7.

[5] Grudem, 231-239 (adapted)

[6] Robert Charles [R.C.] Sproul, Everyone’s A Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2014), 60.

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