Catechism Study – Question #4
Catechism Study – Question #4
How many persons are in the Godhead? Are there more God’s than one?
There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.
“…There is no God but one.”
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
What do you know about the doctrine of the Trinity? Do you understand it? Can you explain it to someone else? This question should help us to have a better understanding of what we mean when we talk about the Trinity.
We can explain the Trinity with 3 things:
1. There is one God.
2. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
3. Each of these three persons is distinct from the others.
Some false teaching has said that this cannot be true. That one God cannot exist as three persons. We call these people “unitarians”. As Christians, we do believe that there is one God but that there are three persons in the Godhead. That’s why Christians can be known as “trinitarians”.
Some people believe in a “unitarian” understanding of God, simply because it is easier to understand. Our human minds can’t grasp the fact that there could be one God yet three distinct persons. We must remember that we don’t get our doctrine of the Trinity because it seems “understandable” but rather we get this doctrine because scripture doesn’t give us any other view but this one.
Lets look at some verses to see where this doctrine comes from.
There is one living and true God
There is no doubt that scripture speaks of only one true and living God. These verses should help to show that there is no other God but one God.
“…that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other.”
“For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth – as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords” – yet for us there is one God…”
“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.”
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are God
Now that we see from scripture there is only one God, let’s look at some verses that show that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is God.
The Father is God:
“No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he had made him known.”
The Son is God:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
“Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!””
The Holy Spirit is God:
“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 men but to God.”
Scripture teaches that these three persons are distinct yet equal in power and Glory.
In early Christianity, there were many misunderstanding of the Trinity and many errors that people fell into. The most common error was the view that there was one God, but that God played different “parts”, sort of like an actor. They believed that while God could play the part of Father, there was no Son. And when he played the part of Son, there was no Father. We call this view – “modalism”.
The best scripture verse to refute “modalism” is Matthew 3:16-17, where we read about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit being present all at the same moment.
“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
So we see in scripture that although there are three persons in the Godhead, they are distinct from each other. As Paul says in Philippians 2:6:
“…who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped…”
We must remember that when we are talking about the Trinity, we must look at many verses in scripture to get our doctrine. Just as we’ve said in other catechism questions, scripture is inerrant which means there are no errors. So if we see verses that seem to contradict each other, we must find out how they relate, rather than how they disprove each other.
Once we take on that approach of scripture reading, we will avoid many of the errors that people fall into when they try to describe the Trinity.
1. Why is the Trinity such a difficult doctrine to understand?
2. What do we mean by “unitarian”?
3. What do we mean by “trinitarian”?
4. As Christians, which view do we believe? Why?
5. What is “modalism”? Why do we believe it to be wrong?
6. How would you describe the Trinity to another person? What objections would they raise? How would you answer them?