Article I: Of Faith in the Holy Trinity

We've been preaching our way through the 39 Articles and it struck me that a series of brief blogs, taking an Article at a time might be in order. I've written a very brief introduction with some resources which I've used in writing these. The aim is to provide a brief, accessible introduction to the theology and some of its applications today.

Article I: Of Faith in the Holy Trinity

There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in the unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

It is popular to believe that all religions are the same, or at least that all the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) are largely the same. We're told, “You believe in the same God after all!” Our first article answers the question: What God do we believe in?

One God

The article starts with a declaration that there is only one real God (Deut. 6:4; Jam. 2:19). This was important for Israel in the Old Testament with the multiplicity of gods in the nations around. It was important for the New Testament church, where there was pressure to worships the Roman gods and especially the Roman emperor. It remains important today, whether for Christians who live in cultures where multiple gods are worshipped or for Christians who live in pluralistic societies like mine in the UK, where we are encouraged to accept and celebrate the worship of gods of all different religions.

The consequence of the Biblical God being the one and only God is that our whole being should be devoted to him (Deut. 6:5). Whatever our context we need to ask if this is our response to God.

The God who is...

The article then goes on to give a description of God.
  1. "Everlasting" (Psa. 90:2; Jud. 25) God has no beginning and end and thus views time from a different perspective to ours (2 Pet. 3:8).
  2. "Without body" (John 4:24) Which reminds us that we can't conceptualize God in physical ways.
  3. "Without...parts." This follows from God being Spirit and not having a body. This is often termed God's simplicity or unity by theologians. This is a way of saying that what God is, he is totally, i.e. he is always and totally loving, light, holy etc.
  4. "Without...passions." This isn't saying that God doesn't care about things, rather that God's "sovereignty and power can in no way be diminished by a suffering inflicted from outside himself." (Bray, The Faith We Confess, 20). This is a consequence of him being the one God with infinite power who cannot be changed (Mal. 3:6)
  5. "Infinite power" (Ps. 135:6; Isa. 40:26; Rev. 1:8) God is the all-powerful ruler of everything.
  6. "Infinite...wisdom" (1 Jo 3:20; Rom. 16:27) God both knows everything and is perfectly wise, always doing what is right.
  7. "Infinite...goodness" (Luk. 18:19) God is always perfectly loving and holy and therefore good.
  8. "Maker" (Gen. 1:1; Joh. 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2) The Bible reminds us of the distinction between God, the creator of everything and us, the created. We also see creation was through God the Son.
  9. "Preserver" (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3) God has not left a clockwork universe running on its own, he remains intimately involved preserving the universe by his Son.
This is the awesome God we worship and devote ourselves to. When God is seen as he really is, idolatry is foolish (Isa. 44:9-10). Why worship anything or anyone else?

Three Persons

The one-ness of God excludes the beliefs of many people. The Trinity excludes every other religious belief apart from Christianity (e.g. Islam, Judaism) and many of the sects (e.g. Jehovah's Witnesses and Unitarians). To believe in the Trinity is to believe in one God in three distinct persons (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit), each of whom is fully God, i.e. “in the unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”

Later Articles will allows us to investigate the divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit, so for now it is perhaps worth noting that Jesus and Paul refer (unsurprisingly) to the Father as God (Mat. 11:25; Rom. 15:6) and although the Bible does not use the word "Trinity" it does regularly speak in Trinitarian terms (Mat 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Jude 20-21) and show us the Trinity in action (Gen. 1:1-3 - God, Spirit, Word; Gen 1:26 - plural; Mat. 3:16-17).

It is undoubtedly hard for us to understand the Trinity, but it is how the Bible reveals God to us even if it is beyond our full understanding. Once again he is a God more wonderful and amazing than we can imagine and so we worship him.

Questions

  1. What is the significance in your culture in believing in one God?
  2. Reflect on the description of God in the Article and the Bible. Where has your view of God been deficient?
  3. Why is the Trinity significant in relating to people of other religions?
Ideas for Prayer


When you reflect on who God is, we should be drawn to repentance for any idolatry and for our views of God that are too small. We should also be drawn to wonder and praise for who he is.

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