Posted in , ,

Tech Specs: Knows like Vos

10 March 2011 by Matt Gumm

Q9: How many persons are there in the Godhead?

Answer: There be three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one true, eternal God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory; although distinguished by their personal properties.

Q10: What are the personal properties of the three persons in the Godhead?

Answer: It is proper to the Father to beget the Son, and to the Son to be begotten of the Father, and to the Holy Ghost to proceed from the Father and the Son from all eternity.

In order to know God as He is, we must know and accept Him as He presents Himself in His self-revelation to us. The Catechism leads us gently but firmly down the path to this point, by first telling us that we need to know about God--that is our purpose (Q.1), and how God is revealed to us--through His Spirit and His Word--(Q.2). It then proceeds to tell us about God's Word: what it is (Q.3), how we can know the Scriptures are God's Word (Q.4), and the summary statement about what the Scriptures teach (Q.5). And so it is that we are brought to the section where what God is and who He is explained.

God makes a big deal about presenting Himself as one. Dueteronomy 6:4, for example, tells us directly that God is one. But other passages, such as Matthew 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14, present to us three separate, distinct persons all identified as "God." And so it is that we begin to see a the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This lays the foundation for later discussion of the differing roles in the various stages of salvation, identified as justification, sanctification, and glorification.

The importance of this doctrine of the Trinity cannot be overstated. In his commentary on the Larger Catechism, Johannes Geerhardus Vos puts it this way.

What is the practical importance of the doctrine of the Trinity?

This is far from being mere technical theory or abstract doctrine. Christianity stands or falls with the doctrine of the Trinity. The Bible represents the plan of salvation as a compact or covenant among the persons of the Trinity. Where the doctrine of the Trinity is abandoned, the whole Bible teaching about the plan of salvation must go with it.

The relationship within the Godhead also enables us to understand concepts like equality of persons but distinction of roles; it allows us to submit to one another, as we see that even amongst equal persons there is the submission of the Son to the Father. It helps us understand our need for relationships, and reinforces the priority of those relationships, with God and with each other. It even helps us to know that God geniunely desires relationship with us, but doesn't need it, since God alone would not be lonely. Seeing the Godhead operate in relationship enables us to put a premium on our relationship with God and with His church.

So that we can properly glorify God and enjoy Him forever.