WCF 2.3 — Pastoral Comments

Posted on Jan 28, 2018 by admin

2.3  In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost:1 the Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father;2 the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.3

1 1 Jn 5:7; Matt 3:16–17; 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14; 2 Jn 1:14, 18;  3 Jn 15:26; Gal 4:6.

One of the most distinctive features of the Christian Faith is the doctrine of the Trinity or the teaching that God is one in being but three in persons. We may not be able to fully understand or explain this doctrine but we must receive it as true because the Bible clearly teaches it. In fact, this doctrine is so important that a person who rejects it cannot be considered a true Christian.

Some people have accused Christians of believing a contradiction with regard to this doctrine. This, however, is a mistake. There is nothing contradictory about the Trinity since we are saying that God is one in one sense and three in another sense. He is not one and three at the same time and in the same relationship, which would indeed be a contradiction.

God is one in being or nature or substance. Christians are, thus, monotheists rather than tri-theists or polytheists. We do not believe in three or many gods but in just the one true and living God. But at the same time, we also believe, based on the Bible, that God exists as three persons. If the word being or nature refers to the attributes of God, then the word person speaks to the personal consciousness of each member of the Trinity and His relationship to the other two members. So the Father is conscious that He is not the Son or the Spirit and the same is true for the Son and for the Spirit. The distinctive personal trait of the Father is that He is not begotten and neither does He proceed. The distinctive personal trait of the Son is that He is eternally begotten of the Father. The distinctive personal trait of the Spirit is that He proceeds eternally from both the Father and the Son.

Another important truth with regard to the Trinity is that all three persons have the same nature and are equal in power and glory. Each person is infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. This means that the Father is not more powerful than the Son and the Son is not more loving than the Spirit and the Spirit is not more holy than the Father. They are all of one nature or substance.

Finally, we may summarize the doctrine of the Trinity in seven simple statements.

First, there is only one God.

Second, the Father is God.

Third, the Son is God.

Fourth, the Spirit is God.

Fifth, the Father is not the Son or the Spirit.

Sixth, the Son is not the Father or the Spirit.

Seventh, the Spirit is not the Father or the Son.

Westminster Confession of Faith — With Brief Pastoral Comments
© 2017 by Pilgrim Covenant Church