What the Bible teaches about God

The Trinity

Q: Are there more Gods than one?
A: There is but one only1, the living and true God2.

1. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD, Deuteronomy 6:4Deuteronomy 6:4
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:  

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2. But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king, Jeremiah 10:10Jeremiah 10:10
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10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. true...: Heb. God of truth everlasting...: Heb. king of eternity  

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Q: How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A: There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost1; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory2.

1. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Matthew 28:19Matthew 28:19
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teach...: or, make disciples, or, Christians of all nations  

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2.For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 1John 5:7John 5:7
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.  

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God as one and as a trinity of persons.

In these two questions two specific views of God are set out.

A. The oneness of God.

God is said to be one in several senses:

1. He is one in Himself, i.e. His essence or being is one, undivided, undiluted but God is an organic unity. This is important for us to remember as we come later to look at the doctrine of the Trinity. Our concept of the Trinity must be within the framework of clearly revealed truth that God is one essence. Cp Deuteronomy 4:4.

2. He is one in the sense that He stands unique among all that are called gods.

a. He is one in opposition to the many gods that men imagine. Cp 1 Corinthians 8:4-61 Corinthians 8:4-6
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. 5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, 6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. in: or, for  

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b. He is one in the sense that as the Living God He is seen in contrast to the dead gods of the heathen, Psalms 105:4-6Psalms 105:4-6
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4 Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore. 5 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; 6 O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen.  

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. That God is the Living God is plainly seen in Scripture. It is demonstrated by His giving life to all His creatures. Cp 1 Timothy 6:131 Timothy 6:13
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13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; confession: or, profession  

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, Acts 17:28Acts 17:28
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28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.  

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. His position as the eternal Sovereign of all things (Jeremiah 10:10Jeremiah 10:10
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10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. true...: Heb. God of truth everlasting...: Heb. king of eternity  

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) demonstrates He is the Living God.

c. He is one in that as the true God (a title used 5 times in Scripture). He is distinct from all false gods, Jeremiah 10:10Jeremiah 10:10
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. true...: Heb. God of truth everlasting...: Heb. king of eternity  

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, John 17:3, 1John 17:3, 1
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3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 17 1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:  

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Thessalonians 1:9. The existence of God is a reality and is truth. To deny His existence as the atheist does is to deny reality and to believe a lie. The truth of the existence of God is proved simply from: (i) The creation, Romans 1:19-20Romans 1:19-20
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19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. in them: or, to them 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: so...: or, that they may be  

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; (ii) the government of all things. Chaos is the result of the absence of government and control — that chaos has not prevailed in the universe indicates a governing power that is infinite; (iii) the conscience of man itself witnesses to the reality of a God to whom man is accountable; (iv) the clear revelation of the Scriptures; (v) the image of God revealed in His people.

 

B. The trinity.

Familiar to Bible believers as the doctrine of the Trinity is, it must never be forgotten what it cost the early church to bring this fundamental truth out of the scriptures and get it into credal form. There was an immense expenditure of learned theological labour before this doctrine was finally formulated and universally accepted in the Church of Christ.

1. That there is a plurality of persons in the Godhead is evident from the scriptures.

Genesis 1:26, 11:7, 3:22Genesis 1:26, 11:7, 3:22
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26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. grass: Heb. tender grass  

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, Isaiah 6:8Isaiah 6:8
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8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. Here...: Heb. behold me  

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, Job 35:10Job 35:10
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10 But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night;  

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, (maker is plural in Hebrew), Ecclesiastes. 12:1Ecclesiastes. 12:1
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12 1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;  

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, (Creator is plural in Hebrew).

God is but One yet there is a plurality of distinct persons subsisting in One Godhead. This is a sacred mystery which the light within man could never have discovered. Plurality but not a multiplicity of gods — one God. Persons in the Trinity are distinguished but not divided, three *subsistences but one essence.

*Subsistence — “A technical word that indicates a personal mode of existence of the Divine substance. Thus in the Godhead, there is but one substance but three subsistences. By ‘a personal mode of existence’ is meant a mode or “form” (Philippians 2:6Philippians 2:6
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6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  

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) of the Divine essence characterized by certain personal distinctions” — Dictionary of Theological terms, Dr. A. Cairns

2. That there are three persons in the Godhead may be seen from the following scriptures.

Matthew 3:16-17Matthew 3:16-17
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16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  

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, Matthew 28:19Matthew 28:19
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teach...: or, make disciples, or, Christians of all nations  

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, 2 Corinthians 13:142 Corinthians 13:14
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. The second epistle to the Corinthians was written from Philippi, a city of Macedonia, by Titus and Lucas.  

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, Isaiah 48:16Isaiah 48:16
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16 Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.  

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, 1 Peter 1:21 Peter 1:2
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.  

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, John 14:16-17John 14:16-17
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16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  

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, 1 John 5:71 John 5:7
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7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.  

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“This is a divine riddle where one makes three and three makes one. The finite can no more comprehend the Trinity in unity than a nutshell will hold all the water in the sea. In the body of the sun there is the substance of the sun, the beams and the heat. The beams are begotten of the sun, the heat proceeds both from the sun and the beams, but these three though different are not divided. These three all make one sun. So in the blessed Trinity the Son is begotten of the Father, and the Holy Ghost proceeds from both yet although they are three distinct persons they are but one God. While the fact of the Trinity may not be comprehended by the intellect yet such a fact is not impossible.” – Thomas Watson

3. The Godhead

This term simply refers to the essence of God, the being of God. The Godhead neither is nor can be divided into parts. Each of the 3 persons has in Himself the one whole indivisible Godhead, but they are distinguished by their personal properties — that is to say;

(i) it is the personal property of the Father to beget the Son. Hebrews 1:5Hebrews 1:5
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?  

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. There is nothing clearer in the Holy Scriptures than this, that there is a Person in the Godhead who is constantly spoken of as the Father.

(ii) it is the personal property of the Son to be begotten of the Father, John 1:14. The Son is set forth as eternally “begotten”, Psalms 2: , John 1:18John 1:18
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18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.  

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. This eternal generation of the Son is the ultimate ground of His Godhead i.e., He is God because He is the Son of God, and He is the Son because He has His Godhead by a Divine and eternal generation. Because He is eternally begotten of the Father, He is God.

(iii) It is the personal property of the Holy Ghost, to proceed from the Father, and the Son, John 15:26John 15:26
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26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:  

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, Galatians 4:6Galatians 4:6
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6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.  

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. The Holy Ghost receives the same essence from the Father that the Son receives and thereby becomes the same God with the father and the word. But though the essence be the same that is communicated, yet there is a difference in the communication: the Word being God by generation, the Holy Ghost by procession. Cp John 15:26John 15:26
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26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:  

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4. The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Ghost is God.

a. That the Father is God is evident from the following considerations:

(i) All the perfections already considered which necessarily belong to God are ascribed to him. It is in the Person of the Father that all the perfections of the godhead originate (NOT in a chronological sense).

(ii) Worship is performed to Him which would be gross idolatry to offer to any created being. Psalm 96:9Psalm 96:9
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9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. in the...: or, in the glorious sanctuary  

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, John 4:24John 4:24
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24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.  

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b. That the son is God is evident from the following:

(i) He is expressly called God — Romans 9:5Romans 9:5
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5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.  

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, I John 5:20John 5:20
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20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.  

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, Titus 2:13Titus 2:13
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; glorious...: Gr. the appearance of the glory of the great God, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ  

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, Isaiah 9:6Isaiah 9:6
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6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  

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, Malachi 3:1Malachi 3:1
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3 1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.  

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(ii) He is represented as possessing the attributes of Deity: — Eternity, Micah 5:2; Immutability, Hebrews 13:8Hebrews 13:8
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8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.  

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; Omniscience, John 21:17John 21:17
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17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.  

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; Omnipotence, Revelation 1:8; Omnipresence, Matt 28:20Matt 28:20
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20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.  

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(iii) Works peculiar to God are ascribed to Him: creation and preservation of all things, Colossians 1:16-17Colossians 1:16-17
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16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.  

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; working of miracles by His own power, Mark 5:41; forgiveness of sins, Mark 2:5Mark 2:5
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5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.  

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; raising of the dead, John 5:28-29John 5:28-29
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28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.  

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(iv) We are commanded to give the same divine worship to Him, which is due to the Father, John 5:23John 5:23
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23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.  

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; to believe on Him equally with the Father, John 14:1; to be baptized in His name as well as in the name of the Father, Matthew 28:19Matthew 28:19
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teach...: or, make disciples, or, Christians of all nations  

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c. That the Holy Ghost is God is evident from the following:

(i) He is called God Acts 5:3-4Acts 5:3-4
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3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? to lie to: or, to deceive 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.  

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(ii) Attributes peculiar to the most High God are ascribed to Him: eternity, Hebrews 9:14Hebrews 9:14
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14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? spot: or, fault  

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; omnipresence, Psalms139:7; omniscience, 1 Corinthians 2:10, 111 Corinthians 2:10, 11
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10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.  

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(iii) Works peculiar to God are ascribed to Him: Psalms 33:6Psalms 33:6
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6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.  

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, Psalms 104:30Psalms 104:30
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30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.  

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, Romans 8:11Romans 8:11
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11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. by: or, because of  

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5. These three are one God

In the trinity there is all oneness in essence. The three persons are of the same Divine nature and substance. There are no degrees in the godhead. One person is not God more than another. The unity of the persons in the godhead consists in the mutual inbeing of them or their being in one another together.  The three persons are so united that the one person is in another and with another.  Cp John 17:21John 17:21
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21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  

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. They are one God because they are:

a. The same in substance. In the godhead the three persons are the same in substance, i.e. of one and the same indivisible essence.

b. Equal in power and glory. The calling of the Father the first person, the Son the second person, and the Holy Ghost the third person in the godhead does not imply inequality among them, for these are all only terms of order and imply no superiority of nature, excellence or duration. See II Cor 13:14, where in the Son is mentioned before the Father; Revelation 1:4-5Revelation 1:4-5
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4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,  

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, where the Holy Spirit is named before the Son.

 

Next topic: The decrees of God.

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